Guest Post: Melissa Delport

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Today we have fellow South African author, Melissa Delport, chatting to us about her journey as a writer and what she’s learnt along the way.

Photo - Melissa Delport LRWife and mother of 3, Melissa Delport is the author of The Legacy Trilogy and the stand-alone self-published e.books Rainfall and The Traveler. She graduated from the University of South Africa with a Bachelor’s Degree in English in 2000. At the age of twenty-four Melissa started a logistics company (Transmax) from the spare room of her flat and built it up to two fully operational depots in Durban and Johannesburg. Now, 10 years later, she has sold her business in order to write full time.

Melissa lives with her husband and three children in Hillcrest, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.

The Legacy (book 1 of The Legacy Trilogy) and The Legion (book 2) are available now and the final book, The Legend, will be released early 2015.

An avid reader herself, Melissa finally decided to stop ‘watching from the sidelines’ and to do what is her passion.

“I was driving home from work when inspiration struck, and a storyline started unravelling in my head. For a few days it was all I could think about and eventually I realised that the only way to get it out of my head, was to put it all down on paper. I started writing, and that was that.”

You can stalk Melissa all over the internet including:

Blog: www.melissadelport.com

The Legacy Trilogy Website: www.thelegacytrilogy.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheMelissaDelportBookClub

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/MelissaDelport

Twitter: www.twitter.com/MelissaDelport

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/MelissaDelport

Publisher’s website: www.traceymcdonaldpublishers.com

Twitter Hashtag for the book blog tour: #TheLegacyBlogTour

Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way I’ll hand over to Melissa.

*

Initially self-published, I was fortunate enough that after two years I was offered a traditional publishing contract for The Legacy Trilogy. Having experienced both self-publishing and mainstream publishing firsthand, I have learnt that there are pros and cons to both, but that in the event of being offered a publishing contract, any author should grab the opportunity with both hands.

As an indie author, you are more than capable of publishing a book of a high standard, and making it available to readers all over the world via the online platforms. Self-publishing is simple and affordable, especially e-book self-publishing. Your book can be made available all over the world with the click of a single button. Of course having a book published through the likes of Amazon does not mean that that same book will sell. There are millions of books available in the Kindle store, and unless readers know where to look, the chance of them stumbling across your book is slim. Marketing is crucial in order to drive potential readers to your masterpiece. That being said, publishing on the Kindle platform is simple and easy to navigate.

The printed book, however, is a different story. Without the knowledge and support of a publisher behind you, you are unlikely to achieve much success, and getting your book into larger chain stores is highly improbable. The costs of production, print and the actual sales and distribution of books into the book trade is a specialised business that is best left to the professionals.

The bottom line is that a traditional publisher will open doors that remain locked to the self-publisher, no matter how productive or business-minded you are. A traditional publisher is also able to market your book far more effectively. They have spent years developing relationships with the media, and these contacts are vital to ensure that the publicity machine operates in your favour.

Of course, securing a publishing deal is not guaranteed, and there are many exceptionally talented writers who have no option but to self-publish. I will always advocate traditional publishing over self-publishing, and self-publishing over not publishing at all. Get your book out there, one way or another. You have earned it. There have been many remarkable success stories, and there is always the possibility that you could be next.

About The Legacy:Cover - The Legacy

One man obsessed with power. 

One woman prepared to sacrifice everything to stop him. 

One war that changed the world.

 “World War Three lasted twelve days. Twelve days was all it took for mankind to devastate the planet and almost eradicate the human race. No victor emerged from the ashes and billions lost their lives.

We survivors lived through the bleakest of winters. A primal existence became the new order, and the little that remained of our humanity hung in the balance.

Then one man stood up and changed the world. I believed, as did everyone else, that he was the hero of our time, the man who had saved us from our own demise. His name is Eric Dane and he is the President of the New United States of America.

He is also my husband, and my greatest enemy.

I grew up oblivious to the truth, until my father found me when I was nineteen years old. He told me about the many horrifying facts that our new leader kept hidden from us. And he told me that beyond the borders the Resistance grew and fought for freedom from the oppression that Eric Dane had imposed on us.

My name is Rebecca Davis. I am twenty-six years old, and in me the Resistance has found the ultimate weapon.”

A narrative of good and evil, love and passion, right and wrong – and at the centre of the story a strong woman who is prepared to sacrifice everything for the cause she believes in.

The Legacy is an action-packed, adrenalin-inducing thrill ride which will leave you riveted long after you have turned the last page.

Watch the trailer:

 

TITLE: The Legacy
SERIES: Book 1 of The Legacy Trilogy
AUTHOR: Melissa Delport
PRINT ISBN: 978-0-620-59636-7
eISBN: 978-0-620-59637-4
PAGES: 366 pages
WORD COUNT: 99 160
GENRE: Speculative Fiction
MARKET: Adults (with crossover to the 16+ reader)
PUBLISHER: Tracey McDonald Publishers

e.BOOK BUY LINKS

Amazon.com – HERE

Amazon.co.uk – HERE

Barnes & Noble – HERE

Kobo – HERE

Kalahari.com – HERE

PRINTED BOOK BUY LINKS

The Legacy is available at most bookshops in South Africa, or you can order it online:

Kalahari.com – HERE

Takealot.com – HERE

Loot.co.za – HERE

 

SELECTIVE MEGALOMANIA: A WRITER’S PREROGATIVE

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Monique3Monique Snyman has hi-jacked my blog today. Monique lives in Pretoria, South Africa with an adorable Chihuahua that keeps her company and a bloodthirsty lawyer who keeps her sane. She is a full-time author, part-time editor and in-between reviewer of all things entertaining. Her short fiction has been published in a number of small press anthologies, and she’s working hard on a couple of novels in her spare time.

Selective Megalomania is not a recognised psychological disorder yet. That might change after you’ve read the following post …

I propose the next definition for selective megalomania:

Selective Megalomania:

/sɪˈlɛktɪv/ /ˌmɛg(ə)lə(ʊ)ˈmeɪnɪə/
noun
obsession with the exercise of power from time to time.
synonyms: writers, authors, wordsmith, man/woman of letters, penman.

I like to think that the majority of writers are selective megalomaniacs. Not only do most of us have delusions of grandeur when it comes to our books, but more often than not, we have this incredible urge to play God when we write. We build fictitious worlds from scratch just to destroy them again. We make readers fall in love with characters and then kill them off simply because we can. A wonderful example of selective megalomania is George R.R. Martin. As everyone knows, the man has a tendency to kill off his characters left, right and centre. Nobody’s safe. It’s his prerogative though, those are his books, so why the hell not? Yet, Martin doesn’t show any signs of wanting to play God in real life (that I’ve noticed). It’s like he gets all of those urges out of his head by writing them down and then he’s right as rain again.
That’s selective megalomania, but George R.R. Martin is not the only one that suffers from this so-unreal-it-has-to-be-real disorder. Every writer, big or small, likes to be in control of their own little world and death be upon those who think otherwise.
You see, we live in transparent bubbles and we get irritated when it’s time to seem ‘normal’ by entering ‘normal society’. This is mostly because we can’t control what happens next. We try our best to ‘blend’ and we try to hide our true nature from friends and relatives, but sometimes faking it doesn’t work either. No matter how good we are at reading the cues to smile, nod, feint excitement or sadness or mimic emotion in general, sometimes we slip up and show that selective megalomaniac living inside us.
I’ve noticed that when I accidentally say something off-cue, I immediately think: ‘control, alt, delete’ or ‘backspace, backspace, backspace’ or ‘undo, bitch! UNDO’, depending on how big the oopsie was.
And if you’re anything like me, you might even observe these chance encounters with the outside world as an opportunity to, for entertainment’s sake, transcribe every movement of each so-called character (a.k.a friend) into a bookish form in your mind. After all, we understand books much better than we do humans.
That being said, writers in groups fair well from an anthropological point of view. You see, we are drawn to one another, and from the outside we look like an almost functioning group of ‘normals’. We’re not; we just understand how each other’s minds work, and we embrace each other for being wacky unsociable creatures with bad habits, disturbing thoughts and being able to ruin people’s CharmingIncantationsSanguinelives with our stories.
Of course, we’re not all bad all the time, but as writers we need to be selective megalomaniacs to keep you on the edge of your seat with our tales. It’s in the job description that nobody’s bothered writing up yet …

About Charming Incantations: Sanguine:
After the Goblin Lord’s identity was revealed, Lisa didn’t think her life could get any worse.
She was wrong.
Not only does she have to deal with Goblins, but now a civil war threatens to tear the vampire race apart, endangering humanity, and the efforts of The Alliance.
To add insult to injury, there’s a traitor in their midst.
Will Lisa ever catch a break, or is she doomed to live her life as a prisoner of her own bloodline?

 

13 Questions with John Palisano

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

JP-headshotToday on 13 Questions we have John Palisano, who I share space between the covers with in Tales from the Lake Vol 1 (out 30 May) and in Horror 101: The way Forward. Over two dozen of his short fiction pieces have been put out by an equally diverse range of places. NERVES came out under Bad Moon, and DUST OF THE DEAD marks the beginning of several from Samhain. Sometimes he writes for Fangoria. John is easily found on Facebook and Twitter, so look him up.
1. What drives you to write?

It’s an exorcism for me to write. I have terrible nightmares that give me insomnia. They’re extremely vivid. I have a very over active imagination. I’m always thinking something terrible is about to happen. Writing gets that out. Writing smooths the edges. Writing takes a lot of my head, and gets rid of them. Sometimes.

2. What attracted you to writing horror?

Every minute were alive, there’s a threat to us. I felt this pull to the Darkside at a very young age. Always been fascinated with what’s beyond. I think it ties into my spirituality,  in a way. There’s a lot of fear living in this world, a lot of uncertainty. Horror helps put that in its place. Or allows you to transcend. That’s what’s always fascinated me. I’m not big on slashers or where people are captured and tortured, but rather, journeys into the unknown. Things in the shadows. Things unseeable

3. Who are your favourite horror writers?

Most of the classic big names, of course, but I’ve been really interested in a lot of contemporary horror. I love the new weird fiction crop, including Laird Barron, Jeff VanderMeer, Thomas Ligotti, and those people. I also love bizarro fiction, like Carlton Mellek and Cody Goodfellow. It’s been an embarrassment of riches for dark fiction over the past few years. There’s so much good stuff, I just wish I had more time.

4. Which horror novels do you think every horror fan should read?

I think they should read the contemporary novels that appeal to them first. Then, if they like something from Laird Barron, for example, then go out and seek Lovecraft and Poe. I think it’s important for people to be engaged, and not feel like they’re doing work. I highly recommend going to library or bookstore and going into sections you’ve never been before and exploring. There’s horror to be found everywhere. Also, there are fantastic stories and writing to be explored all sorts of genres.
5. Ebooks or paperback?

I think they’re both fantastic, actually. The new Kindle that’s backlit is my main reading device. Practically? It’s backlit, so one can read it in the dark without disturbing anybody else in the room, and I can read extremely fast. It’s quite pleasurable. On the flipside, reading on an iPad is okay, but in the middle of the night, even with the brightness turned all the way down, it feels to me like looking into a flashlight. It’s just a little bit much in comparison to a Kindle.

Paper books can be great. If the book is bound well, and put together nicely, I’m apt to read it. I love the John Steinbeck millennium additions because of the ragged edges, great design, and great feel. To be honest, I’ve never liked reading a lot of books because they were heavy and uncomfortable. And in the indie press, so much are so uncomfortable to read, format-wise, that I often stop, so it all depends.

6. What would make you pick up a novel by a new author?NERVES - cover

A great cover’ll grab me. I’m not going to lie. I judge book by covers. We all do, even though we wish we didn’t. I have found gems that were horribly put together. I Will Rise by Michael Calvillo was one such book. The first edition I had sported a dreadful cover, and the layout left a lot to be desired. But his writing shone through.

7. Who is your favourite fictional character?

That would probably be the idealized version of myself, although I think that’s shattered when I see myself in the mirror, or see a picture of myself that someone’s posted.

8. Do you plot your stories or does it just unfold before your eyes?

I studied plot and structure so much, and so extensively, at Emerson in Boston, and AFI in Los Angeles, that I usually don’t write things out. I usually have a pretty good idea early on where things are headed, and what I usually do instead is write out a character form, like I do if I were acting and developing the person. That process usually informs me, and tells me most everything I need to know about the story to come. Knowing the characters is everything in my process.

9. Do your characters take on a life of their own and do things you didn’t plan?

They certainly do, and even in something that is plot driven, like a screenplay, it leads to some better surprises.

10. Do you listen to music when you write or do you need silence?

You may notice that I’m quite moody, and this is no exception. There are times when I’m writing a fight scene, and I’ll crank Van Halen. There will be other times when I prefer dead silence. Or sometimes I put on something like Coldplay just to get a kind of flow and rhythm.

Often when I’m writing a book or story, I’ll actually compose music to it. This helps my free-form thinking, and forms the story in ways I never predicted. I wrote an entire album of songs for my first novel because one of the characters had a famous album in the 1960s. I had to know what it sounded like, and had to write the lyrics. It was very important to the story to know all those details. I do all sorts of styles of music to make soundtracks for my books. It’s part of my writing process in a major way.

11. Do you do a lot of research for your stories?

In fact, I often do. Many people believe they’re in my books. Friends I grew up with. People I’m in relationships with. But what they don’t understand is my writing is like a collage. I grew up during the rap generation, where you take one element and then put it on top of something else, and make something completely different out of it. I’ve always loved that concept, but often felt that rap music fell short of really using it to its potential, of massaging found elements and making them new. Public Enemy was one of the only groups I felt that really brought that to an apex. But in writing, I do that with almost every story.
I’ll take elements from my life that I know are real, pieces of the conversation, descriptions, locations slightly altered, and then use that as a springboard to something completely different. So character may have one or two traits I’ll borrow from myself or friend, but I will twist it so far left and right, that by the end, it’s unrecognizable, it goes back to writing what you know. You’ve got to sprinkle enough reality to ground the reader, to make your story living, so that when the horrible things start happening, you’re right there.

Horror 101 The Way Forward12. Facebook or Twitter?

Mostly Facebook, but I’ve been dialing it back. Trying to cut down on the noise. And I’m not so wholly interested in what people had for dinner, or that they drank too much last night, or that they’re mad at going to work. It just feels extremely narcissistic, and I’m growing increasingly uncomfortable. Maybe I’m just growing older, but more likely I just crave simplicity. I have notebooks filled with stories I’d like to tackle, albums I’d like to write, and I don’t want to waste my precious time on nonsense. That being said, sometimes people have laughed at me because I watch five episodes of something stupid like Judge Judy to tune out. There’s that moodiness again.
13. What really pisses you off about writing?

The act of writing itself doesn’t piss me off. Not at all. I love it. The business of writing drives me batty. There’s so much garbage out there that gets in the way of writing time. People love to talk about writing endlessly. Everybody that can string two sentences together has a theory, a plan, or a book, or story in them. That’s all fine, and I’ve gone through that all myself, but there’s nothing as wonderful as sitting at a desk or in a coffee shop with a blank notebook and  pen and finding the rhythm. Those are the precious moments that make me most happy. It’s frustrating when that time isn’t respected by others, or when people don’t think you’re actually working, and especially when everybody thinks they can do exactly what you do. That is obnoxious. It’d be like me going to a hospital, putting on gloves, and operating, because I’ve seen every single episode of ER that’s ever been on the air. We may have a good idea, but there’s intricacies, muscle memories, that come into play that are actually crucial to making an operation a success.

I blame novel in a month for this new plague. When they started that project, it got out that writing 1300 words or so a day was ideal so that you could make a goal of writing a novel in a month. That thought spread like wildfire. I see writers all the time talking about their word counts. To me, it doesn’t tell me if those are good words, bad words, and especially, the right words. Writing is rewriting. Just because you can vomit out 60,000 words in a month doesn’t mean they won’t need tending to. It’s what you do during the rewriting process that really counts. And I know most people are just writing their stories top to bottom, and then pressing upload, and they’re on the Kindle. While I don’t believe in having writing  un-accessible, I think this lack of a vetting process has become a problem. And it’s also stripped a lot of the magic out of having a book out. I can’t tell you how many times I tell people I have a book, and they’re later surprised to find out that it’s actually with a traditional publisher, and I haven’t just put it out myself.

But I think the thing that makes me angriest about writing, is that there never seems to be enough time to do so. I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in that sentiment

Tales from the Lake

Tales from the LakeFOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Crystal Lake Publishing
Email: crystallakepub@gmail.com

www.crystallakepub.com

Tales From the Lake Horror Writing competition winners join Graham Masterton and other horror greats in newest anthology.

Dive into fourteen tales of non-themed horror, with short stories and dark poems by some of the best horror writers in the world, including a story by the master himself, Graham Masterton.
Allow the very first instalment of Tales From the Lake to transport you to lakeside terror in Lover, Come Back to Me, Lady of Lost Lake, and Game On; journey to the basement of your local pet store in Dead Pull and your neighbourhood pub in O’Halloran’s; visit the apocalypse in Devil’s Night; travel to Africa in Witch-Compass and The Reunion; spend time with talking dolls in Don’t Look at Me; experience the horrors of drug addiction from close up in Junksick; and climb a ladder to the heavens in Perrollo’s Ladder.
Tales From the Lake Vol.1 includes the winning stories from the 2013 Tales From the Lake Horror Writing Competition: a nautical tale in Jenn Loring’s The Art of Wrecking; a bizarre story of strange addictions in J. Daniel Stone’s Alternative Muses; and a cult horror story in the jungles of South America in William Ritchey’s Las Maquinas.

Introduction by Rocky Wood – president of the HWA.
Artwork by award winning artist Ben Baldwin.
Edited by Joe Mynhardt.

Book info:
Tales From the Lake Vol.1
Theme: Non-themed, but with a touch of lake-side terror and camp stories.
Fourteen horror short stories and two poems
Published by Crystal Lake Publishing
ISBN: 978-0-9922272-8-9 (paperback); 978-0-9922272-7-2 (Kindle)
288 pages
The paperback will sell at $12.99 and the eBook at $4.99

APPEARANCES and EVENTS:
Eight radio ads will be played on Nightwatch Radio, JackalopeRadio.com and several other online radio stations.
Various stories from the collection will be read on the Tales to Terrify Podcast.
Various online media outlets will promote the release, including This Is Horror, Hellnotes, The Horrifically Horrifying Horror Blog, and Promote Horror.
Events will also take place on several online forums: FB, Twitter, Google+, MyWritersCircle.com, Goodreads, Shocklines, HWA Forum, and Permuted Press.
A Goodreads giveaway will take place 2 weeks before the launch.
Guest blogs and interviews will be posted almost daily on the Crystal Lake Publishing blog.

New Release: Horror 101: The Way Forward

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Horror 101 The Way ForwardHorror 101: The Way Forward – a comprehensive overview of the Horror fiction genre and career opportunities available to established and aspiring authors.

Have you ever wanted to be a horror writer? Perhaps you have already realized that dream and you’re looking to expand your repertoire. Writing comic books sounds nice, right? Or how about screenplays?
That’s what Horror 101: The Way Forward is all about. It’s not your average On Writing guide that covers active vs. passive and other writing tips, Horror 101 focuses on the career of a horror writer. It covers not only insights into the horror genre, but the people who successfully make a living from it.

Covering aspects such as movies, comics, short stories, ghost-writing, audiobooks, editing, publishing, self-publishing, blogging, writer’s block, YA horror, reviewing, dark poetry, networking, collaborations, eBooks, podcasts, conventions, series, formatting, web serials, artwork, social media, agents, and career advice from seasoned professionals and up-and-coming talents, Horror 101 is just what you need to kick your career into high gear.

Horror 101: The Way Forward is not your average On Writing guide, as it is more focused on the career options available to authors. But don’t fret, this book is loaded with career tips and behind-the-scene stories on how your favourite authors broke into their respective fields.

Horror 101: The Way Forward is perfect for people who:
• are suffering from writer’s block
• are starting their writing careers
• are looking to expand their writing repertoire
• are planning on infiltrating a different field in horror writing
• are looking to pay more bills with their art
• are trying to further their careers
• are trying to establish a name brand
• are looking to get published
• are planning on self-publishing
• want to learn more about the pros in the horror genre
• are looking for motivation and/or inspiration
• love the horror genre
• are not sure where to take their writing careers

Includes articles by Jack Ketchum, Graham Masterton, Edward Lee, Lucy A. Snyder, Emma Audsley, RJ Cavender, Scott Nicholson, Weston Ochse, Taylor Grant, Paul Kane, Lisa Morton, Shane McKenzie, Dean M. Drinkel, Simon Marshall-Jones, Robert W. Walker, Don D’Auria and Glenn Rolfe, Harry Shannon, Chet Williamson, Lawrence Santoro, Thomas Smith, Blaze McRob, Rocky Wood, Ellen Datlow, Iain Rob Wright, Kenneth W. Cain, Daniel I. Russell, Michael McCarty, Richard Thomas, Joan De La Haye, Michael Wilson, Francois Bloemhof, C.E.L. Welsh, Jasper Bark, Niall Parkinson, Armand Rosamilia, Tonia Brown, Ramsey Campbell, Tim Waggoner, Gary McMahon, V.H. Leslie, Eric S Brown, William Meikle, John Kenny, Gary Fry, Diane Parkin, Jim Mcleod, Siobhan McKinney, Rick Carufel, Ben Eads, Theresa Derwin, Rena Mason, Steve Rasnic Tem, Michael A. Arnzen, Joe Mynhardt, John Palisano, Mark West, Steven Savile, and a writer so famous he’s required to stay anonymous.

Published by Crystal Lake Publishing
Edited by Joe Mynhardt and Emma Audsley
Cover art by Ben Baldwin
eBook formatting by Robert Swartwood

Final line-up:
Foreword by Mort Castle
Making Contact by Jack Ketchum
What is Horror by Graham Masterton
Bitten by the Horror Bug by Edward Lee
Reader Beware by Siobhan McKinney
Balancing Art and Commerce by Taylor Grant
From Prose to Scripts by Shane McKenzie
Writing About Films and for Film by Paul Kane
Screamplays! Writing the Horror Film by Lisa Morton
Screenplay Writing: The First Cut Is the Deepest by Dean M. Drinkel
Publishing by Simon Marshall-Jones
Weighing Up Traditional Publishing & eBook Publishing by Robert W. Walker
Glenn Rolfe Toes the Line with Samhain Horror Head Honcho, Don D’Auria by Glenn Rolfe
Bringing the Zombie to Life by Harry Shannon
Audiobooks: Your Words to Their Ears by Chet Williamson
Writing Aloud by Lawrence Santoro
Ghost-writing: You Can’t Write It If You Can’t Hear It by Thomas Smith
Ghost-writing by Blaze McRob
The Horror Writers Association – the Genre’s Essential Ingredient by Rocky Wood
What a Short Story Editor Does by Ellen Datlow
Self-Publishing: Making Your Own Dreams by Iain Rob Wright
Self-Publishing: Thumb on the Button by Kenneth W. Cain
What’s the Matter with Splatter? by Daniel I. Russell
Partners in the Fantastic: The Pros and Cons of Collaborations by Michael McCarty
The Journey of “Rudy Jenkins Buries His Fears” by Richard Thomas
Writing Short Fiction by Joan De La Haye
A beginner’s guide to setting up and running a website by Michael Wilson
Poetry and Horror by Blaze McRob
Horror for Kids: Not Child’s Play by Francois Bloemhof
So you want to write comic books… by C.E.L. Welsh
Horror Comics – How to Write Gory Scripts for Gruesome Artists by Jasper Bark
Some Thoughts on my Meandering within the World of Dark and Horror Art by Niall Parkinson
Writing the Series by Armand Rosamilia
Running a Web serial by Tonia Brown
Reviewing by Jim Mcleod
Avoiding What’s Been Done to Death by Ramsey Campbell
The 7 Signs that make Agents and Editors say, “Yes!” by Anonymous
The (extremely) Short Guide to Writing Horror by Tim Waggoner
Growing Ideas by Gary McMahon
Filthy Habits – Writing and Routine by Jasper Bark
A Room of One’s Own – The Lonely Path of a Writer by V.H. Leslie
Do You Need an Agent? by Eric S Brown
Ten Short Story Endings to Avoid by William Meikle
Submitting Your Work Part 2: Read the F*****g Guidelines! by John Kenny
Rejection Letters – How to Write and Respond to Them by Jasper Bark
Editing and Proofreading by Diane Parkin
On Formatting: A Concise Guide to the Most Frequently Encountered issues by Rick Carufel
How to Dismember Your Darlings – Editing Your Own Work by Jasper Bark
From Reader to Writer: Finding Inspiration by Emma Audsley
Writing Exercises by Ben Eads
The Year After Publication… by Rena Mason
Writing Horror: 12 Tips on Making a Career of It by Steve Rasnic Tem
The Five Laws of Arnzen by Michael A. Arnzen
The Cheesy Trunk of Terror by Scott Nicholson
How to be Your Own Agent, Whether You Have One or Not by Joe Mynhardt
Networking at Conventions by Lucy A. Snyder
Pitch to Impress: How to Stand Out from the Convention Crowd by RJ Cavender
You Better (Net)Work by Tim Waggoner
Friendship, Writing, and the Internet by Weston Ochse
Buttoning Up Before Dinner by Gary Fry
How to Fail as an Artist in Ten Easy Steps by John Palisano
Writer’s Block by Mark West
Be the Writer You Want to Be by Steven Savile
Afterword by Joe Mynhardt

And here’s the universal link for Amazon. Or you can get it from the Crystal Lake Publishing website. Go get your copy!

 

 

13 Questions with Sarah Lotz

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

Sarah_Lotz_pic_p 3Sarah Lotz is a screenwriter and novelist with a fondness for the macabre and fake names. Among other things, she writes horror/thriller novels under the name S.L. Grey with author Louis Greenberg, a YA pulp-fiction zombie series with her daughter, Savannah, under the pseudonym Lily Herne, and quirky erotica novels with authors Helen Moffett and Paige Nick under the name Helena S. Paige.

Her latest solo novel, The Three, will be published in May, 2014. She lives in Cape Town with her family and other animals.

1. What drives you to write?

Neurosis. And the fact that I am unemployable and have never wanted to do anything else (except become a rally driver maybe).

2. What attracted you to writing horror?

This is such a difficult question! I can’t come up with a clever answer, other than to say that this is the way the stories come out. I suppose it’s because I’ve been reading horror/spec fiction since I was a child, and wanted to write books that might give readers the same delicious scary-but-safe buzz I get out of it (I’ll get there one day …)

3. Who are your favourite horror writers?

Gah. So many. Top of my head, Stephen King, Sarah Pinborough, Kaaron Warren, Peter Straub, Joe Hill, Simon Bestwick and Alison Littlewood.

4. Which horror novels do you think every horror fan should read?

I Am Legend, Richard Matheson; The Hellbound Heart, Clive Barker; The Hellfire Club, Peter Straub; World War Z, Max Brooks; The Girl With All the Gifts, M. R Carey; Slights, Kaaron Warren; The Language of Dying, Sarah Pinborough (not strictly horror, but damn); The Stand, Stephen King; Dark Matter, Michelle Paver; Horns, Joe Hill; James and the Giant Peach, Roald Dahl.

5. Ebooks or paperback?Three-final (1)

Both.

6. What would make you pick up a novel by a new author?

A recommendation by a friend or a mention on Twitter – my timeline is filled with incredible book bloggers who really know their stuff.

7. Who is your favourite fictional character?

Charlotte in Charlotte’s Web. Even though I’m arachnophobic, the thought of her death still makes me weep (pathetic, I know).

8. Do you plot your stories or does it just unfold before your eyes?

Both. Each novel is different. The next S.L Grey novel, which has a murder mystery element to it, needed very careful plotting. That said, it’s far more exciting not knowing for sure where a novel is going to end up (although my editor wouldn’t agree with me).

9. Do your characters take on a life of their own and do things you didn’t plan?

Yes. Constantly. It really makes me want to kill them off (sometimes I do).

10. Do you listen to music when you write or do you need silence?

Pure silence.

The Three cover 211. Do you do a lot of research for your stories?

Yes. Probably too much – I can get obsessive. One of my characters in my next solo book is from the Philippines, and I’ve been trying to learn Tagalog, which is taking things a little too far. On the upside, I now know how to investigate an air crash, perform an autopsy, cold read, and survive a zombie apocalypse, so it’s all good.

12. Facebook or Twitter?

Twitter. I’m no longer on Facebook after an awkward stalker incident.

13. What really pisses you off about writing?

Nothing about writing pisses me off, but I know loads of really talented authors who are unable to make a living from their craft. It drives me crazy that the rates for freelancers (for example) are still the same (or less) than five years ago. This is a particular blight in SA. If writers and writing are continually undervalued, then we’re going to miss out on a whole bunch of talent and potentially important novels in the future.

 

13 Questions with Jasper Bark

Hello my Freaky Darlings,

jasp 1 inks 300dpi cleanToday Jasper Bark is here as part of his Bring Jasper to Justice blog tour to promote his rather twisted novella – Stuck on You. Jasper can be stalked on his website, and Twitter.

1. What drives you to write?

I suppose it’s a matter of love and compulsion. I love reading, I love language and I love fiction. Reading for me is a physical as well as a mental pleasure, it’s also highly emotionally stimulating. I’ve loved playing with words, both their sound and meaning, since I learned to speak. Fiction, for me, uncovers and offers explanations for the mysteries of existence. The fierceness and intensity of my love for all these things probably fuels the compulsion I have to write. Like most writers, writing is as essential to me as breathing or eating.

2. What attracted you to writing horror?

I guess it’s a way of accommodating the more destructive sides of my personality and finding a safe way of managing and facing up to them. Fear and aggression are rarely useful or positive emotions. They often fuel one another and the only good thing in my life that has ever come out of either would be the horror fiction I’ve written.

3. Who are your favourite horror writers?

Heavens, I bet every writer who answers this question has problems with keeping the list short. My first love in horror was Robert Bloch, possibly one of the most underrated writers in the field. I love the way he structures stories and the way they build, like a joke, to a punchline that invariably catches you unaware. I also love his jet black, ever present humour, in both these ways he was more of an influence on my own work than I may care to admit. Reading Lisa Tuttle as an adolescent showed me how to harness my own fears and make compelling fiction out of them. She continues to terrify me to this day, especially her brilliant short fiction. Ramsey Campbell’s work did the same for me and still unsettles and unnerves me whenever I pick it up. Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont have also been very important to me and they allow me to segue neatly into the screenwriters I love as they wrote for the Twilight zone alongside the inestimable Rod Serling. Nigel Kneale was a TV writer of genius who has scared me senseless many times. To come full circle Stephen Volk is a contemporary screenwriter and who also writes the sort of short fiction that everyone should read for it’s savagery and sophistication.

4. Which horror novels do you think every horror fan should read?

Ah, now if you’d said books I would have gone for three groundbreaking anthologies Dark Forces edited by Kirby McCauley, 999 by Al Sarantonio and Black Water edited by Alberto Manguel which every horror fan should definitely read. Novels are more difficult. Off the top of my head I would suggest The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, The Shining by Stephen King and The Third Policeman by Flan O’Brien, simply because it is a work of genius.

5. Ebooks or paperback?

When it comes to publishing I’m happy to see my work in either. For sheer reading pleasure I prefer paperbacks. I love the tactility of them, the musty smell of old books and the crisp, fresh smell of new ones. The feeling of turning a page and cracking a spine is sadly missing from an Ebook for me. Of course if I was to express my ideal preference it would be for a hardback.

6. What would make you pick up a novel by a new author?

An exciting or a novel concept that I hadn’t encountered before. Characters that intrigue me and also the author’s writing prowess, if they have a good style and ability to tell a great story I’m hooked.

7. Who is your favourite fictional character?

That’s a really, really tough one, but after staring at my groaning bookshelves for a while I’d have to suggest Daniel Pearse from the amazing novel Stone Junction by Jim Dodge. Another work of genius.

8. Do you plot your stories or does it just unfold before your eyes?

If I’m honest, it’s a little of both. I usually spend a lot of time plotting in advance but sometimes a story gets impatient with me and tells me to just sit down and write the damn thing. Even when I’ve plotted something quite tightly the story will often surprise me by taking unexpected turns. There is always a journey of discovery as you uncover the first draft, even if you think you know where you’re going. One of my favourite jokes goes: ‘Q: How do you make God laugh? A: Tell Him your plans.’ Bearing that in mind, I suspect you would probably have your novel in uncontrollable fits of giggles if you were to show it your chapter breakdowns.

9. Do your characters take on a life of their own and do things you didn’t plan?

Constantly! As I was coming towards the end of my second novel I was worried about a few loose plot threads and was trying to think of a sub plot I could quickly add to address them. Then out of the blue one of my characters suddenly revealed a whole sub plot that had been going on right under the main characters’ noses that completely reframed the whole story. I had no idea about this until she started to outline it. I sat there taking dictation from her thinking the whole while “why the hell didn’t I think of this?” She even made reference to all kinds of tiny events in the novel that I had forgotten about and suddenly made complete sense of them. Many reviewers commented on this surprise sub plot and singled it out for praise, but to this day I really don’t think I can take any credit for it. It all came from my female lead.

Sci fi visionary Philip K. Dick used to speak with his characters and consult them independently of his fiction. He was especially fond of a few characters and he would interact with them in a fictional realm, a little like divination. When he needed their support or advice he would sit at his typewriter and type “Phil walks into Leo’s office. He sits at Leo’s desk, wearing a hang dog expression. ‘Something on your mind Phil?’ Leo says. ‘Well I’m glad you asked,’ says Phil. ‘As it happens … &etc’.” He had on going relationships like this, with some of his characters, for decades after the books they appeared in were published. This is because the characters were independent entities to him. Grant Morrison also talks about putting on a fiction suit and stepping into stories and I’ve met Chaos magicians who claim to have summoned up and interacted with fictional characters in very real magical ceremonies. So I guess they’re all exploring a similar vein, which begs the question: do we come up with our characters, or have they always been there, simply waiting for us to write a story to house them?

10. Do you listen to music when you write or do you need silence?

It all depends on my mood, my environment and the passage of fiction I’m writing. I recently discovered that a lot writers share my habit of writing to film scores. These are great to write to because they’ve been specifically composed to tell a story and create a mood. For this reason they can be of great benefit to the writer wanting to enhance a mood in order to capture it. Music is also useful to create a bubble and block out the outside world so you can focus your concentration (something that is essential to a writer). If the work isn’t flowing though music can be one more distraction and is best dispensed with. In these instances complete silence is best.

11. Do you do a lot of research for your stories?

Shedloads! If you’re writing fantastical fiction and you want your reader to buy into your more imaginative concepts you’ve got to make every other detail as real as possible, which involves tonnes of research for me.

12. Facebook or Twitter?

I’m tempted to say neither. I spend more time on Facebook than twitter because I find it more focussed and less distracting. However twitter doesn’t have the same insidious undercurrent of dictatorial censoriousness that Facebook has. People don’t get blocked from Twitter with the alarming regularity that Facebook suspends people’s accounts and there’s not the same level of threat from the admins. The other thing that Facebook, like LinkedIn, gets totally wrong is the insistence that you must know people before connecting. This defeats the whole purpose of networking and runs counter to how most people use those sites. It’s like inviting a bunch of industrial professionals to a networking event and then insisting that no one talks to anyone that they don’t already intimately know. Beyond stupid really. They’re all useful in their own ways but I’m looking forward to the day social media evolves to address these issues. When that happens I’ll be at the head of the stampede deserting Facebook.

13. What really pisses you off about writing? STUCK ON YOU cover redo

More than anything it’s the business and admin side of the job, not to mention the precarious nature of freelancing in this field. People think of writing as a dream job, but they forget to take into account that you do it under nightmare working conditions.

Oh and one other thing that annoys me is getting to the end of an interview and realising that I haven’t plugged my latest book. I have a new novelette coming out from Crystal Lake Publishing, an extreme erotic horror called Stuck On You. I can positively guarantee that this will be the sickest, filthiest thing you’ll read all year. It will turn you on even as it turns your stomach. Trust your Uncle Jasp on this, you know it makes sense.

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Stuck on You is a sick, twisted, quick read that will leave you uncomfortable and disturbed. It should also not be read on a full stomach, you may end up losing your lunch or dinner. Trust me on this.

And as a little extra, here’s a little Video Edition with Jasper having some fun with Zombies: