The Infernal Clock

My flash fiction buddies have been up to their old shenanigans, and after a random episode of tweeting brilliance, David Shakes came up with another cool flash fiction book concept, The Infernal Clock, a horror story for each hour of the day.

My hour, assigned late in the game, was 2 a.m. I have played around with horror as an exercise over the years, but I admit, I find it one of the hardest genres as a writer. My story, Karen’s Babies, was one of many stories I have written in my life to which I didn’t want to attach my name. But, I took a deep breath and did it anyway, as an exercise in detaching from my creations. Just because I wrote something dark and twisted, it doesn’t mean I am dark and twisted.

Right?

I had the privilege of working with David Shakes and Steph Ellis, the curators of this volume, to produce the final product in e-book and print form. The incomparable Tamara Rogers made the cover.

get e-book here

get print book here

INfernal Clock Kindle Cover

 

 

Seven Questions: Mark A. King

I am very happy to welcome Mark A. King to my blog for a round of seven questions, featuring his debut novel Metropolitan Dreams. Mark is one of the founders of FlashDogs, a global community of talented flash fiction writers. His flash fiction stories have been published in a number of anthologies and magazines. Mark was born and raised in London, works in Cambridge, and lives in Norfolk, England.

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1-Pitch your book in three sentences or less.

M.A.K.: In the aftermath of a violent crime we follow the connected stories of an injured nightclub bouncer, an ageing crime-lord, a conflicted police hacker, a traumatised Tube-driver and a vulnerable twelve-year-old girl as they fight for survival, purpose and redemption in the fractured city of London. Along the journey we discover lost rivers, abandoned underground stations, mysterious forces and angels (perhaps).

2-Is your book indie-published or traditionally published? Tell us a little about that journey.

M.A.K.: Indie published. Having monitored the progress (and success) of many FlashDogs on their various publishing adventures, it became clear to me that traditional publishing can be a long, hard and often frustrating experience. Self publishing offers choice, power, flexibility and responsiveness in terms of being able to get the book in front of readers. Some misguided voices that say self publishing has lesser quality, but a fair number of the finest books I have read over the last few years have come from indie authors and traditional publishing is no guarantee that you will like a book anyway, as everyone has their own reading preferences. Indeed, the indie path can often offer a wider variety of material to the reader. Neither is better, it’s just that indie suited me at this time.
The kind and talented host of this blog helped me almost every step of the way, from story transformation through to last minute logo creation. Should you be able to find someone as marvellous, I highly recommend you seek their magic as a priority early in the process.

3-What are your favorite genres/books to read, and do you think this affects your writing? How?

M.A.K.: I enjoy speculative fiction, which covers genres as diverse as science fiction, horror, fantasy, magical realism and new weird. I find myself always looking firstly to ground my stories in the lives of my characters and the journey they on on, but I’m fascinated by the worlds that science, faith and spirituality hint at, which are just beyond our current understanding. So I always try to find an undercurrent of otherworldlyness in my stories (not a real word, but it probably should be).

4-What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?

M.A.K.: I can’t remember the exact words, but it was something like ‘Write the way you want to write. Try not to be someone else as there is only one you.’
I’m starting to learn that it’s important to tell the stories I want to tell in the way that I want to tell them. It might sound obvious, but it’s not, well not for me anyway, I’m fairly conformist in my real life, my writing in many ways is an outlet for something more creative.
However, I realise that this approach is likely to mean that I have less success in terms of potential sales.
It would almost certainly be easier to create a firm genre fiction, following the paths of proven formulas, but that wouldn’t seem like success to me. I’ve waited all my life to write a novel. Success, I think, is creating something different and unique, being true to the stories in my imagination and in my heart, and all I can hope for is that readers will appreciate something slightly different and connect with it in some way.

5-How do you fit your writing into a busy life?

M.A.K.: It is incredibly hard. Like many writers, I have a full time job. I have a reasonable amount of responsibility in my job and when I come home there are numerous demands on my time and energy. I juggle a number of social media accounts (my personal one, my writer one/s and the FlashDogs one)–I wouldn’t make a good spy, as this is too many identities for me already. I tend to squeeze stolen minutes and hours between other tasks, or use my work breaks wisely. My favourite writing experience was when I had to drop my daughter at a horse riding experience which was in in a neighbouring county. Too far away to come back home, so I looked at the map and realised that Rendlesham Forest was nearby, so I took my laptop and wrote some of Metropolitan Dreams from the middle of the forest where UFO sightings have been reported (the UK’s very own Roswell incident, only with more witnesses and recorded evidence from military personnel).
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It was a magical place to write from, it wasn’t just the history, but being outside surrounded by the energy of the forest was inspiring in itself. So, while finding time is sometimes hard, it does also lead to wonderful opportunities.

6-How and when did you first know you were a writer?

M.A.K.: I find it odd to think of myself as a writer and I have a cheeky small-boy grin when someone suggests that I might be one. For most of us, writing is unlikely to pay the bills, so for me, it is only ever a secondary role to; being a father, husband, good employee/manager, community contributor etc.

7-What’s your secret superpower?

M.A.K.: What is it now? Or what would I like it to be? If now, then people say that I am generally very calm under pressure. But if I had to choose a real superpower, it would be teleportation. I’d click my fingers and return to the warm sands of Shark Bay on Heron Island which sits atop the Great Barrier Reef. I’d click my fingers again to visit family or friends I don’t see often enough. Click to visit the many friends I have not yet met in different parts of the world.

Many thanks to Mark for answering seven questions!

You can learn more about Mark and his writing at his blog: https://makingfiction.com/
Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/Making_Fiction
Get Metropolitan Dreams: https://goo.gl/EsXA3I

Seven Questions : July 2016 : Jessie Kwak

This month I’m hosting the talented Jessie Kwak, a fellow cycling writer. Jessie and I have shared space in the bikey short fiction anthologies published by Elly Blue, and her current work-in-progress will be published as the next novel in the Bikes In Space series, following The Velocipede Races as a pioneer in the emerging bicycle fiction genre.

She is a freelancer writer of many talents and projects living in Portland, Oregon. When she’s not working with B2B marketers to tell their brand’s story, you can find her scribbling away on her latest novel, riding her bike to the brewpub, or sewing something fun. Her latest fiction work is Starfallset in a futuristic world of space bikes and gangsters.

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EJS: Pitch your featured book in three sentences.

JK: When Starla Dusai, the deaf daughter of a notorious space pirate clan, is captured by the Alliance, she finds herself in a remote prison with no idea what happened to the rest of her family. Rumors of her family’s destruction quickly make their way through the black market underbelly of New Sarjun, where they reach the ears of her godfather, Willem Jaantzen. As the jaws of the Alliance’s justice system close in around her, will Starla be able to find her way out – or Jaantzen, in?

EJS: Is your book indie-published or traditionally published? Tell us a little about that journey.

JK: It’s indie-published. I’m working on a novel right now for Microcosm Publishing set in this same world. Starla and her godfather, Jaantzen, are minor characters in this novel, but they kept nudging me to tell more about their story. I started Starfall as a quick backstory sketch, but it quickly took on a life of its own.

Even though it’s short, I put a ton of care into the production. I commissioned the cover art of Starla – which I adore – and worked with a professional editor and cover designer to make sure everything’s as perfect as it can be.

I own my own freelance writing business, so the business side of indie publishing is really attractive to me. Plus, I love the ability to work on my own timeline and release something when it’s ready.

EJS: Why sci-fi?

JK: I’ve been referring to Starfall as “gangster sci-fi,” which is a label I’ll probably apply to the rest of the novellas I have planned in the series. I would say the series is very much more inspired by movies like The Godfather and Ronin – just set in a far-future world.

For my entire life, I’ve loved immersing myself in fantastical places – both in what I read, and the stories I made up. I’ve shied away from writing sci-fi for a long time, mostly because I was scared of the science-y aspects of the worldbuilding.

I’ll be the first to admit Starfall is very soft sci-fi, though. My stories are all very character-driven – my goal is first and foremost to tell a good story with people you want to spend time with, then make sure the world is realistic enough that it doesn’t knock you out of the story.

EJS: What’s a favorite sci-fi book and why?

JK: Growing up, Dune and Ender’s Game were my absolute favorites. Now, though, I have too many to count! I love Rachel Bach’s Paradox Trilogy – there’s adventure, romance, and kick-ass characters. I’m also thoroughly enjoying James S.A Corey’s Expanse Series. Rollicking adventures and fabulous characters – so much fun!

EJS: What makes a sentence great?

JK: It has an element of surprise to it, and the reader feels it in their soul. Margaret Atwood and Margot Lanagan are both masters of great sentences.

EJS: How and when did you first know you were a writer?

JK: When I filled two spiral bound notebooks with a story in middle school.

 EJS: What are your writing rituals?

JK: Since I’m a freelance writer for my day job, I have to make a clear delineation between when/where I write fiction, and when/where I do client work. For client work, I sit at a desk with my schedule and phone and notepad beside me. When it’s fiction-writing time, I’ll take my laptop to the armchair or couch and put my feet up with a cup of tea or glass of wine, depending on the time of day. For me, evening is often a better time to do creative writing, while morning is a better time to edit and outline.

Learn more about Jessie: http://www.jessiekwak.com/

Read an excerpt from Starfallhttp://www.jessiekwak.com/starfall-an-excerpt/

Get Starfall for free by signing up for Jessie’s mailing list: http://www.jessiekwak.com/get-starfall-for-free/

Follow her on Twitter: (@jkwak).

 

 

 

Sterling At Last

Sterling

Today is the official release date of Tales of Blood & Light, Book Three, STERLING. It is now available in all formats on Amazon or through special order from LCP.

I hope you will enjoy this fantasy romance adventure that is a bit of a departure from my other books–a little sweeter and a little lighter, while still advancing the plots of war, intrigue, and magic that drive the Tales of Blood & Light.

Thank you for reading!

 

Sterling Print Version Is Here

sterling

I received my box of Sterling print copies early, so those of you who prefer print versions can get an early copy starting Monday 6/13 (my birthday!) at Flow or you can order a print version now from Amazon.

If you’d like a signed copy to pick up at Flow–or mailed to you–please contact me directly.

Ebooks will still be out on June 27. You can pre-order an ebook here.

Seven Questions : June 2016 : Tamara Shoemaker

Prolific YA fantasy writer Tamara Shoemaker joins me again for a third round of Seven Questions! Her latest book is Embrace the Fire, Book Two in the Heart of a Dragon series. Tamara is one of my favorite writing buddies. We have worked on each other’s books as beta readers, blurbers, and editors, and we have even co-written a story together in one of the Flashdogs anthologies.

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EJS: Pitch your featured book in three sentences.

TS: Embrace the Fire continues the journeys of the four characters introduced in Kindle the Flame. Political intrigue boils into epic warfare as kings clash and nations dissolve beneath Dragonfire and magic. Kinna, Cedric, and Ayden are drawn inexorably toward a fearful destiny, and Dragons, Pixies, Seer Fey, and other creatures are pitted against one another as the conclusion dissolves into a cataclysmic end that will leave the reader dying for more.

EJS: Of all your characters, who is your favorite and why?

TS: I put little pieces of me in all of my characters (even the evil ones), so this is an extremely hard one to answer; it’s like choosing a favorite child. At the risk of alienating the rest of my characters and embroiling them in green jealous ink, I’m going to choose Ayden. The pull of a lonely soul who has never known the joy of a mother’s love or the touch of a friend is one of my “mushy” spots. I just want to give him a hug. I think it’s likely that I make some of the other characters hug him more often than is absolutely necessary to make up for his lack of attention. Poor soul.

EJS: What is the hardest thing about writing for you?

TS: I think the slice of the first draft from 20,000 words to approximately 70,000 words is the hardest. When I start a first draft, I’m on fire for 20,000 words. It’s still new, it’s fresh, and I’m still falling in love with the characters. By the time that 20k rolls around, the characters sag. They start to wonder: Who am I? Why am I here? Who created me? What if there is no creator? What if I’m just one big cosmic accident, and the only reason I exist on these pages is because someone, somewhere got incredibly confused? By the time 70,000 words rolls around, the characters have found their path in life. They begin to put their affairs in order, and they relax with their friends and family around them, cheering them on through the last few steps until the conclusion. But those middle 50,000 words are torture.

EJS: What do you think are the three most important personality traits for being a writer?

TS: Flexibility, determination, and a good mixture of talent with imagination. I know lots of people that have two, but not three, of those, and it’s never enough—not unless all three of those are present. Every writer has more weight on one or another of these, but as long as all three are there, a story will make its way from mind to book and into the hands of readers.

EJS: What makes a good editor?

TS: A basic understanding of what makes a good story. This seems simplistic, but there’s so much to what creates a good story that an editor’s job isn’t just a simple add-a-comma-here-delete-this-word-here. It’s understanding how to build a story on a solid foundation that won’t topple as the plot points fall into order. It’s identifying the main conflict and helping the author to build each character’s story around that conflict. It’s cheerleading—being the voice behind the author that beats down the author’s frustrations, whether derived from the editor’s critiques or from outside critiques, and being the one to pull the author through to the end, to a polished and completed book in his or her hands. A good editor is worth their weight in gold.

EJS: What is the best book you’ve read this year in any genre?

TS: I promise I’m not just saying this because I’m on your blog, but the best book I’ve read in a looonnngg time is Sterling by Emily June Street. It’s a wonderful romantic fantasy that is almost a twist on my favorite fairy tale: Beauty and the Beast. The plot is intricately woven, the character development is stunning, and the story arc kept me riveted. It releases at the end of June 2016, so keep an eye out for this one!

EJS: Are you working on anything new aside from your two fantasy series?

TS: Ha! I can’t seem to slow myself down. I’m enjoying building my freelance editing business: it’s always so exciting to read someone else’s work, helping someone polish their story to a high sheen, so I’m in the middle of a project there. I’m finishing up the third book in my Guardian of the Vale trilogy, and I’m also writing the first draft of the third book in my Heart of a Dragon trilogy. Recently, I’ve also begun drawing up plans for a historical romance series that I plan to put out under a pen name… you know, to work on in all my spare time. 😉

Learn more about Tamara, her books, and her stellar fiction editing services: https://tamarashoemaker.org/