Meet Guest Author, Brad C Baker…

Brad is a member of my real life writing group and so happy his dream is finally coming true!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

I was born in Toronto, Ontario, where I now live with my Malamute huge dog called Crallick. Crallick is named after the primary character in my debut book and is probably just as big a force to be reckoned with!

My love of storytelling really began when I discovered roleplaying games such as Dungeons and Dragons, which allowed me to explore the different facets of a character and the different routes each scenario could take. However, even before this, I was a fan of many sci-fi and fantasy franchises and loved the work of Tolkien.

My love of travel and adventure began to develop as I grew older, seeping out into the real world. This led me to hitch-hike across Canada once and also across North America on two separate occasions. My wanderlust knew no bounds! I loved meeting new people and hearing their stories, as there was always something…

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A Company of Writers: Kenneth Hoover

Shining a Light on Dark Fiction

Screen shot 2014-09-25 at 3.33.07 PMI want to thank Darke Conteur for this opportunity to talk a little about the things I write, and why as a professional writer most fiction I’ve written is dark.

I’ve sold over 60 short stories (and articles) and several novels. Almost all are dark-themed. I concede this says more about me than the state of speculative fiction in general. So it begs the question: Why so dark, Mark?

The bottom line is it gives me an opportunity to tell the kinds of stories I want to tell. I don’t write dark stories because I’m trying to be edgy or ride a popular wave. Those tactics never work anyway. By the time you get around to doing exactly that the field has moved on. But when I tap into my creative self these lurking shadows beg to be let loose. Who am I to deny them?

Personally, I don’t like “safe fiction” which doesn’t challenge or call into question ideas about ourselves. To be sure, fiction which doesn’t challenge can be extremely well-written. But I have a sneaking suspicion the dark things stay with us longest because they are more often deeply buried.

It’s up to writers to bring them to light.

From Shakespeare’s tragedies, to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Deerslayer, to The Empire Strikes Back and many dark myths which have shaped our past and modern culture the power of darkness is lasting. You can come up with many more examples than I can, I’m sure. There’s a lot of darkness out there and it’s not going away.

People create it, and read it, and desire it, for a reason. Because it speaks to who we are as a species and what we want to avoid.

One caveat needs mentioning. Dark fiction doesn’t mean violent. Violence for the sake of violence doesn’t make a story dark. It makes a story clunky and gets in the way of more powerful themes trying to come to the fore.

For example, my dark western novel Quaternity (CZP, 2015) has a lot of violence. So does my novel Haxan (CZP, 2014), the existing weird western short stories, and Seven Devils, a new novel recently accepted by CZP. But it’s not something I dwell upon for the sake of its existence. I don’t describe violence in excruciating detail. That would minimize its power and what the story is trying to convey.

Anyway, that’s where your creativity comes in! Sometimes I’m successful in writing this way, sometimes not. But I’m always trying to find that perfect angle because it’s who I am.

There are lots of writers who tell all kinds of great stories. But you will find me crouched in my own little corner of the universe playing with matches, and trying to shed light on the darker things that make us who we are.


Kenneth-HooverKenneth Mark Hoover’s fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Strange Horizons, Frontier Tales, and others. He is a member of WWA and his  latest novel, QUATERNITY, is a dark western published by CZP/HarperCollins in 2015. You can find out more from his blog or his website

Author Interview; Forbes West

Here it is. The last of my Author Interviews. I had hoped to continue this blog series, but unfortunately, no matter how many posts I put out looking for authors, hardly anyone replied. To the authors who did, I am honoured and grateful to have had the opportunity to speak with you. May all your publishing dreams come true. It’s been a fun couple of years and I hope you’ve discovered some wonderful, new authors to read.

For my last interview, I bring you Forbes West. A controversial character to be sure, this interview gives you a taste of his unique personality, and a reason why I like him so much. Someone who isn’t afraid to speak his mind.

So let’s begin…

  1. Let’s get to know you a bit. Where are you from, and what genre do you write?

forbeswest-2Chicago originally. Chicago is a great place to grow resentful and to use your imagination at the same time due to its Russia like climate keeping you indoors 11 months of the year.  That sounds awful but I’m tired and it’s past midnighthere in California where I currently live. I like California more. In California you can wear shorts all year long and drink fruity cocktails and if you get bored there’s a desert nearby full of Joshua Trees to shoot off various types of guns and to drink King Cobra and hold impromptu drag races in Japanese cars long past retirement age that stink of cigarettes. I write mostly science fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction because my romance novels were all rejected for being too ugly.

  1. With all the risks and uncertainty around publishing, what was it that drew you to a career in writing?

What drew me to writing was that it was like playing the lottery except you can increase your odds by being moderately talented and if you strike it rich a lower percentage of people will think you didn’t deserve your new found wealth. I also like the idea of working alone (for the most part) or choosing who to work with. When I was kid I was sort of lonely so out of sheer boredom I always made up characters and situations and story lines to entertain myself. I still do, but this time I make sure to record what I’m doing and then pass it along to others who might get a kick out of it. So even though it’s a crapshoot, I rather play this tough game for the rest of my life instead of doing the 9-5 wage slave gig. There’s nothing appealing about working life anymore. Even for top earners, it’s like that Bob Dylan song- “You Gotta Serve Somebody”. You’re always on the hook. With writing that is still true but I enjoy it more than doing something I could not possibly care about. The real heroes are the bored ones at low paying no intellectual stimulation McJobs.

  1. What things influence your writing? Have you ever written them into a story?

What influences my writing the most has been what I learned as a political activist and my own education towards getting a master’s degree in political science. I was around politically active people, I learned history, I learned ideology and I learned political theories. From all of that I came to my own personal conclusion- no one, unless they are completely out of their mind, believes that what they do is evil. There is always self-justification for whatever happens. That’s the true story behind Nazis, Stalinists, and Jihadists. They all have come to this ugly belief that they are fighting to save the world and whatever they have to do is justified. So when I have bad characters or evil people in my stories, I always keep that in mind. Somehow, in someway, they justify their horrors and think they really are the heroes in the end.

  1. Was there any one influence that made you want to write?

One thing that made me really want to write was to show the complexity of human beings. Again, going back to my more political days, I found out these little anecdotes and stories about world leaders that made you re-evaluate simplistic thoughts on good and evil.  There could never have been a Nazi who thought that what they were doing was terrible and there could never have been a Joseph Stalin who thought he wasn’t doing everything possible for the workers. But these creatures lacked empathy for their fellow human beings and decided that whatever they did was right and they were heroic for making “tough decisions”- decisions that destroyed human life. So when I see some writing about some character just being 100% bad, I cringe and tune out. I decided that I should write what I thought to be the truth of how persons act and why they do what they do, because I honestly don’t see that enough in most stories/tv shows/films.

  1. Expanding on your answer for question 4, have you ever thought of putting a real life event, something that everyone could identify with, into a story?

I’ve put in little things I noticed over the years. Little quirks of behavior, minor incidents, funny insults, jabs or interesting comments. Things like that. I’ve never put something that was 100% real because my reality has never been nearly as interesting as what I’d like to write about. But I do like adding in some stuff to sort of make scenes “feel” real.  Especially dialogue, which many times I find in writing to be stilted or off, as if certain authors have never been in the same room as a human being.

  1. What do you feel is the biggest drawback to the genre ‘scene’?

The only drawback is that it makes your audience expect certain things and makes you yourself feel bound to these certain things.  There’s invisible boundaries that seemingly you can’t cross while trying to be creative and original- otherwise you may find that the people you are trying to sell to feel like they were signing up to read something they really didn’t want and they’ll hate it. It’s a very tricky process to try to push the envelope while making sure your audience is satisfied.

I mean, you don’t want to be accused of false advertising if you go too far away from what the genre is about. It makes sense, to a certain degree. I don’t buy something that looks to be scifi and find out its a Regency style romantic play.

  1. Let’s talk a little about your latest project. What is the title and what is it about?

I’ve got two projects coming out. One is the sequel to Medium Talent, called Bad Dream Man. It follows up the events of what happened in Medium Talent and is just a nice little showcase of how the universe likes to rip the rug right out from under us when we think we managed to escape the worse. There’s zombies and reality ripping itself apart and it’s set in the 1930s of Hemingway’s Key West. So yeah, it’s like that.  Wendy Wicker, the young survivor from Medium Talent, has led her family away from the horrors of post-apocalyptic society to the world of the great depression, which is her mind thirty steps up from the tragedies of her own present. But what was supposed to have been fixed in Medium Talent hasn’t, and everything is going wrong quickly. She undertakes a special mission from an very strange source, and the novel is off and running at that point. It should be coming out soon; it was supposed to come out on November 20th with Wonderment Media but they unfortunately closed their doors so I’m doing it on my own.

  1. What advice would you give to a new author who wants to write in your genre?

For any new author, I think the one piece of advice I would tell them is to take a real long moment to put together your “world”. What I mean is, in scifi and fantasy, you really need to have your world put together for your person(s) to roam around in. You need to know what people think, believe, what they want there, what’s popular, what’s interesting, what’s unusual. It makes it so that the reader feels like they are stepping off the normal plane of existence and becoming a voyeur in a new and exciting world that they have never before seen.  I think that all good science fiction/fantasy does this; people become excited and almost wish to live in these places. Think of all the people who wish they were a character in Harry PotterStar Trek, Star Wars, etc. Those universes are so distinct and interesting that people want to know more and more about it. And that I think is what sets them apart in popularity in comparison to other works of art.

  1. Is there a genre that you would like to write? Something you would find a challenge?

I would like to write Romance one day. I’m sort of a sucker for a well done romance film (Out of Africa, for instance), and I think that it would be an interesting challenge to put together something like that people would like, considering I love to write violent and dark things most of the time.

  1. Most writers have manuscripts that will never see the light of day. Do you have a few of those?  

There’s only one manuscript- Cloudburst, which is basically what Medium Talent became in the end with major revisions. I have one manuscript I’m shopping to agents right now called Resurrection Hero, which is myself and my friend’s take on the superhero genre; we’ll see how that goes for now….

Where to find Forbes online:


Twitter: @Forbes_West




Author Interview: KM Cambion

Happy New Year! After several months of being quiet, I’m finally finishing up the last two authors on my list. With the holidays now over, I bring you an interview with a good friend of mine, KM Cambion.

So let’s begin…


  1. Let’s get to know you a bit. Where are you from, and what genre do you write?

hat (1)Hey there! I’m from the Detroit area in Michigan, USA. Fantasy is my poison of choice, but I’ve been having fun playing in different genres lately.


2. With all the risks and uncertainty around publishing, what was it that drew you to a career in writing?

Writing’s always been my dream. I wanted to be a “famous writer” when I was a kid, and I still wanna be one now! In seriousness, I know that it’s a one in a million shot to reach fame and/or fortune writing, but I just want to get my stories out there. Being published was the dream for me.


3. What was your biggest influence for writing?

I taught myself to read at a young age, and I wanted to tell my own stories. My mom was always there to encourage me, and even drew some pictures for story ideas I had. The first book series I read was the “Little House on the Prairie”; my mom had copies of it from when I was kid. I moved on to stories about dogs and wolves from there (White Fang, A Dog Called Kitty), and then fantasy. Mercedes Lackey’s books are the reason why I decided that I wanted to be a fantasy writer–I wanted to build my own worlds.

Now, I like to play around in different genres, so go figure.


4. Have you ever thought about giving up? If you did, what changed your mind?

I have thought about quitting. I have long-term health issues that mean I’m in constant pain, every waking minute of the day. There have also been periods of depression, or just sheer frustration, that I wanted to quit writing. It didn’t seem worth it at the time. It would be easier to give up and not have to have one more thing to worry about.

But, it’s hard to give up something you truly love. The ideas are still there. The stories that I want to tell. Those are what led to me picking it up every time I thought I was going to quit. Also, now that I have had some work published, the sense of accomplishment from it helps push me to keep going, do more, and do different things.


5. Now that you have some work published, what’s your take on the whole process? What was the hardest part for you? What was the easiest?

I haven’t been published through one of the big traditional houses, so my take would be different from someone that has been. My take is that your experience varies wildly depending on which press or house you go with. I’ve had submissions take ten months to get a response. I’ve had them take only a few weeks. It’s kind of amazing how presses are different in little ways, down to which font they want and how their like their margins.

The hardest part for me (besides waiting!) is deadlines. I’m a natural procrastinator, and let things go until the last minute. This leaves me to do unhealthy stuff like writing 10,000 words in two hours and killing my wrists. I got a piece rejected because I did just that, and despite my frantic editing, it was too unpolished to accept. I learned my lesson, and am working on my time management skills.

You know the old chestnut of “if you love your job, you’ll never work a day in your life”? Well, if you love your press, the publishing process, even with all of the edits, changes, and so fourth, feel like much more of a joy than a chore. Fortune was smiling upon me when I decided to submit to Less Than Three Press. I absolutely love the staff and the other writers we have in it.


6.  Let’s talk a little about your latest project. What is the title and what is it about?

Thanks for asking! It’s called “King of Diamonds”, (link: ) and is about Rhen, a man who makes his living by both performing card tricks and thievery. Vis a Vis, a festival that only happens every four years, is upon him, and Rhen is hoping to use the opportunity for pickpocketing and free wine. His plans change, however, when his former lover appears and says they need to talk. Rhen is still bitter, but agrees to go to play his hand.

This was really something different for me, writing-wise. I tend to do stories that are more action focused, with fight scenes and violent conflict. Focusing on just the relationship was a real change of pace, and I was excited to write it.


7. What do you hope readers will find interesting or unique about your story?

It’s a fantasy story built around a unique holiday. I think the medieval flavor partnered with characters that you don’t always seen in that sort of setting is interesting. Plus, and not to brag here, but I love the resolution to the conflict. It wasn’t what I’d originally planned, but I’m glad it turned out this way.


8. Some authors tend to stay away from certain genre’s/categories. Is there one you know you can’t write or would have a difficult time trying to write?

Contemporary romance without another genre thrown in doesn’t work for me. I just can’t do it. I have to throw in some spy thriller or urban fantasy to keep me going. Not that straight up contemporary romance is bad–I just have a short attention span. Hard sci-fi is also a no-go for me. I have a soft sci-fi story coming out next year, but just the sheer amount of research and level of technology that goes into a hard sci-fi is too much for me.


9. Writers often call their books their ‘babies’, and therefore have a difficult time with editing or critics. How do you handle the editing process? Do you have a hard time cutting scenes or even characters?

It was definitely had for me when I first started having beta readers, long before editors came into the picture. Getting my ego out of the way of the story was the most important part. I generally handle it well now, but at times, a comment I wasn’t expecting can sting. With those, I scroll past it and do my other edits, then come back when I’ve gotten some emotional distance, and read it again. 99% of the time, whatever they suggested was right anyway, and it’s just to fix the stories. Editors aren’t out to get you (even if my editor is ruthless about my ample use of semicolons!).


10. What are you hoping your readers will take away from this story?

King of Diamonds is a story about finding the whys and hows of a relationship falls apart, and the petty things done when we’re hurt. I hope the readers will take away the impression that not only forgiveness, but making amends, can suck, but taking a gamble on them can yield high rewards.

Where to find KING OF DIAMONDS online:


Author Interview with A. T. Russell

This month I bring you an interview with a good friend of mine, A.T Russell. He referred me to Michelle Picarella who offered me a place in the 7DS Slayers anthology. We’ve even done a couple video chats together; the last one can be seen on the 7DS web page.

1 Let’s get to know you a bit. Where are you from, and in what genre do you write?

atI was born in Chicago Heights, IL, a southern suburb of Chicago, and I grew up in Markham, about 20 minutes from where I was born. Having said all that, Chicago is the main city in Cook County, and everywhere I roamed was within county limits. Widely reported in U.S. news, online, radio, and television, Chicago and its surrounding area is enduring major crimes, murder being the worst of it all. This isn’t new stuff, as I grew up in the same environment that exists today. From that, I guess one would assume I would write gritty crime novels, or maybe crime thrillers. Perhaps I can and should, but I mainly write Urban Fantasy.

2. With all the risks and uncertainty around publishing, what was it that drew you to a career in writing?

To me, for me, losing myself in story-crafting is a mental escape. Sure, every emotion is engaged during the process, and sometimes I’m passionately overwhelmed by a theme or thread I’m engaged in, but I don’t live there. I can escape back to the real world when that happens. Yet, being in the story, living it mentally, isn’t that what readers do? I think so, and as a voracious reader, I certainly do. Therein is my answer. Finding success in publishing industry is quite the challenge, as well as finding readers to tantalize with my stories. The alien escapism, however… ahh, I write for the sheer passion of the story(ies).

3. Writers often call their books their ‘babies’, and therefore have a difficult time with editing or critics. How do you handle the editing process? Do you have a hard time cutting scenes or even characters?

I don’t refer to my books as my babies, actually. Sure, I get the gist of the meaning and how emotionally authors are attached to their works. Heck, I’m one who takes that ownership to the next level. Still, I get fully on-board with the editing process. A simple stroke of the pen can turn a nightmare into a cinematic dream come true for some of us, and that can only happen as a result of good editing. As for dumping characters, I have no problem with it. I also think cutting a scene works wonders, as it requires the creator to know their story details as well as they know the characters they create. In fact, I have found that cutting scenes in the drafting stage allows me to focus more attention on the story and find points in which I can make details ‘pop’ for the reader during more integral scenes.

4 Now that you have a few books under your belt, what’s your take on the whole process? What was the hardest part for you? What was the easiest?

Editing bites! It really chafes my… Okay, so editing is the hardest part for me. The idea of dreaming up this epic story, only to have some mean-ass come by with a scythe and behead the darn thing can be terrifying. But I’ve found that the most enduring authors are the ones who stand up to the reaper/editor and take every hack without flinching. Those authors endure because they learn over time and face less hacks as their initial talent becomes superior skill later on. Yes, I will overcome… someday.

The easy part for me is creating tough female characters. I don’t understand why any author would have a difficult time imagining and then creating a tough female. Badass Women and Ladies are everywhere, all the time handling their business, and doing it as well as and better than most men in every capacity known.  Here’s a hint – tough females say what they mean and mean what they say, then they back it up. It really ain’t hard.

5  As a reader, what are some things that attract you to a story?

I like a story to give me something different, to take me away from the same ole – same ole. The hero saves the day and gets the girl, and that’s just dandy. But, and here’s where it’s big for me, give me some interesting story vines. Take zombies for example; they eat brains, flesh and all that. How about if they eat certain parts of the brain and certain body parts, maybe because they, in their mindless state, are drawn to devour the mechanical and central processor they lack in their undead realities? Just something different.

Or, how about a guy in love with a woman he can’t be with because of the cosmetic changes she’s undergone in her pursuit of popular beauty standards? Let’s say this guy is a werewolf, and we all know that wolves don’t run in vinyl forests that sprout silk leaves. Interesting? Maybe/maybe not… but certainly different.

6 What books (if any) have influenced you over the years? Have you put those influences into your stories?

Kim Harrison’s Mercy Thompson novels have been quite the influence for me. I like the laws of her stories, how consistently and unfailingly she follows them in her story-crafting. Mercy is quite the underdog and certainly not as physically powerful as her Packmates. But then, is she really?

Principally, though, David Baldacci crafts a pretty good story and his flow is cerebral all the way through, even during the action scenes. I enjoy reading his books because I find myself inside the story, as opposed to the story being simply black and white. Baldacci allows me to have my imagination, without inundating me with details I can clearly see that he’s researched, only to spout them off like an items list he must hit.

And yes, I try my best to incorporate those perceived philosophies into my own story-crafting.

7 Is there a genre that you would like to write? Something you would find a challenge?

I would love to dig into a crime thriller. With all I have going on, doing so would take me a year to produce a final manuscript. In fact, when I wrote ‘No Man’ for the A Man’s Promise anthology with 7DS Books, the ideas for the story I have in mind began to pop vividly in my mind. Indeed, I would love folks do dig into that anthology.

8 Expanding on your answer for question 5, what do you hope readers will find interesting or unique about your stories?

To open my mind’s eye to romance, as it pertains to writing prose and delivery, I read a whole lot of romance novels. What I found was quite upsetting. While each story was good, and they really were, the romantic formula for writing leaves greater stories on the cutting room floor, so to speak. My opinion is that, with many romance stories, a reader can rip the covers off of several books by several authors and many of the stories could appear to have been written by one author. Now, I’m not here to knock a tremendously successful way of doing things, a style that has stood the test of time, but again, greater stories are left untold using that tried and true style.

I try very hard to round up the lost elements in my stories. No, they aren’t romance novels, per se. Take ‘Sacred Puppies’ and my Generations Series for example; the females in the story are sexually progressive and they are mature women. Neither of them are wilting lilies, they know what they want in a man, and they are old enough to know that espousing such desires is a must, not a test to be delivered to a hopeful guy they allow to take them on a date. When they become wolves, they kick more backsides than their male counterparts. Here’s a line… “If I have to fight my own battles, what the hell do I need you for?” That’s what one of those females says to her mate. It’s the perspective I write from, and I certainly hope readers will take to it.

Succinctly, the females in my stories are capable of fighting on the highest level and they have their mate’s backs all the way. They only wilt when their mates treat them right… and that works both ways.

9 What is the best thing you like about writing?

Ahh… writing is, for me anyway, like living inside a dream for months at a time. A reader only gets one to three days of what I call an imaginative vacation, but I’m in the story for at least two seasons. From each character’s perspective, the landscape, the buildings, all aspects of the story is vivid to me, the creator. Hmm, maybe that’s why I don’t write horror.

10 After all is said and done, at the end of the day, what makes you happy?

As it pertains to writing, connecting with readers is what it’s all about for me. When someone links to my imagination, when they feel like they know one of my characters and can envision that character acting in a particular way, I feel something akin to a super injection of adrenaline going through me. An event like that, when it happens, says a lot of great things about how powerful a story can be, and truly is. Even critics provide that same shot for me. So, when someone engages my imagination through a story I wrote, and then provides some form of feedback, I am happy.

Other than that, a good cup of strong coffee at any time throughout the day often provides me a “yeah, that’s it,” groove… then I dig into my current story and run away from real life for a few hours.

Where to find A.T online:

puppiesBooks Links




Author Interview with Michelle Picarella

A little late than never… 😛

This month I give you an interview with a good friend and fellow author, Michelle Picarella. Not only is she CEO of Twisted Core Press, and their anthology imprint 7DS, but she has released a new book called Livian.

  1. Let’s get to know you a bit. Where are you from, and what genre do you write?

bethehappilyeverafterI’m Michelle Anderson Picarella, a born Tarheel. (I claim both North and South Carolina as my home.) My writing genres vary, though I tend to lean toward fantasy and anything with a comedic flare. I especially like writing family-friendly works. Beyond writing, I am a publisher- a part of 7DS Books and Twisted Core Press. We publish the truly twisted concepts of fiction. If you can compare a book as similar to another popular book, it isn’t Twisted. We are here to give the readers something they’ve never experienced before.

  1. With all the risks and uncertainty around publishing, what was it that drew you to a career in writing?

I cannot say that anyone in the arts starts out thinking about a career in the area. We don’t stop to think about the risks or the uncertainty. It is a passion that calls to us at a young age. This is true for anyone in the arts, from painters, actors, singers, etc. The passion grows with age. At some point, you step back and look at the two paths. Passion or stability? I believe this was a much harder choice for other decades, but we live in an era in which nothing is certain. No career is solid and everything is changing daily in how our societies function. This is the time to jump. Passions are just as likely to become roots of security in a time when an author can become a millionaire without an agent and most of our rooted careers are moving overseas or cutting budgets for new jobs.

Of course, all authors won’t become millionaires. All books will not become movies. I know this, especially to be true for myself. However, anytime I think of the risk and ever-changing literary industry, I also think of the textile mill my father dedicated his entire life to climbing the ropes of success to only get a pink slip right before retirement as the company moved to Mexico. I think of how lost he was from the day the mill closed, right down to his final days. My father was so truly dedicated to this company, I can tell you his hobbies, but not his passions. I do not think he had time to chase any dreams. I do know this: Shortly after the mill closed is when my father became supportive of my writing. He wasn’t a man of many words, but I do think it was his way of enlightening me of which path to take in life. Everything in life has risks, but what is the point of life if you aren’t living with passion in every breath?

  1. Speaking of risks, so many people are writing novels. Do you see this as a good thing or bad?

Everything has a yin for a yang. I truly believe everyone has a story to tell. That does not make everyone an author. It also does not mean everyone hires editors. Nor does it mean that the most in-depth books following professionally published guidelines are going to be worth your time.

I hate the term “slush pile” but it is truly the best way I know how to describe what has happened to the readers. Nobody likes waiting anymore. Patience is retro, if it is a quality of modern folk.

This is not only the floodgates opening of authors no longer feeling the need or desire of literary agents and being held as worthy by traditional publishers. This is authors feeling the need to produce books to remain in a group of top authors, both traditionally and otherwise published. It is not only a feeling, but a fact. Shelf life of a book is now longer but shelf life of an author is the new fifteen minutes of fame.

I think we see much more of an author publishing a book and thinking they are done. The book will make the NYT Best Seller list and they’ll buy an island and drink all day. I see more authors with “dead” books which make the huge “slush pile” just that. The books may be great, but once a WRITER sees real work is what makes an AUTHOR- they bail with the scoff of being published and check it off the bucket list.

I find this insulting to the real authors of the world and to the readers that gave them a chance, possibly liked their book, but will never see another from said “author” because hard work isn’t part of the arts. Right? Yeah, okay. Bless their hearts. (I am southern. You may Google that for the not-family-friendly translation.)

I do wish we could ax the dead books of writers to showcase authors. I do. But I am pretty sure freedom of speech and such means authors must push and continue to be seen like never before. We are not competition. If a fantasy reader likes fantasy, they’ll read all the fantasy they can. What bookworm reads only one author?

The saddest part to me, and you may laugh is simply this:

I used to dream of some secret society of authors with wing backed chairs, fireplaces, hidden libraries and stiff drinks. I would dream of sharing stories and obnoxious literary jokes with the most admired authors of our time, the elders and royalty of authors…. I know this never existed, but I hoped something would feel similar to it with bookish events or even the “Ohhhh” and “Ahhhh” replies when telling someone I was in the literary industry. But now, everyone is in the literary industry. We are either authors/writers, editors, publishers, agents, promoters, bloggers, reviewers, artists, sellers or printers, etc.. The question must be, are we the readers?

  1. What are some advantages of running your own publishing house? Disadvantages?

I cannot speak for my partners, A.T. Russell and Daniel Picarella, only myself. The best advantage would obviously be a minimal fear of rejection on my own manuscripts. LOL. Seriously, if I tried to run something ridiculous through with that Twisted Core logo, I know the guys would shoot me down, thank goodness. A huge advantage is for us all to work together, taking the pros of what we like of both indie and traditional and trying to work around the cons as well. We are providing what we want as authors, to our own authors. Remaining authors keeps us grounded, I think. We see the changes from both perspectives and from there, we are able to adapt with the ever-changing processes of modern publishing. We have core points of what we stand for and how we work closely with each author to obtain their goals, because every author has a different end goal for happiness and success. Beyond those core points, we are constantly working on “the new.” I think a lot of publishers are held back by what history and other publishers list as the only way to do things. Those days are gone. The stones of old fashioned publishing crumble more each day. We don’t want a stone foundation. We are happy with roots that know how to evolve and grow with the environment around us.

There are a few disadvantages as well. It is the same as any small business. The hours are long. The investments of time, money, work, trust, research and so many other things are a juggling act. You can’t let your balls drop. LOL. Another disadvantage is the fact that people think if they know you, you will publish anything they’ve written. This is incorrect. Enlightening people of this fact is not always pleasant. Also, strangers always have a story to pitch. It does not matter where I may be or what I may be doing. If the publishing house is mentioned, I am pitched. It does not matter if I am shopping, eating, doing something with my kids, or even going to a public restroom, I’ve been pitched. Never pee-pitch a publisher. Please.

  1. Let’s talk about Michelle the author. Was there any one influence that made you want to write?

I was lucky enough to have a mom dedicated to raising young readers. My brother and I became bookworms very early in life. I can’t imagine life without reading and I give full credit to having a great mom. Also, my family is full of bookworms and writers. My grandmother was my favorite poet. She was such a bookworm, there was even a bookshelf in her bathroom. My aunt and several of my uncles were born with the writer gene, as well. If I had to name one main influence, it would certainly be my family.

  1. What is the best thing you like about writing?

I think I’ve discovered a bit more of myself with every new writing. I’ve read things post-publishing and connected the details to my own life, loved ones, or feelings. I rarely plan to make writing a personal experience, but I do adore when it happens beyond my initial realization.

  1. Let’s talk a bit about Twisted Core Press and 7DS. What made you decide to start your own imprints? Is there something about them that stands out from all the other Indie markets?

A series of events led to the imprints of TCP and 7DS. Personal experiences as an author in the traditionally published world led to the original title of Seven Deadly Sins, which was formed with seven different authors and published through a new and growing Seattle indie publisher, which was one of the authors on the book as well as a personal connection in my own life. Once the personal relationship ended, the book was pulled and we had something too wonderful to allow it to fade. Another author on the collaboration, A.T. Russell became my business partner and we ventured into indie publishing with our combined experience to form Twisted Core Press, a home for fiction titles, and 7DS Books, the short story imprint for more collaborations like Seven Deadly Sins. We brought in Dan as our third partner and have grown at a perfectly planned progression.

Standing out from all the other indie markets has been the main goal of both imprints. We are created for the readers, but we keep an author voice by remaining authors. There are many great indie pubs out there, in which we do try to reach out and connect as a united-indie front. I won’t proclaim our worth is better than any of these, but I will ante up and stand tall on the fact that we are different.

We do not mass-release. We look smaller because we are. We are a hybrid ideology of traditional and independent. Each book is worth the time, editing, formatting, covers, and one on one author interaction that we craved as authors with someone else behind the wheel of our publishing ventures. We do not take away author voice in editing.

We will not change the feel of a book. We will pass on a manuscript before we attempt to change what an author wants to express.

Also, if you can compare your book to a popular title with severe similarities, we will not have any interest in reading or publishing that title for our readers. We are the “something different.” We do not expect HEA, love triangles while trying to save the world, or weak women needing the salvation of a man. Nope. We are the Twisted Core of plots, characters, and ending. Reading should be an experience that lingers well past the final page. That is what we are. That is what we love.

The same applies for 7DS Books, which is invitation only and allows submission to Twisted Core Press. 7DS is also one of the few indie publisher-released collections that pay royalties. Some have offered copies of the book, which many authors never see, but very few of our indie publishers pay royalties and hopefully, we will see more of this trend growing.


  1. 7DS is strictly short stories, and readers will notice that the DS means different things with each anthology (7 Dress Sizes, 7 Demon Stories, etc). Who’s idea was it for the play on words?

The DS originated as Seven Deadly Sins being our debut; our first creation, at which point, we did not know we would open our own imprint and create more. We do have other titles, not a DS, such as Linger, Dragons of Faith, and Slayers, but I confess, we do have a list of DS titles, because, well, they are fun. Many plots and DS title themes come from our own 7DS authors for future works. We are offering readers a chance of finding up to seven new favorite authors per title and we encourage our authors to use 7DS not only as a platform-builder, but for cross-promotion and networking. We round-tabled many topics during our 7DS retreat and tossed many ideas for titles around but we always get random messages from authors with great ideas for new titles. That being said, the idea for the play on words is certainly a joint effort. In the end, the main 7DS stands for 7 Different Stories.

  1. If you weren’t writing or in the publishing business, what would you be doing?

Well, previously I’ve been a journalist, a substitute teacher, and helped run a custom building construction company. Considering my health issues and being unable to do any of those things, I really do not know.


  1. At the end of the day, when all is said and done, what makes you happy?

My kids. My three wonderfully brilliant, story-inspiring kids. If I can strive, provide, and make them proud, nothing else matters.

Where to find Michelle online:

livianpromoTwitter: @shellypicarella



Author Interview with Richard David Bach

For the month of June, I bring to you an interview with author Richard David Bach, and perhaps a new summer read!

  1. Let’s get to know you a bit. Where are you from, and what genre do you write?

RichardDavidBach002_editedI was born in the Bronx, NYC, grew up (or was raised – a distinction I need to explore) in a working class family on the south shore of Long Island by a single mother after my father died when I was 13; went off to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy NY for a degree in Civil Engineering and an Air Force ROTC commission; spent two years on active duty designing and building a radar defense system in the Arctic; worked as an engineer in NYC for a couple of years and then accidently migrated to Portland Oregon when a friend and I came out here for a two week summer vacation and I never went back. (he did).

Not satisfied with an engineering career I went to night law school, graduated at the top of my class, joined Portland’s largest and most prestigious law firm, founded its environmental law practice group and practiced as the dean of Portland’s environmental lawyers until I retired in 2001.

My wife and I have four children, nine grandchildren and a great-granddaughter between us, and spend a lot of energy being proud of them.

My genre is airplane books. They’ll get you from Portland to Chicago if you’re a fast reader … to Dulles if you need more time.  The four I have written and published in my Common Denominator Series are essentially thrillers with erotic and romantic overtones. Smart, good looking recovering-lawyer hero and even smarter and better looking kick-ass private detective heroine having a good time exploring mysteries and each other’s’ bodies.

  1. With all the risks and uncertainty around publishing, what was it that drew you to a career in writing?

The short answer is that I’ve never really considered this to be a career.  Not long after I retired my youngest son gave me a new laptop for a birthday present and said: “You’re a great story-teller. Go write something.” So I did. A couple of days later some friends and my wife and I were having lunch and laughing over Nancy Grace’s latest tirade over a woman who had gone missing from a cruise ship. “What,” I thought, “if a serial killer is working the Love Boat?”

I went home, wrote the first and final chapters and then it took six months to get from one to the other and when I finished it was awful. I was a lawyer and I wrote like a lawyer … no adjectives or adverbs and a lot of telling instead of showing. So I began to take some courses in fiction writing at Portland State University, and gradually learned the craft – dialogue, scene setting, character development, etc. Thankfully, I didn’t have to learn grammar or vocabulary (as a matter of fact, in my early attempts I showed off a lot vocabulary wise and had to learn to write something that didn’t require the reader’s immediate access to a dictionary). And then, when I felt I was ready, I went back and rewrote the first book in the series (Common Enemy).

And after sending queries to all of the agents in the English-speaking world, I snagged an agent. She promised to find me a publisher, but when I received very few rejections (even though they were all nice) I realized that she wasn’t sending out a lot of submissions either.

At about that time the stigma on self-publishing was beginning to fade, and I liked the idea of eBooks, so I fired my agent and self-published Common Enemy for availability on Nook, Kindle, etc. While I was waiting for my agent to sell my first book, I continued writing the second and third of the further adventures of my protagonists, and published those as soon as they were ready.

I must admit that my venture into fiction has not been a great commercial success, but I’m not sure I ever expected it to be. I may have harbored some secret hope of becoming the next Lee Child, but I’ve read the statistics and know that my chances were slim. I’m not very good at selling, and have made few feeble attempts at social media marketing and inquiries to blogger/reviewers (such as yourself) but I’d rather be writing than sending out self-aggrandizing messages to strangers.

But I’ve had nothing but good reviews on Amazon & B&N and Smashwords, and that encourages me to keep on writing. I’m now working on a new novel – totally different genre and characters and once it’s finished (I’m about 2/3 through) I plan to look for an agent and try conventional publishing again.

Fortunately, my career in the law left me with sufficient resources to pursue writing without a desperate need to earn a living out of it, and I hope that won’t disqualify me from the pool of authors you “love to promote.” I can assure you that I am passionate about my words and characters and would be no more so if they hit the best-seller lists or became a movie.

  1. What was your biggest influence for writing your Common Denominator series?

This was a difficult question. Because I’ve never been particularly introspective it would be hard to pinpoint any specific influences on my writing (other than my cultural background and my political, religious and sexual preferences). But if I had to name two, they would be my love for good writing and my dislike of bad writing. I read good writing (interesting plots, fascinating characters and creative word use) with admiration and envy, and I read bad writing with the sure certain knowledge that I could do better.  Perhaps it was just hubris, but one day I decided to see if I could prove that boast I had made to myself.

If “what” influenced me is understood to include “who” then I have a short list: Lee Child, Neil Gaiman, John D. MacDonald, and Carl Hiaasen. Those are among the ones I try to be as good as.

  1. Now that you have a few books under your belt, what’s your take on the whole process? What was the hardest part for you? What was the easiest?

The process was amazing and worthwhile just for the ride. First, I had to learn to write fiction and unlearn everything I had been taught about legal writing. Then I had to learn to edit and proofread; then I had to learn about self-publishing and its benefits and pitfalls;    then I had to learn about formatting and ISBNs and … most difficult of all … marketing. And the best part is that ride is still going on. This may be a carousel and I may be going around in circles, but I’m still having fun telling my stories.

The easiest part is the writing and the editing … mainly because I’m merely the amanuensis for my characters. I give them a plot (“tell me about the time you …”) and they tell me the story. I merely write it down as they dictate into my ear. Editing is usually not a problem because my characters don’t always tell me everything the first time around and I have to go back and ask them to fill in the gaps. And very rarely do they say “take that out.” My edits usually add length and content rather than cutting back.

The hardest part is the marketing. I’m not a salesman and I find it difficult to ask anyone to buy something from me. I’ve got a very attractive website and I’ve done the social media route – Facebook and Twitter – and I’ve posted on websites that feature my genre, and I’ve sent out releases to local media and all my affinity groups, and I’ve paid a publicist to design a marketing plan … but somehow I’d rather be writing than selling. (Even though I would enjoy the income).

  1. Let’s talk a little about your latest project. What is the title and what is it about?

My latest project (the first draft of which, by coincidence, I finished just last night) is tentatively entitled “The Progenitor.” Completely unrelated to my first four romantic/erotic thrillers, this is a family story with courtroom drama, pathos and some humor. My first shot at a logline would be:

“Rear Admiral Kester J. Bannerman II (USN Ret.) is the patriarch of a family with a long and distinguished tradition of military service. And when his only grandson is killed by an IED in Afghanistan, the Admiral will do everything he can to keep the frozen sperm his grandson left behind out of the hands – and the womb – of his granddaughter’s lesbian partner.”

Other claimants for the frozen sperm include the grandson’s estranged wife and an ex-girlfriend, and the legal battle (referred to in the local media as “SpermGate”) sets the stage for a family conflict with social, cultural and deeply emotional overtones.

The story emerged as my characters narrated it to me, so now I’m going back to make sure that the thread is consistent all the way through. I also have to to fill in some of backstories that I discovered as I got to know my characters better. (And pick up the typos). I hope to have it ready for prime time in another month or so.

  1. You’ve self-published your novels, but have you ever thought about becoming a hybrid author and trying for an agent?

Yes! I definitely plan to try the traditional publishing route for “The Progenitor” and I plan to look for an agent. I’ve been working on a query letter and making a list of the agents in this genre and their submission criteria, and as soon as I have the manuscript in decent form, I’ll start sending out queries. (If you could recommend an agent, I’d very much appreciate any advice or help along those lines.) As I said in an earlier answer, I had a less-than-satisfactory relationship with one literary agent, but I’m willing to try again.

I also thought I might send queries to some of the small independent publishers who will consider submissions from unrepresented authors. I’m hearing that this is a fertile field for new writers.

  1. Was there any one influence that made you want to write?

I’m not sure there has been any one influence that made me want to write. I’ve always enjoyed writing … but writing with an objective – persuasion – which is what a lawyer’s writing is all about. And it was always a pleasure to come up with the exact right words and express your position in a minimum number of those words. (The old adage: “Sorry for the long letter but I didn’t have time to write a short one.). And a lawyer has to “tell” not “show” because the judge or lawyer on the other side might not be able to figure it out for himself or herself.

Fiction writing is so very different, and I think I may have always had a hankering to see if I could do both. The four thrillers I’ve published and this new novel have proved to me that I can (he says modestly).

So, if there was any single impetus behind my interest in writing, it would be my desire to prove myself to myself.

  1. Is there a genre that you would like to write? Something you would find a challenge?

Science Fiction … hard science, space travel and all that stuff, no fantasy or supernatural. I grew up on science fiction in the 50’s and still read some on occasion, but with all the technological developments since then – there is no more science fiction – it’s all coming true. I’ve never tried SF, though. I’m not sure I have enough imagination to create a whole new world or universe, and I’d be foolhardy to try to predict what humankind and the earth will look like 50 or 100 or 1000 years from now.

I suppose I could go through a list of genres and indicate why I would not want to try them:

Memoir: I have a terrible memory.

YA: It’s been much too long and I don’t understand them.

Military: I’m fast becoming a pacifist as I watch the middle east.

Espionage: I’ve read all the George Smiley novels but I know nothing of spycraft.

History: Requires too much research.

Romance: There is some in my first four novels.

Sex: There’s some of that, too.

Fantasy: I’ll leave that to you.

Supernatural: I’m a materialist. I believe in a universe made up of quarks and other physical particles and find it hard to accept the notion of a hidden world of spirits and magical powers.

  1. If you were given the opportunity to write a fan-fiction novel, who is the author you would choose, and what would be the book?

Your question caught me by surprise because although I had heard about people writing unauthorized versions of popular fiction, I had never heard the term “fan-fiction” and I had to google it. And I had never thought of doing it myself. But once you brought it up on my radar, it got me to thinking and my perverse sense of justice kicked in. If I were to do a straight “further adventures of” novel it would probably be something like a Lee Child/Jack Reacher thriller … but what I’d rather do is find an interesting villain or antagonist in some novel and tell the story from his or her point of view. (e.g. Let the old crone narrate Hansel & Gretel). If I find the one I’d want to do, I’ll let you know.

  1. Most writers have manuscripts that will never see the light of day. Do you have a few of those?

I have two partially finished manuscripts that I got bogged down on and put aside while I wrote my latest (The Progenitor) and tried to market my first four Common Denominator thrillers. The first unfinished novel is tentatively entitled “Subprime” and revolves around the subprime mortgage market meltdown, and the second, untitled, tells the story of what happens when an ordinary couple wins the lottery. Maybe someday I’ll pull them out of the drawer and finish one or both.

Attached are my photo and the covers for each of the four books in my Common Denominator series of romantic/erotic thrillers.

Where to find Richard online:


Twitter: @Richarddavdbach



Where to purchase Richards book:


Barnes & Noble:



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