Guest post: Judson Roberts author of the Strongbow Saga

For an inspiring self-publishing story, I’ve asked Judson Roberts to talk about his experience. Book 1 of the Strongbow Saga is free this weekend. Read this post and then go and download it.

Patty has graciously invited me to appear as a guest on her website’s blog, and write about why I decided to venture into the world of self-publishing. My name is Judson Roberts, and I’m the author of the Strongbow Saga, a historical fiction series set in the 9th century world of the Vikings.

In order to explain why I chose to try my hand at self-publishing, it’s necessary to provide a little history, both of my own writing career, and of the amazing transformation that has occurred in the publishing world during the last few years. I started somewhat late trying to become a writer. For most of my adult life, I worked in the field of criminal law, including as a city police officer, federal agent, and organized crime prosecutor. When I finally did decide to try my hand at writing fiction, my early efforts did not meet with success—it took almost ten years, and several unpublished novels, before I finally landed a contract with a big traditional publisher, HarperCollins, for the Strongbow Saga.

Initially I was ecstatic. I thought my dreamed-of new career as a writer was finally about to take off. But in my own case, at least (everyone who has worked with a big traditional publisher has a different story, although I have heard far too many similar to my own), what followed brought mostly disappointment, discouragement, and frustration. I’ll summarize briefly.
I had always intended the series to be adult historical fiction, and I wrote the first volume, Viking Warrior, as such. But the agent I’d secured ended up selling the book to the Children’s/Young Adult Division of HarperCollins. Her rationale was that the protagonist was teen-aged, and there is a strong coming-of-age aspect to the story. The editor at HarperCollins who purchased Viking Warrior, plus the next two books in the series, agreed. So my adult fiction series ended up being published as adult fiction.

I’ve spent years researching the Vikings, and one of my goals in the series is to try to portray their culture accurately, which has very rarely been done in fiction—although most people today tend to imagine the Vikings as brutish barbarians, they actually had a very unique, evolved culture, characterized by such things as a highly developed legal system and oral literature tradition. The real Vikings did not dress in rough animal skin garments, as they’re often pictured, but rather wore clothes made of linen, wool during the colder months, and sometimes even silk. In fact, the Vikings’ culture was in many ways quite similar to that of the Mycenaean Greeks, written about by Homer in the Iliad and the Odyssey. But like the Mycenaean Greeks, the Vikings could at times be quite violent, and that violence often figures prominently, and is portrayed frankly and explicitly, in the story of the Strongbow Saga. Fortunately, even though HarperCollins elected to publish the series as young adult rather than adult fiction, I was never asked to tone down the violence in the story. But little else about the experience went smoothly.

For example, someone in the marketing division decided that the covers of the books should be designed with the particular aim of attracting the attention of teenaged girls, so they ran focus groups using various options, and ended up with a series of covers featuring close-up images of a brooding young man in Viking costume, making the books appear more like romance novels than serious historical fiction. Then, when the series was launched in 2006 with the release of the hardback edition of Viking Warrior, some other genius apparently forgot to ship out advance review copies, because none of the major review venues—which back then were critically necessary to bring attention and awareness to the existence of newly published books—covered the release and reviewed the book (my agent said she had never seen the release by one of the big-five publishers of a new hardcover series receive no reviews or coverage at all). So the only way readers had to discover the existence of the series was literally to happen upon a copy of Viking Warrior on the shelves of a bookstore, in the children’s/young adult section.

Traditional publishers, as well as the major bookstore chains, measure a new book’s success by something called sell-through. Basically that means how fast, in the first months of a book’s release, shipments of the book sell out and are reordered. Because new books are constantly being released, in the traditional world of book publishing and book selling if a new book does not become successful quickly, it falls by the wayside. If bookstores elect to continue carrying it at all, they will keep only one or two copies on their shelves, and return the rest of the copies shipped to them by the publisher for credit. And if the first book of a series does not meet that quick sell-through measure of success, the publisher will print far fewer copies of later books in the series.

Although both my agent and my editor at HarperCollins had predicted that the Strongbow Saga would find a large audience (my editor even went so far as to predict that over time the series might gain as large and loyal a following as The Lord of the Rings), needless to say, thanks to HarperCollins’ efforts and lack thereof, that did not happen. And because that did not happen, I made very little money off of the books beyond the original advances, which were not that large, and even before the third book was released HarperCollins decided to kill the series, rather than continue it.

Fast forward to 2010. HarperCollins began taking the three Strongbow Saga books they had published out of print. Meanwhile, Amazon was beginning a visionary campaign that would turn the world of publishing upside down. Prior to 2010, the market for e-books was miniscule. Most readers preferred real books. But Amazon predicted that the market would grow if (1) e-book reading devices, which heretofore had been fairly expensive, were priced lower, and (2) if e-books themselves were priced significantly lower than print editions. In order to expand the e-book market, and to carve out a dominant position in it, Amazon was willing to take a large loss up front. So in 2010, Amazon made the first of what has since been a series of dramatic price cuts for its Kindle e-book reader (and for personal computers, smartphones, and other devices it offered a Kindle reading app free), and it offered Kindle edition e-books, including current best sellers, at $9.99 or less, substantially below the cost of the same books’ print editions. Millions and millions of the lower-priced Kindle readers were purchased in the months before Christmas of 2010, and suddenly in January 2011 there were millions and millions of new Kindle owners eager to buy e-books for their new devices. E-book sales exploded.

Although it was Amazon, not the publishers, that ate the losses incurred by selling e-books below the publishers’ list price, nevertheless the big traditional publishers were not amused. They feared—correctly, as it turns out—that growing e-book sales would erode their sales of print books, and even more, they feared Amazon gaining dominance over the e-book market. A battle of wills followed, with the big publishers trying to force Amazon to price their e-books at the same list price as print editions. Apple, also fearing Amazon’s growing dominance in the e-book market, threw its lot in with the big publishers, and allowed them to set the price of their e-book editions sold in the Apple store for the widely popular iPhone and iPad. Faced with the possibility that the big publishers might pull their e-book editions altogether from the Kindle store, and offer them exclusively through Apple and other e-book sellers such as Sony and Kobo, who were compliant with the publishers’ pricing demands, Amazon conceded, and also accepted what is now known as the “agency pricing model,” under which the publishers set the price for which their e-book editions must be sold (ironically, the publishers’ short-term victory may prove costly—in the past few months Apple and several of the big publishers have come under investigation for conspiracy to commit price-fixing of e-books).

Amazon obviously had anticipated at least the possibility of its losing battle with the big publishers over e-book pricing, because also in 2010 they launched what would prove to be a brilliant flanking maneuver: a program, in Amazon’s Kindle Division, under which authors could directly self-publish their own books as Kindle e-books, without the involvement of publishers, agents, or any other middle-men who would take a cut of the author’s potential profits. When a Kindle e-book was sold, the proceeds of the sale would be divided between only two parties—Amazon and the author—and to encourage authors to join in this new venture, Amazon gave the authors the lion’s share, 70% percent of the sales price of each e-book sold, so long as the author agreed to set their books’ prices no higher than $9.99. This was in contrast to the 10% to 15% royalty typically paid to authors by traditional publishers to authors from the price of each book sold.

During the early days of Amazon’s self-publishing program (i.e., way back in 2010), a number of authors began experimenting with pricing the Kindle editions of their books at very low prices—typically ranging from $.99 to under $5.00—and many found that by selling their books at very low price-points, when combined with the 70% royalty rate, the much higher volume of sales they achieved more than made up for the loss of royalty per sale when the books were priced higher, but sold fewer copies. One such author, J.A. Konrath, began realizing some truly amazing levels of sales and income, and he made extensive efforts to publicize his own success and to encourage other authors to take control of their own writing careers by self-publishing through Amazon.

I heard Konrath speak at a writers’ conference in October of 2010, and decided, since the rights to my books were beginning to revert back to me, to take the plunge. I have since re-released the first three books of the Strongbow Saga as adult fiction, and am currently working on book 4 of the series. Although I’ve released them as e-books in other venues besides just Amazon, and have also released new print-on-demand print editions, it is in the Kindle editions where I’ve found success, and my books have finally found their audience. For the first time—at age 60—I can truly say that I have a writing career, one that allows me to support myself and my family, and has even allowed my wife to retire early.

There are many people who despise and revile Amazon, but I am not one of them.

This weekend, I’m offering the Kindle edition of Viking Warrior, book 1 of the Strongbow Saga, free on Amazon. I hope you’ll take a look—after all, at that price, what do you have to lose?

Learn more about Judson Roberts, the Strongbow Saga, and his free book offer at his website:
http://www.judsonroberts.com/

Viking Warrior (The Strongbow Saga) – direct link to the book

Guest post Bryan Thomas Schmidt: How To Promote With Social Media Without Offense

Social Media has taken over the world, or at least parts of it. Its rise in popularity has been stunning. It’s literally changed the way most of us use the web forever. And that’s no exaggeration. Of course, along with it, Social Media has risen to be one of the most important tools for promotion, especially self-promotion. Yet a challenge remains: finding a delicate balance between self-promotion and alienation. How can you promote yourself well and still keep followers happy? How can you avoid being obnoxious? Here’s some suggestions from one who’s spent a lot of time and effort studying that very thing.

First, Social Media is called Social for a reason. Your focus needs to be on socializing not selling. The key to Social Media success, no matter what you do with it, is networking and relationships. When authors ask me when to start Social Media so they can promote their forthcoming book, my response is: you haven’t already? I started two years before my book came out. And I had almost no work to promote. Instead, I built friendships, learned who was out there, what people were doing, and supported and promoted them. My focus was not on me, it was on others. And that’s key to Social Media success. Making it all about you is the quickest route to obnoxious failure. Making it about community is the quickest route to success.

Second, Social Media are communities. Yep, I repeated myself. That’s okay, because this point is important. The key to Social Media success is providing useful content people will enjoy and value. The quickest route to that, before you’ve found your own niche, is to retweet the links and content of others. If you read it, and it’s valuable to you, share it. If someone’s doing something cool, let people know. Take the time to pass it on. People will remember. And they will reciprocate. And if you have established a history and reputation for supporting your community, your community will support you.

Third, support people with praise. If someone succeeds at something, congratulate them. It takes seconds to do it. It feels good. You’ve been on the receiving end, right? So I don’t have to tell you. Let people know you care what’s happening with them by responding with support. If they’re having a hard time, encourage them. If they’re succeeding, congratulate them. If they write something cool or send something useful, pass it on. It’s all about community.

Fourth, self-promote with care. I send out the same self-promotion tweet no more than twice a day. This may be supplemented by Retweeting or posting something someone else says, yes. But that’s them tooting my horn, not me. If I have several things to promote (I run more than one blog, for example), I will still only do two a day per item I am promoting. I do once in the morning and once at night to catch both crowds. I cross post from Twitter to Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn and that’s it. The rest of my Social Media day is spent either encouraging, supporting or spreading the word as described in the points above. It’s not all about me. It’s not obnoxious. My friends know I have projects I am excited about. Many of them are in the same position and doing similar promotion. Being with a small press, they also know I may tweet a bit more about it than they do. It’s okay. Small measure is fine. Posting twelve or fifteen times a day about it, that’s obnoxious.

Fifth, wording matters. Use your sense of humor. Use humility. Don’t be pushy. When you do self-promote, do it in a way that’s not obnoxious in presentation. People don’t mind you letting them know your stuff exists. You have a right to be proud of your accomplishments. You have a right to want to share it. But if you’re obnoxious about it, they will mind. Most won’t even bother with it.

Okay, so there you have five tips for Social Media Self-Promotion success. Really, five tips for Social Media success, I hope. I wish you the greatest success in your Social Media endeavors. And hey, in case you’re interested, I wrote a book.

Bryan Thomas Schmidt is the author of the space opera novel The Worker Prince, the collection The North Star Serial, and has several short stories forthcoming in anthologies and magazines. He’s also the host of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Chat every Wednesday at 9 pm EST (Thursday noon AEDT) on Twitter, where he interviews people like Mike Resnick, AC Crispin, Kevin J. Anderson and Kristine Kathryn Rusch. He can be found online as @BryanThomasS on Twitter or via his website. Excerpts from The Worker Prince can be found on his blog.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=pattjans-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=098402090X&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

Five questions for Jo Anderton, author of Debris


I’ve known Jo from way back when we were both members of SF-OWW, and we discovered that we both lived in Sydney. Since that time, we’ve met on a number of occasions, most recently at Conflux in Canberra. Jo has recently sold a novel, Debris, to Angry Robot. The novel is about to hit the shelves any minute.

A short blurb: When an accident leaves her powerless, penniless and scarred, Tanyana must adjust to a new life collecting magical garbage – ‘debris’ – but starts to realise debris is more important than anyone could guess.



You recently sold your novel Debris to Angry Robot. When did you first hear of their interest and what did you do first when you heard that you made the sale? Tell us a bit about that incredible euphoria.

Actually, I was at work both times, so my response was necessarily subdued. I was in the middle of talking to a colleague who had just brought her very young baby in for a visit, when my agent called to tell me Angry Robot wanted to go ahead. I remember hanging up in a bit of a daze, turning around to all these people staring at me (including one very cute kid) and saying ‘they want to buy my book’. After a few minutes pretending I could still make calm, civilised conversation I excused myself, went outside, did a little dance and rang my husband. I think he bore the full force of ‘OMGANRGYROBOTWANTTOPUBLISHDEBRIS!!!!!’ Poor man.

In the process from writing the novel to publication, what did you find the hardest?

I’ve never been very good at knowing when to let something go out there, into the world. Getting over this was hard. If I just change one more thing… if I just reread it one more time… maybe I’ll print it out and use a red pen this time, then I’ll read it all out loud, and then I’ll leave it for a few months and go back to it… This way lies madness.

How do cats help the writing of fiction? Or—do they?

Of course they do. You see, the cats have a habit of lying on the floor right behind my office chair, so I can’t move backwards to get up from the desk. They use non-violent protest to force me to stay on my computer and write. Aren’t they helpful?

How do you reconcile a full-time job with being a novelist? Any tips for writers with a real life?

It’s all about discipline and routine. You’ve got to have the discipline to sit down and write, even after a busy, stress filled day. Even when everyone else is going home to veg out in front of crappy reality TV and all you want to do is sleep. To do this, I need to have a routine. Mine involves: leave work (on time!), listen to loud heavy metal during the drive home, take the dog out for a run, cook dinner, then write! I’m allowed a break for dessert. If I start to flake, I’m allowed peppermint tea. So my advice would be: get yourself a routine, stay with it until it sticks.

Is there anything you’d like to say to your newbie-writer self years ago?

Do more exercise! Yeah, all those words you’re writing are great and all, but get your arse out of the chair for once and go run around a bit, or swim, or join a gym. You have no idea how difficult it can be to write with a bad back. Maybe you should think about trying to prevent that?

You can find out more about Jo here:

Website: http://joanneanderton.com
Twitter @joanneanderton

And of course, order her book here. Also available from the regular international sellers.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=pattjans-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=085766154X&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

Guest post: Marlene Dotterer, author of Shipbuilder, the Time Travel Journeys

I’ve known Marlene for a long time, since I joined OWW in 2004. Already, she was working on an interesting project, involving the sinking–or maybe not–of the Titanic. The result is her book Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder.

Marlene talks about her book and the research she did to write it with historical accuracy.

Must Have Give-Aways!

Ships are launched with a bottle of champagne. My book is about a ship, so…

Actually, perhaps it’s best if I don’t try to mail anyone a bottle of champagne. But how about a free book?

Throughout the blog tour, I’ll keep track of everyone who leaves a comment on any of the blogs and enter them into a drawing. At the end of the tour, I’ll pick three winners, each to receive an autographed copy of The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder.

So, read on! Comment!

About the book:

Imagine being there before the Titanic set sail.

Now imagine being there before she’s even built.

Sam Altair is a physicist living in Belfast, Ireland. He has spent his career researching time travel and now, in early 2006, he’s finally reached the point where he can send objects backwards through time. The only problem is, he doesn’t know where the objects go. They don’t show up in the past, and no one notices any changes to the present. Are they creating alternate time lines?

To collect more data, Sam tries a clandestine experiment in a public park, late at night. But the experiment goes horribly wrong when Casey Wilson, a student at the university, stumbles into his isolation field. Sam tries to rescue her, but instead, he and Casey are transported back to the year 1906. Stuck in the past, cut off from everyone and everything they know, Sam and Casey work together to help each other survive. Then Casey meets Thomas Andrews, the man who will shortly begin to build the most famous ship since Noah’s Ark. Should they warn him, changing the past and creating unknown consequences for the future?

Or should they let him die?

Before You Write: Research!

Thank you for letting me borrow your blog, Patty. I’m glad to be here, and to meet your readers. I promise to tidy up before handing it back to you.

I’m so excited to have The Time Travel Journals: Shipbuilder out in the world. It’s been quite a journey, from idea to fruition. When I first decided to write a novel about Thomas Andrews, I knew I had research to do. Writing any novel takes a certain amount of knowledge about the strangest subjects. After all, when you invent a world, and characters to populate it, you have to know how that world functions. You have to know what your characters know. If you have a character who is an expert in wine-making (for example), you have to learn a bit about wine-making, or your book will suffer greatly.

Thomas Andrews built large, ocean-going vessels. Cruise liners.

I grew up in a desert.

You see my problem.

Shipbuilding wasn’t the only thing I needed to learn about. TTJ: Shipbuilder is science fiction, but it takes place in Ireland,1906 – 1912. It’s a novel about a well-known historical event. So my world was not one made up by me – it’s one we can all read about in books, or even see in old movies. In addition, Thomas Andrews was a member of the upper class, one of the “landed gentry.” His uncle was a viscount. I don’t exactly move in those circles.

Then there was the Titanic herself. I knew what most people know about Titanic: whatever was in James Cameron’s movie.

Let’s not forget the physics of time travel. What would Stephen Hawking think if I screwed that up?

Can you imagine the research I had to do?

Over the years, millions of words have been written about Titanic and everyone connected with her. If I go into detail here, you’ll feel you’re back in a college seminar, so I’ll just point you to the bibliography page on my website, here. I read every one of those books and websites, as well as others. I took notes. I made timelines. I joined forums and asked questions. At times, it felt like I was writing a term paper. But it was always fascinating.

I’m not a mechanically talented person, so most of the technical detail on shipbuilding was lost on me. In the end, I was mostly concerned with the character of Thomas Andrews. I wanted to explore the idea of what he might do if given a second chance at life, knowing that the ship he was building would hit an iceberg and sink, unless he could prevent it. Such a chance would mean everything to him, and he would never throw it aside. I hope I was able to achieve a balance where the technicalities of shipbuilding form a stable backdrop to the story, without taking center stage. The book covers the years when Titanic was being built, but does not go into detail about the actual building process.

I had fun researching the role of the Edwardian lady. My character, Casey Wilson, is a typical 21st century girl, brought up by liberal parents in the permissive San Francisco Bay Area. Casey has to figure out how to navigate the oppressive waters of Edwardian Ireland while holding onto her dignity and free-thinking ways. Women in this era ranged from over-protected, stifled wives and daughters, to poverty-stricken, hard-working servants or factory workers. This was also the era of suffragettes and the beginnings of progress toward women’s rights. Casey experiences all of it, from trying to find work when she and Sam first arrive in 1906, to running an upper-class household as the fictional wife of Thomas Andrews.

Ireland is a fascinating and troubled country at any time, and the Edwardian era is no exception. The constant struggle between religious and political factions, along with the rise of unions and workers’ rights, make this a particularly volatile period. Sam and Casey find themselves in the middle of all of it, and eventually they understand that they must try to change more than just the Titanic.

I also researched the state of science in this time and place. Sam is a physicist, and I could not imagine any modern physicist going back to 1906 and not trying to contact Albert Einstein. This was a fun part of the book for me, as I read Walter Isaccson’s new biography, Einstein, His Life and Universe, and Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams. What do you think Einstein’s response would have been to the presence of Sam and Casey?

And what about the time travel? Oh, I researched. I researched a lot. In the end, the mechanics of the time travel don’t really enter into this story, so I treat it as a simple factual event that starts the book. This book is about Thomas Andrews, not time travel, per se.

The next book in the The Time Travel Journals series is Bridgebuilders – THAT’S where the time travel gets down and dirty…

Marlene Dotterer grew up as a desert rat in Tucson, Arizona. In 1990, she loaded her five children into the family station wagon, and drove north-west to the foggy San Francisco Bay Area. To stay warm, she tackled many enterprises, earning a degree in geology, working for a national laboratory, and running her own business as a personal chef. She’s a frustrated gardener, loves to cook, and teaches natural childbirth classes. She says she writes, “to silence the voices,” obsessed with the possibilities of other worlds and other times.

She is married to The Best Husband in the World, and lives in Pleasant Hill, California.

Her website is http://marlenedotterer.wordpress.com/

You can buy your copy of Shipbuilder at:

Smashwords

Amazon Kindle

Amazon estore for the paperback version

Interview with Jodi Cleghorn





Jodi Cleghorn is a writing and editing dynamo in Brisbane, Queensland, who has been doing excellent work with charity anthologies and her own small press projects. In this interview, she talks about her recent books, her editing, and her recent Aurealis Award win.




You recently became involved with the 100 stories for Queensland project. Can you tell us about this project, what it does, and where we can buy the book?

100 Stories for Queensland is a collection of donated flash fiction (stories under 1000 words) following in the footsteps of Greg McQueen’s 50 Stories for Pakistan (Oct 2010) and 100 Stories for Haiti (Jan 2010).

Where did it come from? Like its sister anthologies, 100 Stories… was conceived, gestated and born via social media.
I sat down at the computer on the night after the horrific flash flooding through the Lockyer Valley and read my friend and fellow author Trevor Belshaw’s Facebook status: 100 Stories for Queensland? I had worked on the periphery of a 50 Stories for Pakistan with Trevor and knew exactly what his status meant. It took me longer to type “yes” than it did for me to decide I was in.

Several hours later, Trevor organised for a group of us (including previous charity antho editors) to skype, and over the space of an hour or so we hammered out the broadest details of 100 Stories for Queensland. I offered to publish the anthology through eMergent Publishing (where I’m a founding partner) and administrate the project and suggested we utilised Submishmash a free online submissions.

We didn’t specify any particular genre just that stories were ‘uplifting’ and under 1000 words. Consequently the anthology has everything from romance to crime, paranormal to lit-fic and everything in between. Most exciting for me is the number of spec-fic stories in this collection (something noticeably absent from the earlier anthologies), the number of Aussie writers in the ToC and the fact that almost 20% of the stories are debut publications.

The project took four months and included almost forty people representing the writing, editing and publishing communities here and abroad, in teams reading and voting, editing and proof reading. It was an absolute honour to work with so many generous and talented writers who donated stories, as well as an entire tribe of enthusiastic individuals working behind the scenes. The project is testament to the power of social media.

We launched in May, in a joint Amazon chart rush with Nothing But Flowers (the charity anthology, I simultaneously produced with 100 Stories). 100 Stories… was the fastest moving title for more than half a day on the UK Amazon charts and nestled in at #3 in the UK general anthology charts, making it to #13 in the USA and the top 10 in Canada. In its first month of online sales, the anthology raised over $4000.

The success of the anthology lies in the fact there is something in there for everyone. It is also a way for people to support the flood survivors who are still doing it tough across Queensland.

We’re now working to get the anthology into bookstores across Australia. For anyone interested in getting a copy they can buy direct through our online bookstore (for a signed paperback or an eBook), online at their favourite location, or by encouraging their local bricks and mortar bookstore to order it in. Book stores can contact me direct jodi.cleghorn[at]emergent-publishing[dot]com.

Congratulations on winning the Aurealis Award. Can you tell us about your work in speculative fiction?

Oh dear, for someone who literally lives and works under a rock, winning the Kris Hembury Encouragement Award in May was a shock, and it wasn’t just because I was away and out of internet contact and arrived home on the Sunday to find my Facebook and Twitter jammed with messages of congratulations and being totally confused as to what was going on. It’s like misplacing the invite to the greatest night of your life.

The real shock was the realisation someone was watching what I was doing, and the folk at Fantastic Queensland who sponsor the prize, thought my work worthy of recognition. I’d like to thank whoever nominated me (I have a sneaky suspicion who that may be!) for seeing something in my work (that I still struggle to see) and putting my name forward.

“The Hembury” recognises community involvement as well as emerging talent. While I’m still working at carving out my place as a writer, the publishing house I co-founded with Paul Anderson in 2008 continues to grow. We started eP with the simple premise of wanting to create unique publishing opportunities for new writers. We also set eP up so money would always flow to authors, so our base royalty split is a 60/40 division, where the larger part goes to the author.

Paul and I both have a bent toward dark spec-fi in our writing lives and through our involvement with other writers on the web and social media, our business has been shaped to be a publisher of speculative fiction. By the end of 2011 we will have published nine anthologies (two under the Chinese Whisperings imprint, two under eMergent’s home imprint and five under Literary Mix Tapes). We’ll also have published our first novel, Graham Storrs’ TimeSplash.

We’re currently in discussions with American Indie script writer and film producer Devin Watson about applying the eP principles of supporting emerging writers, to emerging film makers, to bring 10 stories from the first three LMT anthologies to the screen and to give ten LMT writers a chance to branch out into script writing… baby steps towards our bigger dream of eP becoming a collaborative hub for all types of creatives; where writers of all creeds, film makers, musicians, photographers can meet and work together.

What do you write and where have you published?

I write what my partner calls “dark weird shit” – a dark mix of space opera, sci-fi, horror and urban fantasy. I’m really interested in the intersection of humanity and technology; with a particular focus on how medical advances might influence what it means to be human. The themes of love, loss, free will, power imbalances and time travel are all major influences. And I’m always chasing the internal questions what if?

Outside of the five stories I’ve penned for eMergent based projects, my stories have been published in 50 Stories for Pakistan (The Man Who Would), Best of Friday Flash V1 (Taping Lydia), 12 Days (Bondi), Thieves and Scoundrels (The Chameleon) and most recently in the Aussie vampire anthology from Ticonderoga Publications, Dead Red Heart (Kissed by the Sun). Coming soon are stories in Hope along (with Aussie authors such as Sean Williams, Alan Baxter and Felicity Dowker) and an erotic/horror piece in UK charity anthology Sunday Snaps: The Shorts.

As the editing and publishing side of my professional explodes, it becomes harder and harder to find time to write, but I am committed to keep putting pen to paper as a writer, with my sights set on markets here and abroad in the next six months.

Anything you’d like to pimp? Your fiction, your blog and website, whatever?

Coming up in the next three months are Eighty Nine – a speculative re-imaging of political, social, cultural and personal events from the year 1989, based on a play list of 26 songs released that year, as well as Tiny Dancer, stories of the darker side of the entertainment industry. Interested readers and writers can follow the progress from the LMT home base or via Facebook. The next three months will also see the long-awaited paperback releases of The Red Book and The Yin and Yang Book.

BIO: Jodi erratically blogs at Writing in Black and White, is Deputy Editor at Write Anything and traverses the rich fields of social media at Facebook, Twitter and Google+.

SFF writers in Singapore – interview with Joyce Chng

One of the great things about the internet is that you come into contact with people from all over the world and discover a great variety of fiction from writers who all share the same passion for SFF. Today I talk to Joyce Chng, whom I first met via Twitter. Joyce has recently had a novel released under her pen name J Damask.

You live in Singapore, and I know you are passionate about supporting local writers. Can you tell us a bit about the Singapore SFF scene?

The Singapore SFF scene is pretty nascent at the moment. There are people, groups and individuals writing SFF – yet, I have not seen a unified front. It’s a bit like herding cats or – as I have complained – trying to find the pin in the haystack.

So far there is a mailing list for SFF writers in Singapore:
http://groups.google.com/group/spec-fiction

And a website!:
http://speculativesingapore.wordpress.com/

Likewise, many SFF writers tend to lurk on the Singapore Nanowrimo forums. So I know they do exist.
I hope that with more and more people writing SFF, Singapore will finally make her mark on international SFF.
We are currently coming up with an anthology sampler of Singaporean SFF, with ‘hybrid’ being its theme.

Congratulations on publishing your latest book, A Wolf at the Door. Tell us a bit about the book, why you wrote it, and how it is different from other werewolf stories.

Thank you.
Wolf At The Door is basically a story about Singaporean Chinese werewolves, adapting, living and co-existing with the human population in Singapore. They are Asian werewolves (or wolf-weres – wolves who transform into humans, so to speak). The main protagonist is Jan Xu, a wolf who had an interesting past as a teenage vigilante. I wrote the story mainly as a challenge to myself. Why not Asian werewolves? Why not Chinese werewolves? Why not set the story in Singapore? There are so many urban fantasy novels set in the United States with stereotypical heroines and hunky heroes. So Jan Xu is now a mother, a daughter and a sister. We haven’t looked at the importance of family in urban fantasy and for me, family is important. The pack is family and it lends itself perfectly to the concept of family in Jan’s life.

The novel is available directly at Lyrical Press.

You’re a mother of young girls. Many women find it impossible to keep writing during the years that their children are little. How do you do it?

I have to admit it can be impossible. That’s why writing to me is a discipline. I have to write. I make it possible to write. I write, when the kids are asleep. Or that I simply make time – my husband is understanding and looks after my two girls when I write. Of course, the little one will ask me to stop and play with her.

Anything you’d like to pimp? Your fiction, your blog and website, whatever?

My blog is entitled “A Wolf’s Tale”: http://awolfstale.wordpress.com

You can find the list of fiction/stories I have published as well as blog posts where I talk about writing, photography and random things.

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=pattjans-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B004V51E0K&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr

http://rcm.amazon.com/e/cm?t=pattjans-20&o=1&p=8&l=as1&asins=B0062X32FE&ref=tf_til&fc1=000000&IS2=1&lt1=_blank&m=amazon&lc1=0000FF&bc1=000000&bg1=FFFFFF&f=ifr