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Friday, July 26, 2013

Friday 5 - FFQ/FFM Interviews Reposted

1.  John Lenahan





John Lenahan began his career as a magician before tipping his hand into the writing arena. His series, Shadowmagic, has shown increasing popularity. John’s use of the Celtic myths, legends, and heroes is imaginative and fun for readers of all ages.


I had the opportunity to interview John.


[FFQ] Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m an American, with an Irish passport, living in London who as I write is currently on a cruise ship in the Bay of Bengal 500 nautical miles from Thailand.
Writing isn't (yet) my day job.  My day job is entertaining.  I’m a magician/comedian and these days do a lot of work on cruise liners.  It’s a great job if you are a writer.  They cook and clean for you, the phone never rings and I only work two nights a week.  Yes it is as good as it sounds.


I've made it into my fifth decade without ever going bankrupt and I have a 21 year old son whose name you will find in the dedication page of my first novel – Shadowmagic.  I live in London with my exotic veterinarian girlfriend, (whose name is on the dedication page of my second novel – The Prince of Hazel & Oak) her 110 year-old tortious, a bearded dragon lizard, two rabbits and fish.
[FFQ] Can you share a little of your current work with us?
At the moment I’m working on a murder mystery set in the mountains of North Eastern Pennsylvania where my family had had a cottage by a lake since the 1950s.  I’m finding it a real challenge.  I thought writing about a place I knew so well would be easy but I think writing about places I make up is easier.
[FFQ] What challenges did you come across in getting your first book published?


I wrote Shadowmagic as an intellectual exercise.  I read an article that said if you write 1000 words a day you had to have a novel after seven months.  (The article went on to say it wouldn't necessarily be a good novel.) I couldn't fault the logic so I tried it.  I didn't try very hard to get it published and it sat in a drawer while life made other plans for me.  Then I discovered the website www.podiobooks.com where authors read their works and an audiobook podcast.  It’s free to subscribe but the website solicits donations and gives the authors 75%.  I thought what the heck and podcasted it.


From the start the response was remarkable and I ended up the highest rated book on the website. That caught the attention of Harper Collins and they asked if they could publish the book.
[FFQ] Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
The Sons of Macha, is the third and last installment of the Shadowmagic Series.  In it adversaries of the house of Duir, that were thought long gone, come back to predicate a war with the Banshees


[FFQ] Who designed the covers?
Liam Relph.


[FFQ] Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
If all of my fan’s write glowing reviews on their Facebook pages I can live in the manner I would like to be accustomed.

John Lenahan


2.  Justin Macumber




Justin Macumber is one of the three hosts and one of the original founders of the DEAD ROBOTS’ SOCIETY and a host on a film podcast THE HOLLYWOOD OUTSIDER. Justin is an author that I was fortunate enough to learn of his works while listening to the Dead Robots’ Society. He is a resident of the Dallas/Fort worth area of Texas where he lives with his wife and their loveable pack of dogs. Let’s get to know about him and his writing a little better.


[FFM] I know that you just moved, and that you live in Texas, but can you tell us a little bit about yourself?


[JM] I'm an Army brat, which means that while I'll always call Texas my home state, I actually grew up across a variety of different places, from here to Germany, and my wide-ranging nerddom is a direct result of all the different people I met and things I experienced. I've always felt a need to tell stories, but it wasn't until I was in my early twenties that I actually applied myself to writing, and even then it wasn’t until I hit my thirties that I took it seriously. Now, at 39 (40 in December), I have one novel published, another soon to come out, two more on my plate, and several short stories that have won awards and been published. Aside from writing, I'm also the creator and co-host of the Dead Robots' Society podcast, which is a podcast made by writers, for writers. We've been at it for a bit over five years, and so far people seem to like what we do.


[FFM] Can you share with us a little about your work that is already published and anything that you are currently working on?


[JM] My first novel, HAYWIRE, was published in March of this year by Gryphonwood Press. It is a science fiction story about nanotechnology, super soldiers, space pirates, and covert operatives. I'm pretty proud of it. I tried to make it feel epic and dazzling while also keeping the characters real and their world understandable. From the reviews it's gotten, I believe I achieved that. Soon my second book will be published. This one is titled A MINOR MAGIC, and it's coming from Crescent Moon Press. It's a post-apocalyptic urban fantasy about a girl who discovers she has magical powers. The short pitch is "It's Harry Potter meets The Road." Right now I have two books I'm working on. The first is STILL WATER, a horror novel about a West Virginia coal mining town and the evil they unleash. I've completed the first draft of it, but before I go back to it I need to finish the first draft of A BROKEN MAGIC, which is a sequel to AMM. I hadn't planned on putting STILL WATER off for so long, but Crescent Moon said they were interested in a sequel to AMM, so I knew I had to put my efforts there first. A bird in the hand and all that.


[FFM] Can you tell us about your upcoming book, A BROKEN MAGIC?

[JM] I wish I could, but revealing much on it would spoil A MINOR MAGIC. As I said earlier, AMM is post-apocalyptic, which means that it takes place in a world that has been ruined. Ten years before the book begins a magical fire is unleashed on Earth that burns most of our civilization to the ground and kills billions of people. Those that survive eek out what life they can. As the book opens, our protagonist Skylar discovers that she has magical powers. This isn't seen as a good thing by the family that has adopted her, so in the book she has to make her way across a burned America while she tries to discover who she really is and why the world burned. A BROKEN MAGIC pickes up several months later. Skylar has learned a great deal, but there are still forces in the world that she must contend with, and if she wants to come out on top it's going to take all she has and more. I hope that makes you want to read both books. I wrote AMM for my niece, Aleena, who's thirteen years old. I wanted her to have a heroine who wasn't defined by the men in her life, and who was capable of saving herself. I really hope she likes it.
[FFM] Lots of authors have trouble when it comes to getting published. Can you tell us about any challenges that you may have faced in getting your first book published?


[JM] My biggest challenge was trusting the woman who was my agent for a time. I believed she had my best interests at heart, and that what she said represented the truth. After nearly a year of difficulty I learned that none of it was so. When the full truth came to light, I knew that if I was going to have a career in writing, I would have to take control of my destiny and make it happen. So I did. Within a couple of months I not only had a contract for HAYWIRE, but in that same weekend I also had a contract for A MINOR MAGIC. I went from nothing to two deals in almost no time, and all of it was because I took advantage of the contacts I'd made through my podcast and worked my butt off to get my work in front of the people who could help me achieve my dreams. Do I wish I could go back and undo the whole agent mess? No. It was a learning experience, and those are invaluable. Others can learn from it too. Trust, but verify. Also, the person who wants you to succeed the most is YOU, and in today's publishing world there are more roads than ever to success. Go make your dreams happen.


[FFM] In the works that you have had published, who has designed the covers for them?


[JM] HAYWIRE's cover was designed by my brother, Scott. One of the great things about a smaller press is that the author can have more control over the book, or at least more input. The publisher informed me that they could get a cover made, or if I had someone in mind they would let that happen, though with final approval. Scott had done covers for me previously (I still think his cover to my short story series THE TIES THAT BIND is his best work), and we work well together, so I knew he could make a great HAYWIRE cover. And he did. Starla Hutchton did the cover art for my short story PIRATES OF THE CRIMSON SAND, and I love the old space opera feel of it. As for A MINOR MAGIC, Crescent Moon is in charge of that one, and I haven't seen anything yet. My fingers are crossed.


[FFM] Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?


[JM] If you read a story and enjoy it, please reach out to the author and let them know. Trust me, they enjoy hearing that, especially those of us who are more recently published. Writing can all too often be a lonely, solitary activity, but knowing that what we made brought some happiness to another makes it all worth it. So tell them. Send them an email, or post a Facebook message, or even send a tweet. It never goes unappreciated. And, if you're really feeling giving, go to Amazon and post a review. People often by books based on the opinions of others, and the more people say kind things about a book, the more likely someone else is to pick it up and perhaps love it too. I've had 50 people post reviews for HAYWIRE, which is quite a bit for a smaller press book, but I'd love 50 more. When I'm feeling down or alone, reading those positive reviews rejuvenates my spirit. So reach out, let that author know how you feel, and then let the world. And, thank you for reading. There are a lot of other things you could be doing, and reading seems to be falling out of fashion. Thanks for keeping up the tradition. We writers need you out there. Thank you so so much.


If you would like to contact Justin or just keep tabs on him about his podcasts or his writing, please use these links:



3. Philippa Ballantine




I first heard of author Philippa Ballantine, Pip, on the Dead Robots’ Society podcast when she was a guest on an episode about steampunk. Her and her husband Tee Morris, coauthor in the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, had a great and humorous conversation the DRS crew. Since then, I've had the pleasure of listening to Pip and Tee’s own podcast, the Shared Desk. They are riot and I couldn't resist asking Pip for an interview.

[FFQ] Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

[PB] I am a fantasy and steampunk writer born and bred in Wellington, New Zealand, but now married to my co-author Tee Morris and living in Manassas, Virginia. Before becoming a full time writer in 2010, I was a librarian for thirteen years. So I am addicted to the smell of old books. Oh yes, and we have a clower of four cats who try to sleep on my keyboard when I am writing.


[FFQ] When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

[PB] As soon as I finished reading all the books my Dad had, I knew I had set about writing my own. That was when I was thirteen, and one of my old school mates who I recently reconnected with on Facebook told me she remembers me hauling around this green hardback journal which I was always scribbling in. It did pay off in the end though!


[FFQ] What inspired you to write your first book?

[PB] Just a love of story, and a desire to see what I could do. Fantasy is full of some many wondrous possibilities! All sorts of writers like Tolkien, Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey and C J Cherryh inspired me to try it myself.


[FFQ] Can you share a little of your current work with us?

[PB] I just handed in Harbinger which is the fourth (and final) book in the Books of the Orders. It is a series set in a fantasy world where the unliving are constantly trying to attack humanity, and the Deacons of the Order are the only ones who can stop them. Now that's done I'll be turning to edits on the second book in the Shifted World series, Kindred and Wings. It's also epic fantasy, but in quite a different world. It's about redemption, and how far you can fall before you can come back.


[FFQ] What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

[PB] Editing is always a surprising process. I've learned to love it—though my very first professional edit I broke down in tears! Editors I've found usually tell you the flaws in your story that you already know where there. In that way it's a bit like having a Jiminy Cricket on your shoulder. Usually they end up telling you flaws in your writing that you already kind of knew deep down.


[FFQ] Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

[PB] Just it took awhile. I secured my agent, Laurie McLean in 2006, and together we worked on the book (which got eventually published this year, Hunter and Fox). The interesting thing is that it wasn't that book that sold, but the second one I wrote in another series. Geist was written in 2007 and published in 2010. I'm not a person that is usually patient, but I have had to learn to be in this business.


[FFQ] How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

[PB] I'm a podcaster. I have podcast in their entirety four books, and I've been doing that since 2006. Over the years I have added other social media to my arsenal. I have a group page on Facebook, and Tee Morris and I recently started a Facebook page for the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences steampunk series. I tweet at PhilippaJane, and our main characters from the Ministry tweet as BooksandBraun. We also blog on our website for the Ministry at MinistryofPeculiarOccurrences.com and I have my personal blog at pjballantine.com


[FFQ] Who designed the covers?

[PB] I've been very lucky with my covers. The books with Ace covers were all done by the awesome Jason Chan http://jasonchanart.com/. I've just seen the cover of the last book Harbinger, and he's done his best work I think. The covers I've had for Pyr have also been beautiful pieces of art. Cynthia Sheppard really captures the beauty of my scary horse, and in the second book my scary dragon! http://sheppard-arts.com/ Finally, the Ministry book covers were all done in house by their art team. My particular favorite is the Janus Affair.


[FFQ] Can you tell us about any upcoming titles?

[PB] 2013 is going to be busy. I have Kindred and Wings, coming out with Pyr in the summer, but also Harbinger with Ace, and a novella in a steampunk anthology Clockwork Fairytales; A Collection of Steampunk Fables. The third book of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences we don't yet have a firm publication date on, but we are hoping the end of 2013.


[FFQ] Are there any new authors that have caught your interest?

[PB] I just finished a novel by Ripley Patton. It was a really good YA title about a girl who can pick pocket people's souls. It's called Ghost Hand. I really enjoyed her main character, and she had a really good grasp of life inside a teenagers head. Highly recommended for her fast pace and interesting.

[FFQ] Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

[PB] Do not give up. Every word you write, every criticism you receive, every rejection that comes your way is making you a better writer. The more words you write the better you are going to get. Just know if you want to be a professional writer then you have to know it is going to be more of a marathon than a sprint.



[FFQ] Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

[PB] If you've never given steampunk a chance, I hope you'll join us at the Ministry. Or if fantasy is not your thing, let me show you a couple of complex, powerful women who might change your mind in Geist and Hunter and Fox.


Author: Geist, Spectyr, Wrayth and Harbinger (2013) from Ace Books and Hunter and Fox and Kindred and Wings (2013) from Pyr Books

Co-author (with Tee Morris) of Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences— an Airship Award winning steampunk series. Novels: Phoenix Rising and the Janus Affair. Also includes digital short stories and a free award winning podcast series.


4.  Rose Caraway






Rose Caraway is an Erotica writer and podcaster who I became aware of through networking channels. She is a talented author who definitely has a flair for the theatre, evident from her audio endeavors. I was looking forward to hearing her answers to the interview questions I sent. She’s full of energy and shows it in her answers.



[RC] Hello Jacob (my finely bearded friend) and Kayla! Thanks so very much for allowing me to interview for Fiction Features Monthly magazine, what a privilege! And a big hello to the rest of the world; this is Rose Caraway.


[FFQ] Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?


[RC] Sure. I’m the Writer/Voice/Co-Producer for “The Kiss Me Quick’s” podcast and also the Voice/Co-Producer/Story-Picker for “The Sexy Librarian” podcast. Both erotica podcasts are found usually hanging around in one of the top-ten spots in the iTunes Sexuality category.


I keep active by working at a Martial Arts studio and am found throughout the week going toe-to-toe with the guys, or rolling around on the ground getting my Jujitsu on. When I’m not kickin’ ass or getting mine handed back to me, I am reading, writing and podcasting. Reading is my passion and writing is my dream.


My absolute favorite genres are horror and erotica. When I write, the two separate genres tend to blend and it is so much fun! My writing as I grew up stayed carefully tucked in journals and binders because I was afraid that someone would think I was insane. Really Rose, you want the devil to do that to you?


Only until a couple of years ago, with plenty of encouragement from my hubby, did I begin to appreciate that I wasn't the only person who had such lurid thoughts. I mean, Stephen King wrote about a high school introvert discovering her period, being bullied by cool-girls and their flying tampons, then she’s covered in pig’s blood at her prom and kills half the student body and her own deranged mother! Ew! and Wow! To this day, Carrie is my favorite book of all time. And don’t even get me started about Pennywise eating innocent boy’s armpits in the sewers! “It” scared the shit out of me. The only thing lacking from King’s books for me was the lack of sex.


I am the oldest of four kids and both my parents worked. I was raised by numerous neighborhood babysitters until I was old enough to do the job myself. Like Anne Shirley, I lived in my head, 24/7.


I have listened to other erotica podcasts and found them fun, but too P.C. and, often times, childish. I loved reading Johanne Lindsey’s “Once a Princess”, but Jean M. Auel’s, “The Clan of The Cave Bear” series was more satisfying. I’m not bad-mouthing or criticizing other podcasts, please understand. In our minds, we think and imagine many things that we wouldn't dare publicly admit to. Sex is so versatile, and I like to write about it with what I call, a “POW! Right-in-the-solar-plexus-without-any-fear” style. I don’t concern myself with worrying about whether or not I’m offending someone. My recipe for an entertaining erotica story is any combination of the following ingredients; fun, excitement, fright, kink and sometimes, a dash of taboo.



[FFQ] Can you share a little of your current work with us?


[RC] Absolutely! Currently I am finishing up the next episode for “The Sexy Librarian” podcast; Kay Jaybee’s short story, Candy at Christmas, which is loaded with kinky fun and will be released this week for the holiday season.


The next episode for “The Kiss Me Quick’s” podcast is a two-part story called, Outland 1313 and will finally be released this month as well. It’s my first attempt at Sci-Fi and it is one erotic adventure all Lurid Listeners will love!


I have also gotten my e-book, Hypnotized put into an audio format and it will be available to purchase in Audible soon. And for those listeners familiar with Eddie “The Auger” Harley, from the KMQ’s Suck the Line and Rim Jobs, I am currently putting the final edits together and will be releasing the novella, Tool this month.


Aside from my own works, I have also put Michelle Fox’s e-book, Werewolf Ménage: Pack Justice into audio format and it will be available in Audible in a couple of weeks. Devon Vaughn Archer has also contacted me and I am in the middle of putting his book, The Hitman’s Woman into audio format as well!


I am so excited to be this busy and will be blasting announcements all over my Facebook, Twitter pages and of course on both podcasts when these upcoming projects are available! Woo!



[FFQ] Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?


[RC] The hardest part for me personally was deciding which short story to go with and ended up looking at my download count. Most of the KMQ’s listeners seemed to enjoy Hypnotized best. Then it came to where to publish. Stupid Fish Productions took care of that. Having my own publishing company was loads easier and much faster than going through traditional publishers.

[FFQ] Can you tell us about any upcoming books or projects?


[RC] Along with everything I mentioned earlier, I am also writing my first novel, Dirty Witch. This is Lexi Vohen’s story. Lexi is a character from the KMQ’s 4-part series called Succubus. Lexi is a feisty, petite farm-girl, full of high-jinks and she has a secret super-power. She is going to be rescued from her cruel father and shipped to a U.S. Army base in North Africa for testing. Completely out of her element, Lexi acclimates and learns to develop her power. But there is one problem. Colonel Grahm, who doesn't want to babysit, won’t give Lexi his first name. It is against Grahm’s code. Lexi won’t have it. She aims to get under the stoic colonel’s skin any way she can so he will reveal his name. But Grahm has other problems. The sun-kissed skin and long golden hair that teases his calm are weakening his walls of protocol. And he is suspicious that the Army has secret plans for this free-spirited farm girl.

[FFQ] Who designed the covers?


[RC] The cover art for my shows quickly became time consuming for me. So my hubby, who is also my silent co-producer, has a keen eye takes charge of all the beautiful artwork, of course with my suggestive input.

[FFQ] Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?


[RC] Yes. There are many talented and intelligent Erotica authors out there and along with my stories, I seek those writers and musicians that I feel the audience will love and want more from. Erotica is hitting the mainstream head-on and I am happy to be a part of it. And my success wouldn't exist without an audience. Finding an audience is every artist’s goal. No matter how big or small, all of us want to reach someone that will share our love and passion. I hold my audience with a loving and protective hand. I adore them, for they allow me to continue doing what I have always dreamed of doing. So a big hug and kiss through this screen goes to each and every one of the folks out there that have even given me a single precious moment of their time.


XOXO


Rose


5. Terry Mixon




Terry Mixon is one of the three hosts of the DEAD ROBOTS’ SOCIETY, a podcast for aspiring writers. He has science fiction and historical fiction currently available under his name. He also has erotica and erotic romance available under his pen name, Lynn Mixon. On the podcast, Terry has a great personality and gives great advice for writers new and seasoned. I asked Terry if I could interview him and was very pleased that he was interested. On to the interview:
[FFM] Can you tell us a little bit about yourself, and how you got into writing?
[TM] It’s funny, but I’m never quite sure how to answer that question. I’m a middle-aged married guy living in Texas. I work at the Johnson Space Center in Mission Control as computer support for the flight controllers. I’m one of the people responsible for making sure they see what they need on their monitors while supporting manned spaceflight at the International Space Station.
I’ve done other things in my life; most notably, I proudly served as a non-commissioned officer in the US Army back in the mid-80’s. I was a helicopter crew chief for the scout side of the hunter-killer teams in the 101st Airborne. I maintained and flew with the aircraft that located targets for the attack helicopters.
Writing as a career came to me late in life. I’m not one of those people that knew they would be a writer from a young age. In fact, I didn't start until I was in my 40’s. Before that, I was a voracious reader. I still am. Whenever I read a bad book, I would tell myself that I could do better, but I never sat down and actually did it. A few years ago, a friend sent me a draft of the story he was working on and it motivated me to start writing.
In the first few years, I published half-a-dozen erotic novels under a pseudonym on websites like storiesonline.net and literotica.com. Those early novels make me cringe a little now when I look at my old writing style, but they helped me learn the craft. Even though I was just a beginner, the stories were very popular with those audiences. They showed me that I had what it took to tell a good story and that gave me confidence.  
[FFM] I know that you have quite a few short stories out in the marketplace right now, but can you share with us a little about your work that is already published and anything that you are currently working on?
 
[TM] I write mainstream erotica and erotic romance as Lynn Mixon, although I am getting edgier with some newer stories. I've published one erotic romance novel and have another in the editing stage.
In the same vein, I also have a "super-secret" pen name that I use to explore topics that push the envelope quite a bit further. Not surprisingly, those sell significantly better than my mainstream erotica. So I'm adapting to the market and my future work will likely explore some of those subgenres more thoroughly, as well as any others I think might be underserved.
As Terry Mixon, I also have some science fiction and alternate history pieces in the editing process.
For the most part, I don’t plan my story schedule too far in advance, but I can say that I will focus mostly on short stories. My novel doesn't sell nearly as well as the short fiction, so it’s difficult for me to justify investing the time it takes to produce another one when I can put out the same number of words in short stories an achieve better sales.
My wife keeps telling me that I should publish some of the stories I wrote under another pseudonym, but  I’m not sure about doing so. I’m not convinced the amount of time and energy I would have to pour into them would generate a high enough return. I believe I would end up gutting them completely and would have to rebuild. They’re good stories but it's a daunting task and I have more productive uses for my writing time. I've built up momentum and going back to fix those would slow me down. Maybe one day, though.
The newest project I’m working on is making my stories available in paperback. I’ll be creating print versions of everything over the next few months as well as making selected titles available via audio book. Both of those projects are a bit intimidating, but I’m very much looking forward to adding those skills to my repertoire.
 
[FFM ]What was the hardest part about going from writing predominantly short stories to writing a novel?
[TM] I actually started with writing novel-length stories first and moved to short fiction later on, so my learning curve is probably different from other writers.
My guess is that most people moving from short stories to novels would find the change in scale to be challenging. With a short story, brevity limits how much character development you can do as well as the number of subplots you can create.
You have to fulfill the reader's expectation of a well-developed and complete story. You may intentionally choose to use a larger plot element to tie several stories together. Who doesn't love a good cliffhanger? My first pieces were erotic mysteries and I published a chapter a week. Each one ended as a cliffhanger of some sort. My fans quickly dubbed me a “cliffhanging bastard”, but they kept coming back.
Expanding into longer fiction means, you have to find a workable tempo to weave multiple plots together while still showing true character growth. I've read a number of novels where I suspect the writer hadn't figured that part out completely. The characters seemed flat and the storyline jerky. Only practice, brutally honest beta readers, and a ruthless editor can help a writer hone that skill.
Read good novels, of course. Just because you write doesn't mean you should stop reading. Never stop reading. Just find your balance. You can always pick up some good pointers by noting what you like in books, what worked or didn't, and trying to emulate that style. Not the voice, mind you. The voice needs to stay your own.
For me, the challenge was the reverse—trying to cram a novel into a short story. My first attempts were too long. I wasn't as efficient at cutting words as I needed to be. My novels usually had one major plot and several subplots, and I put the character development front and center. To make my short fiction work better I had to cut back to a single plot and be more succinct with character development. Sometimes I had to start the story with certain assumptions that became obvious to the reader as they moved through the first couple of paragraphs and go from there.
Again, reading good short fiction helps you figure out how to make that work for you. Bad short fiction helps, too, because you identify things you want to avoid.
One more thing you can do is find good How-To books on writing and its components. The good ones I've read seem to provide the same or similar advice. Look for titles rated highly on all the various aspects of writing, such as dialog, voice, character, world building, and story structure. You’ll pick up a lot of theory that way. Then you must practice.
I was an avid gamer for several decades. I was able to use that world-building experience to help strengthen my writing and reinforce what I learned from the experts. It was the same with other elements of storytelling.
[FFM] Lots of authors have trouble when it comes to getting published. Can you tell us about any challenges that you may have faced in getting your first book published?
[TM] I’m the worst person to ask this question. I sold exactly one short story professionally. On my first submission. After that, I researched the emerging trends in the market and convinced myself that Indie publishing was something I wanted to explore. It’s worked so well for me that I haven’t looked back.
The challenges I've faced centered mostly on learning the business side of publishing. I learn new things about it every day. Thankfully, my wife has a business background and she’s very supportive. Once I felt comfortable, I focused on learning how to format books, write decent blurbs, create salable covers, and upload them onto the various platforms.
I've attended three workshops put on by author Dean Wesley Smith to pick up various parts of the business. That’s meant travelling to Oregon, and paying for the privilege, but that kind of supervised  training is worth its weight in gold. I've learned some incredible lessons not only in classes, but also by associating with established authors who know the business. They take a sincere interest in us newbies and are willing to share their collective wisdom. I've even met authors whose material I've been a fan of for years. It’s a great community.
Indie publishing isn't for everyone, though. People have valid reasons for going the traditional route; but the world has changed significantly over the last three years and it isn't finished yet. Indie publishing doesn't carry the same stigma it used to. It's not about vanity presses, although those are still out there. Or scammers. Those are out there, too. Many well-known authors are starting to take advantage of the flexibility and freedom that indie publishing allows in addition to their regular publishers.
Learning how to indie publish isn't as hard as I feared when I started. Really. I think fear might be the biggest barrier to people who might be considering trying it.
If you’re afraid to do your own covers, edit, or format your books, that’s not a problem. You can hire knowledgeable people for a reasonable fee to do that for you. All you have to do is look at places where writers hang out and listen to what they’re saying. Ask them questions. It's all very doable.
[FFM] In the works that you have had published, who has designed the covers for them?
[TM] I contracted out a couple of my early covers, but now my wife does the cover design and creation. I could try to make them, but she has a much better eye for it.
[FFM] Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
[TM] Only that I appreciate you reading my work. If you haven't had a chance to check out my stories, you can find them Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, and Apple. I hope you enjoy them!
To your readers, thank you for taking the time to listen to me blabber.
And to writers, remember to practice your craft every day. Even if it is just half an hour. Even if what you write is nonsense, a journal entry, something completely meaningless to anyone else, or total crap. You have to keep your words flowing. It’s the best thing you can do to help yourself grow and it will help keep your creative juices flowing. Keep your muse happy.
Thanks for asking me to come on. I've enjoyed it.
 
[FFM] We appreciate the chance to interview you. I hope this helps to spread the word about you and your work! It would be really great if you could also include any links that you would like to be included with the interview. Thanks!
 
[TM] You can find my work on all the major bookseller sites. Soon I’ll have them available in print and select stories in audio. I have links to everything and blurbs listed at my author web page, too.