Author’s Cafe

Welcoming back Robert Swartwood to the Author’s Cafe with his new release, Walk The Sky (and a book giveaway)


How about a little Western to spice up your work week? I’m happy to “reintroduce” a good friend who has been here before (though before I had that cool little bookstore/cafe image above), Robert Swartwood. Author of horror, suspense, and thrillers (including one of my favorite reads, No Shelter, with the butt-kicking Holly Lin) has dipped his toes into a Western genre for his brand new release, Walk The Sky.

Check out Robert and his work on his site, follow him on Twitter for some off-the-cuff food remarks. Plus he’s got some swag to give away, so read through and leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Ladies and gents, Walk The Sky:

One of my favorite genres is the Western.

And I say this as someone who hasn’t watched nearly as many Westerns as he should.

In fact, considering the amount of Westerns out there, I’ve probably seen only a handful.

But for some reason it’s still a favorite genre.

Yes, there are tropes that seem to constantly pop up — the anti-hero, the cavalry, show down at high noon, and wanted posters, just to name a few — that our understanding of life in the “old west” is probably nothing like what it was really like to live back then.

Still, the setting seems to make for great storytelling, or at the very least, exciting storytelling.

Walk the Sky, a short novel I co-wrote with the late David B. Silva, is a subgenre of the Western: the Weird Western. It starts out as a typical Western — two men on the run from a posse — but then quickly veers into supernatural territory.

It was great fun to write, but also challenging, as we tried to stay true to the time period.

A lot of the Westerns you see on TV nowadays take liberties with the setting and characters and even weapons. Originally there was a scene in Walk the Sky where a jar of gumballs falls off a table and shatters, sending a scatter of them everywhere. A friend who read an early draft did some research and found that gumballs hadn’t been invented during the time that the novel takes place. It wasn’t a big problem — we easily changed gumballs to penny candy — but still it was something we initially overlooked.

Another thing we needed to research were the weapons used back then. When we think of Westerns, we immediately think of six-shooters and Winchesters, but many of those guns weren’t invented until the early 1900’s, and as Walk the Sky takes place in 1875, we needed to be conscious of which weapons that were featured (we didn’t, for instance, want to feature a gun that wasn’t invented for another three years). Sure, we could easily have fudged the weapons to make them work, but it was important to us to keep the setting and time as realistic as possible.

And that, I think, is one of the reasons I enjoy the Western genre so much. Nowadays there’s just so much technology that it makes it almost too easy for the good guys and bad guys. But back then, there were no cell phones or computers or Internet. If someone was in trouble, they couldn’t easily send out a text message. It helps ramp up the suspense. And it also helps us remember a time when we didn’t take all our technology for granted.


Things are bad for Clay Miller and George Hitchens.

For starters, they’re on the run from a posse out for blood. Then, as they ride through the Utah desert, the two come across the crumpled body of a young boy on the brink of death. The boy can’t speak, but it’s clear he’s frightened of something nearby. When asked what’s got him so scared, the terrified boy writes three letters in the dirt …


By nightfall, Clay and George are tied up in jail. They can’t move. They can’t speak. They can do nothing but listen to the boy, outside, screaming for his life.

Yes, things are bad for Clay and George.

And they’re only going to get worse.

Walk the Sky is available in paperback and on Kindle (US and UK) at a special introductory price of 99 cents.

Enter to win a free copy of the paperback at Goodreads.

What’s your favorite Western, either book or TV show or movie? Let us know in the comments section by Friday 4/19 midnight EST, and Robert will gift five copies of the Kindle edition to random participants.

Many thanks, Robert, and much appreciate the kind giveaway. Wanna win an e-copy of Walk The Sky? THEN DO WHAT HE SAYS.


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Kicking off “Author’s Cafe” on the blog with an interview with Leah Petersen, author of Cascade Effect


I’m proud to introduce a good friend (though that may be presumptuous of me – she may hate my guts for all I know…) I’ve had the rare privilege of meeting in person. Yes, real flesh and bones in a world of bits and bytes. Leah Petersen is a talented author, an outspoken supporter of fellow authors, and a very entertaining Twitter follow (especially if you hate your day job – she’s got some great one liners).

I read her debut novel, Fighting Gravity, last year (review here), easily one of my most enjoyable reads of the year. Truly great storytelling, hard to put down, and I attribute that 100% to the characters she created. Those characters are back for another story, picking up where the first left off. Cascade Effect (The Physics of Falling, Book 2) was released last week, and Leah was generous enough to stop by the “all new” Author’s Cafe to chat about it.


CE_cover_series-194x300SU: Pretend this is Twitter. Sell me (and the readers) on Cascade Effect in 140 characters or less.

LP: Jake survived exile & an execution order. Now he’s back with his emperor, and the assassination attempts are the least of his problems.


SU: Cascade Effect is a sequel to Fighting Gravity, a self-contained story that left off with a bit of a hanger that led naturally into another story. Was this planned, or was FG supposed to be a standalone?

LP: Fighting Gravity was written as a standalone, but changes in the editing and revision process with my publisher ended it quite a lot earlier in the timeline than I’d planned. At that point I had to decide whether I simply wanted to let their story end at a different point in time than I’d planned, or write a sequel. I ended up writing a sequel.


SU: I found FG to be a fascinating blend of science fiction, romance, and class/nobility. Does CE maintain that same mix, or did you go more in-depth into one area versus the others?

LP: I like to think all elements are still strong and in a good balance, but as is the nature of sequels, I was able to get more in-depth about the society itself, the class issues, their history, and more details about how that specifically impacts the classes day-to-day.


SU: One of the central themes of both stories is the marriage of not only a ‘commoner’ with a noble, but also between two men. The latter is obviously a hot button issue in recent years with a lot of progress towards acceptance. Did this influence what you wrote originally, or was that relationship something you always wanted to put to paper? 

LP: The same-sex relationship was never a deliberate plot device, just something I realized was going to happen when I really started to set down the story. Once I was writing a world where homophobia was one of those archaic ideas from way-back-then, the marriage was a natural progression. But I’m sure I must have been unconsciously influenced by the issue being so much in the public consciousness, I started writing the first book shortly after Prop 8 passed in California. And once I realized how intrinsic it was to the story, it was deeply satisfying to NOT address the issue. At all. No one comments on it in the story because no one cares. They are prejudiced against Jake for a completely different reason.


SU: Jacob Dawes rose from the slums to the palace in FG. How does he continue to grow, whether positively or negatively, in CE? Give one aspect, without giving away the story, of course.

LP: Jake’s very often (OK, pretty much always) selfish and short-sighted. In Fighting Gravity, he’s largely acting from a position where he has no power, and as self-destructive as his actions end up being, it doesn’t usually have the potential to affect anyone but him. In Cascade Effect his situation has completely changed, and his obtuseness has the potential to affect millions, even billions of people, of all classes of society. The only thing to do there is either learn to be less selfish and short-sighted, or make colossal screw-ups on a galactic scale. So, no spoiler, but either he learns to grow up a bit, or the whole empire comes crashing down.

SU: Are there any plans for a follow up? Will this become a trilogy, or more?

LP: Yes, there’s a third coming. I plan on torturing Jake one more time before I let him be.


SU: Last but not least, take as much time/characters to describe the overall story arc you’ve put together for Jacob and the emperor, and why readers will enjoy it.

LP: A reviewer said this was a story that convincingly put the prince and the pauper in bed together. I love that way of putting it because, at its heart, this is a love story. But it’s also a story of just a guy, with all his flaws, who gets pulled out of the dregs of society, the worst of circumstances, and thrust into the world of privilege, power, and prestige–where no one wants him. Until the emperor does. Then everyone hates him even more. It’s the story of how Jake deals with prejudice and discrimination and not only changes himself, but the world around him when he refuses to accept the labels put on him and others like him. And how he deals with the cost to himself for doing it.



A big thanks to Leah for taking time out of what I can imagine is a very busy launch week. Do yourselves a favor, folks. Visit her site. Follow her on Twitter. And most of all, take a look at Fighting Gravity (Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Goodreads) for the first in this series, then Cascade Effect (Kindle, Goodreads, other outlets coming soon) to pick up the story of Jake and Pete as it moves forward.



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Author Interview with Robert Swartwood, new horror/thriller release THE INNER CIRCLE – and a GIVEAWAY

UPDATE: Winners announced, check the bottom of the comments. Thanks everyone!

I’ve met some great fellow authors online over the past couple of years, but in this social media day and age, the vast majority of them have been online. Certainly nothing wrong with that, it’s the way of the world, but I consider it a rare privilege to be able to get together in person with some of these fine folks. One fine folk I call a friend is Robert Swartwood, the successful self-published author of several horror and thriller novels, the latest of which is THE INNER CIRCLE, and someone who was a woman the first time I met him.* This is the second in his horror/thriller trilogy, and he was kind enough to put together an interview about this, and the first in the series (MAN OF WAX).

* Okay, I can’t put that statement out there and leave it hanging… One of the first e-books I bought was NO SHELTER by a new female author, Z. Constance Frost, who I “met” in an online writers forum (and you know how those ‘meeting online’ things can be…mysterious). I had numerous conversations with her, noticed she was very good friends with Robert Swartwood (and even did some interviews with him!), promoted each other’s books, and so on. I even encouraged young Z. Constance to join Twitter, where so many other helpful authors reside! So imagine my surprise when Z up and turned into a man. (Robert wrote No Shelter under a pseudonym because it was a different type of novel than he normally wrote.) It took several days before I stopped feeling dirty… (Cut to bathroom scene from The Crying Game.)

Robert and I live less than two hours from each other, so we had a fantastic couple of hours at lunch (in a brewpub…writers don’t mess around) discussing writing, marketing, and other highbrow activities. Looking forward to doing it again. Make sure to visit his site and take a peek at his books, all very highly rated.

Short and Sweet Third-Person Bio

Robert Swartwood was born in 1981. His work has appeared in such venues as The Los Angeles ReviewThe Daily BeastPostscriptsChiZineSpace and Time,Wigleaf, and PANK. He is the editor of Hint Fiction: An Anthology of Stories in 25 Words or Fewer, which was chosen by The Nervous Breakdown as one of their favorite books of 2010, and was featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday with Scott Simon.

Oh, and check out these covers…they drip professionalism. Love ’em (click to enlarge):


Now without further ado, my interview with Robert, and a SPECIAL GIVEAWAY at the end (so read all the way through, folks…no cheating):

SU: If someone put a gun to your head and said, “Send a promotional 140 character tweet about The Inner Circle, and make it good”, what would you type?

RS: “The Inner Circle is The Hunger Games meets The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo but even better!” … or something like that. I’m not good at promotional tweeting.

SU: Is the story more horror than thriller, or thriller than horror?
RS: Well, I guess that all depends on your definition of horror. Most people, I think, view horror as zombies and vampires and ghosts and everything else that goes bump in the night. Me, I view horror the same way Douglas Winter does. As he wrote in the introduction to his 1982 anthology Prime Evil: “Horror is not a genre, like the mystery or science fiction or the western. It is not a kind of fiction, meant to be confined to the ghetto of a special shelf in libraries or bookstores. Horror is an emotion.”

So is The Inner Circle (not to mention Man of Wax) horrific? Very much so, yes. In fact, I have received some one-star reviews of Man of Wax where readers make it about 15% into the book and stop because, they claim, it’s so “dark and disturbing” and “disgusting.” Personally, I don’t think it’s THAT dark and disturbing and disgusting, but I can see where some people would think so. Thing is, though, I am not one to show the dark and disturbing and disgusting. I’m not a fan of “torture porn”; in fact, I find myself almost bored by it, because it’s the same thing again and again. Some might argue there are instances where torture porn applies to these two books, but that again comes down to what your definition of torture porn (and horror) is. The books deal with a secret group of people who get off watching other people tortured and put through extreme situations, but the books are much more than that. In many ways they’re about survival, about the dark depths of human nature, while at the same time trying to show there is still hope.

So, to get back to your question, more horror than thriller or more thriller than horror? That, again, would have to depend on each reader’s definition of what horror (not to mention thriller) is. But the books are very fast-paced, so there’s that. I try to keep the action going as much as I can. At the same time … well, as some other readers have noted, they are dark and disturbing.

SU: In the first book, Man Of Wax, you have two very central protagonists: Ben Anderson and Carver Ellison. Considering they have such different backgrounds and roles, did you find it difficult to get into their heads writing the story?
RS: First, let me talk about where Man of Wax came from. Many years ago I’d had this idea about someone waking up in a strange place with no idea how he got there. It wasn’t necessarily a new idea, but I kept returning to it until one day I sat down and knocked out that first chapter. I don’t outline, at least not on paper; oftentimes I’ll think about the book for awhile in my head and get a good sense of where I’m starting and heading before I actually start writing. Like Harlan Coben says, it’s like taking a road trip across the country; you know where you’re starting and where you’ll end up, but you don’t know what will happen along the way. That’s sort of how I write. But in this instance, I had no clue where the story was headed. I just wrote that first chapter. Then I wrote the second chapter. Then third. Then fourth. Before I realized it, a week had gone by and I’d written close to 30,000 words. When I saw how much I had gotten done and the speed at which I was writing it, I pushed myself to keep going, and ended up finishing the entire 90,000-word novel in three weeks. (And no, I have never participated in NaNoWriMo.)

Now, let me clarify something: I had just graduated college, I was still living at home, my two jobs were substituting for a middle school and high school and working as an assistant manager at a movie theater. So, with all those factors, I had the opportunity to write as much as I could. There were mornings when I would get called to take a subbing job and would turn it down. When I went to work at the theater, I would take my laptop along and work up in the projection booth and write between sets. My girlfriend at the time (now my wife) understood how hard I was working on the novel and didn’t press me to spend time with her … well, okay, not that much time.

Anyway, so when I started Man of Wax, I knew a little about Ben Anderson’s character, but none of Carver Ellison until he showed up halfway through the book. And then … everything just happened to fall into place. I didn’t have trouble getting into their heads because they were already there, just waiting to be written.

SU: The Inner Circle picks up where Man Of Wax left off, with Anderson joining Ellison against the mysterious, behind-the-scenes Caesar who runs the “games.” How have those two protagonists changed since you first introduced them?
RS: Ben has changed greatly. In Man of Wax, my idea was to create a “realistic” thriller. Meaning the good guys don’t always win. Meaning the protagonist isn’t necessarily the hero type. You drop the majority of us in a situation where we wake up in the middle of nowhere, with our families gone, and are forced to partake in a terrible game, and we don’t immediately become Jason Statham. Especially when our family’s lives are on the line and any false step on our end might mean their death. So it’s a delicate situation, and I have found some readers really love Ben while others don’t care for him much at all. Again, he’s supposed to be “normal,” whatever that means, plus he has a dark secret to his past, something he never even told his wife about, so there’s that.

But in The Inner Circle, two years have passed and Ben has changed drastically. He hasn’t found his family yet, and doesn’t think he ever will, so he doesn’t have much left to live for. Instead he becomes a soldier in Carver’s army against Caesar, and he steps up in a major way — in fact, he almost becomes that Jason Statham character we all like to think we would become in dire situations.

As for Carver, he is still doing whatever he can to get to Caesar and those in the Inner Circle. We do, however, learn more about his back story, and why and how he has become man he is.

SU: Man Of Wax, as the first in the series, was very mysterious and dark. Now that much of the mystery is out in the open, what does The Inner Circle bring to the table?
RS: Man of Wax showed what the games were like from the player side of the table. In The Inner Circle, we now see the aftermath, about those few who managed to leave the games alive, and how they’ve struggled with the consequences. We also get much closer to learning the truth about what the games are all about and what else Caesar has in store, not just for the Inner Circle but for the entire world.
SU: Give us one line, whether it’s description or dialogue, from The Inner Circle that gives a good example of the story.
RS: As I mentioned, in the second book Ben has become a completely different person. And near the beginning of the book, when he’s headed into a really bad situation and one of the other characters tells him not to, that he might end up dead, Ben says, “All of us are already dead, Ronny. We just don’t know it yet.”
SU: And I can’t end this without asking the logical question – what are the plans and/or progress on a follow up? Will this be a trilogy, or continuing saga?
RS: It will definitely be a trilogy. I haven’t started working on the third book yet — I want to work on something lighter, a new Holly Lin novel perhaps — but I hope to start working on it next year. It will be just as long as The Inner Circle, which ended up around 120,000 words.

Thanks for having me here, Steve!

GIVEAWAY TIME: Easy stuff here. Robert has generously donated a free e-book copy of the first in the series, Man of Wax, to ANYONE who helps spread the word about this interview and comments below. Simply link to this blog page, retweet it, share on Facebook or Google+, even post it on your MySpace wall. Then make a quick comment below saying “I did it!” or something creative along those lines, and you’ll find yourself with a horror/thriller book in your hands (e-reader).

And ONE LUCKY RANDOM winner will receive an AUTOGRAPHED copy of BOTH novels.

Ready? Go share!

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Author Interview with Jason Andrew Bond, new thriller/horror release MORTAL REMAINS

I don’t often do these interviews, so when I do I make sure the author’s a good guy/gal and the subject matter are up my alley*. I can easily attest to both in the case of Jason Andrew Bond.

* Can’t you just imagine that in a white-lettered meme on a Most Interesting Man In The World photo, passed around Facebook incessantly? Yeah, me too…which is probably why I gave up on Facebook.

I’m proud to call Jason a friend, one that I probably wouldn’t have ever “met” had I not enjoyed his science fiction debut Hammerhead so much. He’s been hard at work on a new novel, this one outside of the scifi genre, and as of last week, MORTAL REMAINS is now available. He’s been a heckuva busy guy the past few weeks getting the launch ready, as evidenced by this typical tweet from him:

I’m glad he was able to take some time to share about the novel and future works. Sit back, take a sip of coffee (or tea, or something stronger, whatever’s up your alley), and enjoy.

UPDATE: Jason has VERY GENEROUSLY (implied by all caps, see?) donated a SIGNED COPY of Mortal Remains to one lucky, totally random commenter. All you need to do is read the interview and make a quick comment, but in that comment you must do one thing to qualify: name the main character in Mortal Remains. Easy, peasy.

UPDATE TO THE UPDATE: Giveaway closed, congrats to Terri Rykard, the random winner of the signed copy!

Click for full size

SU: Pretend this is Twitter. Sell me (and the readers) on Mortal Remains in 140 characters or less.
JAB:When given the choice to live or die, Erica Morgan would rather fight back and die trying, but what’s at stake is far more than only her life.

SU: What genre (or genres) would Mortal Remains fall under? Any genre crossover that may appeal to more than just the core fans?
JAB: This would fit into the thriller/horror with a touch of adventure. So far folks who enjoyed Hammerhead (even those who are military and sci-fi fans) are giving it very good reports. The connection point is good people who are willing and able to fight who get caught up in horrible situations.

SU: I really enjoyed Hammerhead, a very unique story with excellent science fiction settings and technologies. What made you jump into a different genre like thriller/horror?
JAB: First-thank you for that. I sincerely appreciate it. In answer to your question, all advice would tell me to write the sequel to Hammerhead as closely to the first as possible, but I sincerely don’t choose what comes next. While laying the groundwork for Hammerhead Resurrection the entire plot of Mortal Remains poured itself into my head one night. I had to jump out of bed and take notes for two hours to record it all. It took me a year and a half of writing and editing to complete it.

SU: The protagonist of Hammerhead was a male starship breaker, set in the future. Erica Morgan is quite different from that. Was it difficult to shift into a different mindset to write her?
JAB: Writing this book made me think of William Faulkner’s comment on writing. I paraphrase very loosely as it’s been some time since I read it… He said that all he does is imagine interesting people in tough situations an then chase them with a pencil and paper as fast as he can. It feels like Erica Morgan came to me, sat down, and told me how to write her. Writing about a woman in an abusive relationship made me very uncomfortable at first. I didn’t want to sensationalize it at all because these things happen to women EVERY DAY and to go overboard would, in my mind, disrespect that reality. However, as I worked it just seemed that I was recording the story that she wanted to be told. I know that might come across as a bit crazed sounding, but it’s the truth.

SU: Are there any plans for a follow up to Mortal Remains? And a more personal question from me, any plans for a Hammerhead sequel, or another story set in that universe?
JAB: There’s a quote at the very end of Mortal Remains that says it all. I’ll let you all see it for yourself. 🙂 As far as Hammerhead… Absolutely! I can’t wait to get back to Stacy and Leif and Jeffrey. I have the first scene and the general plot outline for Hammerhead Resurrection and am going to start full-time work on it now that Mortal Remains is done. The basic concept is that it is ten years later and the alien invaders return. There will be a lot of action, but I’m still going to focus the main development of the plot around a small group of key characters.

SU: What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow?
JAB: What do you mean? African or European swallow?!?!
SU: Huh? I… I don’t know that. Aaaaaghhh!

Again, big thanks to Jason for his time in stopping by. MORTAL REMAINS is available for KINDLE (link); paperback coming soon. Still waiting to hear on other platforms – I’ll update this page when they become available. Unless he’s gone and signed up for KDP Select, in which case I TOTALLY disown him as a friend and rescind everything I said above.

Take a peek at Mortal Remains and Hammerhead, folks – Mr. Bond is a talented writer.

Comment below for a chance to win an autographed copy (after the paperback hits on October 4th). Don’t forget the qualifying requirement. Giveaway closes Saturday September 29th, good luck!

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Interview with Karen Smith, author of Dark Dealings (launches today)

In my year-plus in the writing ‘industry’, I’ve been privileged enough to have met some fantastic people, including countless authors and authors-to-be. In today’s day and age, the opportunities for an author have never been better or more accessible. But there are still, it seems, two camps – the traditionally published (or working on being traditionally published), and the self-published. Those of you who know me are well aware of which side of the fence I fall on, but I have many friends in either yard (is that enough clichés for an opening paragraph yet?)

Honestly I don’t care which camp an author is in, as at the end of the day the goal is to get a story into the hands of a reader by any means necessary. And I have no animosity towards the “other side” whatsoever (it still bugs me that such animosity is still out there). I have several friends who have dipped their toes into both waters (damn, another lousy cliché), one of whom is Karen Victoria Smith. I am happy to say Karen stopped by Paginations to tell a little of her story, both about her new release Dark Dealings, and her experience on both sides of the fence.


Dark Dealings launches May 23rd

S: Karen, welcome – I appreciate your time in answering a few interview questions. I know it’s a busy time for you, as Dark Dealings has just been released. Before I ask a bit about your publishing experience, can you tell us about the book itself? Feel free to go past 140 characters…plenty of space here.

KVS:  In short… Murder. Monsters, Magic and Money.   

Dark Dealings was born of my Irish heritage, love of the paranormal and years on Wall Street. It is the beginning of Micaela O’Brien’s journey. At 13, she had a vision of her parents’ death which she dismissed. After it really happened, she spent her time running from her metaphysical gifts and the Irish Druid community she was raised in. Years later, she has built an extremely successful life as a Wall Street investment banker. That is until she becomes involved in an international deal with some very unusual clients…ones with fangs and claws. The story also takes us from the Massachusetts to New York to Brussels and Ireland. It will give a whole new meaning to power play. 

S: I was one of your original beta readers way back when, and really enjoyed the settings, intrigue, and perhaps most of all the characters. I love a character-driven story. Besides the main protagonist Micaela, who was the most fun or interesting to write?

KVS: Wow, that’s a tough one. I’m a character-driven writer. I like writing bad guys and women. Kat, the shapeshifter assistant to the main protagonist has gathered more than a few among the early readers fans for her sultry bad-girl style. Of course, like Micaela, I’m conflicted over Liam, the hot Irish Druid and Ethan, the moody Boston Brahmin with a secret. 

The best part of writing is getting to hear each character’s distinct voice in my head. Before you say anything Steve, I have I never done anything the voices tell me to…well maybe once.  But seriously, the international cast was fun with so many accents rattleing around in my brain and trying to get that on the page.But sometimes it can be a secondary character that grabs your attention. In fact, while I work on a first draft of the next Micaela story, I am editing a novel based on Aine, Devlin and Nora of Ogham Court, a fictitious street in Tribeca. They are minor players in Dark Dealings, but Nora started whispering to me that there was more to her story. Besides, Nora is a Jersey girl.

S: Speaking of way back when, let’s jump into the experiences you had and decisions you made when Dark Dealings was “complete.” I, along with several other authors, were with you at Readercon in July when you received word of a potential book contract for your story. Tell us about your submission process and time frame leading up to that.

KVS: Wow that was a crazy night!

I started studying the craft of writing over three years ago with an amazing teacher/mentor, Barbara Rogan. In fact, Dark Dealings is dedicated to her because it began as my homework/project.  The world of publishing was a different place three or four years ago. So, I honed by skills, went to conferences (which I still do) and worked up the nerve to pitch to agents and editors. I had lots of nibbles but no bites—pun intended. On that fateful night in the pub with lots of my writer friends knocking back a few, I received an email from a small press house wanting to publish Dark Dealings. I was wisely advised to close loops with any agents or publishers with which I had outstanding queries. I was offered representation by an agent to manage the offer and my future.

S: Not long after, you made a decision to self-publish Dark Dealings. Why was that?

KVS: Let’s just say that my agent and I had different opinions about what representing my best interests were. I came to realize that the ball had been dropped when the publishing house approached me about where things stood because they had not heard from my representative. The time seemingly wasted actually worked to my advantage. The publishing world was evolving so rapidly that I realized I could not see, or get the traditional gatekeepers to explain to me, what they brought to the table that warranted me turning over the majority of my revenue.  Now that said, there are many agents and publishers who can make a difference in an authors career, the problem is they do think they have to sell themselves to the author. It is about transparency.

I worked on Wall Street for nearly a decade and despite the glamour and the money, I expected to prove to every potential client why I was worth the fees they would pay me and then deliver on that or there would be no second deal.

S: What was it about self-publishing that drew you in that direction?

KVS: Besides being a control freak? Truth in humor. 

For me, I think that in a changing environment I like the idea of being able to be light on my feet. On top of the “value-added” question I had about the traditional structure, I was leery of giving away control of my work to another party for years when none of us can know what the world would look like in 6-12 months. I would not be adverse to working partnership with the right agent or publisher under the right conditions and environment. 

S: What was it originally about traditional publishing that prompted you to submit Dark Dealings to agents/publishers?

KVS: When I started my writing journey, it was just the way things were done. Back in the Dark Ages before Kindle and Nook, I went to an all-girl Catholic high school. There girls with “careers” became teachers and nurses. They didn’t go to Ivy League schools and get MBAs and become Vice Presidents on Wall Street.  In fact my high school guidance counselor told me not to waste my time and money applying to the University of Pennsylvania, because after all it was an Ivy League school.  Bachelors and Master—Class of 19xx. 

But, (my contribution to clichés) the only thing certain is change and the times they are a changin’.


S: Any regrets about not going traditional? Anything you feel like you may miss out on by self-publishing?

KVS: Sometimes I wish I had someone to handle some of the promotion, marketing and operational stuff, so I could just write, especially since there is that day job thing., At midnight, when I an reviewing book formats or cover art galleys, and a plot solution comes to me, I have to choose how to spend my time in the wee hours.  It would be nice to be able to delegate more.  I suppose my some of my family and friends might have an opinion on that, too.  

Also, like it or not, the bulk of the reader market is still lodged in print. So how to reach them, especially as the big book chain disappear or re-tool. One of the frontiers for Indie Publishers to conquer is the print market. I know your opinion on the future of print, but for the foreseeable future print is still a large part of the market. The beauty of Indie Publishing is that it is a marathon. We get to build a base one bookstore, one reader at a time without the pressure of the quick trip to the bargain bin. 

S: What has been the most difficult or challenging part of self-publishing for you?

KVS: That there are only 24 hours in a day and I have to go to the day job and get at least a few hours of sleep. Time management.

S: Dark Dealings left off with strong potential for more stories in the same settings with many of the same characters. Do you have plans for a sequel or spinoff? And if so, will you self-publish or submit traditionally?

KVS: There are so many interesting and fun characters in Dark Dealings, I can go on forever. They are also rather vocal characters and have already started demanding more page time.  I told them to have their people call my people.  As to setting, I love the fact that I can travel anywhere in the world and, if I use that as a setting, it might be tax deductible. Hey, Steve, any recommendations on travel agents?

My current plan is to publish Ogham Court, a Dark Dealings paraquel, later this year and an official, as-yet untitled, sequel to Dark Dealings in early 2013. As to how I will proceed, I plan on publishing on my own, but history has taught me that all doors to the future must remain open.

S: I know it’s very early in the process and there’s a long road ahead with many ups and downs self-publishing-wise, but how has your experience been so far? Is it something you think is worthwhile and will continue to do?

KVS:  I’m loving it. 

Of course, I hope that everyone will go to their favorite e-reader site (print coming soon on Amazon) buy Dark Dealings and enjoy it. If they enjoy it, I hope thye will “like” , review and tag it. Most of all I hope they tell friends. 

I have lived my life taking on new challenges and, as those who know can tell you, I don’t do boredom well. In addition to my own work, I want to expand on my work with other authors in the editing and publishing process. I hope to expand my infant publishing company, Three Worlds Productions, to a full-fledged company for indie authors who want to leverage the power of a large bookshelf.

I want say how much I appreciate  the great questions and the trip down memory lane, Steve.  Most especially, I want to thank you for the chance to meet your fans and share Dark Dealings with them.

S: Karen, thanks so much for sharing. Always nice to see perspective from both camps, positive and negative. Best of luck with the release and future stories!

I’m not a paranormal reader by any stretch, but Dark Dealings had an excellent writing style, well drawn characters, and excellent business intrigue, and I really enjoyed the story. If you’re looking for reading material, take a look.

Dark Dealings is available on KINDLE and NOOK, plus Smashwords for online reading and other devices.

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