Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Being a Writer: A Guest Post from Steven Lloyd

I’m going to make this as brief and as painless as possible. Can you tell I’m nervous? Good. I don’t hide it well. My name is Steven Lloyd. I don’t have a huge readership or a large body of work. I’ve been writing short stories for twenty-five years. The first fifteen years of my life were dismal. I wanted acceptance from my peers and by my early teens I was experimenting with Cocaine and Heroin. My fear of needles and constant nose bleeds kept me from shooting or snorting.  Instead I ingested it by mixing it with food or drinks. When I hit fifteen, teachers told my parents I was unreachable and I would either be dead or in prison by my twentieth birthday.  Still, my parents believed in me. I owned my place and cleaned up not too long before the writing bug bit me.

I wrote a horror story for an English class assignment—thank God it was Halloween, and I had to read it in front of the class. The writing assignments kept coming, I think because my teacher saw my ability as a future writer. From that day on, students paid me a dollar or two to write their stories for class. For the first time in my life I found something so overwhelmingly powerful that I kept going with my new talent. I left the drugs and alcohol behind about a year later and found my purpose in life: I wanted to write stories.

In 2001, I was searching for myself. I hadn't written anything in ten years and one day my then girlfriend bought me a computer. Voices, once silent, now began to talk. It wasn't long before I hammered the keys. My first acceptance came in 2005 when Naked Snake Press released my short story “When Darkness Falls” as a standalone chapbook. The next year Ellen Datlow mentioned the story in her summation “The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror” 2006. For me it was just as good as having my story published in the book. The book sits on my shelf today.

In 2013 I started collecting some of my favorite stories. Forty-three was knocking on the door and I wanted to leave something behind for readers and loved ones. At the same time an idea for a novel surfaced. I was on fire. A brief description of the novel is below:

When fifteen-year-old Hector McGee skipped the last day of school to go fishing with his best friend Vernon, he didn’t expect to hear a woman’s screams coming from inside the Buckmyer house. He heard a familiar voice, one he knew all too well—the raspy voice of his drunken father—dishing out brutal punishments that only he could give.

It's the 1940’s and Hector McGee is on the run from the Buckmyer brothers seeking revenge after the disappearance of his father. Hector enlists the help of his best friend and several others as they plunge deep into the Dogwood Bottoms seeking the mythical voodoo doctor Pepper Jones. They will have to go through hell to find him and the trip may very well kill them all.

Most of the tales in my short story collection “Strange Roads” deal with real life horror. I wrote a short titled “The Wooden Box” that put me on the map a couple years ago. I knew then I was on the right track. Readers loved it. My most acclaimed stories are in this one collection: The Wooden Box, When Darkness Falls, Brothers, Where There Be Dragons, The Wallet, The Fight of the Century and an excerpt from my forthcoming novel Dogwood Summer. Also includes an introduction by John Paul Allen and various interviews with me.

The writing game is a hurry up and wait business. Nothing moves fast. It’s best to get that out of the way now. Things take time. Strange Roads took over a year to prepare before its release in October. Cover art, interior layout, editing; all this takes time, and I found myself rewriting most of the stories. During all this I wrote two new pieces and slipped them in.

This is not a hobby. Writing is a second full-time job for the serious writer, published or not and I found reading outside my chosen genre helped me grow as writer. Since then I’ve written crime, fantasy, horror and mainstream literary works. Don’t hold yourself to one genre. Move around and draw other things into your reading. Most importantly--have fun.    

Not too painful, was it? Good. Now go out and buy the print edition or download a copy of Strange Roads off of Amazon. You’ll be better for it. I promise. Best to all and happy writing. 

You can download or buy the print edition of Strange Roads here:

Monday, March 17, 2014

You’re never too old to have one more adventure 

Brought to life by Steve Ferchaud’s vibrant drawings, this story for all ages by Dan O’Brien lets us know that it is never too late to have one more adventure. 

An Excerpt:

Robert Pendleton opened one eye as the light of a passing car flashed over the window, shattering the darkness into prisms. He rolled onto his back on the beat-up couch and yawned as he reached his hands up and rubbed his eyes unceremoniously. 

He looked out over the darkness at the digital clock. The red digits spelled out a quarter ‘til midnight––nearly fourteen hours of sleep. He smiled and grabbed one of the cushions of the couch, burying his head in it. Just enough sleep, he reminded himself. Robert felt that anything less than twelve hours of sleep was very nearly too little. 

He grasped blindly for the TV remote. 

Groaning as he lifted his head, he looked at the empty table––his eyes drawn by another flash of a passing car. He couldn’t see clearly, but he knew that the remote had been there before he had fallen asleep nearly half a day ago. 

“Could have sworn….” he mumbled as he pushed himself up and brushed his hand around the top of the table, finding nothing. “Where did….”

Another groan escaped his lips as he lifted his body to a sitting position and threw aside the cluster of pillows that he had gathered around himself. He reached out for the lamp, but instead knocked it to the floor with a resounding thud. 

Robert muttered as he stood up from the couch, and then sank to his knees to search around in the darkness for the fallen lamp. Reaching around on the shadowed floor, shards of the broken lamp scattered like pieces of light. 

He turned his head, peering beneath the large space underneath the couch and saw the reflection of the buttons on the remote. The off-gray piece of machinery was underneath the couch––only darkness lingered beyond it. He reached out as he spoke again. 

“How did it get all the way down there?” 

Robert flexed his hand and strained as he twisted his back to reach farther; yet, the remote remained just out of reach. He pulled his arm away with a huff and craned his neck to the side, staring underneath into the darkness below the couch. 

His eyes widened as he saw the impossible: there was something beyond the remote. He shook his head and closed his eyes, whispering to himself that he didn’t see what he thought he had.

“I saw a little man,” he whispered to himself as he opened his eyes once more and nearly gasped as he did so. 

The figure was closer now and he could make out the outline clearly. A tiny man rested just beyond the remote. 

“What in the name of…?”

“Not here in the name of nobody, laddie. I be a friend though,” crooned the miniscule figure as he interrupted Robert and stepped forward, placing a hand on the darkened and slick surface of the remote. 

A tam-o’-shanter crested his bright red hair, the shaggy mane blending perfectly into his equally crimson, neatly trimmed, beard. 

A billow of whitish smoke drifted from the long-stemmed pipe that he held clenched between his lips. 

Robert fell back and knocked aside the adjacent table. Rubbing his eyes, he spoke a single word: “Leprechaun.”

About the Author:

Dan O’Brien, founder and editor-in-chief of The Northern California Perspective, has written over 20 books––including the bestselling Bitten, which was featured on Conversations Book Club’s Top 100 novels of 2012. Before starting Amalgam, he was the senior editor and marketing director for an international magazine. In addition, he has spent over a decade in the publishing industry as a freelance editor. You can learn more about his literary and publishing consulting business by visiting his website at: Contact him today to order copies of the book or have them stocked at your local bookstore. He can he reached by email at

Would you like to win a remarked copy of Conspirators of the Lost Sock Army and Loose Change Collection Agency signed by the author and illustrator?

Simply follow the author here and here and a few winners will be randomly selected on March 20th!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Today, I  am happy to share my blog space with Elaine Burroughs (writing under the name of Elaine Calloway), author of Earthbound - Book Three of her The Elemental Clans series.

So without further ado...
I'll turn this blog over to Elaine!

Don’t Forget the Details in Your Setting
By Elaine Burroughs

There are various quotes about details that have been modified over the years, but I think James McBride said it best: “As a journalist, the details always tell the story.”

How true. Details matter, whether you’re a writer trying to incorporate senses (sight, smell, touch, sound) into your manuscript, or whether you’re trying to tell a friend about a movie they should see. The details are what make the subject come alive.

In many ways, details are the difference between telling and showing. Consider the following examples and which ones offer more information for your audience.

Telling: She was tired.

Showing: Kayla let out a long yawn before turning off the light.

Don’t you “see” more in the showing sentence above?

Let’s try another one, just to get your taste buds going!

Telling: Lunch looks good.

Showing: Alex folded the rice into the mound of crawfish etouffee on his plate, and the sizzling spices teased his nostrils. 

With showing (or giving details) the reader can picture the scene easier. It lets each person envision something specific, versus saying “she was tired” which doesn’t offer much visual, audible, or sensory detail.

So remember that as you’re writing that manuscript or describing a TV show, book, or movie to a friend…details count, so be sure to use them!

More about the book and Elaine herself.

Some say history repeats itself, but for Terran, an Earth Elemental, history has returned and slapped him in the face. Along the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon, the Acobi Fallen Angels have decided to go underground–literally. They are resurrecting an old legend, shanghaiing innocent people into slavery. Underage girls are trapped and kept in holding cells, ready to be sold into the sex trade. Terran must stop the Acobi and keep the public away from the Shanghai tunnels, all while keeping his supernatural powers hidden.

Kelly Habersham, overachieving real estate developer, has finally convinced her father and brothers to give her the Portland condo project, which would require extensive construction near the tunnels. Determined to impress her father and make a name for herself in the family business, she is not about to let a Save-the-Earth guy get in her way.

Terran and Kelly must work together and come to a truce–or they may be the next shanghai victims.

Elaine Calloway

Crafting Stories of the Living, the Dead, and the Eerie In Between.
Elaine Calloway grew up in New Orleans with a love of cemeteries, gothic architecture, and all things
paranormal. She is currently writing The Elemental Clan Series, a good vs. evil
set of tales involving Elementals and Fallen Angels. 

For more information and
to connect with Elaine online, visit her website at

Follow Her!
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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Showcase with William Cook: Five Mistakes KILLING Self-Published Authors

Showcase with William Cook: Five Mistakes KILLING Self-Published Authors: Reblogged from Kristen Lamb's Blog When I began writing I was SO SURE agents would be fighting over my manuscript. Yeah. But af...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

An Interview with Joe Mynhardt about Crystal Lake Publishing

Today, I am talking with Joe Mynhardt, owner of Crystal Lake Publishing,  Crystal Lake is a small press operating in South Africa and specializes in horror and dark short fiction and anthologies.  And now, on with the questions.

Do you think books encompassing different genres have helped or hindered the industry?

That’s a catch 22 situation.
On one hand, anything that gets more people writing and reading is great. With so many online outlets (Amazon, Createspace, Smashwords etc.), writers don’t have to worry so much about where their book should be on a bookstore shelf. Bookstores invented names for the genres, not writers. We write stories, and sometimes those stories want to go wherever they need to go. I can’t tell my imagination, “Sorry, but we’re not allowed to go in that direction.”
But then you have to keep marketing in mind when you write a book. You need to know who your target readers are. So sometimes you have to pull your characters back a bit and keep the ending as well as the genre in mind. When a reader looks at a cover, they should know immediately what waits for them inside.
I’d say stick to one genre in general, because you will let your readers down if you don’t, but nothing stops you from adding romantic subplots, fantasy worlds or a funny character. Your horror book will be so much better for it if you do.
Otherwise, write different genres under a pseudonym. I write and read horror and thriller stories, or just plain weird and dark, but there’s always room a bit of romance, comedy and so on. I’m actually working with an author on an erotic horror novella for 2014, with a lot of twisted humor in there for extra fun.

Do you prefer writing and publishing short stories, novellas or novels?

For now I prefer short stories and novellas. I’m not able to fully represent a novel yet. I can’t offer authors an advance or the massive advertising budget a novel requires. This company is still young, so I’m sure we’ll get there some day.
I also read more short stories as well, since they’re just what someone with a little bit of time in need of entertainment looks for.

To be a writer you need to be a reader. Do you agree?

Definitely. There’s no way around this. Unless of course you’re writing screenplays, but even then it’s always wise to know what’s being written and read throughout the world.
I always find it funny when someone says they want to be a writer, but they don’t like reading. If  you love something, you’d better love all of it.

What made you decide to get involved with this side of the business?

I just love working with other writers. It’s one of the best perks of being more than just a writer.
Also, sport injuries hinder me from sitting hours and hours behind a computer, so it’s pretty cool that I can now work according to my own schedule; although it’s still pretty hectic.
Plus, my main goal in life is to create, whether it’s a book written solely by me, or an idea that becomes a great book, like the two anthologies I’ve published this year.
I can’t begin to describe the amazing stories I’ve read and edited so far. It’s pretty awesome to be able to read top notch stories months before the world gets to see it – to be part of such an amazing process with other writers. Writing tends to get lonely, but compiling an anthology or working with an author and the cover artists is pretty damn cool.
I just love being involved and helping authors along their career paths. If I can help an author reach more readers or even just make them a bit more money, I’m a happy man.

You are a writer, publisher and editor, three very different hats. Which one fits you best?

I’d have to say publisher. I’ll never stop writing my own stories, but there’s just no greater reward than working with others. I’m a pretty good editor. I still have lot to learn and experience to gain, but I have a very sharp eye when it comes to mistakes.
With the publishing, I’m a lot more driven and fulfilled. I do my best to promote their work, or push them to become better writers by teaming them up with other writers.
The authors tend to push themselves when they share a TOC such other big-name authors, focusing on their strengths and improving their weaknesses. That’s another reason why I love anthologies so much, it introduces readers to other writers they might enjoy.

Why do you think what you do matters?

Well, stories are a written history of the times the writer lived in. And if we can entertain, scare or help a reader forget about the daily grind for a while, then we’re all psyched.
It matters because it fulfills our lives like nothing else can.
Don’t tell anyone, but I think I was quite unhappy before becoming a writer, and I’m even happier now that I run Crystal Lake Publishing.

Crystal Lake Publishing started in August 2012, and has gone on to launch quite a few books since then. Was the response to Crystal Lake just positive straight from the start?

Definitely. I think it was a combination of timing and knowing the right people. I published my own book (Lost in the Dark) first, just as a tester to sort out any kinks before taking on other authors. I’d rather screw up my own book, and then learn from my mistakes. It was quite the learning curve.
I chatted with Ben Baldwin about doing a cover, who I met through a project with my friends over at Dark Minds Press. I commissioned Ben to make the cover of my book and the next book, which would be an anthology.
I played it smart, and only started filling the TOC once I could show the authors the cover. Authors love nice covers. I then posted the cover on Facebook and continued to invite authors, adding them onto the ever-growing TOC, right there on Facebook where everyone could see it. I quickly received messages from authors I actually wanted to invite anyway, asking if I’d consider their work. I couldn’t stop smiling.
After For the Night is Dark, I contacted Daniel I. Russell about doing a collection of his own. And things just picked up from there. I knew that, although it came down to quality, I had to put in the hours and really push to get a few titles out within the first year or so. Nobody takes a publisher with only two titles very serious.
So I spent a lot of time studying the market and learning more and more about publishing and marketing (still busy), but it’s a combination of a lot of strategies, contacts and effort that helped launch this company.

Why should people read Crystal Lake’s work?

Straight answer, because I enjoy reading every story I’ve published. I’m a horror fan, but mostly a fan of stories. Whether the story comes in the form of a book, comic, movie, series, play or even a song doesn’t matter. So I write and therefor publish what I would like to read. I’m not na├»ve enough to believe there are no people out there like me. Lots of people enjoy the same stories I do, and the better I become at the craft of writing and editing, the better I can bring all these stories to life.
I’m actually just happy just to see people reading more. I don’t shy away from promoting other indie publishers or great authors, no matter where they’re published. A lot of my best friends are publishers.

Any advice for budding horror and dark fiction writers?

There are so many things to say, but I’ll give you a quick run-through:
-Join and participate on a forum.
-Read non-fiction horror books, especially about marketing. You’ll need it eventually.
-Always be open and ready for opportunities.
-Have confidence in yourself. Every small step becomes part of the bigger journey.
-Have a story or two on standby at all times.
-Write every day, even if it’s only 10 minutes.
-Learn how to edit your own work.
-Be as visible as possible on the internet.
-Be professional in everything you say and do. Growing a tough skin goes a long way in not
acting like an emotional rollercoaster on social media.
-Help others as much as you can, even if you just share or retweet their stuff. Celebrate
their successes with them, and don’t be jealous.
-Eat, breathe and sleep stories, but take time to rest. Writer’s fatigue is no joke.
-Take some time to just sit and think about creative things to do, whether they’re story or
promotion ideas.
-Don’t listen to negative thoughts. You’ll have off days where you’ll just have to ignore
-Take care of your body, especially your back and wrists. Being an author is not a race, but
a marathon that never ends.

Do you think it’s fair that some publishers are selling collections and anthologies, but aren’t offering writers any advances or royalties?

It’s definitely not fair for one person to make money off a book that many worked on. When I started writing, I submitted to a lot of for-the-love anthologies, which is fine for a beginning writer, since you won’t be up against the established writers. I mean, you have to start somewhere to build up a CV and learn about the industry.
But the authors I work with, the ones that do this for a living or are attempting to write full time, they need to balance their time with possible income – time is indeed money in this industry. And I don’t even pay nearly enough when it comes to anthologies, but I’m working towards it.
I give 45% royalties to short story collections and novella authors, which is a lot more than they’d get from other publishers. And I pay it with a smile. Seeing them make money and advance in their careers is more rewarding than making money for myself. In any case, all the money I make go right back into the company. For me it’s all about building the company, which will in the end be very beneficial to the authors and horror lovers across the globe.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Criminal Minds: Blinders On!

Criminal Minds: Blinders On!: by Alan Last week, I finished the first draft of a new novel. It’s a slightly different genre than most of my books, and I had a fun time w...

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Guest Post - Robin Burks, author of Zeus, Inc

Welcome, Robin to the Blog World of Kat Yares.  I'm sure I'm not the only person who is absolutely going to love what you have written here.  Personally, I love mythology.

Using Mythology in Fiction

I am certainly not the first author, nor will I be the last, to use mythology in fiction. Mythology has long inspired novelists, and its usage includes such works as Neil Gaiman’s American Gods and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, just to name a few. But what is it about mythological gods, goddesses and creatures that inspires us?

Mythology is the truest form of the fantasy genre. Thanks to wonderful tales given to us by the Greeks, the Norse, the Celts and other ancient civilizations, the stories are already there. However, those of us who wish to retell them need to take what we know and build upon that. It gives us a way to re-invent old stories and make them new again. The inspiration that these stories give to an author is invaluable.

Mythology also gives us characters that are fascinating. Mythology gave us our first superheroes: beings that were far more than their mortal counterparts. Whether they be humans with extraordinary powers or gods and goddesses, these beings are able to do things that mere humans cannot. That in and of itself makes them interesting characters. But even better? These characters aren’t perfect. In fact, they often succumb to very human weaknesses: anger, jealousy and love. They might be infallible, but they are also flawed. And most authors understand that a flawed character is more interesting to read about than a perfect one.

Mythology also gives us fantastic monsters. Think of something like Cyclops: a giant with one eye. He is absolutely terrifying! An author can imagine how a modern-day character would react upon meeting such a beast. These ancient monsters offer a great horror element to storytelling that many authors have embraced.

I embraced mythology in writing Zeus, Inc., for all these reasons. I have always been intrigued with the Greek gods and goddesses and when it came time to write a story about them (after an interesting dream about a world where they existed), I could not stop myself. They served as my inspiration and became characters in a world that I created. I cannot imagine my made-up universe without them.

Don't miss the Zeus, Inc. Blog Tour giveaway. You could win ebook copies of Zeus Inc. , along with a $25 Amazon gift card. Even better? Winning is easy: see details on how to enter below.

To be entered to win:

  1. Pick up a copy of Zeus, Inc. for $2.99 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo or anywhere else ebooks are sold.

  3. Enter the Rafflecopter contest below.

  4. About Zeus, Inc.
    (Biting Dog Publications) - 50 years ago,  mysterious Zeus, Inc. CEO Joseph Brentwood saved the world from a major energy crisis by discovering a new unlimited energy resource. Now, in 2069, Mr. Brentwood has gone missing and private eye Alex Grosjean has been hired to find him. Alex’s search leads her through her own murky past and into the fantastical depths of Hell itself, where she discovers that no one is who or what they seem to be.
    Robin Burks is not only a journalist for and, but also for her own site Robin has just published her first novel: Zeus, Inc. with Biting Dog Publications and is working on its sequel The Curse of Hekate. A science fiction trilogy, The Book of Revelations, is also currently in the works. An internet addict, she can often be found on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.  She also loves to read , act, sing, play video games and travel. Robin currently lives in Missouri with her four cats. She also occasionally speaks French and loves Doctor Who. Visit Robin on her website, Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or GoodReads.
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