Monday, April 14, 2014

Promoting Outside the Box

I asked a group of authors about their experiences with promotion. Joan starts us off and I hope you guys will get involved in the conversation by responding in the comments section. for a chance to win a free book.
Promoting Outside the Box

My best promotional efforts involve a combination of things. When my first book LISTEN TO THE SHADOWS was published, I didn't have a computer so my promotion was done outside the 'box' literally. Since I belong to writers organizations like Mystery Writers of America and Crime Writers of Canada and Writers Federation of New Brunswick, I made sure news of my book was included in their newsletter.

I did a mass mailing of flyers to bookstores in Canada and the U.S. I introduced myself at local bookstores and set up signings, and I did radio and TV interviews. (Some authors choose to send out postcards, but I like the substance of a flyer) If you are diligent, you will begin to create a bit of buzz that will gather momentum like the proverbial snowball rolling downhill. For example, the day after the TV interview was aired, the newspaper called for an interview. The story came out with the heading: A DREAM COME TRUE FOR LOCAL AUTHOR. Local woman lands New York publisher with first novel. I believe my own excitement and enthusiasm, not to mention hard work, had a lot to do with getting the exposure I wanted for my book.

You really do have to get out there and let people know about you and your book.

Finally, when the complimentary copies of my beautiful novel arrived, I had a poster of the cover blown up and pasted it around town - the library, university, etc. I've also done many interviews since, (like this one) written articles, all of which gets your name and the name of your books 'out there.' Share your experiences with other writers. I had an article coming out soon in THE WRITERS MAGAZINE titled 'My Journey to Publication.'   I also had one in MYSTERY SCENE MAGAZINE.  I was very excited to be included among the pages of these prestigious magazine, and moreso because they’re  ones I've subscribed to for many years, and learned much from.

Since that first book, I’ve written The Abduction of Mary Rose, Night Corridor, Chill Waters, Nowhere To Hide and Defective, all available on amazon.  It’s different now with the internet at your fingertips, literally.   I’ll send out a press release and post on Facebook and Twitter and other social media.  My wonderful publisher will run an on Kindle Daily Nation.  I’ll do a virtual book tour.  There are a number of book tour companies on the net.  Google them.  Compare prices and services. As I get older,  travelling has little appeal for me, so this works great.  

Remember: No one can sell your book like you can. It's your baby. Show it off. It goes without say that you should always present your best self, but I'll say it anyway: be warm, friendly, courteous always. Even when people ask you what you perceive to be dumb questions. Even if a bookstore owner declines to let you sign your books in her store. Be gracious, never be pushy or obnoxious. And remember to say thank you for any kindnesses or favors. A thank-you card to the story/library/coffee shop person is always appreciated.  

Lastly, make sure everything you did for that first book is put into a file for future reference. You'll have accumulated names, addresses for your mailing list, and all sorts of helpful information that will save a lot of time and effort when you get ready to launch your publicity campaign for that second book. Good luck and happy writing!

Coming Soon! The Deepest Dark published by Books We Love



Monday, April 7, 2014

Let's Get Cozy! with Steve Shrott

I'm starting a new interview series with cozy writers.  What, then is a cozy?

Cozy mysteries are considered “gentle” books… no graphic violence, no profanity, and no explicit sex. Most often, the crime takes place “off stage” and death is usually very quick. Prolonged torture is not a staple in cozy mysteries! The victim is usually a character who had terrible vices or who treated others very badly.  And, there are usually connections between the victims (if indeed there are multiple victims… which usually, in a cozy mystery, there are!), even though the reader is not aware of the obvious connections until the amateur sleuth solves the crimes.

I'm NOT a cozy writer, as my Logan Hunter series smacks with violence and verges on horror at times. EGADS! I'd never planned it that way. Anyway, I read lots of cozies and have many friends and colleagues in the business who write them. Welcome to the first showcase:

Steve Shrott's short stories have been published in numerous print magazines and e-zines. His work has appeared in ten anthologies––two from Sisters-in-Crime (The Whole She-Bang, and Fishnets). Steve, recently, had his humorous mystery, Audition For Death, published by Cozy Cat Press. In his other life, he has written comedy material for well-known performers of stage and screen. Some of his jokes are in The Smithsonian Institute. His non-fiction book, Steve Shrott’s Comedy Course, has been sold all over the world.

Welcome to the "Let's Get Cozy!" blog series, Steve.

Thanks, Susan.

How many mysteries have you written? Are they a series? If so, does the series follow a certain theme (like knitting, painting, etc.) Why did you choose that theme?

I’ve written two mysteries. Audition For Death is out now and the other will be out later this year. They are the first books of different series. The theme of, Audition For Death, is acting, and actors. I chose that because I’ve acted and hung out with a lot of actors. A lot of them are very interesting, sometimes, off-beat characters. I thought that would add a lot of fun to a cozy mystery.

Wow! I can't imagine writing two different series at the same time.
Has your environment or background affected the genre you write? How?

I have a background in humor, having written jokes for many performers, as well as comedy screenplays, funny articles and humorous short stories. So when it came to writing a mystery, I thought my forte would be in doing something that had humor.  

Give a short synopsis of Audition For Death.

It’s a fun mystery about struggling actor, Joshua Mclintock. Although, he’s appeared in numerous films and stage productions, most of his roles have been as dead bodies. When he’s about to be arrested for a crime he didn’t commit, he makes a run for it. (Mostly, because he has an audition for Hamlet.) He soon discovers sinister forces threatening to destroy Hollywood, and he must try to save it, and himself, before it’s too late. 

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give new writers?

One of the key things I’ve learned is that no matter how tough things seem at the time, you have to keep going. Even, though I may not like what I’m writing, I know that, eventually, I’ll find a way to make it better.

We all know how important promoting our work has become. How do you get the word out to  cozy readers both off and online?

I have a website, blog and Facebook. I’m just in the learning process about twitter now. My key thing about promotion is that I want people to know about my book, but I don’t want to become that guy who hijacks every conversation or email to talk about it. My actual preference is to sell books at live events—signings, readings and talks. Even before my recently published novel, I was doing talks on various subjects, so I’m very comfortable doing that. 

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

I’m hoping to write some more cozy novels, some in the two series I’ve started. I really like to create unique characters so I’m sure I’ll be writing some new mysteries as well. I also enjoy writing short stories, having published forty so far. So I will keep writing those. At some point, I would like to attempt something more serious, perhaps a thriller.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

My website is 
My facebook page is
My book, Audition For Death, is available in print and ebook format at Amazon and other online sources. You can get it at 

Thanks for the interview, Susan!  
My pleasure, Steve. Happy sales!                            

Monday, March 24, 2014

J.D. Holiday: Children's Picture Books

J.D. Holiday is the author and illustrator of the children's picture books- JANOOSE THE GOOSE and THE SPY GAME, and the chapter book for 6 to 8 year olds, THE GREAT SNOWBALL ESCAPADE. She is the host on "It's Story Time" & "Halo Kids Tales", children's reading radio shows, and "The Authors' Words" on the Book Garden Radio on Red River Radio at Blog Talk Radio.  She is a member of The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.
Her sites:
Blog Talk Radio:

Wow! You're a busy lady, J.D. Thanks for taking the time to answer a few questions.

My pleasure, Susan.

How has your environment affected your writing?
If you mean by environment, my life experiences, then I would say in every way. I can't write without finding a place I've been or a feel I've had that my characters will escape feeling or walking those streets. For me writing is very personal.

How many books have you written?
 I have three children's books in print and e-book form. Janoose The Goose, my first book, which is a picture book, The Great Snowball Escapade, a chapter book for 6 to 9 year olds and my latest book is The Spy Game, a picture book as well.

Give a short synop of your most recently published book.
In The Spy Game, the young boy, Eddie would love to have a puppy to play with. But his Uncle Reese brings Eddie an older dog named about a famous spy. What can you do with an old dog? It probably couldn't learn new tricks, and the only thing this dog did was stare. It's what they find to do together that makes them the best of friends!

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?
As you can see by my answer to question one, quite a bit. For instead, my brother, Ike's dog Sheeba had puppies. He ask me to take this one puppy he named, Sidney Reilly after a spy series he and I watched together.  At the time I had a dog and didn't think my older dog  would be happy with a new addition.
My brother felt sure this dog was for me and he kept it with that in mind. When the puppy was 11 months old, my brother died of a heart attack. AND Sidney came to me. I was wrong to think that my dog, Snoopy and Sidney would not get along. They did, in their own way. In The Spy Game Eddie's Uncle Reese who is modeled about my brother brings Sidney to Eddie's house to live.

Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet?
For most of my stories, when I come up with one, I write an outline for it to get it started. Then I place it in a notebook or binder. From there on, I will jot down notes on bits of paper and shove them in between the pages of the notebook or binder that's dedicated for that particular story.

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?
I have many stories written or started that need to be done. Right now I am working on a collection of short stories I have written for adults that will be in a bookcalled Short Stories and Other Imaginings For The Reading Spot. And I'm doing pictures to a sequel to my first children picture book, Janoose The Goose called The Fall Feather Fair co-written with my grandson when he was 6 years old. Luke is now 8.  I am also working on a collection of short stories I have written, for adults called Short Stories and Other Imaginings For The Reading Spot.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
People can find out more aabout me, my books and my radio shows on my site:
If they want to follow me they can find out where I am there as well.

Are your books available in print and ebook formats?
My books can be bought on Amazon and Barnes & Noble on line and ordered in bookstores.

The Spy Game book:



The Great Snowball Escapade book:


Janoose The Goose book:

I wish you the best of sales and artistry, J.D.    

Thank you, Susan, for having here!

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Conda Douglas

Conda Douglas grew up in the ski resort of Sun Valley, Idaho. Her childhood was filled with authors and artists and other creative types. She grew up with goats in the kitchen, buffalo bones in the living room and rocks in the bathtub. Now her life is filled with her cat and dog and permanent boyfriend and writing.
She's traveled the world from Singapore to Russia (in winter!) and her own tiny office, writing all the while. She delights in writing her cozy Starke Dead creative woman mystery series with amateur detective jeweler Dora Starke. The more Dora discovers cursed jewelry, her aunt digging graves, and a rampant poisoner, the more fun Conda has--although sometimes Dora complains about her plight! Next up, Starke Raving Dead, in which Dora's mad Aunt Maddie proves the aptness of her name.

Welcome to the blog, Conda. 

Thank you , Susan. It's nice to be here.

How has your environment affected your writing?

Without having grown up in Sun Valley, Idaho, I would have nothing to write about! Okay, partly kidding. But the huge majority of my writing takes place in a version of a small town in the mountains of Idaho. My mystery series is placed in the Sun Valley I knew growing up, which I renamed Starke so I could move the mountains to my own choosing.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in your books? 

With any luck, I've managed to squeeze all of me into my main character, Dora Starke, of my Starke Dead series. Since she's younger and thinner, sometimes it's a tight squeeze.

My main character, Swoop, in my Mall Fairies series, possesses plenty of flaws, but also strengths which, in another life, I would hope I possess—and sometimes hope I perhaps do in this life.

What challenges did you face while writing your series?

The main challenge in Starke Dead series is how much of a world I know intimately and perhaps too well should I include? How much to leave out? After consulting my beta readers, I concluded that I needed to do what worked for me as one reader would say "too much" and the next would say "too little"!

In my Mall Fairies series the huge challenge is not in creating the fantasy world, but in remembering it for each separate book! And yes, everyone says to keep a "bible" but I'd much rather be writing the novel.

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give new writers?

What I've learned over and over in the course of my writing career is one simple caveat: It's the writing, stupid. What other people are writing, what's the newest best seller, who is doing what to sell and when, none of that matters a whit. It's only the writing that matters.  Because, at end of day, if I can tell myself I worked hard on my greatest passion, writing, and did the best I could to write the best I could, it's a good day.

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

Next up is the second novel in my Starke Dead series: Starke Raving Dead, in which Aunt Maddie goes mad as she always does, but has she gone insane? Perhaps, her niece Dora thinks, when Dora discovers Aunt Maddie digging a grave in the back yard!

Then it's on to the last of the Mall Fairies trilogy, The Mall Fairies: Destiny. The fairies, pixies and human Grace believe there problems are over—until the arrival of their old nemesis, Aunt Diane. That's just the beginning of their troubles—trolls anyone?

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Are your books available in print and ebook formats? 

The best place to find the majority of my published works, whether in ebook, print or audio is on my Amazon page:

 Wishing you the best of sales, Conda!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Coryell's Red, Red Rose

A RED, RED ROSE by Susan Coryell – The Wild Rose Press
Sometimes even the most fiercely guarded secrets are destined to be revealed.

A native Virginian, Susan Coryell is a career educator and a lifelong writer. She has taught students from 7th grade through college-level and is listed in several volumes of Who’s Who in Education and Who’s Who in Teaching. A favorite activity is to talk with budding writers at schools, writers’ conferences, and workshops.
Susan has always been interested in Southern culture and society, as hard-felt, long-held feelings battle with modern ideas. She was able to explore these concepts in her cozy mystery/Southern gothic A Red, Red Rose, whose fictional setting is based on Smith Mountain Lake, Virginia. The ghosts slipped in, to her surprise.
When not writing, Susan enjoys boating, kayaking, golf and yoga. She and her husband love to travel, especially when grandchildren are involved.

Welcome to the blog, Susan. How many books have you written?
My first published novel, Eaglebait, a young adult work involving school bullies was published over twenty years ago. It won The International Reading Association’s “Young Adult Choice,” and the NY Public Library’s “Books for the Teen Age” awards. I have recently updated Eaglebait to include cyber-bullying and it is available in print and e-book via Amazon and Barnes and Noble. A Red, Red Rose is my second published book.

Give a short synopsis of your most recent book.
When twenty-year old Ashby Overton travels to Overhome Estate for a summer in Virginia, she hopes to unearth her ancestral roots and the cause of a mysterious family rift surrounding the death of her Grandmother Lenore years ago. From the moment she enters her room in the oldest wing, Ashby feels an invisible enfolding presence. She learns the room once belonged to a woman named Rosabelle, but no one is willing to talk about Rosabele—no one except Luke, the stable boy who captures Ashby’s heart. As Ashby and Luke become closer, she realizes he can be the confidant she needs to share the terrifying secrets unfolding. Ever present is a force Ashby never sees, only feels. Candles light themselves, notes from an old lullaby fall from the ceiling, the radio tunes itself each day. And roses appear in the unlikeliest places. Are the roses a symbol of love, or do they represent something dark, something deeply evil?

Q: What challenges did you face while writing this book?
I started writing A Red, Red Rose while living in Northern Virginia, the scene of an actual ancestral home reputed to be haunted. After retiring to Southern Virginia, I decided to switch the setting there. The problem was I had not lived there long enough to fully understand the cultural nuances. So, I fictionalized the setting as Moore Mountain Lake and made up whatever details I wanted. That’s the great thing about writing fiction!
Q: Do you travel to do research or for inspiration. Share some special places.

Research was key for the history background of A Red, Red Rose. Fortunately, Virginia is very big on history. I believe seven US presidents were born in the state and George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are sacred! I spent hours in the Bedford Museum, which specializes in local history. There I found my prototype for Overhome Estate, as well as information on the formation of Smith Mountain Lake. I talked to the historians at Booker T. Washington’s birthplace in regard to slave cemeteries and consulted professors about Civil War activity in Southern Virginia. Lots of work, but lots of fun and I met some fascinating folks.

Q: What is your greatest lesson learned about writing so far. What advice do you have for new writers.
Like most writers, I have to edit, edit, edit. I find putting my work aside for a day or so and re-reading it from a fresh point of view helpful. For new writers, I suggest joining a critique group. For writers of all ages, I say read constantly.
Q: Promotion—how do you get the word out both off and online?
Ah, promotion—my most dreaded aspect of being a published author. I work hard at what I call hands-on promotion. I’m good at holding signings, workshops, author talks and panel discussions. I enjoy speaking to any group who invites me—be it schools, book clubs, community organizations or church. It’s the online promotion I find most challenging. I have a good website, a pretty decent blog (which I need to write on more frequently), and I belong to Face Book, Linked In, She Writes, Goodreads, and my Authors Helping Authors publisher’s group. An English major through and through, I find technology baffling and frustrating, but I battle on. Just opened a Twitter account—so we’ll see how that works. 

Q: What are your future writing goals/projects??
I am so glad you asked! I have just finished the sequel to A Red, Red Rose and am editing, editing, editing until I muster the nerve to submit it to my publisher. Called Beneath the Stones, the cozy mystery/Southern gothic finds Ashby Overton five years later, mistress of the manor and planning her wedding when a big problem emerges. Of course, there are spirits involved and these ghosts originated during the Civil War. Talk about research! I have become quite the expert on Confederate history—visiting battlefields, museums and ancient houses—attending lectures, perusing books and scouring the Internet. It was a learning experience, for sure.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
Eaglebait is available at Amazon in print and as e-book for Kindle. It is also available for Nook.

A Red, Red Rose is available on Kindle:
It will be offered FREE from Jan 21 – Jan 21 – Jan 25.

A Red,Red Rose is available in print from Amazon or The Wildrose Press.

Thanks for the opportunity to blog on this awesome blogspot and I hope to hear from lots of readers!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Suicide Kings

Christopher J. Ferguson is an associate professor of psychology at Stetson University where he studies violent behavior and the effects of media violence.  His research has generally questioned whether media such as video game violence contributes meaningfully to societal violence and his work has been cited by the US Supreme Court.  He lives in Winter Springs, Florida with his wife and son. 

Do you travel to do research or for inspiration? Can you share some special places with us?

I love to travel and have often been inspired by places I’ve been.  Suicide Kings came about due to a trip to Florence.  I had gone there for an academic conference and went myself for that trip without my wife and son.  Homesickness set in pretty quick and I found myself unusually despondent despite basically being on vacation.  Florence as a city is both very beautiful and very imposing, still having many tall Renaissance buildings that loom over you and cut out a view of the horizon.  I remember thinking to myself, “This would be an excellent city to die in.” And thus was Suicide Kings born.  I wrote what would become chapters 2 and 3 there in Florence or in the airports on the way home.

Give a short synop of your most recently published book.

As a young woman in Florence, Diana Savrano’s life is a privileged one of elegant balls, handsome suitors and frivolity.  But the sudden death of her mother leaves her adrift and abandoned.  As she sobs over her mother's casket, another member of the procession reveals the awful truth: that before her last days, Diana's mother had joined a Luciferian cult.  Despite knowing little beyond her pampered world, Diana determines to unmask those responsible for her mother’s death.  But someone does not want such secrets revealed, and they are willing to send assassins to keep her silent.  Paranoia and loneliness set in as even her closest friends reveal hidden agendas.  Worst of all, the further she follows the intertwined threads, the closer they appear to lead to her own father. 

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

That’s a particularly interesting question since the lead characters are mainly female!  I’ll let readers psychoanalyze me if they wish!  But I think, of course, as writers, some of ourselves ends up in characters, particularly characters we identify with.  And for a character like Diana Savrano, I drew as well from the strong women in my life, particularly my wife and my mother.  That’s one element of myself as well that was crucial to this book, and a lot of my writing really: I am most interested in strong women characters.  I’ve written some stories with male leads but, overall, don’t find them to be quite as interesting.  And I think there is a need for more books (and movies and television shows) with strong women (and girl) characters.

What challenges did you face while writing this book?

The biggest challenges for me are time and energy.  I have a full-time “day job” and a family that likes attention, so with that, finding a few hours here or there to write can be tricky.  And I’ll be honest, that time also competes with things like compelling television!  Given the enormous amount of hours that go into writing a book, maintaining some degree of diligence to get it done is always the tricky part.  It’s easy to come up with a great idea, harder to write it down!

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give new writers?

Persistence, I’d say, is the greatest virtue of the writers, whether writing fiction, non-fiction or academic publishing, it’s all the same.  Rejection is our lot in life, and being able to persist and believe in what we’re doing in the face of that rejection.  That may sound bleak, but it’s the way of things.  People who are able to persevere, to improve their craft, to remain sure of what they’re doing in the face of early rejection will be the ones to ultimately succeed.  If you let fear of rejection stop you, it will be impossible to advance in any kind of career in writing. 

Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet?

It’s all in my head!  I’ve tried other approaches before, particularly notes and outlines, but ultimately I prefer to let things be a bit more free-form.  I think that helps stories to develop a bit more organically.  Very often the way a story comes out is quite different from what I’d originally envisioned.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Tears of Isis

James Dorr combines the charm of a gentleman born in the US South with the wiles of a near-New York City upbringing, the canniness of a one-time New England resident, and the guile of an outwardly stolid Midwesterner.  Or so he says.  It is known that he was born in Florida, grew up in New Jersey, went to college in Massachusetts, and currently lives in Indiana.  He is a short story writer and poet working mainly in dark fantasy and horror with forays into science fiction and mystery, and has previously worked as a technical writer for an academic computing center, associate editor on a city magazine, a nonfiction freelance writer, and a semi-professional Renaissance musician.  In addition to three prose collections and one of poetry, Dorr has had nearly 400 appearances in publications ranging from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine to Yellow Bat Review
He also has a cat named Wednesday, for Wednesday Addams in the original 1960s TV show The Addams Family.

Wecome to the blog, James.
How has your environment affected your writing?

How has it not?  But environment is more than just the things around one, it’s the noticing of these things -- the close attention.  Travel can be a part of it, but there’s also research, and the leisure to visit the library.  For instance, in the title story of my latest book, the action at the end takes place in the Boston, Massachusetts area where I lived for about five years.  But the story starts in San Francisco, where I’ve never been, yet through research -- even if it may have ended up being condensed into just a few sentences -- I hope I’ve made it seem as alive as the locations later on.  But then there’s also the environment of the mind, the completely made up, influenced in part by the things one has read.  In my own case I’ll cite The Complete Greek Tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides (say what?  For an explanation -- and why you might read these too, if you haven’t -- see my introduction to Telling Tales of Terror:  Essays on Writing Horror & Dark Fiction, Kim Richards, ed., Damnation Books, 2012); The Complete Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe;  Ray Bradbury’s The October Country and The Martian Chronicles, et al.; I Am Legend by Richard Matheson. . . .  The list goes on. 

Give a short synop of your most recently published book.

Art and creation, Medusa and creatures of the sea, blood-drinking with or without foreign entanglement, musical instruments fashioned from bone, Cinderella and sleeping beauties, women who keep pets, insects and UFOs, ghouls as servants and restless undead.  And Isis herself as both weeping mother and vulture-winged icon of death and destruction.  These are among the subjects that inspire the seventeen stories (plus opening poem) in The Tears of Isis, my latest collection published last May (2013) by Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing (  Citing the book’s blurb, “the Elizabethan poet Sir Philip Sidney spoke of art as ‘making things either better than nature bringeth forth, or, quite anew, forms such as never were in nature,’” and so in The Tears of Isis I hope will be found both the beauty that Sidney and others admired, and also the grotesque, the strange and bizarre.      
How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

The Tears of Isis has an overall theme on the link between beauty and destruction, of art and death, even beginning with a poem and ending with a story that are both about sculptors.  I don’t sculpt myself, but I used to do some illustrating and I still cartoon a little.  I also play music.  I write poems.  I like to perform at readings.  In short, I relate to the artistic side of a number of the stories’ characters, whether directly or indirectly -- as well as the problem solving side, because that’s a part of the creative process too.  But at the same time, I also face the destructive (including self-destructive) side of creation, for example the isolation it forces when one must concentrate on a work in progress.  

What challenges did you face while writing this book?

For The Tears of Isis, part of the attraction was that I’d have a free hand from start to finish, the only “restriction” being that it had to total at least 60,000 words, in contrast to previous fiction collections for which I simply supplied a number of stories for the publisher to choose from and, from them, construct the actual book.  So I had to learn to be an editor:  to look at a large number of stories and narrow them down to a manageable few, and then to look at these as groupings from which I could choose what I thought might be an appropriate theme, in this case the idea of art and beauty as holding within themselves a destructive aspect (and thus beginning with a poem of Medusa as sculptress, at least symbolically turning her models into stone, while the closing title story comes back to another sculptress who leaves her own trail of victims behind her).  From there the challenge was to select individual stories that I could order in such a way that each might seem to flow into the next in at least some aspect -- even if completely different in other ways -- offering readers a wide variety in themselves, yet adding up to a greater unity when the book is taken as a whole.  That is, hopefully, leaving readers with a feeling that what they’ve just read amounts, in some way, to more than just a few evenings’ entertainment.

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give new writers?

The first thing is character, even if sometimes it may not seem apparent.  A. J. Budrys defined the first three elements of a story as a Being (character) in a Situation (environment) with a Problem (motivation).  It’s the solving of the problem (or failure to solve) that becomes the story.  But what makes a character is the author’s getting into his or her (or its, especially if it’s a villain -- it could be an alien or a sentient monster) head.  To become that being, see through its eyes, hear through its ears, smell through its nose, feel with its feelings -- themselves influenced by the being’s environment too -- and convey those feelings to us as if you were yourself the character.  This is the meaning of “show, don’t tell”:  Telling is an author’s description of a character; showing is the author’s conveying an understanding of what that character feels and does and why.

And one more lesson is persistence.  Victory comes not only to the bold, but to those who keep at it, the same as a character in a story, suffering defeats (rejections) and disappointments but still striving forward until a goal has been reached.  And then realizing that that’s just the first goal.    

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

Last month, as I write this, I sold a story called “Casket Girls” to the electronic magazine Daily Science Fiction, a vampire tale relating a legend of New Orleans, which was the location of  2013’s World Horror Convention.  So in a sense, that was my “What did you do on summer vacation?” story.   In a larger sense, though, I’ve been working on a series of stories that, somewhat like the late Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronlcles, add up to a sort of quasi-novel.  Set in the “Tombs,” a huge necropolis and its environs on a far-future, dying Earth, sixteen of these have been published already in various places, including three (two reprints, “Mara’s Room” and “River Red,” and one, “The Ice Maiden,” for the first time) in The Tears of Isis, and another, “Raising the Dead,” is scheduled to be out in White Cat Publications’s steampunk anthology Airships  & Automatons.  While I’m currently continuing to treat these as separate items, writing and marketing them as stand-alone stories, I may eventually start to look into a book publication for these as well, possibly with a larger publisher. 

Then another project of sorts, of which The Tears of Isis is itself a part, is to start getting some of my older stories back into print, often in anthologies that sound intriguing in themselves, but are unlikely to pay as much as might be appropriate for an original story.  This, of course, has something to do with the economy too, but I’ve been writing long enough that I don’t want some of my earliest professional work to be forgotten. 

And then, of course, I’m writing new stories -- and lots of poetry -- often these days fairly short and tailored to the internet market, of which “Casket Girls” is a recent example. 
Where can folks learn more about your books and events, and are your books available in print and ebook formats? (please provide the buy link for easy reader accessibility)

I have four full-size collections, more information on all of which can be found by clicking their pictures in the center column of my blog, along with several single-story electronic chapbooks and a slew of individual fiction and poetry appearances, some of which can be found on my Amazon author Page,

My first two (mostly) fiction collections are Strange Mistresses:  Tales of Wonder and Romance and Darker Loves:  Tales of Mystery and Regret from Dark Regions Press, which are available in print via Amazon, et al., as well as directly from the publisher by clicking

My third, all-poetry collection is Vamps:  A Retrospective, from Sam’s Dot Publishing/White Cat Publications, and can be found in both print and ebook editions at 

My newest collection is The Tears of Isis which is available in print and electronic forms from Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, as noted above, as well as on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon UK.  The local (American) Amazon site is located at      

Then finally there’s my blog itself for up-to-date information on sales, books, etc., as well as an occasional sample poem or story at

Wishing you the best of sales in the new year, James!