Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Some Quick Thoughts, Updates, and an Exclusive Sneak Peek at The Tale of the Vampire Bride

November has not gone the way I anticipated. I had it all planned out and was ready to dive into writing my new novel. My husband had been informed I would be ignoring him for basically a whole month, I made sure not to make any big plans other than Thanksgiving, and was ready to buckle down in front of my new 27" monitor.

And it all got derailed.

Nothing bad occurred. In fact what is brewing is actually really good. Good for my writing career and good for my readers. I can't speak of it quite yet, but I hope to be able to tell the tale by this weekend. But this new development definitely rearranged my priorities for the month.

Meanwhile, The Tale of the Vampire Bride is on its way to publication. The publisher has mailed me the proof copy and I hope to review it this weekend. I can't wait for it to arrive in the mail and hold it in my hands. This is a very important book to my dark little heart and I can't wait to share it with you. If all goes well, The Library of Horror Press should be releasing it very soon.

Nicole Hadaway was very nice to shine the spotlight on me on her blog's Writer's Wednesday. There is an exclusive sneak peek to The Tale of the Vampire Bride in her article, so if you're curious about the novel, please make sure to check it out.

Check back soon for more interviews that will hopefully give you perspective on your own writing career.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Monsterous Superhero Powers of a Small Press-An Interview with CosCom Entertainment

It seems so long ago when my husband and I decided to independently publish As The World Dies: A Zombie Trilogy over dinner at Plucker's. I remember the night well: my initial reluctance to the idea, my delicious sweet potato fries, my rum & coke, and how my husband was adamant that we could get As The World Dies into the hands of the fans.

After dinner, we went home and I sat at my computer (which died while working on the revision of the trilogy) and began to study self-publishing. It was during my research I came across Coscom Entertainment and read up on the publishing house. Like Permuted Press, they were closed to submissions. As a small publisher, it seemed evident that it was doing well and I found that encouraging.

Six months later, As The World Dies: The First Days was released and began to rack up the sales. I was surprised to receive an email from A.P. Fuchs, the owner of Coscom Entertainment, giving me some very good and solid advice. I was impressed that he reached out to me. I was greatly encouraged by his gesture.

Upon reflection, the last year has been an amazing learning experience. My views on the publishing world in all its forms has wildly swung back and forth over the months as I have struggled to find my own niche and determine what is the best route for my future. For a period of time, Coscom Entertainment's example inspired me to consider starting my own imprint.

I'm very happy to present an interview with A.P. Fuchs of Coscom Entertainment today. Though his publishing house is closed to submissions, I think he has some thought-provoking advice on writing and publishing that I'd like to share.

Rhiannon: A.P., tell me a little about the background of Coscom Entertainment.

A.P.: I'll give you the short version, but a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away . . .
I started writing short stories in June of 2000 because my original aspirations to be a comic book artist didn't pan out. My plan was to write 5 or 6 short stories, all parts to a whole, and release it somehow as a serial. The story began changing shape a bit as I wrote it and it became the prologue to my first novel, A Stranger Dead. Once A Stranger Dead was done, I set about the task of finding a publisher. Being completely naive about the industry, I ended up getting suckered in to a deal with a vanity press called 1st Books Library (now Author House). The whole procedure going from manuscript to actual book was a nightmare, took a long time and cost A LOT of money. Awful. Being soured by 1st Books, I went to Iuniverse for my second book, a poetry collection called The Hand I've Been Dealt. Working with IU was way smoother, but still a vanity outfit nonetheless.

Ironically, out of the above two experiences, I fell in love with the book publishing process and since part of my original goal of being a comic book artist was to one day release my own stuff under my own label ala Image Comics, I decided to officially launch the company I created in high school called Coscom, but since I was doing books and possibly comics, I went with Coscom Entertainment.

Rhiannon: What exactly does Coscom mean?

A.P.: Cos = Cosmic, Com = Comics. That's how I got the name way back in high school.

Rhiannon: A lot of starting out writers always aim for the big NYC publishing houses. You own a small press. What is the main difference between the big houses and small ones?

A.P.: Besides small ones being more fun?

Well, I can't really say that seeing as how--though I've had brushes with publishing folks in NYC--I've never published with one.

In all seriousness--and based solely on what I've heard from those who've published with large presses--the small press typically allows the author more creative control and input into the final product, a MUCH faster turn-around in turning manuscripts to actual books and getting them to market, and more freedom in terms of what you can publish (i.e. you can explore themes that a large house might not want to for fear of "offending the masses.")

Rhiannon: You don't accept query letters and work with your inhouse authors and artists. You do invite authors to work on certain projects. What can an author do to catch your attention?
A.P.: Right now my choice to not accept queries is solely based on my present workload being massive and to deal with submissions on a regular basis on top of all that is not feasable at this time.

To catch my attention, I might approach you if I've, say, read a short story of yours somewhere and really liked it. I might ask you if you're working on something longer and/or novel-length.
To be honest, it's kind of hard right now to get me open to looking at something of yours--again, due to time constraints. I have a lot on the go right now.

Rhiannon: How do you discover new talent?
A.P. :See above.

Otherwise it's via the usual way of getting a query, liking what I read, then asking for the first three chapters and going from there.

Rhiannon: You work with the extremely prolific Eric S. Brown He is famous for being able to turn out manuscripts very quickly. Is this a trait you look for in your authors?

A.P.: To a point, in that if it's going to take you a year to write a book, I don't want to wait for it. The thing with publishing is that it's very much a business of timing and striking certain markets--in our case within the monster and superhero genres--when that particular market is hot. In a year from now when you finally turn in your book, that market might be done or could have died down. You'll be unhappy and I'll be unhappy. No one wins.
I like writers to be able to crank out a quality book in three months or less. That's how long it takes me and I just don't get writers taking a year or two to write a book (unless it involves a silly amount of research, of course). To me, that means they're not writing every day and, if they are, they're only typing up a couple hundred words or something. I mean, that's not even enough to get some momentum going in a story never mind actually completing one.

Rhiannon: Coscom Entertainment publishes superhero and monster stories. Why did you settle on these two genres?

A.P.: These are the two base genres I'm personally a fan of. If I'm going to sink time and money into this business, I want to be able to love what I'm producing as well.

Rhiannon: Which one has been the most successful?

A.P. : Monsters. Easy.

But that market is kind of an exception market in that it's a niche, one were you can come in with new stuff all the time and find an audience.

With superheroes, bringing new stuff into a realm where Batman and Spider-man dominate, that's much harder. However, I'm proud to have brought not just my own creation, Axiom-man, to market, but also Frank Dircherl's The Wraith and Jon Klement's Rush and the Grey Fox (now Velocity Girl and Xuàn Hú) along the way.

Rhiannon: Coscom Entertainment has recently started carving out a niche for itself in the revisioning of classic novels. What inspired you to go in this direction?

A.P.: I was originally going to bring Axiom-man and Dracula together sometime in 2008, but got busy with other projects. So this year is the year Coscom Entertainment is putting many mash-up books out to make up for lost time.

Rhiannon: How have the mashups been accepted as a whole?

A.P.: People love it. Some think it's funny, others cool. Only a few think it's stupid. Personally, I stand behind them. As long as there are cool ways to twist an old tale and you have license to do so, hey, why not? It's about the story and these are fun stories.

Rhiannon: I hear you are writing a mashup with Dracula. What can you tell us about that novel?

A.P.: It's called Dracula vs Zombula and I'm writing the story of Bill Vanhelsing, Abraham's drunken brother who's a zombie killer. His quest leads him to Zombula, the real ruler of the undead, the first to rise from the grave.

Rhiannon: You are a publisher and a writer. How do you manage to do both?

A.P.: By not sleeping.

Actually, I'm fortunate to do this full time so it's merely an issue of budgeting my time accordingly, giving X-amount of hours to publishing others then making X-amount of hours available for my own work.

Rhiannon: How does one job affect the other?

A.P.: The publishing part puts pressure on me as a writer in terms of being sure to put out good work that, on the whole, people dig. As much as any writer wants to be loved by all, that's just not possible because you can't please everybody. However, if you win over 7 or 8 out of 10 people, you're on the right track. The idea here is it would be a shame if a crappy writer was publishing others.

Fortunately, most people like what I'm doing. I get fan mail now and then so that must mean something.

Rhiannon: As a publisher, what is your number one piece of advice for a fledgling writer?

A.P.: Follow the guidelines. I'm huge on this. If you follow the guidelines to the letter, it shows you take this stuff seriously, in turn opening up the publisher or editor to want to work with you.
I mean, would you want to work with someone who can't follow a few simple instructions? I don't.

Rhiannon: As a writer what is your number one piece of advice for a fledging writer?

A.P.: Don't stop. Write at least 5-6 days a week. Write a lot and read a lot. It's common advice but one many writers don't adhere to. A lot of people like to talk about that book or story they're gonna write and never get past the idea stage. I've encountered way too many artists and writers who are dreamers and never doers. It's always a case of "one day, one day, after I fill-in-the-blank."

In short, three words: get it done.

Then go from there.

Rhiannon: What is the most common mistake you see among starting out writers?

A.P.: Dreaming too big. Let me clarify: I'm all about dreaming large and going the distance. Coscom Entertainment is built on that. I've eaten so much garbage from friends, family and folks in the business about how I personally went about getting my stories out there. If I listed the opposition I've faced, I could easily publish a full-length book on it.

Back on point, many starting-out writers dream about being the next James Patterson or Stephen King. They want the giant mass market deal with a NY house, a six-figure-plus advance, tons of press, praise from reviewers, the movie option and the fame. They start with that goal and even sometimes think themselves worthy of that goal, and that's fine. Shoot high.
But then it doesn't happen.

And they get discouraged. And bitter. And angry.

Let's face it, those movie-star-like deals happen to newcomers once in a blue moon, which is why such deals do make the media. They're rare. Very rare. Most writers hold down either a full- or partime day job to make endsmeet.

So what I would suggest for starting-out writers is to take a pragmatic approach to the business and understand that, yes, those dream-like scenarios do happen, but also accept they are few and far between and for them to just follow the old submission pattern of querying an agent(s). If that doesn't work--and assuming the agent(s) is passing not because of writing faults but just that they're not interested--then shoot for the mid-range presses. If that doesn't work, go small press. If that doesn't work, then look at POSSIBLY self-publishing (but doing it right, not going with a vanity outfit).

Rhiannon: You're very open about your faith as a Christian. How does this affect your writing and your publishing house?

A.P.: Obviously I can't put out any ol' thing I want, whether it's my work or someone else's. Many would view that as censorship or creatively stifling or whatnot. But the truth is, when a person objectively looks at anything Christ called sin, all those things, in the end, aren't good for you. Yet people get in a snit about it because, frankly, we as humans like stuff that isn't good for us.

I follow a few rules when writing or publishing others and so far it's worked out:
1) no cursing or blasphemy (and, really, stories don't need that stuff anyway; if a writer can't think of other words or notions better than four-letter curse words, they're not much of a writer to begin with)2) no graphic sex scenes3) no gore or blood and guts solely for the sake of gore or blood and guts4) same with gratuitous violence (if this serves the story, that's different and will be looked at)

Rhiannon: Would you say your horror novels are faith-based?

A.P.: More or less, though they're not preachy or anything. They just take place in a Judeo-Christian reality because that's the reality we live in and I try and make my stories as close to our world as possible, then asking, "If these fantastic elements came into our world--like superheroes or monsters--how would it most realistically play out?"

Rhiannon: Will horror fans from all backgrounds still enjoy them?

A.P.: I would hope so. It strikes me that readers--even people--in general have zero trouble with something told from, say, a Muslim point-of-view or Buddhist point-of-view or whatnot, but the moment something is told from a Christian point-of-view, suddenly they get upset.
Makes one wonder why that is. For me it just cements what Jesus said about His people being hated because of Him, but to also remember that He was hated first. It just attests to the fact that, yes indeed, we do live in a Christian reality.

Rhiannon: Tell us about your newest releases and what we can expect in the future.

A.P.: For my own work, I got the following coming up hopefully before June/July 2010:
1) Zombie Fight Night2) Possession of the Dead (Undead World Trilogy, Book Two)3) Dracula vs Zombula4) Axiom-man: City of Ruin
As for Coscom Entertainment, I'm aiming for the following before year's end:
1) Emma and the Werewolves by Jane Austen and Adam Rann2) Blood Hunger by A.M. Esmonde3) Praise the Dead by Gina Ranalli4) R.I.P. by Harrison Howe5) possibly one or two more
Thanks for the chat, Rhiannon. I had fun.

A.P. Fuchs can be contacted via his personal site at or through Coscom Entertainment at Be sure to also check out his zombie trilogy, Undead World, at

Also check out Eric S. Brown's books from Coscom Entertainment, The War of the Worlds Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies and World War of the Dead. You can read my interview with Eric S. Brown here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

An Interview With Kody Boye, Boy Author Extrodinaire

Kody Boye is very young. He's not even out of his teens yet. But he has already been published in numerous times in anthologies and recently had his first novel released. He has another project about to be published (I'll let him talk about that) and has numerous projects lined up. He is prolific, extremely talented, well-respected, and considered to be a talent to watch by his peers and readers alike.

He absolutely blew away the audience at his reading at Horror Realm in Pittsburgh and definitely held his own during the question and answer session. He is articulate, good-looking, talented beyond his years, and just beginning his career. I suspect he will one day be a superstar author.

Rhiannon: You're a very young writer. How old are you?

Kody: I was born in April 1992. That makes me seventeen.

Rhiannon: What age were you when you started to write seriously?

Kody: I was fourteen when I looked at myself and what I was doing. After a while, I said, 'I'm going to do this.' Six months later, my first short story was published.

Rhiannon: Were you encouraged by a teacher or parent?

Kody: Teachers, mostly. I had a teacher in the fourth or fifth grade that assigned an object-specific creative writing assignment that I absolutely loved. I lost that 'tick' for a while until about sixth grade, when I started pushing myself into my writing again. An Idaho History/English teacher encouraged me to continue writing when I was bumped into the second level of English and learned that I was into writing.

Rhiannon: Where do you gain your inspiration?

Kody: I try to pull inspiration out of wherever I can. Sometimes I'll play with words in my head and they'll inspire stories. Other times, I'll see an image or a flash of something and a whole story will start to revolve around it. Although I'm more of a read-it-off-the-page learner, visuals do a lot to inspire what I write. I'll see fields of poppies and the transgendered children that run through them and skeletons hanging in closets and think, 'That's really something.' So, yes--I pull inspiration from wherever I can.

Rhiannon: Since you are so young, do you struggle with any particular aspect of your writing?

Kody: I've always had a confidence issue, which was, sadly, caused by the often traumatic abuse that childhood could give you. I was mercilessly bullied up until I left traditional high school at fifteen. Any name in the book you can think of I was called. So, naturally, I was (and still am) a rather inward person. My writing, while the strongest point and talent I have, often falls under my perfectionist scrutiny. I'm easily frustrated and can get really emotionally about the thing I'm the best at, so I'll doubt myself and my work a lot. Oftentimes though, it's just me beating myself up too much. I've had stories that I've had doubts about be accepted with much praise by the editors and publishers who take them.

Rhiannon: Did you gain all the writing skills you needed from school or have you self-taught yourself?

Kody: General education did nothing to further my talent. It's sad to say that in this day and age, schools (and the people who run them) aren't allowed to be as free with the extracurricular activities they allow their students, but that never stopped me from pushing myself to be the best I can be. Except for the few critique groups and general feedback I've received from fellow writers and editors, I'm entirely self-taught. I don't consider this a bad thing though. I think that, believe I've been able to go through the school of hard knocks, I've been able to develop a style that isn't hindered by any particular rules or set guidelines. I see my lack of guidance as a blessing more than a curse.

Rhiannon: Your mastery of the written word is amazing. At your reading at Horror Realm in Pittsburgh, people were in awe. Did this come to you naturally?

Kody: I'd be lying if I said my talent was anything other than natural. As I've said, other than the few critique groups and general feedback I've received, I'm entirely self-taught. Persistence and hard work has been what's allowed me to get as far as I have. I've had my highs and lows, and I've thought about giving up due to stress and personal issues, but I've never been one to back down from a challenge. Who's going to help me if not myself? No one. So, since I have nothing better to do for the time being, I write. Better to busy myself typing away at a keyboard than sitting around and eating Bon-Bons all day.

(Rhiannon's Note: I see nothing wrong with eating Bon-Bons all day and sitting around all day.)

Rhiannon: Which writers inspire you?

Kody: Stephen King and his vivid imagination, Poppy Z. Brite for her no-holds-barred style, the late Tristan Egolf for his eccentric and flavorful style, and Jennifer Haigh and her mastership of the family psyche, just to name a few. I could go on and on about which writers and what books have inspired me, but I doubt you want an essay.

(Rhiannon's Note: Again, I don't make the list. I gotta step it up!)

Rhiannon: Do you think you will remain a genre writer?

Kody: At this point, nothing's holding me back from moving outside the realm of a particular genre or genres. I write what I enjoy. For the most part, that's horror and dark (or darker-themed) fiction. I'm happy with what I'm doing right now--I don't see why I'd move out of it. 10. Which genres do you enjoy? Horror, dark fantasy, mystery, thriller, some science fiction (though I can't read hard sci-fi; it makes my head spin,) and contemporary fiction. I'm not picky--if something's interesting and well written, I'll read it.

Rhiannon: There are so many options open to writers today. I know you have been published in small presses, but you have talked about independently publishing as well. How do you decide what path is right for your individual projects?

Kody: It depends on what the project is, how personal it is to me, and how marketable it might be to a publisher. Normally, I'm gung-ho to submit to a publisher, but sometimes I have to hold back and reconsider just what I want to do with my work. I can't specifically delve into the process of how I decide on what to do with a work, because each project is different in several ways.

Rhiannon: Do you tell the publishers your age or just let your work stand for itself?

Kody: Back when I was first starting, I used to tell publishers (if only because I wanted them to be aware that I was underaged should I need to sign a contract,) but I kept getting responses such as, 'We won't give you leeway just because you're younger' or no response at all. Nowadays, I let my work stand for itself and make the publisher aware that I'm underaged if I do happen to be accepted into something they're publishing.

Rhiannon: You are openly gay and write about both gay and straight characters. Have you found any resistance from publishers about including LGBT characters?

Kody: Not particularly. I've had nobodies that hide behind screen names and computer screens lash out at me for my work, but other than that, I've found no resistance or criticism for those looking to put out the best work they can.

Rhiannon: Your first full-length novel had some sharp criticism against it. A lot of people seemed bother about gay characters in a zombie novel. I read all the Amazon. com reviews of Sunrise, but I felt Patrick Dorazio's review echoed my sentiments about the book. He wrote:
"Knowing that this story was written by a teenager and that some of the
characters, including the main character, are gay before I started reading
Sunrise provided me with the chance to look at this story a little bit
differently than I might have if I knew nothing about the author or characters
in advance of reading the first page. Kody writes with a enthusiasm and perhaps
writes this tale more as an idealist than a realist in many ways. The romance is
idealistic, his hope for a world, despite the fact that it is torn apart by
apocalypse, is idealistic, and the relationship in these pages not only between
the two main characters but all the key characters is probably idealistic. Is
that in any way wrong? Not by my reckoning. I have read quite a wide array of
zombie stories over the past few years and I certainly feel there is room on my
shelf for a book written by someone whose is perhaps writing with a less jaded
perspective. "

How do you feel about his review?

Kody: The idealism in my older writing is more than evident, particularly because, up until recently, I never had any experience intimately or romantically. I think the review keys into the main flaw in Sunrise, but does it in a polite and dignified manner. I really appreciate Mr. Dorazio's thought out approach to the novel.

Rhiannon: By your request, Sunrise was pulled from circulation. Will we see it again?

Kody: Yes, Sunrise will see the light of day, but probably not for a while. As it stands, I have two projects I can work on writing-wise after I finish my dark fantasy novel--the rewrite of Sunrise, a bizarro novel called The World is a Happy Place, or a more traditional teenage love story called Breathe Air. I'm not sure where I'm going yet. In the long run, my heart will tell me what's next.

Rhiannon: You have a new book coming out. Can you tell us a little about it?

Kody: An Amorous Thing, which will be published by Lame Goat Press early next year, is a short story collection revolving around the theme of affection. It will feature fifteen stories that revolve around love/compassion and how it affects us, whether it be good or bad. The stories range in theme from magical, malevolent bells to more contemporary manners like gays in the military.

Rhiannon: What lessons did you learn from Sunrise?

Kody: I learned one really important thing from Sunrise--if someone wants you to know what they think about your work, they'll reach out to you. There's no point in putting yourself on an emotional rollercoaster of ups and downs if you don't have to.

Rhiannon: What are your goals for your writing career?

Kody: My biggest short-term goal is to try and get an agent when I turn twenty-one. My writing seems to work in sevens. I learned how to write when I was at least seven, my first story was published when I was fourteen, my first novel was published when I was seventeen; you can pretty much see the pattern there. For now, I just want to keep pushing forward and hopefully make writing a full-time thing. I'd like to be able to support myself and my future significant other with what I'm doing, but even then, that's idealistic. There's thousands of writers out there trying to make it big. I got a head start because I'm so young--I plan on making the most of it while I can.

Rhiannon: Any advice to new writers about submitting their material to publications?

Kody: Other than making sure your work is as perfect as possible, I don't have any other suggestions. Read the guidelines, proof your work, send it off and wait for the best--that's all I can offer.

Rhiannon: What is the most important lesson you have learned during your short writing career?

Kody: You're never one step ahead--you're always one step behind.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

An Interview with the Fantastically Funny and Macabre Author, Timothy Long

To rehash yesterday's post, I am conducting a series of interviews with several authors at varying stages of their writing careers. My hope is to give fledgling writers some ideas on how to shape their career path and help them gain perspective on the process of getting published.

The first author in this series is Timothy Long, author of Among the Living and The Zombie-Wilson Diaries. I firmly believe you will be hearing a lot more about this author in the near future. He has one of the more original and refreshing voices in the zombie and horror genre.

Rhiannon: Why did you start writing?

Tim: To silence the voices in my head. I know that sounds funny but to me writing has always been about characters and I have always had oddball characters running around up there wondering when I would let them out.

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I think for some people it is just ingrained, the need to jot a bunch of words on paper and thrust them at your friends. I also love reading and have often thought I could do a better job. But the reality is that no matter who I am reading or what they wrote I have the utmost respect for them for finishing a piece and putting it out there for the world.

Rhiannon: How old were you when you wrote your first piece?

Tim: 4th grade. I wrote a version of Little Red Riding hood where Red tortured and killed the wolf after running circles around him. My teacher was not amused. Also, since I was that young I didn’t really know how to do things like SAY “Little red riding hood stuck her tongue out and blew” and instead tried to spell out the sound. I’m pretty sure I got an F on that little endeavor.

Rhiannon: Your first two books are about zombies, but were also very funny. Do you see yourself as a horror writer?

Tim: I write across a lot of genres. I have stuff published as sci-fi and social satire but I really do like to write darker material. Even my humorous pieces have horror in them. I had a really amazing writing teacher last year named Michealla Roessner and she was the first one to encourage me to think about writing in the genre. I was reluctant because I honestly didn’t know if horror even sold – unless your name is Stephen King or Clive Barker. Go into a Border’s and walk past the Science Fiction / Fantasy section and you will see a cubby hole marked Horror. It is minuscule. What I did not consider was how large the virtual community at large is. There is a huge market for horror. I just had to find it.

There are scenes in my books that creep me out and I consider them horror but I don’t want to be writing zombies forever. Don’t get me wrong I love the genre a lot but there are many things to write about where I can experiment with the baser (and funnier) side of human nature.

As for the funnier side. There is a character in Among the Living that developed into a wise-cracking, vodka swilling drug dealer that had to be in for the comic relief. I have heard a lot of people say the book is funny and I’m glad because it offsets the dark tones of the rest of the novel.

Rhiannon: What was the first writing piece you ever published?

Tim: I did a lot of editorial work for gaming sites in the late 90’s early 00’s. I had stuff coming out every week and for a while I was even the game editor at Gamers Depot of GD Fest fame. I loved doing game reviews but mainly because I got free games and swag.

My first published story was "The Book of Dan" for Fantastic Horror It is a dark piece of social satire about a world where everyone is allowed to get away with one murder but they must wear a mark proclaiming them to be a murderer afterwards. The story centered on a road rage incident gone awry. I didn’t consider it horror but they did.

Rhiannon: How long did you have to submit before you received an acceptance?

Tim: A few months. They have a voting process there on the forum but they eventually caved in. I just hung out and pestered them long enough to get in.

Rhiannon: How did you come about writing for the Library of the Living Dead Press?

Tim: I was in a Borders looking at the tiny horror section for a new Robert McCammon book when I came across a bunch of zombie books by Permuted Press. I forgot why I was there and bought 3 of them on the spot. Wow a publisher that concentrates on zombies! How freaking cool?

So I looked them up and found out they had a very active forum with a lot of the authors hanging out. I had been working on my own version of a zombie novel and I was immediately thinking that I had found a publisher. Well it turns out that they were not taking submissions at the time.

I came across a sub-board for Library of the Living Dead and saw all of the open submissions. Well I sat down that night and wrote a zombie short story called "Time to Feed" which would become part of Among the Living. I was taking a writing class at the time and we had been discussing 2nd person point of view. Well I wrote a story from a zombie’s point of view as he died and came back.

I sent it in and it was accepted in less than a day. After that I started bombarding the publisher with stories over the next few weeks. Wow, someone that loves zombies and would buy my stories. I have written almost exclusively for them ever since.

Rhiannon: What is the hardest lesson you have learned about writing?

Tim: I think every writer can identify with this one. I hate that I have to eventually let my babies out into the world. I will pour over stuff over and over until I think it is perfect instead of letting others read it and offer advice or critiques. I once worked for a good 20 hours on re-writing a story over the course of three weeks and the story really suffered for it. I should have cut the cord after the third edit.

Rhiannon: How did The Zombie-Wilson Blog come about?

Tim: Zombie-Wilson was a little blog I started to advertise for my first book Among the Living. Another hard learned lesson for writers is that it is not enough to just have a book published. You have to work hard to get people to hear about it. It isn’t enough to just throw it out there and expect to sell a million copies, as a new writer you have to come up with creative ways to advertise. Contests work well but I am finding that nothing gets the word out faster than free stuff. Zombie-Wilson could have gone horribly wrong from the start, I was worried that it was too crass to put out there but at the same time I was giggling like a six year old every time I started writing it.

It wasn’t until about the tenth entry when I decided to put a stat tracker on the site. Up until then I was writing it, posting about new entries but I was getting very few responses. I didn’t think anyone was even reading it. In fact there was a two week period where I just sort of forgot about it.

So I put a stat tracker on and I was shocked to see that about a hundred people a day were visiting. By September I was getting about 3000 people through a month.

Rhiannon: Did you pitch the novel to the publisher, or did he come to you?

Tim: Well, the first time Doc Pus read one I think he broke out the recorder and did one for the podcast. He loved it from the start and said “This is gonna be the next book.” But it took me a while to get it through my thick skull that there were people enjoying it. I wrote it sporadically but as I got deeper and deeper into it an entire book unfolded. What started as a joke had taken a life of its own. We talked about doing it as a novella but I thought it would work better if I expanded it. So that is how the full book came out. I also promised the publisher that I would fully flesh out each day for the book and put in missing entries. The finished product runs about 10,000 words longer than the blog and makes a hell of a lot more sense.

Rhiannon: At Horror Realm, your blog was the most talked about story at Horror Realm. All the authors were discussing the latest blog entry and laughing. Have you found a lot of support among your fellow writers overall?

Tim: Really? I didn’t know that but I am very flattered.

The thing about writers is that we work alone. It isn’t unusual to lock myself away for days and only peruse message boards that I usually hang out on. If I am in the writing groove pretty much nothing else can get in the way. I think over all the small and independent market is filled with wonderful people that go out of their way to help each other out. It’s kind of like being the cool kid on the block - and yet we are content to work for hours without the thought of another human being around us.

I know one of the best emails I ever received was an acceptance for a story in Eric S. Brown’s collection Wolves of War. He loved it, raved about it and when you hear that from a fellow writer it is like a burst of inspiration. You feel like you are really on your game.

Rhiannon: What sort of writing career do you envision for yourself?

Tim: I would love to write full time but I know the realities of the business. It is very hard to make enough money at it. I have a great job that pays the bills and I am content to write and see where it takes me.

Rhiannon: Are you happy being published by a small press? Are you aiming for a bigger publishing house soon?

Tim: I love my publisher. How many writers can email their publisher and get a response the same day? I won’t say that I haven’t dreamed of a big publisher getting interested in my stuff. Every writer wants that.

I have a tremendous publisher in Library of the Living Dead. He is a one man army that is on his way to the top. I see nothing but good things in a future with them.

Rhiannon: Who are your favorite authors?

Steven Erikson for showing me what epic really means.
Neal Stephenson for writing serious novels that make me laugh out loud.
Richard Morgan for putting the noir in sci-fi and dark fantasy
Stephen King for being the first writer I developed a genuine love for at a very early age (love him or hate him, he is a master story teller)
Robert Jordan and G R R Martin for the fantastic worlds they create
Christopher Moore and Terry Pratchett for making me laugh.
Peter F. Hamilton for his sweeping space operas

(Rhiannon's Note: Damn, I'm not on the list. Much...try..harder!!)

Rhiannon: Where do you find your inspiration?

Tim: I watch a lot of movies. In fact Zombie-Wilson sort of grew out of Shaun of the Dead and this really bad movie called Survival Island about three castaways on deserted island – one being a ridiculously hot girl whose hair was always perfect.

I read about a book a week and certain people like Robert Jordan I will read over and over again because I love his books. I listen to my friend’s stories. I just have to look at my kids and wife when I am feeling uninspired. Somehow they bring out the crazy in me, but in a good way.

Rhiannon: How do you feel about me editing your book? (Yes, this is a trick question.)

Tim: I'm thrilled and honored to have you on board for The Zombie-Wilson Diaries. You have been a big supporter from the beginning and your encouragement was one of the driving forces behind turning the diaries into a full book. It is one thing to have a popular story online but it is quite another to have such a well know genre writer behind it. I think you have a keen eye for detail and will help me take the book to the next level.

(Rhiannon's Note: Hehehehe...I guess I need to do a good job editing now!)

Rhiannon: What advice would you give anyone trying to become a writer?

Tim: Have you exhausted every other avenue of employment yet?

The first rule is to set a daily goal and do it. Don’t come up with excuses to write, just write. Even when you don’t feel like writing or you feel uninspired, just write. Did you write 500 words yesterday? Shoot for 1,000 tomorrow. Persevere. Even if you think no one could possibly enjoy your writing you will find an audience. Trust me, every writer goes through this and it is all part of the normal creative process.

To reiterate – Just Write.


There you have it. Our first author interview. I hope it gave you some food for thought and inspired you to keep tapping away at your keyboards.

You can purchase Timothy Long's first novels at the publisher's store or You can also read the rough draft of The Zombie-Wilson Diaries here. For more information on Timothy Long and his upcoming projects, check out his website here.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I Want To Help You With Your Writing Career...But...

One of the hardest things about my new found success (small as it may be), is that a lot of other writers trying to find their own path to writing success approach me for advice, help with their manuscripts, and request for referrals. Sadly, I have to tell them I can't.

This isn't because I don't want to. I actually do. But since As The World Dies: A Zombie Trilogy took off and began selling like mad, I have found my life consumed by my writing career almost every moment I'm not at work (or completely brain dead in front of a TV show or video game). Like 95% of all writers, I have a day job. When I come home, I have a husband, furry babies (aka pets), housework, and other mundane things waiting for my attention. Add in the writing projects I have piling up and I barely have time to do anything other than pass out at the end of the day.

I used to devour three to five books a week. I now nurse a book for weeks. I squeeze in reading right before I go to bed and usually fall asleep after 15 minutes. I have a huge stack of books to read, but no time to read them. I now dedicate a lot of time reading over the stories I'm editing for the Library of Horror Press anthologies. Also, I have been asked to blurb books on occasion and I try to read these as quickly as I can. So do I have time to read some one's manuscript? Sadly, no, I don't. Do I have time to critique stories? Write lengthy emails with advice? The answer is no. I don't have the time for personal responses.

But, I don't want to leave potential writers hanging with no advice whatsoever. If you read through my blog, you'll see my own path was a bit odd. As I tell everyone, the road to success is different for every writer. There is no one set path, one set way, or one magic formula. I want to help you on your writing career path, but I definitely don't have all the answers. But what I can do is interview other writers and ask them about their path to their own success.

The first author to be interviewed will be Timothy Long, author of Among the Living and The Zombie-Wilson Diaries. Check back tomorrow for an in depth interview with one of the best new voices in zombie fiction and horror.