Interview with D.P Prior

It’s been awhile since an author interview has appeared on Goblins, Swords, Elves, Oh My! , so I thought it would be a good idea to ask around. I shot an email to author D.P Prior, and he said sure. (Here are my reviews for his books Cadman’s Gambit and The Nameless Dwarf.) Enjoy! — Jake P.S Thanks Derek for taking time out of your busy schedule for an interview!

nameless..

JS: When and why did you start writing Fantasy? 

DP: I started trying to write a fantasy novel at about age 13. I had an antiquated typewriter and some really original idea about little people with hairy feet going on a quest. By that time I had read a fair bit of Robert E. Howard (Conan), Lin Carter (Thongor), Edgar Rice Burroughs (John Carter) and Tolkien (The Hobbit, LOTR, Tom Bombadil, Farmer Giles of Ham). I guess I was just trying to emulate what I was reading. That effort didn’t get beyond a few pages, but I was acutely aware I didn’t want to be that guy who was always working on a book that was never likely to be finished.

I continued to read a lot of fantasy (Donaldson, LeGuinn, McCaffrey, Moorcock, L. Sprague de Camp) but after those writers there was, for me, a real dearth of material. That all changed when David Gemmell released Legend (circa 1984). From that moment on I read everything he released and still consider him to be the greatest writer of heroic fantasy. Since his death I’ve run out of things to read. The so-called “new-wave” of fantasy authors didn’t really appeal to me. To be fair to the authors, I didn’t try many of them. The covers, blurb and first few pages was enough to put me off. I’m sure it’s a taste thing and that if I persevered I’d probably enjoy many of these books. I had some respite when I discovered Joe Abercrombie’s First Law trilogy, and I’ve gone on to read all his new releases. 

I finished my own first fantasy novel, The Resurrection of Deacon Shader, some years back. It felt such a great achievement getting to the end of a story, but that’s when I learned that doing so was just the beginning of the writing process. John Jarrold (script doctor, former publisher, and fantasy agent) edited it and (rightly) ripped it to shreds. I started to redraft, following John’s notes, but soon realised it would be more worthwhile to begin the novel from scratch. I tidied up the original and released it as a print-on-demand paperback then immediately set to work writing Shader’s story in a much more contemporary style (close point of view, irony, dark humour, and a fully fleshed-out world with thousands of years of history). I had originally planned a trilogy, but it soon became apparent the first book alone was going to be so long it could form a trilogy by itself. The original book 2, The Archon’s Assassin, was swiftly moved to fourth place (much of it was already written in first draft), and the first book (originally called Gods in the Dreaming) became Cadman’s Gambit (followed by Best Laid Plans and The Unweaving, which I am finishing off at the moment).

My aim was initially to see if I could write a novel, but that later changed to me writing stories I would want to read. I wasn’t aware I could make a living out of writing (without jumping through lots of hoops) until C.S. Marks (Elfhunter)suggested publishing Resurrection on Kindle. Since then it’s been a mammoth voyage of discovery. I narrowly missed the first wave of the golden age of e-book publishing, but I got carried along in its wake and am now at the point where I can make a tidy living from e-book royalties.

JS: What made you self-publish rather than go the traditional route?

DP: I have nothing against going the traditional route, but the whole process of finding an agent to represent your work, and then of that agent being able to sell it is so fraught and time consuming. I had visions of spending a year or more writing a book and then nobody reading it whilst I sought a publisher. There’s no guarantee a first, second, or even a third book will rise above the slush pile, and ultimately I would have found that discouraging. I may well not have written all I have if I felt there was no feedback loop, no one reading my stuff.

The advent of print on demand, and more importantly ebook publishing, has circumvented that whole process. It’s possible to find thousands of readers without going through the gatekeepers, and it’s also possible to make a reasonable living out of independent publishing whilst remaining open to mainstream publishers. I’d certainly rather be selling hundreds of ebooks each month, reaching new readers and learning from reviews than waiting for months on end for a response to a query letter that is likely to be negative in the majority of cases. 

There’s every indication that successful indies are catching the attention of the big six publishers, in any case. Rather than leave a book to rot at the bottom of the slush pile, it seems a no brainer to publish and promote it oneself, connect with readers, interact with them and learn from what they like and don’t like. It seems infinitely preferable to putting my fate in the hands of corporations who have probably got a thousand and one better things to do than read my submissions, and whose overriding concern when taking on new writers is how successful the book is likely to be financially based on the similarities it has to the bestsellers in the genre within the past few years. Mainstream publishers have to be all about profitability.

I’m extremely grateful to companies like Amazon (in particular) for making it possible for me to write full-time. Book royalties are my main source of income these days, supplemented by my editing work, which is again made possible by the indie publishing revolution.  

JS: How did the book do the first few months?

DP: When I released The Resurrection of Deacon Shader I had the expectation that it would be successful (for me) if I sold maybe 400 copies over all time. I’m not sure where the numbers came from, but back then I considered it a good month if I sold about 15 copies. 

With each successive release, sales have improved (overall and for individual titles).

JS: In Cadman’s Gambit, I noticed  that you use a lot of Latin. What inspired you to use Latin in your novels?

DP:I’m not sure how much I can say without giving away certain story elements. On Earth, in the Shader books, Latin is known as Aeternam (Aeterna is the Eternal City, so called after the cataclysm known as the Reckoning). There were a lot of changes to national boundaries, names of countries, and religion, which enjoys something of a resurgence in the aftermath of the technocracy of Sektis Gandaw. The problem is, many of the religious scriptures are traduced for reasons both political and capricious. The culprit is revealed during the books. 

A lot of recognisable history has been retained under various guises, and Aeternam (Latin) becomes the lingua franca of the ruling Templum clerics who govern the Nousian Theocracy, an empire that spans much of the Earth.

However, in the world of the Dreaming (Aethir) the same language exists in select circles, only it is still known as Latin. There is also a city governed by a Roman style senate, complete with togas and backed by legionaries. There are very good reasons for this, but I can say no more at this stage. Oddly, even the reclusive dwarves of the ravine city Arx Gravis retain some Latin, and it is rumored they once practiced the ancient faith Shader’s Nousian religion evolved from.

I studied Classical Latin at night school and later taught Church Latin to my son when he was home schooled, which was a huge help when I wanted to include snippets throughout the Shader books. There’s also a smattering of Latin in my Nameless Dwarf books, which are set in the world of Aethir.

JS: I have also another question about Cadman’s Gambit. I was pleasantly surprised that it was in a post-apocalyptic Australia (I’m a huge Mad Max fan.) What made you choose Australia? 

DP: I lived in Australia for over three years and made a lot of my conceptual notes there. 

Due to its remoteness, Australia made the perfect last pocket of rebellion against the world-spanning Nousian Theocracy. Before that, it was the last bastion of freedom from Sektis Gandaw’s Global Technocracy, at least up until the massacre of the Dreamers and the cataclysm known as the Reckoning.

In the Shader series, the whole world is post-apocalyptic, but the centre of the cataclysm was Australia. This opened doorways onto the world of the Dreaming, Aethir, and specifically onto its dark side (Qlippoth), unleashing the nightmares of Aethir’s mad god on the Earth.

There are many recognisable Australian features in Sahul: the Pinnacles of Western Australia; Perth (underlying Sarum); Uluru, and from time to time there are glimpses of indigenous flora and fauna. There’s also a bit of Australian slang in some of the scenes featuring Rhiannon and the boys from Oakendale.

JS: What does your typical writing day consist of?

DP: I usually start writing between 5 and 6 a.m. when my wife and baby are still asleep. I aim to get at least an hour’s writing done, and this usually translates to what I term a sub-scene (a unit of action within a scene). Sometimes I’m lucky and get a whole chapter written. During the afternoon or evening I tend to read through what I’ve written and make corrections as well as adding detail. This stage usually works best with a glass of red. The next morning I will re-read what I’d written the day before, making more corrections, and then continue with the scene/chapter. I usually work like this Monday-Friday, but sometimes I work obsessively on a chapter for the entire day (and occasionally the night, too). When I’m revising, redrafting and editing I work for longer periods, often right through the day. First drafts, though, are much more demanding for me in terms of creative energy and I’ve found I am more successful if I keep the sessions short and focused.

If I’m editing for someone else, I write first for 1-2 hours and then dedicate the rest of the day to editing. If I have a lot of editing work on, like right now, I don’t write until my workload is more manageable. I’ve just taken two weeks off writing, but with one editing commission finished and the second a third complete, I’ll be pressing on with Shader three by the end of the week.

JS:  What is the most  important advice you have for aspiring authors out there? 

DP: There’s so much advice, so I’ll try to keep it brief. These are the things I find most important. It does, however, depend on your goals. Some people will tell you to look at what’s popular in the genre at the moment and to emulate it. Others will focus on marketability, business plans etc. These things are obviously important if you want to make a living from writing, but for me it’s much more important to write the story you want to write. Do this well enough and you’ll have a product to market. These days many writers are in such a hurry to make a fortune from indie publishing that they skip most of the essentials; they have huge social networking platforms, professional press releases, a mountain of hype, and end up rushing to meet their self-imposed deadlines. I’ve worked with a few writers whose manuscripts are riddled with problems but who still go ahead and publish within hours of getting my notes back (notes that should take weeks if not months to implement) because they have set a release date that must, must, must be met. Strive for excellence, make progress every working day, and above all, be patient.

1. Write what you know, and write what you would like to read.

2. After you’ve made your notes, sketched out your story arc etc, get the first draft written quickly. Don’t fuss too much about spelling and grammar at this stage.

3. Do not set a firm release date until the next few stages are complete!

4. Take a break from the book for a few weeks (if you can) then read it through and make notes (I use track changes for this). If you see any typos, correct them, but don’t look for them specifically. 

5. Work through scene by scene, making revisions and corrections. Do not be afraid to cut scenes or completely rewrite them if required. Look for points of conflict, tension, humor, themes etc. Sharpen them.

6. After another break, read through again, but this time with emphasis on the prose. Simplify the language and the sentence structure, pay attention to word repetition (but also make sure you avoid telling the reader things they already know). Check how passages sound read aloud. Sometimes the juxtaposition of certain words or phrases just sounds bad, and a little rephrasing can make a huge difference.

7. Read the entire book aloud (preferably to someone else). This make take a few days. Make notes where necessary and revise afterwards.

8. Hire a decent editor. Start with a content (story) edit. Action the notes through more revisions. Then have the book line edited (spelling, grammar, word repetition etc). Make any further corrections.

9. Take a break from the book. Reread it. Correct any lingering errors (there will undoubtedly still be some).

10. Hire a decent proofreader.

11. Now you are ready to look at marketing and release dates. Hire a professional cover designer (and maybe an artist, if you’re not broke by now). Work on your blurb (very important!) and run it by an editor. You may want to get feedback on this on a writing forum. Unless you have the skills and knowledge yourself, hire a formatter. Plan your release date, contact reviewers and send out ARCs. Consider which promotional sites you are going to use and coordinate your promotional efforts for the release. Make sure readers can find you (Amazon Author Central, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Smashwords, Nook Press, Kobo Writing Life etc). There’s a wealth of information on this stage online (Kboards is a pretty good place to look in the first instance). 

About D.P Prior

IMG_0748D.P. Prior is the author of heroic fantasy, including The Nameless Dwarf and the Shader series. He is also editor-in-chief at Homunculus Editing Services. He originates from the south of England but has lived in Wales and Australia. He currently lives in Florida at the bottom of a gator-infested lake. He’s married to Paula and has two children, Theo and Cordelia. He can be contacted via www.dpprior.blogspot.com

Interview with Ken McConnell!

Below is my interview with the author of Tyrmia,  Ken McConnell !

JS: Thank you Ken for giving me the chance to interview you. How has life been? Can you tell us about Starforgers?

KM: I’ve just finished the most hectic months of the year for me – youth baseball season. I help coach and umpire for both of my son’s teams. It was also when I wrote the lion’s share of my next novel, Starforgers. So there’s a lesson for wannabe writers there. Everyone’s life is busy, if you really want to write that book, you will find the
time.

Starforgers is the prequel to Starstrikers, my first novel. I pulled a George Lucas, and started in the middle of the series. But unlike the Star Wars films, my novels are separated by 500 years. So the time period, technology and cast of characters are different for each book. What ties them together is a millennial war between the good guys and the bad guys. In Starstrikers, the war was in full swing and wefollowed the adventures of a Special Forces team trying to get their
hands on new technology that promises to end the war. It was prettymuch a guns blazing, Military SF novel.

Starforgers takes us back to the beginning of the Great War between the Alliance and the Votainion Empire. We see how the war is started and how it changes the politics and the people of that time period. Starforgers is a true Space Opera. It has politics, military action, intrigue and lots of fun characters like an insane space pirate android, a tough as nails Stellar Ranger with her heart set on revenge, and a villain who is obsessed with finding his people’s ancient home. Good stuff. I had more fun writing this novel than anything I’ve done before. I was sad to see it come to an end. But I’m already hard at work on the outline for the final book in the series – Starveyers. I think that’s helping me cope with the end of Starforgers. The challenge of course is to have even more fun writing the next book. So far, I’m off to a good start with that.

JS: Sounds exciting! I trust this prequel series won’t have Jar-Jar Binks? 🙂 When is Starforgers coming out? How many ebooks have you sold? And what do think about John Locke’s recent success?

KM: Nope, I’m afraid there are no comedic aliens or droids in my stories. Starforgers is scheduled to come out this Fall. I don’t have an exact time yet as it has to go through many more stages until it reaches your Kindle or Nook. My Beta Readers are going to get first crack at the manuscript in July. Depending on how many things they find wrong,
I should be sending it off to my editor in August. Allowing her time to rake it over the coals and me time to fix it up, it should be heading to my interior designer in September. That would mean you hopefully can expect it to be available in October of this year. That’s based on how things shook out for Tyrmia.

To date I’ve sold nowhere near the number of books Mr. Locke has sold. I believe Starstrikers has sold around 1,500 ebooks and the other books and short stories might total fifty combined. I’ve spent these last few years learning to write better books and not marketing them much at all. I think the marketing will take care of itself as more books come out and my craft improves. I read John’s book about how he sold a million ebooks with great interest yesterday, so who knows,
maybe if I use some of his secret sauce my books will start selling better. But to tell you the truth, one does not become a writer to get rich. There are far easier ways to get rich. So I’m told.

JS: Can’t wait to buy it. 🙂 Most published writers tell me its not about money, its about having fun doing what you love. Even harder to get rich self publishing. Why did you start self publishing? Did you send Starstrikers off to publishers beforehand?

KM: I self-published Starstrikers initially because I could. Technology eventually got to the point where anyone could be a publisher. Until that moment in time, it cost too much to do it yourself. I didn’t self-publish when that definition meant that you had a few dozen boxes of your book in your garage and were peddling them to everyone you met. But when I could upload a file to Lulu and seconds later order a real book, that was enabling technology. Now with ebooks, it’s even
easier.

But just because you can do it, doesn’t mean you should. The first drafts of Starstrikers were horrible. Eventually, I realized that I needed to do some rewriting and spend some time learning how to write. I wrote dozens of short stories and then took another crack at Starstrikers. Then I had it read by other writers and trusted readers
and made further changes, and finally, I paid to have it edited. Only after all of that, did I have something worth selling.

Somewhere in that process I also sent it to publishers and agents. It was rejected by all of them. A few of these people took a few moments to offer suggestions to me. I swallowed any pride about it that I had and made their changes. As a result the book is better than it was. But it’s still a first novel and some would say that it will never rise above a certain level of quality. I can live with that.

JS: What is the driving force that inspires you to write? Also, what is the process you go through when writing a novel?

KM: It has been said that writers are a little crazy. We have these stories in our heads and we seek to write them down so that others can read them. Normal people don’t do this, so I’m told. I’ve always been like this, so I wouldn’t know what is normal. The need to tell these stories is the driving force for why I write.

When I set out to write a novel the first think I do is write down the original concept or theme that inspired me. That will be the focus for the project. I usually have a cast of characters figured out at the time I write the plot outline. I don’t start writing until I know the motivations of the main characters and where the story is going. I usually know where the story is heading before I write.

My outline gets filled in a few chapters at a time, as the scenes get worked out in my mind. I usually think about the story on my commute to work and back. I usually try to follow the narrative structures common to all stories; three act play and Hero’s Journey are the big ones. I do most of my writing early in the morning before my family gets up. The house is quiet and I can concentrate on what I’m doing. But I also write at work during my lunch break.

The secret is to keep going. Don’t stop. I stopped halfway through Tyrmia and it took me weeks to get my head back into the story. I stopped for a month during Starforgers too. Not good for productivity. So keep going and don’t worry how bad it is. First drafts are allowed to suck. Besides, the novel is turned into a readable story only after lots of editing. But you can’t edit a blank page.

JS: What was the fan reaction when you wrote the mystery Null Pointer? What was it like to write in a different genre? Also, do you have any plans to dabble in more genres?

KM: Everyone who has read Null Pointer has loved it. Trouble is, not many people have read it. I just relaunched it under the pen name of Johnny Batch this Spring. I decided to use the pen name so that people discovering me from the Mystery genre would not be confused when they came to my website and saw all the Sci-Fi novels. I would love to write more Joshua Jones mysteries, but as of right now, there just are not enough sales to justify it. But I had fun a few years ago writing Null Pointer. I purposely set the novel in my home town of Boise, Idaho and needless to say, the locals love that.

It’s good to test the waters of other genres when you are starting out, because you never know what might turn out to be a hit. I think if I spent time promoting Null Pointer and wrote more books in that series, it could take off. But right now I’m concentrating on the Sci-Fi books and trying to finish the Star Series. As for other genres, never say never, as they say. I suppose if I really wanted to have a best seller I could write a Thriller, but for right now I have no interest in that. I do have a vampire story that I would like to write someday.

JS: What is your favorite Sci-Fi book and/or series? And why?

KM: I don’t have one favorite Sci-Fi book, but I do have favorite authors. Asimov of course, but also Alan Dean Foster, Tobias Buckell, Cherie Priest, Gareth L. Powell, Larry Niven. All of those authors write Space Opera or similar fiction, so I’m definitely writing what I like to read. I try and read current things as well as the older stuff. But I also read outside my genre and I read a bunch of non-fiction. I think every writer should read broadly.

JS: Here’s the last question. What piece of writing advice would you give a younger Ken McConnell?

KM: If I could go back in time to when I first started writing stories as a teenager, I would have told myself not to quit. If I would have stayed with it, I would probably have been published sooner in life. I didn’t start writing seriously until I was in my forties. That’s too many years of lost time. Probably explains my drive to write now. I’m making up for lost time.

JS: Thank you Ken for your time! 🙂

KM: Thanks Jake, it was a fun interview.

About the Author
Ken McConnell is a writer of Speculative Fiction novels and short stories. He works as a Software Release Engineer by day and writes fiction in his spare time. He lives in Boise, Idaho with his wife and
two boys. You can follow his writing misadventures at: http://ken-mcconnell.com/.

Interview with Margaret Weis!

Where do I begin on Margaret Weis? Well, let’s go to the late 1990’s. I was a little child, and one time at the library, I found myself in the fiction section in the local library. That’s when I encountered Dragonlance. Since I couldn’t read yet, I was entranced by the covers by Larry Elmore, and various other artists.
     I didn’t encounter them again until much later, 6 years later I found a Dragonlance book by Mary Kirchoff, and finished it in a day! The next day, I hunted for more Dragonlance novels, but couldn’t find another. 
    That weekend I went to Hastings, and found a whole section of Dragonlance books! I scanned the titles and found Dragonlance books by Margaret Weis, and I was amazed.
       Now, 4 years later, I have the honor to interview Ms.Weis. It was a dream come true. 🙂

Thank you Ms. Weis for this interview, I’m sure my readers will very much enjoy your prescence. 🙂 To start things off, what has been going on in your life lately?

Things have been going great! I’m working on a new series called the Dragon Brigade with co-author Robert Krammes. The first books is the Shadow Raiders. Muskets and magic, dragon, saints, and demons!

Sounds interesting. 🙂 Is it in a historical era like Naomi Novik’s Temeraire series or is it set in it’s own world?  
Own world. Continents that float in the air. Ships that sail through the air with a combination of balloons and magic.

I’ll look forward to that. 🙂 Ok, question 3, in the Dragonlance series who is your favorite character to write?

Raistlin and Tasslehoff.

Those are my faves to read about also, I just laugh hysterically when Tasslehoff is around, and Raistlin is pretty mysterious. Some other authors I’ve read about make their characters like people they know, do you and Mr. Hickman do this?
 
No, mostly I know them in my head.

What motivated you to move from writing non-fiction and WII books to fantasy fiction?  
Going to work at TSR, Inc!:)

Good point , kinda hard to do nonfiction when working for a roleplaying game company. 🙂
    What are some of the best Dragonlance, and other fantasy novels you’ve read in the last decade (besides yours and Tracy’s )?

Sorry, I don’t read fantasy!

Oh ok, ummm let me rephrase that, I forgot you don’t read fantasy :), what are some of your favorite books you’ve read in the last few years?

I’ll have to think about that.

One was the Three Musketeers, by Dumas, which I reread this year for about the 100th time! In new books, I read the Man Who Loved Books Too Much by Bartlett. In the Beginning and Davita’s Harp by Chaim Potok. The Saxon Tales by Cornwell. And the Hercule Poirot series by Agatha Christi (for fun!). Among lots of others!

Those are great classics. 🙂 Here, is the last question, you’ve probably gotten this one before, but I think my readers will want to know, how did you break into writing?

I wrote for ten years after college, while working as a proofreader/editor at a small publishing company in Kansas City, MO. I met my first agent, Ray Peekner, through a series of odd circumstances and asked him to take a look at some of my work. (I’d been writing for ten years after I left college!) He agreed and although he didn’t like anything I sent (not marketable), he was impressed with my writing and gave me some ideas. He sold my first book, a nonfiction title about the outlaws, Frank and Jesse James, to Simon and Schuster for their school division. Ray was also the person who recommended me for the job as book editor at TSR. I owe Ray so much! He died many years ago of cancer.

Sad 😦 , thank you Ray for finding Ms. Weis…Thank you Ms.Weis for your time and good luck on your new book series.

Thank you!

 

Interview with author Will Kalif

Will Kalif is a self-published author, and this is an interview I took with him in March. Be sure to read his book Fulcrum Shift on his website http://www.stormthecastle.com/ or order on Amazon.com

Enjoy!

1. How did you get into the writing and self-publishing business?

Will: I have always been interested in writing since I was a teenager and writing a book has always been on my list of things to do but I never seemed to find the time. There is a story as to what happened to make me finally write my first novel. (I am currently working on my third) My sister called me and said that her gas stove for cooking wasn’t working and maybe I could look at it. I went over her house and stuck my head inside the stove to see what the problem was. The pilot light was out so I got a match and lit it. While I was in there I was thinking to myself gee, this thing is brand new and already not working! What has happened to quality in the world? Anyway I thought to myself “Is this what I want to do? And the thought about writing a novel popped into my head. I hadn’t given it a thought in a long time but I decided right then and there, with my head in her oven, that I would sit down that night and start writing my novel. I ran to the drugstore and bought a spiral bound notebook and sat down and started the first paragraph. “The figure walked quietly down the cobblestone alley with purpose”. And that is how my first novel (Fulcrum Shift) was born. I wrote every night after work until it was done.

I wanted to get into self-publishing because it seemed easy. At that time (2002) It was easy to get a book published online without anybody editing or criticizing it. I always heard stories about sending your book off to a hundred publishers and them all saying no! So I figured I would publish it myself. At least this way it got done and I could say I did it!

2. What do you like about writing and self-publishing?

About Writing: I love, absolutely love creating new worlds and characters. This is a lot of fun for me. And I love exploring ideas about life, living and the world. It really gets me excited. It’s a wonderful feeling to think up new things and ideas then put them into a book or story. I like self publishing because it gives me total control over my book and I don’t have to get anyones approval. I can publish whatever I want! How I want.

3. What do you not like about writing and self-publishing?

There are a lot of grammatical rules in writing. And I don’t like rules. I like to do things my own way. But I have to be sensitive and learn these rules and how to use them because I am trying to communicate to other people clearly. I also don’t like the fact that writing well is hard! It really is and it takes a long time to get really good at it. But I can see improvement in my writing from novel to novel. I also don’t like how sometimes I just can’t write because the creativity is not flowing. Writing is part hard work to stick with it and part inspiration. So you need discipline and creativity.

What I don’t like about self publishing is the stigma that self published works are junk. While it is true that an awful lot of self published stuff really is junk not worth reading it doesn’t mean all of it is no good. I am striving to make my self published writing of the best quality I can.

4. What would you tell a person who is planning to write and self-publish?

Be persistent! Don’t give up. Keep writing no matter what. And the most important thing in my mind is to finish the story first. Write out the whole story from beginning to end and don’t worry about anything else, how it looks, how it sounds, grammar – none of that stuff is important at first. The important thing is that you sit down and write – and finish the story. After that you will be proud of what you have done then you can edit and re-write and make it better. Good self publishing advice is that you should shop around different companies and see who has what you are looking for. Some companies will charge you zero dollars but you have to do all the publicity. Other companies will do publicity work for you but you have to pay. Me, I pay zero and do my own publicity. And I recommend a company called CreateSpace. They have a good affiliation with amazon.com. I am publishing my next novel through them.

5. What skills could I work on right now to increase my chances and success in writing and self-publishing?

There are a lot of things you could do. First off I recommend you do a lot of reading, but now do your reading from a writers point of view. Notice how the writer handles things and how he or she describes things. How does he handle sentences, paragrahs, events, characters etc. Read like a writer. You will learn a lot. I recommend also that you write every day if you can. But just write and not worry about it. Set things aside and let them cool off then return to them a month or more later so you can see things with a new eye. Just keep writing, thats the most important thing. If you define success in writing as making a living or money with writing through traditional means then you definitely have to include writing in your school curriculum. Take all the english and writing classes you can. In self publishing success is very largely dependent upon marketing. So you have to also learn how to market your novel, online, offline, to bookstores, to other people, write press releases etc. You have to be a writer, promoter, and marketer if you want to succeed in self publishing.

6. How do you promote the books you write in your community?

Within my community I do very little book promotion. I feel that I am not ready to do heavy promotion of my work because the quality is not yet where I want it to be. My next novel (The Left Handed Sword) is coming along nice though and I may heavily promote this book with book signings etc. Up until now I have been promoting my books through online channels and my websites. And I always donate signed books to charitable events. I get lots of requests for this kind of thing. It’s a novelty to have a signed book from a local author.

Interview with Dennis L. McKiernan

Here is an interview I conducted with writer Dennis L. McKiernan author of the bestselling Mithgar saga. Enjoy!

1. How’s life recently? I’ve read that you were a judge for the World Fantasy Awards for 2008, how was everything at the World Fantasy CON?

Life is busy. I have written a couple of mysteries, and that’s taken a bit of time. My agent currently has them, and so I am not certain that they will ever be published.As far as the judging of the world fantasy awards went, over the summer five of us read something like 275 fantasy books, as well as several magazines (F&SF, Realms of Fantasy, etc.). We divided the work, and each of us would pick a novel and read at least 50-100 pages in a novel before we decided whether to continue or not. If it didn’t capture us by that time, we’d set it aside. But if it was a good one, we’d read it to the end and recommend that the other four judges read it as well. There were a good number of anthologies as well as collections of short stories, and we’d read them as well, again dividing up the work. But even though we divided the task, it was a difficult job to get through all of the books. At the end, each of us rank-ordered the ones we liked best, and then we voted. Without the Internet, it would have really been difficult, but we had a really nice way of choosing the winners. There were awards for Best Novel, Novella, Short Story, Anthology, Collection, Special Award Non-Pro, Special Award Pro, and Lifetime Achievement.The convention itself was fun, and the award winners were hailed by all the attendees.I did a reading at the convention, and served on a couple of panels. All the readings and panels were well attended.Oh, and the convention was held in Calgary, Canada.

2. Where do you think fantasy will be in 5 to 10 years?

If I knew the answer to that, I would be a Seer. I think it’ll keep clicking along mostly ion hardcovers and paperbacks, though somewhere along the line there will be electronic books. People like reading a book, rather than reading a screen, and so I think books will still be around.I also think that the entertainment dollar will be divided among books, video games, and other activities. Books will diminish somewhat, but not be gone.

3. For a reader of Fantasy finding a great fantasy novel can be a daunting task. What 5 books would you recommend that are from the sixties to modern day in the Fantasy genre?

LOTR, the Mithgar series (had to put that one in), any of Patricia McKillip’s books, Roger Zelazny’s Amber series and others, and Robert E. Howard’s Conan books (technically speaking, they are from the 1930s, but they didn’t get widespread publication until the 60s onward).

4. You have written many Mithgar books set in many different eras. What order would you recommend someone to read your Mithgar novels in?

On my web page, I list the publication order as well as the chronological order. I think anyone who would like to read them in any order should do so. However, I suggest reading Silver Wolf, Black Falcon third from last, City of Jade second from last, and Red Slippers last.

5. Typing in front of a computer (or typewriter.) can be a very lonely task, especially when writing non-fiction, so how do you stay sane?

Actually, the creative process keeps me sane. There is a lot of fun and surprises in writing a book of interest, and that keeps me happily busy.

6. What is your current project you are working on? (If it’s a secret, we’ll understand.)

At the moment, having just finished a mystery, I am goofing off. I’ll probably start another book sometime after the holidays. As to what it will be, I haven’t given that much thought.

That’s it, Jake. Thanks for asking. Regards,
—Dennis
http://www.mithgar.com/

*NOTE: If you would like to see a certain author interview on my blog, feel free to mention this.