women in fiction

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Manic Monday: State of the (Writing) Union Address

Published February 1, 2016 by administrator

Guys, I’m having a moment, and it’s not pretty.

So I found myself wandering through the digital racks of Amazon this morning, perusing the freebies in the hopes that I might find a fun new author (like I really need ANOTHER book to read) or discover interesting new concepts not yet apparent to this world. Unfortunately, the farther I wandered, the more disheartening and, quite frankly, disgusting, it became.

People are giving away their blood, sweat, tears, and time for chump change. Books are releasing and within a month have hundreds upon hundreds of glowing reviews – none of which come from verified purchases, mind you. From my research, the majority of the verified purchases appear to give these “masterpieces” one star and generally tell prospective readers the equivalent of don’t freaking bother.

All the goodies are hanging out there, cheap and/or free, in the hopes someone might stumble by and happen to snatch that particular piece of low-hanging fruit.

Now we all know I’m not the world’s best or most prolific author. At this point in my game, if I’m completely honest with myself and y’all, I’m still struggling to attain mid-list mediocrity. My own fault, yes, but that’s another rant for another day.

I bust my butt to produce quality work and I take pride in the finished product. I’m not out there schlock-hocking, writing to a formula or a trend for the sake of making a buck. I don’t just slather words on a page and slap a pair of half-naked people on it to throw up on Amazon for free just to get attention. I’m doing my best to do this the right way.

[Pause: I’m not saying self-publishing isn’t the right way because (1) I’ve done that too, and (2) there is no right way to go about publishing… what I’m saying is I make sure my work meets a certain standard in editing, artwork, and overall production, which is what readers deserve.]

The problem I have is this:

I just find myself dumbfounded time and again at the low quality and lack of concern people have for literature. Everyone and her best friend seems to be thinking these days, “Oh, I need to make a quick buck. I’ll just go write a book and be a bestseller!” And you know what, kids? Goshdarnit, it just don’t work that way.

I hate to break it to you, but not everyone in the world is cut out to be an author. You might have the best, most original idea ever conceived, but I have a pretty strict policy around here – if you don’t have at least a basic grasp of grammar, punctuation, and dialogue, you are not a writer. And you’re dragging down the quality of something I love, so step off.

Writing truly is a dying art. And that cold, sad fact makes me want to sit down and cry fat, ugly tears. This rise in I-can-do-it-myself-ness has made a complete mockery of what we as professional authors do.

Guys, we can’t let this stand. We have to take back our craft, to rise above the masses of people scrabbling for the petty change at the bottom of the basket. It’s going to take some work, but we can do it if we stick together and demand that change.

Screw that… we’re not going to demand change and wait for it to happen. We’re going to make the change.

Well, yes…but how?

I’m so very glad you asked! It appears the problems with our market boil down to five simple rules, and we’re so busy keeping up with the Joneses that we’ve lost track of what’s important.

1. DON’T GIVE AWAY THE GOODS.

no-freebies-480_thumbMy mother is a voracious reader. So am I. So are the people by whom I’m surrounded. Yes, we do troll the bargain bins from time to time, but that isn’t where we spend the majority of our lives.

We, as respectable authors, need to step out of the cheap-trap. If our work is truly worth its salt, then we need to recognize and respect it by not giving it away. Promotions are one thing – go ahead and have a freebie week to gain interest. Give a short story away as a teaser. But don’t fork over a three-novel set for $.99 because you think it’s going to get you somewhere. By giving away your best work, your readers will come to expect it of you. Now that’s not to say a short story can’t live at that $.99 mark for it’s entire life. But you don’t want to take that kind of horrible cut on a novel. You’ll never get anywhere like that.

Price your books accordingly. Let the tramps have their pennies. Eventually the readers will tire of wasting good money on subpar writing and start looking back toward the more reasonably-priced works, where you’ll be hanging out in the henhouse with us.

2. DON’T FALL INTO THE NICHE TRAP.

Let’s face it…by the time we recognize a trend, we’re already behind it. Unless you’re writing ten of everything out there right now in the hopes the market will circle back around to your favorite type of critter, you’re never going to be that guy who writes that book and becomes the next Stephenie Meyer. Writing to the market may make a few people marginally successful for a month or two, but it’s never going to sustain a career for anyone. Rather than doing what’s already been done, we should be focusing our strength and energy on creating the next thing. We should be writing the books which will define the new trends, not follow in the footsteps of someone else. Sure, werepenguins are the hot thing right now, but that doesn’t mean the wereskunk will follow.

Be original. Write your own story, and let the trendy schlockfest continue without your participation. Make yourself that new and different thing everyone wants to read.

3. HIRE SOME OUTSIDE HELP.

You need an editor. You need a professional cover. You need proper formatting.

I repeat: You need an editor. You need a professional cover. You need proper formatting.

Should I say it again? Because I will. And here’s why you need those things:

Because if you’re fighting the good fight, you want to put your best foot forward. A reader is not going to want to pay fair market value for an unreadable turd, which is why a professional product is the bet thing we can ask for at the end. Yes, sometimes it’s a pretty hefty outlay of cash on the front end, particularly for good editing, but it’s worth it in the end [this is where the credit publishers never get comes into play…they pay all of this for you so you don’t have to]. A professional product will go the distance and will likely suffer less returns than an unpolished hunk of words.

I learned to format out of necessity. I had a background in digital artwork so I was ahead of the curve with covers. I got lucky in that one of my good friends has a Master’s degree in English and will cut me a break. I also offer these services to other authors for reasonable rates because I want others to succeed. I can’t fix your technical ability, but I can make your book pretty.

Your readers deserve quality, so give it to them.

4. DO NOT PURCHASE REVIEWS. EVER.

Product_review1.jpgThe Perfect Review DOES NOT EXIST.

You might think you’re doing yourself a favor and putting yourself ahead of the game, but YOU AREN’T. Trust me on this… if you’re going to shell out huge chunks of cash for something, see Step 3. A review from a verified purchase is going to go much farther than some nobody giving you the digital equivalent of a tongue bath. Because the dirty little secret is this: 300 good reviews from a questionable origin will not hold a candle to that one verified critical review. Readers who consider reviews are going to read those low ratings first because those are the ones which tell the truth.

Now that’s not to say you can’t offer your book to reviewers for an honest review. I’ve done that. Yeah, it’s bitten me in the butt a time or two, but you know what? I’d rather have an honest opinion than a “OMGILOVEITSOOOOOOOMUCH” review any day. You know why? Because honest reviews keep me honest, and show me my mistakes so I can learn from them.

Expend your resources elsewhere, kids. You owe it to yourself to be honest.

5. WRITE WHAT YOU WANT TO READ.

I believe this, above all others, is the most important rule. If you aren’t enjoying what you’re writing, how can anyone else enjoy reading it? Writing on autopilot reads on autopilot. Believe me, I’ve read enough poorly-executed, trend-trailing garbage to know the difference between a story with heart and a kc-readstory for cash. I love reading as much as I love writing, and I often find myself disappointed by what I’m reading because it doesn’t share the love I feel for the craft. Emotion plays heavily into writing. I want to feel what the characters feel and see what they do. I don’t want to go through the motions of being in love because this chick is supposed to fall for this half-vampire werepanther. If she’s going to be in love with something so sensational, I want to suspend my disbelief and be in love with her. Likewise, if a psycho clown is on a killing spree in my bedroom, damn it I want to feel like I’m next.

We’re readers, not statistics. We aren’t dollar signs. And if we aren’t willing to pick up what we’ve written and read it, then we’re writing the wrong thing. As I said, it’s time to take it back, to do what we love for the sake of the craft. This…this is how we’re going to do it. We have to rise above, to band together and stay strong.

Yes, the market sucks at the moment. But with persistence and forcing quality back into our products, we can turn that around. Who’s with me?

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So This Happened…

Published October 1, 2014 by administrator

Armageddon Rising - Cover

I wrote this book. and Seventh Star Press released it. And the world is right.
And because it’s awesome, everyone should go out and buy a copy right now. Seriously.

BLURB

At eighteen years old, Lydia St. Clair made a deal with the devil. Three years later, she made a second deal to save her father’s life. Now a bounty hunter by trade, she uses her skills to locate missing monsters and find any object Lucifer desires.

When she wakes from a memory-based nightmare, she follows the smell of brimstone to her kitchen where she discovers a single clue regarding her next job: a half-burned slip of parchment with the word “Armageddon” scrawled upon it. Lucifer can tell her little about the job except how the Scroll of Damnation, a holy relic prophesized to bring about the end of the world in the Book of Revelation, has been stolen from its home in Odin’s vault in Asgard. Gaea’s Council, unsure of the thief’s identity or location, prepares for war, and the fate of the outside world hangs in the balance.

With a hobgoblin named Nix as a sidekick, a series of gifts from the Council, and her own street smarts, Lydia embarks on an impossible quest and a race against time. If she succeeds in finding the scroll and returning it to the council before all seven seals can be broken, she saves the world. If not…

Armageddon Rising is Book One of The Soul Collectors Series.

BUY LINKS

Amazon (Kindle & Paperback) | Barnes & Noble (Kindle & Paperback) | Kobo

Kickin’ it “Olde School” – New Book Review!

Published March 21, 2014 by administrator

So today is a day for really big, really fun announcements. But first, a pretty picture:

 

My buddy, cohort, unofficial consort, and all around partner in crime, Selah Janel, has finally lost complete control of her book and the good people at Seventh Star Press have released it into the wild! It’s not every day I get my hands on a book that I want to shove in everyone’s hands and make them buy it, but this one I do. Everyone needs a copy of it. Everyone needs to read it.

Guys, I seriously love this book.

And I’m not saying that to be nice. I do. I want to live in Kingdom City in the worst way. This is definitely my kind of world. Now, before I get too off track carrying on about it’s ultra-awesomeness, let me give you the rest of the story:

Olde School by Selah Janel

Olde School

The Kingdom City Chronicles, Book 1

Selah Janel

Kingdom City has moved into the modern era. Run by a lord mayor and city council (though still under the influence of the High King of The Land), it proudly embraces a blend of progress and tradition. Trolls, ogres, and other Folk walk the streets with humans, but are more likely to be entrepreneurs than cause trouble. Princesses still want to be rescued, but they now frequent online dating services to encourage lords, royals, and politicians to win their favor. The old stories are around, but everyone knows they’re just fodder for the next movie franchise. Everyone knows there’s no such thing as magic. It’s all old superstition and harmless tradition.

Bookish, timid, and more likely to carry a laptop than a weapon, Paddlelump Stonemonger is quickly coming to wish he’d never put a toll bridge over Crescent Ravine. While his success has brought him lots of gold, it’s also brought him unwanted attention from the Lord Mayor. Adding to his frustration, Padd’s oldest friends give him a hard time when his new maid seems inept at best and conniving at worst. When a shepherd warns Paddlelump of strange noises coming from Thadd Forest, he doesn’t think much of it. Unfortunately for him, the history of his land goes back further than anyone can imagine. Before long he’ll realize that he should have paid attention to the old tales and carried a club.

Darkness threatens to overwhelm not only Paddlelump, but the entire realm. With a little luck, a strange bird, a feisty waitress, and some sturdy friends, maybe, just maybe, Padd will survive to eat another meal at Trip Trap’s diner. It’s enough to make the troll want to crawl under his bridge, if he can manage to keep it out of the clutches of greedy politicians.

Buy it here:

Kindle | Nook
Paperback Coming Soon!

But there’s more. I’m going to give you a fun review of it as well, because I can and I want to. Keep reading, kids. It’s worth it.

*********

As a member of the “Acknowledgements” family at the beginning of this book, I had the rare luxury of reading it in all of its incarnations over the last few years. I’ve watched it grow and change from a silly idea in a hobbyist writer’s imagination to the epic folk-fantasy adventure before me as I write this.

The simple response to the “give your review” statement would be this:

I love it.

And I’m not just saying that as an insider. I stay that with all the respect and admiration that this book deserves. It’s a non-stop wild ride through classic folk and fairy tales, modernized to include every generation and genre under the sun. It’s fantastical, it’s out there, it’s knee-slapping hilarious, it’s pushing the limits and stretching the boundaries, and it’s even oddly poignant at certain moments.

From my first glance into Trip-Trap’s all the way up to the very last word, I was entranced. Paddlelump is a doll, and if I were Flora, I’d have a soft spot for him too. Ippick is my new personal hero, as cranky and crotchety as he is. And then there’s Clyde, the newfound love of my life. But I won’t spoil that surprise.

The characters have such great chemistry, and even poor, little Nobody and her pitiful need for acceptance.

Between the witty conversation and the intricate and winding European-style fairy-tale plot lines, I couldn’t put it down. There’s so much going on in Kingdom City, and every page is a brand new adventure. Every time I pick it up and start rereading, I catch onto a subtle, new joke and I laugh a little bit harder.

Would I recommend it to others? Absolutely. I whole-heartedly recommend this book to anyone that happens to see the pretty cover and stop to look.

My only complaint is this: she hasn’t written the next book in the series yet, and I have to wait.

Happy Birthday to Me!

Published February 19, 2014 by administrator

Yes, today is my birthday. My good friend Stephen Zimmer keeps telling me that today should be a national holiday, and I’m inclined to agree with him. Every so often I get to share my birthday with President’s Day, but that’s not the same. I want my own holiday, damn it!

I’m not entirely certain how to make this happen other than by writing a bunch of books and selling a bazillion copies. Somehow I need to find a way to make myself a national treasure. A literary hero. Or just someone who expresses my crazy in text rather than out loud.

That having been said, consider this your official PSA for my eventual reign as literary overlord.

Oh, and buy my books. They’re pretty good if I do say so myself.

On Amazon: S.H. Roddey | Siobhan Kinkade

Music Monday: The Metal Edition

Published October 21, 2013 by administrator

As most of you know, I rely heavily on music for flow and movement in my writing. It’s been awhile since I’ve shared what I’m listening to, so I thought today would be a good day for it. This week’s songs are all on the playlist for my novel in progress, Armageddon Rising. It’s one of those projects where I can’t decide if it’s hard or not. The plot has been fun to write so far, but the character… you all know Lydia St. Clair by now. She’s a bit of a hard-ass, but she also has a soft spot for family. I’ve been using this book to get out a lot of anger and frustration. I’m making her deal with the potential end of the world, so all of my emotions are becoming hers, and there are places where it’s definitely not pretty.

That having been said, there’s a lot of loud, angry music contained in the walls of this post. By the way, all of this music can be found in a neatly contained Spotify Playlist. There’s more than just the metal on there, and it may give you a small glimpse into my psyche, however scary that may be. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Oh, and this post is dedicated with tons of love and affection to Stephen Zimmer, who needs this music as much as I do right now.

 

#1. Five Finger Death Punch – “Lift Me Up”

This one is sort of Lydia’s theme song. No crap. No drama. Just get above the fray and keep pushing forward.

#2. Black Veil Brides – “Wretched and Divine”

This is my mood setter. It’s dark and melodic, but it gives me the exact feeling I need when dropping Lydia into the fray among angry gods and threats of the end of the world.

#3. Avenged Sevenfold – “Carry On”

It’s loud, it’s angry, and it’s inspiring. “Carry on” is sort of her motto, which is why I chose this song.

#4. Children of Bodom – “Scream for Silence”

Chaos whispers silence. ‘Nuff said. It speaks to me.

#5. Cradle of Filth – “Nymphetamine”

I just love this song. It’s sad, but it moves and the music is beautiful. I can’t do a whole lot of CoF at one time, but the instrumentals are awe-inspiring feats of musical genius.  The music behind this one is no different.

#6. Soil – “Halo”

And last but not least… Lucifer’s theme song.

 

So there you have it. The heavy metal highlights from the Soul Collectors soundtrack. There are plenty of honorable mentions scattered throughout the playlist. And again, the whole thing can be found on Spotify. Come visit some time.

Back in the Saddle…or Something Like That.

Published October 16, 2013 by administrator

As all twenty of you who read this blog know, I tried to break myself about two weeks ago. And by trying, I mean I succeeded.

Took a nasty tumble in the parking lot of the day job on the morning of September 30th, and in the process managed to pull every muscle in my right arm as well as fracture my right elbow. Worker’s Comp is being a jerk about the whole thing, too. By the time they get around to deciding whether I have a valid claim or not, My elbow won’t be broken anymore. I suppose that’s part of the plan. The whole system is horribly overshadowed by bureaucracy if you ask me… but that’s another rant for another time.

It’s really sort of a cruel joke to take a writer’s arm out of commission.

That having been said, this is my official re-entry into the world. It’s slow, but it’s here. I’m doing my best to be human again and out among the digital socialites. I’ve been writing, but my progress is sad. Armageddon Rising is now over 33,000 words and still going strong, but I’ve reached that point where my brain looks at it and goes “La La La I’m Not Listening!!!”, which means I’m muddling through. Plus my alter ego, Siobhan, is trying to claw her way out and make me write a romance novel involving a tiger shifter, a demon, and a girl trapped in the middle as bait, so there’s that too.

While I’ve been incapacitated, I’ve been reading.

NEWS FLASH: I’M GOING TO SPOIL A BOOK NOW!

And that book happens to be Joe Hill’s “Heart Shaped Box”.

I just finished my second read, and it was even more phenomenal this time than it was last time. I love going back and rereading books I’ve already read because I’m able to focus on other aspects of the book than the story itself. I can study characters and settings, and in this case even word choice. I’m reading, but I’m also researching at the same time. After all, isn’t that how we learn language? By studying what’s put before us?

But I digress. Judas Coyne is a case study in resilience. He’s older and kind of an asshole – okay, a lot of an asshole – but I like him despite his near obsessive-compulsive need to hurt the ones he loves. While rereading the book, I started comparing myself to him, comparing my troubles to the things that happened to him and it made me realize that I’m more of a marshmallow than I thought. This guy… okay, without giving too much away, imagine giving a rock star the world, then suddenly snatching everything out from under him and saying “Now, Survive.” That’s pretty much what’s going on here. And he does. Amazingly enough, he keeps going even when he wants to give up.

The book struck a chord with me originally because I’m exactly the type of person that would absolutely go out and buy a dead man’s suit. I like oddities. And yes, Jude is a jerk, but I think he’s more an unintentional jerk. I like him. We’re going to blame his beard for my near obsessive love of him. Or it could be that he’s a rock star. I like those too.

It’s the word choice that really grabs me though. I love the atmosphere of the book, the way the creeping nastiness lingers from page to page. It gets thicker and heavier with every new chapter, and the point when they get to Florida and all hell breaks loose… yeah. Even on the second round I found myself staying up late reading when I should have been in bed. I KNEW WHAT WAS COMING!!! Yet I still felt compelled to keep reading, to see what happened next. I found myself pulling for Bon and Angus even though I knew the words weren’t going to change, that the poor dogs weren’t going to live.

The most horrifically beautiful moment of this book is that second when Bon dies and the shadow dog goes after the cat. I’m not an overly emotional reader most of the time, but the second round of this actually made me cry.

The shadow Bon took a playful snap at the cat’s tail, then leaped after her. As Bon’s spirit dropped toward the floor, she passed through a beam of intense, early-morning sunshine  and winked out of being.

I put my Nook down and sobbed like a little girl. I love these dogs, and having to lose them a second time made me irrationally angry. Silly, I know, because they’re fictional, but that’s just me being a neurotic flake. I got over it and kept reading. And on the second finish, I realized that I could not pick out a single weak point in the story. I couldn’t. As a writer, I look for those things, for the foibles and fails in other authors’ work so  I can learn from them what not to do. There is nothing in this book that makes me not want to do it all over again.  I’ll probably be reading it for a third time very soon.

SPOILERS OVER

Showing on my Nook screen now is George R.R. Martin’s “Game of Thrones”. I figure I’ve put off reading it long enough and since he’s going to be the Guest of Honor at the next convention I’m scheduled to attend, I should probably do my homework. I’m about 20 pages in at this point, so I don’t have much to report other than I already want to beat up the noble for being an idiot. That’s not a bad thing though…I think I’m meant to not like him much right now. So far so good, and I’ll be back with more on it as I progress.

I’ve also been teaching myself the art of The Twitter. Still don’t get it, don’t understand it, and don’t particularly care… but I’m doing it. Hootsuite has become my best friend over the last week, and I’m on the hunt for hashtags that are going to help put me where I need to be. Got suggestions? Send them my way. I always need more help.

So yeah, that’s me. I’m going to stop talking now because I’m hungry and need to go in search of food.

Sad Stories and New Families

Published September 24, 2013 by administrator

There’s been radio silence on this end again. For that, I apologize. I really shouldn’t stay quiet so long, but this time of year seems to really get to me.

September 13th  would have been my father’s 67th birthday. At this point in his life, he would have been preparing to retire and making plans to spend his Golden years enjoying the world he’d worked so hard to build. Unfortunately, that idea was cut short a year and a half ago when he passed away. Losing my father devastated me in more ways than even I realized.  I wasn’t myself at all last year, and now that the fog is somewhat beginning to lift from my mind, I’m realizing just how bad off I really was. That’s the problem with severe depression – those suffering from it often don’t realize what’s happening until it’s too late. You feel normal until you come out of it and realize how un-normal you really were. Normally I can fight it, and I couldn’t fight this. That scares me.

I’ve brought all of this up for a reason. The different facets of my mind have been discussing this for a very long while, but given this month’s activities, posting this journey in the wake of my father’s birthday seemed apropos, considering his death is what ultimately set me on this track. I’m going to tell you a story. Some of it is very sad. Some of it is scary. But it has a happy ending. Just bear with me.

♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦

On April 2, 2012, my father went in for quintuple bypass heart surgery. The surgery went well, but we discovered that his lungs were weak and in bad shape from years of smoking. He tried to pull the respirator tube out of his throat, and had to be sedated. He stayed i

n that drug-induced coma for the remainder of his life. For three weeks, my mother and I camped out in the CCICU waiting room at Roper Hospital in Charleston, SC. I’d come home for a day or two, then turn around and go back to stay with her. My brothers came and went as they could, and we watched the ups and downs, the good days and bad, pass in a blur of floral wallpaper, cafeteria food, and heart monitors. At one point he seemed to be doing better and the nurses were hopeful. Then he crashed hard.

burning candle and heart hands

On April 25th at 12:00 PM, he passed away, with all of us standing by his side.

The next four days are still a complete mystery to me. We got back to my parents’ house (my mother’s house, I corrected myself more than once) later that afternoon, and I started writing. I wrote for four days in between trips to Walterboro for arrangements, visitation, and finally, the funeral. When I got home the evening of April 29th, I had a nearly complete story in my hands. I don’t remember writing it, and I wasn’t sure what I really had.

At the time I was working with someone I thought was a friend of mine. She’d recently started up a press and was trying to build her reputation. She had already published my first story, Haunted, and it seemed to be doing okay. We were talking one afternoon, just as friends, about all sorts of things, and the conversation turned to writing. She knew my situation and knew what I’d been through, so when it came around to what I’d written, she asked if she could read it.

So I sent the first draft of Devil’s Daughter to her. She immediately turned around and offered me a contract on it. Which I foolishly accepted.

I should stop here and explain something – not because I want to start a firestorm, but because it’s part of the story – that’s touchy and may seem a little cruel or catty. At the time I was publishing with No Boundaries Press, and the owner, Kharisma Rhayne, is someone  I thought to be a friend. We’d talked quite a bit and we’d become good friends over the year or so we’d been in contact. At least, I thought we had. What I failed to realize was that there were warning signs all over the place. First, she’d never told me her real name. She’d told me stories of her past and some of the bad things she’d been through, and we’d talked about both her children and mine, about families and pastimes and hobbies… everything.  I never once thought I’d end up on the receiving end of her cruelty.

What I didn’t realize when I signed that second contract was that I was being taken advantage of. I honestly don’t remember the things that turned out to be in it. I have the clear memory of reading the contract and thinking “okay, I can live with this”, signing it, and emailing it over to her.  The book released in November 2012 without announcement or fanfare. it had been out nearly four days before she even told me.

Then things began to get weird.

Off and on over the next few months, people sent me messages asking about a possible sequel to Devil’s Daughter.  It was praised for its emotional value as well as its creativity.  A few people even asked me to make it into a series.  Having written it out of grief, it did my heart good to hear that it was well accepted. I wasn’t really writing at the time, but Lydia kept talking. She put all sorts of crazy ideas in my head and I realized in early January that I was gearing up to write actual novels about her. That was the point when, in the middle of this awful depression, I started to see light at the end of the tunnel. I started outlining and writing. It got to the point where I was only happy when I was working with Lydia, and the more I talked to her, the more I realized that she had a whole lot to say and wasn’t going to be done any time soon.

In January, I got into a discussion with a friend about writing, publishers, and the series in general, and in the end I had a full proposal for a five-book series that I wanted to submit. Of course, at the very last minute I went back and re-read the contract only to find that there was a surprisingly one-sided first refusal clause written into it. And by one-sided I mean not just first shot at the next book, but first shot at any book involving those characters.  It appeared that if I wanted to publish this series with another house – because there was never any conscious intention of writing a series at the outset – I was going to have to pay through the teeth to get my rights back. We’re talking a $200 buy-out clause on a story that was less than 10,000 words.

I decided I’d deal with that when it came down to it. I sent the proposal over to this friend with a note that if there was interest, I would have to take care of that before we could move forward.

Fast-forward to June of this year. We’ve passed the one-year anniversary of my father’s death, and I’m starting to clear out a little. Logically I know that if he were to see me the way I was, he’d be upset by it. That was sort of the reason why he didn’t want to tell us he needed surgery in the first place. Anyway… I’m getting better. I’m writing again. Things are finally starting to look up.

Of course, at this point, nobody at NBP has been paid since August 2012. We’re in the middle of our third quarter without payments, statements, or even any words as to when this might happen. Kharisma has dropped off the face of the planet. A few of us started talking just offhand about whether payments were expected or not. We began to sort out who had gotten paid and who hadn’t. People were beginning to contact Preditors & Editors and Writer Beware, and everyone was getting upset. Once the clear consensus was made that a group was going to approach her about breach of contract, nonpayment, and rights reversion, there’s this bizarre coincidence:

I’m still trying to sort out exactly how to handle this process when lo and behold, that very night, an assistant appears.

“Heather”, whoever she may or may not be, pops up and announces that as of the end of that quarter, No Boundaries Press will be shutting its doors. Everyone will get their rights back. Everyone will be paid. Meanwhile, I’m talking to Kharisma, trying to sort out what’s going on because everyone knows we’re friends and they’re coming to me to find out what happened.  I get a few interesting stories, and then she falls off the planet again.  The last time I talked to her was June 17th, and that was right before the letters rolled out giving us the rights back to our stories.

Great. Score one for the home team. Now about my money…

Messages started flying about when we were going to get paid. We were told August 31st would be final close-out date. At this point I’m assuming that I’m owed a small chunk of change from two stories over a year and a half from first publication to final rights reversion. Did I hear anything about it? No. Am I upset? Yes. From June 30th until August 31st, I’m in contact with the No Boundaries girls, trying to keep this thing on the tracks. We’re all angry, but we ultimately decide to wait until after that deadline to start grinding the gears. I’m particularly angry because over the last two years, I’ve stood up and defended this woman against the rest of the world. I did everything in my power to help her, and in the end I walked away with no money, no books, and egg on my face.

Toward the end of August, I heard from the other publisher friend again. We exchanged some ridiculous dialogue, then spent over an hour on the phone one night.  We talked about Lydia and my plans for her, as well as my plans for the future and the best course of action now for world domination later. It was a strange conversation, but one that makes me laugh every time I think about it. And that’s saying something, because very few people have been able to truly make me laugh lately.

August 31st came and went. No payment. No statement. No contact. At this point I just want her out of my life and to put this whole mess behind me. Yes, I want her to pay up. Yes, I want the world to know that she took shameless advantage of about fifty people. No, I don’t believe any of the stories she told me. Yes, I want this to end. I don’t have the money to hire a lawyer and go after her, and for what it’s worth, I’d be far overspending. I’m ready to let it all go, but that niggling voice in the back of my head just wouldn’t shut up. The whole thing was still hanging out there, left unfinished. It was driving me mad.

Which is ultimately what led me to tell this story in the first place.

Like I said, it’s not a particularly happy story… overall I’d consider it a learning experience.  I’m much more wary of people offering “too good to be true” deals.  Everything I read, I read very carefully now. I dissect contracts, and if I don’t like it, I won’t sign it.  And I’m not as quick to trust people these days. They have to earn it.

Fast forward again to the happy ending.

On September 11, 2013, two days before my Daddy’s 67th Birthday, Seventh Star Press made this announcement:

SSP Banner

Seventh Star Press is proud to welcome S. H. Roddey to its author family with the addition of a wonderful new genre-crossing series, The Soul Collectors, which debuts with the release of Damnation Day in early 2014.

The dark fantasy/horror series introduces the character Lydia St. Clair, a bounty hunter who is a collector of souls due to the deal she made with the Devil to save her father’s life.  In the first book of the series, Damnation Day, she awakens from a troubling dream, only to find a charred piece of parchment with the word “Armageddon” on it.

The document contains her upcoming assignment, which will send her on an adventure filled with twists, turns,  and an assortment of deities, strange creatures, powerful artifacts, supernatural realms, and more!  An apocalypse looms, and it is up to Lydia to unravel mysteries and put a stop to the most diabolical of plans.

All of it is just part of the job for a collector of souls!

On bringing The Soul Collectors Series to Seventh Star Press and joining its author family, S.H. Roddey commented, “I like the family atmosphere. It’s nice to see that there’s still a publisher in this world that isn’t just about the money – that that an old-fashioned place still exists where the doors are always open and the people are always willing to help each other. It’s cozy, but still professional.”

It’s official, ladies and germs, Lydia is back! I’ve signed a seven-book contract with Seventh Star Press, and the first novel is due in to my poor, unsuspecting editor by December 1st. They have even graciously agreed to re-publish Devil’s Daughter in digital format. And when they call SSP a “family”, they truly mean it. I’ve made some wonderful friends already, and it’s an amazing feeling. It’s nice to know that there’s a group of people that have my back, just like I’ve got theirs.

It took awhile to get there, but in the end, I’d say things have worked out nicely. I lost a friend, but I’ve gained a new family, and today I couldn’t be happier.

Champagne Toast

Want the lowdown on NBP? Check out Erica Pike’s blog post:
When Authors Steal from Authors.

Juniper Grove Presents: Black Jack by Rani Manicka

Published August 28, 2013 by administrator

Black Jack Tour Banner

Mornin’, Creeps… time for another round of twenty questions! I have with me today International Bestselling Author Rani Manicka to tell us a little about herself and her latest Paranormal Fantasy, Black Jack.

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About the Author

Rani ManickaRani Manicka was born in Malaysia and spent her childhood on a long white, beach in the company of natural storytellers. But when she was six, she was stuffed into a uniform and banished to school. In protest, she quickly mastered the art of reading novels during class. Though, she had never dreamed of writing herself, a chance encounter with a woman scorned in an Italian restaurant inspired her first plot.

Her first novel The Rice Mother, Infused with her own Sri Lankan family history, is a vividly imaginative story about the frailties of human nature and the terrible consequences of war. It won a Commonwealth Writers Prize in 2003. Her subsequent novel, Touching Earth is a dark and compelling tale of love, betrayal and addiction. The Japanese Lover, set in Malaya during the Japanese occupation is an absorbing tale of the intense passion between captor and captured. Rani’s books have been translated into 26 languages. She lives with the two great loves of her life; Rick and their beautiful son/dog, Ty.

Rani Manicka’s latest novel BLACK JACK is out NOW.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Website

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Twenty Questions with Rani Manicka

SHR: What made you want to write?

RM: I read a book about a fading author meeting her silver-haired agent for lunch.  The author had fish and I thought, that’s what I want to be doing.

SHR: Favorite author?

RM: Cormac McCarthy

SHR: Favorite book?

RM: The Road

SHR: Favorite movie?

RM: The Matrix

SHR: What’s worse for you: a bad amazon review, or a bad review from a fellow author?

RM: No difference?  Both are only individual opinions.

SHR: When choosing reading material, what factors are important to you?

RM: The author’s voice. 

SHR: Your inspiration – is it from your imagination or from personal experience?

RM: Both.

SHR: If given the opportunity to meet one of your characters in real life, which would it be and why?

RM: Green. I have questions for him.  Big questions.

SHR: Give us your opinion:  Editors – are they friends or enemies?

RM: Definitely friends

SHR: How do you go about researching your stories?

RM: Internet mostly.

SHR: What comes first, the plot, the characters, or the setting?

RM: Usually plot.

SHR: Who is in control when you write, you or your characters?

RM: Me.  My poor characters do what they are told to do.

SHR: What inspires you to write?

RM: Beauty.

SHR: When you write, is it with or without visual/audio stimulation (tv, music, etc.)?

RM: I like listening to songs in languages I cannot understand.  They wash over me and do not interfere with my thinking process.

SHR: If you were told you could never write again, what would you do to fill your time?

RM: Paint.

SHR: What’s the weather like where you are today?

RM: It’s England.  It’s always grey and raining.

SHR: Best monster ever: vampire, werewolf, or zombie?

RM: Vampires but they’re kinda ruined now since they became god like creatures thanks to Stephanie Meyer.

SHR: Tell us how you really feel about the 50 Shades of Gray hype.

RM: Porn with a classy book jacket.

SHR:  Give us one dirty, little secret about yourself.

RM: That would strip it off its status as a secret, wouldn’t it?

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About Black Jack

Black Jack Cover

At seven she became another missing child statistic. Seven years later her life is a strange, lonely existence. Her memories are not her own and her special powers have been harnessed for the sole use of her owners. To the people who guard her 24 hours a day she is known as Dakota, but they also know she is dangerous, so dangerous that she must never think for herself.

Fourteen-year-old Black dreams of another life. Hidden away in his bedroom with only his mother and a television for stimulation, each day mirrors the last.

When Black is visited by an inter-dimensional being it becomes a pivotal moment. A door to another world opens and changes Blacks life forever. Soon Black is propelled on a collision course with a powerful ancient secret society.

To save mankind, he must play… the Devil’s game…

But what are they really after and how far will they go to get what they want.  With deceit and betrayal all around… JUST WHO CAN HE TRUST?

Rani Manicka is an International best-selling novelist and the author of three previous books. Her works have been translated in 26 languages. Black Jack is her fourth and latest novel. A provocative, unforgettable tale that questions the beliefs that lie at the very heart of humankind.

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GoodReads

GIVEAWAY!

Up for grabs in this International Giveaway: Five copies of “Black Jack”.

Click the Rafflecopter logo below to enter!

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