Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Nugget #61 -- Sweet Opportunity

Opportunity is that sweet spot where effective networking
and careful honing of the writing craft meet.


Tuesday, September 29, 2015

[Link] No, e-book sales are not falling, despite what publishers say

by  Mathew Ingram
A recent piece in the New York Times about a decline in e-book sales had more than a whiff of anti-digital Schadenfreude about it. The story, which was based on sales figures from the Association of American Publishers, implied that much of the hype around e-books had evaporated — with sales falling by 10% in the first half of this year — while good old printed books were doing better than everyone expected.

This was celebrated by many as evidence that e-books aren’t all they are cracked up to be, and that consumers are swinging back to printed books. But is that an accurate reflection of what’s actually taking place in the book-publishing or book-buying market? Not really, as it turns out.

When I first saw the story, I thought it raised two important questions, neither of which was really answered conclusively in the piece (although the second was hinted at). Namely: 1) Are e-book sales as a whole dropping, or just the sales of the publishers who are members of the AAP? And 2) Isn’t a drop in sales just a natural outcome of the publishers’ move to keep e-book prices high?

Read the full article:

Monday, September 28, 2015

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #332 -- Writers Groups

What do you think about writers groups?

I think groups of writers working together to help each other grow, to help edit each others' work, and to be honest with each other are one of the best ideas to come along in the writing life.

It's the best way to overcome the solitude that often accompanies being a writer.

But, for my experience, I have yet to find a single writers group that really wants to accomplish those ideals. More often, what I find is a group of Facebook-esque folks who are looking for "likes" for their latest masterpieces. I find folks who get upset with honesty and prefer false praise, or who react to it either defensively or with the classic "Well, you just don't understand the genre/style that I write, but I'm sure that's valid for your genre/style."

Maybe I just want too much from a writers group. What I tend to find instead of amateurs wanting to become pros through hard work is amateurs wanting to be honored for their amateur work.

That might sound harsh, but it's been my experience.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The Inaugural “Write This Speculative Fiction Novel” Contest!

Realmwalker Publishing Group is now accepting applications for their Inaugural “Write This Speculative Fiction Novel” Contest! The contest takes a story ripped out of today’s headlines and challenges writers from all over the world to write a speculative fiction story based upon it. We look to something potentially horrific to launch this contest in this article about the discovery of “pandoraviruses” being found in the Siberian permafrost.

Here is a link to the article found on CNN:

One lucky winner will be selected to not only have their novel published by Realmwalker Publishing Group in 2016, but they will also earn a $5000 advance for the novel, plus a three book deal worth up to an additional $5000 in advances.

Here are the contest details:

Submission period: September 15th, 2015 – March 15th, 2016 11:59pm

Send Submissions To:

Ten Finalists Announced: April 15th, 2016

Winner Announced: June 15th, 2016

Target Publishing Date: September 13th, 2016

Minimum Manuscript Length: 80,000+ words

Any genre or sub-genre will be accepted, and it does not even have to be Earth upon which this story is developed, BUT the story linked above must be used as the inspiration for the story presented. So the novel could be a mystery, or a hard science sci-fi thriller. It could be a fantasy set in a world threatened with global extinction or a horror novel. Whatever it is, write it!

All of the entries will be reviewed by a panel of literary judges once the submission period has ended on March 15th, 2016, The top 10 finalists will be announced on April 15th, 2016, and the winner of the contest to be determined and announced on June 15th, 2016.

In entering the contest, the contestant authorizes Realmwalker Publishing Group the right to use their name, the title of their entry, and excerpts not to exceed 5,000 words from the submitted work for promotional purposes during the contest period.

Only original, unpublished (including self-publishing) manuscripts will be accepted for consideration to this contest. Manuscripts developed or shared through free services and workshops such as Wattpad or NaNoWriMo, ARE acceptable as long as it was developed specifically for this year’s contest. Additionally, novels developed from existing short stories or other work previously created by the author are acceptable as long as the source material has not been published, self-published, or previously submitted for consideration to a publisher, magazine, or website.

Current employees, authors, artists, and support personnel of Realmwalker Publishing Group and their immediate family members, are not eligible for this contest.

All authors will retain copyright on the works submitted, and will be free to submit their works to other publishers for consideration, or self-published upon elimination from the contest. Realmwalker Publishing Group will hold exclusive, worldwide publishing rights for the manuscript selected as the winner of the contest, for the length of the publishing contract signed by the author.

Get the full scoop:

Friday, September 25, 2015




Author James R. Tuck, creator of Deacon Chalk and co-author of Titan Books’ new occult Robin Hood series, recently launched his Hollow Earth series with Champion of Hollow Earth from Pro Se Productions. Now publisher and author announce an open call for the next volume in the series, an anthology of stories set in Tuck’s Hyperborea.  Heroes of Hollow Earth is now open for proposals and submissions.

“When you have a creator,” says Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, “like James R. Tuck crafting an entire world, it’s a truly awesome thing.  What makes it even better is the chance to let others throw themselves into it, to see what they can manufacture from the magick and madness of Hollow Earth.  Tuck has set a fantastic canvas for the best in Genre Fiction today to carve words into. This is literally a collection I can hardly wait to read.”

Heroes of Hollow Earth will be a multi-author anthology chronicling the struggle to survive in Hyperborea, a land that exists inside a Hollow Earth. It is a war-torn place where humans fight to live against the unstoppable Kurg, a race of Nazi Lizard men, and their bloodthirsty Reptile Reich. Only the final spell of Hyperborea's greatest wizard offers a glimmer of hope. His dying breath calls a Champion. But, also in that breath, others are summoned, gateways across space and time are opened bringing other potential warriors to Hollow Earth.  And each of these accidental travelers will have their own tales to hack and slice out of the war torn land of danger and wonder, as do the citizens of Hollow Earth, and even the venomous Kurg.  Tales to be told in Heroes of Hollow Earth.

Stories for Heroes of Hollow Earth must be no less than 4,000 and no more than 6,000 words and can deal with those who live in Hyperborea or those yanked into the new world. Tales may even focus on the Kurg. This is a work for hire assignment and payment will be a split of royalties among accepted authors.  Authors interested in submitting a story proposal should send an email expressing said interest and requesting the Hollow Earth Bible to by October 15th.  There are 10 story slots available in this anthology and if all 10 are filled prior to October 15th, then the call will close.

If a writer’s proposal is accepted, then the completed story must be submitted to on or before January 1, 2016 for final review and approval.  No extensions will be given as this book is scheduled for publication in March 2016

Any questions concerning this call for submissions should be directed to To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to Like Pro Se on Facebook at

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Listen to Your Characters... But How?

We hear it all the time. Listen to you characters. Let them tell your story for you. But what does that really mean?

Nancy Hansen: When I get deep enough into a writing project that I can hear the character voices, feel what that individual's reactions would be, and my mind can walk around in their world, that's when the character is telling at least part of the story. I'm still in the driver's seat, because I'm making the decisions, but I'm not afraid to take directions from that unconscious part of my mind that knows better where this thing has to go. I think the idea of letting the character tell her/his own story is just kind of an awkward way of saying, let yourself dig deep and pretend to be someone else for a while. Writers are about the only people in this world who can follow the promptings of the voices in their heads without getting locked up.

Mike Schneider: Avoid excessive narration and exposition. If a piece of information isn't introduced by the characters, then it probably isn't that relevant or necessary to following the story.

Paul Bishop: Saying the characters tell the story is simply a writer's creative flare in expressing the more mundane statement that your subconscious wanting to take the story in another direction...When I'm struggling with a story, it's usually my subconscious (labeled 'my characteristics') letting me know I'm not being true to the characters I've created and I need to back up and find the right direction for the story...

Rebekah McAuliffe: You may feel like the story is heading in one direction, but suddenly, the "wild girls will take you," as my high school English teacher once put it. It's just this feeling in your gut that leads you to where the story is supposed to go.

Bill Craig: I put my characters into a situation, and then they kind of take over, reacting and acting on the situation. I have a rough idea of where I want to go, but the journey to get there is largely through the characters and how they deal with not only the initial situation but with the ripples that their actions create and then they have to deal with those and whatever other rocks I drop into the creative pond. I do my best to make my characters as real as possible and have them react in a real and human fashion. Sometimes they stumble and fall, other times they rise and overcome. Not all my endings are happy ones, just like real life. A good example is in Marlow: Mango Run, sure Marlow solves the case, but another character that he is emotionally attached too takes her own life, leaving him devastated when he learns of it. When I had started that particular book, I had no idea that event was going to happen, but her mental and emotional decline began about the middle of the book and just picked up momentum and it turned into a major event that had repercussions not only for Marlow but for several other characters as well. It was totally a character driven moment, but it became a crucial event in that book and for the next two that followed it.

Charles Hearn: I always felt that it means you need to get into each character's head and try to see how they would perceive and handle the situations you've presented them with.
However, if your characters are actually talking to you, then you need to up your meds.

Aaron Smith: A writer's mind never stops working. I write all the time even if my fingers aren't tapping on the keyboard at that moment. We're considering our ideas 24/7, often when we're not even consciously thinking about it. Of course our characters don't write themselves. We, as writers, do all the work, but we're not always intentionally producing the details of a story. Important plot points or bits of dialogue come to us in dreams or seemingly out of nowhere, not just when we're intentionally considering what's going to happen next. They don't write themselves, but it sometimes seems they do.

Rose Streif: I look at it like this: even though my characters are created by me, filtered through me, and on a level even *are* me, I think of them as actual separate people living in a world, persons who are completely different. And so they become their own people, and behave less like toys that are being knocked together, or puppets mouthing my personal beliefs. They take on a life of their own, even though it's illusory. And I let that illusion carry me forward to the end of the tale.

Robert Krog: Because I'm not crazy, like some fiction writers I know, I don't believe that my characters take over and write the book, or have conversations with me, argue with me, or what have you. That being said, I do write them as consistent individuals basing their actions upon their characteristics. I don't find any conflict between a story being plot driven or character driven. If I start out with a specific plot in mind, I write characters who make that plot come true. If I should come to a point at which I find that I have made a character inconsistent, it is no problem to rework the character or throw him out and replace him with one better suited to make the plot work. There have been occasions in which I have found that I liked what the character did to the plot more than I liked the original plot, and that is fine too. I don't marry plots, either. If I start out with a specific character in mind for whom I have to find a story, I throw that character into an interesting situation and extrapolate. Listening to a character, I think, is writing the character with a consistent personality and not having that character, for the sake of the plot, perform actions inconsistent with that personality. Of course, sometimes, the character has to listen to the author and get rewritten to stay consistent. None of these options is a biggie. I write to tell a good story, sometimes one option is better than the other(s). That is all. It is very important to note that one is unlikely to find a story to be good unless it contains good characters, people we might like to meet in real life, or admire, fear, love, love to hate, what have you. Good characters are true to life, exhibiting consistent and believable personalities, making decisions that people we know of the same types might make, growing in ways that are believable as well. They don't suddenly, for the sake of filling a plot hole, develop powers, personality traits, knowledge, that the reader would find improbable. In that regard, I "listen to my characters" and write them in such a way that they stay as real as possible, sometimes that involves writing them out, sometimes it involves changing the plot, and sometimes it involves finding a plot in which to place them.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Nugget #60 -- Dialog

 I love writing dialog. For my money, nothing moves a story along 
like good dialog. Until it doesn't any longer. Then no matter 
how much I love writing dialog, I have to stop.

The Black Bat and Me (And the Golden Amazon too)

Hey, everybody! When you are looking through Previews this month, don't miss page 374 (Moonstone Books). My newest work will appear in The Black Bat Returns anthology listed there. Be sure to pre-order your copy!

Features my story, "The Blood of Gordon Pruett," which features the first and only (I believe) team-up between the Black Bat and the Golden Amazon.

But don't wait too long. Orders must be placed by September 25!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

First Publishing Experience

By Ray Dean

Short Story: Fire in the Sky
Anthology: Shanghai Steam with EDGE Publishing

I like it when a trip down memory lane brings me a smile instead of a wince or a sigh. Going back to remember my first publishing experience is one of those happy moments. I was fresh from my first rejection, and while the comments from the editor wasn’t exactly what I’d call encouraging, I knew that it wasn’t a matter of giving up. I was going to keep going because as I only half-joke, it’s crowded in my head. And to keep the noise down I have to write.

So a notice popped up on a Steampunk site that I was a part of, looking for stories that had Steampunk and Wuxia as a part of it. Wuxia. I had to look that term up, do my research on the genre. Wuxia is a genre that originated in Chinese literature. Translated into English, it means ‘Martial Hero’  and includes elements of the common man/underdog, martial arts, superhuman feats. I have also seen magic or wizardry used in explanations of the genre.

This idea really struck a chord in me, a tremor of excitement. As a girl I would stay up LATE. Not just past my bedtime late, but Holy Cow I should be sleeping because I have Saturday morning dance classes but I don’t care LATE. Because, Friday night on Channel 13 had Black Belt Kung Fu Theater. I already watched Channel 13 because it also played the Samurai films that I loved so much, but the amazing choreography of Kung Fu movies was so very different from the Samurai films/tv shows. Samurai films centered around the Bushido, the rules and lifestyle of a swordsman in Japan and Kung Fu films would use any number of weapons, or none at all. The stunning choreography was something that I really appreciated. 

The next step was to find a story/setting that I felt would fit the genre. My first instinct was to go ‘West.’ Not just in direction by setting. I wrote my story set in Tombstone, AZ. Having been a frequent visitor to the “Town Too Tough to Die,” I knew quite a bit about the Chinese immigrants in Hop Town and thought a story centered around the mining claims would be fun to write, including the action sequences that were an integral part of Wuxia.

With my heart in my throat I sent off that story.

The email that came back a little later was a surprise, but not an immediate cause of full-out celebration. They liked my story, thought it was good… but not quite right for the anthology.

Yes, I was still breathing. Barely. Okay, there was more to the email, so I continued reading.

Did I have anything else that might fit?

I hope I don’t sound too much like a newbie, but there was no way that I was going to say no to that question. But before I could do anything I asked them if they wouldn’t mind telling me how the first story didn’t fit. I did when I sent it in, otherwise I wouldn’t have submitted it in the first place.

When the reply came back they gave me a quick overview of what didn’t seem to match the anthology and I was able to brainstorm another story. I gave her a quick summary of my idea, she gave me a time frame and I was off… writing… not in my head.

The second story was based on an article that I read in my son’s World History textbook. A letter written to the Queen of England by a scholar in China asking England not to import opium into China. The letter discussed the many ills of the drug and asked that the country stop shipping the product into China in payment for trade goods instead of silver. The ‘twisted mind’ in my head said ‘okay, we won’t bring it into your ports, but airships don’t need the harbor…’ How would the people of town react to the heavy handed actions of the British and their ‘end run’ around the law. Who would stand up to them and how?

Once the second story was completed and officially accepted for the anthology I received a contract in my email and things went on from there. A few rounds of minor edits back and forth, starting with the editor that made that first contact with me. From there the other editors weighed in and there were a few moments when we had short discussions about elements in the story. Part of the fun of working on a story set in a historical… but not so historical era in speculative fiction, is discovering possibilities and then making sure the world lives and breathes. There is also a certain amount of discovery, capitalizing on the strengths of everyone involved.

Once the edits were done, we got down to the business of setting up promotion for the release of the anthology. A Facebook page, a blog tour, and more. I wasn’t able to participate in the ‘live readings’ as I was so very far away from Canada, but I was able to see the pictures and read the recaps of all the action! 

As another part of our ‘release’ activities, we had a group post here on “Bad Girls, Good Guys, and Two-Fisted Action." It took a bit of organization to get it all together, but I really enjoyed the different answers. It was a chance to get to know the other authors as well.

The anthology was later nominated for an award and mentioned in Orson Scott Card’s book “Writing Fantasy & Science Fiction: How to Create Out-of-This-World Novels and Short Stories.”

I learned so much about submissions and editing from the folks at EDGE. And I’d like to add a huge thanks to Sean Taylor for having me write about my first publishing experience.

Monday, September 21, 2015

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #331 -- Convention Cons (and Pros)

Do you find conventions helpful for your brand as a writer, or do they get in the way of actual writing?

The simple answer is yes, I find them helpful to building my brand as a writer.

And yes, I find they do often get in the way of actual writing.

But if I peel back the veneer and look deeper into those responses...

1. While they are helpful in building awareness of me as a writer, I have to do a better job of varying the locations and building a better cycle of con appearances so that I'm not always hitting the same cons and seeing the same people. Reinforcing my brand is important, but it's not the same thing as introducing my work to new people in new areas I haven't been.

2. I often get new work at conventions. Talking with fellow writers and publishers frequently gets me invited into other anthologies I wouldn't have known about otherwise. Also, they get me invited to pitch longer works to publishers for whom I haven't written yet.

3. While they get in the way of writing, I can never forget that at least half (some would say more) of my work as a writer is NETWORKING so that I always have my next few jobs lined up.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

[Link] Writing Begins With Forgiveness: Why One of the Most Common Pieces of Writing Advice Is Wrong

by Daniel José Older

Writing advice blogs say it. Your favorite writers say it. MFA programs say it.

Write every single day.

It’s one of the most common pieces of writing advice and it’s wildly off base. I get it: The idea is to stay on your grind no matter what, don’t get discouraged, don’t slow down even when the muse isn’t cooperating and non-writing life tugs at your sleeve. In this convoluted, simplified version of the truly complex nature of creativity, missing a day is tantamount to giving up, the gateway drug to joining the masses of non-writing slouches.


Here’s what stops more people from writing than anything else: shame. That creeping, nagging sense of ‘should be,’ ‘should have been,’ and ‘if only I had…’ Shame lives in the body, it clenches our muscles when we sit at the keyboard, takes up valuable mental space with useless, repetitive conversations. Shame, and the resulting paralysis, are what happen when the whole world drills into you that you should be writing every day and you’re not.

Every writer has their rhythm. It seems basic, but clearly it must be said: There is no one way. Finding our path through the complex landscape of craft, process, and different versions of success is a deeply personal, often painful journey. It is a very real example of making the road by walking. Mentors and fellow travelers can point you towards new possibilities, challenge you and expand your imagination, but no one can tell you how to manage your writing process. I’ve been writing steadily since 2009 and I’m still figuring mine out. I probably will be for the rest of my life. It’s a growing, organic, frustrating, inspiring, messy adventure, and it’s all mine.

Two years ago, while I was finishing Half-Resurrection Blues and Shadowshaper, I was also in grad school, editing Long Hidden, working full time on a 911 ambulance, and teaching a group of teenage girls. And those are the things that go easily on paper. I was also being a boyfriend, son, friend, god brother, mentor, and living, breathing, loving, healing human being. None of which can be simply given up because I’d taken on the responsibility of writing.

You can be damn sure I wasn’t writing every day.

Continue reading:

Friday, September 18, 2015

[Link] Editorius Rex

by Paul Bishop

First four words about editors and mentors…They are not God…

Now a few more words…Working with editors and mentors (E/Ms) can be confusing and on occasion filled with frustration. I’ve worked with good and bad E/Ms, and – thankfully – one great E/M.

Good E/Ms are the most common of the genus éditorus rex. These, generally kind examples of the species, understand what you are trying to accomplish with your novel/story, but only work with you if your manuscript is – short of a copy edit – publication ready. They are pleasant enough, but harried and easily distracted by their own problems or workload. They are like parents who raise free-range children, allowing them to run wild, hoping they will eventually turn out okay.

Bad E/Ms are like weeds in the flower beds of your prose. They are noxious, prevalent, and can choke the life out of your manuscript. Sometimes, you can feel as if this species of E/M is reveling in picking your manuscript apart, insisting on changes from left field, and they can leave you having no idea what they are talking about (I did mention frustration above). In general, these sour individuals are simply not a good match for your particular manuscript.

Continue reading:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Nugget #59 -- New Pulp, New Rules

I'd say New Pulp can be whatever you want it to be. 
We're making the rules as we write. I think gone are the 
days when a book must follow the Doc Savage model or 
the Shadow model or the Insert Your Favorite Character 
model. This is a whole new territory.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Crafting a Believable Mystery

by Gordon Dymowski

I’ve always loved mysteries – there’s something about the process of answering a question and figuring out details that intrigues me. (Perhaps it’s growing up with a dad who was a lawyer who also loved Sherlock Holmes). As a reader, mysteries provide an engaging, entertaining read.

That’s why I love writing mysteries: at their best, they combine a strong puzzle-based plot with capable characters (including a sleuth) and great atmosphere. But making sure they’re believable can be tricky….so here are a few things that I find work when crafting a mystery.

  • This rule above all else: Play Fair - At the heart of every mystery, clues are laid out gradually, allowing the reader to discover them along with the detective. (Want good examples? Hunt down anything written by Ellery Queen). The last minute twist/revelation….well, it doesn’t really help. In fact, it can hurt - the reader wants to figure it out. That’s part of why people read mysteries. And along those lines….
  • What’s In It For Your Detective? - Writing a believable mystery often means knowing why your detective wants to solve the case. For Sherlock Holmes, “the work is its own reward’; for Mike Hammer in I, The Jury, it’s the opportunity to solve a case and avenge his friend’s death. Every mystery must have stakes for its lead character, even if those stakes are simple. (How many detectives get paid just so solve a crime?).
  • Crime is simple; motives are messy - Most crimes are simple: someone dies at another’s hand, things are stolen, people are hurt - and it’s easy to plan elaborate crimes. (Even heists are relatively simple, if planned well enough). But motives complicate matters, and that’s where the crux of your storytelling lies. In Robert B. Parker’s Early Autumn, Spenser solves the quandry of what to do with a boy in a dysfunctional family by “taking him in.” (I’m not doing the book justice - you need to read it yourself). This is probably not the time to make your killer a variation of Snidely Whiplash - in fact, complicated motives often can serve as great storytelling devices.
  • Plotters may do better than pantsers - You know the old adage about starting from the killer and working backwards? That’s not a cliche - having some idea of the outcome will help shape the overall arc of your book. (You can still leave room for surprises to happen, but having a logical arc will help). Because after all….
  • Even mysteries have some structure: Don’t believe me? Read what Raymond Chandler, SS Van Dine, and R Austin Freeman have to say about the mystery story. (And if you’re looking for help about how to formulate a mystery, think of it as an extended argument….and view this video which is used in many philosophy classes. Seriously).
  • Do some research, but don’t get too elaborate - Knowing the law, police procedure & structure, and other aspects of your story are worth researching to give it a bit of authenticity...but don’t make your story about the research. Think of it as a way to provide small details into the overall arc: you don’t need to be a cop to write a police procedural; you just need to know enough to sound convincing.
  • Keep your crimes simple: As stated above, it may be tempting to crank out an elaborate crime - one which a high-tech CSI-style team might study. However, I can tell you from personal experience: waiting for lab results makes for boring reading. Keeping your crimes simple, your puzzles solvable, but your motives complicated provide greater engagement for your reader because the focus is on character, not mechanics. Finally….
  • Read/watch some great mysteries: Check out Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories for how it’s done (and Dover’s Detection by Gaslight for other Victorian-era sleuths). Read Ellery Queen for great “fair play” mysteries. Read Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler & Mickey Spillane for some hard-boiled reads. If you’re a “visual learner”, I suggest watching the first five seasons of Columbo, the two-volume Rivals of Sherlock Holmes (available via Acorn Media), and The Ellery Queen Mysteries. (Many of these shows are available streaming as well).
Crafting a believable mystery can mean the difference between providing a good read….and taking the reader on a journey. Knowing some preliminary steps can strengthen your storytelling.

Now, start writing!

Gordon Dymowski has written several tales, including “Crossing McCausland” for Tall Pulp and “When Angels Fall” for Dreamer’s Syndrome: New World Navigation, and will be appearing in an upcoming Black Bat Mystery anthology for Airship 27. When not writing, he’s working with small businesses and non-profits to amplify and enhance their communication strategies. For more information, check out Gordon’s home page at, his blog at, or his Amazon Author page. And if you know any publisher that’s reviving the Three Investigators, please drop him a line.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #330 -- Biographical Material

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

Yes. No. Sometimes. Maybe.

How's that for an answer?

The truth is, like in all things, more complicated than a simple yay or nay. I don't ever intentionally set out to write autobiography or even biography, but I can't help but have elements of myself and people I know crawl into the the stories between the cracks in my conscious thought.

For example, when I was working on a Southern Fiction lit story years ago -- called Big Bull, about a Cigar Store Indian -- I noticed that I was working through my own feelings of growing up without my father around. Not only that, but I think I imposed hurt from some of my step-dads onto that story as well. It was cathartic, but not designed to be so.

Another example... I used to work with a girl named Missy, and when she was about to smile, she would bite down on her bottom lip. So I stole that expression from her and have used it ever since. There's a little bit of Missy in many of my stories.

But I find that kind of thing is best served in piecemeal, rather than wholesale.

Sunday, September 13, 2015




In 2014, Pro Se Productions, a leading publisher of Genre Fiction, introduced an imprint of sorts within its line of stand alone digital short stories known as Pro Se Single Shots. The Pro Se Single Shot Signature line focused on either series or writer centered imprints of forty invited authors, who could in digital singles, tell either stories centered around a particular character or concept or could have different stand alone stories appear each time within their own imprint. The intent for most of the Signature Series is to take the individual stories and collect them into volumes to appear in print and digital format at the appropriate time for each series.

That time has come for Author Nikki Nelson-Hicks’ extremely popular occult detective period series, Jake Istenhegyi, The Accidental Detective. The adventures of Jake Istenhegyi are now available in a first volume, featuring the two original tales which appeared as singles and a third new story, itself a 30 thousand word digest novel.

“When I wrote the first Jake Istenhegyi story, A Chick, a Dick and a Witch,” says Nelson-Hicks, “it was a lark. I never expected it to go anywhere. Then I was asked to continue the Istenhegyi stories into a series and I figured, “What the hell. Could be fun”. So I whipped out Jake #2, Golems, Goons and Cold Stone Bitches, still in the mindset that all of this was just a game. When it was time to write the third story, a cold realization swept over me that was something real, something that people really wanted to read. So I hunkered down to give people what they had been begging me for since the beginning: more story, more mystery, more Jake.”

Desperate to get out of his debt to the Odyssey Shop, Jake Istenhegyi answers a quirky classified ad: TREASURE HUNTERS WANTED. He signs on with a crew that is looking for the Cross of Trismegitus, a relic stolen by Pierre Rameau, the Pirate King of Honey Island and lost during the Battle of New Orleans. According to legend, the Cross of Trismegitus holds a sliver of crystal called ‘Salt Vitam Aeternam’. The Salt of Eternal Life. This makes it more than just a pretty bauble to Istenhegyi. If it is a twin of the crystal that granted the Lombardi sisters immortality, he could use it to avoid their fate: turning to stone in a hundred years. If it there is only a slim possibility that the Salt exists, he has to take that chance.

Unfortunately, Jake doesn’t know that waiting for him deep in the dark bayou is his oldest enemy.

But first, Jake Istenhegyi has to cope with a surprise visit from home, clear his name for the murder of an Irish boxer, and continue the façade of Gunn Investigations, keeping the death of Bear Gunn a secret from Mama Effie and the mysterious owners of the Odyssey Shop.

Who knew what trouble could come from answering a simple classified ad? Find out in Jake Istenhegyi, The Accidental Detective, featuring the new digest novel Boo Daddies, Bogs and a Dead Man’s Booty as well as the first two Accidental Detective stories- A Chick, a Dick, and a Witch Walk into a Barn and Golems, Goons, and Cold Stone Bitches. From Author Nikki Nelson-Hicks and Pro Se Productions.

Featuring an exciting cover and logo design by Jeffrey Hayes and print formatting by Forrest Bryant, the first volume of Jake’s adventures is available now at Amazon and Pro Se’s own store at for 15.00.

Jake Istenhegyi: The Accidental Detective Volume 1 is also available as an Ebook, designed and formatted by Bryant and available for only $2.99 for the Kindle and for most digital formats via Smashwords.

The first two Jake Adventures are also still available as digital singles for only 99 cents at Amazon, Smashwords, and most ebook outlets. The first Jake tale, A Chick, a Dick, and a Witch Walk Into A Barn is free through the month of September.

For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies to review this book, contact Pro Se Productions’ Director of Corporate Operations, Kristi King-Morgan at

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to Like Pro Se on Facebook at

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Open Submissions from Pro Se!


Known for breathing new life into rare, nearly forgotten classic Pulp Characters, Pro Se Productions announces the licensing one of the most bizarre detective characters from classic Pulp Fiction. Originally appearing in Popular Publication’s Dime Detective Magazine, D. L. Champion’s Inspector Allhoff is remembered by pulp fans for his bitterness, strange ways of solving cases, and the compelling psychological warfare within the stories. By a licensing arrangement with Steeger Properties, LLC, Pro Se Productions announces an open call for two new books featuring Inspector Allhoff in new tales written by modern authors.

As created by Champion, Inspector Allhoff was the star of the New York Police Department in every way, until a gangland attack left him broken, physically, emotionally, and perhaps mentally. Now, faced with cases too difficult for anyone else to solve, the powers-that-be in the Department set Ahlloff up in a run down tenement building near police headquarters and provide him with two assistants. One of them is a long time officer who bears a near hatred for the inspector, but remains loyal to the assignment to protect his job and his retirement. The other is the young rookie responsible for Allhoff’s physical condition and requested by the inspector himself for his team, perhaps as a form of punishment for the new officer. Together, these three work the cases either too difficult or simply too strange for the traditional New York Police department to handle and solve.

“Inspector Allhoff,” says Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, “that not only broke the mold of what a detective should be when he originally appeared, but he still stands out as one of the most interesting takes on the archetype ever conceived. This man, the best there was to carry a badge in New York, is struck down and mired in his own bitterness and it completely shades not only how he interacts with the officers essentially forced to work with him, but also how he goes about solving the off the wall mysteries they are assigned to. Although Champion turned out several tales, there’s still a lot of fertile territory to be covered with Inspector Allhoff, and Pro Se is proud to have the chance to do just that.”

Pro Se is announcing two calls, one for 10,000 word short stories to be collected into an Inspector Allhoff anthology and a second for a 60,000 word full length Allhoff novel. Both calls require a 1-3 paragraph proposal and, if the writer submitting a proposal has never written for Pro Se, a 5 page writing sample. The pay for each project will be on a royalty basis and will be addressed with each accepted writer. It must also be noted there will be a strict 90 day deadline on stories being completed once proposals are accepted for the anthology and a six month deadline for the novel to be completed upon acceptance. Due to licensing terms, these will not be extended or negotiable deadlines.

This call will close on September First or when all available slots for proposals are filled, whichever occurs first. All proposals must be emailed to

For writers interested in submitting a proposal, Altus Press has published a first volume of reprints of the original Allhoff tales, available in print and for the Kindle.



In late 2014, Pro Se Productions, a cutting edge publisher of New Pulp and Genre Fiction, announced two new series being added to its 2015 schedule. Today, Pro Se Productions once again announces open calls for submissions for to one of the series, Peter Pixie: Mayor of the Multiverse, and reveals the cover for the first volume!

The entertainer known as Peter Pixie has worked in the Convention business since the 1980s. He has been everything from volunteer to Convention Chair. His love of conventions and all those people crazy enough to throw them truly shines through now that he serves as a Master of Ceremonies for numerous conventions, as well as other events.

As a professional Master of Ceremonies, he has had the honor and distinct pleasure of participating in some amazing events all round the country. Peter is a natural born entertainer. During times he is on stage he owns it and makes everyone happy they are there - the audience, guests, staff - every one! When not on stage, Peter goes to autograph lines to interact and entertain the attendees so they will not feel like they are attending a 'Line Con.’ He also mingles with attendees all weekend ensuring everyone is having a good time.

“Peter Pixie: Mayor of the Multiverse,” says Tommy Hancock, Pro Se Editor in Chief “will be a YoungPulp! title, aimd at younger readers but written for all ages, and the stories that appear in this series will share the same message, while being full of action and adventure. It’s the message that Peter himself extols, that of acceptance and tolerance and power in individuality. That is as much a key to the tales we want told as the over the top settings, the wild escapades, and the colorful characters that we are sure will abound in these fantastic adventures.”

Peter Pixie: Mayor of the Multiverse is a YoungPulp! series that focuses on Pixie being elected as the Mayor of all the multiple timelines, universes, and dimensions that exist. It is aimed at an audience of 12-16, though the appeal may go beyond those limits, and will feature action and adventure blended in with humor. Pro Se Productions is currently seeking proposals for 30,000 word digest novels, 60,000 word full length novels, and 8-10,000 word short stories to be featured in an anthology within the series.

Jeffrey Hayes, artist for many Pro Se titles as well as other companies, provides the cover for the as of yet undetermined first volume of the new series featuring Pixie. The image captures not only the whimsy and fun that embodies Peter, but also the pure passion and emotion with which Pixie entertains and educates his fans.

To request a bible for the series, please contact Tommy Hancock at Proposals should be a minimum of two paragraphs and a maximum of two pages, single spaced in 12 point, Times New Roman. If you have never published with Pro Se Productions before, a two page writing sample must be attached of your work, not necessarily a sample of your proposed story. Proposals should be sent to

Pro Se Productions is a royalty based company. Percentages will be discussed when proposals are accepted.

To learn more about Peter Pixie, go to

For more information on these titles, contact Tommy Hancock, Pro Se’s Editor in Chief, at

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to Like Pro Se on Facebook at

Friday, September 11, 2015

[Link] The Rise of Phone Reading

By Jennifer Maloney

Last fall, Andrew Vestal found himself rocking his baby daughter, Ada, back to sleep every morning between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. Cradling Ada in the crook of his arm, he discovered he could read his dimly-lit phone with one hand. That’s how he read David Mitchell’s 624-page science-fiction saga “The Bone Clocks.”

Mr. Vestal’s iPhone has offered him a way to squeeze in time for reading that he otherwise might have given up. He reads on lunch breaks. He even reads between meetings as he walks across Microsoft’s Seattle campus, where he works as a program manager.

Before he tried it, he wondered whether reading in snippets might be dissatisfying. But to his surprise, he found he could quickly re-immerse himself in the book he was reading. “I want reading to be part of my life,” said Mr. Vestal, age 35. “If I waited for the kind of time I used to have—sitting down for five hours—I wouldn’t read at all.”

Continue reading:

Thursday, September 10, 2015

[Link] The Myth of The Lazy Writer

By Hugh Howey

The hardest part of getting a book published is the actual writing. All it takes to see this is the number of people who dream of publishing a book but never manage to hammer out a rough draft. I spent 20 years trying to write my first novel before I finally pulled it off. It’s not unusual for an aspiring writer to struggle for years and never produce a finished product to submit to agents or editors.

Once the hard part is done and a draft is written, there are two basic routes a writer can take. Much ink has been spilled over the past few years about the rise of self-publishing—even though the route predates Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin. To self-publish requires hiring cover artists, editors, and typesetters or learning to do these things on one’s own. The difficult task of emailing a cover artist to hire her services is often used to frighten authors away from self-publishing. That’s because there’s a myth that authors are lazy, and a myth that some authors merely write for a living. No such creature has ever existed.

Continue reading:

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Nugget #58 -- Suspense and Tension

"Suspense comes from tension. Tension comes from knots in your gut.
Knots in your gut come from caring, really caring, about that poor mug
who is about to take two slugs in the back of his head if he doesn't turn
around and realize the damn killer is standing right be-freakin'-hind him!"

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

My First Novel

by Paul Bishop

Ed Gorman has featured me on his blog with a ripping tale about writing my first novel, Citadel Run (a.k.a. Hot Pursuit in the current e-book version).  With the pending publication of my latest cop novel, Lie Cathers, it was a little strange to go back and think about the process of beginning my writing career, but also somewhat cathartic...


Technically, my first novel was a title in the Diamondback series of adult westerns. Written under the house pseudonym Pike Bishop, the series of paperback originals was created by Raymond Obstfeld and published by Pinnacle. My entry was Diamondback #6: Shroud of Vengeance. It featured plenty of six-gun and sagebrush action built around the two required explicit sex scenes – the raison d’etre for the very existence of the successful adult western genre.

I would never disparage the genre or disavow my connection to it, but despite my gratitude to Ray Obstfeld for taking a chance on a novice, and the coolness of the Pike Bishop pseudonym echoing my name, I actually consider Citadel Run to be my first novel – I created the characters, the plot was uniquely mine, there were no required sex scenes to wedge in, and my real name was right there on the covers of both the hardback and the paperback.

To understand how Citadel Run evolved, I need to digress. In 1977, I joined the Los Angeles Police Department. As I moved from uniformed patrol to the detective squad, I  still pursued my writing aspirations on the side. For most writers, life necessitates another career – one that pays the bills, provides health insurance, and has all the other perks of a real job.

Still, I’ve always considered myself a very lucky guy being able juggle two careers and doing the work I enjoy – putting villains in jail and putting words on paper. One career is a lot more dangerous, but it is also a lot more financially secure. I spent thirty-five years with the LAPD. For thirty of those years, I also worked as a professional writer, completing twelve published novels, multiple hours of episodic television, and a produced feature film.

Police and detective work often fed my creative muse, but there were also many times the creativity I honed as a writer led to a breakthrough in a case.

Originally published at:

Monday, September 7, 2015

It's good to be back!

Sorry for the radio silence lately, but I've been in "nose to the grindstone" mode to knock out a novel by deadline. But said novel is done, and I'll make announcements about it as soon as I am freed up to do so by the publisher. Suffice it to say, it'll be an action-packed supernatural romp with a final blowout on a train!

Anyway, lots of great stuff planned and programmed for the blog so thanks for sticking around and waiting for me.

You're the best!