Author Interview Sixty-Four – Donny Swords – Fantasy/Horror


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Welcome to Donny Swords

Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born in Puyallup, Washington.  I currently live in Glendale Arizona.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I like swords and sorcery.  A lot of my stories fall in that category- except I love horror, therefore all my books have a dark fantasy/thriller/horror feel to them.  I try to write in a way that provokes emotion, and I “don’t pull punches” as Seth Lindberg put it.  I do not write gore for the sake of gore, or violence for the sake of violence, but it’s in there and it can get frightfully dark.  When you read my novels expect it- I like to take the reader on a ride when I can, like a roller coaster, emotionally speaking.  I want them to see what I see, feel what I feel.  If it’s funny I attempt to convey humour in an accessible manner.  If its horror, I want them to lose sleep.

Where do you find inspiration? Everywhere.  The crazy life I’ve lived…

Do you have a favourite character? (The Vampire Faus)- star of my yet to be released novel Dragon Stone.

If so why? She has everything.  She is smart, but makes foolish errors.  She is tactful, but often abrasive as well.  She is compassionate, but she can be as tough as nails if it is required of her.  She cares.  She does what is right- She is a vampire- who possesses more humanity than mortals do.

Oh and she can really prevail- think Conan- with teeth, but mystical.

Do you have a character you dislike? Stefan, from my novel Ways of the Stygia- Fallen Song

If so why? Stefan is a vampire lord with the ability to compel his subjects to the point that they have no wills of their own.  His “Empire” is a loathsome, despicable place where humans are separated into three groups- breeders- workers- and guards.  Deaths are dealt daily in Savishelm.  I could go on, but I won’t…

Are your characters based on real people? Yeah- mostly myself- distorted by lies and fiction.  In my story “Boots” from The Indie Collaboration’s collection, Summer Shorts- that character is decidedly me, and that story is less fictional than one might think…

Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? No.  Though I use traits I despise to build my foulest characters and then I kill them off.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? For the Vampire Faus, I did a ton of research on Carthage and the Second Punic War, most of which was left unused, but it helped me get the feel for 200 B.C. so that I could then twist it to suit me.  I did a ton of research for a book I wrote 15 years before Fallen Song, but that typed manuscript met with the fire pit, via an angry ex-girlfriend.

Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? I do, but I’d rather wing it.  The resources depend on the research, the internet, the library- speaking with the right people- movies…

Is there a message conveyed within your writing? Yes.  Shadows are stretching out over society and we need heroes to bring us light.  Of course, heroes come in all forms.

Do you feel this is important in a book? No. Engaging the reader is most important.

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) Uh. That’s the order.  I like deep characters.  In any Ways of the Stygia novel, a character might end up in several realms, seven actually- Quantanost, Havendell, Purgatory, the Barrens, the Fringe, the Underworld, or Earth. So the characters have to be malleable to their environments…

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? Print and eBooks.  I am planning an audio release of The Bitter Ends series.

Do you self-edit? It’s 50-50. I have an editor, Jennifer Herring, who is doing my books for now on.  She’s the editor for The Bitter Ends- and Ways of the Stygia- Banner.

If so why is that the case? Because I operate on a tight budget and Both Ways of the Stygia- Fallen Song, and my Sept 19, 2014 release, Cult of Morgod have huge word counts.

Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? Fallen Song didn’t- the rough- mistake filled first eBook sold a ton of copies- the more polished revision I slaved over for three months did less.  A book suffers if the writer’s prose is rough- or weak.  If the plot and characters fail to entice the reader… A mistake is not the end of the world.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Yes.

Why do you think this might be? Because everyone thinks they can write- but I digress.  You cannot write if you haven’t lived.  Because quality is up and down across the board.  Some do it as a hobby, and others shouldn’t at all.  It’s a shame that the good ones sometimes get lost in the shuffle.

Do you read work by self-published authors? Quite often.  Some of them really resonate with me- You (A.L. Butcher) are one of them, I really want to read Shane Porteous’ novel and I was just stunned by Jesse Duckworth’s story in Nine Heroes.  When I get done researching the Hell series, I want to read these authors more.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? Don’t- unless it is to say thank you.

How important are reviews? More important for the sake of website algorithms and from a marketing standpoint than they used to be.  So, very. But they are harder to get than a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow.

When buying a book do you read the reviews? No.  I buy what interests me.  I read the samples though.

What are your views on authors reviewing other authors? I do it.  It helps, though some of them are quite disingenuous.  I don’t care who you are, read the whole book, then post a review.  Don’t read less than 10% and bag on somebody’s hard work.  If it sucks that bad- stop reading, but let the artist be.  On the other hand post an honest review.  Have some integrity, and treat the work fairly.  I have read a few books this year that I genuinely did not care for, but I look for merit where I can find it and focus on that.  If it’s a 3 star or less book, I don’t bother posting a review.  I have too little time to finish reading the book, let alone review it.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? You get to hear the characters thoughts, there’s an intimacy involved in this that cannot be conveyed properly in other mediums- except perhaps in audiobook.  The Sacred Band is an example of the powers of top-notch literature expressed through voice… I wish I could do what Chris Morris did there, but my pronunciation is not up to par.

What advice would you give to new writers? Read.  Keep writing.  Edit yourself.  Get feedback.  Don’t buy into trends, write for real.  Read more.

What are your best marketing/networking tips? Keep going- don’t give up.

What are your worst? Don’t talk smack on social media posts- although I have done this, it isn’t endearing.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Heroic Fantasy’s Nine Heroes.  (My review)

Did you enjoy it? Loved it.

Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? This is a tie between Robert E. Howard and Clive Barker.

And your favourite indie/self-published author? Hmmn… I’m going to have to say you, even though I am just at the halfway mark of the Light Beyond the Shadows Chronicles.  I have enjoyed all the stories you put into our Indie Collaboration books.

What are your views on authors offering free books? Sure, go ahead, knock yourselves out.  However, I don’t think any of my free stuff is really helping me get sales or reviews.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I first shaved my head to get into a Seattle Mariners game free on “Jay Buhner” day.  I looked in the mirror and thought, I’m keeping it this way.  I’ve never grown my hair out since.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

All things Donny Swords

Donny Swords author (Facebook)  (Blog)

Primal Publications (Facebook)  (Blog)

The Indie Collaboration (web)

Novels & Links:

The Bitter Ends

Somewhere in the Bible Belt Gateway has gone insane.  Who knew what would come?  Thrust into the end of times, Gateway’s citizens attempt to outrun the zombie outbreak…
Discover 12 unique stories, and see how Gateway’s main cast fares against the deadheads.  See how they live.  Watch lives expire and people become heroes or villains.  The Bitter Ends is more than just a book about zombies.  It is about the characters, like Anna.  It is seeing what ordinary people might do in a zombie apocalypse and unordinary ones too.
Will any of them survive?  Or Will They All Meet Their Bitter Ends?

(Amazon)  (Facebook)  (iBooks)  (B&N)  (Kobo)

Ways of the Stygia (Facebook

Ways of the Stygia- Cult of Morgod  (Book 1)  Releases September 19th 2014

Destruction.  To see something destroyed, gone.  None can deny its appeal.  To the abyss, nothing is forever.  To the World-Eater creation is flawed… Flesh is weak.  Souls are fodder- fuel.  Power is endless.  The Stygia grants unlimited strength to the daring… Slavery and death are a means to an end…  For Morgod , everything must burn.  Ruination must reign immaculate.

Heroes come in many forms.  For who is truly evil?  There are shades of light and dark.  Left with two choices, survival or total annihilation, the cosmos displays signs of harmony…

They face a common foe.

Ways of the Stygia- Fallen Song  (Book 2)

Thomas Van Pelt lived a normal life. On one dreary raining evening that all changed. His work as a CSI investigator had led him to yet another crime scene, and there, prompted by his primal senses he discovered the ancient artifact that would that day forward alter his own life and the fate of the universe itself. The ancient weapon Fallen Song summons Thomas, and reawakens his forgotten past. He embarks on his new calling- bringing justice to the guilty, the ones who would otherwise remain free to perpetrate their vile acts on the unsuspecting.

Thomas is reunited with past allies and embarks on an epic adventure involving demons, necromancers, deities, vampires, sorcerers and the terrorists of Purgatory itself, the night stalker. Get pulled away to new lands, terrible enough to cost you sleep and see what ends Thomas will go to in his quest to bring a new era of light to an ailing universe. Ways of the Stygia- Fallen Song is intended for mature audiences. (Facebook)  (.99 Nook)  (B&N)  ( Amazon)  (.99 Kobo)


Ways of the Stygia- Banner  (Character Novella 1)   In Purgatory, there is one law.  It is damnation.  The abyss plots as the gods use its powers to suit themselves.  Born of the void, to the hostile landscapes of Purgatory, not as a child, and not as a man, Banner must overcome his roots.  The realm of Purgatory does not forgive so easily, suffering is ceaseless.  It is a realm where death grants rebirth so suffering can begin anew.  Those of his race are bred killers, evil, and cold to their marrows.  Banner, a night stalker set apart from his peers in extremity faces an uncertain future as he attempts to leave Purgatory and the nightmares behind.
He cannot do it alone…  (B&N)  (Amazon)


All books by the Indie Collaboration are Free on Smashwords across all e-reader platforms.

The Indie Collaboration Presents:

Snips, Snails, & Puppy Dog Tales

(The Wacky Adventures of Bob & Dill, Case of the Missing Ghost & Barracuda Blast by D. Swords)

Summer Shorts

(Boots by Donny Swords)

Spectacular Tales

(Sparks by Donny Swords)

Tales from Darker Places

Releases October 25th, 2013

3 stories by Donny Swords

Coming Soon:

Ways of the Stygia – Cult of Morgod- Street date September 19, 2014

The Bitter Ends – Other Side of Town- Tentative street date Oct 25th, 2014

7 Slices – November 2014

Cult of Morgod 300dpi Donny swords art 1 donny swords art 2

Poets in Hell on Black Gate: The Good, the Damned, and the Ugly truth about Poets in Hell…


A great article from the Sacred Bander.

Originally posted on sacredbander:

How I Lost My Soul and Learned to Love Hell

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014 | Posted by Joe Bonadonna

Poets in Hell-smallAs many readers of Black Gate no doubt know by now, I have previously reviewed the shared-universe anthologies Lawyers in HellRogues in Hell and Dreamers in Hell, all edited by Janet Morris and Chris Morris.

Well, this time out, with Janet’s help, I am going to do something a little different for Poets in Hell, the 17th volume in the highly-acclaimed, award-winning, and very successful Heroes in Hell (HIH)series, what I like to call The Eternal Infernal Saga. Let me first give you a little back story, a little history as to how I, unplanned and undreamed, found myself wandering through the circles and levels of Hell.

A couple years ago I was asked by my friend and fellow author, Bruce Durham, if I…

View original 2,885 more words

Audio Book Narrator Interview one – Chris Morris


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As part of the interviews discussing all parts of reading, writing and enjoying great books today something new. Audio books.  Audio books have been around for ages – I have copies on cassette tape (yes remember those?) and one on CD but now most are MP3 and far easier to listen to than having to change the tape every 30 minutes!

As the first of these interviews I am very pleased to welcome Chris Morris, author, musician and audio book narrator.

Welcome to Christopher Crosby Morris

Tell us a bit about yourself: I am all about sound. Most of us can hear farther than we can see and have deep sound vocabularies we seldom consciously bring to bear in appreciating more of all that goes on in our lives. My mission is to wake people to the enhanced quality of life available through fully developed hearing.

How did you become involved with audio book narration and production? We read aloud as part of our writing process, often repeatedly, until our prose is properly voiced. Telling stories, whether in prose or song, is a listening sport. To be able to produce our written works in audio versions completes our audience’s spectrum of storytelling accessibility and for many provides a more profound experience than reading. Plus, I know the sorts of nuance each character brings and can impart something of what they’re like at the nonverbal level.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? At some time or other I’ve read our entire catalogue aloud, rehearsing you might say. My favourite is I, the Sun, which is next up in our production queue.

Do you have a preferred genre?  Do you have a genre you do not produce? Why is this? I prefer heroic fiction. I do not/will not read dystopian material because it stifles growth of character, which is our destiny.

What are you working on at present/just finished? At the moment I’m reading Roy Mauritsen’s Shards of the Glass Slipper: Queen Cinder. I’m narrating it as I read it for the first time, so it had better be heroic or I won’t read the next one.

Tell us about your process for narrating?  I read a chapter at a time on my Kindle Fire HD. I review the day’s material and highlight the names of the speakers to avoid mixing them up on the fly. I record in Adobe Audition and, when I misspeak, pause a moment, press the ‘M’ key to leave a marker, then immediately read the passage again and continue; I find it easier to go back later and edit at the marker points than to stop the bus, excise the offending bit, and then punch in to begin again; it’s about flow and rapport and technical interruptions can quickly degrade one’s performance.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable?  A point comes when I disappear and the story takes over, although I’m emotionally immersive and a section fraught with feeling can throw me off centre enough to leak into the voice and one has to stop and regroup at such a point; I’m steeling myself to deal with some of the death scenes in I, the Sun. So what’s enjoyable is being the voice of moments that transcend considerations of normalcy and possess the scope to portray extraordinary circumstances to the audience.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? If not why is this? Yes.

Do you listen to audio books? I listen to anything narrated by Derek Jacobi or Jeremy Irons; I also admire Alex Hyde-White’s narrations.

With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? Yes. But see below..

Why do you think audio books are becoming so popular? Audio storytelling, rather than being something new, is returning to us something very old in our DNA, the wonderment of gathering to hear a voice fill the darkness and elicit our participation in a tale as we imagine what we hear. All the world’s cultures need this very much now. The spoken word is primal in its power to involve us and, properly uttered, humbly magnificent, the grandparent of our better selves.

Can you remember the first audio book you owned? Jiminy Cricket (Cliff Edwards) narrating the Adventures of Pinocchio.

If you are an author, do you produce your own audiobooks or do you prefer to look for an independent narrator? Why have you made this choice? Before committing to produce our own audio books we signed up on the ACX site and began sampling the narrator talent there, which is considerable. We engaged Alex Hyde-White and David Kudler, both of whom gave us singular performances of shorter works and were supportive when I mentioned I’d like to give narration a go.

What I bring to narration is musicality. Good singers proceed from a natural speaking voice to the edges of register, tone, and volume their rendition of a piece requires; narration is similar but with the added consideration that one’s ‘piece’ is a lot longer than the average song and that ‘guest voices’ have to be incorporated into the narrator’s own. Listening to others sing my book pushed me right over the cliff.

By the time I finished my first run through of The Sacred Band, I had learned to produce an anchor voice – a centre sound – to carry all the exposition and yet have enough scope to inflect humour or suspense and other tensions when called for. We all have this ability and developing it is my lifelong fascination.

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) So far so good. What I like most about ACX is the amount of homework they’ve done to address the needs of all the parties to a production. Since the audio book form is newly resurgent there isn’t the lore or fading dominance of crumbling “big houses” of audio book publishing – they’ve simply never existed – and ACX has a band of brothers feel to it at the moment that I like. Hope it lasts.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book? Not really. You do learn very quickly what your articulation preferences are. Glottal stops are unacceptable. Regional dialectics wear thin rapidly. Vocal caricaturization, if I may coin a term, or cutesy voices drive me straight into the arms of my nearest dog.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I always wanted to be lanky.

Where can we hear your audiobook? You can hear a free sample of my new audiobook, The Sacred Band, written by Janet morris and Chris Morris and narrated by Christopher Crosby Morris, on at:

What will you be narrating next? After I finish Roy Mauritsen’s Shards of the Glass Slipper: Queen Cinder, I am scheduled to narrate I, the Sun by Janet Morris, Outpassage by Janet Morris and Chris Morris, and then Beyond Sanctuary by Janet Morris.

You are also an accomplished author and prose editor. Where can find books you’ve edited, and some of your books and stories? I have many published stories. Some of my most recent short fictions appear in the following anthologies, some of which I edited. [These links are for Amazon Kindle, but most titles are also available in trade paper on Amazon, and in electronic editions on Nook as well as Kindle.)

Lawyers in Hell

Rogues in Hell

Dreamers in Hell

Poets in Hell

My novels co-written with Janet Morris are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble in Kindle, Nook, and trade paper editions.  They include but are not limited to:

Where can we learn more about you?

My music is very important to me. Because you asked how to learn more about me, I recommend you sample my most recent album, available as MP3 Music and on CD at Amazon:

You can hear more of my music on:

You may read about my history and see my bibliography at:

Social Media links for Chris Morris (Christopher Crosby Morris):

For other interviews with Chris and Janet and their characters please look here:

Sacred Band

Hell Week

Author Interview Number Sixty-Three – James G Pearson


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Welcome to James G Pearson

Where are you from and where do you live now? I’m a UK based author residing in the beach-side town of Brighton.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I’m a fantasy author that’s currently writing a series called The Kingmaker Saga. I suppose most people would call them fantasy with a mix of thriller. I like to keep readers on their toes.

Where do you find inspiration? I take particular inspiration from the Norse and Viking mythology and their ways. But generally I find inspiration in the codes and warriors of many different nations and incorporate several of them into my story.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? I have several favourite characters, but if I had to pick one it would be a man called Carrick Belhound. I won’t spoil it, but he’s a villain and incredibly fun to write.

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? I do have a character I disliked. I just couldn’t find a true purpose for him and something just fell flat. In the end I used him as cannon fodder. But his death wasn’t in vain.

Are your characters based on real people? I have one or two that are based on real people. But I like to exaggerate certain traits to make them come to life.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? Research has been key to some of my settings and even down to names. I spend probably a quarter of my writing time preparing my research so I can be authentic enough when I need to describe something. The power of Google is what helps me find everything I need from ship sections to castle names, translations of Old High Germanic and Old Norse.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? Currently my books are in paperback through Createspace and also on Kindle. I have thought about moving to audio books but I have to look into it.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? Self-published authors are viewed completely differently. It’s hard for an indie author to make a name for themselves these days without a significant amount of luck and hard work. I think this is because we, as indie authors, haven’t got the budgets to push our names out there and get the reviews with the big newspapers. Which is why we do blog tours to try and get our names out there.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I’ve nearly finished Blood Song by Anthony Ryan, another fantasy author based in the UK. He was an indie author who got picked up with a traditional publisher after a series of fortunate events. I’m looking forward to reading the next one in his series as it hooked me from the beginning.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

Amazon UK Kindle book:

Amazon US Kindle book:

Author Website





Author Interview Number Sixty-Two – A.L Butcher – Fantasy/Fantasy Romance/Erotica


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Welcome to A.L Butcher, also writing as Alexandra. OK so this is a bit self-serving as it is my blog but perhaps it is time my readers get to know me a bit better.

Where are you from and where do you live now? I grew up in the South East of the UK, in a small town and I now live in Bristol, which is in the South West. I moved as I studied Politics and Sociology at university in Bristol and as I now work there never left.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I write fantasy and fantasy romance with a hint of erotica. To date I have two novels – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book I and The Shining Citadel, which is book II of the series. I am working on book III. I also have Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends, which features five fantasy tales in the form of mythic tales set in the same world, this is also available in audio.

I have poetry in a number of anthologies and some to come out in the next few weeks. I also have short stories in a number of other publications. The poetry doesn’t often get an airing, if I am honest but it is good that people enjoy it.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? I like research, but it is easy to get lost in it all and half the time I’ll go off and look up something not strictly relevant. Although fantasy allows for quite a lot of creative scope I do think there are some aspects which really need to be researched, such as weapon and armour usage, terrain, food, herbalism and defence. For The Shining Citadel I researched swamp and mountain terrain, flora and fauna, whether salamander is edible, medieval weapon use and herbs used in healing. For my current book I researched mythic creatures, herbs, horsemanship and fishing.

I think accuracy is important, as is consistency. I hate reading a book where something is simply implausible, or plain wrong.  If a writer changes something for his or her world, fair enough but they need to justify how that thing now works and stick to it.

Resources are predominately the internet, Culpeper’s Complete Herbal, another herblore book, various books on medieval warfare and weaponry which we have in the house and the Mythic Scribes website, which often has good advice. I read a lot of history and have a background in Classical Studies so all off that helps. It is also great to research story-telling itself. Homer and the Greek classics, Roman mythology, Nordic tales, and sometimes further afield. People have been telling stories as long as humans have been sitting around a fire, sometimes to explain and sometimes to amuse.  Creativity is goes hand in hand with humanity; humans need stories, the ability to escape and to understand the world and often this curiosity leads to more – to science and the sharing of knowledge.

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) Great characters, great world-building, solid plot, technically perfect. I hate books with weak characters and world building. If I don’t care about the characters I am reading about I don’t give a stuff what they do. I’ve read several books where the plot was a bit weak but the characters were fun enough that it didn’t matter. Typos and poorly written books are not just in the indie market – I read a book by a well-known crime author with 5 typos in the first few pages and she was traditionally published. I am not saying that is right, but I am saying it happens a lot and not just to indies despite what many people think. I’m fairly forgiving so a few misplaced commas or a stray typo will not make me stop reading but terrible characters or a distinct lack of world building will. That said ideally a book should be the best it can be. I have also read plenty of books with errors – did the errors reduce the reading experience? Yes if they were too bad.

I also appreciate within the indie market that many authors work within a very small budget and although not ideal I’d rather have a cracking story with one or two issues than a technically perfect book with no soul. There are a few of those around.  That said I have seen indie books which are so bad as to be unreadable.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason?

The Light Beyond the Storm – Book I is available as an e-book on all the major online retailers and in print on Amazon, Createspace and Barnes and Noble, it is also available in large print. Hopefully next year I may pursue it as an audio.

The Shining Citadel is available in all the above except large print (as it is too big and I’ll have to split it in half) and audio.

Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends is available as an e-book and audio.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? Yes, certainly. I think there is quite a lot of prejudice against indie authors. Why? Because some indie books are badly written, badly formatted and badly edited. Unfortunately once stung by a book like this many readers will assume all indie/SPA books are like this, which isn’t the case. Trad pubbed books are not necessarily well written, but are generally edited and formatted correctly.  Some readers seem to think that a writer self-publishes because he or she has been rejected by a ‘real’ publisher. Whilst this is certainly the case for some, and I am not saying their books are substandard they are just not what the publisher wants at that time, it is not the case for all. Many authors like the freedom self-publishing brings, including a better royalty rate (generally) and fewer deadlines. It also depends what an author wants from his or her book. Is it a case that he or she wants to publish for a smaller audience, or isn’t so bothered about sales figures? In this case self-publishing might work quite well. Hopefully as the great Indie and self-published books are recognised the division will diminish.

Do you read work by self-published authors? Of course, I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t. I buy a lot of books and these days more than 50% of my purchases are self-published. Some are good, some aren’t – the same as trad pubbed.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? Don’t. Generally authors commenting on reviews, particularly negative ones is bad and will lead to far worse. Reviews are a reader’s opinion – nothing more and there will always be someone who doesn’t like the book, for whatever reason. Look on Amazon at the reviews and I’ll bet most books have a mix. Yes the review might not say what the author wishes it said but reviews are for readers and people review in many different ways and for different reasons.  This is particularly the case on Good Reads, there are a lot of reviewers there and many are extremely active. An ‘author behaving badly’ will only get him or herself in more hot water by bitching. Remember on the internet once something is said it can be very difficult to take it back, and it is likely to end up on someone’s blog, Facebook or wherever.  Unless the review is personally spiteful or racist etc. I’d say let it go, if it is personally abusive then report it to the correct moderators.  Most readers will pick and choose which reviews they take into account and an obvious hate-review will be just that – obvious but the flip side is those same readers are likely to notice an author getting upset/angry in the comments.

How important are reviews? I wish I knew. Personally not that important as I tend to make the choice to buy a book on other factors but good reviews certainly can’t hurt and I know there are several book promotion sites that won’t even consider a book with less than 50 reviews. Because reviews are so varied and posted for so many reasons I am not convinced they are vital. Many disagree.

What are your reviews on authors reviewing other authors? I have no problem with it, if the review is genuine. Most authors are also avid readers and so why shouldn’t they. Yes sometimes there is a ‘If you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours’ type of attitude, which I am not keen on. When I review I’ll try and be honest. I don’t often find books I don’t like but it does happen. I’ll try and find something positive – good characterisation, a touch of humour but I will say what I don’t like, including if it is badly written.  I tend not to be bitchy, as I am not that sort of person but I do think saying a book is wonderful when I don’t think it is won’t help anyone – not the author and not other readers.  I can separate being an author and being a reader.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? So I am a bit of a nerd, I do enjoy playing PC games, especially fantasy based ones such as Dragon Age and Skyrim but I do tend to think even the immersive ones are fairly linear.  I like to imagine the world, the characters and such like in a book and I live the vivid descriptions which often don’t appear in a game. A book is truly immersive. I watch a lot of films, but again the people and the settings are laid out for the viewer and less imagination is involved.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?

Keep writing.

Be realistic – you are unlikely to be a best seller overnight.

Read the FAQ/TOS and the small print. Please!

What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst? Hmmm. Best – I suppose author interviews, both giving and receiving. It helps to build a network and authors generally are a helpful and reciprocal lot – readers like to know about an author. Also I use Facebook a lot, but it helps to check out what the promotional rules are for particular groups and don’t just spam your book, interact, hang out, post other stuff.

Worst –Twitter but that is probably because I don’t know the best way to utilise it. Personally it seems like a constant stream with no conversation or interaction and I, personally, have never bought a book via Twitter, although I have clicked on article links. I do know quite a few people who have a lot of success on Twitter – how I have no clue.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it?

The Tripods trilogy. I loved these books when I was younger and so this is a great journey back to my younger days.  Before that I read a medieval romance called Creating Memories by Lisa Shea. I have read her work before and enjoyed it. Her heroine was a feisty lass and the love story built slowly with many twists.

I am currently reading a book about Lunacy and Mad-Doctors in Victorian Britain.

Can you name your favourite traditionally published author? And your favourite indie/self-published author? Too many to name, but picking a few – traditionally published – Gaston Leroux, Alexandre Dumas, the Brontes, Bram Stoker, Janet Morris, Tolkien, Agatha Christie, Ellis Peters, Colin Wilson, Terry Pratchett, HG Wells, Jules Verne. Indie/SPA – Walter Rhein, Lisa Shea, Diana Wicker, Janet Morris, JD Hallowell, Ross Harrison, Thaddeus White, Leeland Artra.

What are your views on authors offering free books?   I actually did a blog post on the Mythic Scribes blog last year about this – leading a debate for authors and readers who were for and against this.  My own view – it can work but needs to be handled carefully. Many readers download books BECAUSE they are free and don’t read them. It is not a guaranteed way to get reviews or more readers but it might work for some. As a reader I have read an author’s free book and then bought a follow up. Some readers assume that a free book will be rubbish – or why would it be free? I think it depends what an author expects from a freebie campaign – do they simply want to get their name out there and hope that a few people will take the chance and read the book, then tell their friends? I think exposure is the main reason for offering freebies.  I download free books and I do read them but not as many as I used to.  Smashwords has a useful tool – an author can offer a voucher to discount a book – which is handy for review copy or giveaway prizes. In my view that works better than a generally free book as it is easier to target.

Do you have a favourite movie? I have many, I watch a lot of films. Let me see – in no particular order: Dead Poets Society, Star Wars IV-VI, Schindler’s List, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, Alien et al, Monty Python films, Silent Running, Dune (miniseries), Pale Rider, High Plains Drifter, Jane Eyre, Guardians of the Galaxy, Batman Begins, Dark Knight Rises, Star Dust, Bram Stoker’s Dracula….

Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing? I worked in a kitchen in my student days. I hated it.  The money was diabolical, the hours sucked and some of the other staff were just plain nasty.  I don’t think I learned anything from that job except to respect people in menial jobs – they get a raw deal.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I’m Caulrophobic. I hate puppets too.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

Please see the side bar for links – but here are the main ones:


Light Beyond the Storm Amazon

Shining Citadel Amazon

Nine Heroes

Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends



Newest Release – Spectacular Tales

Greek Mythology: “Aphrodite and Adonis”.-


A bit of Greek Mythology.

Originally posted on La Audacia de Aquiles:

►Greek Mythology: “Aphrodite and Adonis”:



“Venus and Adonis” by Francois Lemyone. (1729).



Aphrodite was the Greek goddess of beauty and love. She was born from the sea foam which was created from Uranus’ severed genitalia being thrown into the sea by Cronus. 

She was married to Hephaestus (Greek God of Fire and Metalworking) so that the other gods would not fight over her. Still, she had several other lovers of which Ares, the god of war, and Adonis were the most relevant.



"Mars and Venus United by Love" by Paolo Veronese. (1570).

“Mars (Ares) and Venus (Aphrodite) United by Love” by Paolo Veronese. (1570).


"Venus and Mars" by Luca Giordano (1760).

“Venus and Mars” by Luca Giordano (1760).


 "Venus (Aphrodite), Mars (Ares), and Vulcan (Hephaestus)" by Jacopo Tintoretto (1551).

“Venus (Aphrodite), Mars (Ares), and Vulcan (Hephaestus)” by Jacopo Tintoretto (1551).



Adonis’s mother was Myrrha, the very beautiful daughter of king Cinyras.

Myrrha’s mother would say that she was even more beautiful than Aphrodite which angered the goddess who cursed Myrrha to fall…

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Le Fanu and the Weird Turn of the Ghost Story

Originally posted on Interesting Literature:

Today is the Sheridan Le Fanu bicentenary: this key figure in the Irish ghost story was born on 28 August 1814. We thought, then, this would be the perfect time to go all ghostly on you. The following facts about the history of the ghost story in the nineteenth century are largely taken from this book, Bewilderments of Vision: Hallucination and Literature, 1880-1914 (Sussex, paperback edition 2014), which, as well as being a rollickingly interesting book (but of course!), is also written by the curator of Interesting Literature, Oliver Tearle.

The earliest mention of ‘ghost-story’ recorded by the Oxford English Dictionary comes from 1824, from a manuscript of Byron’s Don Juan, which mentions ‘Supper, punch, ghost-stories, and such chat’ (which, if nothing else, is the recipe for a fine Friday night). Ghost stories would evolve dramatically over the nineteenth century: after Byron introduced the phrase into the language…

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Book Review: Poets in Hell. Edited by Janet and Chris Morris


Haven’t read this Heroes in Hell yet but as I hosted Hell Week and it is near the top of my reading list I thought to share this lovely review. Congrats all involved with this shared universe. The original and best.

Originally posted on J.P. Wilder:

The stories in this shared-world anthology were exquisitely unique, and filled with all the things I love.

PoetsWhen I first heard this title, I thought, what could possibly be dramatic or thrilling or frightening about poets in hell? I mean really? I had images of Sylvia Plath chasing someone down Hell’s new London streets with a hatchet, or Billy Collins reciting his famed contemporary poetry to me to a hellish backdrop filled with imps and succubi, until I fling myself headlong off the Santa Monica Pier.  But, I respect so many of the authors that contributed to this work that I figured I had to take a read.

I was not disappointed. I should have known.

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3 Simple Ways to Improve Your Writing & Increase Sales


Useful post

Originally posted on Kristen Lamb's Blog:

Image from the movie "Office Space"

Image from the movie “Office Space”

Today, I’m going to give you three ways to instantly improve your writing and sell more books. I’m blessed to have a broad base of experience/expertise which includes corporate consulting and branding. I also spent years in sales and can honestly say, Coffee is for closers. 

What Do You DO?

Last year, I accepted a leviathan project to redo copy for a website and rebrand a struggling company. I first explained my plan and reasoning in a detailed SWOT analysis. The owner was on board and signed off. The existing copy was outdated, bloated, confusing, and failed to appreciate the vast changes in our millennial culture.

I hacked through, reduced as much as possible and reshaped until the site showcased a truly fabulous company. To my horror, the owner came back and wanted me to add a deluge of changes which included mass amounts of extraneous…

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Cover Designer Interview Number Three – Lori Follett


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Hi Lori Follett and welcome to the Library of Erana, please tell us a little about yourself.

1) You are a cover designer, what made you decide to get into this line of work? I have been a freelance graphic designer since 2001 and have always loved books, even more so since e-readers came on the scene and there were so many indie authors out there publishing books themselves.  As I was shopping for books I noticed that so many of them had pretty bad covers, which was an instant turn off to me as a graphic designer.  So, I decided to focus my business on books and author services.  Now, I offer pre made and custom covers, formatting, editing and proofreading, blog design and DIY blog/website hosting, all at low prices so most indie authors can afford them.

2) Can you tell us about some of the covers you’ve designed and authors you’ve worked with? I have worked with J. Thayer McKinney on her Haunting of LaBelle.  I designed the cover, formatted the print and ebook versions and also designed her publishing company’s, Cedar Loft Productions, logo.  I have also worked with Jan Goldie, Chelsea Scott and Sylvain Neuvel, though their books have not been released yet, among others.

3) Can you tell us what is involved? (I have no clue so you can be as elaborate as you like!) Software used – where you source your images, how long a cover takes etc. There is a lot of time involved.  My process starts with clients filling out a lengthy form about their book.  From there, I tend to stew on their descriptions for a while.  Then, I start searching through stock photo sites (I use many, including DeviantArt occasionally, but mostly Shutterstock).  A cover takes anywhere from 3 to 8 hours, or longer if there is a lot of illustration and digital painting involved.  I use a combination of Photoshop, Illustrator and inDesign for my covers with a pen and tablet on a Mac.

4) Where does your inspiration come from? Do you read the book first, then come up with a design, or can you produce something from an author’s description? I ask my authors to provide more than just a back blurb for me, so it comes from their description and from their style and a lot of times just spending an hour or so going through stock sites.

5) What are your thoughts on ‘generic’ covers – such as a sword or throne and skulls for fantasy, or interchangeable torsos for romance? Personally, I am not a fan of them, though I have done a few and have a few available as premades.

6) When you buy a book do you look at the cover first? What else attracts you? What turns you off? The cover is what draws me into a book.  If the cover is poorly done or clearly no thought was put into it, I will not purchase a book.  I figure if so little care is put into the cover, it is likely that little care is put into editing and proofreading.  I cannot read a book that has not been edited or proofed.  It pulls me out the story and makes it painful to read.  lol

7) What advice would you give to anyone starting out in this line of work or who might want to design a cover? I am pretty much just starting out myself, having started this year, though I am building pretty quickly now.  My best advise is to do free work to start with.  Work with authors and show them what you can do before you ask another struggling artist to hand over cash to you.  Another way to showcase your skills to by doing pre made covers.

8) What are your thoughts on sites like Fiverr where people can buy covers cheaply? Do you think they encourage substandard or very generic images? I think they do more of a disservice to designers and buyers than a service.  Our skills are cheapened and you don’t get quality in most cases out them.  I absolutely think they encourage substandard and generic images.  Not much time can possibly be spent on the covers for such little amount of money, nor can it cover the costs involved in creating covers.  There are software costs, stock images cost and time to consider.  Stock image subscriptions are definitely not cheap!

9) Do you have a genre you prefer? Not really, I love aspects of most genres.  I don’t particularly like doing religious covers though.

10) Please tell us about your favourite image and the favourite cover you have worked on? My favorite image hands down was a mermaid for Jan Goldie.  It was actually a pre made cover to begin with.  It was really hard to part with!  I started with a headshot of a young woman with a water splash.  I morphed her into a mermaid and the cover just really came together.  It is the one that has gotten to most comments.  It is now the cover a YA novella called A Mer-Tale.

11) Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I have to have the first spoonful of the just-opened peanut butter jar.  My whole family knows this and makes fun of me for it.  I don’t know what it is, but the smooth top and the fresh peanut butter, it tastes so much better when it’s just opened.  lol


Blog/website links etc.

Wicked Book Covers


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