Adventures in Self-Publishing – Why Write for Anthologies – Part 1

 

Why write for anthologies? Part 1

The first anthology I became involved with was A Splendid Salmagundi – put together from the UK based Goodreads group. They’d done one the year before and had some success with it. The royalties were fed back into the group for various uses – promotion and get-togethers for example. That wasn’t the point, however – it was a good way to get an author’s work in front of a new set of readers. Salmagundi was a mixed genre book – with everything from fantasy, to romance, to sci-fi, to mystery and beyond. I remember reading a heartbreaking story about a woman who was suffering from an incurable illness, and the tenderness her husband showed. That story touched me profoundly, as it wasn’t long after my own mother passed away. I cried. Some of the stories made me laugh, some I wasn’t as bothered with, but all were well crafted, and gave a good insight into the author’s style.

Not all the stories were for everyone – it depends on the reader’s tastes but there was bound to be something enjoyable, and that’s the point. A reader may take a chance of a short story from an author they aren’t familiar with – and enjoy their work.

Several groups write anthologies for charity – A Fifth of Boo! for example. I became involved with this one, and it’s predecessor through a writers’ Facebook Group. I usually see at least one anthology asking for submissions every couple of months. Now it’s not guaranteed your story would be accepted – some of the anthos have strict guidelines – but it’s worth a try.

For Boo! I wrote a ghost story based around the mysterious bunker at the site where I work.  It was a story wanting to be written every time I walked past that damn building. It is good fun to get involved with a genre outside my normal fantasy writing. It’s also great writing practice. Anthologies are a great way to find a home for those stories which pop up at 3am and don’t have a place in the main body of your work.

Single shorts are a hard sell – especially very short ones – after all, are you, a reader, going to pay 99p or 99c for a 500-word story? Probably not. You might pay for a collection of stories, however. And thus find a new author.

There is definitely a knack to writing shorts – after all the author has to introduce the characters and the world, get the action going and then conclude within a relatively short space. No flowery descriptions there, or protracted scenes.  I’ve read some super shorts and some crap ones, but that’s the same for novels. That said, I’m far more likely to persevere with a short than a novel I am not enjoying. There will be a post of writing short stories at a later date.

Anthologies are a great lunchtime read, or on the bus, or the half hour before sleep, or even on the toilet! All those times when a reader has a few minutes but not enough to get really involved.

Finding Anthologies

The places I’ve found anthologies:

Goodreads author groups, Facebook Groups (either via links or directly through the groups), word of mouth. Networking is a must for indie authors, and once you build these relationships it’s far easier to find this information. Indies tend to be supportive, but also needy (in the nicest way – it goes with the territory) and are often looking for people to join anthologies. Ask in groups, check online.

https://www.authorspublish.com

https://thejohnfox.com/publishers-of-short-story-collections/

https://www.mywordpublishing.com/2017/08/first-time-writers-self-publish-anthology/

https://www.janefriedman.com/getting-an-anthology-published/

 

 

 

 

 

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Eclectica – Short Story Bundle – On Preorder Now

Eclectica A Short Story Bundle

On Preorder – available from 13th April 2019.

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From fantasy to space adventure, pirates, mystery, horror, historical fiction, romance and coming of age you’ll find short, snappy reads herein. There is something for everyone in this lucky dip.

19 short stories and collections from multiple authors.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07NWQ4YTP/?tag=kydala-20

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07NWQ4YTP/?tag=kydala-20

https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/eclectica-1

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/id1458246383

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/books/1131078746

https://bundlerabbit.com/b/eclectica

Blown – Diana Deverell

Socks and Pins and Aliens – Thea Hutcheson

Tales of Blood and Ink – Kate MacLeod

Tales of Tomorrow – Debbie Mumford

Shaken, Not Stirred: A Dawna Shepherd Short Story – Diana Deverell

City Shadows – Chuck Heintzelman

Outside the Walls – A.L. Butcher and Diana L. Wicker

Tales of an Altered Past Powered by Romance, Horror, and Steam – Donald J. Bingle

Dear Brother – Felicia Fredlund

The Cache and Other Stories – Sherry D Ramsey

Sword Oath – Jackie Keswick

The Hooded Man – Barbara G. Tarn

S F & H – Harvey Stanbrough

Resonant Bronze – J.M. Ney-Grimm

Hitomi’s Path – M.L. Buchman

Children – Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Jhyoti Planetside – Marcelle Dube

Petra and the Blue Goo – Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Tears and Crimson Velvet – A. L. Butcher



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The Watcher – Spotlight – now in Audio

The year is 1888, and the place is Whitechapel, in the very heart of London. But the heart is bleeding. A mysterious killer is stalking women of the streets – his true name is unknown but his legend will go down in history. This is a short tale of Jack the Ripper.

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18 rating for scenes of violence.

https://www.books2read.com/TheWatcherJTR

Amazon UK http://amzn.to/2xdkprc

Amazon.com http://amzn.to/2v6EUsb

Smashwords  http://bit.ly/2xtps6k

Barnes and Noble http://bit.ly/2v6xDZs

Kobo http://bit.ly/2v6zoG6

I-books

Bundle Rabbit https://bundlerabbit.com/products/detail/the-watcher

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Audio – narrated by Matt Jenkins

Amazon UK audio

https://amzn.to/2xxI86q

Amazon Audio

https://amzn.to/2DpJSoG

Audible.Com

Audible.co.uk

 

Echoes of a Song – Spotlight

Echoes of a Song – A Legacy of the Mask Tale is now available as an audio edition – to celebrate here’s a spotlight!

Synopsis

A dozen tumultuous years after the dramatic events at the Paris Opera House Raoul, Comte de Chagny is still haunted by the mysterious Opera Ghost – the creature of legend who held staff at the Opera House under his thrall, kidnapped Raoul’s lover and murdered his brother. In Raoul’s troubled imagination the ghosts of the past are everywhere, and a strange and powerful music still calls in his dreams.

Madness, obsession and the legacy of the past weave their spell in this short, tragic tale based on the Phantom of the Opera.

Excerpt 1

(c) A. L. Butcher

The Angel of Death stalked the De Chagny’s so the whispers said. Maybe it was true. For once the Angel of Death had been a man. A masked man of magic, of music and of murder. The Angel had many names, and many guises; Raoul had once laughed scornfully at Christine’s infatuation with the Angel of Music. But now he understood the terrible bewitchment, for it was his now to bear. This man, this ‘Phantom’, who at once was angel, ghost, maestro, architect, and magician had held them all in his not insubstantial power. Erik – so he called himself – had almost brought the mighty Paris opera house to its knees. Erik’s opera house, so Christine had told him. And in those desperate nights, at least, it had been true.

Raoul pulled out the hidden drawer beneath one of the shelves and read the newspaper – now yellow and faded – as he had every night for three years like a consuming obsession. First the accounts of the ‘accidents’ at the opera: the terrible night the chandelier had fallen killing an employee, the apparent suicide of a stage hand and the murder of one of the foremost tenors. Wild stories abounded about an ‘Opera Ghost’ who’d managed to fool the managers into parting with a fortune, terrified the corps de ballet and whose face was so terrible to behold that any who saw it would die, but who sang with an angel’s voice. The truth was not something that bothered the Paris Tribune too much, but the truth could be strange beyond reason. And the Surete could hardly believe the wild stories of masked men and angry ghosts. They’d searched and asked questions, and considered a cuckolded husband or an angry father, but no perpetrator had been found. The case dwindled into obscurity. Months and years went by and other cases took prominence and now few remembered one death in a city where murder was common and adultery more so. Peering at the faded print in the bad light Raoul found the part he sought in the letters of the city’s more reputable rag.

“Erik is dead,” Raoul said it aloud. Three words. Three words which had haunted him these twelve years.

Echoes of a Song – Universal Link

Amazon .com http://amzn.to/2E7Cdu0

Amazon.co.uk http://amzn.to/2BJwAgk

Print

https://amzn.to/2N0JIbI

https://amzn.to/2Nxki4I

Amazon Audio https://www.amazon.com/Echoes-Song-Legacy-Mask-Book/dp/B07HCKG3WK/

Amazon UK audio https://www.amazon.co.uk/Echoes-Song-Legacy-Mask-Book/dp/B07HCM1624/

Audible UK https://adbl.co/2xlH8Tz

Audible.com https://adbl.co/2MRTQP7

The Secret of Blossom Rise – A Ghost Story

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The Secret of Blossom Rise: A Ghost Story:

 When a young nurse accepts a job at a former military hospital she unearths a family secret and finds the spectral occupants a little too familiar.

A short ghost story.

This will be appearing soon in Here Be Ghosts Bundle.

 

Universal Link

Amazon UK

https://amzn.to/2MUEeim

Amazon.com

https://amzn.to/2wPsVOt

 

Smashwords Summer Sale – UPDATED

I’ve finally managed to load Stolen Tower to Smashwords. It’s also in the sale. Some of the short books are free using the codes in store.

 

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Series Banner

July 1-31st

The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book I 50% off

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/290716?ref=ALB123

Use the code SSW50 

The Shining Citadel – The Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles – Book II  50% off

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/352783?ref=ALB123

Use the code SSW50

 

The Stolen Tower (new release on SW) – 50% off

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/649087?ref=ALB123

Use the code SSW50

 

FREE!!!!
The Kitchen Imps 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/627195

Use the code SFREE at checkout to get this book for free

 

Outside the Walls 

https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/589416

Use the code SFREE at checkout to get this book for free

 

 

Back Catalogue 5 – Tales of Erana Interview

Originally published here: http://www.jeffreycollyer.com/#!Author-Interview-AL-Butcher-Tales-of-Erana-Myths-and-Legends/dr2ze/55b8f04a0cf27acb2d8bddd2

Today I talk to A.L. Butcher, author of the collection of short stories, Tales of Erana:Myths and Legends.

 A. L. Butcher is the British author of the Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles fantasy series, the Tales of Erana series, and several short stories in the fantasy and fantasy romance genres. She is an avid reader and creator of worlds, a poet and a dreamer. When she is grounded in the real world she likes science, natural history, history

 and monkeys. Her work has been described as ‘dark and gritty’ and her poetry as evocative.

 A.L. what made you decide to publish a novel?

 The short stories came from lore and legends created for the world of my novels. They are mythic in style – similar to fairy tales or old-style legends. The original idea for the characters and world came from a mix of an idea I’d had for a while for a fantasy/mythic world and a character I had for a roleplaying game. Put simply I had a head filled with stories which wanted to be born.

Where do you get your inspiration to write?

 Everywhere. Nature, history, myths, and things I read and see. I tend to get bursts of inspiration at the most inconvenient times, like in the bath or at work.

 If you could pick just one phrase from your writings to preserve for future generations, what would it be?

 Magic has its price and that price was war. Other tribes coveted the Relic, gift of the Lady of the Sky, and so fought the tribes of the Jagged Peaks, staining the rock with blood and even poisoning the streams. In the infancy of the world the mortal races were young and foolish. Some remained so.

 Why have you chosen this collection for your spotlight?

 I think the Tales of Erana series is a great way to highlight the world of Erana. I love myths and lore; these focus on the magic, the legends and other more minor characters in the world. I’d love to get more people to read and listen to the Tales of Erana, they are short tales and can easily be read over a lunch break or on the train so are a good introduction both to the fantasy genre and the setting. The lyrical prose reflects a time of fireside storytelling and great heroes.

The novels are more…adult and unsuitable for younger readers.

 

Where did the ideas for these stories come from?

From the lore surrounding the world creation.

Different authors have differing approaches to writing.  Some prepare very detailed plot outlines before they begin on their first draft, while others have a much looser outline and like to see where the story leads them.  What was your approach with Tales of Erana?

 I’m definitely a pantser! I have an overarching plot for the series but the individual books and stories lead me along. For the short stories I usually have a vague idea of what I want but it is vague. Either the story ends up working – or it doesn’t.

Was there any part of the stories that surprised you as it appeared on the screen in front of you? If so, can you tell us about it?

 The ending to Moon on the Water. It’s not an especially happy ending. Essentially it’s a story of war, love and revenge but it started out as a totally different story.

 Some readers of fantasy like end-to-end action, while others prefer a greater emphasis on the personal journey of the main character(s).  Where would the stories in the Tales of Erana sit between these?

 Individual stories range from more action less ‘journey’ to the other way around. Moon on the Water is tale of forbidden magic, love and the war they bring; The Tale of Treyna the Beloved is the story of how the sun and moon became separated in the sky and the arrival of night and day in Erana – basically you could call it a creation myth of sorts. There’s not much action in that one – it’s the ‘journey’ of the elder gods; Storm Born is a lonely mage’s journey to create a companion – and the aftermath; The Legend of Oeliana is a tale of love, vengeance, magic and broken promises – it’s one of the tales which gives hints for later ones; the Blue Phial is a coming of age tale of a young apothecary. Overall I’d say these lean towards more ‘journey’ than action. That said one of the other tales in the series – Tale of Erana: The Warrior’s Curse is pretty much all action.

Are there any underlying messages hidden within the stories (e.g. life lessons, commentary on society, religion, etc) that you’d like to share?

 The world of Erana is a world of myth, magic and monsters. It’s a world where half the population are enslaved, magic is forbidden and the land is run by martial law. There isn’t an intended message, except perhaps hope. There is always someone to fight for those who cannot defend themselves. And the world will be what it will be – despite the people on it.

 Authors can grow quite attached to some of their characters, and sometimes that attachment can be with minor characters who maybe don’t have a big part to play in the novel.  Are there any characters from Tales of Erana who you’d like to explore in more depth?

 In the paperback collection (Tales of Erana: Volume One) we find Coel – an unwilling hero thrust into a situation beyond his control. He is not a bad person, but he does have to do potentially bad and dangerous things – although in the end for a good cause. Coel will appear in a later book/novella. At least I hope so – he’s fun. (He also appears in Nine Heroes.)

And finally, how influential do you think fantasy is in today’s society? 

 I belief it is at the core of our cultures. Western Civilisation has a basis in Ancient Greek and Roman culture, not to mention Nordic, Judeo-Christian and many others. Whether or not one is religious it is easy to see the heroic/mythic/fantasy elements. Example – I’m British, we have St George, several other saints with mythic backgrounds, dragons, fairies and, of course, King Arthur. We have a great tradition of storytelling, and fantasy authors too. From an early I was told fairy tales, fantasy stories about sentient kitchen equipment, and I read CS Lewis, Lewis Carole, and many others.

 Thanks very much for your time A.L. I wish you all the best with your various stories from the world of Erana.

 You can purchase Tales of Erana: Myths and Legends in various formats from the following links:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/

http://www.amazon.com/

https://itunes.apple.com/us/

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/

http://store.kobobooks.com/

And on Audio Book

http://www.audible.com/

http://www.amazon.com/

http://www.audible.co.uk/

http://www.amazon.co.uk/

The Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Tales – New Release

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The Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Talessix short tales of mayhem and mischief.

Naughty imps, missing socks, cunning thieves and baffled gods feature in this collection of short fantasy fiction.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B01DPJ5TQC

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Kitchen-Other-Tales-Fire-Side-Collection-ebook/dp/B01DPJ5TQC/

I’m delighted to announce the release of my latest short story collection. The Kitchen Imps and Other Dark Tales is the first in the Fire-Side Tales Collection of short fantasy for all the family. These fairytale-esque short fiction pieces bring us the Kitchen Imps – a naughty race of beings who inhabit the house, causing mischief where ever they go. Ever wondered where socks go when you wash them? Well the Joy of Socks will answer that age-old mystery.

Some of these tales have appeared in anthologies with the Indie Collaboration or Wyrd Worlds but have been revised and expanded for this collection.

Currently only available on Amazon the Kitchen Imps will appear on the Smashwords associated stores shortly and hopefully as an audio book.

There will be more tales from my favourite little rascals so please watch this space.

Cover image Fluenta@Fotolia.com

 

 

Author Interview Number Ninety-Eight – Dan Buri

Welcome to Dan Buri

Where are you from and where do you live now? I grew up in the Midwest in the States. I moved out to the beautiful Pacific Northwest a little over ten years ago.

Where do you find inspiration? I find inspiration in my everyday life. I think good writers have a unique gift of empathy. They work hard to understand another person’s pains, hopes, dreams and fears. I really try to understand each person that I encounter in my life. These experiences tend to inspire me and seep into my writing.

Are your characters based on real people? I think every character an author creates is based on a real person or an amalgamation of real people. It is just too difficult to not let experiences and biases seep into one’s writing. That being said, I didn’t have a specific person in mind when creating any of the characters in Pieces Like Pottery.

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?This is my first published non-fiction work. It is available in ebook at most large retailer websites right now. I hope we will see it in print next year, but only time will tell.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently than traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? I think this used to be the case without question, but we have seen significant changes in the last 3-to-5 years. Ebooks have done wonders for changing the accessibility of indie authors, both from a publishing standpoint as well as from a readership standpoint. It has become much easier to see your work published than, say, 20 years ago. This has naturally had an effect on what gets published. The big six publishers are large corporations and as much as they aim to focus on creativity and great works, it’s difficult for them because they have thousands of people that work for them and rely on them. So the big six are constantly focused on what will be a commercial success. The irony is that they don’t know what will be a commercial success just like you and I don’t know. What do Harry Potter, A Wrinkle in Time, Gone With the Wind, and Twilight have in common? They were all initially rejected by publishers. They just don’t know what’s going to sell. Indie authors have a little bit of freedom from this. We all want our books to do well commercially of course, but we are also able to take creative chances that a big six publisher might be unwilling to take.

 I think the quality of indie/self-published books has improved immensely too. There is such a high bar for indie authors and we quickly lose the reader’s trust if there are errors or incongruities in our stories. The editing process is so important in avoiding these errors. I don’t have any evidence to back this up, it’s only anecdotal, but it seems like the best self-published ebooks are of a higher quality now than 5-10 years ago. This has helped close the perception gap between indie authors and traditionally published others.

When buying a book do you read the reviews? I do tend to peruse the reviews, but most of what I buy is via recommendations. I keep a list on my phone of all the books that have been recommended to me from people I trust. I’m lucky enough to live blocks from the world’s largest used bookstore—Powell’s City of Books. I just pull out my phone every time I go there and grab a couple selections off of my recommended list.

Do you have any pets? I do not currently have any pets. I have a two-year-old daughter that is allergic to dogs and cats. It’s a little bit heart-breaking because she absolutely loves dogs and cats. We walk through downtown Portland (Oregon) everyday and pet the dogs that walk by. She jumps up and down in excitement. But unfortunately, a pet in the home wouldn’t work well.

Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing? I have had more odd jobs than I can count. I worked maintenance at a high school one summer. One of the tasks was to empty out the 15-year-old water from a boiler in the basement of the school. The only way to empty it was to syphon the water out through a narrow tube, but I had to suck the water up through the tube until it reached the syphon valve that would then automatically start pumping the water out. My co-worker was supposed to tell me when the dirty boiler water reached the valve, but he got distracted. I swallowed a mouthful of that 15-year-old boiler water. Let me tell you, it still makes me queasy to this day. I was heaving and retching for quite awhile after that. I’m not quite sure what I learned from that, though, except that it’s a fairly funny story.

We all have to work tough jobs so we can continue to do what we love—write. I’ve worked a lot of writing jobs too—blogger, ghost writer, research assistant, editor, teacher’s aid, researcher. I didn’t enjoy all of those, but they have all helped me hone my craft in some way.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? When I was younger, I used to play Star Wars with my three older brothers. My oldest brother would be Luke Skywalker. My second oldest brother would be Han Solo. My brother just older than me would be Chewbacca. They would make me be Princess Leia. I have no idea why I couldn’t have been C-3PO or R2-D2 or Lando Calrissian even. They always made me be Princess Leia.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot?Books provide a depth of insight and character development that just isn’t possible in the two-hours that movies offer. I think every one of us has had the experience of seeing a movie you enjoyed only to have a friend say, “Meh. It’s not as good as the book.” We’ve all said this and we’ve all been frustrated when a friend has said it to us. But it’s almost universally true. Movies simply can’t capture that depth in the short amount of time they have with the viewer. Television shows and video games are becoming much closer to the level of detail and depth of insight that books provide, particularly television. This is why I think we’re seeing so many writers and directors gravitate to that medium. It just offers them more freedom to develop complex characters.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? Over the years I have been lucky enough to be offered abundant feedback and to hear excellent commentary from a few creative people that I admire greatly. There are three comments/ideas that have stuck with me throughout all my writing endeavours. (Each of these is summarized in my own words.)

  1. When asked about the fears and doubts that she had with her writing, Elizabeth Gilbert (best selling author of Eat, Pray, Love) said she finally had an epiphany that her “writing muse” was telling her that this isn’t her story. If she doesn’t tell it, she said, then the muse would move on to someone else who will. Ms. Gilbert discussed how freeing this was for her. She was no longer declaring to the reader: “Listen to me. I have something to say.” It was almost as if she had no other choice but to write. This opened her up to write every day without fear of the result.

 

  1. Ira Glass is an American public radio personality and the host and producer of the radio and television show This American Life. He has a great quote for young creatives. In short, he encourages us that our work is not going to be good when we’re first starting out. We may have an excitement for our craft and a killer taste for what’s good, but our execution is poor. The only way to improve your work, the only way to close the gap so that your work is as good as your ambitions, is to do a lot of work. Write. Every day. Every week put yourself on a deadline to write something new. It’s going to take awhile, but that’s normal. Good writing doesn’t come the first time you sit down.

 

  1. Louis C.K. is one of the most thoughtful and innovative comics alive right now. I heard him once speak about his HBO show, Lucky Louie, which was cancelled after one season in 2006. He was asked if he was disappointed with that and if he looked back at it as a failure. His answer was unequivocally: “No.” For him it was just another experience that taught him how to hone his craft, which was invaluable.

 

So those would be my three pieces of (long-winded) advice. One, don’t worry about whether you have anything important to say. If you are inspired, say it. Two, write constantly. You won’t become a good writer unless you’re writing all the time. Three, take every writing experience and use it to hone your craft. Something is not a failure simply because the public doesn’t receive it the way you would like.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I have a new term I like to use—sticky. I use this for books that stick with me well after I’ve completed them and put them down. The characters and themes just keep turning over in my mind. A few sticky books that I’ve read recently:

 The Corrections—Jonathan Franzen

Beautiful Ruins—Jess Walter

Ready Player One—Ernest Cline

Seven Weddings—Matt Miller (yet to be published novel by an indie author)

The Book Thief—Markus Zusak

Book links, website/blog and author links:

http://www.amazon.com/Pieces-Like-Pottery-Stories-Redemption-ebook/dp/B0163NLWDQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1444929057&sr=1-1&keywords=pieces+like+pottery

 

Author Bio

Dan Buri’s first collection of short fiction, Pieces Like Pottery, is an exploration of heartbreak and redemption that announces the arrival of a new American author. His writing is uniquely heartfelt and explores the depths of the human struggle and the human search for meaning in life.

 

Mr. Buri’s non-fiction works have been distributed online and in print, including publications in Pundit Press, Tree, Summit Avenue Review, American Discovery, and TC Huddle. The defunct and very well regarded Buris On The Couch, was a He-Says/She-Says blog musing on the ups and downs of marriage with his wife.

 

Mr. Buri is an active attorney in the Pacific Northwest and has been recognized by Intellectual Asset Magazine as one of the World’s Top 300 Intellectual Property Strategists every year since 2010. He lives in Oregon with his wife and two-year-old daughter.

Author Interview Number Seventy-Five – Lazlo Ferran

Welcome to Lazlo Ferran

Where are you from and where do you live now? I live and work in London.

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etcThat is a difficult question to answer because I don’t feel limited by genres, have never recognised them and my readers have come to expect that I will cross any genre boundary without recognising it. I have published fourteen books; three collections of short stories, two science fiction stories, two occult thrillers, one spooks thriller, one historical epic, one contemporary literary novel in two volumes, one war thriller and now Lotus. The best way to put this is that I look for a story that stimulates me and tests my philosophical limits. If it doesn’t stretch me, I will not be able to engage and excite the reader. Categorising my books is a constant necessity of modern publishing and a challenge for me. I would say that Lotus is a suspense story. But you will have to read it to decide yourself!

Where do you find inspiration? Inspiration most often comes from dissatisfaction with the world, either general or specific but this will be mixed in with my ideals to make a good story because I don’t want to operate on just one level. If I did, I would alienate more readers than I attract. Occasionally, my need to understand the world around us alone will generate a story idea. Occasionally too, I simply want to write a good yarn, as is the case with Attack Hitler’s Bunker! Lotus, however, comes from none of these places. It comes from a very dark place, a place that needed illuminating, a place that I took 64000 words to describe! I hope it will at least give readers a jolt when they read it. I hope they will say, “Yes, I know this place. I have been there!”

Do you have a favourite character? If so why? No. All my characters are my favourites and they all do things I can’t predict or stop! If my books are my children, their characters are my grandchildren!

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? Yes. But he is in a book yet to be published and he is the hero!

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 do extensive research for my books and this usually takes about a year. I generally write about what I know but I want every detail to feel ‘right’ so I dig.

I am lucky enough to know a lot about WWII and the early Medieval. I have always been fascinated by WWII so I have extensive knowledge of it. I know quite a bit about the Medieval because I spent ten years researching my family tree, which I have now traced back to 1240 France. As an offshoot of this, I became interested in the Cathars and early medieval religion so I read widely on the subject, mostly academic works. When I came to write a sequel to Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate, the 13th Century seemed a natural setting for me to attempt. However, I ambitiously decided to depict the Battle of Bouvines. This meant an extra few months of research.

Research is not something I crave, however, so a purely romantic novel is on the cards. That shouldn’t require much research!

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? All my books, apart from the short stories, are available both as eBooks and paperbacks. Too Bright the Sun is also available, with an audio track to accompany the first chapter, on Booktrack.com. I want to do large print books but I simply haven’t had the time, so far. Audio books will be the next step when I find the time and money. I have sampled some mixed media formats, mostly those piloted by the big players like BBC, which look very interesting. These include video, interactive elements like quizzes and forms, slideshows, picture galleries, links and text to tell stories. The BBC had a nice one recently about a murder story in Iceland. I am always looking for new ways to engage with readers and I will be watching for the next format that comes along.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I self-edit initially but then I go to Beta readers. They will have the book for at least two rounds and there may even be a professional editor for a third round, as I had for Ordo Lupus and the Temple Gate. I find that I cannot realistically edit my own material because I am too close to it.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? Yes, they are and this is a shame. I personally know a traditionally published writer who had to significantly modify a novel in an attempt to get it published. Indie writers don’t have to do this. Of course, we should edit a book so that our main idea will be presentable to readers but we don’t have to compromise. That is why some of the freshest fiction out there is published independently.

The prejudice against indie writers can come from surprising sources and is painful to see. I had one of my kindle books banned (blocked is their term) by Amazon because it deals with incest. It’s set in 17th Century Central Asia (about descendants of the Mongols), and, quite frankly, not only in Central Asia but Europe too, incest was common among royalty. A European king married his sister and had children with her! When I pointed out that Amazon distributes books by both Nabokov and Thomas Pynchon, both of which include themes of incest, the support staff member told me that Amazon makes these choices based on ‘artistic merit.’ I guess I have to conclude that some highly qualified literary critic, employed by Amazon, sat down and read my book from cover to cover and made that choice. It seems unlikely, however, since Amazon had displayed that book for almost ten years at the time without quibble! I had the last laugh because Createspace has a different idea about artistic merit, even though it’s owned by Amazon, and still published my paperback to…wait for it…Amazon! You couldn’t make it up!

Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes. Some indie writer are probably the best out there because they don’t have to modify their work for a publisher. I doubt I would get Lotus published in its present form with a trad publisher and that would be very sad. I can recommend the work of Khalid Muhammad, Kristen Stone and Morgan Wyatt

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? I began as a musician but found the framework of music and lyrics too limiting so I switched to writing novels. Our modern way of living has become very visual; video games and movies exemplify this way of experiencing the world. But the most profound emotions are not caused by visual, aural or any other sensory input; they simple bubble up from very deep places. This is why books will, I believe, always have a profound effect on us. Although Lotus might make a very good video game or film, some of its deeper elements would be lost or else would need to be forced on the viewer/player, thus taking away their free will and the power of the book to stimulate thought.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers? I will give just one. Get some Beta readers. Good Beta readers will have a go at your book and give you invaluable feedback; where the novel’s pace is not right, whether you use words that are too big or make the characters speak unrealistically, whether the climax works etc. I have often rewritten up to 50% of a novel based on this feedback. I know my books are better for it. As I think Mark Twain once pointed out, the problem when you think you are reading back your own work is that you are actually reading your own mind. You know what the story should be and this is what you hear in your head. You will not notice when an idea doesn’t get across, which frequently happens. A Beta reader will notice. Without the final 2 Beta readers, Lotus would never be the tight, well-developed story it is now.

Beta readers can also offer encouragement. Lotus has been around for over six years now, initially as a rough draft of one short passage. It existed as a personal sketch and I felt it too outrageous to give to a reader. If I hadn’t taken the step of letting somebody read it, I wouldn’t have heard that phrase ‘You must publish it!’ This is what all writers want to hear.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

Lotus: http://bit.ly/amlotus

Blog and website: www.lazloferran.com

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/lazlo_F

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/lazloferran

Google+ https://plus.google.com/102697264562597755987

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