Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Special! All my stories are FREE on Amazon for 1 DAY ONLY!

Normally, I try to be very subtle in promoting my work. 

But not today!

In honor of Halloween, I'm running a rare, special event: all my short stories and two novellas are absolutely 10,000% FREE on

Now is your chance to grab as many stories as you can carry. I've got two science fiction and fantasy novellas, spiritual fiction, literary fictiondark and twisted adult fairy tales, stories of time travel, deals with the devil, even a surprising tale about a very special eight-legged cephalopod with a crush on his owner.
Hello. My name is Darby.

So don't be shy! Take as many stories as you like. Take them all! You can read them at your leisure, but at least you'll have them.

The short story is widely regarded as the most difficult literary format. I trust I've done my forebears justice. But I'm happy to let you be the judge.

So browse through my author page, sweep all the stories off the virtual shelf and onto your Kindle, then dig in. Short stories won't cause cavities or weight gain, and you don't need to have your mom or dad check them for razor blades before you take a bite!

Then, when you've had your fill, kindly post a brief review on Amazon. This drastically increases an author's sales ranking and is more important than most people realize. 

So run, don't walk, to Amazon and get these goodies before it's too late!

And, sincerely, thank you.


H A P P Y   H A L L O W E E N !

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

10 Follow-Up Questions with Thriller Writer R.S. Guthrie (@rsguthrie)

This is a very special Author Spotlight, for it features the return of thriller writer R.S. Guthrie, author of MONEY LAND (see above).

Since Rob was last featured on this blog in January 2012, he has been burning up the Amazon charts with record books sales. His new thriller series promises to be in the Kindle Top Ten very soon.

R.S. Guthrie grew up in Iowa and Wyoming. He has been writing fiction, essays, short stories, and lyrics since college.

"Black Beast: A Clan of MacAulay Novel" marked Guthrie's first major release and it heralded the first in a series of Detective Bobby Macaulay (Bobby Mac) books. The second in the series (Lost) hit the Kindle shelves December of 2011.

Guthrie's "Blood Land" is the first in the Sheriff James Pruett Mystery/Thriller series and represents a project that is close to his heart: it is set in a fictional town in the same county where he spent much of his childhood and still visits.

Guthrie lives in Colorado with his wife, Amy, three young Australian Shepherds, and a Chihuahua who thinks she is a 40-pound Aussie!

Readers can catch up with what's new with the author at his official site, , or discussions related to writing at his blog, Rob on Writing (

1. This is a follow-up interview, but for people who are not already familiar with your work, tell us what kind of books you write and what readers should expect from your stories, and what is your latest novel Blood Land about?

Well thanks for having me a second time, Ryan (I think that’s a good sign)! Mainly I write what are classified as Mysteries or Thrillers. To be honest, I feel like genres mean different things to different people. I write books about characters that we can all relate to; I tend to do that in a setting around a cop solving a murder case (or multiple murders). But my books are about the people in them as much as the story.

Blood Land, for example, is set in a smaller town, where the sheriff’s own wife has been murdered and the prime suspect is her own brother. Of course, nothing is ever as it first appears—I prefer to write about heroes with flaws in them. There are no perfect people and I love relating to characters when I read, so that’s how I write.

2. What was the duration of the writing process for Blood Land?

Every book is different and Blood Land was a novel I started and then put on the back burner for a while, not because I didn’t like it—just the opposite; it was because I wanted to really take my time. One technique I like to use is to walk away from a book for a while and then come back and read it as a true reader would. I did this several times with Blood Land and I think it made all the difference. Overall it was about a year.

3. When Blood Land is adapted to film, and the producers ask for your dream cast, what will you say?

That’s a difficult question to answer without giving away a spoiler. How about my dream director? There has never been any doubt in my mind that Clint Eastwood could bring this story to life on the big screen. I have had more than a few readers say they can see this as a film. I just wish Clint was one of them!

4. Stephen King often makes a cameo in films adapted from his work. Stan Lee is also enjoying doing so these days. What supporting role would you like to play in the film adaptation of Blood Land?

I love it when directors or writers show up in cameo roles. Oliver Stone and Sydney Pollack do, too. I remember Stephen King in Maximum Overdrive trying to take money out of an ATM and being told to eff-off. There is a small role in my story for a guy named Roland Pape. He’s the owner of the bar where the murder suspect is cornered and his only role is to hide in the shadows and then come out when the action is over. No lines. I think I could handle that.

5. For a writer, word of mouth is everything. What was the last book you read that you enjoyed so much that you wanted to share it with everyone you know?

Honestly it’s been a while since I’ve read a book that I would recommend to everyone I know because I tend to read within my genre and I think a book has to be really outstanding to cross boundaries and be great for everyone. I read a LOT of James Lee Burke, and all of his newer books are read by actor Will Patton in their audio format. Burke is an absolute genius and a poet and when Patton reads them, WOW, I am telling you, that’s a recommendation I would make to everyone. The combination of the two is something truly magical.

6. As of this writing, the trend in publishing is toward series novels as opposed to stand-alone books. Is Blood Land part of a series? If so, where do you see the story going (ie how many books in the series)? If not, do you have a series you’ve written or plan to write, and if so, what is it? And if not, good for you. The squeaky wheel gets the grease!

Well, as with Amazon, I was into “the series” long before they were the trend in publishing (I shopped at Amazon when they first started selling things other than books, and people laughed at me and said you bought what at Amazon??). So though I am not the squeaky wheel in this case, I am also not a bandwagoner. I always knew I wanted to write series. My favorite authors (John D. MacDonald, James Lee Burke, Dennis Lehane,) all have series that repeat the same heroic character(s), and that’s what drew me to the series.

Blood Land features twenty-first century sheriff James Pruett and I believe I’ve written him as a person who readers are going to miss when the book ends (I’ve already had many people ask me if and when he’s returning—next month, in fact!!).

The great thing about a series is you know you get to see some of your favorite characters again—you mentioned Stan Lee. That was always the draw of comic books (another genre on which I feasted in my youth, Lee’s Spiderman being my all-time favorite). But it was also Peter Parker, Mary Jane, Uncle Ben, and even J. Jonah Jameson. I came back not only for the next superhero/villain conflict but for all the characters as well.

7. Saul Bellow said “You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” Where do ideas for your books come from, and where are you and what are you typically doing when inspiration strikes?

Saul has it right. I have almost a hundred percent of my ideas in a semi-state of sleep, in the hinterland just before the subconscious kicks in. Many great writers (Shakespeare, Hemingway, Tennyson, Conrad) all believed we live most in our dreams and from there comes our inspiration as writers. I wake up in the middle of the night and write things down (thank God for the iPhone—now I can do it without having to leave the warm comfort of bed)!

8. Brett Easton Ellis once said, “Do not write a novel for praise. Write for yourself; work out between you and your pen the things that intrigue you.” Indie publishing phenom Amanda Hocking has said that it messed with her head a bit when she realized so many people were going to read the books she’s now writing. Now that R.S. Guthrie is rapidly gaining recognition in the publishing world, has an established fan base anticipating his next novel, and is being talked about in the highly-reverent third person, will reader expectation influence how and/or what he writes? Or will he hold to Ellis’ suggestion?

A little of both. Grand notions are difficult to put into practice sometimes. Like thick skin—we all know we should have it, and not become too despondent over one person’s criticism, but somehow it still stings.

I don’t write for praise, but at the same time, I want my work to be good (and well-received). We all do. And if we are going to listen to the praise, we must also listen to the criticism. But would the need for praise ever completely change my writing? No. Money on the other hand…

9. The world of Indie authors is the new slush pile. What are you going to say/do when a traditional New York publisher and/or agent contacts you and asks for a meeting?

I’m going to take the meeting, but my first question is going to be “what can you do for me and still give me a 70% royalty?” In all seriousness, it’s a tough deal. Would I love to be in Penguin or Simon & Schuster’s stable of writers? Sure. But most of that is pure vanity. I want to sell books, and unless I am already proven completely, a big publisher isn’t going to invest anything in me (but I’ll still be paying out the nose for an agent, publisher, etc.). I would love to write at least one book for a known publisher, just to say “see, not all Indies are crap—there are many of us who can write.” And then go back to publishing independently.

10. Someone once said, and it may have been my dad, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Where do you want your writing career to be in five years’ time?

My writing dream has always been to support myself (and family, of course) with it. In other words, write for a living. I wouldn’t mind fame and fortune along the way, but that’s not in the five year plan. What I want to see within five years is my book (or books) on the bestseller list. NYT, Amazon—I really don’t care. But not in /Family/Relationships/Auto Parts, you know? THE bestseller list. Top 20-30 would be fine.

Finally, because no artistic endeavor is a solo flight, would you care to share the names and contact info for your supporting players, namely your cover designer, editor, proofreader(s), research assistants, hairdresser, dog groomer, chauffer, maid, butler, etc?

I honestly owe a HUGE debt of gratitude to writer Russell Blake (JET series, Silver Justice, to name just a few). He’s mentored me quite a bit in the “ways of the world” and he’s even introduced me to my cover designer (Ares Jun) and my new editor with whom I’m working on Money Land, the Blood Land sequel out next month.

I also owe huge props to my wife. She has read every word I’ve written more than anyone else (excluding myself). Honestly, she reads each book (when it’s said and done) at least 4-5 times start to finish (and I don’t know how many times in pieces). She also travelled with me recently to my first book show and if not for her I would have let my idol, James Lee Burke walk by with a simple “Hello”. She called him back to the table where he talked with me for 10-15 minutes AND accepted an autographed copy of Blood Land.

Wow, that's great, Rob. You know what they say, "Behind every great man is a great woman rolling her eyes."

Thank you for sharing your new book MONEY LAND with us and keep up the good work. The third installment will surely be a big hit as well.

Learn more about Rob at his official site, , or discussions related to writing at his blog, Rob on Writing (

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

10 Questions with Fantasy Novelist James A. West (@JWestBooks)

This Author Spotlight features Fantasy novelist James A. West, author of THE GOD KING (see above).

When James was thirteen years old, he read The Talisman, by Stephen King and Peter Straub, and a seed of an idea was planted that someday he, too, would create different worlds and realities.

After a stint in the US Army, a year as a long-haul truck driver, and a couple as a log home builder, he enrolled at the University of Montana. There, he majored in Psychology and, by chance, took a creative writing course. Words started to flow, and worlds were born.

James lives in Montana with his wife and his bodyguard, a Mini-Schnauzer named Jonesy.

James is also the author of CROWN OF THE SETTING SUN, the second installment in the Heirs of the Fallen series...

and REAPER OF SORROWS, the first in the Songs of the Scorpion series.

1) How did you get into writing?
Reading was my gateway drug to writing. I started reading adult fiction in second grade, so I was exposed to genre fiction a little more exciting than Dick and Jane chasing Spot around. Sometime between then and my freshman year in high school, I moved from creating my version of comic books (I sucked at drawing), to writing what would be called flash fiction these days. 

As far as sitting down with the idea that I was going to write a novel, well, that took a lot longer. For whatever reason, it never crossed my mind that regular people could do such a thing. In the end (maybe I should say the beginning) a nightmare about a pack of ravening demon dogs set me on the writer’s path. That story, by the way, never went anywhere, but it was the first long work I’d ever written, which convinced me that I could write longer fiction.

2) What do you like best (or least) about writing? 
The best and worst thing about writing are the ideas. I love coming up with ideas, but I also hate it, because there is just not enough time in my life to ever write everything I would like to. 

What I struggle with is marketing—I would probably have a hard time giving away gold nuggets for free. But, whether you are traditionally published or an indie author, you have to get your work in front of people without being spammy. I don’t like spam any more than anyone else, so basically my marketing strategy is to write and publish, and then hope people stumble across my work and like it.

Recently The God King, my first novel in the epic fantasy series Heirs of the Fallen went free on Amazon through their price matching program—I’ve been waiting for this to happen so long I thought Amazon had blacklisted me! I know a lot of authors say they would never give their work away free, but in the last several days all those free copies of The God King have translated into more sales of the second book in the series, Crown of the Setting Sun, than I’ve had in the last several months. With that said, I’m sold on offering up some of your work for free. 

3) What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc? 
I have the basic idea about the story when I start it. I also have a chapter/paragraph form of outlining that I do, which basically guides me along. Most often, I end up re-writing those chapter/paragraphs three or four times, because the story ends up going where it wants to, leaving me to compensate. 

I try to average 1,000 words a day, 6-7 days a week. Usually, I do not meet this goal, as I tend to write slowly. That being said, the first draft of most everything I write generally ends up pretty close to where I want it. If it takes me say, three months to write an 80,000 word novel, it only takes about 4-5 days for me to edit it, so I’m slow on one end, fast on the other, and that’s a big time saver. 

4) Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?” 
This is a tough one to answer, because in answering I might end up sounding snobby or unenlightened, depending on who evaluates my response! Also, keep in mind that I personally read and write for entertainment and escapism. I don’t mind deep thoughts and questions about the human condition, but I prefer to gently touch on those matters when I read and write. 

Having said that, until recently I rarely read anything that was not commercially successful. With the whole independent author thing and acquiring a Kindle, I read many more unknown authors than before. I’m really enjoying the books I’m finding out there. However, I still go back to my favorites like Stephen King, Neil Giaman, Dean Koontz, Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child, Robert Jordan, George R.R. Martin, Terry Brooks, just to name a few. 

5) Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes? 
Inside. Right or wrong, that is the way I learned to write punctuation when dealing with dialogue, and I’m sticking to that. If nothing else, I’ll be consistent in my wrongness. 

6) What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma? 
I usually stick to it for no other reason than that is how I learned to use the series comma. Lately, however, I’ve taken to excluding that third comma if it does not diminish the clarity of a given sentence. 

I have never been in league with the grammar police, and I prefer readability, which generally means proper grammar is a benefit. However (and I know a lot of people might cringe when I say this) with fiction, comma usage, and all grammar to a degree, is flexible. Think writing action scenes vs. descriptions. Action requires a staccato, abrupt delivery, sentences that drive the reader to read faster. Description, not so much. 

7) What is your book THE GOD KING about and how did it come to fruition? 
The God King is the first book of my epic fantasy series, Heirs of the Fallen. Book two, Crown of the Setting Sun, is also out. 

As to how it came about … well, as a fantasy fan myself, I always wanted to hear more about those mythical dark times, when things did not go well, when the good guys lost, and humanity was trying to bounce back from near extinction.

When I stared writing The God King, I decided to start off the story with the world getting ripped apart by the unleashing of godlike powers never meant for mortal hands. After that, it’s up to the heroes to survive and keep things from getting worse. Whether they achieve that goal is still in question, as I go into book three. 

8) What’s your current writing project? 
I recently finished Reaper of Sorrows, book one of the series, Songs of the Scorpion. I’ll go into more detail with your last question J 

What I’m writing at the moment is book three of my Heirs of the Fallen series. I’m hoping to finish this book and another Scorpion book by the end of the year.

9) What book(s) are you currently reading? 
I just finished American Gods by Neil Giaman, and have now jumped into Michael Moorcock’s books. I dig the fantastic, so I tend to stick with works that go beyond the reality of the world around me. I also crave good thrillers. 

10) Who or what inspires your writing? 
Any good story, whether it is told on the big screen, on TV, or in a book, really gets me going. Some might call me an escapist, and that suits me fine. 

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc. 
I am not giving away any spoilers, but Reaper of Sorrows, the first installment in my Songs of the Scorpion fantasy series came  out mid-September. This will be an ongoing series of stand-alone novels about Rathe Lahkurin, a battle-tested commander who has it all: fame, stunning battle skills, luck with the ladies … and an unshakable curse of ill-fortune that trumps all his blessings. Wherever this poor bastard goes, trouble chases after him, or is waiting for him with fangs bared at the end of a dark path. 

Essentially, I wanted to write some fantasy works reminiscent of the classic Sword and Sorcery stories written by men like Robert E. Howard and Michael Moorcock. 

There will be a lot of grit, badasses being badasses, pretty girls who pine for pretty swords and know how to use them, leprous beggars with rusty knives hidden up their sleeves, and anything else that fits the settings and plots of a world rife with sorcerers, necromancers, unspeakable monsters, and nefarious ne’er-do-wells. 

Reaper of Sorrows was an absolute blast to write, and I hope everyone enjoys it! 

For anyone interested in my stories, you can go to my blog here and click the book covers. That will take you to the Amazon link for each one. 

Thank you for reading, and thank you so much to my host Ryan! I really appreciate you having me here! 

You're very welcome, James. Your books look fantastic. Be sure to visit with us again when the next installments of your books are available.

Be sure to visit James' blog and follow him on Twitter.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

10 Questions with Supernatural Novelist D.A. Brown (@Author_DABrown)

This Author Spotlight features supernatural novelist D.A. Brown, author of COUNTERPOINT.

D.A. Brown is a 28-year-old author living in New York, NY with her Mac Book and various flights of fancy. She is a graduate of both Howard University in Washington, D.C., where she received her B.S. in Political Science and of Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University, where she received her Law Degree. In her free time she enjoys writing (naturally) and practicing not ripping her hair out while writing. Occasionally, she also enjoys sleep; although she cannot remember the last time she actually had any. 

1. How did you get into writing?
I became interested in writing at a very early age. Even in school as a child, it was my favorite subject and something that I explored in various mediums, from short stories to poetry, to my first novel, Counterpoint. On a certain level, I believe it is a passion that you are born with and so one could say that I was always interested in writing, even when I wasn’t.

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?
Interestingly enough, the things that I like least and best about writing are the same things. It’s the isolation and competition within myself that I love about it dearly, and that at the same time drives me insane. I love that I can tell my own story, and that it is just my story. And I hate that I have to carry that burden alone and that I cannot share it with anyone. You are the only person who can write your stories.

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?
My writing process varies from novel to novel. With my first novel, Counterpoint, it was such an intense passion and push for the words to be out of my head and into the atmosphere. Initially, I did set a daily page count, and realized that stories are living, breathing entities of their own; and when it is time to write, it is, and when it’s not, it’s not. It can’t be forced or dictated, it can just be obeyed. Now in my second novel, I spend a lot of time contemplating the how and the where of the story telling and let the words come forth as they wish, in the time that they want.

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
Christopher Buckley is the author that I admire the most. If every musician is chasing the greatness of Michael Jackson’s Thriller, then I am chasing Christopher Buckley’s Boomsday. The way he weaves intelligence and humor and compassion through his tales in an endless, unbreakable seam is truly something of wonder.

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?
I would say that the question mark belongs outside of the quotations since the question mark references the question as a whole and does not just pertain to the word successful. But don’t quote me on that that!

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
I think that, like everything in literature, it has its place. It really depends on what the writer is trying to convey and what they want their reader to walk away with. Writing is a tangible manifestation of what we speak and feel; and as human communication redefines itself with each new generation, there can be no absolutes. Grammar has to be able to evolve.

7. What is your book Counterpoint about and how did it come to fruition?
Counterpoint, on a smaller scale, is about a woman, Oro Stillwater, who is struck by lightning and develops supernatural powers. In the course of learning about her powers, she falls in love with Anthony Giordano, a man who has been her confidant and friend for several years. Her powers generate unexpected threats and dangers, as well as gifts and opportunities that she must navigate as a superhuman. It isn’t until she fully begins to surrender herself to what she has become that she learns who she truly is and the purpose that her life has.

On a greater scale, Counterpoint is about having a pressing need that you can’t identify, and having that need met by something that you least expected to fulfill it. I wrote Counterpoint at a very barren point in my life. I was unemployed and emotionally desolate. I never knew that what I needed was to sit still and pursue my passion. I never thought writing was what I needed and it turned out that it was all that I needed. What Oro thinks she needs is superficial to what will truly sustain her.

8. What’s your current writing project?
My current writing project is Lurien: The Redeemer. Keeping with my love of all things supernatural and without giving too much away (insert wink and laugh here), it is about human-angel hybrids that are the direct descendent of Adam and Lilith in the Garden of Eden prior to Eve’s arrival; and all that they go through to save their species from the constant threat of annihilation. It’s intense, and a lot! It is a glorious and enraging challenge. I love and hate every minute of it!

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?
I am currently re-reading Hamlet for probably the one-millionth time. Hamlet is the fictional character that I most identify with in all of literature. His constant confusion at the world around him and living on the brink of insanity; it resonates. No one ever really knows how close he is to losing his sanity, and his struggle to remain level is often taken for granted. I feel that is something that everyone can identify with, the daily struggle to retain control of one’s mind.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?
My inspiration for writing comes from so many places! Ultimately, my inspiration comes from the various forms of freedom that I am trying to obtain daily. I like to write about the disparity between the massive amounts of fight that is required to obtain the smallest amount of freedom, be it spiritual, emotional or physical.

I am also very inspired by comic books and superheroes. The idea of being so completely different from everyone else that you have no choice but to be who you are and embrace that to the fullest capacity intrigues me; especially in a society where standing out is something that is viewed as antagonist. I suppose it ties into the isolation that I associate with writing, being the only one who can do what I was put here to do. There may be a million writers, but those writers are the only ones who can write the stories that they are going to write. The singularity of it all is highly magnetic.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.
People can download Counterpoint for their Nook, Kindle, iPad or any e-Reader that they own. The book is available for purchase from as well as for $4.95. Search “Counterpoint by D.A. Brown” and it will come up!

I’d like to leave all of my readers and fans, new and old, with the knowledge and understanding that they were not called to writing by accident. There is a unique and specific purpose in every word that they draft. We are called to an elite and higher purpose as writers; and no word, no matter how trivial, is ever in vain. And of course, I want readers and writers to keep reading and keep writing. Success is not given, it is taken; by grace and by force, and by unshakable mandate is taken, and also by these means kept.

Thank you, D.A. Wise words well said. Greatest of luck with COUNTERPOINT and with all future writing endeavors.

Be sure to check out COUNTERPOINT, and follow D.A. on Twitter.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

10 Questions with Fon Davis, creator of MORAV (@Foncocreative)

This Author Spotlight features Fon Davis, creator of the graphic novel MORAV: The History of Robotic Warfare.


Fon Davis on-set inside MORAV cockpit

Fon Davis has been working in the entertainment industry for nearly 25 years, during which time he has had a hand in more than 30 feature films, including Pearl Harbor, Starship Troopers, Galaxy Quest, Terminator III, Mission Impossible III, and the Star Wars and Matrix series.

Fon has a diverse background that includes working at the Industrial Light and Magic model shop, serving as a concept designer and model maker for Disney, and contributing to acclaimed stop motion films such as The Nightmare Before Christmas and Coraline.

Most recently, he served as the miniatures supervisor on The Big Miracle with Drew Barrymore, and Neill Blomkamp’s upcoming feature, Elysium, at Kerner FX.

In 2000, Fon founded his own studio, Fonco Creative Services, to run projects between features and develop his own training and science fiction content.

MORAV: The History of Robotic Warfare is his first book. The creative team behind MORAV includes the following amazingly talented people:

Creator - Fon Davis

Scripts - M. Zachary Sherman

Pencils - Budi Setiawan

Inks - James Taylor

Color - J. Brown

Letters -Sean Konot

Front Cover - Marc Gabbana

Introduction - Doug Chiang

Chapter Covers - Emmanuel Shiu - Roel Robles - Brian Matyas - Lei Jin - Greg Knight - Paul Hamblin

Additional Art - Alex Jaeger - Bagas Wicaksono - David Yee -Ken Schultz - Marc Gabbana - Mitch Thompson - Roel Robles

Grant Imahara (tertiary host of Discovery Channel's MYTHBUSTERS) works on MORAV Generation 1 robot understructure 

Tangri Capitol story board

Tangri Capitol camera-ready finished product

1. How did you get into writing?
I started writing because my head fills with ideas, characters and stories that feel real to me in some way. It is almost compulsive, like I have to get the ideas out or I’ll explode. Then I need to do something with the stories, right?

A writer friend M. Zachary Sherman liked MORAV and convinced me to create a graphic novel with him. The book took four years and a team of twenty artists to complete. We’re very proud of our achievement. The book has a story you can’t put down and it is packed with 164 pages of amazing full color art.

I’m not yet comfortable calling myself a “real writer”. I oversee so many parts of the projects I create, that I often work with the help of a dedicated script writer. Naturally I feel like they are the “real writer”. I drive the big picture and the flavor, but the writers on my team share in a really significant part of what my stories become.

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing?
I really enjoy seeing a story and characters come to life, piece by piece, becoming more real every day. I like the way it feels to live in these crazy worlds I create and of course, leave whenever I want.

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?
I like to write at night after work or even after everyone goes to sleep, so I am not interrupted. The first thing I do is find a mood, create the world and then populate it with the essential characters. I try to imagine what is wrong with those characters and their world. I immerse myself until I live in the story, then I watch what happens. My stories lack structure in the beginning, but that’s because I need to feel that place before I can write in it. I eventually reach a point where I have to create an outline. It’s at that point I have to either start dedicating a lot more time to the project or work with another writer. We or I fill in the blanks, usually focusing on a scene at a time, and not always in chronological order. I have the outline with key turning points for continuity. Then I read, revise and polish again and again until the story has soul and I don’t see anything I want to change. 

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”
I have always enjoyed William Gibson. He paints such a clear picture of the world and characters in his stories. I like to be immersed and forget I’m reading a book. Ironically, I don’t have much time to read.

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?
I don’t know, ask my editor or wife. :-P Actually, I do know it belongs on the outside, but I feel like it should be on the inside. I’ve never liked that rule. It conflicts with the right side of my brain.

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?
I don’t use the Oxford Comma for no other reason than that is the way I was taught. The same reason I still double space after periods.

7. What is your book MORAV: The History of Robotic Warfare about and how did it come to fruition?
MORAV is a science fiction military drama about a cocky pilot and his fellow soldiers, who fight for answers and survival when their home island of Tangri becomes a corporate testing ground for giant robotic warfare.

8. What’s your current writing project?
I am juggling several writing projects, right now. It’s an unfortunate reality of our current economy. I am pitching a zombie story, a creature feature, a futuristic comedy and two sequels to MORAV. I’ll finish the one that I get paid for.

9. What book(s) are you currently reading?
Sadly I’ve been working so many hours I have not had much time to read the science fiction stories I love so much. Instead lately I’ve been studying books like The DV Rebels Guide by Stu Maschwitz and The Guerilla Film Makers Movie Blueprint by Chris Jones.

10. Who or what inspires your writing?
I feel like the constant disappointment I feel from dry and formulaic movies and television shows has been driving me. I am basically writing what I want to read or see.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

Thank you, Fon. I thoroughly enjoyed MORAV and would recommend it. The book is simply gorgeous, the artwork is jaw dropping (and sometimes graphic; parents take note), and the story well developed.

Purchase a copy of MORAV on Amazon by clicking HERE.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

10 Questions with Historical Fiction Author Michelle Diener (@michellediener)

This Author Spotlight features historical fiction author Michelle Diener, author of KEEPER OF THE KING'S SECRETS.

Michelle Diener writes historical fiction for Simon and Schuster's Gallery Books.


released in August, 2011, is set in the court of Henry VIII. It features the real historical figures of illuminator and painter, Susanna Horenbout, and Henry's Keeper of the Palace of Westminster and Yeoman of the King's Robes, John Parker. A second book, also featuring Susanna and Parker, THE KEEPER OF THE KING'S SECRETS, was published on April 3rd, 2012. 

Michelle is also the author of DANGEROUS SANCTUARY.

She was also featured in the anthology ENTANGLED.

THE EMPEROR'S CONSPIRACY, a historical novel set in London during the Napoleonic Wars, is set for a November 27th, 2012 release. Here is a sneak peek at the cover art:

1. How did you get into writing? 
I'm one of 'those' authors who've never not written. I'm the oldest of five children and if I wasn't writing stories, I was telling them to my brothers and sisters. Forget mounted DVD players, I was the in-car entertainment on long trips. My friends and I were captivated by the manga cartoons on TV as children, and I'd write spin-offs of those tales of high adventure in space for my friends as well. 

2. What do you like best (or least) about writing? 
I love the feeling at the very end of a book, where all you're doing is deepening, and layering and making it really pop. I hate everything that I have to do to get to that stage. Expect maybe writing the first three chapters. From then, it becomes a tortuous journey I wish would end. 

3. What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc? 
I generally write a single page or maybe two pages at most as an outline. I then never look at it again, but at least I know there is a beginning, a middle and an end that holds together and makes sense. I sometimes try to keep to a page count, especially when I'm at the middle and I'm hating every word. Page counts force me to work. But if I'm in the swing and it's all coming easily, I don't worry about that. I couldn't even say how many pages I write on those days, but I don't care, because I'm having fun. 

4. Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?” 
I really love Terry Pratchett, for his cleverness, and his dry wit, and his wonderfully real characters. I'm in awe of Iain M. Banks's talent. His books really come alive for me, and he's the one sci-fi author I auto-buy without question. I love Patricia Briggs for her wonderful world-building and amazing characterization, and Jayne Anne Krentz for her amazing mix of romance and suspense. In my time, I've also devoured Dick Francis (when his wife was still writing with him), Agatha Christie, PD James and Deborah Crombie, to name a few. 

5. Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes? 
Outside. :) 

6. What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma? 
Ah, the Oxford comma. That staple ice-breaker at cocktail parties everywhere. To quote Lynne Truss: “There are people who embrace the Oxford comma and people who don't, and I'll just say this: never get between these people when drink has been taken.” Being British myself, and having been brought up through a school system that did not believe in the Oxford comma, you would think I would eschew it totally. But again, to quote Lynne Truss (who is my favorite grammarian) commas 'tell the reader how to hum the tune', and so, if the Oxford comma facilitates a good tune, makes the song more easy to understand, I'll use it. If it doesn't, I won't. 

7. What is your book KEEPER OF THE KING’S SECRETS about and how did it come to fruition? 
Keeper of the King's Secrets is my second book set in the court of Henry VIII featuring Susanna Horenbout, a Flemish artist who worked in his court, and John Parker, Henry's Keeper of the Palace of Westminster (the first book is In a Treacherous Court). Both Susanna and Parker existed and while the intricate plots I throw them into are made up by me, the history around them, and the catalysts that drive the plot are quite factual. I started writing the books because I was fascinated by Susanna Horenbout. I'd never heard about a woman artist working for Henry VIII, and there is very little information about her. The idea of a woman working in a completely male-dominated field for one of the most powerful monarchs of his time was something that sparked my imagination. 

8. What’s your current writing project? 
I'm just in that golden phase I mentioned above of putting the final touches on a novel set during the Napoleonic Wars, which is linked by a few characters to my upcoming November release The Emperor's Conspiracy

9. What book(s) are you currently reading? 
I'm reading Juliet Nicolson's The Great Silence: 1918-1920 Living in the Shadow of the Great War for research purposes. 

10. Who or what inspires your writing? 
Everything around me inspires me. Other books, films, life, people I meet, situations I see, history. It's all grist for the mill. 

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc. 
Thanks for inviting me over, Ryan. It's been fun. People can find out more about my books at

You're welcome, Michelle. We shall speak soon for the release of THE EMPEROR'S CONSPIRACY.

Be sure to visit Michelle's website and follow her on Twitter: @MichelleDiener