Writer Wednesday – Jeffrey Cook

1. Who are you? Jeffrey Cook. I’m an author living in Maple Valley, WA – about 30 miles from Seattle.

2. What type of stuff do you write?
I’m the author of the Dawn of Steam series. Dawn of Steam will soon be a trilogy (third book coming in March) of epistolary format (letters and journals), Regency-voice alt-history/steampunk novels, set from 1815-1819.
I’ve recently added my first YA title as well, the YA SciFi story Mina Cortez: From Bouquets to Bullets, released through Fire & Ice YA Press.
I’ve been published in the anthologies Steampunk Trails (volume 2), Avast Ye Airships (released in March), and Free Flowing Stories.
Finally, I’m currently working on a YA Fantasy series, The Fair Folk Chronicles, while finishing editing on the third Dawn of Steam novel.

3. What do you want to pimp right now?
The Dawn of Steam series has been my passion for the past two years, researching, getting voices right, getting the language and historical references right – and the tale is nearly finished. Rising Suns will end the story of the crew of the airship Dame Fortuna (for now. Books 4-6 are in planning, but won’t be written for some time.) – as they explore the world, and delve into conspiracies of the post Napoleonic War-era world.

4. What is your favorite book?
My single favorite book is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Lots of competition after that, including Shogun, The Lord of the Rings and The Lonesome Gods. But Frankenstein remains my favorite.

5. What other hats do you wear besides the writer hat?
I am also a gamer (table top and live action rpgs), a sports fan (go Seahawks!), an animal lover/dog owner (The anthology I’m heading up, being released in March is a charity book, benefitting Washington State’s PAWS animal rescue.), and an advocate and organizer for other local small press and independent authors.

6. What link can we find you at?
http://www.authorjeffreycook.com/  and  http://www.amazon.com/Jeffrey-Cook/e/B00IRMC3H6/ (for reviews, book info, etc.)

Guest Post:

This is a little bit of a combination of “Advice I’d give new authors” and “Best advice I’ve gotten.” I’ve learned a lot from a lot of people who have been writing much longer than I have, quite a few of whom are much more successful. Some of that advice is useful, some of it is not. Some is consistent, some contradictory. Here’s the three pieces of advice I’ve found that’s very consistent, and that I’ve adopted, and do my best to pass along:
As a new writer, write. It seems simple, but there’s more to it than that. A lot of people have great ideas, but never get that book out. A lot of people write until they hit writers block. Or until they get another job, or whatever, and then stop. Write every day, for 15 minutes. Do not make exceptions. If you’re serious about your craft, you can find 15 minutes. If you can do it for 3 weeks, no exceptions, you’ll likely find it becoming habit, and find ways to rearrange your schedule to get the time in. The writing doesn’t necessarily have to be on your book, or on anything serious. If you’re blocked up, spend it editing, or writing an outline for that other idea – but make the time every day to put words down on the page, or fix the words you already put down.

Second, when you’re getting ready to publish: There’s a lot of really, really good stuff out there in self-and-small-press published material. There’s also a lot of rushed-to-print garbage. And the latter gives all of us a bad reputation that’s hard to shake. The more good, professional looking material there is out there, the easier it gets for people to consider buying other small press and self-published books. If you spend money on only two things, make it an editor and a cover artist. Regardless, unless you are really, really good at either self-editing (a rare skill. Some can do it, most can’t.) or visual art, have someone you know and trust do both. Do everything you can to put out a clean, edited, professional looking product. Plenty of people say “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” But people do. And in some ways, should. A quality cover tells people the author cared enough about their book to put time and thought into it.
Doing this will both help you, and a lot of other authors out there. Speaking of which…

Third and final thing: other authors are your best resource. Talk to them, learn from them, network with them, leave reviews for them, buy their books if you can, and otherwise make use of this resource. Plenty of authors see others as competition, and try to sabotage them in hopes it will somehow help their own career, or out of jealousy. Don’t do this. There is a lot of material out there – in the long run, your best bet for getting noticed comes from networking, having people who want to read and review your work, and shared fanbases.

Writer Wednesday – Lee Martindale

Who are you? (A name would be good here…preferably the one you write under)
Lee Martindale

What type of stuff do you write? (Besides shopping lists)
Short stories. More fantasy than anything else, but I do, on occasion, commit space opera and a little horror-lite.

What do you want to pimp right now?
Just released in trade paperback (and coming soon to Kindle & Nook), Bard’s Road: The Collected Fiction of Lee Martindale.  Twenty-nine of my stories, including hard-to-find reprints and four never-before-published works. Available from HarpHaven Publishing and Amazon.com

What is your favorite book? (Okay, or two or three or… I know how writers are as readers.)
Robert Heinlein’s The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress
Elizabeth Moon’s Heris Serrano and Vatta’s War series
Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series

What other hats do you wear besides the writer hat?
Anthology editor – I’ve put together two so far: Such A Pretty Face: Tales of Power and Abundance, and The Ladies of Trade Town.
Nano-press publisher – I own HarpHaven Publishing.
On the Board of Directors of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (2nd term))

What link can we find you at? (One or two please; don’t go overboard here!)
http://www.HarpHaven.net

 

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Rejection is the Advice of the Day

What’s the best advice I can give new writers? Come to terms with rejection or find another hobby.

Seriously. If a rejection ruins your whole day, sends you into the doldrums, makes you swear you’ll never write another word again, then you probably shouldn’t. If you react with anger, nastygrams to the rejecting editor or publisher, or long diatribes about how the rejecting entity doesn’t understand your vision or recognize your brilliance, you definitely shouldn’t. You don’t have the temperament for it.

Writing is a business. Publishing is a business. The decision to buy, or not buy, a story is a business decision, one with more components than whether or not a story is good. Perfectly good, sellable stories get rejected all the time for any one or more reasons. It may not fit the guidelines. It may not fit well with other stories already selected. It’s too similar to an already-selected story. The editor has two good stories that perfectly fit a particular slot, and the name of the writer of one of them on the cover will result in more sales. The reasons are many, all equally valid.

If you take rejection for what it is – that this particular story doesn’t fit this particular slot at this particular time for this particular editor – and get the rejected story out to the next potential market with no more than a “well, darn”, you’re in good company. We’ve all been there, will doubtlessly be there again many times. It’s part of the business.

 

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Writer Wednesday – Jason Sizemore

IrredeemableBadge

Let’s start with the basics. Who are you?
Tell us (briefly) about you…

Hello! I am Jason Sizemore. Most people know me as that one guy, the red head who runs Apex Publications. I’m also known in genre circles as an editor (I’ve picked up three Hugo Award nominations and one Stoker Award nomination for my editing work). I also publish and help edit the genre short fiction zine Apex Magazine.

…and a bit about what you’ve written…
Over the past 10 years, I’ve been exclusively a short fiction author. I estimate I’ve had about 40 stories published. Recently, Stephen Zimmer of Seventh Star Press asked if I would like to submit a collection to him. He had read many of my stories over the years and felt it would make a good book. I was skeptical. Stephen and a collection of writer pals convinced me to go for it. The result is IRREDEEMABLE!

…and what you’re working on right now.
I’m writing my first novel…okay, co-writing my first novel with Maurice Broaddus. It’s a fun collaboration. He brings the urban. I bring the rural. I’m collaborating on a story with Elaine Blose (it’s finished, looking for a home) and a story with Sara Price.

As you can tell, I’m big into collaborating right now.

What are your earliest book-related memories?
My first memory is being in first grade and reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis and thinking “Now this is a book.”

What are your three favorite books?
The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link

How many books to do you read at any given time? What are you reading now?
I usually have three going at once. At home, I am reading Death with Interruptions by Jose Saramago and Battle Royale by Koushun Takami, and the audiobook of The Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson.

Finish this sentence; when I curl up with a book, I ___
Allow my mind to relax and forget about the stresses of the day.

To re-read or not to re-read that is the question.
I do not re-read because there are too many good books I haven’t read.

How likely are you to read a book that’s been recommended to you?
Very likely if the recommendation is from a friend whose tastes I trust.

How likely are you to recommend a book (that isn’t yours)?
Very likely, but I save the recommendations for books I feel are truly excellent.

Why do you write?
To purge the creative urges that builds up over time!

If you couldn’t be a writer, what would you be?
A professional videogame player.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?
Primarily from memories of my youth. Southeast Kentucky is filled with memorable and interesting people and places.

How do the people in your life seem to view your writing career?
They’re surprised by it. I’ve always been the editor/publisher person. Then they read my work and start asking questions like “Why do you like to write about such dark things?”

What do you see as the biggest challenge today for writers starting out?
A big challenge for newbies involves understanding the options you have these days. Do you self-publish? Do you seek an agent and aim for New York? Is a small press right for you?

Have you made any writing mistakes that seem obvious in retrospect but weren’t at the time?
Too numerous to list. *shakes head*

How do you deal with your fan base?
I give them hugs and love.

Finish this sentence; my fans would be surprised to know ___ about me.
I’m partially color blind! I know, I know, this is surprising due to my impeccable fashion sense and fantastic art skills (sarcasm meter set to maximum).

Anything else we should know?
You sure ask a lot of questions about me. Maybe I should ask YOU a question!
*turns spotlight on*
Okay now, where shall we begin…

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