Guest Post: Michael G. Munz

About two years ago (holy cow, this blog is old…), I hosted author Michael G. Munz as he debuted his novel, Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure. Fast forward a few years through the ever-changing, entropy-laden atmosphere of the modern publishing industry, and Michael found himself in a position that may be familiar to more than one Indie Author out there. I invited him to stop by and talk a bit about how the closing of his publishing house affected him, and how he is working through that to continue his writing career. Sit back, grab a caffeinated (or non-, that’s cool too) beverage of your choice, and check out his take on overcoming disruption in the publishing biz.

Take it away!

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Two years ago, my comedic fantasy adventure Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure, entered the world. While I’d self-published two novels previously, Zeus was my first book to be picked up by a publisher: Seattle-based indie publisher Booktrope. The book opened to great reviews. It gained momentum through word of mouth, association with other popular books in the Amazon system. Zeus Is Dead received multiple book-of-the-year honors last summer, which boosted its visibility even more. Things were going great!

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Okay, you know that part in a movie where someone says, “Things are going great!” and then, say, zombies with flamethrowers burst in and wreck up the place? Well, last April, Booktrope sent word to all of its authors: the company was going out of business. All books would be removed from publication as of May 31st.

I won’t go into the circumstances of Booktrope closing its doors here. The good news was that I retained the rights to my books (Booktrope had later republished two of my self-published sci-fi novels as well). The bad news is that all of Zeus Is Dead’s associations on Amazon were just gone.

Zeus Is Dead Cover

I didn’t realize that at first. In its final days, Booktrope gave its authors a lot of guidance on republishing their novels. We received the layout files and other things necessary to make the process of publishing under our own label as easy as possible. After creating my own label of Red Muse Press to give the republished versions a greater air of legitimacy (registering the trade name, setting myself up in Washington State as a sole proprietorship, etc.), I got the ebook versions back up. For Amazon, I used Amazon KDP. For Nook, NookPress. For Kobo, Kobo Writing Life, and for iTunes… Well, apparently you can only publish on iBooks if you have a Mac, so I and my PC went through Draft2Digital instead, which is an accepted third party aggregator for iBooks. There was a bit of a (re)learning curve, but it went smoothly enough. I opted to worry about paperback copies later, as my ebook sales had always dwarfed the paperbacks.

So, back to that thing I didn’t realize: While Amazon was great about porting over Zeus Is Dead’s 157 reviews and 4.3 average star rating from the Booktrope version to the new version, there’s something they don’t—and claim “can’t”—port over: the sales rankings and search associations. Zeus Is Dead had a lot of fans who also liked books by more famous authors (e.g. Christopher Moore). You know that “Customers who bought this book also bought…” section? Before, you’d see Zeus Is Dead in that section on some Christopher Moore novels, as well as plenty of other authors. Those associations, built up over two years of marketing, contest awards, and word of mouth, were feeding Zeus Is Dead’s sales.

I tried to get this changed. I emailed Amazon’s Author Central. The answer was apologetic but not helpful: Those things cannot be transferred. Their computer system doesn’t even allow for it. Undeterred, I actually picked up the phone and TALKED to someone at Amazon—which, if you know my introverted proclivities, tells you how desperate I felt. Still no dice. It seemed I would have to start from scratch and crawl my way back into visibility.

So that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve reached out to bloggers (like Infamous Scribbler!) who featured Zeus Is Dead during its initial release. I did a re-release announcement through BargainBooksy, which resulted in enough sales to at least cover the cost of the announcement. I’ve experimented with Twitter ads to drive people either to a page on my website or to the book’s Amazon page, but haven’t had much success. I’ve got an add running on Facebook, targeted toward fans of similar authors to try to regain the lost associations. These seem to be helping, so far, but it’s slow going. My big goal at the moment is to secure a Bookbub promotion for a 99 cent sale, which is always hugely helpful to sales rankings if you can get Bookbub to run it.

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Zeus Is Dead’s sales numbers for June are about 30% of what they were just before the Booktrope editions went away. I choose to believe that means I’m making some headway, but only time will tell. What stings the most is knowing that the boosts the book had gotten from book of the year contest honors aren’t something I can recapture again. I can’t re-enter the same book, after all. But I suppose I’ll just have to keep working on the Zeus Is Dead sequel, won’t I?

For the record, I’m thinking of calling it Zeus Is Undead.

~ ~ ~

MICHAEL G MUNZ

About Michael G. Munz

Michael G. Munz is an award-winning fantasy and sci-fi writer who is fascinated with Greek mythology. He also possesses what “normal” people might deem far too much familiarity with a wide range of geek culture, though he prefers the term geek-bard: a jack of all geek-trades, but master of none. Or mostly none. There are exceptions. He dwells in Seattle where he continues his quest to write the most entertaining novel known to humankind and find a really fantastic clam linguini. Follow Michael on Twitter, Facebook, and on his website, michaelgmunz.com.

Introducing: Scribbler Coach

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Good morning! I hope that your week is short and started with a bang–at least for all the folks on this side of the pond, and squished between Canada and Mexico. Which has got to be the most awkward way of saying, “Happy Fourth of July, my fellow Americans.” But hey, that’s what edits are for!

Speaking of edits, I am posting to introduce a new service on this site. Scribbler Coach, an on-site offshoot of The Infamous Scribbler, will offer a full suite of coaching, writing, and editing services. Whether you are trying to figure out how to start, or you’ve gotten halfway and gotten lost, or if you are done and are trying to figure out what to do next, I can help you.

How did this come to be? I started receiving requests from authors and aspiring authors, with whom I worked in various writers’ groups, for extra help on the side. Some of these authors needed a beta reader, others needed help putting their thoughts together for an outline, and some just needed the motivation that a deadline and a willing ear could give them.

Also, as I started introducing myself as an author (a helpful tip if you’d like to let people know about your work), I started getting variations on the response: “Oh hey, I have this great idea for a book, I just …. don’t have the time/don’t know where to start/am not sure if it would be viable/would like someone else to write it for me, how about you?”

And I thought to myself, you know, I can help people with all of those issues–except the last one. If you need a ghost writer, I’d advise advertising on Upwork, because I do not have the time to write anyone’s novels except my own. And even that is tricky.

If you take a look at the Scribbler Coach page, you will find the services broken down with descriptions of and rates for what I am offering, as well as some testimonials from people I’ve worked with in the past. I’ve got a some discounts for students and military/veterans, and as a biz launch incentive, I’m offering every fifth coaching session free. If you like what you see–drop me a line at infamous_scribbler@yahoo.com.

Happy Writing!

A Conversation with Dan Jolley…

Welcome back!

Today, the guest here at Infamous Scribbler is artist, author, and game creator Dan Jolley. His latest novel, Gray Widow’s Walk, is the story of an angry young woman, Janey Sinclair, and the powers she must learn to control, before they end up consuming her. Today, Dan discusses being a multimedia creator, good and bad writing advice, and of course, gives us a peak into the world of his new creation.

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Q (Infamous Scribbler): I noticed in your bio that you are from Georgia. How has your natal geography influenced your writing?

A (Dan Jolley): I don’t know that it’s been a huge influence on my actual prose or scripts, but I definitely do like to set stories in Georgia when I can. When I first came up with the idea that would eventually become Gray Widow’s Walk, many years ago, stories set in Atlanta were relatively rare. Now, what with The Walking Dead and various other media projects setting up shop there, it’s a lot more commonplace. One thing I did have a little fun with, though, was in my comic book series Bloodhound, when I set the fictional Red Clay Federal Penitentiary in my hometown of Ringgold, Georgia. I had a few hometown folks approach me and say, “Of all the things you could’ve put here, it had to be a prison?”

Q: In your new book, Gray Widow’s Walk, your protagonist is an angry young woman. What were some of the decisions you made and challenges you faced when writing Janey?

A: Yeah, Janey Sinclair’s life has been a series of cruel, unfair tragedies. Her mother died of cancer when Janey was nine, her father was shot right in front of her (Janey herself was shot in the same encounter and almost died) when she was sixteen, and she lost her husband in a horrible way when she was twenty-five. She’s got some seriously pent-up emotions. Most people deal with that kind of trauma in one of three ways: they handle it in a healthy fashion, usually by going to therapy; or they disappear into drugs and alcohol; or they let it consume them completely and self-destruct. Janey has the opportunity to exercise a fourth option, because—in a way she still doesn’t understand—she’s developed the ability to teleport from one patch of darkness to another. So she’s got an outlet that no one else has, and decides to try to prevent other people from going through the kind of trauma that she has.

There are definitely some superhero tropes in the book, though it also has elements of science-fiction and horror, and one of the decisions I made early on was not to make Janey too powerful. Teleportation is already an incredibly potent ability, so I wanted be certain that she had reasonable vulnerabilities, and not ones like “the color yellow,” or “alien space rocks.” That’s why she stole a suit of military body armor before she started prowling the streets. Janey’s a little stronger than most people, but she can be hurt by things like bullets and blades and poison gas just like anyone else.

As far as challenges, definitely the biggest one was writing a convincing female protagonist, since I am terminally male myself. But I’ve had some practice with that, in the form of three original YA novels I wrote back in 2007 and 2008, a trilogy called Alex Unlimited. The protagonist of those books is an 18-year-old girl named Alexandra Benno. When I first pitched that property, the protagonist was a boy, and the publisher said, “We really like this, and want to pursue it, but would you mind changing the main character to a girl?” I wasn’t sure how that would turn out, but I agreed, and to my own surprise, it worked out beautifully. (Apparently my inner child is a teenage girl.)

Plus, for Gray Widow’s Walk, I was diligent in getting as many female beta readers as I could. The last thing I want to do is make some boneheaded mistake thanks to being entrenched in a male perspective.

Q: Your work spans a variety of media, including video games, comics, and of course, novels. Is it a challenge to work in different formats? How do they affect your writing process? Did they bring anything new to the Gray Widow’s Walk series, and if so, what?

A: There’s definitely some mental gear-shifting when I go from one medium to another, but I’ve worked out a few different methods to make that easier. I got my start writing comic books, many moons ago, and over the years, largely through trial and error, I’ve gotten it down to a sloppy sort of science. I actually have a series of blog posts on my website, www.danjolley.com, called “How To Write the Way I Write,” that explains all the nuts and bolts of comic book scriptwriting.

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Learning to write comic scripts first was a big help. I sometimes say it’s like learning to drive on a three-speed, stick-shift, two-ton flatbed truck. If you can drive that behemoth, you can drive anything. Comic book scripts, even though there’s no set format for them the way there is for a screenplay, are incredibly rigid in their parameters; your page count is set, your panel count per page has to be tightly controlled, your word count per panel also has to be tightly controlled, you have to take into account the page turn, which means all your big moments and surprises should really be at the beginning of even-numbered pages, etc. Writing in other media doesn’t seem so difficult once you’ve mastered all that.

One of the biggest successes I’ve had with techniques for writing prose might not work for everyone, but for me, using a walking desk is the way to go. I set up a shelving unit over my treadmill, got my wireless keyboard and laptop in the right positions, and now whenever I write prose I plod along at two miles an hour, typing as I walk. It gets the blood flowing through my brain just right.

And probably the biggest benefit of working in deadline-based creative jobs for as long as I have is that I’ve gotten really, really fast. Once I have a solid outline in place, knocking out a chapter a day is pretty standard. You can expect the next two books in the Gray Widow trilogy to come out on schedule.

Q: Without giving away too much, what plans do you have for Janey and the crew?

A: Well, the biggest question Janey has in the first book is where the hell her teleportational ability came from, and in the second book she’ll probably regret not being more careful what she wished for. Also, that same source is what “augmented” Gray Widow’s Walk’s principal antagonist, the twisted, grotesque, bloodthirsty shapeshifter named Simon Grove. Janey will definitely encounter more people who’ve been affected, not quite in that exact way, but in similar fashions. Plus, there’s the question of where Janey and Tim Kapoor are headed, as they try to figure out exactly what their relationship is, and how Janey’s past will influence it.

Basically, life doesn’t get any easier for anyone.

Q: What is the best and worst writing advice you’ve ever been given?

A: The best advice is this: Finish what you’re writing before you start editing. Just plow through that first draft. Don’t go back and try to get the first page, or the first paragraph, or the first line exactly right until you’re done with the whole thing, because if you do, you run the risk of getting hung up in the editing and never completing the story. Now, what this means is that your first draft will probably be really shitty. That’s okay! First drafts are supposed to be shitty. My first drafts are the ripest heaps of camel dung. But once you have a first draft, you can go back and fix it. You can’t fix what isn’t there. (I’ve heard it described as shoveling sand into the sandbox. You’ll have time to sculpt your castle once the box is full.)

I don’t know that I’ve ever been given any really, truly bad writing advice, but I have been given some really, truly bad feedback from an editor. At one point, I was writing a monthly comic book series, and after I turned in a script, the editor called me and said, “I don’t think you’re firing on all pistons, Dan.”

I sort of sputtered, and said, “Okay, but, uh…what did you not like? What do you want me to change?”

He sighed and said, “I just don’t feel like you’re bringing your A game.”

Talk about useless. He refused to give me any specific feedback, so I had to flounder around in the dark, and ended up doing five or six drafts of the script until he finally decided I had delivered what he was looking for. To any editors out there reading this? I know you’re overworked. I know your job is massively hard. But please, don’t do that. Don’t be that guy.

Q: Anything to add?

A: I’ll be a guest all four days of DragonCon this year, set up in Artists’ Alley, and I’ll be part of the Seventh Star Press crowd at Imaginarium in October. Come say hi! (IS Note: We’ll definitely stop by! I need a signed copy…)

Also, please give me a shout on Twitter (@_DanJolley) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/dan.jolley1). Or both! I’m there more often than I probably should be. (IS Note: So say we all…)

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There you have it, folks. Stop by, pick up a copy, come to DragonCon, get it signed, and say hi! Until then, happy reading.

Want to read Cold Run?

As we swing into summer, I’ve put up a giveaway for my second novel, Cold Run. (In case among the three or four regular readers of this blog, I have one who hasn’t yet read it…) Like Soft Target, it’s set in the cold and dark of winter, which makes it the perfect foil for hot, sun-drenched days. Click on the link, and all will be revealed!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Cold Run by Rachel A. Brune

Cold Run

by Rachel A. Brune

Giveaway ends June 30, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway

In the meantime, I’ve got a few irons in the fire. As you can see, Infamous Scribbler has a new look–and some new services available. My goal is to expand my coaching and editing business, and to help those people who tell me: I have this great idea, but I don’t really know what to do… (Or who tell me they have a great idea and want me to write it…I’m looking at you, dear spouse of mine!) Many thanks to Lia Rees of Free Your Words, who is doing the heavy lifting and fine-tuned tinkering to make it look spiffy.

Work on Steel-Toed Blues proceeds apace. So far, in this book, I’ve gotten stuck in Wal-Mart, in a riot, in a tornado, in a cancer maze, and now in a bacchanalian orgy. It’s all fun and games until I have to figure out how to get OUT of these situations. Which is kind of a metaphor for my life.

Please feel free to poke around, enter the giveaway, drop me a line, show me some love by writing a review … Peace!

Out with the old …

…in with the new.

In the next few weeks, the site may be up and down for maintenance. Basically, I’m trying to tie together the core parts of my writing and coaching business, streamline the inner pages, and pop it all back up in a visually consistent and easy to navigate manner.

And by “I”, I mean Lia of Free Your Words.

So if you stop by and have a moment of panic because your favorite blogger looks like she cashed in her chips and left for Vegas — don’t worry. Because I have only enough cash for half a chip. So stick around.

And buy books.

Thanks!

Cool Basset thinks people who buy books are cool.

Cool Basset thinks people who buy books are cool.

Flash Fiction … Maps

I made a terrible mistake when I subscribed to Chuck Wendig’s blog. Now, every Friday I get these little writing challenges emailed to me. Sometimes, I’m able to read and file(writing coaches need prompt ideas), but some other times, an idea comes swinging its way out of my head, demanding some screen time. This Friday’s Flash Fiction Challenge was just such a thing. Because maps.

I’ll get into why I love maps at some point in the future, but until then, here is up to 1,000 words of Friday prompt. Thanks, Chuck Wendig. You distracting distractor.

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The lines on the map faded the moment Rose picked it up off the floor. She cursed out loud as first the shadings, then the characters, and finally the lines faded to a light gray–and then nothing. A deranged ghost of a giggle echoed in the air. Once again, she was forced to admit, she’d come off the worst in a bargain with the Fae.

Beside her, Frank chuffed and shook himself, Basset ears and drool flying in opposite directions. Jimmy bent over and wiped off his calf, then wiped his hand on his shorts.

“So where do we go now?” He squinted against the glare.

“It’s not like we have much choice.” Rose folded the blank map and stuffed it in her back pocket. Try as she could, she found herself unable to Grasp anything around her, the Magic curiously unresponsive under the harsh double sun. “We either follow him into the maze or we stand out here and die of boredom.”

Jimmy’s eyes did the focus-unfocus thing they always did when Frank was feeling conversational. “And starvation.”

“That, too.” From somewhere in the maze, something that sounded like a truck backfiring startled a flock of leather-winged creatures. They broke from cover, streaking in a disturbed circle, screaming. Just as abruptly, they re-settled on the walls, looking down into the maze. They weren’t too far away that Rose couldn’t pick out a distinctly eager vibe on their visages, as if the only thing they were missing was a bucket of popcorn.

“On the other hand, there are worse ways to go, so maybe we should just stay here.” Jimmy took a step back, almost falling over Frank, who had sheltered valiantly behind him.

“For real?” Rose shook her head and stepped off, choosing to head down the center path, straight into the maze.

A few yards into the labyrinth, Jimmy’s running steps thudded behind, and he and Frank pulled up next to her. They slowed, walking casually.

“So, interesting weather they’re having here.” Jimmy’s voice only shook a tiny bit. “This jerk couldn’t have picked a crossword for his big showdown?”

Rose snorted. “A crossword puzzle?”

“I don’t know–Find-A-Word? Maybe Sudoku?” His eyes unfocused again. “Trail of dog bones?”

“I’d prefer to not find any bones.” Rose stopped. “Speaking of which…”

The center path came to an abrupt end. They had been unable to see from entrance, because the makers of the labyrinth had shrouded the block with an optical illusion of slightly disjointed walls and an abundance of concealing ivy.

“Well, shit.” Rose stretched out her hand, sweeping the ivy to the side. In front of her, there was only more brick wall under the hanging leaves. To her right, she had more luck–a narrow path, barely large enough to walk through with her shoulders touching each side.

“I’ve got something over here,” Jimmy said. He pulled the ivy on the left side away for Rose to see. Instead of another path, this side was blocked by a large, wood door with thick iron ornamental hinges, and an old-fashioned key hole. Next to the door, a large church key hung from a rusted post. “You got any ideas?”

Frank lay down, resting his head on his front paws. It was the Basset version of a shrug.

“No ideas,” Rose replied. “Not even a coin to flip.”

She considered the two choices. An open path with no barriers–if narrow enough to set off her claustrophobia if it didn’t end soon. On the other hand, a door with a conveniently-placed key was definitely untrustworthy. Unless she was reading too much into the situation. Which was also possible. On the other hand…

Rose closed her eyes and shuffled sideways a few feet down the path. She waited. Nothing.

“Um, Rose?” Jimmy cocked his head and frowned, looking somewhat like Frank as he did so.

“Hang on.” Rose waited, then shuffled back to Jimmy’s side. Slowly, she reached for the key, pausing just before touching it. Nothing. “Here goes nothing.”

She picked the large, iron key off the post and placed it in the door. “Ow, crap. Crap, crap, crap.” Leaving the key in the keyhole, she grabbed at her behind. Jimmy watched in bemusement as she fumbled with her back pockets, then finally drew out the map.

Rose spread the paper out, holding it so Jimmy could see. The previously blank parchment now contained a small illustration–the two of them and Frank, standing before a door. She realized Jimmy was staring at her instead of the map.

“It got hot,” she said by way of explanation. “What the hell does this mean?”

“Maybe we’re supposed to go through the door?” Jimmy suggested.

“Or maybe we’re not supposed to go through the door.” Rolling her eyes at the supreme unhelpfulness of the Electric Fae, Rose re-folded the map, cool now to the touch. “Who knows. Let’s just do it and get going before something finds us.”

~ ~ ~

So, that wasn’t the total distraction it could have been. Instead, it was some good drafting for a future scene/showdown for Steel-Toed Blues or a future book in the series. I count it as good words, and I’m going to go and figure out where to stick it in my outline.

Thanks, Chuck Wendig. Happy writing!

Merely This and Nothing More: Poe Goes Punk

A few years ago, I found myself a little disenchanted with some of the writing groups on social media. It wasn’t that they weren’t fun–they were, but so distracting–or they weren’t filled with interesting people–they were, but again, so distracting… I found myself spending way too much time on social media wondering why I was getting in arguments about how to punctuate dialogue (punctuation goes INSIDE the quote marks, you use a comma instead of a period, and try to change up dialogue tags with actions every once in a while.) Just as I was leaving one of the bigger, NaNoWriMo-influenced groups, a friend brought me to Writerpunk. Here, I found my people.

As we talked about steampunk and dieselpunk and cyberpunk, and debated whether these up-and-coming punk genres were a “thing,” we also talked about some of the special challenges of being a punk. How do you set the world for a short story? How do you write in a new, undefined genre? Is solarpunk a thing?

And then … someone said, “Let’s do an anthology.”

Okay, folks, I have been in MANY writing groups over the years, and without exception, they have all at one time or another tossed around the idea of doing an anthology. So I hit the “like” button and thought nothing more of it.

Three anthologies and more than a hundred bucks donated to a local animal shelter later… I stand corrected. Yesterday, Merely This and Nothing More: Poe Goes Punk debuted as the third collection of short stories from Writerpunk Press. The first Writerpunk Press publication to include a story by yours truly (The Case of the Lonesome Cigar Girl in the Sixpenny Temple), it joins two volumes of punk’d Shakespeare on a publishing schedule that will have us bringing classic stories to new audiences through new interpretations for a few years.

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What makes this group successful in doing this anthology? First, almost everyone in the group is either a professional donating their time to charity, or else they act like a professional. While we’ve published some first-time authors, others (like me) have been published in a variety of markets. Thus, you get a collective effort to put out the best product possible. Yes, it’s anarchic at times–of course it is. We’re punks!

I encourage you to take a look at Poe Goes Punk, check out some of the reviews, and pick up a copy. All proceeds going to PAWS Lynnwood, an animal shelter and wildlife rescue located in the Pacific Northwest. If you like what you see, come follow us on Twitter, join us on Facebook, or start drafting your notes for our next anthology: English Class Goes Punk. If you are a teacher, and think this project could bring a fun angle on literature to your classroom, get in touch–one of our author collective may live near you.

And, if you’ve already read it, please consider leaving us a review on Amazon or Goodreads.

Happy reading, punks!

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BLURB

A clockwork raven. Two sets of irresistible teeth. A house brought to life by nanobots. A heart that won’t stop beating. All this and much more in the Writerpunk Press version of the beloved suspense stories by Edgar Allan Poe. We’ve pulled out all the stops this time around to bring you the very best punked versions of classic Poe tales, complete with shiny gears and tiny bots! In addition to the more familiar Cyberpunk and Steampunk, we’ve added Bio, Deco, and Dieselpunk genres to the mix. The resulting volume is a dynamic take on horror of which the Master of Macabre himself would be proud. Profits are to be donated to PAWS Lynnwood, an animal shelter and wildlife rescue located in the Pacific Northwest.

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ABOUT WRITERPUNK PRESS

We are a small, somewhat anarchic writers’ collective–a community of authors, illustrators, bloggers, poets, artists, graphic designers, and readers from all walks of life who are fans of cyberpunk, steampunk, dieselpunk, and associated genres.

Sound and Fury: Shakespeare Goes Punk, our first anthology of stories based on the Bard’s work, was published in March 2015. The second anthology, Once More Unto The Breach: Shakespeare Goes Punk 2, was released in December 2015. We have taken the plays that audiences have enjoyed for hundreds of years and reinvented them as cyberpunk, dieselpunk, Teslapunk, and steampunk tales. Featuring comedies and tragedies as well as a wide variety of punk genres, these collections have something for everyone. The anthologies have even been added to high school and college curriculums.

Our third collection, Merely This and Nothing More: Poe Goes Punk, will be published on May 31st.  In this anthology, we have punked classic tales penned by the Master of the Macabre. In addition to the more familiar cyberpunk and steampunk, we’ve added bio, deco, and dieselpunk genres to the mix.  As with all Writerpunk Press publications, a spirit of subversive fun is strongly encouraged.

Introducing “Black Lightning,” from K.S. Jones

About Black Lightning:
Life moves on — no matter what…
Following his father’s puzzling disappearance and his mother’s death, ten-year-old Samuel Baker goes through the motions of living in a world turned upside down. He wears an Apache talisman, a long ago gift from his father, in hopes its promise of strength and guidance is true. But what he truly wants is the power to bring his parents back.
Heartless Aunt Janis is elated at the prospect of becoming Samuel’s legal guardian. She is sure an orphan boy will elicit such an outpouring of public sympathy that her husband will win his Senate bid by a landslide. But when Grandpa Tate arrives, things don’t go as expected, especially when black lightning strikes!

 

From the award-winning author of Shadow of the Hawk
Title: Black Lightning
 Author Name: K.S. Jones
Genre(s): Middle Grade, Science Fiction, Fantasy
Length: Approx. 132 pages
Release Date: May 17, 2016
Publisher:  Mirror World Publishing (www.mirrorworldpublishing.com)
Follow the Tour for Reviews, Guest Posts, Exclusive Excerpts, and Spotlight Posts:
Read an Excerpt:
Samuel stood beside his mother’s rain-speckled casket. He had cried his tears dry, so there was no point in trying to find more.
“Chin up, young man,” Aunt Janis said as her fingers nudged Samuel’s jaw upward. “Death is just part of life, and our photographer needs a good picture of you for the newspapers.”
A camera flashed, leaving Samuel’s red and swollen eyes burning as if stung by the sun instead of grief.
So many important days had come and gone without his father, but surely he would come home today, wouldn’t he? Samuel closed his eyes. He pretended his father was beside him holding his hand. They had a right to hold hands, he told himself. Not because he was ten, but because it was his mother’s funeral. Two years had passed since his father left, never to be seen again. Vanished, was the word his mother had used. Into thin air, she’d said.
“Take that silly thing off.” Aunt Janis flicked Samuel’s wood and bead necklace.
“No,” he said and shook his head. “My dad gave it to me.” It was a pinewood tile, the size of a domino shaved nickel-thin, which hung from a leather cord around his neck. Burned onto the front side of the wood was a lightning bolt. Its flipside bore the blackened imprint of a tribal dancer. It had a turquoise nugget and a shiny black hematite bead strung together on each side. His father had given the talisman to him with a promise: It will guide you and give you strength when you need it most.
Today, dressed in a black suit and starchy white shirt, Samuel wore it in hopes the promise was true.
As mourners gathered, Samuel’s friend Brian came to stand beside him. “Hey,” he said.
“Hey,” Samuel answered without taking his eyes off the casket.
“Is that the necklace your dad gave you? You don’t usually wear it.” Brian’s wire-rimmed glasses slid down his straight arrow nose. He pushed them back up the bridge with one finger until they encircled his eyes again. “Can I see it? I promise I’ll give it right back.”
“It’s not a necklace.” Samuel pulled the leather cord off over his head, mussing his overgrown blond hair. “It’s a talisman.” He handed it to Brian. “My dad said it would help me, but it hasn’t done anything yet. I think it was just one of his stories. It’s probably just an old piece of scrap wood with a couple rocks tied to it.”
Brian shrugged after examining the piece then he handed it back to Samuel. “I think it’s cool. You should keep wearing it anyway.”
Nodding, Samuel hung the talisman around his neck again, but this time he dropped it down beneath his shirt where it was no longer visible. It felt warm against his skin.
“Has anybody told you where you’re going to live now?” Brian asked.
“Probably with Aunt Janis and Uncle Jack.”
Brian frowned. He kicked the tip of his shoe into the muddy soil. “They live so far away. Why can’t you just stay here and live with Mrs. Abel? She doesn’t have any kids.”
Mrs. Abel was their fourth grade teacher. She had plainly stated to all who would listen that her job was to teach the proper use of the English language to children who behaved properly. A babysitter, she had said, she was not. Today, she stood in the rain with the other mourners, eyeing the ground where the hem of her long, gray dress lay caked in mud. Tufts of brown hair jutted out from under her pink plaid scarf. Even though she stood a few feet from him, she had not spoken to Samuel since his mother’s death. Few people had. Everyone had words for Aunt Janis and they talked to Uncle Jack, but no one but Brian and a few classmates had spoken to him. Maybe talking to an orphan was harder than talking to a normal kid.Purchase Links:

Mirror World Publishing
http://mirror-world-publishing.myshopify.com/products/black-lightning-ebook

Amazon
http://amzn.to/24H7yrY

Barnes & Noble
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/black-lightning-ks-jones/1123660287?ean=9781987976120

Quote:

“If you’ve forgotten the magic that lives in a child’s heart, this book will remind you. Black Lightning is a rare and beautiful mythic journey about one boy’s struggle with paralyzing grief and the powerful bonds that can carry a person through this world and beyond…” W. Michael Gear and Kathleen O’Neal Gear USA TODAY and NEW YORK TIMES bestselling authors of People of the Thunder
Meet the Author:
Karen (K.S.) Jones grew up in California, but now lives in the beautiful Texas Hill
Country northwest of San Antonio with her husband, Richard, and their dogs Jack Black, Libby Loo, and Red Bleu. Black Lightning is her first middle-grade
novel. She credits her love of fantasy to the early influences of authors
J.R.R. Tolkien, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells. Her award-winning first novel, Shadow of the Hawk, a Young Adult Historical, released in 2015.
Visit K.S. Jones:

A Conversation with A.J. Norfield…

Welcome back, friends! Time to meet another author. A.J. Norfield is a fantasy writer and nature enthusiast–who also has some great advice on how to fight a predator with your bare hands. You can check out his debut novel, Windcatcher, currently running as a promotion on Amazon until 27 May. Go check it out!
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Q (Infamous Scribbler): On a scale of climbing out of bed to climbing Mount Everest, how much of a challenge do you find it to be a writer–and why?
A (A.J. Norfield): That depends on so many aspects in my life! Sometimes I feel like I can leap the tallest buildings when I’m writing my story, other times the smallest anthill seems like an unconquerable mountain. I write for fun, but there is a lot of discipline involved as well. That discipline helps you continue to write even on those difficult days.
How I see it, writing is usually not the obstacle, it’s normal life around it. If I sleep well, I tend to find it easier to write, are the days busy, then my head will hit the keyboard snoozing before I can type my third sentence.
So, let them come those mountains and they can witness themselves if I clear them in one jump, or that I just thank them for the magnificent view and fall asleep at their feet.
Q: What is the worst piece of writing advice you ever received?
A: Writing advice? What’s that? I think I’m lucky to be well informed by the many sources on the internet and the wonderful communities on the various platforms. This road to authorship has been my own adventure, a search to what works well for me. Thankfully I was able to stay away from most of the indie author pitfalls and was able to put my investment of time and money where there’s a real return of value.
I expect there’s still much to learn as well, but fortunately no one has yet come forward to give me bad advice, at this point.
Q: Which emotion do you find hardest to write, and why?
A: Oh, that is a difficult one. Love is complicated, a lot more than happy or angry. Sadness can be difficult to describe in all its depths. The challenge I find is in the complexity of all those emotions being present in your characters. Can you make them laugh, when they’re grieving? Love, when they’re angry? That internal turmoil that everyone feels inside, which is already so hard to express in our own daily lives, let alone to put it in (elegant) words on paper. Still…challenge accepted!
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Q: What is a genre you have never written, but think that someday you might possibly attempt?
A: I like toying with the idea to go full science-fiction after my initial series is done. Dragons in space anyone?! (IS Note: Why yes, please!!) I have some fun ideas. But with 5 books planned out to be written in the Stone War Chronicles, it will be quite some time before I can focus on anything else.
Besides that I would find it extremely interesting to write a well-crafted children’s book.
Q: What was the most challenging part of your latest work to write, and how did you overcome it?
A: My second book introduces a second main character. A strong female character, who will travel her own road during the events of the war. However at the same time, Raylan and Galirras–their journey continues as well. Since I’m a writer that writes beginning to end (I do not write separate scenes that I can switch around…at least not often), I found it difficult to keep switching between the two main storylines. Especially as one story unfolded in my mind at a quicker pace, than the other. In the end I decided to focus on one storyline first, complete that and then go back to continue the other.
As a result the story of the female character is now as good as done (first draft), which means I can soon get back to Raylan and Galirras to see how they can overcome their (new presented) obstacles.
Q: What animal could you fight with your bare hands–and win?
A: A dragon of course! Just kidding, I would never slay such a marvelous creature. As I work in the field of zoos, aquaria and conservation, I’m well aware of the danger animals can pose to us humans. Animals, especially predators, do not kid around. Anyone that can fight off a wolf, bear or shark with his/hers bare hands and life to tell the tale is extremely lucky in my opinion. The trouble is in the unpredictability; sometimes it best to stand your ground, other times you only survive by fighting back or running the other way as fast as you can. Shout at a bear, or play dead, stomp a shark on its nose and poke him in the eye, go berserk and strangle a wolf or a mountain lion.
One thing is for certain, if my kids would be in danger, I don’t care how big the threat is, that threat is going down…or I’ll die trying.
Q: What are you currently reading?
A: I’m reading Blood of Tyrants (Temeraire, #8) at the moment. This book is taking quite some time. Although I love the Temeraire series (it is one of my inspirations, together with the Dragonriders of Pern (IS Note: I love that series!), I feel less connected with this book in the series in comparison to the previous books. On top of that, I stayed away from dragon books (my favorite, duh) as much as possible, as I didn’t want to pollute my own storyline.
So…I’m ashamed to say Blood of Tyrants has been lingering around the house for more than a year now, but lately I’ve been making an effort to get toward the end and be done with it. And although I love reading, my writing has often taken priority during the last few years. If I wouldn’t it would be decades before I’m able to finish the books in my own series.
Q: Your bio states that you have loved dragon-fantasy stories all your life. What is it about this genre that captivates you?
A: As an admirer of nature (and animals in particular), the idea to have such a powerful, often intelligent creature next to you is just thrilling. Imagine your hand sliding along the warm scaled skin, feeling the muscles run below it. The lines of the tail, neck and horns. Magnificent wings that can block out the sun and if you’re lucky, to be invited up into the air. Be one among the elements, the rush of blood and adrenaline as together you dive-bomb down to ocean waters, to pull up at the last moment and feel your stomach go all the way to your toes. That kind of power and freedom is very alluring.
During my years as a falconer, I was able to build up a bond with one of the real world’s most magnificent creatures. And, I think my admiration of dragons and birds of prey might very well be intertwined, as I often use my experience with the birds as inspiration for the human-dragon bond in my books.
Q: What are you currently working on?
A: Book II in the Stone War Chronicles series. ‘Wavebreaker’ will continue where ‘Windcatcher’ left off. It seems to have become quite the project because of the two storylines and I’ve been debating with myself if I should split book II in two parts. If I don’t it will be quite a lot of pages. As I mentioned, ‘Wavebreaker’ will introduce a new female character, who will soon find out that the world is a lot bigger than she ever expected and that not all places will have the watergoddess to watch over them…
‘Wavebreaker’ is planned to be released in 2016, if all things go well.
Q: Anything to add?
A: Windcatcher will run its first ever discount promotion on Amazon from the 20th of May till the 27th of May. So be sure to grab your copy if you’re looking for an action-packed dragon adventure.
~ ~ ~

A.J. Norfield

Author Bio
A.J. Norfield lives with his loving family on land but below sea level. He tries not to worry too much about climate change and the melting of the polar ice caps. His wife and two rascals of children keep him engaged and grounded in life while he pursues goals of publishing a story that has been stuck in his head for years.
As a longtime forest and mountain enthusiast, he often wonders about his flat surroundings and how to escape them. In his free time, if available at all, he enjoys a wide variety of gaming, reading/writing, drawing and socializing. His interest in (dragon-fantasy) novels has followed him throughout his life ever since he was young enough to read. It was this interest—with a number of broken nights thanks to his daughter’s sleeping schedule—that eventually lead to his current undertaking to write his own dragon-fantasy series ‘The Stone War Chronicles’ and put it out into the world.
Inspired by established names like Anne McCaffrey, Terry Goodkind and Naomi Novik—to name only a few of many—he is ready to show the world what he has to offer.