Doreen Berger

The Captain’s Daughters is Doreen D. Berger’s first novel in a series about the adventures of the Marsh sisters, Diane and Robin. Doreen, known to her family and friends as Diane, has based the series on her relationship with her lifelong friend, Robin, and their spirited childhood escapades. Doreen lives on Long Island with her family and pets.

Tell me about your latest book and what inspired you to write it?

The Captain’s Daughters was inspired by my childhood escapades with my best friend Robin. We always seemed to find ourselves in hot water for a silly prank we pulled! We were both astronomy and science-fiction fans and dreamed about living on a starship. The book combines our not-so-good behavior with our dream of outer-space travel.

Did you choose self or traditional publishing?

I tried the traditional route…tried to get an agent and sent manuscripts to publishers who accepted unsolicited manuscripts, but didn’t get any bites. Instead, I got a pile of rejection letters, which can get depressing! Plus, traditional publishing is a long process and I decided I didn’t want to keep trying, so I delved into the self-publishing realm. Once I decided to self-publish, I looked around for an all-in-one publisher like Lulu or BookBaby but I found I didn’t want to give up control of the manuscript, which meant I had to do all the work myself. To tell the truth, it is a very daunting process and at times overwhelming! I got ISBN numbers, an LCCN, a copywrite, and even set up my own publishing company (PolarisPrint) to give the book a professional feel. I hired a professional editor and worked with her for a few months doing the required rewrites. Then I worked with a company that did the cover and inside formatting. I set the book up on KDP as an eBook and paperback, and also set it up on IngramSpark so it can be ordered by bookstores and libraries. I am now starting to do the marketing and I am shocked at how time consuming it is.

Describe your writing routine. How many hours a day/days a week do you write?

When writing the Captain’s Daughters I tried to write every day for a few hours. It’s funny how that works…sometimes I can only write a couple of pages and sometimes I sit down at 9:00 a.m. and the next thing I know it’s dinner time! I have written the second book in the series but it needs some TLC before I can send it to the editor, but because of all the marketing I am trying to do, I don’t have as much time to get to it.

How do you name your characters?

The Captain’s Daughters is based on my lifelong friendship with my childhood friend, Robin, and so the names in the book are Diane (my nickname) and Robin! As for the other names, since it is a science-fiction book, I can make up funny sounding names. And sometimes, I have opened a phone book (yes, I have one of those lying around) and just randomly picked a name!

Do you have any more books that you have written or plan to write and publish? What are your plans for them?

I have the second book in the series already written and waiting for the editor, and I have the first chapter of the third book written. The third book really needs time because I am not sure of the plot yet, but I haven’t had the time to give it the attention it needs.

How do you go about obtaining book reviews? Do you read them? How do you deal with the good and the bad ones?

Oh, book reviews…the bane of my existence! I have spent a lot of time contacting bloggers in my genre (middle-grade) with hopes of them agreeing to read and review the book, but they have so many books to read it is hard for them to commit, and when they do agree, they can’t get to it for months. Very frustrating! Yes, I read the reviews. I am thin-skinned so the not-so-good ones really bother me! The first review I got wasn’t the best and it almost defeated me, but I quickly got a couple of really good reviews and that boosted my spirits.

Do you prefer reading print, audio or ebooks? Why?

I love the feel of a real book, but I usually read eBooks because they are so convenient, especially when on vacation. I’m not good with audio books…my mind starts to wander and I suddenly realize I haven’t heard the last few pages.

There are many trends in self publishing that have come and gone. What do you think is going to change next in the self or traditional publishing landscape?

I would certainly like to see all-in-one (self) publishers do a better job, especially in the area of marketing. But most of all, I’d like to see self-published books taken more seriously as there are so many good ones out there. It is so hard to get a self-published book into a brick and mortar store and I hope that will change in the future. From what I have seen and read, traditional publishers tend to be myopic in the books they choose and they give most of their money to their big money-makers. A lot of the marketing still has to be done by the author.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Keep writing…write the best book you can…have it professionally edited.

Who is your favorite author, book? The last book you read?

I have so many favorite books, but I guess my all-time favorite is Gone With the Wind. Historical Fiction is my favorite genre and I am currently reading Hour of the Witch by Chris Bohjalian. I love a good mystery and thriller and I wait eagerly every July for Daniel Silva to release his new book! I enjoy the Jack Reacher books by Lee Childs, and all of James Patterson books, especially the Alex Cross series. As a teenager, I loved Daphne du Maurier’s books. I could go on and on!

How do I find you on the Internet?

Visit my website.

Peri Heft

Peri Heft is a 360-degree health and wellness coach who educates, encourages, and inspires others to improve their Meals, Movement, and Mindset. As a certified nutritionist, yoga and fitness instructor, personal trainer, and lover of all things health and holistic wellness, her knowledge and experience surrounding food and its effect on the body plays a large role in her success as a leader, educator, trainer, and author. In her spare time, she enjoys cooking, working out, creating artwork, enjoying live music, exploring the outdoors, and spending time with friends and family.

Tell me about your latest book and what inspired you to write it?

I've always cooked meals and shared recipes, but as my social media accounts grew bigger and bigger, and as I started taking on more clients in the Health and Wellness industry, people just kept asking for my recipes. Anytime I would share a dish on, let's say Instagram, I would get several comments and messages asking for the recipe. So I figured, why not create a book that I could sell to folks who want "in" on my cooking style, and provide one to my private clients too!?

Did you choose self or traditional publishing?

I chose self publishing because my goal was never to make a bunch of money with this book. I moreso wanted to do it as a JOY in bringing my love for food and macro-based nutrition to others. Self-publishing seems less intimidating, and also more cost-effective, so I figured this was the way to go for my first book. I went from book manuscript to finished versions (e-book and printed spiral-bound book) by simply saving the file and finding a printer to print and spiral-bound my books for those who wanted physical copies.

Describe your writing routine. How many hours a day/days a week do you write?

Honestly... it took me about a year to create and document all 52 recipes, which makes sense given how many weeks there are in a year. I would do the recipes in batches -- typically 3-5 recipes at a time (sometimes taking hours), then kept adding to it as the year went on. Editing was the most tedious process, and I ended up outsourcing that just to help with consistencies and catching mistakes.

How did you come up with your images and graphics?

My background is in digital and social marketing, so I'm already a "whiz" in PowerPoint. Since that's a format I know well, I decided to create my book in PowerPoint, using my logo, color scheme, and a basic design that I felt presented the information well. All the photos are original -- the dishes were created by me, and I took the photos and edited them before placing them into the book.

Do you have any more books that you have written or plan to write and publish? What are your plans for them?

I don't have any other books at the moment, but would love to create a 4-6-week bootcamp workout guide to inspire people to work out consistently (with a plan), and in a format that's approachable and will show results. I may want to create that in a digital app format as well, so that one is on pause at the moment until I figure out my scalable and cost-efficient options.

How do you go about obtaining book reviews? Do you read them? How do you deal with the good and the bad ones?

I will probably do that manually to add them to my site (ask people to write reviews and share them there). I haven't decided how I want to tackle Amazon yet... As for the good and bad reviews -- I'm all about customer service and account management, and have done a lot of that in my days in marketing and advertising. I think it's important to respect people's opinions and use it as constructive feedback for next time.

Do you prefer reading print, audio or ebooks? Why?

I prefer audio books for quick, short topics while I'm cleaning or cooking, and I prefer printed books for non-fiction, as I like to highlight. If it's a "beach read" or something light, I don't mind ebooks.

There are many trends in self publishing that have come and gone. What do you think is going to change next in the self or traditional publishing landscape?

I think MANY people are finding ways to "do it themselves" these days-- especially with the rise in entrepreneurship and innovative ways of doing business. I can only imagine that it will trickle into the publishing field. More content, more workbooks, more podcasts, more webinars, etc.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Just start writing! It took me an entire year to put this thing together, but now that it's "a thing," I couldn't be more proud of myself for finally deciding to just START.

Who is your favorite author, book? The last book you read?

I love everything self-help. I love books that inspire me to be a better person, and educate me on tactics and ways to do that. I love books that make me think about my habits and who I hang out with and how that affects my life. I love books that make me question if I'm on the right path, and if not, how to redirect the trajectory of my life to make sure I'm living it to my fullest potential.

What was the best and the most challenging part of the process to get your book from idea into readers hands?

THE WORK that goes into it -- the hours writing, working on it, editing... etc. It's work, but if you want it, you'll make it happen!

How do I find you on the Internet?

Visit my website.

Angela Thompson

Angela Thompson is a writer of children's books. She holds a degree in Health and Human Services and has worked in the field for numerous years. Her books rhyme to hold the children's attention while they are learning. She currently has two books on the market, "Who Has Seen the Wind, Today?" and "How We Get From Here to There!" Her books can be purchased on the Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites.

Tell me about your latest book and what inspired you to write it?

It is titled "How We Get From Here to There?" It's a rhyming book about transportation. It is written in a humor mode and I wanted it to be fun to read yet an easy way to learn about transportation. It was inspired by my grandson's love of big trucks. He was so excited when saw them while traveling and he liked books about big trucks.

Did you choose self or traditional publishing?

As a small child, I can remember dreaming of becoming a writer. I would re-write children's books with a different ending and my after-school hours were spent reading. I choose self-publishing because I wanted to see my book in print, but I would like to get published by a traditional company. I web searches different self-publishing companies until I found one I could afford, then I sent in a copy of my manuscript. The company sent a list of questions I had to answer, and I also had to send in the pictures that I wanted in my book in the order that I wanted them. Then I had to approve a copy of the book and they published it. From there is was ready for purchase.

Describe your writing routine. How many hours a day/days a week do you write?

This was kind of a hard question to answer because sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night and write down ideas or between the hours of 3 and 4 am. I like Dr. Seuss' books, especially Green Eggs and Ham. I can still remember it almost word for word. I mention this because my ideas about books almost always come in rhymes. Sometimes I will write for a week then put it aside. It took about a year to get this book together.

How do you go about obtaining book reviews? Do you read them? How do you deal with the good and the bad ones?

I don’t have as much time lately to read every book review that comes through, but when I do, I appreciate both the positive and negative. Constructive feedback fuels motivation to approach revisions and new assignments, it provides a possible vantage point of where work may have fell short and also tells me what is working and what to keep doing. I joined an online book club and had them to review my second but mostly family and friends wrote reviews.

Who does your illustrations? Did you or someone you know create them or did you hire someone? What was the experience like?

The first book was illustrated by the publishing company, but I always wanted my daughter to do my illustrations. She did in the second one, "How We Get From Here to There?" I was sometimes anxious, impatient and a little bossy at times because I thought she was taking too long, but I also was excited.

How many unpublished or unfinished books have you written and set aside? What are your plans for them?

I have two finished but unpublished ones and five unfinished ones. I plan on finishing them, but I would Like to work with a traditional publisher.

Do you prefer reading print, audio or ebooks? Why?

Personally, I prefer print. I like the idea of sitting somewhere comfortably and reading and just begin able to turn the pages. I think this is because I'm a visual person and plus the bright light from the tablets causes my eyes to burn.

There are many trends in self publishing that have come and gone. What do you think is going to change next in the self or traditional publishing landscape?

I think in the self-publishing landscape it is their respect level that will change, because it seems to me that books are not held valuable or worse looking if they are self-published. In traditional publishing, hopefully it will become a little easier to get published by them.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

To keep pursuing your dream. Do not let someone else's opinion become what you think of yourself or your writing. If you publish with a self-publishing company, know that you will have to be the main one that promotes your book as they basically just publish what you write.

Who is your favorite author, book? The last book you read?

James Patterson, "Double Cross"

Dr. Sabina Khan, PhD

Dr. Sabina Khan, PhD, is a research scientist, clinical professor and freelance writer of brain health, nutrition and scientific articles in Miami, FL. Dr. Khan’s research falls at the intersection of neuroscience and women’s health and is focused on how our genetics, diet, environment and lifestyle shape the brain.

Tell me about your latest book and what inspired you to write it?

I have been working as a licensed clinician for nearly ten years and seeing the ins and outs of neurodegenerative conditions, working with patients with Alzheimer’s, Dementia, speaking with family members of patients suffering from cognitive deterioration, I was often asked about preventable factors. I wanted to dive into if living a healthier lifestyle, our diet and nutrition could really outweigh genetic predisposition and make a significant difference for individuals with these conditions or at-risk with respect to brain health. Time and time again, I have found brain chemistry is absolutely changed by food, pollutants and lifestyle choices. This lead to my research deeper into neuro-nutrition and inspired me to write “Feeding Your Brain” for those wanting to take control of their brain health.

Did you choose self or traditional publishing?

I consulted with a few publishing companies and decided on teaming up with Fulton Books as they assist with both distribution and marketing. .

Describe your writing routine. How many hours a day/days a week do you write?

As a busy mom of two and a full-time university professor, I write when I find the time and when I feel motivated. Much of my writing is inspired by evidence-based research, wanting to bring health and wellness disparities to light and advocate for women whose brain health is often overlooked. Women’s health has traditionally focused on breast and gynecological health and for years we have turned a blind eye towards this important women’s health issue: women’s brains.

How do you go about obtaining book reviews? Do you read them? How do you deal with the good and the bad ones?

I don’t have as much time lately to read every book review that comes through but when I do, I appreciate both the positive and negative. Constructive feedback fuels motivation to approach revisions and new assignments, it provides a possible vantage point of where work may have fell short and also tells me what is working and what to keep doing.

Do you prefer reading print, audio or ebooks? Why?

Paper is potentially a more satisfying way to experience a book but at times when traveling, paper books may be heavy and cumbersome to carry along. Therefore, I have become accustomed to enjoying audiobooks especially when on the road.

There are many trends in self publishing that have come and gone. What do you think is going to change next in the self or traditional publishing landscape?

Self-publishing certainly gives authors more control over their own work. Authors in 2021 should expect to do things such as hiring a team for editing, marketing and creating business plans around a personal brand or book. A literary agent can help find the perfect editor, coordinate your book launch and guide you through the publishing process as well.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

No one sees the world quite the same way you do, share your unique perspective. The more comfortable you are concentrating intensely for long periods of time the more successful and productive you will be. Start with training your own cognitive fitness before diving into your first big writing project similar to how you would train your cardiovascular fitness prior to running a marathon.

Who is your favorite author, book? The last book you read?

Mark Hyman, M.D, “Food Fix” is a recent favorite.

How do I find you on the Internet?

Visit my website.

Brad Richard

Brad Richard is the Author of the book "Man at 50 - A Journey of Crisis, Revelation and Survival!" His speaking, mentoring and coaching is focused on helping people move forward with their lives through his unique system of going back to move forward! He currently lives in East Texas with his wife. He is a full time security officer, Realtor® and Host of the Podcast "Man at 50!" His goals are simple: help at least one person and leave his story behind for others to learn, benefit and grow by! 

Tell me about your latest book and what inspired you to write it?

Man at 50 - A Journey of Crisis, Revelation and Survival is my Autobiography, my story of a life filled with fear, sexual identity questions and codependency. I lived a life of a child for the 1st 50 years of my life. My life changed dramatically after I decided my life had to change and the time had come for me to step up to Manhood!

Did you choose self or traditional publishing? How did you go from book manuscript draft to finished book? Where is the book available for purchase?

I self published my 1st book with the help of Outskirts Press. I submitted my manuscript to them and they walked me thru the process to bring it to market. It is available for purchase on my website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and thru bookstores everywhere.

How many hours a day/days a week do you write?

When I was writing, about 10 hours a week in between working full time. I wrote on my days off, but did not have a set writing schedule.

How do you name your characters?

I named my character Robert in my book. I gave all other people involved in my life fictitious names and I used a pen name - S. Richard.

How many unpublished or unfinished books have you written and set aside? What are your plans for them?

I have a co-authored book coming out in the Fall of 2020 & I have a manuscript started for my second book, which will be a self help book, hopefully published end of 2020 or early 2021.

How do you go about obtaining book reviews? Do you read them? How do you deal with the good and the bad ones?

Mostly through Twitter & LinkedIn, also through interviews I have given on Podcasts and Radio Shows. I have reviews from Goodreads and from other Authors. Good ones help me stay focused on my mission and so far I have not had any bad ones!

Do you prefer reading print, audio or ebooks? Why?

Audio! So many things to do with my business, full time job, family and life’s challenges, audio is the best way for me to learn and grow from the words of others.

There are many trends in self publishing that have come and gone. What do you think is going to change next in the self or traditional publishing landscape?

I believe that audio/video and online content will explode over the next few years and that people will be consuming content like air, personal growth will expand & learning will become second nature. People crave other people’s stories, they want to hear more, do more and learn more than ever before.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Just empty your mind, heart and soul onto paper, clean it up later and do not let anyone tell you your story isn't good enough, we all have a story in us! The Saddest Story, Is the One Never Told! Don’t keep it inside, share and know this, there will always be someone who will gain, benefit or be touched by your words, don’t let them down!

Who is your favorite author, book? The last book you read?

I have so many, Zig Ziglar, Tony Robbins and my friend Corey Poirier, author of the book: The Book of Why & How!

How do I find you on the Internet?

Visit my website or contact me via email. You can also follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Teresa Pérez

Teresa Pérez is an American expat living in Argentina with her husband, two dogs, myriad cacti and assorted plants, and the errant wild birds that visit her two bird feeders on any given day. Oh yeah, and the daughter of Cuban immigrants.

Tell me about your latest book and what inspired you to write it?

My latest book is the second in a children’s book series. The idea behind the series is to get children (and their parents) interested in geography and other cultures through the adventures of a loveable, yet imperfect dog. The books blend facts about the country featured in each installation presented alongside a fictional storyline with interesting cultural tidbits scattered throughout. I typically highlight things that are less known or something one might not find in typical tourist literature to offer a more unpredictable adventure and engage both adults and children. I have purposely chosen places off the beaten track in each country, not the most famous cities, as touristy places can often have more outside influence and may not truly reflect the local culture. I also include things which link one country to another (in the series) to highlight the fact that we, as humans, have more in common than one might think, no matter how different our cultures may seem.

This second book was inspired by my time in Uganda working for an NGO. Having never visited the African continent before, I had no expectations but was utter overwhelmed at how friendly, curious and lovely Ugandans are. Everywhere I went, I found a kinship with the local people and shared stories and time with people which has left a lasting impact. When I tell people that the Ugandans are the friendliest people I have ever met in my travels, it always surprises them - for preconceived notions really, not based on any actual experience. Some of their traditions, perhaps “ways of thinking” is a better way to express it, are ideas that are simple but profound at the same time and, in my opinion, worth sharing. I truly wanted to impart this experience, especially with young people, who have not been influenced by the world yet. I firmly believe if children are curious at a young age, this will follow them throughout life and hopefully lead to a desire to learn more about the world around them and form opinions based on facts and experience and not just hearsay.

I have been traveling and living abroad for almost 20 years now. I have heard so many notions adults have about different countries without having ever travelled themselves. I was a bit taken aback by this realization and decided I wanted to do my small part in making a positive change, starting with young people. Adults often get caught up in the practical differences about countries – the language, access to services, level of development – and forget that there are people and cultures with long and wonderful traditions which are overlooked in the process. Children don’t have these notions yet and are more likely to engage in a story they like and become curious about where it is in the world; my sincere hope is that they then read more. When I was a kid, I received a “pen-pal” through a service and that contact with the world outside mine was enough to plant the seed of curiosity within me. With the world changing, not always in the best ways, finding commonalities in our fellow man around the world is something we need now more than ever. Hopefully, Joaquin’s adventures will inspire kids to look outside of themselves and their own cultures and find the good in the world that exists outside their realities.

What is your personal publishing story? Self or traditional?

I self-publish. I found the venue Lulu via a friend and ran with it.

After researching how to get a book published, all the literature stated that winning notoriety in competitions is a first step in attracting publishers. There are so many competitions, it left me spinning. There is a cost with each, which can also be rather limiting. Furthermore, it’s daunting to know which competitions are better than others when starting out. Since I live outside the US, it also adds another layer to the difficulty. Self-publishing gave me the freedom to feel the sense of accomplishment of a finished product and not lose motivation. I can appreciate that publishers have a daunting task ahead of them, and the steps are a way to reduce the number of manuscripts that cross their desks, but after attending workshops and speaking directly with editors, the overwhelmingly negative feedback – not of my product, but about actually having my manuscript just read by someone-was enough to almost make me give up. When I learned of the option to self-publish, I decided it was a good place to start. It’s a place where I can hone my craft, get feedback to see where I can make improvements, and know that I have a finished product of value, all the while providing access to traditional publishers.

How many hours a day/days a week do you write?

This a difficult question to answer. My writing style is a process. My background is in photography and cinema, so I visualize concepts long before putting them on paper. I literally see the “movie”- or even “scenes”- in my head and then put words to those images to paper in ink! I often sketch what imagery I would like for each block of text. Only after I have it down on paper do I sit at the computer and type it up. I often make changes at that stage, but usually, I type what I have previously written on paper and then do a read through and start the editing process. I am not sure what that translates to in hours or days, because a lot of the process takes place in my head. It may sound corny, but I actually spend quite a bit of time in my head developing the story.

How do you name your characters?

I generally name characters after people who have positively influenced me in my life or have played the role the character is for Joaquín in my own life.

How many unpublished or unfinished books have you written?

I currently have three unfinished works in progress. Book 2 in Joaquín’s series, a short sci-fi story and a screenplay.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the good and the bad ones?

For now, I read them. I am still learning and feedback can be incredibly helpful. It’s never easy to read criticism of something so dear to you, but I try to weed out “negativity” and stick with the constructive criticism. I often ask children to proofread and give me feedback. Honestly, I have received some excellent observations from them and useful suggestions which have allowed me to improve my work. While professionals are undoubtedly an incredible resource, more and more often it seems that there is a “formula” that one needs to follow for success in the industry that children simply do not have programmed into them yet. I like their unhindered views and since they are the audience, I value their input immensely.

Do you prefer reading print, audio or ebooks? Why?

The digital age is another element I have battled with. I firmly believe that children need to spend less time on digital media if there is another option available. Who knows what the future will bring? But I truly wanted my book read in print format, not digital. I envision parents reading my physical books with their kids – turning the pages and seeing the colorful imagery and sharing in the adventure. I know that I could reach a larger audience by offering an ebook option, but since my target audience is children, I will stick to my convictions for now. In the future, I may have to add a digital version given that my books take place in countries which might not have easy access to shipping or printing as in the US and I want children, wherever they may be, to have access to these stories.

As for myself, having lived on three different continents and all that moving from country to country implies, the ebook can be an incredible space saver! It has also allowed me to venture into literature I might not have purchased in print and give it a shot. That being said, my favorite books always end up in print form in my library - so there is a reverence I have for printed books which ebooks can never replace.

I do have to mention that the audio book was one of the best inventions of our time. I first tried an audio book after injuring an eye and having to bandage both eyes to facilitate healing. This was over 20 years ago. I called the library in desperation and they sent me books on cassette. Yes, they have been around that long! After my eyes healed, I went back to printed books and forgot about the audio book. Then many years later, I worked a job which had me on the road for hours over the course of each day. In an effort to reduce road rage, I began to listen again; I have been hooked ever since. In our multitasking world, focusing on one thing and one thing only is necessary. The audio book helped me learn how easily my mind could get distracted and forced me to focus. Now, I find it a very calming activity. I often think of how unfortunate it is that cultures based on story-telling are dying out and how verbal storytelling, even within families, is becoming a thing of the past. My father was always telling stories of his life growing up in Cuba or hilarious anecdotes of his first years after immigrating to the US. He still loves a good story. It’s one thing we have shared throughout our lives and perhaps one of the reasons I strive to carry on this tradition. The audio book has something of this and the energy and character voices put forth by the readers are phenomenal.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Don’t second guess yourself. Write your story. It makes no difference if you become famous or even do anything with it. If you have what you feel is “a story” brewing within you, it deserves a life of its own.

Who is your favorite author, book?

To be completely honest, I hate this question. I have had different favorites at different times of my life for very different reasons. One book that stands out would be The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Her ability to tell the same story from the different perspectives of five females, incorporating the different ages of the characters, resonated with me. I am sure this has to do with being the youngest of 6 children and how our perception of similar events has been a recurring theme throughout my life.

How do I find you on the Internet?

You can purchase Joaquín the Hairless Dog at my Lulu store

Matt Ingwalson

Matt Ingwalson is an author of genre fiction including mysteries, thrillers and horror stories. He has published multiple books including SHELF UNBOUND'S BEST INDIE NOVEL OF 2015 and the award-winning Western noir Sin Walks Into the Desert. 

Tell me about your latest book and what inspired you to write it?

The Baby Monitor: A Novella of Family Horrors is about how everyday life drives you insane. The bills that won’t stop coming. The alarm clock you forget to turn off on the weekends. The flat tires. The broken washers. Sometimes it almost seems like there’s some evil force tormenting you.

In The Baby Monitor: A Novella of Family Horrors, you meet Richard and Lissa, two young parents who can’t sleep. Every night their infant son wakes them up screaming, crying, gripped by a terror he’s too young to name. But does he simply have nightmares? Is his nursery haunted? Or there is something even darker eating away at the sanity of this new family? It’s a book about secrets, sleeplessness and stress.

What is your personal publishing story? Self or traditional?

All eight of my published works were too short for traditional publishers. So I never considered going the old-fashioned route. I’m very lucky in this regard. I have a career I love, so I can write what I want and not worry about fitting into the traditional mold. That being said, I just finished a full-length novel. And I’m trying to find a traditional publisher for it.

Why the shift?

Mary Monster is a mashup of urban surrealism and gothic horror. Dance Dance Dance meets Penny Dreadful. My first-person protagonist narrates the story in an awkward faux-1976 Manchester slang. And he drops dozens of indie music references, some explained and some that'll only make sense to the sort of person who obsesses over The Smiths.

This book would be a disaster if I published it myself. Because the type of people who download self-published fiction do it expecting error-free genre fun. That means the first wave of reviews would be terrible. Some jerk would claim my book was riddled with typos. And Amazon's algorithm would bury Mary Monster before it got a chance to find an audience.

How many hours a day/days a week do you write?

Totally varies. I spend 10 hours a week on unpaid personal projects. That includes my songs, podcasts, poetry and fiction.

How many unpublished or unfinished books have you written?

I’m prolific. Maybe too prolific. I’m actually trying to slow down and spend more time polishing projects before I move on. In my personal Dead Book Files, I have two finished books. (I shared the reason I canned one of them in a blog post named No Damn Character Arcs.) And I have three or four novels that stalled out after 20,000 words or so. I also have a dozen or so short stories just sitting around. Sometimes I share one with my email list as a freebie.

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the good and the bad ones?

Of course I do. The good ones encourage me, make me feel like I’m not shouting into a dry well. Usually bad reviews don’t bum me out too much, as long as they are fair. I guess there’ve been a couple that upset me. For instance, one reviewer accepted a free copy of one of the Owl & Raccoon mysteries, and then gave it one star because she “doesn’t like mysteries.”

A review like that can really hurt, because it tanks your average and your algorithm. But there’s nothing you can do about it. You just have to move on.

Do you prefer reading print, audio or ebooks? Why?

Print. I’m glad people are out there reading my books on Kindle. But I spend too much time staring at screens already.

What do you think is going to change next in the self-publishing landscape?

World-building around fictional properties. I published The Baby Monitor: A Novella of Family Horrors as a podcast, a YouTube series, Kindle book, print book and Twitter feed.

There are more than 2,000 books published every day. If you don’t want yours to sink into the abyss, you have to take advantage of your time and passion to make a splash on day one.

On a less optimistic note, it’s insane how many frauds make money through clickfarms and plagiarism. I hope Amazon finds a way to crack down.

What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

Have a goal. If you want to make a living at this, you need to define a genre, follow the conventions, and write compelling, fast-moving stories. If, on the other hand, you want to publish books for your own personal satisfaction, that’s cool too. Follow your vision.

(Of course, if you happen to be the next Thomas Pynchon, another set of rules apply, you know?)

Also, have the second book in a series finished before you publish the first one. Your best chance to get noticed is to give away thousands of free copies of your first release. You need to have your second book published as soon as possible, so all those new readers can go buy it right away. If you wait a year or two between releases, it’s too late. You’ve been forgotten and Amazon has buried your book. And since very few sites and lists will let you advertise the second book in your series, you basically have to start over again, re-advertising your first book.

Who is your favorite author, book?

God, so many. I think the world of Thomas Pynchon, Cormac McCarthy and Mark Helprin. People who can really make you love the language. But I also like hard-boiled stuff by Jim Thompson, Dennis Lehane, Don Winslow and Joe Lansdale. James Ellroy lives somewhere is between - a visionary stylist who writes gritty crime novels. If you want, you can follow my reads and reviews on Goodreads.

How do I find you on the Internet?

This is literally the easiest thing to do in the history of the world. You can start with these links.