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Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Author Interview with G.W. Jefferies

Mmm, I wonder what readers think when they see this cover? Is it about alien life forms? Rage? Pain? None of the above. I was lucky to interview the writer, Mr. Jefferies and this is what he had to say about his tour de force:

Tell us what the book is about:
Apolo Drakuvich presents a life of regret in epic proportions. Apolo sadly examines the events and decisions of his life, and the paths he took and should have taken. Apolo seeks peace of mind and justice, but flashbacks of his past continuously haunt him; moreover, he seems to be victimized by a corrupt justice system everywhere he goes.

From being called "dork" and bullied by "Cocaine Shane" during his school days, Apolo goes through a number of life changing events. One of the most defining moments of the book, peering deeply into his character, is the scene in which Apolo states, "I wasn't always like this. I'm a hardened, thicker skin, arrogant fool. Like all of us, past events have shaped me into the person I'm today. But I've gone through so much crap. This environment has changed me. The people. The stupidity."

What is special about the main character?
Apolo Drakuvich is an anti-hero.  He’s a person with a struggling value system and he is trying to make things right.  Whether or not that is that actual right thing to do is up to the reader but Apolo tries to make things right the only way he knows how.  He’s bad but there are people far worse than he is.

What conflicts drive the story?
There is a strong inner conflict that Apolo deals with for the entire story.  He’s a small time criminal but the pressure from society has turned him into something worse.  Drakuvich can’t stand the daily life of San Pinto.  Political corruption and a parasitic media only make things poorer for Apolo. 

What would you say the theme of the book is?  Apolo Drakuvich discusses pertinent issues of today's society, where it is next to impossible for offenders to live normal lives, despite the desire to do so.

Who would be most interested in this novel?
I think anyone who is interested in criminal justice or the law would like to read this book.  It is an important story that anyone can read and get something from.  Even though Apolo is a criminal, a lot of people can relate to this character in some way.

What prompted you to write the book?
It is an important story that had to be told.  Apolo Drakuvich is a work of fiction.  This is a slippery slope and the treatment of criminals needs to be reexamined before it is too late.  There has to be a balance of proper justice and punishment.  The punishment must fit the crime.  Lifetime registration…lifetime harassment does not help anyone, especially if it is a small crime.

When you write, how does it make you feel?
I love telling stories.  I put a lot of energy into what I write.  All of my emotions and feelings go into my works.  I don’t care how small or large the project is; I put all of my efforts into it.  I want both the reader and myself to be satisfied with my writing. I like to experiment with my writing.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t.  I just keep moving forward and try to tell a great story.

What authors inspire you?  Whose books can’t you put down?
I’m a huge fan of Hunter S. Thompson and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is one of my favorite books.  I really dig his style and I love the blending of truth and fiction.  Thompson lived a remarkable and crazy life.  It’s appealing to me the dual life of Thompson.  There was the character of Hunter S. Thompson or Raul Duke and the real Thompson.  Somehow he managed to bring both to life.  I’m also a fan of Chuck Palahniuk and his works.

Would you like to share any other stories or books that you have written?
I’ve written a book of poetry, “The Wind Changed as I Lay Dying.”  It is a collection of eighty-nine poems that come straight from the heart.  I also have a short story out on Amazon, Undead in the Head.

What projects do you have planned for the future?
I’m working on several novels and I plan on self-publishing them soon.

Book Category/Genre:  Dystopian Fiction, Literary Fiction
Link to book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004OEIT7E
Link to blog: http://www.ezbeanz.blogspot.com

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Sales for Dummies... ;-)

Smashwords is having a blow out July sale and after some of the lackluster novels I managed to come across, I was more than able to find a few gems. Did I mention all the gems I found were free? These gems include A Blade Away by Jack Wallen, Caught by the Tide by Lily Evans, and Trouble Down South and Other Stories by Katrina Parker Williams. Some of these novels were originally quite expensive, even for indies. I managed to score them all for free because the authors above were involved in Smashwords blowout bonanza which lasts this whole month.

Now, as you know, I already decided to give away The Proposal: Book One earlier this week. The deal was supposed to end on the 20th but I have decided to include it in Smashwords site wide sale so it has been extended until the end of the month. The Hook Up: Book Two, is also free during this month-long sale. Heartbreaks & Lust Aches: Book Three and Red Carpet Dreams: Book Four have been discounted 50% so they are $1.00 and $1.50 respectively.

I didn't realize how important Smashwords was as a platform to us indie writers until I read articles on this blog by David Gaughran, a brilliant Irish author who manages to bide his time in Sweden for the moment (link to his website is here: http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com). He explores some of the more shadier practices the amazing e-book retailer Amazon does to suck the money out of people not in their "choice" countries. If you do not live in the United States, Germany, the UK, Ireland, Australia, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, or Canada then you will be getting a hefty Whispernet surcharge of $2 to download an eBook from Amazon (on top of VAT; the author does not collect this money so you'd have to be an idiot not to realize who is benefiting). Barnes & Noble doesn't deal with customers outside of the United States. This is where Smashwords comes in to fill a mighty big void: not only do they distribute to other eBook retailers like Sony, B&N and iTunes, they allow international buyers (regardless where you live, whether that be France or South Africa) to download from their website in any eBook format and you pay no excess charges, just for the eBook itself (if it isn't free).

This is the reason why I decided to participate in Smashwords July extravaganza sale. More international customers should know they are being cheated by exclusively shopping through Amazon (and yes, Smashwords does have mobi format amongst their eBook offerings so you don't have to exclusively buy from Amazon just because you own a Kindle). 

I know this won't reach the amount of readers it should, which is why I have a secret weapon on Twitter and will have him retweet this post to his many, many followers. I hope Smashwords does well and finally gets the name recognition it deserves... not just from us writers but from readers as well.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Editing for Self-publishers by Karin Cox

Self-publishing has always suffered a bad reputation when it comes to quality, but guest blogger, author and freelance editor Karin Cox is now starting to see independent writers taking real pride in their work and ensuring it is as polished as possible before they publish—even paying an editor, a cover designer, and, in some cases, a publicist. As a result, the old stigma of self-publishing as a vanity exercise is fading as some successful independent authors, such as Mark Edwards and Lousie Voss and Amanda Hocking, are snapped up by agents and publishing houses.

Despite having worked in the trade publishing industry for more than 14 years, and being published by traditional publishers for children’s fiction and non-fiction, Karin’s forays into editing for self-publishers have inspired her to self-publish some of her own work. Her first poetry anthology, Growth, was published on Smashwords in June. Here’s what she has to say about editing for the self-publishing market.

I’m the first person to admit that a subjecting a book to an edit can be daunting, but as an editor and an author, I also know that the editorial process is necessary. Many people skimp on editing because they think it is too expensive (and it can be), but in reality, most freelance editors don’t charge for all of the hours they actually put into a manuscript. Why? Because writers would simply baulk at the cost, and, as in all markets, you’re only worth what people are willing to pay. For a long time it seemed the amount most self-publishers were willing to pay was nothing. And that has adversely affected the perception of quality in self-publishing.

That indie authors were reluctant to pay for editing was probably a result of them having to set aside a huge wad of cash to have their books printed. Nowadays, that cost has vanished. Using print-on-demand services for print books, or publishing e-books, has removed those costs, allowing authors to put their hard-earned dollars into professional editing and cover design instead, which are, in my opinion, much more important to the overall success of a story than what ‘container’ the words come in.

I think self-published authors are also far more aware of industry standards, largely thanks to the Internet and to really helpful networks of independent authors, agents and editors willing to share information.

In the past, many self-publishers thought editing was simply proofreading—picking up spelling errors or typos—rather than about dissecting a manuscript to see if it worked on many levels. There was a tendency to think, “Mum’s good at English, I’ll get her to do it.” But, usually, even the most literate mum or aunt, or even journalist friend, isn’t up-to-the minute on grammatical practices or preferred word usage in the book publishing industry. Even what I was taught at school is no longer common practice in some editorial styles. I’m seeing more and more independent authors with good grammatical knowledge and writing skills (and I’d urge all authors to invest in a style guide of their choice and really study their craft), but even so, an editor’s eye is objective in the way an author’s eye can never be.

Although every author, and every novel, is different, many of the writing errors I see are the same—showing instead of telling, overwriting, poorly punctuated or unauthentic dialogue, adjective and adverb overload, dangling modifiers, plot issues, and characters that lack dimension or the relevant motivation to play their “role” in the plot. Even from genre to genre, the issues vary only slightly. As a result, I rarely do straight proofreading or copy editing jobs, and tend to see myself as a freelance book doctor, focusing on a range of issues and offering a complete substantive and copy editing service for self-published authors, which means doing several reads through a manuscript and editing in track changes mode in Microsoft Word.

I know that there will always be authors out there who can’t afford to pay for a full edit, so I also offer manuscript appraisals, which are more affordable but far less comprehensive. Ideally, I’d love for all self-published authors to be able to afford the luxury of an edit, but I know that’s not always possible. It hurts to see a manuscript with so much potential crippled by flabby prose, or an overcomplicated plot, or battling on with characters whose actions are inconsistent or implausible. Thankfully, the more I work with the indie community, the fewer such books I’m seeing. My advice to indie authors would be: do what you can yourself and self-edit your book as carefully as you can, and then seek editorial advice. Also, remember to look at editing as an investment not a “cost.” It’s an investment in your writing skills and it’s an investment on behalf of your readers. Not paying for an edit could well cost you an audience.

You can read more of what Karin has to say about the publishing industry, editing and writing at www.karincox.wordpress.com or www.editorandauthor.com

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Guest Blogger Alert & A Free Book Giveaway!

Hey everyone! I am so sorry about not writing on my blog. I am getting ready to launch the fourth installment of The Beautiful People (Red Carpet Dreams) this weekend. I will also have a guest blog by Karin Cox in the next couple of days and three new trailers will be introduced for my series on Friday (or tomorrow, depending upon when Karin guest blogs). In the mean time to celebrate, I am giving away copies of The Proposal: Book One on Smashwords. The coupon code to use is NX49L. Don't wait as this offer expires on July 20, 2011. Thanks all for following my blog and tuning into my crazy life! 

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Flirting With Disaster?

It seems like it has been years since I wrote for this blog when in reality, I posted this past Thursday... okay, that was a week ago so it has been forever! I missed not writing in my blog but between jet lag and laundry, I didn't have much to say. I have been flirting with a potential concept for a future series but I didn't like what I had. Why? Well, because it is an overused concept as it is so if I don't approach it in a completely different way then nothing I write about it will enrich the much-used and cliched subject any more than it already has been. What am I talking about you ask? Vampires. Duh, what else?

Seriously, it has nothing to do with Amanda Hocking or Stephanie Meyer; my interest in vampire novels goes back much longer and deeper. Try Bram Stoker (yes, I did read Dracula after Francis Ford Coppola's movie came out in 1992 and thought the book was better). And Anne Rice. My sister has been a fan since the mid-80s and yes, I read Interview With A Vampire long before the film by Neil Jordan (a favorite by the way even though Tom Cruise is not one of my most beloved of actors) was released.

And if you think about the Vampire genre, how can it be revived or approached from a different way? Charlaine Harris took it down south (but it was already there with Anne Rice); Stephanie Meyer took it YA (followed by Amanda Hocking though AH has been quoted as saying her novels pre-date the Twilight series). There are so many books about vampires that it has become the "let's make some money" genre and the quickest way to mega-bucks or so it seems.

That being said, I can't resist not doing my own take. As we speak, I am doing research about the vampire legends and myths. I am reviewing previous work. I am doing my own series outline (yes, it will be a series of novels, each at least 90,000+ words and at least 7 in the series but I would like a nice even number like 8 or 10). It's difficult but I have finally come up with my own slant and I shall do teasers but that being said, I have an unfinished novel set in France, an 8-part series I completed almost ten years ago I am releasing as we speak and university begins again in late August. I don't know how I will do it all but somehow, I will manage to finish a complete outline for the series before the end of the month and start it in August.

I am really excited because this time, I am able to explore a genre I not only love but I get to drag world politics and my own favorite pet projects into the mix. This is going to be one of the most delightful series I have ever embarked on and hopefully, I'll make some new fans out of it. You can be sure it won't be YA friendly (I write for adults) and it will be extremely controversial and so very un-P.C.

What can I say? I have always loved to push the envelope and there is nothing better than flirting with something that can be praised as genius or something that is just short of a writing disaster.