All posts by sroche

Interview with Doc Coleman (Three Questions)

(This is part  “Three Questions With Xxxx“. If you’re interested in taking part click here and fill out the form.)

Doc and I have worked together on a number of projects and I love his imagination. His writing style is full of wonder and I’m looking forward to his new book launch. So, to let you get to know him a little bit, I asked him some questions. Enjoy!

1)Much of what you’ve written falls into the steampunk “genre”. What appeals to you about it?

For me, part of the allure of steampunk is that anything can happen. Nothing is out of bounds. You have mad scientists who can create futuristic technology, or bizarre life forms. You can have aliens come to earth, or humans go to their planet. On top of that, you can have eastern mysticism, ancient magics, fairies, werewolves, vampires, mummies, and anything else that goes bump in the night. It is pretty much the genre where all other genres meet. You can have adventure, romance, intrigue, and horror. Or all of them at once. The possibilities are just endless. And sorting through them is a ton of fun.

Writing Perils of Prague, and building the world of the Eternal Empress, I concentrated more on mad science and adventure. In the process, I kind of stepped on some of the characteristic mad technology that one usually sees in a steampunk world, but we’ll see some of that in future stories. A Walk in the Park, the short story I wrote for Flagship, had more of the tech, and just a touch of magic. That story is actually going to become part of the introduction for the fourth Crackle and Bang adventure, A Cuckoo in the Nest. The story I did for The Way of the Gun, The Shining Cog, is much more of a gadget-driven steampunk story, but also takes a look at religion and philosophy, and has a very different flavor.

2) As a new author you’ve elected to self publish your upcoming novel. Why go that route as opposed to shopping it around?

I blame Tee Morris for that one. I considered shopping Perils to traditional and small publishers, but I saw what happened to Tee with his Billibub Baddings novels. His rights got tied up with a publisher that wasn’t willing to support the series, and it hurt the property. By the time he got his rights back, Tee had other properties that were selling better and he felt he couldn’t continue with the series. While I don’t fault Tee for his decision, I didn’t want to lose control of the Adventures of Crackle and Bang. I knew from the get-go that it was going to be an open-ended series, and I always wanted to be able to put out a new book when I was ready. For me, the only way to be sure of that was to hold onto my rights and self-publish.

This also means that when I get ready to shop another property out to traditional publishers, I will already have built an audience and a following, which should make those properties more appealing.

3) As a voice actor, writer, and podcaster you’ve engaged in a lot of creative pursuits. How do you balance your time between them/prioritize them?

Poorly. Between the day job and spending time with my loved ones, it doesn’t leave a lot of time to pursue my creative pursuits. When I’m in a writing phase, I try to make an hour a day to work on writing, but it doesn’t always happen. Podcasting can often take more time. It is easy when someone else is doing the editing, as you just have to show up to record, but when you have to edit episodes, that really needs a block of time to really focus on the audio. Narration and voice acting is pretty much the same. I love jobs where I just have to record my lines and send in the raw audio, then I’m done, unless there are re-takes. For a while, my wife was doing my editing for me, but she hasn’t been able to do that in a while and I’ve had to really cut back on my audio production for the past year. I hope I’ll be able to get back into doing more audio after Perils gets published.

As for priorities, pretty much family comes first. After that, I was working on the Balticon Podcast, but last summer I realized that I needed to focus on publishing Perils or I would never get it done. With Perils almost done, I want to try to catch up with the podcast, and maybe look at picking up some narration work this summer. But I also have another writing project that another author really wants to work on with me. So, I’m going to have to figure out what project I’m going to put first, and plan how much time I am going to have for secondary projects. It is a balancing act, and the balance is always changing.

http://swimmingcatstudios.com
http://amazon.com/author/doccoleman
Twitter: @scaleslea
email: Doc@swimmingcatstudios.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34659094-the-perils-of-prague

 

Interview with Lauren Harris (Three Questions)

(This is part  “Three Questions With Xxxx“. If you’re interested in taking part click here and fill out the form.)

I’m a big fan of Lauren Harris’ work. One need only look here and here for reviews of her previous books.

1) Your previous books involved life in a small southern town with high school students. This book seems radically different. What did you enjoy most about shifting to more adult characters and situations?

It’s funny because the characters in UNLEASH are only a year or so older than those in MAE, but their life experiences and the gravity of their respective situations are totally different. Now, I don’t hold back on cussing or euphemism in my YA, because I think most teens can handle it and often enjoy reading about characters who talk like they do. I wouldn’t say I actually held back on anything, but the stories felt different. UNLEASH is darker and grittier, and I enjoy writing longer books where I can explore the worldbuilding and magic systems more in-depth. There’s a whole lot of really cool magical history in UNLEASH that I’m super excited for readers to encounter.

2) It sounds like this book involves a small town setting as well. Horror/the paranormal and small towns have a long history. What do you think is unique about that setting that lends itself to those genres? 

I think the sense of isolation is what really lends itself to the genres. There’s a feeling that no one is around to help you. No one is around to hear you scream and, if you’re an outsider, it may be that no one will care or come investigate even if they do–not even the police. UNLEASH actually starts in Miami, but takes place in a small college town in Minnesota, where the main character is trying to hide.

3) This is the first book in a new series as I understand it. Do you plan out series arcs or does that come organically? Bonus question; in either case, do you envision these series as having a definite number (eg a trilogy) or more open ended?

I wrote UNLEASH as a standalone. As I’ve been revising, however, I realized the story could easily continue if there’s demand for it. There are a lot of events in the story that create juicy conflict for further books.

If I were to plan it as a series from the start, I would probably plan the whole thing, which is what I’ve done with my current work in progress. My strategy with UNLEASH will have to be different, but I’m okay with that. Like I said, there’s plenty of room for brand new conflict, and the story was always meant to have series potential.

PREORDER UNLEASH NOW!!

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Keep up with Lauren on the Words of a Feather podcast, her Patreon ( https://www.patreon.com/laurenbharris), or her website, www.laurenbharris.com

Join Lauren’s mailing list to for an exclusive excerpt and a reminder when the book is out!


Cover Reveal for Unleashed

I’m a big fan of Lauren Harris’ work. One need only look here and here for reviews of her previous books. When I found out she had a new one coming out and wanted some help spreading the word, I couldn’t raise my hand fast enough. Look for a “Three Questions With…” interview coming soon.

Here’s the cover and blurb:

A deadly price for freedom. A power she can’t control.

Helena Martin doesn’t know who she hates more, the sorcerers who fired the magic-laced bullet or the gang-lord master who used her mother as a shield. Both hunt the remnants of her pack and the only way Helena can protect them is using her newly-unleashed magic to lead the two factions away.

With a coveted book of spells as bait, she flees Miami and heads for her mother’s Minnesota hometown. There, salvation comes in the form of a dog rescue willing to take in a different kind of stray. The illusion of a peaceful life is seductive but with sorcerers and bounty hunters sniffing around every corner, Helena fights to keep her past, her pursuers, and her unstable power a secret.

Then she discovers it’s not the spell book her enemies are after, but Helena herself, and the strange power she can barely control. When her master’s bounty hunters threaten her new home, Helena realizes that protecting the people she’s grudgingly come to love leaves her with one option: join the sorcerers who killed her mother.

PREORDER NOW!!

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Lauren was raised by an impulsive furniture mover and an itinerant TV News professional in a string of homes up and down the East Coast of the United States. Eventually, settling (sort of) in Raleigh, NC, Lauren befriended a band of whimsical nerds who found themselves de-facto beta readers for her scribblings.

After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she studied English and Classics, Lauren moved to Tokyo, Japan for three years. While there, she studied Japanese, taught English, and fell in love with the hot drink section in the vending machines.

Now, Lauren balances a day-job of Cardiac Ultrasound with her passion for writing and other creative pursuits. She is the author of The Millroad Academy Exorcists novella series and an Assistant Editor at Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show. Her narration and voice acting can be heard on Audible.com, EscapePod, and various short fiction podcasts.

Keep up with Lauren on the Words of a Feather podcast, her Patreon ( https://www.patreon.com/laurenbharris), or her website, www.laurenbharris.com

Join Lauren’s mailing list to for an exclusive excerpt and a reminder when the book is out!


Cover Reveal for Perils of Prague

It is with SO MUCH PLEASURE, that I get to show you folks the GORGEOUS cover for I book steampunk fans will love.

I’ve written with and gotten to know Doc over the last several years. He’s a talented writer and voice actor. I’ve read an early version of this book and have been waiting for it with bated breath. You can pre-order it here. Catch the excerpt at the end of the post.

Title: The Perils of Prague, The Adventures of Crackle and Bang, Book 1
Genre: Steampunk Adventure/Comedy
Release date: April 25, 2017
Formats: Kindle, and Paperback

Book Description:

Victoria, the Eternal Empress, has sat the throne of the British Empire for over 150 years. Her policies have brought peace to the world by suppressing the development of “dangerous technologies”, and where that has failed, her Imperial Troops, with their lightning rifles, have swiftly brought order. But there are still those who chafe at the yoke of peace.
When an evening’s entertainment in the British Protectorate of Bohemia unexpectedly leads to the destruction of the State Opera House of Prague, the eccentricity brilliant Professor Harmonious Crackle and his beautiful colleague Miss Titania Bang must team up with the Duke of Prague’s nephew and hunt down the evil genius responsible. Can they find him and stop him before he unleashes his new technology to terrorize the city and threaten the stability of the British Empire, and the Eternal Empress herself?
In a race against an unknown menace, this intrepid trio must search high and low and discover The Perils of Prague!

Author Bio:

Doc Coleman began his writing career in 2010 with the Nifty Tech Blog, a tech review blog that demystifies technology by highlighting some of the best consumer products available. Doc soon moved on to writing fiction, with the short story “The Gift”, and stories for the online magazine Flagship and for The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences’ podcast Tales from the Archives. His latest work is the first book of his steampunk series The Adventures of Crackle and Bang, The Perils of Prague.

Doc is a computer geek, a motorcyclist, a homebrewer, a podcaster, a writer, and voice actor. Sometimes, he even finds some time to relax, too.

http://swimmingcatstudios.com
http://amazon.com/author/doccoleman
Twitter: @scaleslea
email: Doc@swimmingcatstudios.com
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34659094-the-perils-of-prague

An excerpt from the book:
“You’re serious!” Miss Bang’s brow was creased in ire. The hint of ire blazed behind her eyes.
He blinked at her. “Of course, I’m serious. Such a joke would be in very bad taste!”
“I don’t believe anyone ever accused my great-grandfather of having good taste,” I commented ruefully.
The professor turned to me. “Your great-grandfather was actually quite a thoughtful fellow in his youth. He did throw the most excellent parties. I never did find out what made him such a misanthrope as he got older. I’d often wondered… Wait! Wait, I was going to tell you something. Something I’d just discovered.” He looked down at the wing in his hand. “Yes! That was it! You remember the birds, the clockwork birds?”

I nodded. “Yes, Professor. It was just earlier this morning.” I wondered if it was still morning.

Professor Crackle nodded vigorously. “Yes, they’re a perfect recreation of the living creature. Or at least as best as I can tell, given the damage the sample sustained. If only I could examine an intact specimen.”

Miss Bang spoke up. “You’re drifting again, Harmonious.”

“No, no, no, no! This is important. Did you get a good look at the singers? The male and female leads?”

“At the opera?” I asked. I wasn’t quite sure where he was leading.

“Yes! Did you get a good look at them?” He seemed very agitated as he leaned toward me for my answer.

“Well, Professor, I am afraid I wasn’t really concentrating on them for most of the performance. And when things livened up at the end, my attention was, well… on other things.”

“And you, Titania?” He whirled to face Miss Bang.

“Other than the final song, they seemed quite capable, although somewhat uninspired performers.” She paused in thought for a moment, touching one finger to her lips. “I’m not sure how to describe the final performance.”

“Drat. I hoped one of you got a better look. Now we shall have to find what is left of them.” The professor moved back to his workbench and put down the wing and his loupe.

“You want to go find their bodies, Professor? Isn’t that a task better left to the police?” I did not fancy the idea of sifting through the rubble for pieces of the dead performers.

He turned to me. “Their remains, yes. But their bodies, I think not.” He lifted the wing again and shook it to illustrate his point. “I think they were clockwork.”

“A clockwork man? How is that possible?” I looked to Miss Bang, but she seemed fascinated by the idea.

“But such intricate detail, Harmonious… and such a complex series of actions to perform upon the stage. They were actually singing. It wasn’t a phonograph recording. Even with the latest equipment, one can tell the difference. I’ve never heard of an automaton that could truly sing.”

“Yes!” The professor looked like a child who had been promised a new pony. “Exactly! Such perfect duplication of the living form! When I went down on the stage and examined the woman, she looked otherwise normal except for the side of her face. The flesh sagged under a weight. I think a piece detached from the underlying support structure and dragged it out of shape. I believe the same person who made these birds constructed the opera singers as well. But I need more evidence. We need to find what is left of those performers.”

“So, we’re going back to the opera house?” Miss Bang asked.

“Yes! Well, no! We’re already there. I’m sorry about the little detour, my boy, but I’m certain your uncle is going to want to see whatever evidence we can find.”

“Surely he will be worried about my disappearance? Perhaps it would be best to just drop me off first and I can explain your theory to Uncle Randolph?” Much as I would like to avoid his wrath, putting off seeing my uncle could only make things worse.

“After losing a major landmark?” Professor Crackle asked. “Don’t be ridiculous! He may be worried, but he will have hardly a moment to think on it. No, trust me, even if you went back now you wouldn’t be able to get in to see him. But if we can find something to prove it wasn’t an accident, we’ll be able to get right in to see the duke.”

“And the police, Professor?” I asked, wondering what Inspector Janecek would think about the professor’s clockwork people theory. “Yes, we must get there before they do! The last thing we need is for them to tromp all over everything and destroy the evidence we need.” He grabbed a pair of goggles off of a bench and strode through the door. “Come along!”

“But, but that’s not what I meant!” I sputtered and hurried to catch up to Miss Bang as she swept out of the room in the professor’s wake.

Interview with Morgan Elektra (Three Questions)

(This is part  “Three Questions With Xxxx“. If you’re interested in taking part click here and fill out the form.)

I’ve gotten to know such a great variety of talented people through social media. One of those people happens to be Morgan Elektra. I’ve read “Big Teeth” (see my review here) and I’m in the process of reading the novella that brings her to my blog. Expect a review of that soon. Enough about all of that. Let’s bring on the questions!

1) Why did you start writing romance/erotica?

The short answer is: I thought I would be good at it.

Long story longer though…

Growing up, I was incredibly dismissive of romance as a genre. I liked horror and fantasy, and like any naive person, I believed those were the best genres and everything else was crap. (Hey, I was young and stupid.)

In my early teen years, my family moved into a new house. All my books were packed away, and I was desperate for something to read. (I am old, so this was before the days of ebooks.) The house we were renting had previously been inhabited by the elderly grandmother of a friend of my brother, and there was some furniture and things left behind. On one small bookcase in the hall was a single book, Sweet Fierce Fires, by Joyce Myrus.

It was a total bodice ripper but I needed something to read, so I sucked it up. And, by the end of the book, I found myself with a new obsession.

Being a teenager, part of what kept me seeking out romance novels was the thrill of the illicit, of course. But there was far more to it than that. For instance, because most of what I read was historical, there was a lot of vocabulary and references to people and events that actually engaged me in a subject I had previously not had much interest in. And I found myself intensely emotionally engaged as well.

The stories in romance may be smaller than an epic fantasy quest, space marine battle, or sweeping dystopian horror, but I felt I could relate so deeply to the emotions the characters were experiencing. And during a time when my own emotions were so hard to quantify and give voice to, romance often did that for me. Even though it often made me cry, it also cheered me and gave me hope during a time in my life when I felt very alone and misunderstood.

All that said, when I thought of pursuing a writing career, I imagined myself writing horror. That was my first love, and my sensibility is still very dark. I’m much more Grimm than Disney. (As anyone who reads my self-pubbed short story Big Teeth: a dark fairytale will learn.)

But when I began ghostwriting, the majority of jobs being posted were for romance & erotica. I decided to go for it, since people had often commented on the sensuality of some of my darker pieces before.

I think that it’s my earthy Taurean manifesting. We’re known for being creatures of sensation, and that definitely fits my personality.

And it turns out I really enjoy writing sex and love and emotion. Like, a lot.

Sex, good sex at least, is such a personal thing. Even if you’re with a stranger and you barely speak, you reveal so much more of yourself than just your physical body. I love exploring that. And I love sharing what I find with others.

The world needs more love and great sex. Now more than ever.

2) One thing I’ve noticed in this genre is that some authors end up rehashing a lot of tropes and even reusing situations/scenes. How do you avoid being too formulaic or relying on the tropes too much while still giving fans what they want?

Does it sound terrible if I say I don’t worry about that? The way I see it, there really aren’t all that many unique stories under the sun. We’re more similar the world over than we are different. Humans has been telling stories literally since the beginning of civilization. Everything has been done at some point, in some form or another.

One of my first steps into the world of writing romance & erotica was reading a lot of fanfiction, and the fanfic community is happily and unapologetically trope-central. They have trope fests, where everyone writes ‘fake boyfriend’ or ‘accidentally bonded’ or ‘college roommate’ stories. They celebrate the tropes. But that doesn’t mean the fic community isn’t full of amazing stories. I’ve read so many that I was blown away by. It’s not the trope or cliche, it’s what you do with it.

A Single Heartbeat, for instance, could easily be tagged with the ‘enemies to lovers’ trope. And that is essentially where I started when I came up with the idea.

But I didn’t think, “Oh but there are so many enemies-to-lovers stories out there!” I feel like if I had, I would have talked myself out of ever writing it at all.

What I try to do is make my characters as real as possible. Like they’re ready to walk right off the page, sit down beside the reader, and ask for a drink. To tell you about their crappy or amazing day.

Because people may have read a ton of enemies-to-lovers stories before, they may even have read a bunch of vampire & vampire hunter romances… but they’ve never read Reese and Will’s story before.

3) Your most recent book was published by MLR Press. You’ve also self-published some works. What’s your experience in both realms been like and do you have a preference?

I am admittedly a baby in the publishing world. I self-pubbed two of my short stories (Big Teeth: a dark fairytale and Candy) just to see what the process was like and get an idea of what was involved. It was nerve-wracking, honestly. I would do it again, but it’s not my favorite thing to do. I stress about every little thing too much.

Working with MLR, on the other hand, has been amazing. Everyone has been kind and willing to answer questions for the newbie, and they’re very encouraging and supportive. I didn’t have to worry about things like formatting, which I’m not really comfortable with. And I got to have quite a lot of input in things like cover design, which was a nice surprise.

I’m definitely hoping to work with MLR more in the future. I’ve just completed a connected follow-up story to A Single Heartbeat that they are considering, and I have a few more in mind in the same universe, so I’d be thrilled to have all those at MLR.

That said, MLR only publishes M/M romance and erotica. As much as I love writing that, I don’t think I’m going to stick exclusively to that sub-genre. I have a handful of short stories already written that aren’t even romance/erotica, let alone M/M. I’m looking for homes for them in online and print publications.

While I overall prefer working with a publisher, I see myself being a hybrid author going forward. Primarily working with a publisher, but putting out something on my own every once in awhile. That seems to me to be the best route for balancing my need to be in control with my desire to just write.

I’d much rather concentrate on creating new stories and engaging with people on social media. Those things feed my soul more than formatting and cover design.

Which is my round-about way of saying everyone should follow me on my various media platforms and say hi. I’m a bit awkward and shy in person, but online I love to chat!

Thanks for taking this time to read this! You can find Morgan around the internets at these places:
Website – https://bymorganelektra.wordpress.com/
Patreon – https://www.patreon.com/MorganElektra
Twitter – www.twitter.com/MorganElektra
Facebook- www.facebook.com/ByMorganElektra
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/morgan_elektra/
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13886167.Morgan_Elektra
Amazon – www.amazon.com/author/bymorganelektra
QueeRomanceInk – https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/morgan-elektra/

You can buy her newest book at these fine bookery establishments:
Direct from MLR Press: https://mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=MESNGLHB
Amazon: http://amzn.to/2iohS9b
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-single-heartbeat-morgan-elektra/1125410790?ean=2940157434557
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-single-heartbeat-1 

Featured Creator – Starla Huchton

I’ve decided that in the new year I’d like to feature a creator a week on this here blog. Basically, that’s me taking a few minutes to tell you about someone I know and whose work I enjoy. They could be artists, writers, musicians, programmers, or any number of other callings who put things they’ve made out there in the world for us all to see.

SH Banner

For me, a sign of a good author is one who can bring new eyeballs into their genre. To do that, and to be prolific in multiple genres, is another sign. Add to that, talent in designing covers and in voice acting and you have a person like Starla Huchton.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing her for several years now, through podcasting and Balticon. She has a growing legion of loyal fans, and if the last two books of hers are any indication, I’ll be joining that army soon and very soon. Her characters are very well developed and she has a penchant for taking tropes you’re familiar with and flipping them around or tweaking them in a way that gives them life.

The other thing I appreciate about her is more as a business person than a creator. She approaches her multiple crafts in a way I wish more independent authors would. Everything she does is to serve the product. She puts out the highest quality books she can, from cover to concept to completion. Her attention to detail and consistent output are as important to her success as the joy her books bring to her fans.

Finally, Starla believes in giving back to her community. Every time I’ve approached her with a question or a comment, she doesn’t hesitate to help in any way she can. I think she knows this creative life isn’t a competition.

If you’re looking for a new book series to read, she’s got one you’ll probably enjoy. You can find her in these spots:

Website
Twitter
Facebook

Sir Chimbo the Kung Fu Astro-Monkey

This is a rough timeline for an abolutely silly idea I have.

1935 Shanghai – Dr. Lin Ho, master of a number of disciplines both scientific and mystical, had a breakthrough in his efforts to project his essence into an animal. Intending to use this as a method to infiltrate Nazi and Communist forces, he instead granted a portion of his intelligence. Chi, and knowledge into a gibbon he’d been keeping as a companion. He had named the ape Chen Bo, but given the ape’s limited ability to speak, its nickname quickly became Chimbo.

The doctor spent the next five years teaching and refining Chimbo’s abilities. The conferred essence, intense exercises, and mixtures of medicinal and herbal treatments also increased his physical stature. His intelligence continued to grow as did his knowledge of languages and the mystic arts. He was able to fashion a necklace which gave his words a clarity which exceeded his physical limitations.

In early 1940, Dr. Lin shared with his friend that he’d been invited to a retreat in the mountains of Tibet. He assured Chimbo that he would return. Until then, he was sending the gibbon to England to study with old friends at Cambridge. While his studies were largely conducted in secret, it could not be helped that he would make friends.

Eventually, one such friend went to war and was captured on a secret mission. It was then that Chimbo was sent on his first secret mission. Several such successful missions followed, at least two resulting in saving members of the royal family. The Queen recognized his contribution to the war effort and granted him official citizenship and made him a knight.

Once the war was over, Chimbo went to America. Dr. Lin still hadn’t returned from his studies in Tibet, though the pair stayed in regular contact via astral projection. Joint missions with Americans in the last months of the war had given him contacts in the scientific community. Fascinated with rocketry, he was able to secure a position working with Wernher von Braun. A combination of Chimbo’s mystical and scientific skills along with the secrets von Braun brought with him from the Nazi’s own secret programs soon resulted in a ship capable of escaping the confines of the Earth.

Christened the Sun Wukong, the ship enabled up to five travelers to explore the inner solar system. Chimbo and his crew were among the first to encounter the Martians and thwart an invasion. An uneasy peace treaty was forged.

The crew of the Sun Wukong:
Paul Dirac – English physicist
Dr. Percy Juiian – American chemist.
Dr. Rachel Carson – american Biologist and writer
Amelia Earhart – pilot, rescued by Chimbo in the early forties from an island in the Pacific.

Featured Creator – Clay Howard

I’ve decided that in the new year I’d like to feature a creator a week on this here blog. Basically, that’s me taking a few minutes to tell you about someone I know and whose work I enjoy. They could be artists, writers, musicians, programmers, or any number of other callings who put things they’ve made out there in the world for us all to see.

I’ve gotten to know a LOT of awesome people thanks to my community. Clay Howard – musician, father, and possessor of amazing hair – is one I met thanks (as far as I can remember) entirely to our kids being in the same school. We kept in touch off and on, trading emails about writing and projects. I knew he was a musician. I did not know he was a good musician.

When I know someone who’s a creator and they release their art into the world, I do my best to at least sample it. Once I sampled Clay’s recent album, I knew two things: he’s a good musician and he rocks my face off.

I highly recommend you listen to/watch the video above. Then you should go buy his album. You can get it from CD Baby, Amazon (where he also has books), and Google Play.

I’ve reviewed music off and on over the years. For me the truly telling thing about listening to music is, if I enjoy it I will play it on HEAVY rotation. I’ve listened to this album a dozen times or more in ten days. Every track is fun in its own way. “Bottle Down” is probably my favorite. The distortion, guitar solos, and beat are infectious. I’m not going to give you a track by track breakdown, but if you like solid rock, this is where you’ll find it.

Follow Clay on Twitter and Facebook.

Featured Creator – Paul Elard Cooley

cooley I’ve decided that in the new year I’d like to feature a creator a week on this here blog. Basically, that’s me taking a few minutes to tell you about someone I know and whose work I enjoy. They could be artists, writers, musicians, programmers, or any number of other callings who put things they’ve made out there in the world for us all to see.

I’m starting off a couple of weeks early, to strike while the iron is hot, so to speak. Who did I choose? None other than my friend, Paul Cooley. Paul and I have known each other for years. I met him through the podcasting community. He’s been a writer for decades, though like me he took a hiatus. For the last several years, he’s been releasing stories through his site Shadow Publications. He’s also a co-host on the Dead Robots’ Society, along with Terry Mixon.

What does Paul write? He’s got quite a body of work, but the tagline on all of his podcasts is “we don’t believe in happy endings”. Call it horror or thrillers or good old fashioned monster stories. His world is a terrifying place and the body counts are often quite high. Recently he’s made the leap from part-time creator to full time. He’s producing multimedia version of his work. He has a Patreon page. His “Black” series is published by Severed Press. Essentially, he’s got several irons in the fire and anyone who likes King or Barker should be checking out his work. You won’t be disappointed.

Here’s a sample of one of my favorite Cooley books:

Or click this link to read it – https://read.amazon.com/kp/embed?asin=B005XCZANM

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House of Phobos vol. 2 – Call for Pitches

House of Phobos Vol 1 Cover
House of Phobos Vol 1 Cover

Last year I put together a collection of short stories call House of Phobos vol. 1. It’s sold well, as collections go, and I’ve wanted to put out a second book for some time. I want this one to be more of a true anthology (mostly stories from other authors). I’ll be the publisher, hire an editor, and get another amazingly terrifying cover from Scott Pond. I will probably even include one or two of my own tales, but this is for me to showcase the talent of other authors.

So, here’s what I’m looking for:

Flash fiction (500-1500 words) – For these I’ll pay $10. If it’s a reprint, I’ll pay $5.

Short stories (1500-8000 words) – For these I’ll pay $.01/word up to $50. Half that for reprints.

For that I’m asking for an irrevocable, non-exclusive, worldwide license to distribute the creative works in an electronic text format. I have no plans to make this a print book or an audio book. If I do that, I would negotiate for those rights separately and pay additionally for them.

What the story needs to be about. Fear. Show me a phobia come to life. Make it as visceral (with little actual viscera please) and terrifying as you can. You can do that in almost any genre, but lets face it, horror is where this would work best. Throw in a dash of romance or science fiction or fantasy if you like, but scare our readers.

My budget has its limits, but I would like to have as many as eight total stories. Carving out one slot for me, that leaves seven. I hope to have more than that number submit. To make life easy one me, I’ll be accepting pitches, NOT COMPLETED STORIES, starting today and closing on Halloween at midnight. Send me an email with “Phobos Submission: Story Title” in the subject to scott@scottroche.com. Include the phobia, your proposed length, if this is a reprint, and a 250 word max. synopses in the body of the email. All of this will help me plan the budget and make sure there’s no (or minimal) duplication of phobias.

I would prefer that you do not duplicate any of the phobias from volume one (spiders, dentists, heights, failure, losing your memory, loneliness, darkness). There will be at least one clown story. There has to be. If you want that slot, you may have to tear it from my cold, dead fingers.

Once my dance card is full, I will contact the selected authors and give them a deadline.