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Review – The Shootout Solution (Genrenauts #1) by Michael R. Underwood (Audiobook)

Shootout_Solution I’ve known about Michael’s work for some time. We interviewed him for the Dead Robot’s Society.

Synopsis: Leah Tang just died onstage. Well, not literally. Not yet. Leah’s stand-up career isn’t going well. But she understands the power of fiction, and when she’s offered employment with the mysterious Genrenauts Foundation, she soon discovers that literally dying onstage is a hazard of the job!

Her first assignment takes her to a Western world. When a cowboy tale slips off its rails and the outlaws start to win, it’s up to Leah – and the Genrenauts team – to nudge the story back on track and prevent a catastrophe on Earth. But the story’s hero isn’t interested in winning, and the safety of Earth hangs in the balance….

Production: Mary Robinette Kowal is the performer for this audio book. I say “performer” because she does a lot more than a straight read. Each character gets their own distinct voice, complete with accent. The efforts are consistent and it adds some nice depth to the piece. It’s always a little dodgy when a person attempts a voice where the character is a different gender from the performer. Mary does a very good job with the male voices. I’m not a huge fan of one particular character’s voice, since it sounds more like she has a bad chest cold due to the low register. It doesn’t detract from the story, though.

Grade: A

Story: Before I get to reviewing the story in particular, I wanted to say a few words about the idea. The concept that story has a deep impact on the real world is evocative and dare I say true? While I don’t believe in other dimensions where these tropes live and breathe is a real thing, I want to. This is the kind of idea I as a writer wanted to have. This is the kind of series I’d love to write. Only one problem, Michael did it first, and I suspect did it better than I would have. His education in this matter shines through.

Having a team who injects themselves into stories to solve their problems and tame the ripples these problems cause in the real world is brilliant. It allows for commentary on the genre itself (as one character says, there haven’t been (m)any groundbreaking movies or books in the genre for decades and this makes me said), and it also lets him play with tropes many of us know and love.

Now, on to the story. I love westerns. While I haven’t read very many, I consumed movies in the genre in massive doses ever since I was a small child. When I saw Michael’s first genre out of the gate was a Western, I was intrigued. I was not disappointed. The story uses many of the tropes and characters I love, and it puts a new spin on some of them. Since each of the genrenauts has to inhabit the body of a character in the story world, there’s a great fish out of water element. Leah becomes the young cowboy “Lee”, so not only must she play a part she’s not familiar with, she also has to become someone of a different gender and race.

Most of the conflict comes from finding out where the story is broken. The mystery elements are strong and the solution is satisfying. There’s some real teamwork on display and we also get to see Leah find her place on it. Everything is tied up fairly neatly by the end, just as it would if this were an episode of a TV show (which is sort of the point as I understand this series).

The world outside of the genrenauts, the one inhabited by Leah and her crew is interesting and it’s inhabited by a diverse cast. They have to keep the existence of this organization and the identity of its members a secret. If word got out that there were multiple dimensions, much less that there was a group who could travel to and from them and did so in an effort to save the world, chaos would ensue. The stakes are high, as a result. It means Leah will need to keep her public and private escapades separate, so there’s a super hero vibe to it. I would like to see more conflict as those worlds rub up against one another.

if I have a complaint, it’s a small one. Something about the whole story feels a little too “perfect”. Leah gets a phenomenal job with amazing pay and cool people. Yes, there’s an element of danger. People get hurt. But, she’s literally a chosen one who has the right skill set to get the job done. Of course, I suppose these elements are also a commentary of sorts on the tropes in question. I’d like to see more conflict or a little more mistrust coming from Leah. After all, the entire experience she has should cause a massive upheaval in her world view and in her life. Now, having said that, this is a novella and Michael is faced with the challenge of telling not just one story, but effectively two in tight confines.

Grade: A-

Verdict: I enjoyed “The Shootout Solution” a great deal. Everything from the concept to the execution is well done. The characters are a little thing in some cases, but Leah feels like a fully fleshed out person. The audio was a great listen, though in the future I’ll probably stick to reading the e-books. I highly recommend you have a look at this book and I will definitely be picking up book two.

Grade: A

Michael’s Blog
Amazon E-book
Audible book

Interview With Michael Underwood (Three Questions)

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

Headshot FountainI became aware of Michael and his talent through podcasting and mutual friends. When I saw the concept behind his series Genrenauts and learned about the Kickstarter he’s running to fund it, I immediately wanted to ask him some questions.

1) I love shorter fiction. Doorstops turn me off, so short stories and novellas are my cup of tea. I’m starting to see more and more shorter works published, perhaps at least in part because of the ease of publication these days. What is it about this length/format that appeals to you as a writer (and perhaps as a reader)?

MU: Like many writers, I started with short fiction before I tried my hand at writing a novel. Once I got into long form, I mostly stayed there, since most of what I read growing up and most of what I read now is longer-form. I got into novellas through my first series, the Ree Reyes urban fantasies, when my publisher asked me to write a novella to tide the series over while I tried out another idea. It was really fun for me to investigate that middle format, with some of the density and focus I associate with short fiction while still having the space to develop a longer plot, to include action sequences, and other aspects that I hadn’t really been able to do in short fiction.

Genrenauts 2.5 - There Will Always Be a MaxAs a reader, I’ve become more and more fond of novellas as I’ve been reading other works from my fellow Publishing authors – it’s really fun to see how much variation there is even within the constraints of the novella format – a one-POV novella of just between 18K and 20K words (like Binti by Nnedi Okorafor or Domnall and the Borrowed Child by Sylvia Sprunk Wrigley) is a very different beast from an almost-40,000-ish word work that’s as much short novel as long novella (like The Sorcerer of the Wildeeps by Kai Ashante Wilson). The novella is an incredibly flexible format, and every one I read, I come to appreciate it more, and agree even more with scholars and legends who hold it up as the perfect length for speculative fiction.

In addition to appreciating that variation, I love novellas as a palate cleanser. I can read a 120,000 word serious, deliberate book, then breeze through a 25,000-word adventure to clear my head, to round out my emotional landscape. Or I can set up a stack of three novellas and read them all over a long weekend without that being all I do over those three days.

In a world where there are an infinite number of shiny things vying for our attention, novellas are even more appealing as a form of written storytelling – they’re the Goldilocks planet of fiction – not too long, not too short – they’re just right.

2) Serial fiction is nothing new. This approach to writing and releasing prose is likely as old as writing itself. Then, as you pointed out on your Kickstarter page, is also thanks in part to television. What challenges do you face in putting out serial fiction and how have you overcome them in this series?

Genrenauts 1 - The Shootout SolutionMU: The Kickstarter is in no small part a direct response to the challenges of serial fiction – I had a serial work that I wasn’t able to publish fast enough to operate the way I felt it needed to. invested a lot of resources and gave me support, but they weren’t in a position to publish all six novellas of season one in rapid succession. The Kickstarter, if successful, will give me the means to publish episodes 3 through six in rapid succession.

Another challenge for serial fiction, I think, is binge watching culture. Thanks to Netflix and to some notoriously unfinished prose series, a lot of people prefer to consume an entire series all at once, or at least a large portion of narrative all at once. Reading 150 pages per chunk is outside the normal reading habit for a lot of people, so working in a serial fiction space carries some effort to reorient readers into this older form of reading (though it is the dominant way a lot of the first, truly broadly English-language commercial fiction was consumed). I’ve tried to plan for that inclination to want to read in big chunks by balancing my stories between the serial and episodic modes. The episodes all feed in together to larger stories, but each episode has its own internal arcs, largely framed by the ‘case of the week’ structure of the Genrenauts’ field missions.

Genrenauts 2 - The Absconded Ambassador3) This series was originally being published by Tor. Due in part to a desire to release these with greater frequency, you’re publishing the next several “episodes” independently. As you’ve said, Tor was okay with that. Did that reaction surprise you and what challenges do you think you’ll face as a result of this change?

The possibility of continuing the series on my own was a part of the conversation with from the beginning. Being a publishing professional in my day job, and having worked with my editor previously as a colleague, it was easier for my agent and I to talk very frankly about the different possibilities of what might happen down the road with the series. The permission to republish the episodes in a collected edition was in the contract from the very beginning, which has made this transition much easier (it wasn’t a surprise, it was option #2 on a list of several options, all of which were discussed before I signed the contract for Episodes 1 & 2.)

There are, however, still challenges. From what I’ve learned about indie/author-publishing, not having direct control of every story in a series makes some strategies and tactics that have worked well for other authors more difficult for me – I have to work with the model and make what they’re doing into strengths for the series. The business model is digital-leaning, which lines up well with the also digital-leaning indie publishing. The first two episodes got much more of a buy-in to libraries thanks to Macmillan’s strength in that field, so I know that I can and should be on the lookout for ways to support and reach out to libraries. Since I work in publishing, I feel fairly confident that I’ll be able to build my indie-published episodes and collections on top of the platform for the series that and I built together with the first episodes, especially as they continue to support them and the series writ large.

BONUS QUESTION – Since this is an effort to crowdsource the rest of the series, I wanted to know if this is successful (and I hope it is), whether you intend to do more independent publishing as a result and what you think about the future of “hybrid” authors (those that have been published both traditionally and independently).

MU: I definitely plan to continue publishing some of my work independently. I have tried to approach my writing career using a hybrid author mentality for most of two years now, though this is my first independent publishing project (I self-pubbed a short story to my mailing list a while back, but that was a very small, ‘thanks for being awesome gift’ kind of affair). I wholeheartedly agree with the hybrid publishing pioneers who have called for authors to broaden our perspective, to take control of our publishing careers and destinies, in order to better weather the tides of publishing.

For me, more hybrid authors means more authors thinking about the business side of their careers. Which then means means more authors confident to push back on bad clauses in publishing contracts, more authors who know there are other options if a deal falls through. It means more careers that survive a dip due to one poorly-selling book or shift in the market. It means more independently-published authors making smart choices on when and why they might want to sign a traditional contract in order to gain the reach and support that traditional houses can offer. Add in crowdfunding tools like Patreon and Kickstarter and there are really enough option to build a publishing career in a very deliberate, efficient way, and I hope that we see it continue to pay off for a lot of writers. There are always going to be writers that aren’t interested in the entrepreneurial mindset that helps make selling indie more viable, but those who have the flexibility and patience to use each path for its advantages to weave together a diverse publishing portfolio will, I think, find a lot of opportunities and more chances to make a sustainable career.

Michael R. Underwood is the author of seven books, including the Ree Reyes Geekomancy series, superhero fantasy Shield and Crocus, and Genrenauts, a sdience fiction adventure series in novellas. By day, he’s the North American Sales & Marketing Manager for Angry Robot Books. Mike grew up devouring stories in all forms, from comics to video games, tabletop RPGs, movies, and books. Always books.
Mike lives in Baltimore with his wife and their ever-growing library. In his rapidly-vanishing free time, he geeks out on comics and games and makes pizzas from scratch. He is also a co-host on the Hugo-nominated Skiffy and Fanty Show and Speculate! The Podcast for Writers, Readers, and Fans.

Amazon Page
Kickstarter Page for Genrenauts

Interview with Jean Marie Bauhaus

I was so excited by the idea of a possible new book in this series and the Kickstarter campaign that I wanted to ask JM a few questions. Watch the video and then have a read!

1) Is the mystery genre one that you’ve always been interested in writing in? Who are your favorite mystery writers?

It’s funny, I’ve never thought of myself as a mystery writer. I didn’t set out to write a mystery with Restless Spirits, but I guess it definitely has elements of that. The sequel, if I write it, will be even more of a whodunit–that’s one of the things that really tripped me up when I tried to write the original draft without an outline. I got about 30,000 words in and had to throw it all out and do an outline to untangle the knots of the mystery aspect of that whole story.

I don’t really read the mystery genre, outside of Sherlock Holmes–although I’m a big fan of The Dresden Files and I guess those qualify as mystery (and were undoubtedly a big influence on my writing at the time). I also occasionally read suspense thrillers like Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli & Isles series, which definitely have a crime solving aspect. But for me, with this book, the mystery aspect was just a backdrop for the characters to be interesting. It wasn’t really at the forefront of my mind when I wrote it.

2) I like the way the romance is worked into the story very organically and how it ties into other plot points. It’s not just “tacked on”. Was that romance part of your early planing?

Restless Spirits happens to be the one and only book I’ve ever managed to successfully pants (i.e., write with no planning or outline). So everything did unfold very organically. Once I started writing Ron and got into her character and her voice, everything just clicked and I just let her tell her story. I was more or less along for the ride on that one.

3) What challenges have you faced getting this out there, as you aren’t only the author here but also the editor and publisher?

This was the first book I self-published. It was my NaNoWriMo project way back in ‘08 (the first time I “won” that event, too–lot of firsts with this book), and in 2009 I made my first foray into self-publishing by posting it on a blog (I come from a fan fiction background so that felt really natural at the time). When people complained that it was hard to read in that format, I posted it on Scribd, and after a while I tried charging for the full download.

Around this time, there was a big movement in postcasting, where folks like J.C. Hutchins and Scott Sigler and Mur Lafferty were doing really neat things with serial podcast fiction. So I tried that next, but I only got two chapters recorded and edited before I knew that podcasting and I just weren’t a good fit.

Fast-forward to 2011, when Kindle Direct Publishing and Createspace were starting to be seen as legitimate roads to publishing. By that point I had taken my book (back then it was titled This Old Haunt) off of Scribd because it wasn’t really selling, but I’d gotten a lot of good feedback on it. So I decided to do another revision and release it as an actual book under its current title.

It got some great reader reviews right off the bat, and sales were small but steady for about the first year. They picked up a bit after I wrote my second novel, but it didn’t really gain traction until I made it “perma-free” on Amazon. Since then, I’ve given away probably a few thousand copies, but it’s garnered a respectable number of positive reviews and has done a lot to drive sales and borrows of my other books.

4) You’ve decide to put together a Kickstarter to fund the second novel in this series. What made you decide to go this route?

People have been asking me to do a sequel almost since the current version was first published, but for a long time I just didn’t see where the story could go from there. I felt like Ron’s story was done, and I had other story ideas I wanted to write. But then last year I was struck with inspiration for not just a sequel, but a whole series–at least four books, if not more.

So I tried to write the second book, and hoping that lightning would strike twice, I attempted to pants it. As I said above, that didn’t go so well and I had to throw out most of that first attempt and do an outline. But unfortunately, I haven’t been able to write any more on it, because life.

I would really like to write this series, but although requests for a sequel have been passionate, they haven’t been great in number, and since work forced me to put it on the back burner I’ve had inspiration for a number of other books I’d like to write.

I thought doing a Kickstarter would kill three birds with one stone; if successful, it would let me cut back on my freelancing hours and finally write the book without having to worry about how we’re going to buy groceries for the next three months, and also provide the needed funds to produce a big-publishing-quality book. It would also tell me whether there’s really a viable audience for this series. If there is, then I’ll know what I’ll be working on for the next year or two. If there’s not and the campaign doesn’t reach its funding goal (or even come close), then I can move on to one of those other projects with no guilt.

5) How will you be using the funds that you generate?

Whatever’s left after Kickstarter fees, processing fees, and order fulfillment costs (i.e. shipping, etc.) will have a sizeable chunk set aside for book production costs–editing, mainly, but I’d also like to see what a professional illustrator could do with the cover. I’ve always designed my own covers and I’m kind of a control freak in that area, but I don’t have a lot of ideas for this one that I’d be able to pull off well with my graphic design skills alone.

If there’s enough left over (in terms of either money or time), I’d also like to re-format the original Restless Spirits. I made a lot of amateur formatting mistakes with the paperback version that I haven’t had time to go back and correct now that I know what I’m doing. If I ever put out a boxed set I want everything to be consistent in terms of quality.

If we reach my initial funding goal, then the rest will help cover living expenses while I actually make the book. If we go over, then I’ll put together some stretch goals and new prizes. I’d like to do fun stuff like swag–I know a local artist who creates awesome jewelry around literary and fantasy themes–and maybe some kind of book launch event. I think it would be a lot of fun to get together with the local paranormal society and do a ghost tour that culminates with a reading and book signing at this local haunted theater; but that’ll be a big stretch goal, if my campaign ever reaches that point.

Thanks for coming on the blog! I wish you great success.

Back the Kickstarter
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JM’s Author’s Site
JM’s Twitter

Review – Restless Spirits by Jean Marie Bauhaus (E-book)

restless_spirits I’ve known Jean Marie and worked with her on giveaways over the last year or so. When I saw that she was giving away one of her books, I decided to give it a look, even though the genre isn’t my cup of tea. What did I think? Read on.

A paranormal investigator becomes the subject of her own investigation after stumbling into the crosshairs of a malevolent spirit.

Veronica Wilson has her whole life behind her. At least, that’s what she comes to realize soon after waking up in the mysterious house she had come to investigate. A paranormal investigator by trade, Ron now finds herself investigating her own death with the help of a handful of helpful friendly ghosts — and one who’s just a pain in the ass. Unfortunately, being dead doesn’t keep Ron from noticing that he also possesses quite the nice ass, or from tingling in ways that almost make her feel alive whenever he’s near….

As if unwanted afterlife crushes weren’t bad enough, Ron soon discovers that she and her fellow ghosts aren’t the house’s only inhabitants. They’re all at the mercy of an entity named Sarah, who looks like a cute and innocent kid, but is in fact the reason each and every one of them died. Now Sarah keeps them prisoner and makes them her playthings, until she gets tired of them and… well, it turns out you can kill someone who’s already dead. Or at least Sarah can.

With the help of her still-living sister, a psychic medium who can talk to the dead, Ron and her ghostly housemates must unlock all of the mysteries that the house has to offer and find the way to defeat Sarah once and for all. Only then will they be free to move on to the other side. But is Ron really ready to go, especially now that she knows there’s a lot of living to do after death?

The Goods – I will freely admit, walking into this, that I was biased, and not in a positive way. I don’t generally read ghost stories, unless I’m guaranteed that they’re solidly in the horror genre. I don’t generally read romance. I’ve been branching out, though. I also don’t read very many stories where the heroine isn’t a bit more ass-kicky in the purely physical sense. There didn’t seem to be anything in the positive column, other than the fact that JM is a good writer. Well, let me tell you, I didn’t get two chapter in before I was hooked.

The thing I enjoyed most about this story were the characters. Ron and her sister were well fleshed out. I’d love to see more of her sister in future books (and if you want to help there be future books there’s a Kickstarter). The other ghosts that inhabit the house Ron is haunting are also engaging. Ron develops, not only as a ghost, but as a character. Some of the spirits we meet are a little more see through, but the main bunch are also well developed.

The plot was a very solid mystery. It kept me guessing all throughout with some great red herrings and a satisfying conclusion. The love story at its heart had nice tension and given the differences between Ron and her beau there was a bit of conflict. I really blazed through this story, so if you’re looking for a mystery with fantastic pacing and fresh, interesting characters this is a good find.

The “big bad” and the resolution to the mystery were very satisfying (and heart string tugging). In a mystery, that is, of course, required. And even though most of the characters were ghosts she did a good job of making me feel like there was true jeopardy attached.

The Bads – There was nothing “bad” per se in this story. I did find that the romance felt a little rushed. I would have liked to see it develop over time. I also would have liked to see more conflict, but given that this is more of a mystery than a romance, I don’t feel that it hurt the story.

Verdict – This is certainly not a terribly deep exploration of human nature and or what the next life holds, but it’s also not just a bit of fluff. There’s action, danger, romance, and laughs. If you want an engaging mystery with well done characters that’s a fun read then you need to snap this up. And for the next month or so, you can grab it at no cost.

I give this book four and a half out of five red rubber balls.

Author’s Site

The Casebook of Esho St. Claire

EshoStClaireCvr-CSTwo Esho St. Claire Mysteries

The Gibbering Mr. Cravat

Bearing a hideous curse, Mr. Cravat begs the help of consulting detective Esho St. Claire. The case will take St. Claire from the homes of Manhattan’s wealthy to the Undercity, where creatures of legend live. Esho and a whiskey-fueled strongman named Sean Younger must stop their a sinister priesthood devoted to the Elder Gods to save, not only Mr. Cravat, but the world.

The Current Killer

Speaking Through Nikola Tesla’s ether recording machine, a ghost hires St. Claire to prove that Thomas Edison is guilty of his murder. When St. Claire discovers magic is being used to make a super weapon, he and Tesla have to stop the techno-magical nightmare before it rips open the fabric of reality.


Available at:

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450px-Felling_axe I believe in myself and there are a whole bunch of people who also believe in what I’m doing. I want to make this writing thing an ongoing concern. I want it to be a business. That means making some cuts where it makes sense to do so.

As a result, I went over to my Amazon author page and removed a lot of my older stuff. These were stories I wrote when I first started out. I was in that “PUBLISH ALL THE THINGS!” frame of mind that some people get into. I didn’t use an editor on any kind of regular basis (something most writers should never, ever do). I did a lot of my own covers (something most writers should never, ever do). And as a result, many of the things there were amateurish. These were things I was asking people to pay money for.

I’ve made a list of things that will get re-published after a thorough scrubbing and with new covers. They will be bundled together in appropriate anthologies. I’ve also made a list of things that will not see the light of day again in any way. If you don’t see a story up there that you enjoyed please let me know. I’ll tell you what the status of that story is.

Not all the things that are still there are perfect by any means. I need to tweak a few of the covers and the internals, but they’re at least works I feel good about. If you want to make it easier on little old me to get all of this overhauling done, please support me on Patreon. That’s how I am able to afford paying very talented people to do very beautiful things to my fiction. For those of you that already are, thank you!

By タクナワン (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 ( or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Thirty-Seven Questions For Writers

3534516458_48e4e8595f_z The questions came to light from my reading of BD Hesse’s blog. They originally came from

  1. Why do I want to be published? For me, being “published” doesn’t necessarily mean being published by a traditional publisher, as some of the next questions indicate. The reason I want my stories to be out there in the wild, is because I believe that I have a gift to share. That’s not meant to sound pretentious, but it might. I come from a long line of story tellers and I want to continue that tradition. Publishing allows me to do that with a larger group of people. I also want to make a living from these efforts. Thus, publishing. Where many of these questions say “publishing” for me I will be thinking “a successful career as a published author”.
  2. What type of writing will I to focus on? I love to play in a variety of genres and mix them up. So, I guess the answer to this is the big umbrella of fiction. I don’t really have a desire to write non-fiction on a regular basis. Though I would, given an opportunity.
  3. What expectations do I have for myself as a writer? To improve and increase my output until I feel that the latter isn’t possible any more. The former is always possible.
  4. Are my expectations realistic? So long as I continue to write on a fairly regular basis, yes.
  5. What is my ultimate goal for my writing? My ultimate goal is to please a whole mess of people with my stories. Somewhere between now and this ultimate goal I hope to make a living from it as well.
  6. What knowledge do I have about the publishing process? I was once upon a time part of a small, ragtag bunch of rogue publishers. Thus, I know a fair amount. I have a lot to learn.
  7. What areas of the publishing process do I need to research more? I would say the marketing end of the publishing process.
  8. What time of day am I the most productive? Mid-day and provided I get enough sleep, between nine and eleven in the evening.
  9. What kind of writing schedule will I keep? I write at lunch nearly every day during the week and try to carve out some tiems on the weekend.
  10. Which authors do I most admire, and why? Of the ones in my sphere, I admire Paul Cooley, Terry Mixon, and Jake Bible to name only three of many. They all have the workmanlike approach that I strive to achieve and they’re great storytellers.
  11. How would I describe my writer’s voice? I think I’m still finding it, but I like to blend humor and realistic characters and put them in situations that challenge them as human beings. They may fail or they may succeed, but in striving they learn what it means to be human.
  12. What do I really know? How can I apply my real world knowledge and experience to my writing? As a career IT professional and a person who’s had many jobs and a rich life, I find it easy to think outside of my own head. I still have a long way to go in writing believable characters that are “other” than me, but I will always try.
  13. What skills do I have that will help me move toward publication? I know a lot about what it takes to make and put out a good story. I’m learning what good covers and layout look like.
  14. What skills do I lack that I must improve if I want to be published? My writing craft must continually evolve.
  15. What kind of professional development will I pursue? I will go to workshops, continue networking with other authors, and read, read, read.
  16. What roadblocks am I likely to face in my road to publication? Dedication. Making the time I have count.
  17. What is my contingency plan if I can’t get published? I don’t have a plan B. Self publishing isn’t a plan B and it shouldn’t be for anyone. It should be part of plan A.
  18. How will I build a platform–for either fiction or non-fiction? I’ve been working on that through podcasting and social media, but mainly it’s write, write, and write some more.
  19. What goals will I set for today? This week? This month? This year? I suck at setting goals and hitting them. My goal for this year is 350,000 words. That means I need to write about 30,000 words a month, 7,500 a week, a little over 1,000 a day.
  20. What am I doing to increase my exposure, even before I am published? Hosting podcasts, interacting with other writers, blogging.
  21. How do I plan to maintain my motivation during the rough times? My family is a big help. And having Patrons and fans who already believe in me.
  22. How will I deal with friends and family members who are not supportive of my writing? I don’t have this problem, but if I did I’d love them anyway.
  23. How will I financially support myself (and my family, if applicable) while I pursue publication–and even afterward? I have a day job and will continue to leverage those skills until I don’t need to anymore.
  24. Where will I go for writing support–critique groups, forums, etc.? I have a couple of Facebook groups that I’m part of and I have many good friends that are creative. I do want to find a local group.
  25. What might I need to give up to make this all happen? I need to at least reduce my TV intake and “lazy” time.
  26. Where will I/do I write, and is it the most effective place? I really find that I’m able to write anywhere, though having a writing shed would be nice.
  27. How do I plan to take care of myself physically and mentally during my writer’s journey? Get plenty of sleep, eat well, and maintain some level of down time.
  28. Am I a plotter or a pantser, and is my current system working for me? I do a bit of both. For short stories I pants. For novels I plot more. I feel like that’s working for me.
  29. Will I focus on gaining minor publishing credits first (short stories, poetry), or jump right into full-length books? I do a mix of both right now.
  30. Under what circumstances, if any, will I decide to give up? I hope to never give up.
  31. Will I consider self-publishing? I’ve considered and done it. See my links at the top.
  32. What feeling do I want readers to get from what I write? It depends, but I always want them to identify with the characters.
  33. What are the most effective ways for me to get inspired? Reading, people watching, listening to everything around me.
  34. Will I write by hand or on a computer? Will I use a word processor or specialized writing software? I’m a computer geek and find writing longhand to be tedious. I have had some success with keeping an idea book.
  35. What are the biggest struggles I face in this journey, and how do I plan to overcome them? My own personal demons; self doubt, laziness, and depression. I’m overcoming them with help from family, medication, and good self care.
  36. How can I make my writing more authentic, more genuine? I don’t want to chase trends. I don’t want to win awards. I just want to tell the stories that come spilling out. That may result in my being part of a trend or winning an award, but those aren’t my goals.
  37. Will I enter writing contests, or not bother? I don’t see the point in them.

How would you answer these questions?


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Photo by Marco Belluci

House of Phobos – A New Anthology And Potential Paying Market

ScottRoche-Phobia-Tease I’m putting together what I hope will be an ongoing series of anthologies called “The House of Phobos”. Each one will contain five or six of my short stories, each one tackling a different phobia. In the depths of darkness last night, it occurred to me, why stop there?

If you would be interested in contributing art, poetry, or flash fiction that tackles the subject of fears/phobias, let me know. I have a small budget and could open a few slots to start. From there we could see how it goes. Leave a comment or shoot me an email and we can talk about how it would work.

Pocket Full of Quarters

COBREcentavosecuador2000-2 When I was a wee lad, there existed these temples to entertainment. For a mere quarter you could be transported to another world. You took your change and turned it into electronic dreams. I speak, of course, about video game arcades. Now there’s something like that for short fiction fans. Writer and hoopy frood Kris Neidecker clued me in on this new and interesting venue for short stories. It’s called QuarterReads.

Writer and software developer, Ian Rose, saw a gap in the short story market. I’ll let him tell you:

On one side, there were the traditional magazines, online and off. Tightly edited and designed, difficult to break into and subject, for better and worse, to the tastes and preferences of the editorial staff. On the other, there was self-publishing, a free-for-all with no barrier to entry, no gatekeeper, and no quality assurance. The space between began to seem to me less like a niche and more like a gaping hole, and both my writer and developer brains got excited about the idea of building something to nestle right into it. A few months later, QuarterReads was born. We launched on October 14, 2014. There are a few reviewers and various helpers that work on the site, but it remains my baby and if there are any problems with it, I take full responsibility for them.

So how does it work?

The other thing that sets QuarterReads apart is our royalty structure. As the name suggests, each story on QuarterReads costs one quarter, 25 U.S. cents. Readers who sign up with QuarterReads pay $5.00 (USD) for 20 reads. Every time they decide to read a story, the reader spends one of their reads. Of that 25 cents, 22 are paid into the writer’s account. That’s 88%. Also, if the reader loves a story, they can “tip” the author either 1, 2 or 4 reads (equivalent to $0.25, $0.50 or $1.00) and 100% of those tips go straight to the writer.

If you’re interested, have a look. I put a story up there. It’s “The Good Doctor”, an alt-western fantasy piece, with werewolves and a doctor that’s not so good. And maybe not a doctor. All the stories on the site are under 2,000 words. I’ve got some flash pieces that clock in under a single k that I can beef up to the site limit. Is that something you as a reader would be interested in?

Leave me a comment and let me know.