Sunday, December 23, 2012

Happy Holidays and CHECK OUT THIS BLOG

Happy Holiday Folks!

I just posted a little ditty on my other blog featuring tales and updates on everything relating to an alternate history Grand Rapids. It has some info on current short stories available on the subject. Great action-adventure tales anyway you slice it.

Latest offering is SIGNAL IN THE DISTANCE...

“The Red Scare was reality. Small nuclear devices had cratered Michigan’s northern and southern military installations, and across Lake Michigan, the same had occurred at bases in Wisconsin. The emotional shockwave and fear created an exodus of citizens from the state, while others held out in fall-out shelters and adequately shielded structures. As dire as all appeared, unseen by human eyes, 900 feet at the ebon bottom of Lake Michigan, the earth-rending shockwave had awakened something ancient and ominous, something that cared little for the human populace other than vile sustenance and to become Mankind’s new overlord.”

--Excerpt from Sebastian Wells THE LAST HISTORIES

Siste-Dager Publications copyright 1958

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


We're just about a week away from the release of the FADING LIGHT anthology. Here is the last snippet of artwork from a little sketch Mr Tim Holtrop did for me after reading my FINAL RIGHTS short story which will be featured in the e-bonus book of FADING LIGHT.

Instead of putting a little chunk of the short story within, let me tell you about how the tale FINAL RIGHTS came about (after I found out about the anthology and what the "theme" was)...

I heard from a famous author (Stephen King perhaps) to WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW.

I know Grand Rapids, Michigan. Born and raised there, though I no longer live within the city limits, the days I had spent there sank in and sank in deep. I lived and breathed the area as we lived only about a mile from downtown GR. Even during its dog days back in the late 70's/early 80's, before it really got cookin' to where it is today, I felt a kinship with the place, a love that will never die.

I mean, what better place to grow up than in the 2nd largest city in Michigan. Yeah, large city, but hardly a stones throw away from where I grew up there was John Ball Park and woodland to adventure within.

Er...anyway, will move on from the life story...

I have always enjoyed placing my story setting in Grand Rapids. Mind you, the stories have always been overrun with villians, or battlin' military men and their machines of war, things blowing up, fighting along the Pearl Street bridge over the swift running Grand River.

Heck, I even wrote some Fantasy tales within with sword and sorcery elements.

In FINAL RIGHTS, a world darkened by post-nuclear blight is on the verge of collapsing totally. Once great cities have become bastions for any who have survived and can get INSIDE. On the dreary and darkened landscape, outside the brightly lit cities, all manner of beast and dying dregs of humanity creep and crawl and wait for those sheltered within those city walls to come out.

Specialist Clint Johnsson is a young marksman who works within the city militia keeping the gates guarded and any outsiders from getting too close to getting in. His family has all succumb to cancer which he himself fights. He has a lone surviving family member in New Holland, a sister and her young son, who live in that city along the lake shore. After a fierce battle defending the (Grand Rapids) city entrance which puts him in the hospital, Clint finds out the city of New Holland is about to GO DARK, lose its power as its wind turbines have been critically damaged. When the lights go out, the darkness will sweep in. Considering he is pretty banged up, and cancer prognosis has become more dire, he isn't going to see his sister and her little boy lost to the darkness. He hops the lone steam engine that is heading out to New Holland to gather as many people as they can make runs before the lake shore city blinks out. BIG chaos erupts along the way to New Holland--chaos and fury that is huge, all teeth and claws, and can knock a big steam engine off its track. Clint is heading to his own dark demise, but he won't fade to black without...

You'll have to buy the book, get a copy of the e-bonus piece with my tale and a few other very talented writers, and see how FINAL RIGHTS turns out.

And now...the Holtrop sketch snippet...

The train whistle blew shrill amidst the dull landscape. Specialist Clint Johnsson tensed and exhaled slowly. 
Crosshairs centered on the steel glint. One painful sluggish heartbeat.

Saturday, August 18, 2012


Hello Friends. The FADING LIGHT anthology is right around the corner. September 1st to be exact. It is a great book and has some great writers and tales within. From what I understand, the review copies that have been sent out, it is getting some really good reviews.

I will post a link to where it can be purchased in a forthcoming blog.

As a preview of my little contribution to the book, I give you another little snippet of my FADING LIGHT short story FINAL RIGHTS, including another little chunk of a black and white sketch the very talented Mr Tim Holtrop did for me.



The giant black bear stood upright as tall as a vertically standing semi-trailer resting on its tail end. Forearms like tree trunks, it bat the air, roaring its challenge at the glare of the cityscape. Johnsson heard of bear upstate but nothing of this dimension. If this creature had other mutated brethren, his city would need whole new fortifications and safeguards for certain. 

A moment of static, and then Clint heard Lafayette say: “…in my sights. Light it up. If it doesn’t turn back, I’ll nail it.”

The terrible black maw in his sights, the sweeping spotlights blanked out Clint’s target. Not wanting the older marksman to gain boasting rights to another kill, he squeezed the trigger. The big rifle roared and the bear roared back as the HE round slammed home.

“What are you doing?” Lafayette and Fitzgerald screamed in his ear almost in unison.

Johnsson pulled his eye from his scope and watched in horror as the monster’s head didn’t explode. It didn’t seem to hardly phase the creature as it roared in rage and charged the bridge, shaking the ground so hard the marksman felt the balcony shudder underfoot.

“Jesus. Jesus. Jesus,” he swore as he quickly pressed his eye to his sight again. He started to squeeze back on the trigger when a fit of coughing overtook him and he had to turn his head, coughing blood onto his sleeve.

Wiping the corner of his mouth, he looked down the line of the barrel. He was just as accurate without the scope. He had once shot the white of a radish at 1000 yards; the bear was just outside that distance but as big as an old yellow school bus.

The men in the bridge bunkers scrambled for escape as the huge bear ran with thundering footfalls onto the span. Just rear of the center span near the second line of machine gun nests, Captain Fitzgerald fired with his service pistol at the thing though his bullets, real as they were, were lost against the thick bristled fur.

Targeting the same spot he had zeroed in on during his first shot, still not sure why the HE round hadn’t gone off upon impact, Clint went to fire again.

Bear Attack snippet from sketch by Tim Holtrop copyright 2012

Wednesday, August 8, 2012


FADING LIGHT: An Anthology of the Monstrous comes out first of September. Edited by Tim Marquitz. Cover art by the very talented Jessy Lucero. Published by the great folk at Angelic Knight Press. This antho is going to ROCK, folks! 

My short story FINAL RIGHTS short story is part of the FADING LIGHT COMPANION TALES that you can get access to when you buy the print version of the book, and also if you buy the electronic version you get the whole sha-bang...that's 25 tales in the main book, and 5 additional as part of the companion piece. 30 great stories by some stellar writers.

To let you in a bit of my tale in the book, here is a small snippet from the actual story including a teaser section of a larger black & white sketch the talented Mr Tim Holtrop did for me after reading and enjoying FINAL RIGHTS.


* * * * *

After the Great Middle East War of 2025, the night almost consumed Mankind all around the globe. Though decimated, he stayed resilient to survive even as the leaden skies kept him under its dismal canopy. Darker things had come to pass from the post-radioactive rains and dreariness of constant dusk. Though he hid in the brilliance of the last vestiges of once large cities and towns, chances appeared bleak when those terrible overlords of the dark thirsted for Mankind in the very shadow he cast?”

Excerpt from Sebastian Wells THE LAST HISTORIES
Siste-Dager Publications copyright 2113

They had just passed the dilapidated Hudsonville depot, the halfway point between Grand Rapids and New Holland, when the attacks came. Though it was just passed noon, the land appeared on the edge of night. The wolves came up out of the darkness like fanged fish from some deep ocean trough. Clint’s earbud throbbed with the shout of Brecktel in the two-way: “Steady, lads. We got a whole pack of them.”

The gunner’s in the boxcar side cupolas and men on the rooftops picked their targets and opened fire. The big furry masses of muscle and teeth met a bombardment of biting and tearing lead.

A wolf as black as midnight came charging towards the front of the train, loping with enormous strides towards the engine. Clint scoped him, swiveling the big gun along the rail of his gunner’s nest as the animal ran headlong into the rumbling engine. Short steel planks with machine-serrated edges had been welded along the skirt of the big steam locomotive. They were lovingly referred to as “cow eviscerators” versus cow catchers, and they did their job quite efficiently on man or beast getting too close to the speeding loco.

The snarling and snapping creature leapt. Its upper body cleared the serrated skirting only to be run through as its abdomen slammed into the blades. It emitted a pained bark, retching up a wave of blood and bile against the hot boiler. A guardsman who had been standing behind the engineer bellowed his surprise and outrage as he was doused with the steaming juices.

Over the roar of the wind, the train and the attacking wolves, Brecktel broke in over through Clint’s earbud issuing commands and asking for updates from each sector of the train. “Keep firing! Mow this group down and it will make the others think twice in getting this close,” the Captain said.

Clint scoped a white and black-pepper furred beast running along the third box car down, looking up at the gunner’s basket as the soldier within tried to fire at it. His gun couldn’t angle down as far as he’d needed and Clint could see the worried expression on the guardsman’s face.

The wolf’s head disappeared in an explosion of blood, bone and brains.

Clint watched the mouth of his rifle smoke and received an approving nod from the relieved gunner.

“Something big coming up behind us,” came the voice of a man named Langeley manning the last car. In the background could be heard the anxious conversation of the other men trying to talk over the wind and continuing gun fire.

Snippet of FINAL RIGHTS sketch by Tim Holtrop

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

FADING LIGHT Antho: My Story Teaser 1

In anticipation of Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous (edited by Tim Marquitz, published by Angelic Knight Press) and my short story within entitled FINAL RIGHTS, a very talented illustrator, Tim Holtrop, has done a rough sketch of a scene from the story. For the next few weeks before the September 1st release date of the book, I am going to post snippets from the larger sketch with a few lines of my story.

I have been able to preview some of the other tales in the anthology. Some stellar writers are within for sure, and it is going to be a really fantastic book. Will post more on the overall book (with links) in follow-up posts. (You can also find FADING LIGHT on Facebook.)

If you would like more info on Tim Holtrop and his incredible work, please check out his website:

"The world has been cast in the chill embrace of a Nuclear Winter and slowly withers towards its dreary demise. The once-glorious daylight hours have turned to a dismal display of perpetual dusk and the last bastions of humanity hold out in the brightly-lit but slowly dying vestiges of the larger cities.  On the perimeters of the cloud-cloaked countryside, where light succumbs to deep shadow, the tattered and mutated dregs of beast and man hungrily wait for the brilliance of the civilized world to wink out." FINAL RIGHTS by Peter Welmerink

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sticking To It, Staying On It

I don't know about any of you other writers, but the hardest part of my "writing day" is 1. getting to that ending, that END OF STORY, and 2. rummaging back through the final piece and editing/proofreading it, trying to polish it to the best of my biased ability.

I finished up a little over 19k word Fantasy short story end of June. The publisher I was submitting it to, well, their deadline was June 30th. As I wasn't going to JUST SEND it to the publisher without doing a re-read and some polishing first, I humbled requested from the publisher a little more time. I would not typically do this. This is not a good practice, and I am sure most publishers when they say THAT'S IT, that's it. But as everyone is human (hopefully LOL), sometimes you just have to go a little crazy and ASK. The worst they can say is NO, right? The best thing they can say is YES...NOW GETTER DONE!!

I was lucky enough to already have worked with this particular editor/publisher, asked nicely for a bit more time, and fortunately they granted me an extension to get my work piece into them.

As the 4th of July holiday came into play, and I did things with the family (a mini-vacation time), and then had to go out on the road the following week (back to work), it took me about two weeks to complete the re-reading and editing/proofing of my short story. I finally sent the publisher the piece, stating again I know I was behind the eight ball, and if they took it this late in the submission deadline game, I am thankful, and if not, again, I thanked them for the opportunity.

As I have recently submitted the work piece, I have not gotten a response yet either YAY or NAY to submitting it late, or if it just won't work for their publication.

I am not the best editor when it comes to my own work. The story is in my head. I can see it, feel it, smell it, taste it...and I put all that hopefully successfully down on paper I get a pretty good idea by its ending on what might have to be gone back to and smoothed out, what kinks might have to be worked out. Being perfectly grammatically correct, yeah, I try to smooth out all that as much as possible also before I consider the piece submittable. As mentioned, I do as much as I can to make it a polished piece, but a set of fresh eyes (normally an editor outside my meager self) always help as I admit to not sleeping with my Strunck & White religiously.

What I am saying here is, when you are GETTING IT DONE, stay positive, stay focused. If you need to have a bit more time to complete your masterpiece, sometimes, if you are really committed to getting something to that particular publisher, communicate, correspond with them. Like I said, the worst they can say is NOPE. SORRY. You should also give them a solid target date if you are going to be late.

Get through that final polishing stage. Stick to it. Get it done, even if you have to read bits and pieces throughout your busy day. (I will read through and edit my material, then highlight with red font the last paragraph I left off on so it is easy to come back to later.)

Feel free to give me your comments on FINISHING THE JOB and the EDITING PROCESS.

If anyone ever tells me writing doesn't take work...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Coming this September! Death, darkness and giant beasts attacking Grand Rapids!

The light has failed: the era of man is at its end.

Born of darkness and forced from the world, the creatures of myth, legend, and nightmare have long called the shadows home. Now, with the cruel touch of the sun a fading memory, they’ve returned to claim their rightful place amidst humanity; as its masters.

Fading Light: An Anthology of the Monstrous is due out September 2012. It is an anthology with a slew of great writers/authors, including last but not least (if you look at the list of stories and authors below) yours truly. Edited by the talented Tim Marquitz, and from what I have seen/read of some of the tales within, it is going to be awesome.

My tale, entitled FINAL RIGHTS, takes place in a near-future Grand Rapids, Michigan, roughly about the year 2075.

A little synopsis of FINAL RIGHTS...

"The world has been cast in the chill embrace of a Nuclear Winter and slowly withers towards its dreary demise. The once-glorious daylight hours have turned to a perpetual dusk and the last bastions of humanity hold beneath the brightly-lit, but slowly dying vestiges of the larger cities.  On the perimeters of the cloud-cloaked countryside, where light succumbs to deep shadow, tattered and mutated beasts hungrily wait for the brilliance of the civilized world to wink out."

Below is the list of talent and short story titles that will be within the anthology. 

List of tales and authors:
“Parasitic Embrace” by Adam Millard
“The Equivalence Principle” by Nick Cato
“A Withering of Sorts” by Stephen McQuiggan
“Goldilocks Zone” by Gary W. Olson
“They Wait Below” by Tom Olbert
“Buck” by Mark Pantoja
“Blessed Be the Shadowchildren” by Malon Edwards
“The Beastly Ninth” by Carl Barker
“Late Night Customer” by David Dalglish
“Rurik’s Frozen Bones” by Jake Elliot
“Wrath” by Lee Mather
“Friends of a Forgotten Man” by Gord Rollo
“Altus” by Georgina Kamsika
“Angela’s Garden” by Dorian Dawes
“The Long Death of Day” by Timothy Baker
“Out of the Black” by William Meikle
“Degenerates” by DL Seymour
“Dust” by Wayne Ligon
“Der Teufel Sie Wissen” by TSP Sweeney
“Born of Darkness” by Stacey Turner
“Lottery” by Gene O’Neill
“Where Coyotes Fear to Tread” by Gef Fox
“The Theophany of Nyx” by Edward M. Erdelac
“Double Walker” by Henry P. Gravelle
“Light Save Us” by Ryan Lawler
“Dark Tide” by Mark Lawrence
“Roadkill” by CM Saunders
“Torrential” by Regan Campbell
“Night Terrors” by Jonathan Pine
“Final Rights” by Peter Welmerink

Sunday, April 29, 2012


BEDLAM UNLEASHED Omnibus Edition! The action-packed, blood-n-guts adventures of Viking berserker Erik Bedlam and his traveling companion Alanis Johansson is soon to be available in both ye olde wood pulp print formats and digital ebook formats this May through Belfire Press. Steven L Shrewsbury and I very much enjoyed writing this hard-hitting Epic Fantasy yarn. There is a little bit of everything in this first venture into the brain-addled world of Erik Bedlam who, because of a axe shard buried in his cranium, sees things in a little different and bizarre unnerving light. It bodes ill for enemy and ally alike, especially poor Alanis. A skilled Norse fighter, he is Bedlam's "keeper" and is seemingly destined to trudge alongside his giant companion through adventures and situations dark and dire.

The print book is $11.99 and the ebook is $2.99. Excellent prices for either format I would say. The "omnibus edition" also contains a extra Bedlam short story entitled THE LAST VIKING ABDUCTION...and it is not what you think.

Though I haven't seen the entire contents of the OMNI edition yet, supposedly all the great Bob Freeman artwork from the serialized books is within the OMNI. Very cool!

BEDLAM UNLEASHED omnibus edition - Written by Steven Shrewsbury and Peter Welmerink - Edited by Louise Bohmer and Jodi Lee - Published by Belfire Press

Friday, April 20, 2012

Christine Morgan Interview

I would like to welcome you all to the first in a series of great interviews with new and established authors and writers. Considering I tote a “dark heroic fantasy” blog title, we will not necessarily be centering only on writers of “dark heroic fantasy”. I just wanted to make that clear up front for potential readers including authors who may be interested in participating in an interview on PR: DHF.

Being a writer myself, I find more often than not my own fiction writing, typically in the Scifi / Fantasy genre, slipping into other genre realms like Suspense-Thriller, Horror, Mystery, etc. I think I would be limiting myself, the offerings of this blog, and opportunities with a wide variety of writers if I only offered discussions relating to just the Scifi / Fantasy genre.

Enough on that.

The first author to grace the PR: DHF blog is the very accomplished and very talented Christine Morgan.

Christine Morgan divides her writing time among many genres, from horror to historical, from superheroes to smut, anything in between and combinations thereof. She's a wife, a mom, a future crazy-cat-lady and a longtime gamer, who enjoys British television, cheesy action/disaster movies, cooking and crafts.

Her stories have appeared in several publications, including: The Book of All Flesh, The Book of Final Flesh, The Best of All Flesh, History is Dead, The World is Dead, Strange Stories of Sand and Sea, Fear of the Unknown, Hell Hath No Fury, Dreaded Pall, Path of the Bold, Cthulhu Sex Magazine and its best-of volume Horror Between the Sheets, Closet Desire IV, and Leather, Lace and Lust.

She's also a contributor to The Horror Fiction Review, a former member of the HWA, a regular at local conventions, and an ambitious self-publisher (six fantasy novels, four horror novels, six children's fantasy books, and two roleplaying supplements). Her work has appeared in Pyramid Magazine, GURPS Villains, been nominated for Origins Awards, and given Honorable Mention in two volumes of Year's Best Fantasy and Horror.

Her suspense thriller, The Widows Walk, was recently released from Lachesis Publishing, and her horror novel, The Horned Ones, is due out from Belfire in 2012.She's currently delving into steampunk, making progress on an urban paranormal series, and on a bloodthirsty Viking kick. And after my own foray into the bloody realms of Viking berserkers in BEDLAM UNLEASHED (omnibus edition coming out May 2012), I am looking forward to seeing what Christine brings to the table.


Christine's current offering: The Widow’s Walk
Publisher: Lachesis Publishing
Genre: Suspense
Page Count: 382 pages

For a young married couple, Erin and Gil, the small coastal town of Blackwater Cove is many things. The seaside; their first home; the beginning of a wonderful new life together; Gil’s chance to work alongside his brother Colby on a fishing boat, a job he loves. But Blackwater Cove isn't the idylic paradise Erin and Gil imagine. Their cozy home is haunted by a tragedy of love betrayed and lost. It is the story of a husband betrayed and a life stolen by the cruel power of the sea. It is a tragedy that spills over into the lives of Erin and Gil. All because Erin has disturbed the power that lies dormant in… The Widow’s Walk


PR:DHF: How did THE WIDOW'S WALK tale come to you? What inspired you to write about a haunted seaside abode? What makes this piece stand out for you and, hopefully, the reader?

CM: I have a real approach/avoidance relationship with the sea.

On the one hand, I love it, I love being near it or on it ... my favorite vacations are cruises, I'm fascinated by old-fashioned sailing ships (from Viking longships to Napoleonic tall ships), the sea is a place of beauty and power, romance, peace and mystery.

On the other hand, it scares the crap out of me. The dark depths, the pressure, the endless expanses and merciless forces, the unknown, the creepy-damn-things that live in it (sharks, jellyfish, don't even get me started on the weird critters of the trenches).

I'd already written and self-published three horror novels set in Trinity Bay, a fictional town based on the area where I went to college. But I started thinking, possibly after one too many episodes of Deadliest Catch, that I wanted to write a story set in an even smaller town, with a little independent fishing fleet.

That got me thinking about sailors and their wives and their houses. Some would be painted bright colors so the men could see them from afar when their ship was coming home. Some had widow's walks, those high balconies or walkways where wives could look out to sea for returning sails. It all struck me as sad and kind of spooky.

Those elements came together to form the basic outlines of The Widow's Walk, and what would happen if I took a young couple who weren't steeped in that history and tradition, and plunked them down smack in the middle of it.

PR:DHF: How many other publications do you have out there?

CM: Oh, a lot, a lot, especially depending on what you consider as a publication.

I've been writing with a hopeful eye toward publication for twenty years. I've got almost that many self-published books out, plus short stories in over a dozen anthologies, and some books done through smaller presses. I've edited a couple of amateur anthologies and online 'zines. I've posted far too many assorted stories online.

So, a LOT. It's sometimes scary, sometimes impressive, and sometimes downright depressing to consider how many millions of words I've written.

PR:DHF: Are they (the other publications) all Suspense-Thrillers? Would you yourself categorize them in this way/genre? Is this your favorite genre to read as well as write? Why?

CM: No, not at all, though I do like to think there's some elements of thrill and suspense in most everything I write ... along with elements of humor, romance, comedy, and the whole range of emotions and experience. As a general breakdown, most of them are fantasy or horror. I've done a six-book fantasy series for kids, and two roleplaying game books. I've written zombies, superheroes, historical fiction, erotica ... I don't want to even try and limit myself to one genre.

I feel the same way about my choices in reading material. I'll read ANYTHING if it's good. Though if I had to pick only one genre, it'd be horror. I've been reading horror since I was ten years old. It's had a huge influence on shaping my life and my writing. Among the horror writer community, I've found myself feeling more at home than anywhere else.

PR:DHF: Have you always worked the night shift at the psych facility?

CM: I have to assume this has influenced a lot of your work as real life can sometimes be stranger than fiction. (I also must thank you for your "day job" work in this area. It takes special people to work those types of jobs. My stepfather is in a nursing home and though I enjoy visiting him and saying to hello to the regulars, I don't know if I could work very depressing. So, thanks for the "day job" work you do. It is appreciated.)

I went into working the night shift at a psych facility right out of college, so, it was my first real job. And only real job, since I never got around to pursuing further degrees or credentials. Been doing this for 20+ years too.

I've worked all the different shifts. I spent a while as a program coordinator, assisting the supervisor, running the client-and-family groups, and so on. But, the night shift schedule suited me better, and especially after I transferred to a smaller facility, it offered me much more opportunity to write.

It has its downsides, to be sure ... in the summer, when I'm trying to sleep during the day, when it's bright and hot, when everyone in the neighborhood seems to be mowing their lawns or doing home repairs, when the park is full of Little Leaguers. Not to mention trying to arrange doctor appointments and the like.

As for influencing my work and being stranger than fiction, oh, yes, that is certainly true. I've based more than a few characters on people I've met in the course of my career (residents, staff, management and outsiders alike). I've borrowed quotes and scenarios directly from on-the-job events. It certainly has helped prepare me to take most anything in stride.


PR:DHF: You mention you have self-published several works. In these days of opportunities for writers to self-pub versus pursue "traditional" publishing routes, what are your thoughts on the opportunities both offer a writer nowadays? 

CM: My initial experiences with self-publishing came about when I was young and stupid with my first novel and got taken in by one of those shady vanity-type presses after several rejections. It soured and embittered me so much that I decided I could do a better job on my own (well, with the help of my husband's layout skills and some amazing artist friends). I felt even then that it was hugely important to edit and make as professional a project as I could.

Being somewhat OCD and having massive guilt-pangs about typos and other mistakes even in simple online stories or fanfics helped with that, I suppose. Pains me to look back at stuff from years ago and see the mistakes. Ouch.

I also always felt there was an inherent unfairness in the concept of how, say, bands and comics and movies could do it themselves and be indie, edgy and cool ... while self-publishing had (and to a degree still does) this stigma of how it MUST be crap or else a REAL publisher would have taken it.

I think a lot of that has to do with people thinking that anyone who's even semi-literate can write; it's only putting down words and letters, it's not like an ART requiring training or talent, right? So, why pay someone to do it? Ugh. Despicable mentality.

PR:DHF: What do you think about the idea of pursuing a balance between self-pubbing and pursuing traditional publishing/publishers if one is serious about being a published author/writer?

CM: I must think it's a good idea, because I keep plugging away at it. One source of frustration can also be the glacial pace of response times, turnaround, the frowned-upon-ness of multiple or simultaneous submissions, and just how damn LONG it takes for things to actually happen.

I write fast, so I pile up this immense backlog. I have no shortage of ideas and stories on the to-do list. So, after a while it becomes much less stressful and easier on the sanity to just go ahead and publish the older stuff.

If nothing else, it shows I'm persistent. And I've been told that a nicely produced self-published book can demonstrate even to the real publishers, editors and agents that I take this seriously and am willing to put in the hard work.

PR:DHF: Do you enjoy the digital book (ebook) format for reading currently or do you still purchase ye olde wood pulp paperbacks and hard cover books? Or do you partake of both nowadays?

CM: I've yet to jump on the e-reader bandwagon. Only a matter of time, I suppose ... but then, I still have a clunky old Nokia phone that I only use for making calls, I don't Twitter, I listen to CDs, and I'll probably be the last person on the planet wearing glasses instead of contacts or laser surgery (or cybernetic eyes, I'm sure that'll be next).

Lately, I've been reading more books as PDFs, review copies and such. I like it, but it still does feel kind of remote and detached. I'd also fret much more about an e-reader device in terms of the expense and paranoia -- what if I lost it, broke it? couldn't very well take it to the beach or in the bathtub; a single paperback is lots easier to replace.


PR:DHF: Regarding your self-pubbed works, what is the one you are most proud of and where would one find it if interested? (Feel free to give a brief summary or synopsis of the book/story.)

CM: I guess I'd have to say the ElfLore hardcover omnibus.

The trilogy was originally published by a small press, but then they cut their fantasy line and the rights reverted to me. I decided to give them another revision and then put them together into a hardback, and it turned out so well, such a gorgeous book with a fantastic cover, I really love it.

PR:DHF: When sitting down to write (or standing up if that's your schtick LOL), are there any routines you go through to get yourself primed to write?

CM: I do most of my dedicated writing in my night-shift time slot. Usually, things at work have settled down by 1:00 AM and don't get stirring again until about 5:00 AM, so, those four hours are when I can really nose to the grindstone. I don't have any particular set routines or rituals.

But, especially if I'm working on something historical, or with a challenging tone or voice or setting, I try to get myself in the right mood and headspace by reading or listening to something inspirational for it.

Coffee also helps, of course. And peanut M&Ms.


PR:DHF: When churning up a new written work, do you outline the entire tale before you start writing, or do you lay it out in your head and let it flow and come together as you do the actual writing?

CM: I'm not much of an outliner. I will when I have to, when the story calls for it, but in general I much prefer character- and scenario-driven stories. Like going on a long road trip. I know where I'm starting from and I know where I'm headed ... what happens along the way, detours and scenic routes, stops, side trips, accidents ... well, that's where the adventure and excitement can come in.

Bear in mind that this is for writing only. On actual road trips, I'm not very keen on trying out those little woods-roads that aren't on the map. Seen and read too much horror for that! Not that I'm a rigid vacation scheduler either; we get there when we get there and so what if we "make good time" or not?

Some of my books, I've begun with a large cast of characters and no idea who'll make it out alive at the end. Tell No Tales was like that, which was fitting since it's a story about reality game show contestants on a haunted pirate island. The Horned Ones, coming this summer from Belfire, was also like that ... I'm going to take all these characters, stick them in a tourist cave, trap them there, throw in some monsters, and see what happens!

I credit/blame a lot of the WAY that I write on my long history in roleplaying games. Been doing that since I was fourteen, usually running the game and designing the campaigns. That's why I find that story hooks and sequel ideas naturally work themselves into whatever I'm doing, so there's always the next one brewing.

I've also found that the best sessions, the most exciting and memorable and fun, were the ones where the characters would react to something, the story might go off in an unexpected direction, and we'd end up winging it. I far prefer that to the scripted, railroady kind of campaign, and I guess that just transferred across into my writing as well.


PR:DHF: Seems we have both recently dove into the realm of Steampunk, what is it that interests you when writing in this most interesting of genres? Are there any plans for a self-published piece of your Steampunk work to be offered to the masses? Or has anything been taken in yet by a traditional publisher that might be available in the near future?

CM: Steampunk appealed to me for a lot of reasons -- history, weird tech/science, and the prospect of being a melting pot of genres and tropes. I see it as being kind of like a superhero universe ... anything goes! It lends itself well to all sorts of crossover possibilities. I've written steampunk with vampires, steampunk Lovecraftian, steampunk serial killer ... I've got plans for many more, including steampunk with zombies, steampunk with pulp cliffhangery adventure, steampunk with magic ... the possibilities are endless, yet they can all also be tied together.

When I set out to start writing my steampunk stories, I wanted to do something with the same basic setting and a revolving cast of recurring characters. That way, I wouldn't feel constrained and I'd know I could revisit that world whenever I liked and uncover more of it as time went on.

So, I came up with the idea for a character, Chantal Noir, a gutsy young paranormalist from the Little Paris district of a steampunk city. In her line of work, she could get pulled into almost anything, know all sorts of unusual other people, and has a whole backstory to explore.

I love stories that are interconnected and evolving. The Pendergast books by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have been a huge influence on me in that regard. I was also blown away by Robert McCammon's recent historical works, which gave me what I crave in terms of the FEEL, the language and sense, the texture.

I love writing historical stuff for that reason, and for the challenge of the different eras -- Viking stories have a different tone from steampunk, for instance; I've also written medieval and pioneer. As a side benefit, while there's as much if not more research required, I don't have to worry so much about modern technology and pop culture advancing past me while I wait on those response times for something set in the present day.

I mentioned the three I've already written, all of which are either being considered for or about to be sent off to anthology submission calls. I've got an entire list of more, and expect that I'll have enough for my own steampunk collection soon. That's something I could readily see self-publishing, once they've all had their shots at finding first-print homes elsewhere.


PR:DHF: Any advice for writers in general you would like to share? Words of wisdom? Secrets of the craft you've learned? Good books on the writing craft you may have run across that have helped you hone your skills as a writer?

CM: READ. A lot. A variety of things. Listen to audio books, too ... read your own writing aloud ... challenge yourself by experimenting with your comfort zones, with character or point of view. Cultivate beta-readers who really will give you feedback, pay attention to what editors tell you and why. Remember that it's about making the story as good as it can possibly be, and not about pandering to your authorly ego. Work on building up patience, since things DO take a damn long time. Write. Send stuff out and follow up. Don't take the rejections personally. Develop a thicker skin. Keep on trying. Always strive to improve. Etc.

As for books on the craft, aside from the basic musts like Strunk & White, I cannot recommend strongly enough On Writing by Stephen King. It may not be a handbook, but, for me and the way I approach things, it resonates. 


PR:DHF: I would like to thank Christine for offering up her time and thoughts on her books and the subject of writing, and also big thanks for being first for this interview romp.

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Thanks and see you next time.

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