Monday, June 18, 2018

A Brief Q&A with the Authors of The Comic Signal's AUTHOR ALLEY Volume 1

I asked the three authors who will be attending the first AUTHOR ALLEY at THE COMIC SIGNAL, July 14th, when did they start writing and why, back then, why did they feel the need to write stories, tales, fictional wonders. Here are their answers...


My mom still remembers me telling stories about my imaginary friends before I could read. I’ve just always told stories, written stories, even game-mastered stories for role-playing games. Stories are in my blood.

But when did I get serious about it? I dabbled in my teens, got rejections, and gave up. I dabbled in my twenties, got rejections, and gave up. In my thirties, I gave up the dream, pouring myself into my programming career. But the dream wouldn’t stay down. At age 47, I tried again; and this time I didn’t let rejection stop me. I kept going.

Nine months later, I was a Finalist in Writers of the Future. Three months after that, I made my first sale.

So my advice to young writers: don’t be like me. Don’t give up.

As to why... We need to understand the universe. And some of us, if we can’t find explanations, we make them up. I love getting an idea and trying to make sense of it, to make it fit in the world — even if it’s an imaginary world.


When did I start writing fiction? Probably when I could hold a pencil and actually write words. LOL It started in grade school/elementary school for me. Don't why, just that I liked writing little adventure stories of either just me as the main character, or me with friends having some form of crazy adventure either around school or in the neighborhood I grew up within. (Grand Rapids West Side YES!)

Why did I feel the need to craft fictional tales? I'm not sure. I simply had a vivid imagination. Books and movies of the time inspired me. Heston's Planet of the Apes. Eastwood's Kelley's Heroes. I know real-life news of the day worried me and I probably wrote as a way of therapy. (I grew up during the high heat of the Cold War, massive war between USA and Russia always on my mind). I think also writing was just a natural outlet for me, to discuss life, to discuss dreams. Plus reading has always been a acceptable escape and pasttime to venture into another place, time, world, character.


Hello? Bryan? My gosh! Where'd he go?

We'll get back to Bryan after we peel him from his keyboard and all his other activities.

UPDATE 6/19/2018...found Bryan! :)

As far back as elementary school I've been dreaming up and telling stories. I started (and stopped) many stories as a high school student. I was also a gamer - pencil and paper RPG's before consoles. I never took it seriously until I wrote my first book (ironically, it was a non-fiction title about church security). At that point, I thought I'd go ahead and actually finish a story that I started. 


I wrote stories as a way to escape. i was bored with reading about other heroes, about other places, about other times. I wanted to tell my own stories. Now? Once I cracked open that floodgate, I have to let it out. I have a world in my head that needs to be explored.


Come visit Martin, Bryan and little ole me at THE COMIC SIGNAL July 14th and talk to us about why we do what we do. We'll even have evidence of our literary insanity.

Friday, May 25, 2018

You need to save the World


We need you to create on. We need your talents, your artistic skills, your ideas, your imagination.

We need to be entertained. We need to be enlightened. We need to read something that may inspire something great within us.

Create on, I say. Create on.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Artist CARLOS VILLAS Interview

Hello folks. I "met" Carlos Villas while searching for potential illustrators to do some artwork for my self-pubbed Fantasy line of publications/books. I reached out to him, and he graciously responded quickly and the rest is history. I commissioned him to do a rendering of my Braccus Straun character, and also another upcoming Fantasy yarn featuring a badass Bull-man (the results you can view further down the page...the one with the "Minotaur" dude holding the severed head of, well, another fellow beast gentleman.)


CREATIVES HELP BOARD: When did you first realize you wanted to be an illustrator?

CARLOS VILLAS: I`ve been painting since I was a little kid, so I actually never had a doubt I`d pursue art as a career. I worked a couple of years as a freelance artist in Mèxico City, and then tried the fine art road. I did get a couple of prizes and shows, but nothing that really filled my expectations because I love to do creatures and monsters, and you can imagine not a lot of people would hang one of those bad boys in his or her house. I abandoned art for many years (professional art) and focused on my business. Around 4 years ago I saw what people were doing with digital art so I bought a tablet, and Photoshop and started teaching myself.... and haven`t looked back. I have no doubt I want to create in this digital format, not exactly illustration, but illustration, concept and creature/character design, that`s the goal.

CHB: Have you ever had times feeling like "why in the hell am I doing this? What am I even doing this for?" And what do you do to pull yourself away from that negative path and way of thinking?

CV: I`m pretty sure I must have had those times, but usually I`ve always been pretty straight forward on staying on this road, specially the last year, I decided to go for it. Just outwork them (negative thinking or attitude) and keep going for it and trying to get better every single day.

CHB: What do you draw your inspiration and ideas from? Books you've read? Other artists you've seen? Besides the act of creating, do you think it is important to study and/or read what others are doing or have done?

CV: I think ideas and inspiration have always been there. I just love to take a blank canvas and start working on it without knowing exactly where am I going with it (personal projects). Usually when I do commissions, as soon as the client tells me what they need, I get a pretty good picture of it in my head and then it`s just a matter of playing with that idea on the canvas. Books and movies are amazing inspiration resources as well as looking at other artist`s work online. I do think it`s really important to see what other`s are doing, not to copy it, but to incorporate what might work into your art/workflow. I keep watching tutorials almost everyday, and enjoy them as much as if I was watching a cool horror movie.

CHB: What are some other Creatives...writers and/or illustrators...that have inspired you and you think would be good inspiration for others?

CV: There are so many amazing artists! The one that truly amazed me was Frazzetta, then Vallejo... while I started working as a freelance artist I loved Mark Fredrickson (amazing airbrush illustrator), and then I got more into Fantasy and concept art, 2 and 3 D, following artists like Berni Wrightson, Bisley, Maciej Kuciara, Ben Mauro, Maxim Verehin, Caleb Nefzen, Piotr Jablonski, Ken Barthelmey.... man, I could keep going...

CHB: Besides plugging into some heavy metal rock-n-roll goodness, what does the Carlos Villas Cave of Creativity start with each time you visit it to create your magic? Favorite hours to create? Other "rituals?" What disciplines do you provide yourself when starting or continuing to work on a project to make sure you complete it?

CV: I always start working at 9 or 10am, just after I take my son to school, have breakfast. I start working until they tell me it`s time to eat LOL, then I keep working until 6pm. I spend some time with the family and, as soon as my wife falls asleep (around 10-11), I go back to work until 2 or 4 in the morning. Sometimes I do take a couple of hours off for family reasons, pick up my kid, take him to his swimming or painting classes, or going to the movies, but I try to always hit it again late at night. Night seems always the best time. Less distractions. As for the mood....always music, all kinds of music, and my Coca-Cola with a lot of ice.... THAT does the trick.

CHB: Why do you enjoy rendering/illustrating/creating creatures and monsters versus sweeping mountain vistas and dazzling orange sunsets?

CV: I have no idea! LOL I have always enjoyed rendering/creating organic things. I find the variations on them (skin, colors, texture) just amazing. Lately, I have found joy in rendering/painting backgrounds, but my first love will always be the creature itself.

CHB: What's your favorite type of creature to render? Something known, like a Frankenstein monster, or unknown and original?

CV: I would always prefer to create my own creature/characters, but I also love the challenge to give an existing character my own twist.

CHB: And do you lean more towards Fantasy or SciFi...or enjoy them both equally?

CV: I lean more towards Fantasy, specially Horror. SciFi has some pretty amazing opportunities, and it usually includes hard surfaces (which I`m trying to learn and become better at), but Horror and Fantasy bring the best out of me.

CHB: What kind of advice would you give beginner imaginators/creatives?

CV: I would advise them to just keep painting, there`s no substitute to practice, just keep painting and painting, learn new programs and ways to do your work better and faster. There`s no magic formula, but this one will eventually get you there. Become so good that they (art appreciators) will have to notice you.


CARLOS VILLAS is a freelance illustrator currently working almost exclusively in digital art utilizing Photoshop. However, he has also worked in all traditional media and mediums.

For inquiries:

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Author/Actor ANTHONY MONDAL talks about the Creative Spirit

First off, I want to say I apologize for the long, looong time between Creative's posts. Was a busy year last year, and simply didn't get around to posting interviews and information on some great Creatives I met last year. So...without further adieu...

I met Mr. Mondal at a B&N Michigan Author event about a year ago. He was a great pleasure to talk to. Friendly. Enthusiastic about his craft and what the rest of us crazed writers/creators were doing.


A BURST OF SUNSHINE is his second book of a collection of poems. He dedicated the book to his late parents and says: "They are long gone, but, somehow, life goes on and their beautiful memories are still scattered all over, like flower petals as blessings showering over my head."

The book is also dedicated to sensitive, kind and intelligent people: women, men, boys and girls from all walks of life. Anthony continues: "For in them lies the dreams, hopes and futures of a better tomorrow. Let Light prevail and Darkness be gone."


CREATIVES HELP BOARD: Welcome Anthony. What do you do from a Creative standpoint and why?

ANTHONY: I am basically a poet, novelist and actor, and sometimes I also write song lyrics, which to me is very similar to poetry. If you had mentioned to me in high school, that I would pick up writing and acting (mostly as out of work actor!) as a profession. I would stare at you in disbelief. I love to write and act…I almost feel compelled to do so, it is hard to explain. Anyway the academic life was always a struggle for me and I found it dull and boring. Using Imagination makes me come Alive! That is why I am probably still at it.

CRB: How do you keep this Creative passion alive?

ANTHONY: To keep Creative passion alive, on the long run is truly a challenge.  Individually it was a no brainer for me to drop out from 9-5 cubicle mentality and be a full time artist. But that necessarily did not mean the writing and acting world embraced me with open arms. My journey so far has been one full of struggles (financial, emotional) many sacrifices and dealing with rejections on a daily basis.  When I did get a bit of break …it would raise my spirits and hopes, but only to be disappointed down the road. At the end, all you hold onto is your body of work.

CRB: Is it important for us Creatives, us imaginators, to continue to pursue our passion in this day and age?

ANTHONY: Even more so than ever, Creatives and Imaginators are needed to Rethink and Reshape our world. To provide different perspectives and viewpoints, to engage in Arts that encourages dialogues and conversations that goes beyond national borders and our obvious human differences. Man does not live by bread alone (even if there are cakes of many varieties!) Let Artists re-imagine a world closer to our hearts desires.

CRB: What would you say to someone who hasn’t stepped out into the world, who wants to share their creativity like you do?

ANTHONY: I welcome them with open arms as they become a part of this creative tribe. Do not be discouraged. Let well established artists even help the younger ones, to reach their goals and destinations. More than taking classes and courses, jump into Life, say a resounding YES! to Experiences. If you want it bad enough……Go all the Way.

CRB: What is your greatest challenge in your creative endeavors and how do you overcome this?

ANTHONY: To be financially independent as an artist. Sadly we live in a financial world and I as an artist am not exempt from the basic survival necessities of life, like food, shelter and clothing. I have been working all sorts of blue collar jobs, since my graduation from Calvin College since 1995, to keep my body and soul intact. Honestly I am beyond tired. I guess I am living on hopes and prayers.



Anthony Mondal is a modern poet, novelist and actor. He considers himself simply as an artist beyond the confines of nationality and religion. He published his first book of poems under a different name. The collection of poems was titled Dialogues With My Self (ISBN 1-58915- 022-8). His most recent book of poems was titled A Burst of Sunshine which is his second published book (Nov 2012). He lived in New York City for over ten years pursuing writing, acting and song writing. He received his BA from Calvin College in 1995. He currently resides in Michigan, USA. He also has worked upon a number of poetry videos while living in London, UK (The Blessed Rain, Who will Fix it Who will Mend? and Wake up Call ) which are currently on YouTube. At present he is working on an existential novel tentatively named "In Search Of...." and a memoir and other writings. Anthony Mondal’s book is available on Amazon as well as on Rose Dog Books (his publisher). A Burst of Sunshine is also available in Great Lakes Commonwealth Of Letters (GLCL) Library in Grand Rapids, in Clarksville Public Library, and North Muskegon Walker Branch Public Library.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Author Fortune Larkam: Five Things Learned Writing THE CHRONICLES OF A MODERN WITCH

CHB: I met Fortune at the Ransom Public Library 2017 Author Fair. A vibrant, friendly individual, Fortune is one of those people, one of those writers, one of those CREATIVES, you know is passionate about her work just by the way she explains her material. It was great to meet her, so without further adieu, we present Miss Fortune Larkam.

The Chronicles of a Modern Witch: Leading a Double Life
By Fortune Larkam

Taliesin "Tali" Harlin had a troubled past full of demons and darkness before she escaped from the clutches of The Society, an ancient secret organization that targets witches and wants to harness their powers for their own evil means no matter what the cost. The night before her arranged wedding, Tali escapes and is thrust into leading a double life having to shed her heritage and her identity to keep safe from The Society. Now she has more than just The Society to fear.

Taking refuge in Kalamazoo, Michigan under the identity Brooke Smith, she finds herself at odds with trying to blend into society and attempting to make friends. However, all of her troubles seem to melt away when she meets Hayden her very attractive neighbor. She feels a connection to him from the moment she sees him, but does he feel it too? And will she be able to keep her past from coming back to haunt her as she starts her new life? Enter into Tali’s world in the exciting first book of the series: The Chronicles of a Modern Witch: Leading a Double Life.


1. This is my first novel and book series. I typically lean towards poetry but I pushed myself to broaden my perspective in my writing and started this series. I actually had written a few chapters of this book a few years ago and wanted to revisit it but somehow I had lost the file on my computer! Grr. It actually ended up working in my favor though because I decided to split the book into two parts and include two points of view instead of just one.

2. The challenges of writing a series are something I'm dealing with now. I'm trying to work on book 2 and I have no shortage of ideas but it can get overwhelming trying to build on what I started in book one. What has helped me keep writing is listening to great music for inspiration and just having great friends and parents who support my endeavors. I also can text or call them and bounce ideas and see what they think.

3. I chose to have the main portion of my story focus in Kalamazoo, Michigan and have the two main characters go to Western Michigan University because it is a location near and dear to my heart. I went for my Bachelors degree in Creative Writing at WMU and the apartment complex that my characters live at is modeled after the one I lived at back then.

4. The pros of self-publishing are that I can customize my writing without an editor telling me what to do. I got to see my ideas come into focus with the great publishing team at Createspace through Amazon. My books are available in Kindle and paperback version. The cons of self-publishing is that I have to do all promotions myself and it's really hard to get my name out there when you're starting from the ground up. I made myself a Facebook page and a website to help with the promotions so that is fun to see my friends list grow. I also have gotten some reviews on that show people are out there reading my work. It's very encouraging.

5. One thing I have to say is that no matter what I'll never stop writing. Hopefully someday I'll make it into the big leagues but I'm just setting small goals for myself. I am thinking about entering some contests soon to get my name out there. I think that would be fun. I've had my poems published three times once when I was younger and then once when I went to Kellogg Community College and once at Western Michigan University. None of these were under my pen name. That didn't come until later.


Fortune is a writer, cookie-lover, gluten-intolerant, bestie to her dogs, poet, wife, and artist. "I'm me," she says. She is the personification of an honest, heart and soul binding, artist. She puts everything she has into her writing and art. It is her life, part of who she is. She currently offers a book of poetry LIFE BEYOND A LABEL, and her first novel THE CHRONICLES OF A MODERN WITCH.






Barnes & Noble

Thursday, October 13, 2016

GTA VR (ft. Steven Ogg)

As I am playing GTAV, is a crazy how TREVOR is Steven Ogg, or Steven Ogg is TREVOR, or... or...

Anyway, what great casting.

Monday, September 26, 2016


I met C.L. Werner, in the virtual world, while writing for FLASHING SWORDS EZINE wa-ay back in, eegad, 2006-ish. (When Howard A Jones was editor so...a while ago.) I had read some of his shorter works for Black Library, which led to picking up some of his novel-length works, the first being the Matthias Thulmann: WITCH HUNTER omnibus. Once I read that, I was hooked.

So without rambling like a fanboy, here is Mr. C.L. Werner...

Oh, and his most recent work is the image above: LORD OF UNDEATH



CL WERNER: The first piece of writing I can recall working on was in elementary school. I did a Sherlock Holmes story that ran over fifty pages of loose leaf. So I guess that would be the first thing I wrote. The 'bug' as it were didn't really hit me until I was finishing up high school. I tried my hand at horror short stories, submitting to any magazine I'd stumble on. Nothing landed and over the course of the next ten years the only things I placed were in small press magazines like Eldritch Tales and Cthulhu Codex. Not until I had a piece accepted into Black Library's Inferno! Magazine did I really get that sense of finally creating something that would have a wider reach.

CHB: What was your very first published piece?

CLW: My first published work was a scenario called 'The Old Dark House' for the Call of Cthulhu RPG which was published by Pagan Publishing in Alone on Halloween. That was in 1991. I didn't have another paying published piece until 1999 with 'A Choice of Hatreds' in Inferno! #22. That was the first piece of fiction that I was paid for writing.

CHB: There may be probably many obvious answers, but compared to that first piece, how has your writing, writing skill, writing focus changed?

CLW: I think any writer will improve as they continue to tell stories. The more you read, watch, experience – all of that will inform new ideas and characters. Any book or movie can teach you new things about style and pacing, tone and direction. What works to sustain a mood or what makes for an engaging character. To be certain, you can also learn a great deal about what doesn't work from these things too. A badly written book can be even more instructive than a well-crafted masterpiece, highlighting things to avoid and some of the pitfalls that can sabotage a narrative.

Over the years, I think that the biggest thing which has changed in my writing is an appreciation for different perspectives. To be certain there are rare instances of a character who is unabashedly evil, but for the most part everyone believes themselves to be justified in what they are doing. A thief rationalizes his robberies, a tyrant has a defined rationale for his manifold oppressions, a tyranid has – well – the expansion of the species. Each character, no matter how despicable, is something I try to approach as an individual, to make them more than just a one-note simulacrum of villainy. It makes the contrast all the more vivid and unsettling when a murderer has all these fine qualities yet at the end of the day is still the perpetrator of heinous crimes. And by the same token, it is equally disarming when the noble hero is endowed with some less than sterling attributes.

CHB: What is your writing routine? Tons of coffee? A full nights sleep then hit the keyboards?

CLW: Much of my writing is done at night, when it is quiet outside and the air is a bit cooler. The dark, I suppose, lends itself to some of the grim things I write about. Sometimes I'll have marathons where I write for nine and ten hours at a stretch. Other times it is difficult to stay at it for two in one sitting. The dreaded curse of writer's block can sometimes be mitigated by jumping ahead in the narrative and coming back to the problem spot, which is usually best approached after stepping away for a little while. I find if I try to jump without that break it causes a sense of disorientation – a befuddlement so far as the pacing of the piece goes. I'm always very aware of pacing and try to ensure scenes are neither too ponderous or too abrupt (unless of course that is the intended effect).

On the matter of coffee, I'll likely be branded a heretic but I can't stand the stuff. Even the smell of coffee disturbs me. In hot weather I resort to energy drinks and in cold weather it is lots of tea.

CHB: Are you a plotter or a pantster? (I hate that latter word for folks who loosing plot and fly by the seat of their pants, but, meh, guess it fits.)

CLW: Detailed outlines are something I always try to work from. As mentioned above, I find that having a map of where the story is going will allow me to jump ahead of any problem spot I encounter. When I start a new chapter, I'll go to the outline and break down each individual scene and then lay them out in sequence within the chapter. Then, as I write, I can see at a quick glance how much material is yet to go. I can judge the pacing more closely, so if a scene with a dragon eating goats runs into a thousand words I can then evaluate how much more story I'm trying to fit into the chapter. Except when I'm going for a particular effect, I try to keep chapters between 5,000 and 6,000 words, which I feel is the ideal size for a reader to tackle over their lunch break, riding the train home from work, or some other situation where their time is restricted. If I find that there's a bit more story than I still have room for in the chapter, I'll evaluate if a scene should be moved into the subsequent or preceding chapter. Working like this, I've come to attack a novel in blocks of three chapters at a time – which is fine early on but becomes a problem if your deadline is in arrears.

CHB: What is the best way to market one's written work, in your opinion.

CLW: To be honest, I'm not certain what the best way to market one's work is. There are so many options out there these days. The scope of anthologies and magazines to submit short stories to is much broader than it was in the days before the internet. There are a great many small and mid-range publishers out there that either have open submission windows or will have 'open calls' at set periods of the year. This includes some of the tie-in publishers as well, so if a writer is an enthusiast of a particular game or film series or what have you, then it might not be remiss to keep one ear to the ground.

Online retailers have made self-publishing a much more feasible enterprise for those of us without hefty inheritances to squander or wealthy relations to exploit. The pitfall of this route is that the onerous of generating buzz and advertising the book falls on the author, and not all of us are so skilled at marketeering as we are at composing. Beyond the time involved writing the book, there's usually some manner of fee for listing the volume with the retailer.

One thing that I was always advised against, and which I will pass along, is to be very wary of any business that wants you to pay them to publish your book. This is different from services that offer editing and formatting – in this instance we're talking about businesses that promise to do everything but write it. There's a reason that so-called 'vanity presses' have a bad reputation as they can be predatory and promise far more than they deliver. Approach anybody who wants you to pay them to be published with a wary eye and do your homework before agreeing to anything.

CHB: Words of advice for new writers?

CLW: The first and most important thing I'd advise any new writer is to look very long and hard into why you want to write. If it is for the passion of story-telling, if it is something you'd do even without a dime of remuneration, then I think it is something you have to pursue. Constantly improve your craft, when you read the work of someone else, analyse it like a mechanic taking apart an engine. See what makes something effective work and see how you can develop your own technique to be as effective. When rejection comes, and sadly it will, try to see if there is any hint to how to improve in the editor's feedback – but by the same token recognize when the fault is simply that it wasn't the kind of story that was right for that particular market.

If you are pursuing a career as a writer for the financial aspect, go in understanding that a great many authors have to maintain day jobs to make ends meet. The big celebrity authors who make a zillion dollars a year are very much the exception rather than the rule. It is a very fortunate creator who can achieve a degree of success where they can comfortably extricate themselves from the daily grind and devote all their resources to writing. A goal to pursue, but also a caution to bear in mind.

CHB: What does being able to write, to put the story "on paper" do for you? (Obviously put a little extra cash on the table, but what else. Myself personally, it often gives me something to look forward to when the day job and life are rough.)

CLW: For myself, personally, being able to write gives me a sense of accomplishment. It is the one thing in my existence that at all excuses it. I've seen for myself that my writing has helped carry readers through tough times in their lives, providing them with an escape from their troubles even if only for the briefest spell. I've had a few writers say they drew inspiration from my own stories and that helped them develop their own skills and pursue their own publication. It is a very humbling thing to consider having such an impact on somebody's life and ultimately makes it worthwhile. Even if you don't become rich, even if your work doesn't become famous, even if you fear there will be no posterity to leave it to, you can still help others through your work. Sometimes you're even blessed enough to find out about it. It's the old adage about the stone thrown into a pond – you don't always see the ripples or where they go, but the ripples are there just the same.

Thanks for your time, Clint.

C. L. Werner has written a number of pulp-style horror stories for assorted small press publications, including Inferno! magazine. Some of his Black Library credits include the Chaos Wastes books, the Mathias Thulmann: Witch Hunter novels, the Brunner the Bounty Hunter trilogy, and the Thanquol and Boneripper series. Currently living in the American south-west, he continues to write stories of mayhem and madness set in the Warhammer World.


Some other great interviews with C.L. Werner (not associated with this blog)
The Bloghole Interview
Interview on Snowbooks Site
MengelMiniatures Interview