Stories Welcome

Let’s talk for a second, you and I. Come on, pull up a chair. Comfortable? Great.
I recently asked one of my colleagues what his new book was about. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t get an idea of what the story was about. The only thing he could tell me was that his character is amazing, and that’s it. Is it possible to write an entire novel based off of this concept?
That got me thinking: what is it that’s driving your story? Is it character? Plot? Maybe it’s a bit of both. thoughtTBS loves to announce that ‘characters are welcome,’ but are they enough to carry a story by themselves? The world doesn’t revolve around a character. He/she has to be doing something, or is in some way affected by the people or events in his/her life. That’s where the story emerges. Sure, Dr. House is smart, but I think he might fall into the category of being so smart that he’s stupid. Where he excels in his trade, he stumbles in his personal relationships. That isn’t enough to be a story, however. What he encounters and how relationships affect him can determine how he functions in the day to day, but suppose a code black is paged in the hospital and the place goes on lock down. There’s a mad man inside, and Dr. House wants to protect his patients at all costs. Maybe he attempts to outwit the assailant and saves the day. Not only is that a story, but it’s quite revealing in regards to character growth.
Maybe the slogan should be ‘stories welcome.’
Then again, maybe I think too much.

Top Five Favorite Books Growing Up

A lot of things inspired me to be creative at an early age. Had it not been for the encouragement of my parents while growing up, there’s a good possibility that I wouldn’t have become a writer at all. They served as my earliest audience, my first fans, and fed my artistic endeavors to such a degree that I even wrote my first novel while in high school. Trust me, there’s no way that would’ve happened if it weren’t for them. A handful of teachers also contributed to my writing craft after telling me they saw talent with the words I hammered out on the page, but for the most part, I remember my earliest encouragement, and the things introduced to me that were the most inspirational. The books read to me, and the books I later discovered on my own, sparked my imagination and helped paved the way to becoming an author. So, without further ado, I present my top five books growing up that still manage to impact me today.

I know what you’re thinking. How did you read DUNE when you were little? Well, the truth is, I wasn’t quite so little when I read it. My first introduction to Herbert was in high school, and it simply blew my mind. Spice Melange? Interstellar Travel dependent on one planet’s production of Melange? Mentats? When Paul first encounters the native inhabitants of DUNE, and becomes the prophesied figure that could change the face of the universe, I was amazed. It’s deep, it’s epic, but most of all, and it was an adventure like no other.

4. Journal of a Novel
Journal of a Novel: The East of Eden Letters, chronicled the writing sessions of John Steinbeck from January 29 to November 1st, 1951. He wrote these “letters” to his editor, Pascal Covici, who worked for Viking Press at the time, as a sort of warm up before he began the days work. It was a fascinating peek at what was going through Stenbeck’s head during the creation of one of his most pivotal novels. It was great to see the thought process, a sort of behind the scenes, and how he stretched his creative limbs before each session. If you haven’t given this one a read, you should.

3. Pushing Ice
If DUNE blew my mind, nothing in the science fiction field could ever do that again. Right?
Believe it or not, Alastair Reynolds did. It’s a grand adventure following a group of deep space miners who set off after one of Saturn’s moons when it abruptly breaks orbit and heads out of the solar system at increasing speeds. What they discover is a classic mystery that spans generations, and presents a devastating sense of enormity unparalleled in anything I’ve read since.

Yes, it’s an epic comic that’s broken up into six parts. No, it isn’t a novel. This tale of two best friends in a post apocalyptic future is not only epic, but gut wrenching as well. When a mysterious force awakens, dubbed by the military as AKIRA, it puts that friendship to the ultimate test. The ending will leave you breathless.

1. The Neverending Story
The novel that takes my number one slot is also my favorite from childhood. There were several close contenders, but they all paled in comparison to this highly imaginative story. There’s adventure and wonder around every corner, but the real surprise is how it involves the reader in it’s immersive plot. Sure, there was a movie adaptation, but it could never compare with this epic and beautiful tale. Heck, the movie only told half of the book, and it barely did that!

The Princess Bride
Honestly, it’s inconceivable that this incredibly fun tale didn’t make my top five. William Goldman knocked it out of the park when he came up with adventure, full of true love, pirates, revenge, political mystery, and of course, rodents of unusual size. If you haven’t read this book, then perhaps you should go back to where we found you! Unemployed, in Greenland!

So, what did you think of my list? Did any of your favorites show up in my top five? What are your favorites?
Let me know in the comments!

Support Indie Authors!


I am an indie author. The decision wasn’t made because of failure in the traditional marketplace, or because of some sort of disdain for the Big Five. It had more to do with being in complete control of my work throughout the publishing process. Being able to choose my editor, pricing, and book length are all sound reasons that led me onto the indie path.
Marketing is a challenge. It’s also difficult when published through a publishing house. As far as they are concerned, if you aren’t Stephen King, then they aren’t likely to spend any money marketing your book.indie This may be the reason why you always see advertisements or books from the same authors all the time. If one didn’t know any better, one would assume that New York Times Bestselling authors are the only ones out there writing books.
That’s the beauty of indie authors. There are a lot of bestselling indie books on the market right now, and finding a new author can be quite exciting. I urge you to find an indie author and see what he/she has to offer. You never know. You may uncover a new favorite.
When you do, don’t forget to show your support by leaving a review.  Authors with big names and multi-million dollar contracts don’t have much of a problem getting reviews from their massive fanbase.  Indie authors, however, need all the help they can get.  I can tell you from personal experience that for every 100 sales, I might get one or two reviews.  That statistic is pretty sad, so don’t forget to show your love!

An Interview with Lindsay Buroker



If you aren’t familiar with Lindsay Buroker’s work, then I highly recommend you start reading her books.  Of course, you may be at it for a while, as she has written quite a few.  Among them is one of my favorite series, The Emperor’s Edge.  This is the book that introduced me to the wonderful worlds that Lindsay has to offer us, each one a journey across the plains of highly imaginative fantasy and steampunk. She has a lot to say, not just in her books, but concerning insights into writing.  You can find these by subscribing to her website, and she’s even been podcasting about writing, found here.

What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid?
I loved anything to do with animals, especially wolves, dogs, and horses (not a combination, you would naturally put together, but hey). I read all of the Black Stallion books, all of Jim Kjelgaard’s books, and even as a grown-up (sort of), I would probably still put Where the Red Fern Grows on my list of favorites. My love for animal stories led me to find Jack London (White Fang and Call of the Wild at first, of course), and he led me into more historical fiction, especially Colonial America/Native American stories. Even though I read in a lot of other genres and periods later on, that’s probably what let me into writing fantasy that is set in more of a steam-powered Industrial Revolution era than the typical medieval European styled fantasy that I read a lot of in high school.

 What comes to you first when working on a new story: plot or character?
I’ve had it happen both ways, but I’m definitely a character-focused writer, and I think my favorite stories have been the ones where the character came first. When you’re deciding what kind of plot would make sense for X protagonist, you really have to flesh the character out and figure out his/her pasts, hopes, dreams, quirks, etc. Sometimes when the plot comes first, you get less memorable characters, because you’re inserting them into a story rather than telling the story that could onlycome to existence because they exist. Hope that makes sense. 🙂

 Tell us a little about your writing process.
 I’ll come up with a new idea (or character), sketch some thoughts into my notepad app on the phone, and then usually let the idea stew in the back of my head for a while. If I forget about it, I guess I wasn’t that passionate about it. But if I keep coming back to it, then it means I need to write the book.
I used to be a pantser and wing it, but now that I do this full time and rely solely on my writing income, I treat it like a job and am pretty systematic. For a novel, I’ll write an outline of 2-3,000 words before I get started. I often deviate from it as I’m writing, but having the mile markers already set down on the side of the road helps keep me from stumbling off the path.
When I first got started, I just shot for 1,000 words a day, but I’ve gradually kicked that up over the last few years. Now, I’ll tend to write a rough draft quite quickly (I just finished an 80,000-word manuscript in 9 days). At one time, I thought anyone who wrote quickly was nuts and that their stuff probably sucked (I had to make excuses since I didn’t write that quickly, you see), but I realized that I do best when I get everything out there within 2-3 weeks. I have a horrible long-term memory, so writing quickly helps me keep everything in my mind. When it took me months to finish a novel (or years), I would always have to go back and reread things from the opening chapters because I’d forget what had happened. Or I would just repeat things and contradict myself. It’s much easier for me to stay in the flow this way.
After I finish the rough, I’ll either put it aside for a couple of weeks (if there’s another project waiting for attention), or I’ll jump in and give it an editing pass, rewriting, trimming, or adding detail as necessary. Then I’ll send the manuscript off to beta readers. They’ll generally have it for a couple of weeks, so I’ll work on something else during that time, maybe even starting a new novel. By always having something in the works, I’ve been able to publish something almost every month in the last year. This definitely helps keep the pay steady!
When the beta readers send it back, I’ll do another editing pass, and then send it off to my editor. She does copy-editing/proof-reading, and then it’s ready to go out!

What draws you to steampunk?
As I mentioned, I blame the early interest in American historical fiction (which waned after the Civil War or so) for part of it. In the beginning, I didn’t set out to write steampunk (I wasn’t aware that it was a thing back in the early 00s when I started EE1), but some of those elements do seep into my fiction. I was never that excited about Victorian Europe, so I rarely draw from that. It’s always been the technology and tools of that time period that have been the draw for me, rather than the culture. I have a coffee grinder from the 1800s, and it’s this amazing piece of artwork. And it still works! It’s so rare to find stuff of that caliber today.

 Your first book was very successful.  How did you feel putting it out there for the first time?
It was definitely a slow build, and it wasn’t until I had three or four books out in the Emperor’s Edge series, that they started catching on (of course, I didn’t know much about marketing early on there either). I was definitely nervous to put my first novel out there. I had sold some short stories, and I had sent the entire novel through an online writing workshop, so I’d had some early feedback that had been positive, so that helped. I knew I wasn’t writing great literature, but I felt certain that some people would connect with the humor and the characters. I was relieved that turned out to be true!

People are loving The Emperor’s Edge books, as am I.  What led you to series writing?  Was it your original intention?
Oh, I’ve always thought in terms of series. As a reader, that’s what I enjoy. It’s the characters that I fall in love with, and if they’re good characters, I don’t care that much what the plot is doing.
As a writer, when I spend that much time coming up with quirks, fears, foibles, etc., I hate to put aside a hero after one book. When I wrote Balanced on the Blade’s Edge, I fully intended it to be a one-off book, a bit of an experiment with a steampunk romance, but I knew as soon as I finished that I wanted to do more with the characters. Now, I’m planning the fifth book in that series.

 What’s next for you?
I’m starting a new series in the Emperor’s Edge world. Some of the existing characters will have cameos (with Dak from Republic being a major player), but for the most part, we have new characters, and it’s set on a new continent. I hope EE fans will check it out! The series is Chains of Honor, and the first book, Warrior Mage, will be out soon.

I appreciate you taking time to talk to us today!
Thanks for having me!

An Interview With Adam Dreece

When I first met Adam Dreece on Twitter, I was immediately curious about the author’s photo featuring himself in a steam punk outfit.  That particular genre of fiction has always interested me, especially considering my studies in history.  He sent me a story called The Torrents of Tangier, and I was immediately drawn to his distinctive style.
I was very happy to have interviewed the author recently, to pick his brain about the craft, and to find out more about the conception of his Yellow Hoods series.
When I first started writing seriously, it was actually on a typewriter.  These days, I’m thankful for word processors. Do you write on a typewriter, computer, or longhand?
I first started writing when I was in grade 4, and that was on a typewriter. In grade 6 when we got our first computer I wrote on that, and found myself by grade 8, going back to the typewriter for a while, but only for creative writing and only for a short while. That was when I started to develop a very fast typing speed and the keys would jam. I’ve been mostly on the computer ever since.
I do a limited amount of writing longhand, usually only to capture notes and ideas. I can’t write fast enough to keep up with what I’m thinking.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
Part-time. I decided in November of last year that in five years I wanted to be a full time author, what’s more that I was going to do it as an author-preneur. By January I had a plan in mind, in April I released my first book, and in September I’ll be releasing my second.
What do you do in your spare time?
When I’m not spending time with my three kids and my wife, I’m writing. I’ve had to be ruthless with my time because otherwise, I’ll never meet my goals. I treat writing like a second job, and the marketing and production side of book-work almost like a third job. It’s very time consuming, but I’m getting more efficient at it.
Do you have a strict daily word count?
No. I’m not really concerned about daily word count, I’m more concerned about the impact of what I’m doing in that session. I organize myself mentally to support when I feel highly creative, so I write new things, or when I feel blah and therefore I do edits or restructuring. I glance at my word counts, and I know what my average is, but I don’t use it as a means of measuring my success for a day. That is solely measured by how much better I’ve made the story. Some things are hard, and take more time, and less words.
What was your inspiration for The Yellow Hoods? 

November last year I decided to take a break from my memoir I was writing (about chronic pain, fraud complex and other fun stuff) and had an idea. In December I got myself all organized with a proper writing tool, instead of MS Word which drove me half to madness and back, and found myself unable to move forward. I’d over structured myself. I was kicking some ideas around for what I wanted to write, and my daughter asked me to write another story of The Hoods.
I’ve been reading to my daughter since she was hold enough to sit still. Often after reading an actual book, we’d turn out the lights and I’d make something up. Her favorite had been a silly tale where I twisted up the fairy tales and the heroes were little girls running around the forest in coloured hoods (little Red Riding Hood, Blue for Cinderella, and so on).
When she asked me to write it, I figured it was going to be just a short story.The story became something very different, much more textured and mature. The next night after I wrote something, I’d read it to her and get her feedback. She became my muse and cheered me on.
What I found was with that memoir tale out of the way, I was very much free but didn’t know where to go. She helped me see that I could just pick a direction and go.
What are the struggles/joys of parenthood that you find while being a writer?
The struggles are time and energy. Nothing zaps your energy like getting up three times in the night. Another struggle is carving out time to go to the coffee shop & write for an hour and a half on Saturday, time I am consciously taking away from my family. However when I come back from that, it’s like a huge burden was lifted off my shoulders.
Part of the joys is looking at the world through different glasses, re-learning how to ask “ridiculous” questions, and reading tons of imaginative stories and talking about them afterwards. Kids have definitely made me a much more well-rounded writer.
What were some of your favorite books when you were a kid?
I’m dyslexic, so in terms of books there weren’t tons apart from comic books. In terms of real books, I remember reading Jupiter Jones (detective series) and DragonLance Chronicles. For Jupiter Jones what stuck with me was how the trio of boys had to work together to solve mysteries, the dynamics were interesting. For DragonLance I started reading book 2, and the character of Raistlin was a lot like me in that I was sickly, and often underestimated.
What was the hardest/easiest thing about writing Along Came A Wolf?
The second hardest part was definitely being comfortable with the size of it, which was about 33k words. To put that in perspective, book 2 of that series Breadcrumb Trail (Sept 2014) is 70k words. Along Came a Wolf was a complete tale, and was about the transition from innocence to the next part of maturity, and everything that I felt I could say without introducing unnecessary tangents was said.
The hardest thing was facing my fear of what people were going to think. I decided to self-publish, and that meant no hiding behind query letters; I was going to go direct to the readers. I was going to get judged on the content of the book, the cover, the way it was presented to people on whatever platform it was presented on, and it was 100% me (and my awesomely supportive and talented wife).
After I got about 20 pages in, I’d painted enough of the world and the characters that I felt the story naturally flowed, and I had enough experience writing over the past 25+ years, that I knew my process. I’d draft it, go back to the beginning and comb out the knots, and then repeat that two more times.
Tell us a little bit about the characters, Tee, Elly, and Richy.  What inspired you to create them? Are they based off of anyone in particular? 

The three Yellow Hoods (Tee, Elly and Richy) come from the idea of having a classic trio. It would allow me to have 3 sets of 1:1 dynamics, which I felt was ample for me to start with as a first time author, and the most that I could expect a reader to quickly get into and emotionally bond with.
Tee and Elly’s closeness was inspired by my daughter’s relationship with her two best friends. The character of Tee is derived from my daughter, while the character of Elly is actually derived from some sister figures in my life, the classic counter-weight needed to keep a fire-wind type personality of Tee grounded.
Richy was the classic boy in the neighborhood who has that cemented pre-adolescent relationship with girls, who sees them as sisters and they see him as a brother. In a lot of ways, this was me at a young age. He was also my mystery element, and to emphasize that I gave him an “Asian heritage” that is elaborated on in book two.
I was introduced to Steam Punk through Anime and Cherie Priest’s novel, Boneshaker.  Do you feel as though the genre is still evolving or still just emerging?
I think the genre is emerging in terms of people’s understanding of what it means. There’s still a lot of readers, I find, who are immediately intimidated once they see something is “SteamPunk”, as if you have to have 5 years tabletop gaming experience before reading page one.
As a genre, I think it has a lot of evolving and growth coming, and I think this comes from pushing what the limits are that still allow a story qualify as SteamPunk. It can’t just mean Victorian era, taking place in England or the US, and all the technology is in place. Mind you, I find as soon as you have talking fox-people and what not, you’ve really stepped out of SteamPunk and into Fantasy w/elements of technology.
I define The Yellow Hoods as “Emergent SteamPunk.” That means technologically, we are seeing it come into being. That creates a much lower anxiety barrier for a reader who isn’t familiar with “SteamPunk.” Also, I decided to not make their world Victorian, it’s not even our Earth. I wanted to see how true I could be to the core elements of SteamPunk, while making it more accessible and more grounded.
I read that you are inspired by the concept of classical rhymes and stories having a ring of truth to them.  What sort of rhymes and stories in particular are you talking about?
I was inspired by the rhyme “Ring around the Rosy,” which is a way that we remember the Black Plague. So I decided to add depth and texture to The Yellow Hoods by challenging myself with the idea of, “What if their 21st century world used Little Red Riding Hood, or Santa Claus stories as a way to remember real things that happened in their past” and making my stories take place at that time.
In Along Came a Wolf, I derive some elements from Little Red Riding Hood, The Three Little Pigs, and Santa Claus. The master inventor, Nikolas Klaus, is kind of a Santa Claus character mixed with Nikola Tesla, the great 20th century inventor. In book two, Breadcrumb Trail, I draw on the of tale of Hansel and Gretel.
These classic tales have great themes and subtext. For example, Hansel & Gretel, for me, are about childhood abduction and identity loss, among other things. Incorporating that into a tale allows me to have a story that a young adult can read and enjoy, and that a mature adult can read and enjoy on a whole different level.
You are a founding member of ADZO Publishing.  Tell us how that came about.
A couple of years ago, when I thought I was nearly done writing my memoir (which would end up taking me another year and a half), I turned on the radio. Seth Godin was being interviewed, and happened to be saying at that moment, “If I had a book in hand today, I wouldn’t go after getting an agent and seeking someone else to publish it. If I had any business skills whatsoever, I’d create my own company and publish it myself. Here’s why…” and he then listed several reasons. It was one of those moments where I felt he was talking directly to me.
When book 1 of The Yellow Hoods was nearly done, it was clear to me and my wife that we were going to publish it ourselves, but now there was a bigger question. Did we want to ‘just’ publish it ourselves, or did we want to try to create a brand and idea that could be bigger than us over time? We decided we wanted to make a difference for authors, and given our entrepreneurial background, we weren’t afraid of getting into learning everything we needed to about marketing, printing, cover design, etc. We knew we wouldn’t get things right on the first or second shot, but we loved the learning opportunity it presented and were up for the challenge. We decided before we’d bring any other authors on board, we’d need to see if our ideas worked, and that would mean building a certain amount of success for myself as an author, so that we could prove to ourselves we knew what we were doing.
What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published in the traditional sense?
Traditional publishing has the advantage of a series of individuals involved that know the process and so you’re the only one who is new to the equation. They have established distribution channels, editors, marketing people, etc. The biggest issue to start with is your customer is not the reader, your customer is their portfolio manager and their customer is those who buy books (the book stores, not the readers). The portfolio managers and the business need to balance risk with likely return, they will allocate budgets with that in mind (therefore you might get $0 marketing budget) and they have minimum sales thresholds that wouldn’t be of interest to them but would still be awesome for you. Also, traditional publishers because they are a ‘machine’, they are a lot slower to react to change. You lose a lot of control by having that machine behind you.
Self-publishing, or indie publishing, is very much a different beast. You can develop a niche audience which would never be of interest to a large publisher. However, you also have a lot of responsibility. There are a lot of writers who slap a cover that screams “home made” on their book, don’t pay for an editor, and wonder after uploading it to Amazon or Kobo, why the money isn’t rolling in. Your greatest responsibility, as I see it, is engaging people and listening to the feedback. We’ve revamped the description for book 1 of The Yellow Hoods five times, and now see what the readers meant about it being way better. We have a new cover coming out that we shared with folks on Twitter and got a “Knocked it out of the park” reaction, which helped us set the direction for book 2. The thing a lot of people fail to realize is that as an indie, you’ve got nowhere to hide, so you better work your butt off.
Where do you see publishing going in the future?
I’m not unique in saying that I believe the agent/publisher vs self-publishing model is going to lose the ‘versus’ and really become three pieces that can partner. I believe there’s a lot that an indie author would happily hand off to professionals for part of the profits if they didn’t lose control and agility.
Tell us your thoughts concerning marketing in the age of social media.  Do you have a social media preference?
Hands down, bar none, if I didn’t have it I’d just sob in the corner, is Twitter. I’ve got a modest following on Twitter that I engage with daily. I banter with people, I share pieces of wisdom if I have them, I’ve gotten feedback from people and I’ve helped other budding authors by connecting and then giving feedback on their writing.
My experience with Facebook was terrible, and I’ve had this happen twice. I’ve created an official page, I’ve built up an audience, and then I’ve watched my ability to reach that audience decrease and decrease as Facebook seems to decide who should and shouldn’t be seeing my posts. I noticed a significant change in 2013 as they tweaked their algorithms, and another change after I paid for a Facebook ad. On Twitter, when I post everyone has the potential to see what I wrote. If they don’t and want to keep tabs on what I’m up to, they can join my newsletter. While I maintain my FB fan page for The Yellow Hoods, it’s really only because I haven’t decided to stop it entirely.
Looking a bit down the road, what’s next for you?
From a writing perspective, I’ve just written a DieselPunk short which I’m submitting for a compendium, and have already started to sketch out book 3 of The Yellow Hoods. I intend to make it a 5 part series. After book 3, I’ll likely write the first book in one of two other series I have in mind. My plan is to publish 2-3 books a year for the next 5 years, plus additional shorts on the side.
Zooming out a bit, as an author, I’m going to build my brand and my quality engagement with my readers. That means continuing to find the time to meet a budding author for coffee, or taking my lunch hour to read someone’s story to give them feedback, or chatting with people on Twitter. It also means continuing to get out to the local Fan Expos, presenting at more schools and learning and listening and improving.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk to us.  Do you have any final thoughts?
I greatly appreciate the opportunity to reflect on where I’ve come and what I’ve learned. If there’s any single message that I can stress for a new writer, it’s get out of your comfort zone. In my case, I got way, way out of it.
Discover More About Adam Dreece:
Twitter: @AdamDreece
Amazon Author Page:



The corridors are empty

A dead ship in a black sea

Blinking buttons of computers

Pierce the dark of the bridge

They never should have landed

On the stormy planet red

Never did understand

What burned in their veins

One by one they fell

Traveling to the planet blue

Carrying with them the cursed air

To a civilization they never knew

©2014 by M.W. Griffith

This holiday season, I’m thankful that I have enough sense to be aware of the important things in life.  Every year, I find it increasingly difficult to comprehend or stomach the fact that people are killing each other at stores just to claim an item on sale.
A pregnant mother was trampled to death this year at such an event.  Is this the sort of thing that our society has been reduced to?  Barbarism should be restricted to future post apocalyptic enviroments, or left behind when technology restricted the sword to common place in warfare.

We are not our iPhones.  We are not our television sets.  We are not our Playstation 4’s or XBox Ones.

Sometimes I think that futuristic depictions of society in books and films are not so far off.  Blade Runner, for instance, or The Hunger Games are good examples of how we place inanimate objects on a higher pedestal than the value of human life or decency.

The funny thing is that most people could have saved money by shopping at home.  Amazon, for instance, had better sales than physical stores in the areas that I live.  Shopping online could have also saved someones life during this blackest of fridays.  I said blackest because each year the lengths that people will go to obtain a store sales price and end up on the front page headlines seems to grow extensively worse each year.

As for that poor woman and her unborn child who will never see a holiday season, I believe that they deserve better and we as a society should be ashamed.