Author Archives: aipman1

97 Honing Your Craft – Pt.2

Honing Your Craft—Part 2: Workshops & Conferences

By Nanci M. Pattenden

PattendenYou’ve heard other writers talking about taking workshops or attending conferences and you wonder if you’re missing out on something. What’s the difference, and how do you decide if either is right for you?

Workshops typically run for a few hours, but they can be longer, and they focus on only one topic. Cost-wise, they can be expense or relatively cheap, depending on who’s running it. They’re usually reasonably priced though, and you can often find inexpensive workshop being hosted by your local library. They might even be free, so you might want to consider taking one. If it’s run by an author you’d like to meet, or maybe an agent or publisher, it could be worthwhile to register. It’s a good opportunity to network and start building your contact list, as well as meet other local writers.

Conferences, on the other hand, can be quite costly. Expect them to last anywhere from one full day to up to a week. The speakers will be well known in their field and there will be lots to pick from. Each speaker usually has about an hour and there will be two or three sessions running concurrently, with short breaks after each hour. Before registering, read over all the session information thoroughly, as you’ll have to pick the ones you want to attend. Make certain they are of interest or you’ll just be wasting your time and money. Some conferences are general in nature, meaning you can expect speakers from an assortment of genres. Others are genre-specific. If you only write romance, you might want to think twice about attending a conference for mystery writers.

In addition to the cost of the conference, you need to be aware of where it is being held. Is it local or out of town? It may be out of the country. You’ll have to factor in the costs of transportation and maybe a hotel. And don’t forget the books you’ll probably end up buying. If the speakers are published authors, you can expect them to have a book signing table.

Besides authors, frequently some of the speakers will be agents or publishers. A lot of conferences are now including blue pencil and pitch sessions. They are about 10 to 15 minutes long, and if you have a novel almost ready to go, they’re something to consider signing up for. A blue pencil session is where you provide about five to ten pages of your novel and sit one-on-one with an author or other writing professional. They go over your manuscript and let you know what works and what needs to be re-worked. A pitch session is about the same length of time, but with an agent, and you give them your best pitch to sell your book. You need to memorize what you say—no reading off a piece of paper. You have to demonstrate you know exactly what your novel is about and the best way to present it. It’s more a practice session, but if you’re lucky, the agent is in your genre and is interested in your story.

Both workshops and conferences can be beneficial for both new and experienced writers. Like everything else, it’s up to you to decide which one best suits your needs and budget. Search the internet and check the ads in writing magazines. Do your homework, meet fellow writers, rub elbows with some pros and have fun!

Follow Nanci at: http://www.nancipattenden.com/

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97 A Written View

Places to Find Story Ideas –  by Doug Owen

DougHeader-webStuck in a rut? Having a hard time figuring out a story? Just not able to make your character’s voice sound right? These questions make every successful author shudder.

This month we’ll examine a number of places where being a fly on the wall will help you fix those problems. The interesting thing is, you already have the tools to do so.

Extraordinary from Ordinary

Sorry, but there is no guaranteed laugh. No universal joke. People are your building-blocks, which can be used to take everyday situations and spin them into bizarre confrontations. The supermarket, the customer service queue, a council meeting, and the corner store can all be unlikely places to find humor.

Your best tool is observation. Take an old North American couple in a grocery store seeing a dragon Fruit for the first time, or a young kid getting an artichoke and not knowing how to prepare it. Small issues like this could fuel the imagination for how reactions might go.

Lurk and hover, just make sure you leave personal space so no one calls security. Hunt out small incidents, trivial exchanges, mannerisms of note and bring them forth in your own time. The woman who lost her receipt for the panties, the older man dressing down a politician, the young couple picking over organic corn… Turn their world upside down. Put in a “What if?” and see what happens.

Want an even better idea? Look at the Sunday Comics and see how they take an ordinary issue and turn it on its head.

Little Lives and Pomposity

Who doesn’t find humour in people? It is easy to see; just take a chance and talk with them, like I do. Heck, snobs, gossips, know-it-alls, jobbies, it is so much fun to find out what makes them tick, and your funny bone will tickle. How can you not laugh at their follies? Play God with them! Find someone ridiculous and base your character on them. Be kind, but shatter their illusions, prick their pomposity and rattle their promiscuity.  Never sneer, refrain from judging, but always display their weakness and obsessions.

Spy vs. Snoop

Record the dull situations as if they are gold. Think of those endless speeches, presentation events, office dinners, everything we all need to endure in the corporate world. Don’t pass up these opportunities to unveil the surreal. Think of the nodding heads, vacant eyes and imagine, during an office party, strippers appearing dressed as police arresting the CEO, only to find out the bachelor party’s next door. Maybe the father of the bride’s speech is delivered in rap, or the woman’s more than 50 curling trophies get mixed up with the porn awards.

My wife cringes when I go wandering off at parties to eavesdrop shamelessly. My cell phone becomes my jotting pad for snippets and anecdotes picked up from people of all ages talking. Sorry, those notes are private and mine. Find your own material; there’s more than enough to go around.

Don’t forget Social Media. There you can snoop on someone’s wall and pick out the best things in the world. Like the cousin who types without periods, or the ranting of a teen with a limited attention span. Gems, I tell you.

The Best Lines are Stolen

You’ll always know a strong character because they announce themselves. What more description do you need, when someone comes out and says, “My mind is an opened movie,” or “Snow never sleeps”? “What star are you?” See the humor or possible conflict.

Malapropism can add laughter to any work. I remember when selling cars someone asked for a “hunch-back.” Or the person looking to join the “Village-auntie group.” How about when someone says, “I have a paranoid camera”? Try, “My car is a nice colour of Mongolian.” My brother said once that he suffered from “high collateral.”

All of these are out there, ready for you to pick and put into your writing. Serious is fun, especially when people really think they’re saying the right thing.

Oddballs Should Be Cultivated

Eccentrics are amazing to be around, and you should make a bee-line for them whenever possible. Think about it; how many episodes of “People of Walmart” have you watched? Are they really that far off the beaten track that people just need to see them? How about those videos of strange things people do? The man dancing by the pool in a speedo comes to mind. Every one of my relatives shared that, because he really did look like my cousin George (and it might have been him for all I know).

When people do outlandish things, make a note of it. Not to blackmail them later (though it could be another source of income when your writing is just starting to take hold), but to use in your own work. The Dancing Fat Dragon, or My Mommy Shops in Her Underwear. All titles of not-so-much for children books.

Private Parts are not so Private

Believe it or not, I cringe when it comes to sex scenes. Not due to lack of knowledge, just because they are really private things that, unless you swing with a crowd, are, well, private.

Kristin Talgø, writer of Escaping the Caves, found a great way to write a sex scene without really describing all the intimate details. What she wrote was, “We made love.” Simple. Elegant. Allows the reader to understand what happened without becoming an XXX or erotica novel.

But there is a big market for those types of novels. Heck, I remember picking up something like that in my teens and standing there on the bus wondering how many people actually read that trash (still did not put it down; I was a teen, and a boy). The thing to see is how to get around it, but that is for another time, in another article.

One thing I will admit to is the lack of enjoyment when an otherwise-clean narrative degrades into a description of sex. A calm voice starts pumping out vulgar reactions and sounds. Really turns off the writing to me.

So hopefully you will be wandering through Walmart to find interesting creatures for your writing— not becoming the interesting creature in someone else’s next novel!

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97 Motivational Moments

Motivational Moments for…Writers! #1

By Trisha Sugarek

You know a story has been rattling around in your brain. TODAY is the day you will find time to sit down and write the first sentence, the first page, even the first chapter. Don’t worry about what will follow. The story will lead you. If you are very lucky your characters will take over and tell you their story. Don’t worry about it being perfect; that’s what re-writes are for.

‘It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does.’ —William Faulkner

“Writing is a Tryst with the imagination and a love affair with words.” —Unknown

“The reader, the book lover, must meet his own needs without paying too much attention to what his neighbors say those needs should be.” —Teddy Roosevelt

Sign up for my blog and receive your ‘Motivational Moments‘ twice a week! Simply type your email address in the box on my Home page at www.writeratplay.com

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97 The Journey

Tracing the Journey: A Talk with J. Francis Parker

By Ellen Fleischer

parker1Jordan Francis Parker is an Australian author of teen and young adult fiction, who is following his mother into the publishing world. He loves fantasy and world-building. His other hobbies include parkour, gaming, game design, and art in general.

IM: How long have you been writing?

JFP: Most of my life. I can remember tapping away at my mum’s rusty typewriter as a kid, and she likely still has my story about talking trees and purple people. My parents read to me, as good parents should, but I was always more interested in telling my own stories.

IM: Tell us a bit about yourself? Where did you grow up?

JFP: Here and there in Queensland, Australia. Mum and dad didn’t live together, so I was often at this house or that. It didn’t influence me much, because I had no other life to compare it to. It was the norm, and I don’t consider anything negative about this situation.

IM: Anything you’d like to share about your childhood?

JFP: I took a fondness to parkour, the defensive practice, during my early high school years. It was useful exercise, and taught me how to refine my skills, both physical and mental. I never did very well in school in terms of grades. In fact, I regularly failed math and English, despite being very well versed in these subjects. My failure was not due to a lack of knowledge, but to a lack of participation. I love philosophy and the English language, but that doesn’t mean I like being told how to use them in a school classroom.

IM: Could you describe a couple of experiences that you believe set you on your road to writing?

JFP: Definitely the parkour. I was adamant in hunting down the words that could describe my philosophies of parkour. I gave it my best shot, and one reader of Trace said, he ‘could almost feel the thrill of parkour,’ but I still feel I that it is impossible to express the true sensation of parkour to those who have not tried it. It’s like trying to explain green to a blind man. Another influential experience was growing up with a dad who loved fantasy: The Lord of the Rings, Dungeons and Dragons, sword collecting, miniature figurines… he showed me these things at an early age, and I have never thanked him enough for it.

IM: Who (or what) would you consider to be your influences and inspirations?

parker2JFP: Definitely J.R.R. Tolkien. He created a whole world: languages, cultures, histories… and his epic fantasies set in Middle-Earth are masterpieces without flaw. Derek Landy, Robin Hobb, and J.K. Rowling are other influential authors, for they all address the same genres: fantasy and magic. I have always been fascinated by magic; not magician’s tricks but real magic, if there could be such a thing. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried, I could never summon a flame at the click of my fingers, so I resorted to creating magic where I could: in stories.

IM: How did you decide to start writing professionally?

JFP: It happened by strange coincidence. My first book, Trace, was inspired by the remains of a school assignment my English teacher set, where we had to create an autobiographical paper focusing on something we loved about ourselves. Naturally, I chose parkour, and I looked at the paper afterwards and thought, ‘this would make an interesting character.’

IM: What steps have you taken to develop your craft?

JFP: After high school I attended James Cook University for courses in graphic design, photography, illustration, arts, and creative writing. Between classes, I even snuck into other lectures where I could. I also read a lot more fantasy, and offered to assist others with their own editing and writing.

IM: You recently self-published your first novel, Trace. Could you share the elevator pitch with us?

JFP: Trace is an action mystery following the life of Seth Phoenix, a teenage traceur frowned upon by his local parkour community for his unique methods of training alone. Being a loner, Seth proves an easy target for recruitment by a secret group. Uncertain of what he’s getting into, Seth quickly finds himself embroiled in the affairs of an underground computer hacking organization and a genetically engineered human hybrid on the run. Caught amid mystery and death, Seth is torn between living his normal life, and unravelling the secret organisation’s elusive leader.

IM: Tell us a bit about the main character, Seth. Who is he? What makes him tick?

JFP: I think the main character is myself. I think that in every story, the protagonist is the author, and the antagonist is what the author despises. Seth and I like solitude. We have our set ways of training and thinking. We share our views on human society closely, and I think the only thing we don’t share is a name. Seth is easily annoyed when people don’t understand him, and this is likely why he chooses to have few friends. He is subjected to the ignorance and misunderstanding of the common rabble every day and decides it’s best to simply shut himself away from it all.

IM: What would you say was the spark that set off the story in your mind?

JFP: It was definitely my interest in parkour. The story sprang from the high school assignment, which was just my ideas and philosophies of parkour and life.

IM: For those who might not be in the know, what exactly is parkour?

parker3JFP: Parkour is a defensive discipline where the practitioner uses the fastest, safest, and most efficient movements to get from A to B. Films and the internet distort this idea a lot, often mistaking it for free running, which is more of a self-expressive movement using flips and tricks. That’s not to say free runners are incapable of getting away from danger, as many of them also practice parkour. What I find most annoying is how often other people think it’s so dangerous, when it’s not at all. Parkour is not about leaping tall buildings and throwing yourself from rooftops—it’s about safe and efficient movement, and often the ones who disagree are the one who have never tried it. It’s just the same as walking: you have been doing it your whole life, so you know how to do it. The ones who say it’s stupid and dangerous don’t see the practice we put in to achieve these physical capabilities—they only see the end result on YouTube or TV, and it skews their ability to appreciate the discipline properly.

IM: To what extent would you say your firsthand knowledge of parkour informs your novel?

JFP: Without the experience of parkour, this book couldn’t be. It certainly helps, but nothing can replace the real experience. I know that parkour can be ‘defined’ as a defensive discipline, but there’s so much more that goes on inside your head that can never fully be explained in words, and the only way to understand it is to experience it for yourself. If there are true words for it, I haven’t found them.

IM: What sort of research did you need to do to make your story feel authentic? Were there any elements that needed to change from the way you’d initially pictured them, either as a result of your research or as a result of the characters wresting your steering wheel away from you?

JFP: I had to research computer hacking history and genetic engineering to make my story authentic. In the book, Seth also gets a tattoo on his shoulder, and having no tattoos of my own, I couldn’t describe it. So I actually got a tattoo in the same spot, just to experience it for myself. Though grateful for it, I am now plagued by a tattoo addiction which I seldom mention to my mum, because she only complains about how I ‘ruined the perfectly good skin she gave me.’ It is difficult to say whether things in the story needed to be changed. I dislike planning, and the whole story is a product of improvisation, so things definitely changed as my ideas came and retreated. But as a whole, the story generally created its own path. I let Seth decide what was going to happen next.

IM: Was it always your intent to self-publish?

JFP: Yes and no. Trace was also traditionally published, but they wouldn’t create an eBook version, which is something I much desired, so I also used Amazon to self-publish.

IM: How have you found the Amazon experience, thus far?

JFP: Simple, easy to use, and easy to get started and maintain. I never shop on Amazon, and I don’t like eBooks either, but I use it as another medium for putting my story out there.

IM: Was it difficult to hook up with your cover designer?

JFP: I designed my own covers. As a graphic designer, I have enough Photoshop and photography skills to do this. Dragon Child and The Warlock’s Apprentice also borrow artwork from other people, who I tracked down after seeing their work online to ask for their permission. (Illich Henriquez for The Warlcok’s Apprentice and Britta van den Boom for Dragon Child).

IM: How have you been handling the marketing and promotion side of things?

JFP: I feel that Facebook and a few well-placed ads are enough. I’m an author, not a salesman, so I wish not to spend my time promoting. The traditional publishers can do that, while I let sales of the self-published version flow as they may.

IM: Do you have any forthcoming projects on the horizon? What can you share with us about them?

JFP: While Trace is a teen action story, my future works will be young adult fantasy. The Warlcok’s Apprentice is in progress. It is about Alistair, an apprentice sorcerer who learns that most of his family are evil necromancers, and that their recent reestablishment in the mortal realm means the coming of a dark age… an age without life. When death and destruction strike, Alistair is forced from his daily routine in search of the necromancers’ tower, but whether to destroy them or join them is a choice he never thought he’d have to make.

Another work in progress is Dragon Child, and it follows the life of Noah Ryder, who was abandoned at sea as an infant, then rescued and raised by dragons. As a young teen, he was sent far away to live with his own kind in the land belonging to men. With the human tongue as a second language, it’s difficult to fit in, especially during a period of war between dragons and mankind. Noah soon learns that his veins run rich with the blood of a famous dragon slayer, and more than Noah’s life will be tested once he learns that he is destined to become a member of the dragon slayers’ guild.

After these are complete, I will start working on The Monk, the Miner and the Paladin, a novel which will challenge the concept of a good guy versus a bad guy, as there will be no real antagonist for the majority of the story. Instead, there will be three protagonists, each set on acquiring the same item, and all for honourable purposes. This means the idea of a protagonist/antagonist depends on who the story is currently following. More about this—and others—can be found on my Facebook author page.

IM: If someone were to approach you asking for one piece of advice about writing, what would you tell them?

JFP: Just write. That’s it. The best way to get better is to read more and write more. No amount of university lectures can replace the plethora of knowledge gained from just reading.

IM: And self-publishing?

JFP: There are pros and cons. Traditional publishing is and always will be my preferred choice. It reaches more people, earns advance payments, and is seen as more respectable. My advice is to do what you feel is best to achieve your goals. My goal is to write engaging stories, and I have done that. Earning a living from said stories is not a part of my goal, however desirable it might be.

IM: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers that we haven’t touched on yet?

JFP: While my Facebook author page is a tool for promoting my publications, I also want to help others with writing /editing /graphic designing tips and advice, so this page can also be messaged with such queries.

IM: Finally, how can folks keep up with you and your work?

JFP: My Facebook author page, J Francis Parker, can be found here www.facebook.com/jfrancisparker and my Amazon bookstore page here www.amazon.com/author/jfrancisparker

IM: Thanks so much!

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97 Poetry’s Not Dead

The Poetry of Gabriel Eziorobo

By Dominichi Hawkins

eziorobo1Who said poetry was dead? It is alive, thriving and oozing from the all the sparkling gems around the world. In this day and age we live in, now more than ever, people are using poetry as a creative outlet to either deal with their frustrations at the world, show their admiration in beauty and nature, or as a way to vent their troubled hearts and minds. I had a chance to ask a couple questions to one such poet hailing from Nigeria. If you have been wanting to check out some new poetry or rekindle an old interest in it, I highly suggest checking out Gabriel Eziorobo. He has so much poetry on his website that he is about to start a second website just to contain it all.

IM: Why poetry? Why have you chose poetry over everything else as a means to express yourself?

GE: I have a passion for writing poems. I started writing poems when I read the love poem titled “So I Thought”. I fell in love with it and wrote my first poem afterwards, ”I Am So Quiet”.

IM: What topics do you like to write about?

GE: I am a poet that writes based on what I’ve experienced; what people have experienced and imaginary work. I love to write on love, hatred, sadness, the night, myself, life, and things of God.

IM: What fuels your writing? Anger, love, passion?

GE: Anger.

IM: Any other poets throughout time that have influenced your poetry writing?

GE: My favorite poems are “Song of Sorrow” by Kofi-Awoonor and “The School-boy” by William Blake.

IM: You say anger fuels your writing. Can you elaborate? Where does the anger stem from that drives you to write?

GE: Humanity. I hate things they believe and things they do. For instance, I am a left-handed person and people will say it is disrespectful and a crime to use to use my left hand.

IM: I hear you are starting a new website. Can you tell us a little bit about it and what its content will be?

GE: The site will be basically for posting my poems and serving a blog for my poetry writing. I will still keep my old site for my poems, but this one will be more for persistent blogging and journalism.

IM: Tell me about where you live and grew up. What is it like there?

GE: I live in Nigeria. That is where I was born and brought up. Nigeria is a nice country, blessed with natural resources like crude-oil, coal, etc.

IM: What are your goals as a writer? where do you see yourself in a couple years?

GE: To win many awards as a poet, to see myself among other writers in the world, to inspire people with my writing and to talk about the ills of the world. I see myself in the next couple years as a famous poet in the world.

IM: If you could administer one piece of advice to aspiring poets before parting, what would it be?

GE: To never give up as a poet, because the world needs poets.

IM: Can you tell our readers where they can find your writing and poetry?

GE: www.gabrieleziorobo.weebly.com is my current website, but I will be notifying viewers there of the new website once it is complete.

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97 No Pun Intended

No Pun Intended: An Interview with Barry Corbett

By Doug Owen

corbett1Barry Corbett–freelance magazine cartoonist and self-published author of six trade paperbacks and three comic books–enjoys creating numerous works of side-tickling humor from his Beverly, Massachusetts studio. The creator of Embrace the Pun, Revenge of the Pun, The Pun Rides Again, and many other titles, his Ginger & Shadow collection Kitty Nirvana, has received an IPPY award.

The unconventional artist/writer teaches cartooning courses at colleges in the Boston area while finding different ways to make the public laugh.

IM: Hi, Barry! Welcome to Indyfest Magazine. Could you tell us a little about yourself?

BC: I graduated from art school in the late 70s, working for ten years in graphic design before starting my own business. About that same time, I started creating comic strips, eventually teaming up with my cousin and fellow cartoonist Brian Codagnone to form Corbett Features. We’ve done print and web comics, humor columns, and panel cartoons. I focused my energies on the panel cartoons with some success, having been published in Reader’s Digest, Prospect Magazine, Barron’s, American Legion, First Magazine, True West, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Christianity Today, Lacrosse Magazine, and many others. I’ve recently introduced an autobiographical comic book series.

IM: When did you realize there was a talent for cartooning in you?

corbett3BC: I was drawing at five, but the first time I remember drawing attention was middle school, as the kids passed around my unkindly caricatures of certain teachers. As far as the double entendres, I think I was inspired early on by those atrocious puns in Rocky & Bullwinkle.

IM: How did the years as a graphic artist influence your work?

BC: The panel cartoon is an exercise in graphic design. A skilled cartoonist needs to boil down the essence of the image in order to convey his or her message without any extraneous information. Designing a logo requires a similar thought process. Your goal is to make that icon as simple as possible, a symbol that can be recognized instantly and forever associated with your product. Having the graphics background and an understanding of the print industry is a huge advantage in putting together our own books.

IM: You started your own business in 1985. What did it concentrate on? Did you also work on your own artwork?

corbett4BC: Like so many cartoonists leaving art school, I wanted to make a decent living and was sidetracked, in a sense by graphic design. I did a lot of print work, logo design and trade show display. It was Superman that pulled me back to my roots. I read an article about DC rebranding the character, dropped into a comic store to check it out and was immediately hooked. As a kid, I had always read and drawn comics, but at this stage, I had not been drawing for 15 years. A month later I attended a comic-con in Boston and talked to a few of the artists. I sat down for a few minutes in the cafe, pulled out a marker and sketched on a napkin. That’s when it struck me­ —What have I been doing with my life? This is who I am! It’s so strange; Superman was the very first comic that I had discovered as a child, a cherished character that was instrumental in changing my career path.

At that point, I began designing my own characters, working in graphics by day and drawing comics by night. My initial goal was to become a syndicated comic strip artist.

IM: Working with family can be difficult; what made you want to work with your cousin?

corbett5BC: Ha! Not at all. Comedy runs—no, it gallops though our family. We’d been writing jokes and passing ideas back and forth since we were kids. There were five working artists, including Brian’s Dad, in our immediate family. Every one of them warned us to stay out of the business! Brian, who joined forces with me to form Corbett Features, has a deep passion for comic strips. It was just a natural partnership. We work well together and trade barbs on a daily basis.

IM: When did you start freelancing as a cartoonist?

BC: My career has really been divided into three phases.

Phase One

Brian and I developed a number of comic strips and approached the major syndicates. Of course, they showed no interest. We felt that our work was polished and professional and we decided to self-syndicate. At this time the newspapers had not begun their long decline, so we were blindly optimistic. We mailed our samples to 400 editors without making a single sale. We were fairly discouraged at this point, when a call came in from The Globe & Mail out of Toronto, the largest newspaper in Canada. They wanted to run Brian’s feature, Misfits. That worked out great for eight months. We kicked it back into gear and sent out 500 more mailings. Alas, that’s when they all started dropping their comics section or closing down completely. Finally, the cartoon lettering was on the wall and we scaled back the comic strip promotion. We started the website in 2000 hoping to build our fan base. Between the two of us, we have a good variety of comic features.

Phase Two

corbett6That’s when I developed my panel cartoon feature, Embrace the Pun, and approached the monthly print magazines. I compiled a mailing list and started sending two to three sets of cartoons out every week, beginning at the top paying markets, The New Yorker, Barron’s, or Reader’s Digest and working my way down the list to the smaller, local publications. All of the magazine cartoonists work this way. In a sense, you have to beat out 30 to 40 professional cartoonists every month in order to make a sale, so it’s an extremely competitive business.

[Ed. Note: We’ll get to Phase Three further down!]

IM: What was the first cartoon you sold and how did that make you feel?

corbett8BC: It was one of the electronic trade magazines and they bought the Iron Man panel cartoon . I was thrilled, of course, because it was one of my favorite gags. They paid better than I had expected.

IM: How did you come up with the pun books?

BC: I just live for the opportunity to deliver a shameless pun. The sillier, the better. It was just a matter of merging those two dark skill sets. Often, these bizarre ideas will just pop into my head (people wonder why I’m chuckling to myself). You have to keep a notebook with you at all times—well, before we had smart phones, you had to. I can never remember the ideas if I don’t immediately jot them down. Somewhere out there in the ether are a thousand great jokes that were never drawn up in time. I swear, most of my ideas are gone within six minutes of conception.

As you know, the business is all about handling rejection. Editors have their own peculiar sense of humor. A joke can be rejected for any number of reasons (other than not being funny); it may not be topical, it may be too wordy, it doesn’t appeal to the magazine’s target age, maybe it’s too obscure, too smart, too dumb, too detailed, or it may simply have already been done by somebody else. For every sale we make, we’ve drawn up 300 cartoons that are never published, never seen by anybody. That’s why I decided to put together the trade paperbacks. Share the pain, so to speak.

IM: What as the driving force behind Ginger & Shadow?

corbett9BC: The primary characters are based on our two real cats and their personalities are as different as night and day. As I’m writing this, Ginger is marching across my keyboard. They are the classic odd couple pairing. The strip practically writes itself. Shadow really is a nervous wreck, so intense that one of the vets wanted to put him on Prozac! Plus, cats sell. They really do.

IM: What was the first thing you did when finding out that Ginger & Shadow won the first IPPY?

BC: I ordered promotional stickers to put on the cover of Kitty Nirvana. Winning any kind of award is instant validation that somebody completely unbiased has enjoyed your work. It helps to draw readers to our table when we display our work at conventions.

IM: With two IPPY’s under your belt, what is the next target you have in your sights?

BC: Revenge of the Pun also won a Silver Medal in 2010 from ForeWord Magazine. I may enter the books in some international events.

IM: Tell us about the journey you’re going through with Terminal Velocity.

BC: That brings us to…

Phase Three

I’ve done some short story writing, mostly as a creative outlet. One of my friends told me that I’d had an interesting life and should write about it. I had always been a fan of autobiographical comics, having read Harvey Pekar, Art Spiegelman, R. Crumb, Adrian Tomine, Julie Doucet, and so many others. I decided to draw up some of the funnier moments from my past and see where it went. It began as single-page narratives, all of them humorous, but as it evolved, I started covering more serious material. We all have good stories to tell; we just need to bring them to light. I was a bit reckless in my youth, played a lot of ice hockey, did some scuba diving and, for five years, was a skydiver. Terminal Velocity is the maximum speed achieved by a falling body, or rather a skydiver in freefall. Well, I wasn’t very good at it. I somehow managed to land my parachute in every pine tree, telephone pole, junkyard, or apple orchard I could find. I even took down the Drop Zone’s receiving antenna while landing on the roof of the owners’ brand new car. Nothing to see here, folks!

Along the way there was no shortage of inspiration, plenty of bad decisions, some crazy jobs, unusual teachers, odd relationships, and even some violence. I lost two brothers, attended art school, went through psychoanalysis (well, you’ve got to get your head examined when you jump out of airplanes), started three different businesses, married, and together with my wife, we raised a family. I guess my friend was right, but we all have personal stories to offer. I tried to find the humor in almost every situation and I hope that comes through in the comic. Book One is up for sale at IndyPlanet and Book Two will be released in October. I plan to collect the first four issues into a single narrative for the brick-and-mortar outlets.

IM: What do you see in the future for your artistic outlet?

BC: I plan to concentrate on the autobiographical work since the market for panel cartoons has dwindled. In its heyday, there were 20 to 30 magazines buying cartoons every month, but now there can’t be more than 12. They are dropping like flies, but comic book and graphic novel sales are stronger than ever. Of course, we’re all learning to navigate the digital market. That’s a topic on its own.

IM: It’s always important that your partner support your endeavors. What did your partner say when you decided to strike out on your own?

BC: She’s always been supportive, but I had to be realistic and make a very gradual transition to cartooning. There was no way I could have abandoned the graphics business while we were paying off a mortgage and raising two children. It’s only now that we feel financially secure enough to jump into this on a full-time basis.

IM: Since Ginger & Shadow is based on your pets, do you see an end to that series?

BC: Yes, I do see it ending at some point. I have plenty of ideas for plotlines but I know that I’ll grow tired of it and move on to something else. I think that all creative concepts have a natural lifespan. I really admired Bill Watterson for leaving Calvin and Hobbes at the peak of its popularity. One of the problems young creators have breaking into the syndicated market is the longevity of existing characters. Some of them ran for 70 years or more. Newspapers are still running Peanuts 16 years after the death of Charles Schulz, and it’s not uncommon for syndicates to hand the reigns to another illustrator when the original creator retires (not that I would turn that job down, mind you).

IM: We want people to be able to find you online. Could you please let us know how you can be contacted?

BC: Readers can look me up on Instagram (barrycorbett), bookmark my blog, https://barrycorbett.me , purchase Terminal Velocity at IndyPlanet, http://bit.ly/1nY1ZWk, and find new work from both Brian Codagnone and myself at Corbett Features http://www.corbettfeatures.com . All of our trade paperbacks are available through Amazon.

IM: Barry, we would like to thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule in order to take part in this interview.

BC: My pleasure. It’s been fun (and it’s not as busy as you’d think). I always enjoy IndyFest Magazine and appreciate the opportunity to get the word out there.

About the Interviewer: Doug Owen

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97 Order’s Last Play

E Ardell

By Louise Cochran-Mason

harris2California based writer E. Ardell has recently released her first novel The Fourth Piece. It is the first instalment of her Order’s Last Play series. She has been doing lots of promotion—including radio and TV appearances—as well as working on her next book.

She tells Indyfest more about it.

IM: What is The Fourth Piece about?

EA: I love this question, but I also hate answering it, because I’m prone to rambling! I usually tell people: hold on! Let me pull up the summary and then do a dramatic reading. Since I can’t do the dramatic reading…

Here it is:

Admitting what you are will end everything you know. Embracing who you are will start a war… Life is great when you’re good-looking and popular… so long as no one knows you’re a vulatto. Being half-alien gets you labeled “loser” quicker than being a full vader. So it’s a good thing Devon, Lyle, and Lawrence can easily pass for human—until the night of the party. Nothing kills a good time faster than three brothers sharing a psychic vision of a fourth brother who’s off-world and going to die unless they do something. But when your brother’s emergency happens off-planet, calling 9-1-1 really isn’t an option. 

In their attempt to save a brother they barely remember, Devon, Lyle, and Lawrence expose themselves to mortal danger and inherit a destiny that killed the last four guys cursed with it. In 2022, there are humans and aliens, heroes and monsters, choices and prophecies—and four brothers with the power to choose what’s left when the gods decide they’re through playing games.

IM: It’s part of a series (Order’s Last Play); when is the next instalment due out?

harris3EA: Hopefully, it will be out around the same time next year (July 2017). If it could be out sooner, that’d be great. However, I have been a naughty writer, so I’m not even done with Book II (The Third Gambit) yet. I hope to have a complete manuscript by the end of November. I’m a fast writer when I just sit down and do it, so I just need to do it, lol.

IM: Can you tell us more about the brothers?

EA: Sure! I love talking about characters, though I do worry about spoilers, lol. So I will try not to do too much of that.

The main characters in this book are three Earth-born brothers, who are also vulattos (half-alien) though they aren’t entirely sure of this fact until the events of the story happen. There’re Devon and Lyle, who are twins, 17 years old, high school seniors.

Devon is an athlete who comes off as headstrong and self-absorbed with this driving need to be as normal as possible. Being popular and well-liked is manna to him, because it distances him from rumors that he may be a passing vulatto (vulattos who look human, and so pretends to be to fit in). It also distances him from his twin brother Lyle, who couldn’t care less about fitting in. Devon’s hiding a power that scares him, and he thinks he controls it well, but every now and then he slips up, and something breaks.

Lyle is a telempath (a telepath and an empath) with telekinetic and some precognitive abilities as well. He hates people, family excluded, because he can’t help but hear their thoughts and feel their emotions and their duplicity makes him sick. He had a telepathic uncle who taught him a few tricks on how to make mental barriers, but the barriers are amateurish and not nearly to protect someone with Lyle’s strong abilities. He’s afraid he’s going to go as crazy as his uncle has and commit suicide one day. When he was 15, he discovered that kissing, hugging, and other things like these can create a temporary state of psychic bliss for him; the emotions he channels from the other person are like large bandages dripped in Novocain for his mind and so, he craves it. He dates a lot, but after a while, the significant others’ thoughts do get to him (as he only chooses what he considers easy marks, so shallow people), and he moves on. He feels alone with no one to talk to about his problems because Devon, his best friend, shunned him when they started high school, and Lyle’s been withdrawn ever since.

Lawrence, the youngest, is a 16-year- old adrenaline junkie. He loves doing stunts that could get him killed, maimed or grounded. If the MTV show Ridiculousness would still be on in 2022, Lawrie (Lawrence) would be on it. He’s a genius, always placed in gifted classes, yet his antics lead his mother to believe he cheated on the IQ tests. He loves taking electronics apart and computer programming. He can paraphrase just about everything he’s ever read and he remembers most details about things he’s seen. He’s the joker of the group, who makes up his own slang and doesn’t care if the world thinks he’s weird. He embraces it, and people seem to love him for it. Sometimes, Devon watches Lawrie and wishes he could be more like him when it comes to just not caring about other people’s opinions. Lawrie doesn’t like to see people hurt or discriminated against and he’s not the kind of person to just sit back and watch. Which is what gets him into the most trouble.

IM: Is the book told from multiple first person POVs (like Dracula)?

harris1EA: Yes, the book is told from the perspective of each brother. I do not POV-switch during a chapter. I hate when books do that, lol. Instead each brother gets a full chapter and the chapter titles are their names, so you’ll know who’s telling the story when.

IM: What are “The Order and the Chosen Four”?

EA: Now, this is a spoiler, lol. Order is a goddess. The world of The Fourth Piece is vast. The brothers know that there are multiple dimensions (different universes), and that they live in a universe full of many different populated planets and galaxies. A lot of the planets are much older than Earth, so the societies are older, and so on. Back in the Prophetic Cycles (a fancy term that can be likened to us saying BCE), many cultures worshipped what are now known as Old World gods (think Greece and Rome). Interplanetary holy wars broke out. Tentative planetary allegiances were formed and a group of exemplary leaders were drawn to a certain place by a power none of them questioned at the time. They met with the goddess Order (her true goddess name is unknown in this book) who had a mission for them. She offered them tokens of great power if they’d do her the favor of killing her son (known as Pandemic, true god name unknown in this book 😉 ). She claims that he’s the reason behind the wars, because his godly influence is tainting people and making them bloodthirsty. She predicts that the leaders she’s chosen, her Champions (Order’s Champions) will succeed in killing her son and will win the war. She gifts three warrior monarchs with weapons, she gives an all-female oligarchy (three women) presents to increase their magic, and lastly, she gives the Four of Rema (Rema is a younger planet but an up-and- coming political power in the recently-formed Silver Allegiance of Planets and the Four, the planet’s newly appointed young leaders, also brothers) stones that enhance their natural abilities. She also gives them the Burden. Their decisions, whether they be right or wrong, big or small, can turn the tide of the war. The Four fail at their task, the war is left unfinished, and so the prophecy came about, claiming that the Four would be reborn and when they returned, the second endgame to determine the outcome of Order and Pandemic would begin.

The Four have been reborn.

IM: Racism and racial discrimination seems to blight the characters’ lives on Earth. Do they face it on the other planets as well (being half human)?

EA: They haven’t actually been to any other planets at this point, but yes. When they do eventually travel, there are races that look down upon humans. But more so than that, there are races who simply resent the boys for who they are and what they represent: a return to holy wars (which were ancient history). People don’t even really believe in the gods anymore by this point, and now this?

One review (Amazon) mentioned an episode— told from the first person POV— where one of the brothers used their abilities to force a woman to touch them. It states that that character was not punished.

IM: Did the reviewer have it completely wrong?

EA: No, she was right. What he did was wrong and he knows it. He doesn’t seem to get punished in this book, because no one knows about it but him, Devon, and Nisse, none of whom are talking about it… yet.

IM: Was it difficult to write something like that from the point of view of the attacker?

EA: Not at all. Mainly because from his point-of- view, he was not attacking. This is another spoiler, but in this particular chapter, the character is at his breaking point and clearly losing it. The character assaulted did have romantic inclinations towards Lyle and did want intimacy but, moments later, was so disgusted by something else he’d done, she changed her mind and wanted to leave. Lyle changed her mind back, making her forget that he’d scared her. At that point, he believed that he was doing them both a favor. He needed the contact to soothe his mind and strained powers and hopefully stave off future insanity, and Nisse had wanted comfort and contact after a traumatic experience. The telempathic bliss Lyle gets from contact goes both ways, so the other party feels as good as he does. However, when it’s over and Lyle releases his hold on Nisse, he’s horrified over his actions, and Nisse remembers what he’d made her forget and knows what he’s done.

IM: Is Lyle’s behaviour here something that he will regret or does it allude to him being a villain?

EA: No. He’s not a villain. He will always carry the guilt, and he doesn’t know what to do to get rid of it. Nisse hates him. He does turn to more destructive means to cure himself and will travel down a dark road. There are also repercussions for what he’s done to Nisse and how he’s misused his powers.

IM: What is your background?

EA: Are you ready for my scroll? Actually, no, the more writers I meet, the more inferior I feel when it comes to qualifications and experience. I have a bachelor’s in psychology and creative writing, and then found out that I could not get a job with those things alone, but hey, I could teach at the college level with a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. So, I applied and was accepted to a few MFA programs, but chose to attend the University of Southern Maine (Stonecoast) because they had a program specifically for writers of popular fiction. The program is low residency, so I was only there for a few weeks in the summer and winter, and did the rest through correspondence with the mentors I was assigned to each semester. All mentors are successfully published authors. Upon graduation from Stonecoast, I realized, I STILL couldn’t get a job with my degrees. To teach at the college level, you have to have something called “experience,” along with an impressive publishing history. I had neither, so I enrolled in an alternative certification program and became a high school English teacher. I taught freshman English for a grand total of one year before I quit and went to library school. I’ve worked for two years in academic libraries and three years in public libraries. My current position is at Monterey Public Library. I am the Teen and Reference Services Librarian, and I love it.

This job allows me time to write, keeps me in touch with the YA audience, and gives me networking opportunities and access to multitudes of the newest YA fiction.

That’s my professional career in a nutshell. As a writer, I’ve always written. I wrote my first illustrated short story in first grade, attempted my first novel in second grade, and never quit. I’ve been a member of various writers critique groups and currently host a weekly group in Monterey, CA, an online group, as well as a Teen Writing Club for Monterey Public Library.

IM: Why did you choose to publish under a pen name?

EA: It’s not only a personal decision, but a business decision. It was a personal decision, because I’ve always dreamed of using E. Ardell as my pen name (ever since I was a kid). I love my middle name and used to put “Eboni Ardell” on everything, my letter jacket, my pens, anything that could be monogrammed. Kids at school actually thought Ardell WAS my last name. I’ve never liked the last name Harris. Kids used to tease me (of course :D) and call me Ebenezer Hair-ball among other things (and yes, it took me a long time to like the name Eboni, too). But ever since then, Harris has had a stigma for me, lol.

It was a business decision, because while I was getting my MFA in Creative Writing, one of my mentors, David Anthony Durham, who is also African American, informed me that ethnicity can hurt your sales if you are not writing to an African American niche market. A lot of authors use pseudonyms and initials so that readers will have a harder time determining their gender. I use my pseudonym because it is not only gender neutral, but ethnically neutral.

IM: What do you think the advantage of using a publisher rather than self-publishing your book?

EA: There are a LOT of things I didn’t have to figure out how to do on my own. Cover art, formatting, interior design, editorial services, promotional images, and PR consultation are handled by the publisher. All of these things can be extremely expensive if you’re doing it on your own. Publishers also handle pricing, posting editions on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple, etc., the printing of books, discounts for library and bookseller purchases, and finally, peace of mind. I don’t have to worry about forgetting something small… or vital… because the publisher handled it. The publisher even does PR through social media.

I know people who are successfully self-published, but everything falls on them. They have to be so organized, and, if they want to go all out with production and promotions, well-funded. I’m just too lazy for all of that. :D.

IM: You are doing a lot of promotion for The Fourth Piece (readings, panels, signings, and TV and radio appearances). Do you arrange everything yourself or does the publisher (or anyone) assist you with promotion?

EA: The publisher handles some of the social media promotions, but I arranged for the other things myself. Promotion and marketing of a book is no joke. If the author doesn’t stay on it and help out, I don’t think the book will do well. Some of the best promotion I’ve discovered is through word of mouth, and to establish that, you have to get out there. I’m fortunate to have met many wonderful people through writers groups and networks (both online and physically), and at my workplace, who have reached out to help me make connections and book events.

I thought writing the book and getting it published would be the hardest part of the process. I’m finding PR to be the toughest beast instead. You can write a sensational book, but if no one knows about it, no one will buy it.

IM: Do you still write fan fiction?

EA: Haha, I really shouldn’t, because I should be working on Book II in the series, but yes, I still write fan fiction. I have way too much fun writing it. In fact, I had to put myself through fan-fic- writing detox, because I would work on it more than my book. A few years ago, it was a true problem. I was only writing fan fiction and ignoring my original ideas. I secretly think it’s because I was tired of getting rejected by agents and publishers, and being given negative feedback in critique groups. I’d lost confidence in my writing abilities. In the fan fiction world, I earned some validation. Feedback was immediate, and while not all of it was positive, a lot of it soothed my damaged ego. Since then, I’ve grown thicker skin, but still. I don’t think I’ll ever stop writing fan fiction.

IM: Have you written short fiction other than fan fiction?

EA: No, I sure haven’t. I respect anyone who can write short stories, because I can’t. Everything I write ends up being a novel or part of one. I mainly think this is because I just don’t want to write short stories. Why go through all the trouble of creating characters and a new world just to say goodbye in a few pages? It’s not for me. Heck, I have trouble saying goodbye after 400 pages, so I don’t. Everything of mine will always end with the possibility of continuation.

IM: You have a blog, too. Is it specifically about your writing process, or life in general?

EA: You know, the blog is random, because so am I. Sometimes, I talk about writing and editing and how my book’s doing. I talk about the trials and tribulations of book promotion and the kind of music I turn on when I write. Other times, I talk about movies, TV shows, books I’m reading, or random thoughts and actions. Sometimes, I might even talk about an event that happened that day that was just too weird to not say anything about.

WEBLINKS

www.EArdell.com

https://eardell.com/blog/

www.48fourteen.com

https://www.fanfiction.net/u/51892/Eboni

About the Interviewer

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97 Hall of Fame Update

SPHOF-Logo

September 2016 Update – By Ian Shires

So, where are we really with this whole Hall of Fame idea? What is the status of the group that’s supposed to be in place to support and run it, and what is being done to get real progress?
I have been facing those questions on a daily basis, feeling awful that I don’t really have answers, nor a clear plan to change it. The real answer is that I need to get off my ass and do more. I can’t keep using the excuse that it takes me a long time each month to do all the layout and publishing duties for this magazine. Fact is, I have gotten too comfortable in that space. It is too easy to not get more done because I don’t have more people around me that are pushing for results. That is my own fault. For many reasons, but I won’t go into them, because they don’t matter anymore.

Allow me to instead tell you about a couple of personal revelations I have made in the past few months. Most of our readers know I have had a long-running issue with my foot, that has led to numerous operations and, eventually, pain management, with a hard left turn in 2010 where I almost died. When I was feeling a bit better in 2011, someone talked me into bringing the magazine and the SPA back. Well, we have done well with the magazine, but the SPA is just a shadow of what it was before. And that’s because I have been, as well. I managed to take myself off almost all of the drugs I was on, and basically that saved my life, but pain in the foot kept me on pain meds. Earlier this year, I had a new surgery—ankle replacement… new technology—and so i went into PT, and it was going well. Soon though, a previous surgery decision came back to haunt me. The spinal cord stimulator, which I’d been talked into a few years back, but that had never worked right for me—and which I hadn’t even charged up or used in many months—started to cause problems in my back as I got more active. End result, it needed removed. Second surgery of the year. It kinda kicked my ass, it was a big setback, and I continue to have back problems now, but… yhe docs say best course of action is exercise, and so I am back in therapy. In the meantime, I have finally weaned myself completely off pain meds. I now feel all the pain. The foot guy is not quite sure if there are more problems there, but here comes the revelation part.

Now being off pain meds, feeling the pain is the best thing to happen in a decade for me. Allowing myself to mask the pain, to have an excuse to not do things, got me to a place where I need to lose 100 pounds, and where I felt I couldn’t follow my dreams for the SPA and HOF. I told the therapist that I don’t care if I hurt bad for the next four months if, in the fifth month, I have lost weight and can walk around the block. I have work to do, on myself and on this system—which this magazine is really only supposed to be a part of. As it hurts my body to not be in the shape I should be in, so does it hurt my heart to know that I let us all down by trying not to feel.

I look back to the original genesis that led to the forming of the SPA. In the late 90s—and I won’t go all the way back into the whys—I’d been out of publishing for a couple years, but I was approaching the return in a discovery way. I needed to find out what did what. As I did (the magazine was called Obscurity Unlimited back then), it became clear that the small press movement had fragmented into numerous cliques. The problem with that, then and now, is that the real big goals we all have, like having a path to becoming a full time publisher, become so much harder when each clique is duplicating work, and viewing the work of other groups as competition.

I am not going to say, here and today, that the SPA and HOF are completely ready to be everything everyone needs. But I am going to say that my head’s never been clearer as to why I need to start reaching out to specific individuals and see what I can do to get us from the place where we are—which is vunerable to being controlled by corporate interests and losing any organization that brings in and encourages new talent to develop. To a place where we can all really do our own thing, win our own fans, and not give the majority of the profit to others. When we are actively sending our fans to somewhere that takes a huge cut of the price, we are losing… because that company only cares about the fans and once they have them coming there, they can sell them anything.

We need to realize that the fans are the treasure, and there are more of them out there than we realize. It was often said, back in the pre-internet small press days—and I don’t think it’s changed; it’s just gotten more interesting to do…There are more fans that would like your work than there are fans of ALL THINGS. So the work is reaching your audience. It’s a mantra I taught repeatedly in Small Press Idol in the late 00s.

What I want to build with the SPA and the HOF is a system that is not out for its own profit. One that sustains itself, but enables those that are part of it to earn and keep their fans, so that they make the majority of the profit from their work. One that brings in new young talent, allows them to learn and teaches them, and one that remembers everyone, forever.

So yeah, not a small goal, but one that is worthy of dedicating time and effort to. For you, for people unknown, and for people who we’ll never know, for a future that does not tell people what’s new and cool, but lets them discover it organically. In a world of places that control the lists of “trending” things to suit their agendas, we need a system that is truly by the people, for the people.

This is why when we launch our Kickstarter in the next few months, it will be partly a membership drive. We have massive goals that are wholly reachable if we become a group of fans of an ideal. In my 30 years of publishing, I have gotten close to making breakthroughs about five times. I have managed to self-sabotage or run face-first into tragedy in the past, but I refuse to let that stop us as a group from achieving the ideal ever again. With Doug, Ellen, and, hopefully by next month, King Chan joining us, what we are building is going to continue to grow beyond what any one person can do.

With a clear head, I apologize for not doing what I am going to do next…sooner.

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97 Remy’s Story

A Writer’s Take: An Interview with Andrew Snook

By Trisha Sugarek

snook11When Andrew Snook isn’t flying about the sky preventing asteroids from striking the Earth with his super strength, freezing bad guys in their tracks using his icy breath, and using his super vision and hearing to locate little old ladies to help cross busy streets, he spends his days as a mild-mannered writer and editor for three business-to-business magazines. Currently, he covers the forestry, bioenergy, road building, and aggregates sectors across Canada. When he’s not at work, he spends almost all of his free time with his beautiful and amazing wife Cristine, and his equally beautiful and amazing daughters, Emily and Sofia. And he writes a little fiction, too!

IM: Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

AS: Although I have an office space where I like to write fiction, it’s rarely used these days— when I’m home, my free time goes to my family. The majority of my writing is done on the road, while travelling for work. Whether I’m sitting in an airport terminal, on a plane, or on a train, I like to pop my headphones on, listen to music and bang away on the keys. I find the road really fuels my desire to write fiction and helps me come up with fun ideas for my books. My favourite place to write is while riding the rails. My dream writing space is on trains taking me all over Canada.

IM: Do you have any special rituals when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

snook10AS: My pre-children ritual was to write first thing in the morning in a pair of comfy, plaid pajama pants with a fresh coffee in my writing cup in hand. I would typically wake up around 8 am and write until noon. My favourite cup used to be a black Canada AM mug I received after winning my first writing competition in 2010, but that mug has since lost the title of Best Writing Mug to a mug made by my wife and daughters in celebration of my 500th book sale.

IM: Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

AS: I eat about 300 doughnuts a year. Seriously, I’m not exaggerating. I loves me some chocolate dips! And I only weigh 180lbs

IM: Do you have a set time each day to write or do you write only when you are feeling creative?

snook9AS: Although I used to do almost all of my fiction writing in the morning, these days, I don’t have the luxury of picking and choosing when to sit down and write. Between my family life, my work, and promoting my first book, I’m just too busy. If I’m on the road for work, my downtime is dedicated to writing. If I wake up early when I’m home, I open up the computer and try my best to put thoughts to words. I know that I have to jump on every opportunity I have to write if I want to get the second book in the Remy Delemme series written in a reasonably timely manner.

IM: What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

AS: When spare time presents itself and I find that I’m just not feeling the writing bug, I typically start my process by opening a work of fiction written by a writer that I admire and respect. I find reading a chapter or two from an author whose works I enjoy can help get my own desire to write going. For me, I typically open up a book written by Christopher Moore, Michael Connelly, or Douglas Adams.

Another way I get the juices flowing is by grabbing a coffee, sitting down, and just brainstorming random fun ideas for the book. If I come up with an idea I think will be fun for the readers I’ll just start writing about it, even if I have no idea how or when it will end up finding its way into the book—details, mere details! The key to battling procrastination is to keep writing, no matter what!

IM: Where/when do you first discover your characters?

snook7AS: Remy, the main character, actually came from a dream I had several years before I wrote Remy’s Dilemma. I was attending university in Wolfville, Nova Scotia and had a silly dream about a man causing chaos in a car dealership. I hadn’t written fictional stories since I was a child, but something about that dream sparked my desire to write. I jumped out of bed, turned on my computer, and just started pounding the keys. I wrote about the dream, and then continued writing about Remy’s adventures for the rest of the day. My first session writing about Remy lasted about 12 hours. As for his name, I’ve liked it ever since I was introduced to Gambit of the X-Men as a young boy. He’s always been one of my favourite comic book characters.

IM: What first inspired you to write your stories?

AS: After I had my first big session writing about Remy, I found myself constantly thinking about more fun adventures for him to have. I didn’t know anyone when I moved to Wolfville, and I didn’t find my classes took up a ton of my time, so I ended up having a lot of idle time on my hands. Over the next eight months, I wrote my first poorly-written novella, Wasted Days. That novella was where I got the skeleton to write my first novel, Remy’s Dilemma.

IM: What comes first to you? The characters or the situation?

snook6AS: Remy doesn’t stick around any one place for too long—you can’t sit around when the world is coming to an end! That said, I only have Remy travel into places across Canada where I have traveled myself. So, even though the books are fiction, the towns I visit and the people I speak with definitely have a degree of influence in how Remy interacts with people. In Remy’s Dilemma, Remy runs amok in Ontario and Quebec. In the second book of the series, which I’m currently writing, he travels to Western Canada, and in the third book of the series he will be running around Atlantic Canada.

IM: Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

AS: All the time. I’m a born daydreamer, so I don’t find it that difficult.

IM: Who or what is your “muse” at the moment?

AS: I don’t think I have one particular person or thing that inspires me to write fiction. I always feel a desire to write. It’s my happy addiction.

IM: When did you begin to write seriously?

snook5AS: Although I wrote a rough novella about Remy while in school, my first serious effort to turn his adventures into a full-length novel came in 2010. I had moved to the Ottawa area to go back to school to become a journalist. I was working as a full-time reporter for community newspapers, when I came across my old novella in a box of junk. I decided to open it up, gave it a read, and quickly became mortified at what I saw. Although the novella was extremely rough, I still thought the general premise for the story was fun, so I decided I would try and turn it into a full-length book. The writing process took about three-and-a-half years.

IM: How long after that were you published?

AS: After I wrote the first draft of Remy’s Dilemma, I racked my brain about the best route to take for publishing the book. During the editing process, I researched different methods for trying to secure a traditional publisher. The method that kept coming up as the best option for a new author to be published was hybrid publishing, where the author takes on all the costs associated with publishing the first book, markets the book themselves, and creates all the relationships with fans and bookstores. They then take those results to traditional publishers and agents. I decided to go this route and ended up releasing Remy’s Dilemma in April 2015, after 15 months of editing that included hiring two proofreaders, a professional line critiquer, a design and formatting team, and a local artist. The editing process took a significant amount of time, because it was extremely important to me that the book offered readers the same level of quality as any traditionally published book. To date, the book has been received well by bookstores and has received positive reviews from readers— including a strong review from the judges of Writer’s Digest’s Self-Published Book Awards (I posted the judge’s results and comments on my website: www.snookbooks.com).

Around the two-year release mark of the first book in early 2017, I plan on shopping the Remy Delemme series around to agents and publishers, while sharing the sales results of this first book.

IM: What makes a writer great?

snook3AS: A writer’s ability to eat 300 doughnuts? No? Damn, I’m stumped!

IM: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like for you?

AS: I think creating a good book for a reader is a lot like good sex. You start off with a bunch of raw emotions and some fun and dirty ideas, mix ‘em together over long, sweaty nights, and only end when you think all parties are satisfied.

IM: How has your life experiences influenced your writing?

AS: I only write about Remy entering an area of Canada once I’ve been there myself, so my life experiences definitely have an influence on my writing. Quality

IM: Have you (or do you want to) write in another genre`?

AS: I would like to write a few books for my kids if I’m able to keep the content age-appropriate. No promises, though.

IM: Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know?

snook2AS: I love receiving feedback about my book, so I invite anyone with questions about writing, self-publishing, or Remy’s Dilemma to contact me at snookbooks@gmail.com. Also, I’m currently writing Book II of the Remy Delemme series and hope to have the first draft complete by the end of 2016.

Happy reading and writing everyone!

Website: www.snookbooks.com

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/snookbooks/

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97 The Driving Force

Can you believe it’s back to school time already? The cool thing about being older is that now, that’s a good thing. Sorry, kids, go get educated. Anyway, welcome to the September issue, as we continue our headlong race towards our 100th issue. Solid issue here, as we continue our efforts to cover more and more of the self-publishing multiverse.

I’ve been talking to King Chan a lot lately, and have been mentioning it here and there, as well. He and I share a lot of the same goals and I like his style. You can look forward to some articles from him here in the magazine, as well as his joining me in doing reviews, as we continue to team up more fully to see the dream of an Indy distribution company that can really make a difference and get the stuff we’re covering into stores in a way in which they can sell and compete. The way we see it, if we don’t do it, no one is going to do it for us. We need to get this magazine out in print again and start winning more fans who can check out the stuff we cover. PDF/Epub versions have been doing ok; we reach almost 2,000 readers on average per issue, but the longer we hover there, the more it seems the real audience is still wanting print copies and we’re not reaching them. So, to do better, we will try harder and leave no stone unturned.
Very happy with the looks of the upcoming features in the next few issues. Next issue, just in time for election season, we’re going to be talking to Matt Feazell and Matt Dawson about the self-published game they have put together: Mudslinger, a card and dice game that encourages you to lie and cheat your way to becoming President! Then, month after that, we’re going to be talking to Matt and Nathan Corrigan, Tim Corrigan’s kids, about their band and more. We have Travis Ware, Eric McRay, Steve Pennella, and many more. It’s going to be an exciting rest of the year.

We’ll be working hard on launching the funding project we’ve been talking about for a long time now. As soon as I finish this issue, I will be contacting the list of people we’ve covered in the last four years to build great reward packages and get ready to reach our lofty goals. These include being able to transform from an all-volunteer effort, to paying contributors, getting some more software for the website, and finally, taking Dimestore from a sole propriater situation to an LCC and getting some more publications going. We’d love to see a return of Mysterious Visions Anthology, which for years was the outlet for runner-up Small Press Idol strips… We’d like to look at, perhaps, starting a new yearly contest. It will really all depend on how well we do in trying to do more, be more, and keep pushing the limits of proudly being Indy.

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