book club

Help me find the aces. ♣ ♥ ♠ ◆

yaces-profileYAces is an indie young adult book club that went up on Goodreads yesterday.

Join us for monthly group reads featuring books by YA indie authors! The focus will be on fiction of various genres including fantasy, science fiction, and contemporary books, but nonfiction suggestions are also welcome.

We expect to begin the first group read in early March. Nominations are now open.

I’ve started this group for a couple reasons. First, I’m grateful because my books have been featured as group and buddy reads in multiple Goodreads groups. Second, who doesn’t like book clubs? I love reading in a group setting and would like to see more indie authors get discovered this way.

Help me find the hidden gems, the aces.

Advertisements

SBW TALKBOOKS INTERVIEW OF MARK GELINEAU AND JOE KING

This November, SBW TalkBooks read A Reaper of Stone, the first installment of a fantasy series of novellas by Mark Gelineau and Joe King. Intrigued by their characters and storyline, TalkBooks members wanted to know how they work together and what comes next. Read on to learn more about Gelineau and King’s team approach to publishing.

Synopsis

A Lady is dead. Her noble line ended. And the King’s Reaper has come to reclaim her land and her home. In the marches of Aedaron, only one thing is for certain. All keeps of the old world must fall.

Elinor struggles to find her place in the new world. She once dreamed of great things. Of becoming a hero in the ways of the old world. But now she is a Reaper. And her duty is clear. Destroy the old. Herald the new.

 

 

 

Interview Q&A Recap:

How long have you known each other? Have you been writing that long?

We’ve been friends for over twenty-five years. We have been writing and telling stories in one form or another for about that long, yes. Mark’s an English teacher and has been published for a few years. Joe’s held a similar passion for writing for a long time. This is the first series that we are publishing together on our own.

What have you written before the current series of novellas?

In terms of published works, Mark has a very cool series of pulp stories with Pro Se following the Hanged Man. We did one short novella together for them called “Southern Hospitality” in the collection Once upon a Sixgun. The Echoes of the Ascended is the first work we are publishing together, and on our own.

How are the stories within the Echoes of the Ascended series organized?

There are four different series, all in the same world. Each has its own protagonist with a different story, but they’re from the same group of orphans who grew up together. Each series also embraces a different genre. A Reaper of Stone is the first novella in Elinor’s series, which is epic fantasy. Rend the Dark is a horror story that features Ferran. Alys is the protagonist in Best Left in the Shadows, a noir tale. Roan and Kay’s storyline begins in Faith and Moonlight, the opening installment for our upcoming young adult series.

The way we’re piecing the world together has been very different and we’re enjoying it. We didn’t have time to draft a full novella at the beginning, but we had enough time to draw a flash part of the world, and we continue to build it as we go along. We’re both big film and TV guys, and we’re trying to give it that type of feel.

The resulting prose is smooth. How do you share writing tasks?

Thank you so much for the kind words! We share and swap a lot of tasks, so there’s a lot more nuts and bolts to our Frankenstein-style of writing that I can probably cover here.

Joe comes up with a grand scheme and refines it into story beats. Mark writes first draft and gives it to Joe to edit and revise. The process repeats. Edits, alpha pass, beta pass, etc. But generally, Mark is the writer, the wordsmith, and the artist. If you see a particular piece of prose that’s like “Wowza!”, that’s Mark. Joe’s the cold-hearted editor that cuts and cuts and cuts. Then Mark does more writing, and Joe more cutting. And we go back forth until we feel it’s done.

We never do the same job as each other. We each perform different functions at different levels to prevent the writing from feeling inconsistent. Instead, hopefully it feels more like a polished product as we add layers of more editing and more writing on top of the original drafts.

Does sharing the writing load let you turn out more books?

Yes and no. We think it helps with writer’s fatigue and writer’s block because if we do start feeling worn down we can always tag out. But there’s also a lot of thinking and decision-making that usually happens within our own heads that need to happen across emails or phone calls instead, which takes an awful lot of time.

I think our team-writing probably writes at, or a little slower, than your average solo writer, but we make up for it in consistency, which allows us to publish a new novella every month. I couldn’t imagine having to face that kind of deadline alone every month.

What’s it like to release a novella every month?!

It has been pretty insane. Since we are publishing these on our own, we manage one to two rounds of beta responses, one to two rounds with our developmental editor, one round with our copy editor, and then manage the cover design and formatting vendors, and create all marketing and promo materials every month. The book-a-month model helps gain exposure for previously published novellas. And we have loved every minute of it. Well, almost.

How do you approach social media?

We use social media platforms, such as Twitter, to engage with people, to reach out with others, and to also talk about their work. Other writers are great for support, but we also focus on reaching out to our target audience.

How do you get your book reviews?

We did a few things to help us out here, but mainly, we just asked people who bought our book, “Hey, love it or hate it, we’d really love a review.” In our experience, the hardest part is just asking people. The length probably helped too, as far as people’s investment in time. Here are a couple of things we did. Your mileage may vary.

1) We gave the book away for free at launch for a few days and let people know it was available (through websites, emails, going into local stores/groups).

2) We contacted the amazing web blogger community and asked if they’d be interested in doing objective reviews.

3) We also did Goodreads giveaways and other similar giveaways to reach more people.

Ultimately, I think people are wonderful about wanting to leave honest reviews if given the chance. We just tried to remove as many barriers as we could to giving people that chance. With that in mind, if anyone would like to do an objective review of our work, please contact us. We have ARCs available 🙂

Do you have plans for other publishers to pick up your books?

We like the freedom of self-publishing, but we’re very open to a publisher wanting to take over. Writing is just twenty percent of all the work that needs to get done. It requires lots of coordination to stay on schedule.

Author Bios:

Ever since the day he discovered his grandfather’s stacks of pulps, comics, and sci-fi and fantasy novels, Mark was fascinated. When he saw his first movie, Star Wars, he was hooked.

Stories of adventure and far off worlds thrilled him then and inspire him now. It was this passion for imaginative storytelling that led him to writing and education. In addition to his own writing work, Mark has taught middle school English for the last thirteen years, and is excited to share his stories with his young son, Bryce.

 gelineau and king

Joe King spent most of his childhood doing what he loved most—building things with his friends. He built friendships, stories, worlds, games, imagination, and everything in between.

Joe believes in the power of stories, dreams, family, friendship, and getting your ass kicked every once in a while.

More than anything, he wants to tell a good story, and, for him, Gelineau & King is the constant reminder that it’s never too late to start building the things you love.

TalkBooks Interview with Chess Desalls

SBW TalkBooks honored me by choosing Travel Glasses as it’s July group read. Last night, we had a live Q&A about the book and writing in general. It was a lot of fun! The following is a writeup of the event, which will be cross-posted on author Marjorie Bicknell Johnson’s blog.

TalkBooks Summary

Travel Glasses is a YA time travel fantasy filled with metafiction and other literary twistiness. This is the first novel in the series, The Call to Search Everywhen.

When Travel Glasses begins, Calla Winston’ mobile devices sit in a corner of her room, covered in dust. Weeks ago, she shared photos and laughs with her best online friend. Now, she equates technology with pain and prefers being hidden and friendless.

Then she meets Valcas, an otherworldly time traveler who traverses time and space with a pair of altered sunglasses. She travels with him to others’ pasts to escape an unknown attacker. The Travel Glasses take Calla’s mistrust of technology to new levels, but without them, she’ll never make it back home.

Questions for the Author

  1. How did you happen to start your series, The Call to Search Everywhen?

A friend and I had been brainstorming ideas for short stories. One morning an idea popped in my head about sunglasses that could be used for time travel. I thought of both the title of the story and Valcas’ character immediately; although, at the time I thought it would be a short story. I let the book flow, free wrote the first draft, rewrote the entire manuscript from a different point of view, and then worked on playing up the themes. Overall, development of the book spanned five years.

  1. The travel glasses remind me of Google glasses and virtual reality games, but taken one step further. Did you get any of your ideas for this book from Google glasses?

I’d already known about virtual reality and videogame visors, but at the time I envisioned the story, Google Glass hadn’t come out yet. I suspect that a couple telecommunications and privacy courses I took in 2012 and 2013 impacted later edits regarding some of the glasses’ special features.

  1. Calla seems to have trouble getting home again, to the place and time where she began. Is this a play upon the idea, you can never go home again?

I didn’t have that theme specifically in mind, although it pairs well with the book’s themes of trust, relationships and self-preservation. Calla’s journey is partly one of self-discovery; she’s not who she was before her travels.

  1. When the characters travel, their conveyance changes to something from the time and place that they visit. For example, their gondola in Venice morphs into a ship when they arrive in Folkestone Harbour. Do their clothing and hairstyles change as well?

In early drafts of the book, for some reason I had changed Calla’s clothing when she arrived in Venice, but nowhere else. It seemed odd to me, so I scrapped it. I did keep the vehicle changes, though, for when the destination was to a real place rather than a Nowhere.

  1. How did you create your characters? I could relate to Calla, even though I am well beyond the YA age, because she’s a smart tomboy like I used to be. I had more trouble with Valcas because I couldn’t figure out if he was a good guy or not.

Valcas is socially awkward. His character is ambiguous because a lot of Calla’s fears are in her head. He has a parallel story going on, but sometimes he’s more difficult to relate to because he’s more distant, which is part of the effect of the story being told from Calla’s point of view.

  1. How do you find time to work, write, blog, and use social media?

My schedule is flexible in that my work assignments have ebbs and flows, for which I’m very grateful. Sometimes I’m so buried that I can’t write fiction for months at a time. Regardless, there are times I get so wrapped up in a story that other things suffer like getting enough sleep, making it to the gym or reading for fun.

  1. How do you like to work?

I’m an extrovert and get energy from being around other people. I like to write in coffee shops, bowling alleys, and pool halls.

  1. How many books have you written in your series?

The first two books, Travel Glasses and Insight Kindling, are out now and available as paperbacks, ebooks and audiobooks. I’m still writing and editing the third book, Time for the Lost, which I hope to release in late 2015 or early 2016.

I have more story ideas in my head and tucked away in notes. I’m hoping to have additional books in the series, perhaps with a separate story arc.

Author Bio

Chess Desalls recently authored the first two installments of the YA time travel serial series, The Call to Search Everywhen. She’s a longtime reader of fantasy and sci-fi novels, particularly classics and young adult fiction. When she’s not writing she enjoys traveling, reading and trying to stay in tune on her flute.

Learn more about Chess and her books on her website and Amazon page. She loves connecting with readers through Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest and Goodreads.

TalkBooks Interview with R. L. King

Today I’m excited to feature R. L. King, author of The Alastair Stone Chronicles. This June, SBW TalkBooks read the first book of the series, Stone and a Hard Place. Learn more about King and her writing below!

Book Description

It’s hard enough for Alastair Stone to keep his two lives—powerful mage and mundane Occult Studies professor—separate without an old friend asking him to take on a new apprentice. Especially after a university colleague wants him to investigate a massive old house for things that go bump in the night. Still, Stone figures it’s an easy job: just turn up, put on a little show, and announce that the house is clean.

Only it isn’t. A malevolent spirit is reawakening in the basement, imprisoned between dimensions and intent on escape. If it succeeds, countless people will die. Worse, a trio of dark mages want to help it break free so they can control it for their own sinister purposes. They’ll do whatever it takes—including seducing Stone’s young apprentice and using him against his master—to get what they’re after.

With time running out, Stone has to stay alive long enough to uncover the spirit’s secrets. But even if he does, he fears that his own power won’t be enough to send it back.

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

What is your elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch needs that catchy line. I’m good at back cover blurbs but not at pitches. That’s something I think I really need to work on.

How did you happen to write this book?

I’ve always liked magic, but I’m not a big fan of traditional medieval fantasy. I like the idea of magic in the modern world, but I didn’t want to use all of the same tropes that appear in so many urban fantasy books. For example, everybody and his dog does vampires and werewolves—I didn’t want to do that.

Stone, your Mage, practices magic on par with Harry Potter and the wizards at Hogwarts. How did you learn about the magic used in your book?

Harry Potter was not my inspiration. I made up the magic system used in the book while I built Alastair Stone’s paranormal world. People tell me that my books remind them a little of the Dresden Files, which is funny because I hadn’t read any of those books until after I wrote two in my own series. I’ve since read them and I love them.

How long did it take for you to write this book?

Two or three months. I try to write every day. During one month, I wrote 90,000 words, but I don’t keep up that pace all the time.

This book is part of a series. How many books (of the series) have you written?

I have written five of the books in the series. The second one came out this week, and the third just came back from the editor. I’ve got one more finished in first draft, another that I’ve started, and ideas for at least five more.

Do you think of the whole story at once, or do you do part of it and let the character suggest what happens next?

My books are character driven. If people don’t like the characters, they’re not going to read the book. I like to use the same characters. I know where the book starts, where I want it to end, and roughly what needs to happen to get there, but I let the characters do what they do in the middle when possible.

What are your thoughts on publishing?

The more I found out about traditional publishing, the more I knew I wanted to have final control. I am self-published but I use professionals’ services to help me make the best book I can: good editor, good cover design. I used CreateSpace for my paperbacks, and everything went way better than I expected. Most of my sales are in ebook format, though, through Amazon.

TalkBooks Interview with Doctor Jac

SBW TalkBooks read two books by South Bay Writers members in the month of June. Today’s feature is Rough Waters by Doctor Jac. Read more about the book and the group’s live Q&A below!

Book Description

Michael grew up in a small town but always had his eye on something big. He wasn’t sure what to do with his life until he joined the Navy and found his place in the world.

Professionally, he falls in with Navy intelligence. He infiltrates China for secret information and leads a successful mission to Vietnam. He uncovers fraud within the officer ranks and exposes black market thieving of government property.

Personally, Michael struggles for years before finding true love. He travels extensively through Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and the Philippines. He lives a life of passion and excitement but always remembers the small town boy he once was. Michael is a man with dreams and the passion to follow them, even into the path of danger.

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble

The book seems to have three distinct parts: Michael grew up in a small town; Michael falls in with Navy intelligence; Michael struggles for years to find true love. What is the most important theme in your book?

I have rewritten the story regarding Navy intelligence as The Spy from Nowhere. The memoir will be treated differently.

How much of this book is true but disguised as a memoir?

Much of the book is true, but not all. In my new book, The Spy from Nowhere, I took out the memoir part, the first two chapters. The Spy is the first of a series; the second is Grace Under Fire.

What is your elevator speech? What do you tell someone who asks what your book is about?

The book is the story of a young man from a small town who escapes to the real world.

What is your background?

In 1959, I started in business: sales and marketing. My experiences in sales and marketing carry over to selling books. There are four kinds of people:

Innovators: 10%;
Early Adopters—they copy innovators: 20%;
Mainstream—the average Joe: 60%; and
Zombies—they have trouble, just getting up in the morning: 10%.

I market to the first 30%.

What’s your writing background?

I am an experienced nonfiction writer with 14 books published over the past 30 years. This is my first venture into fiction. I read everything I can about fiction writing and then pick up what makes sense for me. I’ve got a lot to learn.

South Bay Writers’ New Book Club

TalkBooks meets monthly to read and discuss books written by South Bay Writers (SBW) members. We’re just about to wrap up this month’s group read, Jaguar Princess by Marjorie Bicknell Johnson. If you’re local and a member of SBW, please join us for a live Q&A and book discussion on Wednesday, May 27. Learn more here on the Meetup page.

If you’re interested but not local, please follow along with the group on Goodreads! All are welcome to join!

March Metafiction

The Goodreads Indie Book Club is reading Travel Glasses and Magic-Price this month! Book discussions and author Q&As are set up. I’m almost as excited to talk about Travel Glasses’ use of metafiction as I am about discussing its methods of time travel.

Stop by and say hello. All are welcome!