We are happy to announce that both Steven Shrewsbury's Thrall, and Stephen Zimmer's Dream of Legends, are now available in the iBookstore and at several vendors catering to users of the Sony eReader and compatible devices.
The price on both books is the same as the Kindle and Nook versions, at $3.99
For a full list of formats, and links to vendors for Sony eReader users, (links to the Kindle and Nook versions too), visit:
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Seventh Star Press has always supported other small presses, as the growth of small press publishing, and the recognition of the quality available from the many excellent small presses active today, is a benefit to all in the small press world.
In this spirit, we wanted to bring you some good news that D.A. Adams, author of the popular Brotherhood of Dwarves series, is now available in Kindle editions.
You might recall that Alex was interviewed on this blog, and a review of The Brotherhood of Dwarves was posted here back in July of 2009 (click here to see the interview and review).
The series is fantastic, and those who love Dwarves in fantasy will find a treasure trove in D.A. Adams' work. We definitely encourage you to read this compelling fantasy series, the third installment of which is not too far off according to D.A.
Here are the links to get the two books today! At $2.99, it won't cost you much either:
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Nick Valentino is an author that has gone full steam ahead, logging one of the most impressive travel itineries while becoming one of the hottest authors within the growing steampunk genre. His own story is that of someone who believes fiercely in his work, and has walked the walk in pursuing his dream.
His novel Thomas Riley flies off of his table in droves at conventions. I know this because I've watched him go through stacks and stacks of copies in person, on more than one occassion. Dressed in his steampunk garb, and armed with a passport stamp, he maintains an infectious energy from the opening of the day to the close.
Yet despite the great progress and success, Nick remains one of the most engaging and approachable personalities out on the Con Circuit, garnering him strong popularity amongst his peers, not always an easy thing to achieve in artistic realms. The future is indeed bright with Nick, with new writing projects looming and an equally impressive touring and event schedule for 2011.
While Nick has become one of the bright lights of the genre, it is important to always recognize the great sacrfice that Nick puts in supporting his publishers and writing. You will not find authors on the New York Times best-seller lists that match Nick's event and appearance schedule from 2010 across the USA and Canada, and he did it on his own. Matching that kind of dedication with the talent and quality of writing that he brings to the table, and you have a force to be reckoned with.
He is definitely an author to watch, and an author to root for.
-Stephen Zimmer for the Seventh Star Press Blog, January 20, 2011
SZ: What inspired you to become a writer, and when did you realize that you were ready to take the next step in terms of being a published author?
NV: I’d been writing for a long time but it was all lyrics for the band I was in. I’d amassed huge binders full of lyrics and from that I ended up getting ideas for longer stories. One day I just blurted it out. “I’m going to write a book.” From there I spent the next two years still playing in the band but I was also spending the late nights writing a horror novel. When I was done with it, I did what everyone that completes their first manuscript does. I thought, “Hey, I’ll shop this and see what happens.”
SZ: Share some of your writing influences with us.
NV: My first love is Clive Barker. I devour everything he writes. My first manuscript was a horror novel and obviously inspired by Mr. Barker. I have a big thing for Weaveworld. I also have a big obsession for Richard Adams and Watership Down. I went through a huge rabbit phase that seemed to connect with my childhood. I loved the cartoon as a kid and I was intensely frightened of The Black Rabbit of Inle from the book. It still kind of creeps me out really. I’m also a big fan of A Clockwork Orange author Anthony Burgess. I actually named my rogue sky pirate, Sam Burgess in honor of him. It’s sort of shameful, but before I wrote Thomas Riley, I’d not read a single steampunk book so I can’t claim those as influences but now I read tons of the genre. Cherie Priest, Scott Westerfeld, Elizabeth Darvill, O.M. Grey, Emilie P. Bush, and dozens of other wonderful authors have now definitely made their mark on me.
SZ: How did your novel Thomas Riley come about, in terms of the idea conception to the writing of it, and what was your path to getting it published?
NV: After getting the usual 35762368 rejection slips from agents and publishers, I thought I should go to a writers conference and learn more, meet some other authors and get a sneak peek into the the publishing world in person. So what did I do? Yeah I just picked the Southern California Writers Conference in San Diego, booked a plane and off I went with manuscripts in hand. It was seriously that quick. Of course who wouldn’t want to go to San Diego every chance they got? I ended up meeting with a few agents and publishers there and finally I met Karen Syed from Echelon Press who told me these exact scary words, “If the rest of this doesn’t suck, I want it.” The rest is history. Thomas Riley came about 11 months later. It was much like winning a game show. While I sent query letters to everyone I could find I missed the writing process so I started writing a niche book (Well, I thought it was going to be just a niche book.) in the steampunk genre. Steampunk was something that I’d always had been into but I never knew there was a moniker for it. I always knew it as stories and movies from Hayao Miyazaki, who’s one of my favorite directors, producer, and story tellers of all time.
SZ: What have been your biggest surprises since Thomas Riley was released? (in terms of what you did not expect about the world of being a professional author).
NV: There are infinite paths of being an author. Many people just want to write while others have a flair for promotion and human interaction. Cutting my teeth on being in a touring band, I have an inner need to be with people and to interact with those of the same ilk. So I took off and traveled the country in support of the book. 57 events in 365 days. From Victoria, BC, to San Diego, CA, to Baltimore, MD to New Orleans, LA and so many places in between. I guess I didn’t expect that I would meet so many amazing people. That has been one of the biggest things about all of this. Fans, readers, steamunks, authors, editors, publishers... It’s really been so great meeting some of the best people in the world. I guess I always thought there would be much more adversity and that it would be much more of a painful experience marketing a book. While it isn’t easy, happily I was met with great readers, great fans, great friends and support from everywhere.
SZ: Are there any surprises about your reader base, in terms of the kinds of readers that have embraced your work?
NV: That’s actually a really great thing about writing steampunk. The genre is ageless and without boundaries. Anyone that likes adventure can get into steampunk. Now, with other genre’s coming into steampunk, literally everyone can get into it. I’ve sold the book to eight year olds and eighty eight year olds. So yeah, it’s a huge surprise that so many people embrace it. You always hear, “So what age group is this for?” My response is always, “Everyone.” Because so many different kinds of people enjoy it.
SZ: Will there be more Thomas Riley novels?
NV: Yep, there are at least two more Thomas Riley books in the works right now. Number two and three are contracted by ZOVA Books.
SZ: What drew you to steampunk, as opposed to other genres?
NV: Originally, I loved and still love everything that Hayao Miyazaki has done. Almost all of his stories have some kind of retro futuristic element in them and many of them have blatant steampunk elements. When he started this, most of the world was very unaware of the term steampunk at all. So basically I loved the technology and the ingenuity that went into Miyazaki’s movies but I had no idea that there was a term for it. It was at Dragon Con in Atlanta, GA about three years ago that I first heard the term and saw people dressed “steampunk”. At the time, I seriously thought they were dressed as Miyazaki-esque characters. I had no clue that there was a culture, literary genre and fashion movement going on. I remember leaving thinking “I’m going to write a steampunk book and that’s all there is to it. Four months later, I had the first draft of Thomas Riley done.
SZ: What are some of the trends occurring now in the steampunk world? Are there any directions that steampunk is taking that surprise you?
NV: There are wonderful themes that seem to sweep through steampunk culture. Last year it tended to take on a Wild West theme. This year it is nautical or underwater themes that seem to be talked about a lot. (Hm, does this have a correlation with Cherie Priest books?)Actually none of the trends in steampunk shock me or really surprise me at all. I’m a big fan of the genre going in a million different directions. I love that steampunk can be just about anything and that there are no limits besides what your imagination can conceive. Another really fun theme or exploration I’m seeing with the genre is multicultural and multi-national. You are seeing more and more Asian, Middle Eastern, Australian, Eastern European and well, just about any place you can think of pop up in steampunk more and more. I love Victorian England as much as the next person, but I love that we’re seeing what steampunk would be globally now. I’m actually writing a Japanese steampunk story for an anthology due out in May called, HER MAJESTY’S MYSTERIOUS CONVEYANCE which I’m quite excited about.
SZ: You are a writer who has been a part of the rise of steampunk in terms of popularity, as you have been working incredibly hard in support of Thomas Riley since its release in 2009. You don’t need to name any names, but is there a bit of a bandwagon occurring now that steampunk is now so popular at the onset of 2011? Will this help or hurt the genre, or is it a mix of both?
NV: Well, sure. Anytime you hear that every literary agent is desperate for good steampunk, every author in the world is going to start writing it. Really, it’s not a bad thing at all. It’s simply what happens when something gets popular. Personally, I’m very interested in how people write it because everyone is going to have a plethora of awesome ideas. Sure, not all of them are gold, but I’d like to see the genre as a household word. Does it sound like I’m selling out? Well, the popularity is already undeniable and it’s going to get big no matter what I say so why not enjoy everyone’s take on it? Why not bask in the culture and have fun writing books, making costumes and gadgets, gathering with good people and celebrating good times and good people? That’s what life is really about isn’t it? Will it hurt the genre? You know, it’s destined to get really popular, so if it hurts it, the popularity might make it burn out but again, that’s how everything is. Even if it does damage the scene, genre or fashion, it will always be there much like goth.
SZ: Are there any other genres that you would like to write in? If so, is there anything on the horizon in this regard?
NV: My first love as horror and my first manuscript was horror, which is my baby. It’s a trilogy of urban horror that revolves around a little girl, witches and demons. So yeah, I definitely see myself revisiting that in the future but it needs a lot of work and that may not be for several more years before I’m really able to give it the attention it needs. As of right now, Thomas Riley seems to be on the ocket for quite some time.
SZ: Give us a little peek into the kind of touring schedule that you
maintain, from your bookstore appearances to conventions and fairs.
NV: I think when it was all said and done, I was home (with no events) for only 9weekends out of the year. I did 58 events ranging from Victoria, BC, to New Orleans, to Baltimore, to San Diego and tons of places in between. It's crazy. I've never had a year like this in my life. It's a hard life and it's full of big time risk but it really paid off. Basically it's about putting fears aside and believing in your work and going out and siezing opportunity. There are things out there for everyone. It's ust a matter of making it happen.
SZ: What has been most effective for you as an author, in terms of these events? Large conventions? Bookstores? Smaller conventions? What advice would you offer an author on a limited budget in terms of deciding what kinds of appearances to make?
NV: A lot of things have been super effective. It really depends what you want to accomplish with events. For instance, large book fairs are really good. A few that I went to that were amazing were The Baltimore Book Fest, The Virginia Festival of the Book, The South Carolina Book Fest, The Austin Book Festival, and The Southern Festival of Books here in Nashville. Sales at these big book festivals are usually really good. Here's the trick though. As an author selling your book at these things, you can't sit still and wait for people to just wander to your table. You have to be genuinely excited about your work and you have to engage everyone that comes by. Sitting there will not sell books. Small cons are awesome for different reasons. You meet all types of amazing people at every event but some of the smaller ones offer an intimate environment where you get to make real friends with readers, fans and authors. These are friendships that last through the years. Like I met the amazing ladies of the Frenzy Universe at a small steampunk con in St. Louis and we've been amazing friends ever since. As big cons go, they're usually amazing. My biggest con sales wise was Fan Expo in Toronto. It was a huge few days and totally awesome fan wise. Another awesome con was CONvergence in Bloomington, MN. It was only 4500 people but it was huge and wonderfully crazy in every way. This year was a big trial and error year for me. My plan was to hit everything I possibly could and repeat the good ones for Thomas Riley 2. The thing is that most of them were awesome in their own way. Really, I would only not go to a handful and I'd probably replace them with other cons and events that I've heard good things about. For authors looking to to plan events, look for things you can afford and that you can drive to. Even if it's an eight hour drive, do it. Have no fear.
SZ: What’s coming up for Nick Valentino in 2011? (at least what you can share with us publicly or in general)
NV: Thomas Riley 2 is the big thing for 2011. With any luck, it will be out between July and September on ZOVA Books and I'm quite excited about it. I also have a few anthologies that I'll have stories in but the only one I can speak of right now is called "In Her Majestiy's Mysterious Conveyance" which is a steampunk anthology where each author picks a different part of the world to set their story. Mine is set in Japan.
SZ: How do interested readers connect with Nick Valentino online? Time for all your links to your sites, blogs, social networks!
NV: Here we go.
The book site: www.sirthomasriley.com
My Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/hazeltherabbit
The Book Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sirthomariley
Steampunk Empire: http://www.thesteampunkempire.com/profile/NickValentino
Stephen's suggestion: Now that you know a little more about Nick, pick up a copy of Thomas Riley today and enter his steampunk world today!
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Truly, Scott Sandridge is one of the most colorful characters that you will encounter on the Convention Circuit. A very talented speculative fiction author, Scott has incredible endurance as a panelist, having gone into double figures before in terms of the number of panels he has participated in at a single Con. In fact, that is how I first met Scott, back in 2009, at ConText, an outstanding literary Con based in the fine city of Columbus, OH.
Having come to know Scott much more since, I can say that he is big-hearted, uninhibited, sometimes capable of controversy, and definitely the kind of guy that exercises his First Amendment rights with gusto. Without a doubt, he is very dedicated to his journey as an author, from the innovative use of podcasting for his Silverblade Prophecy, to his determination and fortitude. While it is true that he is a lively character in one sense of the word, he exhibits strong character in another sense, in an area that means more than all the flashy credentials that can be packed into a bio.
To cite just two examples, he came by bus for a convention that I was also attending. He carried his sleeping bag, changes of clothes and other essentials, with him around the Con, prepared to crash wherever he could for the night after the day's activity was done. He did all of this in order to honor his panel committments, despite being under great financial strain due to the horrid economy and an all-too-long stretch of unemployment he was dealing with. As always, he was very gracious in helping and being supportive of other writers, and he was an excellent panelist all through the weekend, in a very active panel schedule. You couldn't tell for a moment that he was wrestling with quite a few hardships at the time. He was a pro who soldiered onward with a smile on his face.
In another case during this general time, he once again came by bus, and, needless to say, without much in his pocket, to an out of town book signing that I was at. It was my first bookstore appearance in that town, and Scott came to the event just to make me feel welcome and keep me company, understanding, as a fellow small press author, how difficult and lonely it can be going into a new town and store as a small press author.
I could not be happier to have a chance to introduce this fine fellow to new potential readers, and I think that the following interview, within the responses, reflects the kind of true character that Scott Sandridge is, and a little about the kind of true character that Scott Sandridge has.
-Stephen Zimmer, for the Seventh Star Press Blog, January 13, 2011
SZ: Tell us a little about your published work as a writer.
SS: I've had over 20 short stories published in various webzines, print magazines, and anthologies ranging from Fantasy, Horror, and Science fiction. I've also been a reviewer for Tangent Online, The Fix, and Withersin. My list of Street Creds can be found here: http://smsand.wordpress.com/bibliographyor-wheres-your-street-cred
SZ: Is there a genre that you love writing in the most?
SS: I prefer Fantasy over Science Fiction, mostly because my understanding of science always seems a step behind the other SF writers. Also Fantasy allows me to incorporate my chief love of ancient history, myths, and ancient religions. But even my Fantasy tends toward the dark side (Hey! Why didn't Palpatine recruit me instead of that wussy mama's boy? Damn you, Emperor!), so most of my stories have an element of Horror in them. And when it comes to my actual Horror stories--I've been told I'm one sick puppy....
SZ: What kinds of themes do you most like to explore in your work?
SS: It varies with my mood, and the themes within my work are often a subconscious endeavor. Over the years I've tackled themes ranging from redemption to betrayal, freedom vs. enslavement, the realization that the world doesn't operate in the way you had once thought, to the pros and cons of religion, science, and philosophy.
But then my Evil Twin will come up with a sordid, macabre tale just for fun. It's a Gemini thing. ;)
SZ: You are also an editor. What was your experience like being a managing and submissions editor for Double-Edged Publishing?
SS: I've gained a ton of respect for all the hard work editors have to go through along with the understanding that rejection slips truly aren't personal. Sometimes you have to reject a story you actually like because of lack of funds, doesn't fit the theme you're gunning for, doesn't fit the particualr market niche the magazine is targeting, etc.
And just as writers must develop a thick skin to handle rejections and
bad reviews in a professional manner, editors must also develop a thick skin as well for those rare occasions when you have to deal with an asshat. As an example, any writer who gets pissed off over feedback received by an editor and his team--to the point where said writer refers to said editor's slush readers as "retards"--then said writer no longer has any right to complain about editors not giving feedback.
SZ: Are you tackling any editing projects now, in terms of anthologies or novels? And do you work as a freelance editor?
SS: No projects right now, but there might be a couple coming up in the near future. ;)
I've worked as a freelance editor off and on, plus other freelance work like SEO writing, etc. But I've yet to reach a point where I can do it full time without also needing a regular dayjob. As far as freelancing goes, I'd much rather proofread and edit freelance. Aside from an occasional nonfiction article, I'm primarily a fiction writer--it's what I love.
SZ: How has being an editor helped you as a writer? And vice-versa?
SS: I can spot my mistakes more easily now....*shudders*
It also helps you gain a better perspective on market factors, etc., which then translates into better chances of targeting the right markets with your work, which increases your chances of getting a story published. Also, the rejection slips don't hurt anywhere near as much anymore.
SZ: Tell us a little about how you came about your podcast fiction project, and how it has gone for you in terms of gaining you new readers of your print work?
SS: As far as my podcast novel projects (The Silverblade Prophecy can be found here: http://pankea.wordpress.com/the-silverblade-prophecy-book-i-of-the-messiahs-war-trilogy
and here: http://sbp.mevio.com), you can blame The Snarky Avenger, Taylor Kent(http://thesnarkyavenger.com), for making the suggestion that I podcast my novel out. Overall, it was a good idea--over a third of the novel were originally a collection of short stories, and the blend of Epic Fantasy with Dark Fantasy and Horror makes it a hard sell to begin with (after all, where do you put it on the bookstore shelf?).
Since putting it out, it's had over 15,000 downloads and counting, so people are definitely listening to it. I've even had some feedaback--ranging from "It's boring!" to so-so to "AWESOOOOMMMMEEE!!!!!". But I have no idea how many readers it's gained me. All of my published work has been in magazines and anthos,so how much my stories have contributed to those sales is unknown to me. But I'm pretty sure my 2 1/2 fans have read them. ;)
SZ: What do you think life will be like in the near future for small press and self-published authors, in terms of the state of the industry? I want to ask this answer in two parts.
SZ: First, the positives:
SS: The Internet has provided at least a competitive, if not even, playing field in regards to promotion, etc., that allows the small press and self-publisher to compete against the big boys--the first time in human history this has ever been possible. And it doesn't take much to become internet savvy enough to take advantage--just a basic understanding of Keywords and SEO.
Still, nothing beats physical face-to-face interaction with fans, other writers, and editors/publishers, so that part of the business will never change.
SZ: Second, and feel free to be candid, the negatives:
SS: Internet 2.0, need I say more?
Whatever negatives that exist with the Internet in it's current form is nothing compared to what will happen if the Telecom companies, or the government, succeed in their plans to censor and/or control the information on the Internet. While we should certainly remain vigilant to their schemes, I personally don't think they'll succeed. The People have had a taste of the freedom the Internet provides and won't let that go quietly. In short: you can't stop the Signal.
Eventually, it'll get to the point to where no government on Earth can keep secrets from their own citizens, let alone from each other, and I see that as a good thing. Only darkness need fear the light of knowledge.
SZ: I met you at ConText, where you were doing a zillion panels. What are your records for doing panels at a Con? Total and panels back to back on a single day?
SS:Not counting author signings? 11 total at MARcon in 2010 for all three days. But at 2009's Context the mass autograph signing also doubled as a panel so I did 6 panels in a row on that day, which was also the most number of panels in a single day. At 2010's Context, they probably felt I needed a break from superpaneling, so they only gave me five for all three days. I certainly don't recommend anyone to do so many panels at a single convention, it can wear you out big time. I just do it because I'm a masochist, and my Evil Twin likes to watch me suffer. ;)
SZ: What, in your opinion, are the best opportunities that good Cons offer
SS: A chance to meet others in the field, and to learn from their advice. If you go only to "advance" your career, well, good luck with that. I personally don't recommend it. Make friends with people first, and the opportunities will eventually present themselves.
And, for published writers, take a bit of time to hang out in the Gaming Room once in a while. It's fun to play board games with people who read your stuff. ;)
SZ: Will print and eBooks co-exist, or will it be a fully digital publishing realm?
SS:In the near future, they'll co-exist. While I like to be optimistic and believe that eventually all publishing will be digital, I doubt people will let go of their dead trees until after here's no more trees left to kill--and then there'll be no more us. Humans are funny like that.
But who knows? Maybe hemp will get legalized again and thus the trees can finally be saved. (hint, hint).
SZ: What are your current projects in fiction, in terms of what you are working on and what is on the horizon to be published?
SS: I put myself on a two month hiatus on fiction--something I sometimes do when I feel myself getting burned out. As much as I'd love to write all day, every day, my poor wee brain cells can't handle it. I sometimes need a vacation. That, and politics often sidetracks me (while also adding more fodder for my fiction writing--go figure).
I currently have the first two books of a trilogy to shop around to agents and publishers, and outlines for about half a dozen other novels, and ideas for a dozen or so more. I'm also running out of short stories to sell, so I need to write more of those as well. I'm also thinking about writing a short story collection of stories that take place in the same world as my current Messiahs War trilogy of podcast novels, involving characters--both major and minor--that appear in the trilogy.
And, of course, I'm still in the middle of producing The Messiahs War II: Emperor of Vangaard as a podcast novel (and try to get it finished before I move to Texas this February--erm, remind me to try and be more realistic with my self-made deadlines).
There is an anthology coming out, hopefully soon, with one of my flash fiction stories in it, featuring none other than Yavar Thain. The antho was supposed to have been released back in October,but it keeps getting delayed for some reason. It happens.
SZ: Where can people find you and your work online?
See? I managed to put that link in twice. I'm a self-promotion god!MWAHAHAHAHAAAAA!!!!!
But yeah, my blog, A Work In Progress (http://smsand.wordpress.com)
has everything you ever wanted to know about me and my
writing, but were afraid to ask. And, on occasion, a political rant
filled with expletive deleteds. ;)
The Silverblade Prophecy podcast novel
The Four Horsemen; Silver Moon, Bloody Bullets; Fem-Fangs, Dark Things II, & Dark Things V all available at Pill Hill Press: http://www.pillhillpress.com/shoppe-anthologies.html
Thursday, January 6, 2011
One of the fun things about doing what I do is coming across talented new authors, some of whom are very innovative in the way that they raise awareness about themselves. Being published independently, or by a small press, requires some creativity to promote your work in a realm where you do not have the big end caps at the bookstores, or huge marketing campaigns backed by a New York publishing house.
An author that compelled me to stop in my tracks was David J. Guyton, creator of the Legend of Reason Series, a burgeoning fantasy opus that includes two titles at this time, Mighty Hammer Down, and Blood and Bronze. David has an outstanding book trailer on YouTube, that as of the time of this article is nearing 50,000 hits.
While the trailer is incredible in quality and design, it is clear that he is making some waves with his books as well, as numerous outstanding reviews testify. Any negative reviews that I came across tended to take issue with the message content in his books, an area that David is very upfront about. It is very clear that David is effectively building a fanbase, one that is growing steadily.
David really intrigued me, and I decided to reach out to him to find out more about his work, his approach, and his future plans. I discovered him to be a really engaging person who does not hesitate to share the insights and lessons that he has gleaned along the way. Whether you agree with the kinds of messages that he integrates into his storyline or not, it is indisputable that he is committed to putting out quality work, and presenting it in the best manner possible(and a very innovative one). I have an immense respect for that kind of committment, because it shows the depth of care that he has about his work. He's got a very healthy, winner's attitude, and his approach is something that many aspiring authors and published authors can learn a great deal from.
So now, let's introduce David J. Guyton, fantasy author, and explore his Legend of Reason Series!
-Stephen Zimmer, for the Seventh Star Press Blog, January 6, 2011
(David J. Guyton, fantasy author)
SZ: What is your background as a writer, and when did you feel that you were ready to make it your career?
DJG: I had always flirted with the idea of writing, but I wasn't serious about it until 2006. At that time I finally felt I had something to say to the world and I was ready to begin writing. It all poured out much easier than expected, and in about eight months, my first novel was written. Although I can't say that writing is my only way to make money, I can say that it is what I consider my highest achievement.
SZ: Name a few of your own writing influences, especially from the fantasy genre.
DJG: This may come as a shock to readers, but I am not much of a fantasy reader myself. But I am a huge fan of Terry Goodkind, and I have enjoyed books by Raymond E. Feist and Tracy Hickman too. Most of the books on my shelves, however, are on physics, strategy or philosophy. Some of my favorites are Paul Davies, Nick Herbert, Einstein, Sun Tzu, De Saxe, Vegetius, Robert Greene, Plato, Descartes, and Paine.
SZ: Tell us a little about what your Legend of Reason series is about, in terms of setting, plot, characters?
My series has a sort of ancient Roman or DJG: Greek feel to it, but some cultures in the series are closer to a medieval or gothic feel. The characters are flawed, ordinary people who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances, as is typical in epic fantasy, but I tend to solve problems with logic and reason, and not with magic. The plot follows a man who has unknowingly become the new god of war, along with his companion Alana who is actually an assassin who tried to kill his father. But the story is meant to be an allegory for the political struggles between the left and right in America, and the enemies they are forced to face together.
SZ: Tell us a little about the themes that you are exploring in this series? Are there any aspects about fantasy as a genre that are particularly of help to you in this regard?
DJG: I think the fantasy genre offers an interesting way to explore ideas and offer different views. I love that I do not have to stay within the realms of physical law, painting a more colorful picture for the reader. I try to keep this to a minimum though, because I think a world that is too dominated by magic and creatures can be confusing and cause a distance between the reader and the core characters. As for themes, I cover philosophy, politics, religious extremism, good vs. evil, capitalism vs. socialism, illegal immigration, art, perspective, and more. I try to offer several points of view on each topic, but obviously my personal views become evident through the protagonist.
SZ: How many Legend of Reason books are planned in all? Do you have all the books mapped out already?
DJG: I don't have all of the books mapped out just yet. I have ideas and themes I want to address, but I sort of let the stories play out as I write, as opposed to planning them out beforehand. I do have a way I want to end the series though, so that much is planned. I am not sure of the number of books that will be in the series, but I would like to write something like five or seven.
SZ: When did you write the first book Mighty Hammer Down, and what path did you take to getting it published?
DJG:I finished Mighty Hammer Down in November of 2006. At first I tried to jump through all the right hoops to get the attention of an agent, but I quickly found out that it was a very tough road. I got many responses telling me that they loved the premise, but they were not looking for anything in the fantasy genre at the time. Publishers refused to take submissions from fantasy writers without agents, and agents were refusing to take submissions from writers who had never been published before. For two long years I fought that impossible system, and eventually I ended up publishing independently. I didn't like the idea at first, but now I wouldn't have it any other way. I have full control over all content and cover art, and that's exactly how I want it.
SZ: Was your second book easier or more difficult in terms of writing? Did the series take any unexpected turns when you moved into book 2, Blood and Bronze?
DJG: My first book was unexpectedly easy to write. When I got around to the sequel,it wasn't as easy to find the rhythm until about half way into it. For both books I tried to focus on character development, and also to discuss political ideas that fantasy readers might not be used to seeing in their normal reading. For my second book, I took a less political approach and offered a more philosophical argument about the nature of humankind. I didn't really intend for that to happen, but as I have grown over the years, the situations that have caused that growth have found a way into my writing. I try to entertain the reader with a good story, but I also want to present a situation where they actually have to think about their own lives.
SZ: What are some things that you did not expect or surprised you about the book world, in terms of being a professional author and the world of publishing, now that you have gotten deeper into everything?
DJG: I think what surprised me most is that publishing houses are very cold to unfamiliar writers or ideas. Several author friends of mine have extraordinary talent, and yet get no attention at all from publishers because they aren't already famous or their genre is a little outside of mainstream genres. I think this is a huge mistake for the publishers. I understand that they have a lot of bad writing to sift through to find the gold, but they are missing out on all the new talent and relying on the same old guard of published authors to put out new books. Eventually the readers are going to get bored of that. Luckily there are now options for writers of all genres to have their work read by the public.
SZ: Your presentation of your series is fantastic, from your website to the book trailer. Do you have a media or design background?
DJG: I do indeed have a background in art, although I am totally self-taught. I have been an artist my whole life, focusing mainly on traditional art such as drawing and painting, but that expanded into pretty much all areas of art after a while. I do all kinds of graphic art too, as well as my latest hobby, which is film and special effects.
SZ: How did the trailer come about? It is amazing!
DJG: The book trailer sort of snowballed into what it is today. Originally, I was working on a new website design, and I wanted a picture of a sword from my book to be on the home page, so I made it from clay and then made a mold and cast it in plastic. After a while the idea came to me to take some video footage of the sword instead of using a still picture, and then ideas just exploded. I became obsessed with creating a book trailer that looked like a movie trailer and I learned how to film and do costumes and props and special effects. I shot the live footage on a green screen in my kitchen, with a few shots being out in the back yard. The whole thing cost me only about $350, and that was mostly for materials for props. For the next trailer, I will be using professional lighting gear, as opposed to the halogen lights I used last time.
SZ: With almost 50,000 hits, can you tell us a little as to how you were able to get so many views, and do you have any gauge as to how it has helped in selling copies of your work? (many writers are very curious about the effect of a book trailer)
DJG: I wish I had a better idea of how my video got so many views so fast. All I did was put it on YouTube and started reaching out to friends in the YouTube community. The friendlier you are to people, the more willing they are to subscribe to you and hopefully share your video with others. Every now and then I come across a website that has my trailer embedded, so I guess people who like it advertize it for me. I think anyone who puts together a quality video will have similar effects. One thing to remember though is to steer clear of a lot of text (tough for a writer to do). People look at videos to watch things happen, not to read. Entertain the people and they'll help make your videos big. As far as book sales go, my trailer had an effect, but not as much as I was expecting. I am guessing there was maybe a 5%-7% increase in sales, but my real increases came when I released book two. So, my advice to writers is to focus on your writing, and not worry too much with a trailer. If you have the means to do it yourself, and make it look professional, by all means make it, but don't expect your sales to double or anything.
SZ: How have eBooks worked out for you, and do you see print and eBooks co-existing, or do you see print being completely replaced?
DJG: It's been an amazing thing to watch eBooks take off over the last few years. I really can't see paper books being totally replaced, but I will say that eBooks have been my core sales since the beginning. They are much easier to advertise, and people are far more likely to buy an eBook at 99 cents than a paperback for $10-$15 plus shipping. My paperbacks do show up in a few random bookstores but mostly people have to go to Amazon to get them, so paperback sales for me are not the greatest. The latest craze is eBooks, and I am thrilled to be part of that trend. My books are generally in the top 1 or 2% of Kindle book sales, which is not bad at all for an independent author.
SZ: What is on the horizon for you in 2011, writing-wise?
DJG: I will certainly be starting book three very soon. I won't force my fans to wait 2 years between books like last time! Once I begin, it will only be four months or so until book three is released. I will be filming a trailer for Blood and Bronze first though.
SZ: How do new readers connect with you online (website address, facebook,
etc). Give us your links!www.davidjguyton.com
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