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Weldon Writes ... Almost a Blog

The Escalating Market Battle Facing Small Indie Publishers

The current Smart Rhino Publications library!

Smart Rhino Publications just completed a Kickstarter campaign for the upcoming anthology, A PLAGUE OF SHADOWS. We reached 178% of our goal, which is absolutely fantastic! We can't thank our supporters enough.

But, you may ask, why a Kickstarter campaign at all? Well, truth be told, small indie publishers are having a rough time of it in today's market. Perhaps the market is overloaded. Perhaps fewer people are buying books. It could be any number of factors. In light of those difficulties, small publishers now have to revise their marketing strategies and find alternative ways to increase funding. Crowdfunding is one of those ways.

Many independent publishers have folded in the past few years for lack of funding and various other reasons. That in itself is sad. But, sadder still,  Read More 

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Jeff Menapace: The Success and Struggle

Jeff Menapace and his copy of ZIPPERED FLESH 3.

Jeff Menapace is a Philly-born horror/suspense author who has won acclaim for his best-selling Bad Games series of novels, among his other work in fiction and nonfiction. His novella Sugar Daddy was the 2011 recipient of the Red Adept Reviews Indie Award for Horror. His novel Numb, while containing some elements of horror, is a dark noir thriller sure to please readers of suspense. And Side Effects, a psychological thriller, introduces us to his series character FBI agent Maggie Allen.

And apparently, he longs to pet a lion!

 

Jeff is an approachable, amiable guy, and was more than willing to spend a few minutes with us to answer a few questions.



Your Bad Games trilogy has been quite successful, now optioned for future feature films. Not bad! Did you intend to write a trilogy from the start, or was it happenstance?

No way did I intend to write a trilogy from the start! I wrote book one and was able to land an agent with it (this was nearly 10 years ago) and he immediately asked me for a sequel, stating that pitching two books instead of the one would help land a publisher. So, I got hard at work on the sequel, completed it, gave it to my agent, and  Read More 

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Jack Ketchum: Master of Mayhem

It’s hard to believe that Jack Ketchum’s debut novel, Off Season, was released back in 1980. The controversial book, involving grotesque acts of cannibalism, immediately garnered fans in the horror world, even though the original publisher abandoned support for the novel. Today, the book is a classic in horror literature, and Jack his written more than 20 novels and novellas since then. He has won several Bram Stoker Awards, and five of his books have been produced as films—The Girl Next Door, Red, The Lost, Offspring, and The Woman.

Not surprising, Jack always has projects in the works, and has recently collaborated a good deal with director, writer, and actor Lucky McKee. I was thrilled that he was willing to take some time to answer a few questions.


You’ve had a fruitful relationship with Lucky McKee, including the recent collaboration, The Secret Life of Souls. How did you two hook up, how did it come about?

Lucky knew about my stuff and wanted to option Red for himself to direct and The Lost for his buddy Chris Sivertson and by way of introduction he sent me a copy of May. I’d just returned from some Con or other with a stack of what turned out to be amateurish, bad DVDs from various people, and waiting on my desk was a DVD by this guy named Lucky, so I figure, after watching half a dozen of these things, this has gotta be more of the same. I mean, the guy’s name is Lucky.’ So after a week or so I get to feeling guilty and watch the rest of this drek, and the last one I watch is May. Good grief! this is the real deal! Brilliant movie! So I get hold of my agent and tell her let's get back to him right away, he wants to option Red and The Lost if the price is anywhere near right, he’s got ’em. Turned out Luck and I are simpatico as all hell, very much on the same page as to what we want from our stories, our people, our themes. So we decided to work together on some original pieces. Which turned out to be The Woman, I’m Not Sam, and The Secret Life of Souls, with a couple of short pieces in the bargain.

You’ve used a number of pseudonyms, particularly when you were writing for men’s magazines early on. For new writers, what are the pros and cons of using pseudonyms, from your experience?

I don’t see any cons, really. After a short while  Read More 

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Meet Horror Writer & Ferret Lover Jezzy Wolfe

Jezzy Wolfe is an author of dark fiction, with a predilection for absurdity. A lifelong native of Virginia Beach, Jezzy lives with her family and quite a few ferrets. Her poems and stories have appeared in such ezines and magazines as The World of Myth, The Odd Mind, Twisted Tongue, Support the Little Guy, and Morpheus Tales. She has also been published in various anthologies, such as Graveside Tales’ Harvest Hill, The Best of the World of Myth: Vol. II, Library of the Dead’s Baconology, Western Legends' Unnatural Tales of the Jackalope--and, of course, several Smart Rhino anthos. We love her style!

Jezzy was a founding member of Choate Road.com and at one time cohosted the blogtalk radio shows “The Funky Werepig” and “Pairanormal.” In addition to her brand of humor and horror fiction, she maintains both a blog and storefront for ferret owners and lovers, known as FuzzyFriskyFierce. Visit Jezzy on her author’s blog at jezzywolfe.wordpress.com, on her ferret blog at FuzzyFriskyFierce.wordpress.com.

Jezzy was more than happy to spend a few minutes to talk with us. Enjoy!


You've written three short stories for Smart Rhino (“Locks of Loathe” in Zippered Flesh, “Luscious” in Zippered Flesh 2, and “Agnus Dei” in Insidious Assassins). And your story, "All Will Turn to Gray," will appear in Zippered Flesh 3. Do you find writing horror fiction more rewarding than other writing? Why horror?

Horror challenges me. I gravitate to it, like a delicious, freshly brewed pot of coffee. Horror gets your pulse racing (also like a delicious, freshly brewed pot of coffee). It reminds you to be grateful for being alive ... and for not being one of the unlucky schmucks you're reading about. I am personally fascinated by what is not known and not seen--things mysterious and sometimes beyond comprehension. Supernatural tropes really grab my attention. Slashers freak me out as well, simply because they are often in very plausible scenarios. But I do not feel it is an easy fit for me, as I'm the dork who goes to the theater and laughs at the jump scares, and makes silly comments. It's knee-jerk. Maybe it's a response to fear (although you will find that I'm not the bastion of wit and humor when I'm walking through a haunted house attraction). So when I can manage to produce a story that is legitimately creepy and unsettling, I am a bit surprised. As well as giddy. In that way, I do find horror more rewarding, because it is against my nature, and therefore more an act of discipline.

Your humor always impressed me as snarky. Well, maybe not snarky—unique and dark. Do you consciously incorporate humor into your writing? Or does it happen naturally?

I have to fight to NOT be a smart-ass when I'm writing. And that's almost precisely what it is. I'm that way off screen as well, constantly making wisecracks. There are things I've written where I gave myself permission to be as ridiculous as I wanted, and those particular projects are more comedy than horror. Perhaps something akin to really enthusiastic bizarro, even. But if I want to produce something that really chills the reader,  Read More 

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An Interview with JM Reinbold, Founder of the Written Remains Writers Guild

JM Reinbold is the Founder and Director of the Written Remains Writers Guild, located in Delaware but with a membership that extends beyond the state. JM is a champion of all writers, and developed the Guild as a teaching/learning and networking environment for professional (and semi-professional) writers in various genres.

Smart Rhino Publications published the anthology Someone Wicked: A Written Remains Anthology back in 2013, highlighting not only the work of members but the fiction of selected friends of the organization. Smart Rhino will also publish another Written Remains anthology, A Plague of Shadows.

JM agreed to answer some questions for us regarding the Guild--and we hope you'll learn something from her dedication to the writing profession!


What was the genesis of the Written Remains Writers Guild? What exactly does "written remains" mean?

Way back in 1995, a year before I graduated from Neumann University, I founded the Written Remains as an open writers group so that writers I’d met and worked with in college could continue to meet after we graduated. The name--The Written Remains--has a dual meaning. First: It refers to the written word. Written words remain in some form, physical or digital, long after the author of those words has departed this world. Second: The Written Remains refers to the grand visions of stories that exist in writers’ minds and what actually appears on the page are the written remains of those grand visions.

Someone Wicked is actually the second Written Remains anthology, and a third anthology is in the plans, another Smart Rhino publication? What are your chief intentions for publishing stories by Guild members?

Our members are all accomplished writers. Some are under-published and, if not under-published, then their work hasn’t always received the attention and recognition it deserves. My chief intention in publishing stories by our Guild members is  Read More 

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Austin Camacho Talks About the Creatures, Crimes, and Creativity Conference

Austin S. Camacho is the author of five novels in the Hannibal Jones Mystery Series, four in the Stark and O’Brien adventure series, and the detective novel Beyond Blue. His short fiction has been published in a number of anthologies. He started the publishing company, Intrigue Publishing, in 2012. The man is incredibly busy!

Austin is also the chief organizer behind the Creatures, Crimes, & Creativity conference (C3). I've attended the conference for the last three years, and will be attending again this year. C3 is being held this year on September 8 - 10 at the Sheraton Columbia Town Center in Columbia, MD. The conference brings together readers and writers of all genre fiction, including mystery, suspense, thriller, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal fiction. This year, expect to see Jeffery Deaver, John Gilstrap, Jonathan Maberry, and many other esteemed writers.

Austin loves to talk about the conference and its success. He was happy to give us a few minutes to answer a few questions.

What inspired you to first start C3, knowing how much was involved in the planning?

For years, we enjoyed small regional mystery writer/fan events like Love is Murder in Chicago and Magna Cum Murder in Indianapolis. We never understood why there wasn’t one like them in the Mid-Atlantic States with so many great writers. We actually asked the Love Is Murder team if we could do a spinoff Con patterned after theirs – Love is Murder East. When that plan fell through, we decided to pretty much do it anyway, under a different name. They had opened to all crime fiction (thrillers, horror, and suspense) and, since I knew a lot of those writers who were dabbling in sci-fi, fantasy and paranormal, we opened the aperture even further.

What would you tell folks who are debating on attending? What should they expect?

If they’re writers, I’d tell them there’s no better promotional or networking opportunity. The chance to learn from the masters is priceless. It’s a chance to speak on panels to an interested crowd without the expense of Thrillerfest or the giant mob at Bouchercon. You get to chat with fans and other authors at the meals – which are all included in the registration fee. They’ll be part of two huge book signings, both open to the public. They’ll be able to get a professional, videotaped interview  Read More 

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Print Books Are Not Dinosaurs ... Yet

For the past few years, digital devices and e-books have gained great popularity in schools and homes—and most school-age children have access to the technology. Smartphones and iPads proliferate in many of our schools. Many educators believe that print books will soon become obsolete—or at least decrease in use—as children mature in a world ruled by technology.

Yet, so far, this hasn’t been the case. According to Scholastic’s 2015 Kids & Family Reading Report, the print book is not dead yet. Most students have read an e-book—61% in 2014 compared with 25% in 2010. However, for students ages 6–17, print books are still preferred—65% compared with 60% in 2012, and 77% who had read e-books said that the majority of books they read (especially for pleasure) were in print.

A preference for print books may be a growing trend in our society overall. According to the Association of American Publishers, e-book sales have steadily declined since 2012. Comparing AAP survey results from January 2015 and January 2016, sales of paperback books grew 4.3%, while e-book sales declined 24.9%. (However, in the same period, sales of hardback books fell 18.7%.)

According to a 2015 survey of librarians by the School Library Journal, 56% of schools in the U.S. reported that they include e-books in their libraries, but only 6% of librarians reported a high student interest in e-books. Their observations show that, while students may use e-books for research and school projects, they prefer print books for pleasure reading. They appear to prefer a book “in hand”—there is an apparent physical, tactile element to reading.

This seems also to be true for college students. A new study, recently reported in Tech Times, indicated that 92% of those surveyed preferred print books over e-books. Interestingly, of those who preferred e-books, many expressed concern over the environmental consequences of publishing paper books.

Our teachers use digital books in their classrooms more and more. The next generation of students, taught how to use technology at an early age and now entering our lower schools, may change reading habits. But it’s too early to tell if they will have a greater affinity for e-books. So we are left to wonder how trends will change in the future of education. Most likely, students (and ultimately adults) will develop the ability to use both mediums—print and electronics—for accessing information and enjoying the “fun” of reading. Perhaps this dual ability will positively affect the literacy of our students.

But it’s clear from current research that print books are far from extinction.

First published in The Source for Private School News, Vol. 16, No. 3.


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Meet Bram Stoker Award Finalist James Dorr

Indiana writer James Dorr’s The Tears of Isis was a 2014 Bram Stoker Award® nominee for Superior Achievement in a Fiction Collection. His other books include Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance, Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret, and his all-poetry Vamps (A Retrospective). Also be on the watch for Tombs: A Chronicle of Latter-Day Times of Earth, a novel-in-stories due for release from Elder Signs Press in spring 2017. Dorr, an Active Member of HWA and SFWA, has seen his work published in more than 500 publications, from "Alfred Hitchcock's Magazine" to "Xenophilia."

If you're familiar with Smart Rhino's anthologies (and we certainly hope you are!), you may remember his stories "The Wellmaster's Daughter" in Uncommon Assassins, and "Labyrinth" in Insidious Assassins. His story "Golden Age" will be published in Zippered Flesh 3, now in production.

James was happy to spend a few minutes to talk with us. Enjoy!

Your book The Tears of Isis was a Bram Stoker Award finalist in 2014 for the fiction collection category. Your stories have appeared in many anthologies, including Smart Rhino's Uncommon Assassins, Insidious Assassins, and the upcoming Zippered Flesh 3. Do you prefer the short form over writing novels? What's the allure for writing short stories?

Allan Poe wrote in his essay, “The Poetic Principle,” that “a poem deserves its title only inasmuch as it excites, by elevating the soul.” So, a true poem must necessarily have a certain brevity. “That degree of excitement which would entitle a poem to be so called at all, cannot be sustained throughout a composition of any great length. After the lapse of half an hour, at the very utmost, it flags--fails--a revulsion ensues--and then the poem is, in effect, and in fact, no longer such.” There are such things as epics, of course. But to Poe, despite the need for unity for a work as a whole, such a work in practice becomes a series of shorter poems, though perhaps not so much through the fault of the poet as that of the reader.

Nevertheless, I think I agree with what Poe is getting at-- Read More 

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Armand Rosamilia Talks About Horror

Armand Rosamilia knows quite a bit about horror writing. His work has appeared in many publications, including his story, "Creeping Death," in the Smart Rhino anthology Zippered Flesh: Tales of Body Enhancements Gone Bad! He's also written a good many novels, including his Dying Days series, Chelsea Avenue: A Supernatural Thriller, Middletown Apocalypse, Dirty Deeds, and others. We were thrilled to have a chance to talk with Armand about one of his favorite topics--horror writing.

Zombies seem to be the rage, especially with the success of The Walking Dead TV series. You've written a good deal of zombie fiction, particularly in your Dying Days books. What do you think is the appeal?

It depends on the person. Some readers love zombie fiction because it is a mirror held up to society. Some think it foreshadows our future. Some think it is an analogy for the way the world is today, and is falling apart. For me, I just think zombies are really cool. I love reading about them and, as a kid, I loved watching zombie movies. So I can see the entertainment value of them first and foremost.

You're an incredibly prolific writer. Where do the creepy, often bizarre ideas come from?

I read a lot. Always have. Dean Koontz books started me on this journey at 12. I read mostly nonfiction now and watch Discovery Channel Investigation shows. The real horror is all around us,  Read More 

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Talking with Chantal Noordeloos, Author of Coyote the Outlander

Chantal Noordeloos lives in the Netherlands, where she spends a lot of time arguing with characters (aka writing). In 1999, Chantal graduated from the Norwich School of Art and Design, where she focused mostly on creative writing. There are many genres that Chantal likes to explore in her writing. Currently steampunk is a focus of hers, leading her to write her Coyote novels about a female bounty who faces bizarre challenges.

But Chantal's "go to" genre will always be horror. "It helps being scared of everything. That gives me plenty of inspiration," she says.

Chantal is one of Smart Rhino's favorite writers, and we always enjoy talking with her. She gladly provided the following interview--which captures much of her inherent wackiness. Enjoy!


Your Coyote novels, Coyote the Outlander and Coyote: The Clockwork Dragonfly, are uniquely steampunk. Coyote is a strong and fascinating heroine. How much of Coyote is Chantal?

Ha! You caught me there. There’s quite a lot of me in Coyote, more so than any other character I’ve written so far. I think that also has a lot to do with that she’s an old role-play character of mine, from back in the days that we played Dead Lands.

There are a great deal of differences, of course. I can’t shoot a gun to save my life (in all honesty, I would more likely shoot myself than an opponent) and even if I could, I don’t think I’d have it in me to kill anyone. In a fight of flight situation … well, let’s just say I do the worst … I freeze. *cringes*

So, not so much the heroic bounty hunter, more the useless cannon fodder. If the *insert scary monster here* Apocalypse should ever happen, I would be among the first to die—and I probably won’t even die with dignity.

But at least I get to live vicariously through Coyote, right? Right? *bites lip*

Where I think we’re similar, she and I, is that Coyote has my zany outlook on life, and my sense of humor. One could argue that all characters I write have "my sense of humor" since, ehm … I wrote them, but that’s not exactly true. There is a difference between what I write and how I am in real life—there are plenty of characters I’ve written where I thought: "Dude, wtf is wrong with you?" Not sure what that says about my own mental state, but there you have it.

Coyote reflects how I feel about subjects such as inequality.  Read More 

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