Through Thom Tinted Lenses

March 8, 2012

DEAD MAN’S FIRE Chapter 1

Filed under: Book Reviews,books,entertainment,publishing — Thom Reese @ 5:44 am
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In today’s blog I’ve posted Chapter 1 of my first Marc Huntington thriller, Dead Man’s Fire, which is now available. I hope you enjoy.

 

DEAD MAN’S FIRE

 

Chapter 1

 

Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Boarding the yacht wasn’t the problem. Boarding without detection, sneaking below deck, stealing the priceless Cobra of Cyrus, then fleeing undetected, that was the problem. Recovery specialist, Marc Huntington – Hunt, to those who knew him well – rose quietly out of the cool, dark water and ascended three steps up the dive ladder located at the aft of the seventy-six foot motor yacht named The Lady of the Cape. Dana, his wife and partner, would remain in their rented, much smaller, craft unless needed. I.e., unless Hunt was discovered. Hunt was hoping Dana could stay off of the yacht for this particular operation.

“Do be careful,” she’d said in that irresistible British lilt of hers. “I don’t fancy a ruckus. We do have dinner reservations at ten.”

Hunt had chuckled. “No ruckus. I promise. Heaven help me if I ruin our dinner plans.”

“It’s at De Kelder!” laughed Dana with mock indignation. “The waiting list is a week at best.”

“I’m a Midwest boy. You sure we can’t just catch a burger?”

“Oh, you are horrible,” she’d laughed, smacking him lightly on the rump as he’d prepared to enter the water.

“I do what I can,” smiled Hunt.

“Love you,” she’d said with a peck to his cheek.

“Love you too,” he’d said before finding her lips with his own.

Baruti and Abri Lekota, the owners of this floating Shangri-La, were attending a dinner engagement on another yacht docked roughly a quarter of a mile distant in another birth at the Algoa Bay Yacht Club. They were not due back for at least two hours. Unfortunately, this did not mean that the craft was unattended. Based on his research, Hunt knew that two guards were to be stationed, one fore and one aft. He also knew that they were rarely at their appointed stations. Often the two simply lounged on the forward deck, playing poker, and scoping out bikinis on neighboring vessels. Fortunately, this was the case as Hunt peered onto the bare deck, illuminated now only by the sliver of a moon. Even so, Hunt needed to act with care. The guards, seemingly lackluster or not, were former military and heavily armed. Being spotted could have deadly consequences.

Though the Lekota’s were quite wealthy, and the yacht well stocked with fineries, until now, it had not housed a rare artifact worth millions. Hunt had been surprised that they’d not increased security all the more since taking hold of the piece. Surprised, but not disappointed. From what Hunt had read Baruti Lekota was a man whose ego was so large as to dismiss any thought that someone could possibly have the gall to come aboard and take his property.

Hunt was fine with taking the man down a notch or two.

Besides, the cobra wasn’t even his property. It had been stolen some six weeks prior from Sir Edmond Graham Foliar of Cheshire England. The authorities had been unsuccessful in locating the relic, and so Sir Foliar had offered a generous reward. Hunt wanted the reward money, and had subsequently tracked the cobra to this yacht. Nice and neat, the way he liked it. Now all he needed to do was secure the prize and slip off the boat without being detected.

The plan was for Dana to motor over to the yacht and chat up the guards with nonsense about being a tourist on holiday in Port Elizabeth. Her rather colorful east London accent and bubbly personality would likely entertain them while Hunt slipped aboard and made off with the treasure undetected.

That was the theory at least.

Dana considered the plan simplistic and droll. This, thought Hunt, was how Dana saw most of his plans. But, simplicity, he had learned, was a considerable weapon. An overly complicated plan made improvisation difficult when everything went deep south. And, in truth, that was where most plans went. Anyone with field experience knew that a plan was merely a starting point; ingenuity, decisiveness, and quick action brought you home alive.

It was mid-evening, eight pm local time, and Hunt’s body clock had still not clicked over from Pacific Time U.S. But the water was cool, the breeze refreshing, and he was counting on an adrenaline kick to see him through. Truly, it wasn’t so much the jetlag that got him as it was the idiot medication he took to stave the ferocious migraine headaches that had plagued him since the explosion on that final day in Iraq.

Hunt’s gut tightened as he heard the single outboard engine approaching from the east, and then the subtle swish of water against fiberglass as Dana cut the engine and coasted lazily toward The Lady of the Cape. It was show time and that meant nearly anything could happen. “Hallo! Do either of you gentle-men speak English?” he heard Dana say. They both did. Hunt and Dana had done their research. Though, IsiXhosa was the most common language, English was used in international trade, and most of the wealthy – and their hired help – knew the language fairly well.

“I speak English,” shouted one of the guards. It was the guard on the star-board side, the heavier and, most likely, less agile of the two.

“I’m a bit befuddled,” said Dana. “Just in from out of town and all that.” Hunt smiled. She was playing up her cockney accent, drawing on her east London roots in an attempt to entertain the two. Her colorful vernacular was a treat, and it was one of the things Hunt loved about her, but, having attended Cambridge University on scholarship and then going through intense language and speech training with MI6, Dana could turn it on and off at will, often times distancing herself from her working class upbringing with precise and delicate verbiage. Queen’s English, she called it.

This was not one of those times.

“Blimey!” she said with ludicrous verve. “Do you blokes ‘ave a zoo in Port Elizabeth? I just love a good zoo. An‟ fish „n chips! All this water, you’d think there’d be bleedin’ fish „n chips on every corner.”

Liza Doolittle, eat your heart out.

Suppressing a chuckle, Hunt crept up the ladder and onto the deck.

“Bugger this! The wind’s kicking up,” chimed Dana. “Does the wind al-ways knock you about so?”

Five quick steps across the gently rolling deck and Hunt made the descending stairwell. Having memorized the floor plan and casually interviewed several close friends of the couple, Hunt knew exactly where to go. Once below, there was a small foyer-like area, followed by a hatch leading to the engine room. Hunt marched through this and to yet another hatch leading into the lush cabin, which could also be accessed from the forward side via a winding staircase. The room was spacious enough as far as cabins went: wood paneled walls, lush red carpeting, a Monet hanging above the headboard of the bed. But, like all offshore accommodations, it felt tight and ill-fitted to the unaccustomed. There was a queen sized bed directly before him now, a sink and a three sided closet to his right. Hunt made his way to the closet, opened it, and then knelt before the gunmetal gray safe on the floor.

Quickly, he removed a small leather case from his watertight backpack and, laying it on the carpeted floor, withdrew an E500XT electric lock pick, two picking needles, three tension tools, and a hex wrench. He could hear the two guards laughing at Dana from above – probably ogling her as well; the daughter of a British father and Vietnamese mother, her stunning Euro-Asian features, clear blue-violet eyes, silky black hair, and athletic physique, made her quite appealing to behold.

As a former Delta Force operative, Hunt had been a master lock pick, able to breach nearly any lock in under a minute, but his frequent headaches brought about by the bomb blast now made it difficult for him to concentrate on some-thing so detailed. In truth, with his considerable combat experience, Hunt would likely have been the better choice for taking out the guards should there be the need, leaving the lock picking in Dana’s expert hands, but he’d been bullheaded about it and so here he was.

Taking a long cleansing breath, Hunt narrowed his gaze, attempting to maintain focus. He nearly had it. Just a little twist and…

No.

Even with electronic equipment, he had trouble with the task. This wouldn’t have happened before Iraq.

Virtually nothing was the same as before Iraq.

Hunt angled his head so that his right ear – his only functioning ear – was toward the hatch. He could still hear the voices from above and forward, but had he just heard something aft, a subtle thump perhaps? He paused, listened, waited another moment longer. No. Nothing. Not at the moment at least.

Returning his attention to the safe, he adjusted the E500XT, and then paused. There it was again. Someone was approaching from the engine room. It was then that the figure appeared in the hatchway.

“Oh, bloody hell,” whispered the man, who, like Hunt, was wearing a drip-ping wetsuit. “This is just brilliant.”

No obvious weapon, casual stance, an easy grin, Hunt’s gut told him this man was not an immediate threat. Still, he rose to meet the man face-to-face, legs spread wide, slightly crouched at the waist, ready to spring. Gut instinct or no, he had to be prepared for the unexpected.

“Who are you?” asked Hunt, whispering as well. “You’re not on Lekota’s staff.” Still he scanned the man for sign of a weapon, while keeping a close watch on the intruder’s hands and eyes, the two most obvious tells of an impending attack.

The intruder chuckled. “Great. A yank. Well, genius, it appears that I – like you – am here for the Cobra of Cyrus. Dated 500 BCE, or so I’m told. Worth more than a shilling or two as well.”

Though tensed, and prepared for action, Hunt had to smile. “Perfect,” he said. “A thief.”

The man shrugged. “I prefer to think of myself as a liberator of fine property.” His sharp devilish eyebrows furrowed just then. It seemed he’d just had his first good look at Hunt. “My God, man. What happened to your face?”

Hunt shrugged. “Suicide bomber. Iraq. Things could have gone better that day.”

“Bloody well right they could have,” said the man, who, unlike Hunt, had not the slightest hint of disfigurement. He was perhaps thirty-five, lean, not as muscular as Hunt, but firm none-the-less. He had deep-set chocolate brown eyes positioned below two expressive black brows. His still-wet hair was jet black. Not a silver streak to be found. His mouth was broad, and seemed to seek occasion to offer a perpetual grin. “So, how are we going to handle this?” he asked, inclining his head toward the safe. “Mind if I have a crack. Seems the lock’s giving you a bit of a hitch.”

Hunt smiled. “Not a chance, buddy. I’m here first.”

“Well, yes, of course you were. But, you see, this isn’t grammar school. You can’t call dibs.”

It was then that both men heard running footsteps from above. “Great! You alerted the guards,” hissed Hunt.

“Me? I could hear you clattering about in here all the way from Wilshire.”

“Sounds like they split up. One coming from the fore, the other aft.”

“I’ll deal with the fore,” smiled the intruder. “As it seems you’re the bigger aft!”

Hunt groaned. The man’s humor was worse than his own. He might find he liked this guy. Without another word, Hunt moved to beside the engine room hatch. Yes, there was definitely someone coming. The guard had slowed some, apparently now deciding that stealth would serve him well. Hiding just within a small alcove adjacent the spiral stairs, the Brit had flattened himself against the wood paneled bulkhead, tensed and ready to spring. Hunt made eye contact. Both men nodded, grinned, and then it began.

Hunt had drawn the heavier of the guards – the one he’d assumed to be rather out of shape and less the threat for it. A quick roundhouse kick to the gut, an uppercut to the jaw, and the man dropped his weapon, a 9 mm Heckler & Koch MP5, a rather nasty weapon for routine security, thought Hunt. But, before Hunt could land another blow, two massive fists hammered down on the back of his neck. The man was much faster – much stronger – than anticipated.

Hunt fell to his knees, and continued directly into a roll, not allowing his opponent to land another blow. The weapon was only perhaps four feet distant, lying on the carpeting at the foot of the bed. But before Hunt could wrap his fingers about it, the guard’s booted right foot connected squarely just below his left ribcage.

Hunt tumbled to his right, arms instinctively cradling his belly as his face struck a bedpost.

Just then, the other guard careened into Hunt’s opponent, apparently tossed by the British thief. Impressive. It seemed the man had skills.

Still cradling his side with his right arm, Hunt rose unsteadily to his feet, ducked a rather vicious blow from the smaller guard, and was grabbed from behind by the larger man.

Hunt slammed an elbow into the man’s gut, twisted, pulled, and flipped the burly man over his right shoulder, sending him somersaulting onto the corner of the bed, where he bounced once and then tumbled sideways onto the floor with a prolonged grunt. Before he could lift his head or gain his bearings, the man was zapped with a Taser. Hunt glanced quickly around for the second guard only to find that he was already down, apparently tased as well.

Grinning, Hunt nodded at his wife – who still held the Taser – just as the thief said, “Dana?”

Dana’s eyes went wide. “Jonathan?”

“Wait,” said Hunt. “You know her?”

“Of course, I know her,” said the other. “Do you?”

“Yes!”

“Who are you?” asked both men simultaneously.

“I’m her husband,” answered both.

Hunt’s gaze slid from Dana to the thief and back again. “I think I’m missing something here.”

“I’m her husband,” repeated the man. “Who the bleeding hell are you?”

One of the guards quivered, jerked, and shuddered at Hunt’s feet. He ignored the man. “Dana?”

“Well, Jonathan’s an ex-husband, really,” she said with a bit of a huff.

“No, not exactly,” said the man called Jonathan as he gently ran his finger-tips across a rather large lump developing on his left temple.

“Fine points,” shrugged Dana.

“Okay, wait a minute,” said Hunt as he stepped squarely between the two. “This guy…”

“Jonathan,” said the man. “Jonathan Thorpe. Pleased to meet you.” Thorpe extended his hand, a gesture Hunt ignored.

“Okay, Thorpe here. You’re married to him?”

“Not any longer.”

“Again,” said Thorpe. “That’s not entirely…”

“We’re done, Jonathan. Bloody well deal with it,” snapped Dana. Thorpe held up his hands in a sign of surrender and backed up a step as Hunt faced Dana directly.

“So are you divorced or aren’t you?” asked Hunt.

“I’m legally married to you,” was her rather evasive response.

Hunt glared at her, a piercing pain developing in his gut. “And, yet you felt no compulsion to tell me that you’d been married before, that you may or may not be divorced?”

“It’s complicated.”

“That’s the best you can do – complicated?”

“Blimey, Hunt, what do you expect me to say?”

“Well, the truth comes to mind.”

The larger of the two guards groaned, shifted a bit, and made a feeble move toward his Heckler & Koch. Annoyed, Hunt gave him a swift kick to the gut and tossed the gun onto the bed.

“It happened while I was with MI6,” said Dana. “There are security issues, classified events and whatnot.”

“Security issues about your marriage? Dana, I’ve rolled with your cloak and dagger MI6 baggage until now, but do you really expect me to believe that you were forbidden to tell me about a previous marriage?”

“Hunt, can we please…” But, Dana never finished the sentence, for it was then that her eyes went wide. The argument had lasted less than a minute, but that was all the distraction Thorpe had needed to open the safe and retrieve the prize. Now he stood, the guard’s Heckler & Koch in his right hand, and the magnificent Cobra of Cyrus cradled under his left arm, its stunning ruby eyes glinting in the subtle artificial light and its silver coils seemingly wrapped around Thorpe’s forearm.

“Really, Jonathan? A gun? We both know you won’t shoot,” said Dana with a rather dramatic roll of the eyes.

“Oh, no. You, my dearest, I would never harm. But my replacement… Well, sorry chap. You seem like a good enough sort, but all’s fair and all that rot. Nothing personal.”

“Oh, it’s personal,” groused Hunt. “It doesn’t get much more personal.”

“Hmph,” shrugged Thorpe with a cheeky grin. “Well, yes, I suppose you’re right. But, as for now, I bid you adieu. And as for Frankenstein here, really, she is out of your league, man. You’ve got to know that.”

With that, he slowly crossed to the spiral staircase, being careful to keep the gun trained on Hunt even as he backed up the rounded stairs and out of sight.

When Hunt finally made the deck, he was just in time to see Thorpe pulling away in a dual engine speedboat. With a broad grin and an affable wave, the thief shouted, “Call me, dearest. We’ve loads of catching up.”

Hunt kicked a nearby torpedo buoy as he stared grimly at the retreating boat. Jonathan Thorpe had stolen the Cobra of Cyrus right from before his eyes. If only that had been the worst event of the day.

TO ORDER DEAD MAN’S FIRE CLICK http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320244/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1331211836&sr=8-4

Thom Reese is the author of DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS, and THE EMPTY. The second Marc Huntington novel, CHASING KELVIN, is due for release this spring. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

CHECK OUT MY SUPERNATURAL THRILLER, THE DEMON BAQASH, AT: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Baqash-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1309526541&sr=8-1

READ THE 1ST CHAPTER OF THE DEMON BAQASH: http://demonbaqash.wordpress.com/

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2012 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

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January 8, 2012

Thom Interviews Author T.W. Fendley


IN THIS POST:

 

Thom’s Happenings

Thom Interviews Author T.W. Fendley

Thom’s Happenings

Today’s blog features an interview with fantasy/science fiction writer T.W. Fendley, but before we move into our feature article I’d like to bring you up to speed on my current projects and releases. I’ve just completed work on my second Marc Huntington novel, CHASING KELVIN, which should be released late spring. The publisher of this series, Speaking Volumes, has asked me to continue with the series so there will be a third Huntington novel in 2013, and likely each year to come for the foreseeable future.

BIG NEWS! My first novel with publisher L & L Dreamspell, THE EMPTY, is due for release this month. The eBook version is now accessible at http://www.amazon.com/The-Empty-ebook/dp/B006UN0LJ6/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1325947161&sr=8-9  while print versions should be on sale within 1-2 weeks. I’m very excited about this book and am already plotting a sequel. THE EMPTY focuses on a people who have a faulty and incomplete genetic matrix and must infuse DNA from others – mostly from human sources, but sometimes animal as well. Some live among us, others on the outskirts of humanity in animal-like packs. This one is very special to me, and I hope you check it out.

And now…

 

An Interview with T.W. Fendley

T.W. Fendley writes historical fantasy and science fiction. While researching story ideas at the 1997 Clarion Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers’ Workshop, she fell in love with ancient American cultures. Her debut historical fantasy novel, ZERO TIME, was released in October 2011. She won the 9th NASFiC 2007 short story contest, and has a story in the Dreamspell Sci Fi Vol. 1 anthology. Fendley belongs to the St. Louis Writer’s Guild, Broad Universe and the Historical Novel Society.

Why don’t you start by telling me about your most recent release?

To put things in perspective, the title–Zero Time–refers to Dec. 21, 2012, when the Earth comes into alignment with the galaxy’s dark rift for the first time in 26,000 years. It’s also considered the end of the Mayan calendar cycle that began in August 3114 BCE. Here’s the book blurb: As Zero Time nears, only Keihla Benton can save two worlds from the powers of Darkness. But first she must unlock the secrets of Machu Picchu and her own past. 

You write historical fantasy. What genre(s) do you like to read?

Fantasy is currently my favorite, and I love books with a strong historical or scientific element. I’ve also enjoyed a lot of young adult books lately, and I’m a sucker for quirky. I used to read (and write) horror and traditional mysteries, but not so much anymore.

What draws you to historical fantasy?

I write historical fantasy and sci fi for the same reason I studied journalism and art in college–I wanted to be able to continue to learn and to express my creativity on a daily basis. Speculative fiction lets me do the research that I love, as well as follow where my imagination leads me.

What is your writing routine?

Truthfully, right now I’m out of my routine since I’m trying to get a handle on marketing. Generally, the first thing I do when I wake up is grab a cup of decaf coffee and write. I’m definitely a morning person.

Do you begin with plot or characters?

A concept or setting usually gets me started, then I figure out how to tell a story around it. That’s what happened when I read about the sex-chromosome drive in Matt Ridley’s book, GENOME. I thought, What if people had this disorder that causes 97 percent of the offspring to be female? That became the motivation for the characters in my book, ZERO TIME, to travel to Earth to try and save their race from extinction.  

Tell us about the characters in your most recent work.

Their names tell a lot about each of my characters, who are inspired by their mythic namesakes. For instance, Xmucane, the leader of the expedition to Earth in ZERO TIME, is the divine grandmother and daykeeper in Maya mythology. Keihla Benton is named after Quilla, the Inca moon goddess. As a modern woman, Keihla finds she must get in touch with her innate powers as a Daughter of Light.   

What are you currently writing?

My next project will be the sequel to ZERO TIME, which I actually started in 2010 during NanoWrimo. Additionally, Beta readers are reviewing my young adult fantasy, also set in Peru, called THE LABYRINTH OF TIME. It’s about two teenagers who telepathically receive messages left by an ancient race on engraved stones. Oh, and a hairless Peruvian dog named Boss Lady helps them on their quest.

What tips do you have for other aspiring writers?

Sit down and write. I tell myself that, too, when I get distracted. Join a writing group to help you stay focused and keep you striving for excellence.

What type of story do you most like to write? Why?

I like the juxtaposition of the imaginative with scientific, metaphysical or historical elements. If I’m going to spend from a month to a year working on a story, I want it to be something that fascinates me.

How did you get your start in writing? How did you land your first book contract?

I won my first writing awards in grade school from the Audubon Society for an essay on owls and from the TB Association for a story that featured a character I created named Timothy B. Mouse. For 25 years, I earned my living as a journalist and in corporate communications. I owe my first book contract to the 2010 Missouri Writers’ Guild conference. After pitching to agents and publishers there, I signed with L&L Dreamspell.

With the rise in eBook popularity, the publishing industry is in a state of change. What do you see as positives and negatives in this reformation?

Here are three of the reasons I like ebooks: First, they weigh less. Before ebooks, I lined the bottom of my suitcase with books when I traveled. Now I take my iPad. Second, since my iPad’s backlit, I’m less of a bother to my husband when I read in bed (every night). Third, authors earn about the same on ebooks as they do on print books, and readers pay a lot less–what’s not to like about that?! The negatives–I simply love my books! Most of the print books I buy are nonfiction because I don’t find ebooks as research-friendly, and I don’t want to rely solely on Google.

For more info, check out T.W.’s  website, www.twfendley.com or her blog at www.thewriterslens.com

www.twfendley.com
Zero Time, $4.99 in Kindle store!
Solar Lullaby, Dreamspell SciFi e-anthology – $2.99 in Kindle store!

 

Thom Reese is the author of DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS. Upcoming releases include the novels, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

Purchase THE EMPTY at http://www.amazon.com/The-Empty-ebook/dp/B006UN0LJ6/ref=sr_1_9?ie=UTF8&qid=1326026205&sr=8-9

Purchase DEAD MAN’S FIRE: A MARC HUNTINGTON ADVENTURE at http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-ebook/dp/B005L4I8TK/ref=sr_1_12?ie=UTF8&qid=1326030583&sr=8-12

CHECK OUT MY SUPERNATURAL THRILLER, THE DEMON BAQASH, AT: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Baqash-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1309526541&sr=8-1

READ THE 1ST CHAPTER OF THE DEMON BAQASH: http://demonbaqash.wordpress.com/

Copyright 2012 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

December 23, 2011

An Interview with Horror Author James Dorr

 IN THIS POST:

Thom’s Happening – Announcements, Specials, etc.

Thom Interviews Author James Dorr

Before we jump into our feature interview with author James Dorr, I’ll take a moment to bring you up to speed on some happenings. I’m very excited to announce that my next novel, THE EMPTY, is due out within the month. This deals with a race who have no genetic matrix of their own and must infuse DNA from others, both human and animal. Some are civilized and live among us, others are beastly and horrific. This one is very special to me.

I’m putting the final touches on CHASING KELVIN, the second in my Marc Huntington series. The first, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, was released this fall, and follows recovery specialists Marc and Dana Huntington as they track a missing scientist through the Amazon. Lots of action and twists.

And, for the holiday season, the eBook versions of my books, THE DEMON BAQASH, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS are on sale for only $4.99. http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-ebook/dp/B005L4I8TK/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1323524905&sr=8-13

For autographed copies of the print version, contact me a thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for ordering and pricing information.

 And now, an  Interview with author James Dorr

 James Dorr is a short story writer and poet with two collections, Strange Mistresses: Tales of Wonder and Romance and Darker Loves: Tales of Mystery and Regret, published by Dark Regions Press in 2001 and 2007, while his all-poetry Vamps (A Retrospective) has just come out in 2011 from Sam’s Dot Publishing.  Dorr is an active member of SFWA and HWA along with the Science Fiction Poetry Association, an Anthony (mystery) and Darrell (fiction set in the US Mid-South) finalist, and a multi-time honorable mention in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror with nearly four hundred individual publications from Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine to Xenophilia.  Also a sometime semi-professional musician and the keeper of a large rambunctious cat named Wednesday (for Wednesday Addams of The Addams Family) who plays with spiders, Dorr invites readers to visit his site at http://jamesdorrwriter.wordpress.com for up-to-date information and news.

Why don’t you start by telling me about your most recent release?

That would be Vamps (A Retrospective), an 84-page collection of poetry on vampires and things vampiric.  In all there are 75 poems, roughly a third of which are new to the volume, on vampires past, present, and future with illustrations by artist and poet in her own right Marge Simon.  As for the subject, vampirism is powerful stuff, representing the nexus of sex and death, birth and rebirth, eros and thanatos, spreading in one form or another to almost every nation and culture on Earth, although, to  be sure, the ones in Vamps tend mostly to European models and their American transplants.  Vamps is available as a trade paperback from Sam’s Dot (www.samsdotpublishing.com) for about the price of a modest pizza –- with blood sausage topping, of course. 

Vamps (A Retrospective) was published in August 2011 and I should mention I have another book, Vanitas, that came out the same month as an electronic chapboook from Untreed Reads Publishing (www.untreedreads.com).  This is a longish short story that was initially published in Alfred Hitchcock’s in January 1996 and is also reprinted in print form in my Strange Mistresses collection. 

What is your writing routine?

This is a hard one to answer because basically I’m an undisciplined person.  I also tend toward procrastination so I like to do actual writing when I have a reasonably large block of time I can set aside, often on weekends, since once I actually get myself started I’m usually reluctant to stop until physical tiredness starts to enter in.  That said, I’m not idle at other times though, often spending evenings researching a story in progress or searching for ideas for the next.  Then there’s reading email which brings in the business side of the racket, submitting stories and poems, writing cover letters, proofreading galleys when things are accepted, and otherwise keeping the process moving.   

Do you begin with plot or characters?

This is also hard to say because some stories come out one way, some another.  In the past I probably would have said plot –- and I think, when we start out most writers do well to actually outline events in a story, however informally -– but nowadays it gets more complicated.  Usually I’ll start out with an idea, an image perhaps, or a phrase, or lately sometimes a poem that I might have written some months back.  Then I’m likely to get a notion of the character(s) the idea might work with, but at the same time I’m also exploring where and how the story might end –- where the idea is taking me toward.  And then I try to find the beginning point, after which I look for that block of time I mentioned above, power up the computer, and sit down and write.   

Tell us about the characters in your most recent work.

Characters in a poetry book?  Why, yes.  The vampiress Annchuck — who made her debut in my very first stand-alone book, a poetry chapbook called Towers of Darkness that came out in Nocturnal Publications’ “Night Visions” series in 1990 — joins with Max Schreck, Bela Lugosi, “Guillemette” (née Mina Murray), Nadja, Nikki (who flies), a modern Medusa, a tourist who meets “Cape Man” in France (“…he had a tendency to change the subject when I asked him what he did.  Eurotrash, I suppose”), a competitive runner who races the sun, a woman who dreams of someday winning the Galactic Lottery, several survivors (more or less) of unusual dates, a baseball fan who dotes on night games, a modern Carmilla who also loves jazz, and a future version of Kipling’s vampire (“a rag and a bone and a hank of hair”), these are some of the beings who populate Vamps (A Retrospective).  And might I mention again that Marge Simon even provides pictures of some of these –- including one who’s not specifically mentioned in the book, the cover portrait based on the early twentieth century movie “vamp” Theda Bara.   

Then in Vanitas there’s Caleb Rushton, a one-time sailor who came to the New England town of Vanitas and became its church sexton, choirmaster Petro Mezzoni whose dream was to construct a steam-powered organ, the Reverend Hawkings, church elders, the members of a doomed traveling circus, and, lest one forget, the female-formed wraith some townspeople saw on the roof of the church. 

What are you currently writing?

It’s kind of funny, but one thing I write almost every year at about this time is a Christmas story.  It’s often not a very nice one –- I do write horror — but Christmas is a source of ideas in that it’s the largest holiday of the year and, especially for a horror writer, suggests an instant contrast with the joy we’re supposed to show on the outside and whatever our innermost, real feelings may be.  However the market is limited to a narrow time period and lots of people write holiday tales so it’s understood they’ll be a hard sale, and I count myself lucky if I sell one in a given year -– many years they won’t sell at all.  Last year, for instance, I did place one, “The Christmas Vulture,” in issue 3 of Untied Shoelaces of the Mind.  But then came 2011 and I have at least three either just published or about to come out this December (depending on when exactly this interview appears), “Naughty or Nice” in  Daily Science Fiction, I’m Dreaming Of A… as an electronic chapbook from Untreed Reads (that is, the same outfit that published Vanitas last August), and “Mr. Claus” in the print anthology WTF?! by Pink Narcissus Press, plus a Christmas poem, “Expanded Mission,” in a special issue of Abyss & Apex.  So I don’t know if it’s the economy or what, but go figure. 

That said, I’ve also been writing an ongoing series of stories set in the “Tombs,” a far future necropolis set on a dying Earth.  Thirteen of these have already been published, one incidentally in my Strange Mistresses collection and three in Darker Loves, while others are being looked at in various places.  More exciting, I’m also negotiating with a publisher for a possible “Tombs” novel composed of stand alone segments, much like Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles or Christopher Barzak’s The Love We Share Without Knowing.

Then finally while I’ve been writing a number of shorter pieces, taking advantage of flash markets as well as some internet publications’ preferences in general for briefer work, I’ve also been working to get some older, previously published stories back into print.  Current examples would be stories out or coming out in Future Lovecraft, In Poe’s Shadow, America the Horrific, The Spirit of Poe (poetry), Lore: A Quaint and Curious Volume of Selected Stories, and Candle in The Attic Window.

What tips do you have for other aspiring writers?

The major one is persistence. It usually takes a long time to become published and, while it’s good to market stories starting with the best publications and working down, don’t be disappointed if your first sales are to low paying, low circulation markets.  I usually want to get at least some pay myself, though, as well as a copy of whatever book or magazine my work appears in -– beware anyone who wants you to pay them to be published -– though I’ll make exceptions for reprints, especially for publications that sound particularly interesting to me, or occasional charity anthologies, etc.  

Join a writers group if you can –- you’ll find you learn more sometimes from critiquing others’ work than from the critiques they do of yours -– and try to remember that you’re an artist.  Try not to sell out, or at least hold out for a decent price.  And if editors suggest changes to you, by all means give what they say a try, but if it doesn’t seem to work for you don’t be afraid to write them back explaining why. 

Also, don’t wait for the muse to come to you.  Go out in the world and wrestle her for ideas.

What do you most like to write? Why?

I write mostly dark fiction, fantasy, horror, science fiction, mystery.  It’s not so much that I’m a nasty person myself (though I remember a colleague defending her writing horror, explaining with a lilt in her voice, “You get to say such hateful things”), but that I have a fascination with people’s beliefs and how they might hold up, or not, when a character is subjected to stress.  Beyond that, the whole spectrum of speculative fiction allows me to experiment with ideas, even goofy ones sometimes –- what if, say, snow ate people? (which is the premise of one of the Christmas stories mentioned above).  Or what kind of gift might be appropriate for a newlywed vampire? (see “Honeymoon Magic” in Vamps). 

What do you read?

I read much more nonfiction than fiction, something I think many writers may tell you.  I read for ideas, for research, for details for settings, to understand how things work if I’m going to use them in my own stories.  In fiction and poetry I read, of course, the publications my stuff is in (and not just for pleasure –- it gives me a better insight into what an editor likes when the time comes to try to sell something else to that publication), but I also read outside of my genre, especially more literary works.  Of those that have especially influenced me, I’ll cite Edgar Allan Poe and Ray Bradbury, but also The Complete Greek Tragedies of Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides, along with the poetry of Allen Ginsburg and the plays of Bertolt Brecht. 

How did you get your start in writing? How did you land your first book contract?

I actually did more illustration than writing in college but that had me working on publications and, occasionally, having to write to fill in as needed.  So I don’t know.  By graduate school I was writing a science/humor column for that college’s student underground newspaper, later migrated to its literary newspaper (by this time writing various things, stories, essays, columns, reviews, often under pseudonyms), from there got a job as a technical writer –- and later editor –- for an academic computing center.  Ultimately I was freelancing real estate and business and consumer topics (good training for world building in science fiction and fantasy –- I’m not kidding, you need to know a society’s economy, how your characters make their livings) until some of my markets started to dry up, then got a “regular job” part time (this was during the Reagan recession) and got back into fiction and poetry. 

My first full size book came about when an editor heard me read poetry at (as I recall) World Fantasy Convention some years back.  He bought the poem as a reprint on the spot for a “Year’s Best” anthology he was planning, then suggested I pitch a combined fiction and poetry collection to him.  That one fell through, but a year or two later I made another proposal, sent him some stories that he liked better, and the result was Strange Mistresses.

With the rise in eBook popularity, the publishing industry is in a state of change. What do you see as positives and negatives in this reformation?

eBooks have blossomed at a good time in that we’re still in an all-but-recession and, for people who don’t have much money, eBooks are at least cheap.  Better eBook readers have added other advantages too, such as changing type sizes for people with vision problems or storing a whole summer’s reading and more on a device that takes up only the space of a single book in your luggage.  On the other hand, I don’t recommend reading eBooks in the bathtub. 

I think the rise of eBooks can be exaggerated, though, and their ultimate impact will be similar to that of mass market paperbacks coming out of the Great Depression.  Their cheapness allowed more people to buy them, but hardbacks were still preferred by libraries, more well-to-do people, collectors, and even by poorer people for giving as gifts or for themselves in the case of titles they expected they’d keep on rereading (a Complete Works of Shakespeare would be an obvious example).  Then by the 1960s trade paperbacks came along too, for cheaper editions of the books you’d like to save, while mass market was still king for books you’d read and, if not literally throw away, at least not really expect to come back to even if they were still on a bookshelf somewhere.  All that said, mass market paperbacks still took over a lion’s share of the market — but added to the book market as well, in part by being affordable to people who might previously have relied on libraries.  But, just as hardbacks, libraries never disappeared either.  And now, with eBooks, I see the greatest “threat” they bring being to mass market paperbacks themselves, as a sort of even cheaper version (although internet/mail order used book markets like eBay and Amazon had been changing the landscape already, as have changes in taxing unsold inventories), but not necessarily replacing print in other forms, at least for a long time.   

Thom Reese is the author of DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS. Upcoming releases include the novels, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

CHECK OUT MY SUPERNATURAL THRILLER, THE DEMON BAQASH, AT: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Baqash-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1309526541&sr=8-1

READ THE 1ST CHAPTER OF THE DEMON BAQASH: http://demonbaqash.wordpress.com/

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2011 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

December 10, 2011

Thom Interviews Author Claire Applewhite

IN THIS POST:

Thom’s Happening – Announcements, Specials, etc.

Thom Interviews Author Claire Applewhite

 

Thom’s Happening – Announcements, Specials, etc.

Before we jump into our feature interview with author Claire Applewhite, I’ll take a moment to bring you up to speed on some happenings. DEAD MAN’S FIRE, the first in my Marc Huntington adventure series was released this fall. It follows recovery specialists Marc and Dana Huntington as the track a missing scientist through the Amazon. Lots of action and twists.

I’m nearly done writing the second in the series, CHASING KELVIN, and this should be out spring of 2012.

My next novel, THE EMPTY, is due out within the month. I’m very excited about this one. Here’s the back cover synopsis:

The reyaqc, a people who have no inherent characteristics of their own, but survive by infusing genetic information from humans and animals alike, often leaving the donors hollow, vacant shells. They’ve been with us for centuries. Many live in isolated communities on the fringes of society. Others walk the cities of the world, unable to reveal their true natures for risk of discovery. Donald Baker is a reyaqc and he fears for his people. For with the rising human population and technological advances, the reyaqc can no longer live undetected. His life-long desire is to bring his race into the mainstream of society. But now a lone rogue terrorizing the city of Las Vegas threatens to expose the reyaqc prematurely. As the death toll rises, Donald must battle not only the rogue, but his own savage nature.

And, for the holiday season, the eBook versions of my books, THE DEMON BAQASH, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS are on sale for only $4.99. http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-ebook/dp/B005L4I8TK/ref=sr_1_13?ie=UTF8&qid=1323524905&sr=8-13

For autographed copies of the print version, contact me a thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for ordering and pricing information.

 

And now, an  Interview with author Claire Applewhite

Claire Applewhite, the author of The Wrong Side of Memphis, Moonlight Becomes You So (2009), Crazy For You (2010), St. Louis Hustle, Candy Cadillac (2011) is a graduate of St. Louis University, (AB, Communications, MBA), Mercantile Leadership Program for Women. A participant in the Writers Institute at Washington University, and freelance writer—Healthy Cells magazine, House of Style magazine : Www.HouseOfStyleSTL.coM, reporter for Patch.com. For more on Claire, visit her website: www.Claireapplewhite.com

Other distinctions include:

Immediate Past President,MissouriWriters Guild

Board member of Midwest Chapter, Mystery Writers of America. Member andSt. LouisMetropolitan Press Club

Active member of St. Louis Writers Guild, Sisters in Crime, Ozark Writers League and Active Status member, Mystery Writers of America.

Claire, thank you for taking the time for this interview. Why don’t you start by telling us about your most recent release? Candy Cadillac is the third in the ‘nam Noir series, featuringVietnam vets Elvin Suggs and Di Redding. Set insouth St. Louis, it presents an intriguing time in the late 1980’s when car bombings and organized crime were active concerns.

What is your writing routine? I generally write in the early morning, the earlier the better, and go for around four or five hours. Sometimes, it’s 4:30 am, and sometimes it’s as late as six o’clock a.m., but the point is, I get it done first, before anything else has a chance to insinuate itself into the time designated for writing.  Then, I stop, preferably in the middle of a chapter or scene, so that when I return, I will readily recognize the conflict and carry on from the stopping point. I don’t look at it again that day, because I believe a writer has to allow some time to pass to better judge the quality of the writing and to recharge psychologically after spending emotional energy on characters.

Do you begin with plot or characters? I begin with plot because I believe the plot will tell you what kind of characters live in the story. For example, the story of Cinderella dictates the cast of characters, and even the setting.                                                                                                           

Tell us about the characters in Candy Cadillac. The characters in Candy Cadillac are the series characters from the ‘nam Noir series. Elvin Suggs and Di Redding, along with Cobra, the sniper, areVietnam vets turned St. Louis PI. Their creepy next door neighbors, the omnipresent black limo, the physician without a license to practice atCityHospital, Barbara Lacey, a mysterious blonde, and three women who assume her identity after her death, complete the cast.

What are you currently writing? The fourth in the series, Tennessee Plates, and a stand alone novel about a real life case that occurred at St. LouisCityHospital.

What tips do you have for other aspiring writers? Consider that writing is a lifetime vocation. It’s not about money, or fame, or even bestseller lists. If you’re not growing and changing on some level with each book/screenplay/piece you write, or if you’re expecting a lot of money in a very short time period, writing may disappointment you.   As soon as you have polished a piece of your writing, start to send it out for consideration. Even if it is rejected, read the critiques. And then, rewrite and resend. Don’t let anything that isn’t your absolute best leave your desk. Ever.

What type of story do you most like to write? Why? I like to write a story in which a major transformation has occurred in the life or lives of the main characters. This could be a major disillusionment, a discovery of the truth, or a love that saves.  I write fiction because anything is possible. For me it is about creating a world where things may happen in a haphazard way, BUT in the end, order and justice prevail.

What do you read? I like to read a story in which I learn something I didn’t know (it could be anything), and where the writer does something extraordinary with ordinary characters or circumstances.

How did you get your start in writing? I’ve always written, from the time I was seven. But, it wasn’t until 1999 that I decided to get serious about getting published. My first book was published in 2009.

How did you land your first book contract? Actually, I submitted a short story to an anthology at the request of a friend, and after it was accepted, I decided to send a novel that I had been writing and revising for almost seven years. I had not sent it to anyone for fear of rejection. That initial success gave me the courage to submit the novel that became The Wrong Side of Memphis.                                                                                                                  

With the rise in eBook popularity, the publishing industry is in a state of change. What do you see as positives and negatives in this reformation? I have heard that the advantage of ebooks is that they do not have a shelf life, compared to print books. In other words, an ebook might enter the market later in the book’s sales cycle, but it never leaves the shelf, virtually speaking. After six months, physical books are removed from shelves and returned. An ebook can be downloaded in thirty seconds. That said, there is something about holding an actual book in your hands, or buying a book that is personally signed by the author and/or given as a gift on a special occasion. Also, books can be handed down from generation to generation. As with most things, there are tradeoffs.

Thom Reese is the author of DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS. Upcoming releases include the novels, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

CHECK OUT MY SUPERNATURAL THRILLER, THE DEMON BAQASH, AT: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Baqash-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1309526541&sr=8-1

READ THE 1ST CHAPTER OF THE DEMON BAQASH: http://demonbaqash.wordpress.com/

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2011 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

October 18, 2011

Award Winning Author Joe R. Lansdale Discusses the Future of Publishing

In This Post:

Thom’s happenings – Announcements etc.

Award Winning Author Joe R. Lansdale Discusses the Future of Publishing

 

Thom’s Happenings: Before we move on to the Joe Lansdale interview, I have just a couple of quick announcements. We’ll be having a BOOK LAUNCH PARTY for my new thriller, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, October 22 3-6 pm at Avatar Comics 881 S. Rainbow, Las Vegas NV 89145 (702)795-8700. If you’re in the Las Vegas area, please stop by and say hi. Also, in the spirit of Halloween, my publisher has put my supernatural thriller, THE DEMON BAQASH (Kindle & Nook versions), on sale for only 99 cents! This offer is for October only so time is running short. http://www.amazon.com/The-Demon-Baqash-ebook/dp/B004J4X3NO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1318952553&sr=1-1

I’ll be doing additional book signings for DEAD MAN’S FIRE throughout the next few months and my sci-fi/horror thriller, THE EMPTY, is due for release before Christmas. Check back here for updates and specials.

And now, an interview with Joe R. Lansdale.

 

Award Winning Author Joe R. Lansdale Discusses the Future of Publishing

With more than thirty books to his credit, Lansdale has been called “an immense talent” by Booklist; “a born storyteller” by Robert Bloch; and The New York Times Book Review declares he has “a folklorist’s eye for telling detail and a front-porch raconteur’s sense of pace.” He’s won umpty-ump awards, including sixteen Bram Stoker Awards, the Grand Master Award from the World Horror Convention, a British Fantasy Award, the American Mystery Award, the Horror Critics Award, the Grinzane Cavour Prize for Literature, the “Shot in the Dark” International Crime Writer’s Award, the Golden Lion Award, the Booklist Editor’s Award, the Critic’s Choice Award, and a New York Times Notable Book Award. He’s got the most decorated mantle in all of Nacogdoches!

Lansdale lives in Nacogdoches, Texas, with his wife, Karen, writer and editor.

Joe, thank you very much for taking time for this interview. Let’s start with the proliferation of eBooks. With the eBook revolution, what do you see as the future of publishing? What will it look like five years from now?

I think e books are the new paperback, and it will impact the industry, but I think print books will survive, if as a more luxury item, which is too bad. But the e books are the revolution that paperbacks were in early days.

How will your approach to the business end of writing change based on the shifting publishing paradigm?

Some of that is still in motion. I’ll have a better idea of my business model, once I know more about how it shakes out. Right now I have some of my backlist on ebooks both from established publishers and pure ebook publishers. If I make more from established publishers, even though they pay a smaller return, then I have to say they still have the machine. If I do not, I have to feel differently about that.

How has your writing process evolved since you were first published?

I am more confident. I work less pages, and have for many years now, and just try and show up every day, or at least five days a week, though I have also learned to take vacations and holidays and occasionally just take a day off. I learned that a while back as well, and it works well for me. I usually write mornings, three to five  pages a day, but now and again I write afternoons or evenings if I’ve fallen behind, or something new and interesting pops up.

In the current publishing climate, there’s a sharp rise in self-published material. What do you see as the pros and cons of this?

More bad stuff gets published is the con. The pro is some good stuff that didn’t fit the marketing strategy of the established publishers gets a chance.

In regard to self published material, do you believe there is a need for some sort of gatekeeper to help minimize the proliferation of poorly written material or do you see this heightened freedom as an opportunity for talented writers to showcase their material?

It helps if there are editors who choose for quality. They can be wrong, and often are, but it makes a writer work harder to write well. The con to that is the gate keepers are running an established show and are only looking for certain types of material. I know, however, that I’m a better writer for having to fight the system to do what I want, but to do it better.

What, if any, parallels do you see between the changes occurring today’s publishing industry and those of the music industry a decade ago?

A number of similarities. It’s still, like music, shaking out, trying to find its sea legs. I think it will, and more of it will be on line. I do think one of the great things is that short story collections will have a better chance than before, and of course the good thing is you’re cutting out a lot of the middle man. But a number of writers I know who thought they were going to rush out and make a fortune with ebooks, eliminating agents, editors, publishers, etc., haven’t found that to be true. Some have, but they are so far the exception that  proves the rule. However, as ebook publishing changes, so will the rules. Another good thing about ebooks is you can arrange for monthly responses to your sales if you like, which can provide a more steady income.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Put your ass in a chair and write, and when you’re not writing, read, and when you’re not doing those two things live life.

What project(s) are you working on now?

A young adult novel for Delacorte titled FENDER LIZARDS. I have a new Young Adult out now titled ALL THE EARTH THROWN TO THE SKY.

What do you like to read?

All manner of things. I don’t put a limit on it. I just let my enthusiasm and excitement guide me.

Are there any new authors that excite you?

Plenty. But I’m going to pass on naming them right now, because there are so many and I fear I might leave someone out. On another day I might be braver, but just got back from Italy and I’m brain numb, or more numb than usual.

 

Thom Reese is the author of DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS. Upcoming releases include the novels, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CHECK OUT DEAD MAN’S FIRE AT: http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320244/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1318952956&sr=1-1

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

CHECK OUT MY SUPERNATURAL THRILLER, THE DEMON BAQASH, AT: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Baqash-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1309526541&sr=8-1

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2011 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

 

October 7, 2011

AN INTERVIEW WITH BRAM STOKER NOMINATED AUTHOR JEREMY C. SHIPP

 

IN THIS POST:

October Special

Thom Interviews Jeremy C. Shipp

A Review of Jeremy’s Bram Stoker Award nominated novel, CURSED

Thom’s Happening – Announcements etc.

 

OCTOBER SPECIAL: THE DEMON BAQASH, by Thom Reese, eBook edition on sale for only 99 Cents!! Limited time only!! Check it out! http://www.amazon.com/The-Demon-Baqash-ebook/dp/B004J4X3NO/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1317901493&sr=1-2

 

An Interview with Jeremy C. Shipp

Jeremy C. Shipp is the Bram Stoker Award-nominated author of Cursed, Vacation, and Sheep and Wolves. His shorter tales have appeared or are forthcoming in over 60 publications, the likes of Cemetery Dance, ChiZine, Apex Magazine, Withersin, and Shroud Magazine. Jeremy enjoys living in Southern California in a moderately haunted Victorian farmhouse called Rose Cottage. He lives there with his wife, Lisa, a couple of pygmy tigers, and a legion of yard gnomes. The gnomes like him. The clowns living in his attic–not so much.

I’ve never met Jeremy face-to-face, but have had an online friendship with him for the past two or three years. He’s a talented writer with a quick wit, quirky sense of reality, and a good heart. If you haven’t read his work you’re missing a treat. A big thanks to Jeremy for taking the time to do this interview!

 

Jeremy, thank you for taking the time for this interview. Why don’t you start by telling me about your current projects?

My newest books ALWAYS REMEMBER TO TIP YOUR NINJA and ABERRATIONS were recently published. I’m currently editing a horror/fantasy anthology called ATTIC TOYS. Some other projects in the works include CLOWNS VS. GNOMES and ATTIC CLOWNS.

What is your writing routine?

I try to write at least a little bit every day. I usually write at my desk, surrounded by weird figures and toys. I don’t do outlines, although I do keep a notebook filled with notes.

At one point you were working on a screenplay for CURSED. Is that something you’re still pursuing and if so, where are you in the process?

Cursed the Movie is a project near and dear to my heart, and it’s definitely something I’m pursuing. I’m currently talking with some directors. We’ll see what happens.

I loved the flavor of CURSED. Very unique and quirky. How did that particular feel come about? What was your thought process?

Thank you! When writing a story or a novel, I like to make the narrative style reflect the psyche of the point of view character. And so, Cursed is quirky, because the main character is a strange human being. He thinks and dreams and experiences the world in lists.

You’re prolific in terms of short stories. When can we expect your next novel?

I’m currently working on a couple novels and a novella. All of these should be released in 2012.

Ok, what’s with the yard gnomes and attic clowns?

I wish I knew! The Attic Clowns appeared in my attic a few years ago (I think they oozed out of an old mirror that I purchased at a yard sale), and they won’t leave. The yard gnomes live in my yard, which I seems appropriate somehow. The gnomic shamans help me out whenever the Attic Clowns transform me into a rubber chicken.

You seem very adept at marketing yourself. What tips do you have for other aspiring writers?

Write a blog, host giveaways, stay active on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, etc. But my best advice would be not to send a lot of time on these sites promoting your work. Spend most of your time entertaining people.

As well as writing your own work, you teach creative writing courses. Tell me about that.

I love helping writers, especially new writers, and so the Fiction Writing Bootcamp (http://jeremycshipp.wordpress.com/2011/09/08/jeremy-c-shipps-fiction-writing-bootcamp/) is very satisfying for me. In the course, I help authors to hone their craft and polish their work for publication.

What type of story do you most like to write? Why?

I love writing stories with some speculative element. I think this is because I enjoy creating new myths, new creatures, new realities. And of course, I like writing stories about characters that I feel a deep connection with. I always need to care about my characters, because otherwise, the story wouldn’t be worth writing.

What do you read?

A little of everything. Literary fiction, historical fiction, horror, fantasy, graphic novels. Some of my favorite writers include: Arundhati Roy, Kurt Vonnegut, Haruki Murakami, Joss Whedon, Jane Espenson, Amy Tan, Lois Lowry.

How did you get your start in writing? How did you land your first book contract?

I wrote my first novel when I was 13, but I always enjoyed storytelling. As a kid, I would often tell stories to my brothers and cousins. Their favorites were my Barbie horror stories. In high school, my creative writing teacher encouraged me to start sending out my stories to publishers, and so I sold my first short story when I was 18. Then, in my 20s, I shopped around my novel Vacation, and it ended up with Raw Dog Screaming Press.

For more on Jeremy, check out these links:

http://www.jeremycshipp.com

http://www.twitter.com/jeremycshipp

http://www.amazon.com/Always-Remember-Your-Ninja-ebook/dp/B005MTB7VU/

http://www.amazon.com/Aberrations-ebook/dp/B005ITNKC8/

 

Thom’s review of CURSED:

Book Review – Cursed by Jeremy Shipp: This book is bold. A finalist for the 2009 Bram Stoker award, Cursed defies convention. It’s at once sparse, thought provoking, creepy, ridiculous, and compelling. The protagonist, Nick, is a compulsive list writer, and thus Shipp populates the prose with lists. It seems an odd choice at first, but works as an effective device in drawing the reader into Nick’s bizarre and, yes, cursed world. Each of the primary characters has a unique depth and quirkiness specific to that individual. I particularly liked the character of Cicely and her seemingly endless substitutions for the word water. Snowman blood or Yeti tears anyone? Very clever. The supernatural aspects of the book build gradually, drawing the reader in page-by-page. Soon I was wondering just what was happening to these people. Were they truly cursed? Were they simply insane? And what was the deal with this strange antagonist, Pete? Is he just some random guy, the devil, God? Very well crafted. This is one of those rare and precious books that ended far too soon. I will read it again.

 

Thom’s Happening – Announcements and specials

The last few weeks have been very busy. My latest novel, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, was RELEASED Sept 2nd. http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320244/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1315921547&sr=8-1

I unveiled DEAD MAN’S FIRE at KillerCon Las Vegas, signing books and meeting readers. Had a great time with fellow authors, Jonathan Maberry, Jack Ketchum, John Skipp, Gabrielle Faust, Ray Garton and many others.

BOOK LAUNCH PARTY for DEAD MAN’S FIRE October 22 3-6 pm at Avatar Comics 881 S. Rainbow, Las Vegas NV 89145 (702)795-8700

Thom Reese is the author of DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS. Upcoming releases include the novels, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

CHECK OUT MY SUPERNATURAL THRILLER, THE DEMON BAQASH, AT: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Baqash-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1309526541&sr=8-1

READ THE 1ST CHAPTER OF THE DEMON BAQASH: http://demonbaqash.wordpress.com/

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2011 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

 

September 22, 2011

EXCERPTS FROM THOM’S UNDER-A-BRIDGE DICTIONARY

Alcohol abuse: Self induced flu symptoms. Because for some people there’s just never enough vomit.

Alternate reality:  a phenomenon experienced by any male forced by the female of the species to visit a shopping mall. Also see purgatory.

Ambiguous: something which is more or less, kind of , in a way, sort of, rather not quite entirely clear in any comprehensible fashion… sort of. See also politician

Autobiography: It’s all about MEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!

Cardiac arrest: a common condition often experienced upon learning the nature of an offspring’s  unsupervised activities. See also Gun Laws

Civilized: A culture which settles disputes by slaying opponents with sophisticated weaponry such as missiles and bombs as opposed to more barbaric tools like spears and swords.

College: A costly institution where hundreds of adolescents who have previously lived under the direct guidance of their parents are brought together with minimal supervision and expected to conduct themselves as mature individuals. See also Alcohol poisoning.

Depression: a mental state which often follows unrealistic expectations and/or the realization that, “Wow, this really sucks.”

Domesticated:  a creature which, contrary to its natural instincts, has been tamed and/or trained in order to exist in a civilized environment. See also husband

Fiction: That special place where truth may be expressed freely, in most cases without fear of reprisal.

Fiscal responsibility: a mythological state in which those charged with the distribution of funds have a workable plan and maybe even a clue.

Foreign Aid: Stealing money from hardworking Americans and depositing it in the coffers of unscrupulous foreign leaders.

Funeral: An event in which one’s enemies proclaim a person’s attributes as one’s family squabbles over his/her possessions.

Good old days: A time period idealized despite its many flaws, injustices, and insufficiencies. See also selective memory and/or delusion

Justice: Just as much as the cost of a good lawyer.

Man: A person inherently incapable of fathoming the desires, motivations, or actions of women.

Opponent: Someone put in one’s life as a growth opportunity. See also, spouse

Tampon: an embarrassing purchase made by a male in an effort to prove undying love for a spouse. Often accompanied by a cashier’s sentiment, “Oh, man, I’m sorry.”

Tobacco: A substance unique in that it is a legal product which, according to the CDC, is responsible for over 1 in 5 deaths in the U.S. each year. See also Soulless Washington lobbyists.

NEW RELEASE!!!

DEAD MAN’S FIRE, the first novel in my Marc Huntington series HAS BEEN RELEASED in both print and eBook formats. Check it out!

http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320244/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1315921547&sr=8-1

Here’s the back cover blurb:

The Amazon Rainforest.

A paleontological expedition, every scientist murdered or missing.

A vast cavern peopled with comatose bodies from all over the world.

A human skull, fossilized, with ancient writing carved on its interior.

A young scientist, missing, and at the heart of it all.

Recovery specialists Marc and Dana Huntington make their living recovering missing persons, stolen items, and rare treasures.  Now they are thrust into chaos and intrigue as they search for a missing paleontologist, the son of Marc’s former Delta Force commander. Arriving at the expedition site deep within the Amazon Rainforest they find the jungle ablaze and dozens of bodies littering the area. Soon they learn that a fossilized skull is at the heart of the deadly mystery. Multiple factions seek the skull. Local superstition surrounds the relic, Deadly attacks, explosions, cave ins, a chamber filled with peculiar, unnaturally preserved bodies: every discovery leads to another mystery and the Huntingtons must locate the missing scientist and uncover the secret of the Amazon skull or dozens more will die.

CONTACT ME AT thomreeseauthor@yahoo.com for autographed copies or to get on my emailing list to receive notifications on new releases, special pricing, appearances, etc.

CHECK OUT MY SUPERNATURAL THRILLER, THE DEMON BAQASH, AT: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Baqash-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1309526541&sr=8-1

Thom Reese is the author of DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS. Upcoming releases include the novels, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

READ THE 1ST CHAPTER OF THE DEMON BAQASH: http://demonbaqash.wordpress.com/

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2011 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

September 20, 2011

A DANCE WITH DRAGONS REVIEW by Thom Reese

 George R. R. Martin’s A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE saga continues with the much-anticipated fifth in the series, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS. For those not familiar with the series, these are the books on which HBO’s Emmy award winning television series, GAME OF THRONES, is based. (The first book in the series is titled, A GAME OF THRONES.)

The first thing about this book: If you have not read the previous four books, please do not try to start reading with this one. Not only will you be entirely lost, but you will miss the fantastic story lines and characters that fill the earlier volumes. Martin’s series is peopled with what I consider to be some of the best characters in modern literature. These are multidimensional personalities with genuine emotions. The villains are not evil through and through, and no hero is without blemish. This, along with the fact that Martin is utterly vicious to his characters, leaving the reader with the feeling that no one is safe within these pages, makes these volumes a must read for anyone even remotely interested in the fantasy genre.

That said, A DANCE WITH DRAGONS is not flawless. Even for the initiated the first two hundred pages can be quite confusing. Martin doesn’t give us any reminders as to where any of these characters left off in previous volumes. Many of the most loved characters were not in book four, A FEAST FOR CROWS, and so their plot threads date all the way back to A STORM OF SWORDS, released in 2000. My memory just isn’t that good. I would have enjoyed the story much more if there had either been a recap prior to the beginning of the story, or at least some explanatory dialogue to help refresh the reader’s mind. Even after completing the book, I’m still not sure what Tyrion’s goal was at the onset of the story.

All this to say that once I got into the flow of the story I couldn’t pull myself away from it. Martin is masterful when it comes to interweaving plot lines, deceptions, betrayals, lost loves, and fantastic action and suspense. Much of the focus for nearly all of the characters falls on Daenerys Targaryen, the would-be queen of the seven kingdoms who is now the “Mother of Dragons.” Everyone either wants to manipulate, use, or defeat the young woman with a will of fire. And though she is the focal point for so many, she is unaware of the scheming and infighting across the sea to the lands which she may one day rule.

Reader beware, there are some significant shocks in the second half of this tomb, and they are very well worth the wait. If you’ve read the previous four volumes, your wait will be well rewarded. If you’ve never read this series, I encourage you to get started with  A GAME OF THRONES and. You won’t regret it.

NEW RELEASE!!!

DEAD MAN’S FIRE, the first novel in my Marc Huntington series HAS BEEN RELEASED in both print and eBook formats. Check it out!

http://www.amazon.com/Dead-Mans-Fire-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320244/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1315921547&sr=8-1

Here’s the back cover blurb:

The Amazon Rainforest.

A paleontological expedition, every scientist murdered or missing.

A vast cavern peopled with comatose bodies from all over the world.

A human skull, fossilized, with ancient writing carved on its interior.

A young scientist, missing, and at the heart of it all.

Recovery specialists Marc and Dana Huntington make their living recovering missing persons, stolen items, and rare treasures.  Now they are thrust into chaos and intrigue as they search for a missing paleontologist, the son of Marc’s former Delta Force commander. Arriving at the expedition site deep within the Amazon Rainforest they find the jungle ablaze and dozens of bodies littering the area. Soon they learn that a fossilized skull is at the heart of the deadly mystery. Multiple factions seek the skull. Local superstition surrounds the relic, Deadly attacks, explosions, cave ins, a chamber filled with peculiar, unnaturally preserved bodies: every discovery leads to another mystery and the Huntingtons must locate the missing scientist and uncover the secret of the Amazon skull or dozens more will die.

CHECK OUT MY SUPERNATURAL THRILLER, THE DEMON BAQASH, AT: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Baqash-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1309526541&sr=8-1

Thom Reese is the author of DEAD MAN’S FIRE, THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS. Upcoming releases include the novels, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

READ THE 1ST CHAPTER OF THE DEMON BAQASH: http://demonbaqash.wordpress.com/

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2011 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

August 9, 2011

A SEEDY DIVE AND DISQUIETING FLIGHT by Thom Reese

I’ve just returned from the Chicago area after attending a family reunion for my wife’s clan. (It truly is a clan both in size and spirit.) I won’t talk about the event itself – I’ll keep their secrets if they’ll keep mine – but there were a couple of travel-related events that I find quite entertaining or at least a little  intriguing.

Let’s start with the motel:

Arriving at Midway Airport late into the wee hours of the morning, our rental car would not be available till eight o’clock AM. As such, my wife had used an online travel site to book us into a nearby motel, the idea being that without our rental we would be required to take a taxi both to and from our lodgings. We wanted something close so that we could simply zip back to the airport, get our car, and be off to fun and frivolity.

Something we should have considered: Midway is not in the best of neighborhoods.

The cabbie dropped us off, gazed at me, my wife, my teenage daughter, and warned us not to wander the streets – day or night. He then sped off, wide eyed and trembling. Upon entering the – shall we use the term motel? – we were confronted with our first clue as to the nature of the establishment, a sign declaring, “ABSOLUTELY NO REFUNDS AFTER 5 MINUTES IN THE ROOM.”

We would soon learn why such a sign was required.

The desk clerk, a young woman, offered us a knowing smile and welcomed us. My wife joked about the sign. The woman simply shrugged. There was no elevator and so we lugged our luggage up one flight of stairs and turned left at the top. We were immediately assaulted with several odors, including, but not limited to: mildew, dead animal, and marijuana.

Now, at this point one might wonder why we didn’t flee. Was it a sense of adventure, a death wish, perhaps a dash of insanity? No. It was simply a combination of exhaustion and circumstance. It was after two AM. To leave, we would need to call a cab, find another – hopefully better and thus further distant from the airport – motel, and likely spend another hour or so in our present semi-conscience state. And so, with bleary eyes and sleep-deprived brains, we decided, “How bad can it be?” and continued down the hallway.

Locating our room, we found the door slightly ajar. Not open. It was locked. But it could slide a good inch or so forward or back. I pushed on it, jiggled it, gave it a thump or two. Yes, it was locked. Someone couldn’t break in without quite an effort or at least an average set of muscles.

The odor was stronger in the room. We’re quite certain that some rodent or another had met its end within the walls. The curtains, which covered the entire back wall, were attached with only four hooks, causing them to droop and billow. Everything had a sticky not-quite-clean quality about it. There were only two towels. One had what appeared to be a small bloodstain on it. We were fairly certain that, no, this was not The Four Seasons.

But, the decision had been made. We weren’t cowards. Or, at least, we were too exhausted to behave in any cowardly and/or rational manner. We were staying. That was that.

Feeling uncomfortable about the quality of the door lock, we piled our luggage in front of the door, and then, not liking the disposition of the sheets, all three of us slept atop the bedcovers, covering the pillows with clothing as to not have direct contact with the fabric. None of us so much as took off our socks.

Nor did we sleep, but rather laid awake for those few hours, alert to every sound, wondering when the door would be pushed open by some evil motel goblin in search of our money, our socks, and maybe even our lives.

A few hours later, as I descended the stairs, I overheard the two desk clerks chatting. One said to the other, “So, did that white family stay?”

Two days later we realized that the place had double charged us for the room.

Nice.

Fast forward four days to the return flight.

My flight was delayed due to weather. I sat in the terminal alone as my wife and daughter were staying in the Midwest for a few more days than I. No one in the terminal was in a good mood. There were sighs and complaints, a few curses. It was a redeye flight that was now over an hour past our stated departure time.

When finally we boarded, I took my seat relatively close to the front of the plane, pulled out the book I’m currently reading (George R. R. Martin’s A DANCE WITH DRAGONS), and settled in. A few minutes later, just when I was thinking that we might actually be nearing departure, two police officers boarded the craft, marching down the aisle toward the back of the plane. From my vantage, I really couldn’t see what was going on, but there was obviously some rather pointed dialogue, a bit of shuffling, and more than a dollop of commotion. Soon a middle-aged woman, obviously not in the best of moods, was led up the way and through the hatch.

Okay. Interesting. But, assuming the drama was at an end, I went back to my reading. But only for a minute. Now, three EMTs marched through the hatch and down the way. Again, I couldn’t see what was going on, but there was significant commotion, quite a bit of dialogue on walky-talkies, a couple of trips off the plane by medical personnel to fetch equipment, and a general hubbub.

This all went on for about fifteen minutes. Now, mind you, never once was there any announcement official or otherwise from the crew. We passengers were left to our own fertile imaginings to fill in the missing pieces: Was this a terrorist plot foiled? Had the person ejected from the craft been a stowaway? If so, how had she made it past security? Was someone dying back there? And, I think most prominent in everyone’s mind, was an alien abduction somehow involved?

Finally, two passengers were led – on foot, not on stretchers – from the plane. Two minutes later a perky young flight attendant announced that, “It seems some seats have opened up and so we’ll be boarding some standbys.”

No mention was ever made as to what had occurred, but I’m sticking with my initial theory of a failed alien abduction.

ON THE HORIZON:

Just a couple of quick notes on what’s coming up. DEAD MAN’S FIRE, the first novel in my Marc Huntington series, is due out later this month from Speaking Volumes. Here’s the back cover blurb:

The Amazon Rainforest.

A paleontological expedition, every scientist murdered or missing.

A vast cavern peopled with comatose bodies from all over the world.

A human skull, fossilized, with ancient writing carved on its interior.

A young scientist, missing, and at the heart of it all.

Recovery specialists Marc and Dana Huntington make their living recovering missing persons, stolen items, and rare treasures.  Now they are thrust into chaos and intrigue as they search for a missing paleontologist, the son of Marc’s former Delta Force commander. Arriving at the expedition site deep within the Amazon Rainforest they find the jungle ablaze and dozens of bodies littering the area. Soon they learn that a fossilized skull is at the heart of the deadly mystery. Multiple factions seek the skull. Local superstition surrounds the relic, Deadly attacks, explosions, cave ins, a chamber filled with peculiar, unnaturally preserved bodies: every discovery leads to another mystery and the Huntingtons must locate the missing scientist and uncover the secret of the Amazon skull or dozens more will die.

CHECK OUT MY CURRENT NOVEL, THE DEMON BAQASH, AT: http://www.amazon.com/Demon-Baqash-Thom-Reese/dp/1612320090/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1309526541&sr=8-1

Thom Reese is the author of THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS. Upcoming releases include the novels, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

READ THE 1ST CHAPTER OF THE DEMON BAQASH: http://demonbaqash.wordpress.com/

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2011 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

July 21, 2011

BORDERS IS GONE: WHAT’S NEXT FOR THE BOOK INDUSTRY? by Thom Reese

It’s official. After a long struggle, bankruptcy protection, and restructuring, Borders has announced that they are closing all 399 of their remaining stores. The problem: the industry changed and Borders failed to change along with it. We are living in a time of fast-paced transformation. Never in our history have so many advances come so rapidly. Where the 20th century brought dramatic change over the course of decades, the 21st reconstitutes almost yearly. Think about it. Five years ago how many of us had ever sent a text message? The first smart phone (the iPhone) was introduced only four years ago. Now, nearly every phone on the market has “smart” capabilities. Even three years ago, Blockbuster was the king of the video rentals hill. Now, between Redbox and Netflicks they’re about as dated as a T Rex in a speakeasy. And eBooks. Three years ago electronic books were barely a blip on the radar with sales of about $30 million. Now they outsell print copies in most segments (sometimes by a ratio as high as 5 to 1) with estimated 2011 sales topping $300 million. Add to this the fact that even most print books are purchased online and one must wonder do any traditional brick and mortar booksellers stand a chance.

The answer: yes. I believe they do.

The complication: dramatic changes must be made – and soon.

In such a rapidly-changing environment every business must be willing to reinvent itself over and over in order to remain viable. With more and more commerce flooding to the internet, brick and mortar outlets must find ways to keep customers coming back. Let’s face it, it’s much easier to sit at ones computer in gym shorts and a T-shirt while ordering merchandise than it is to get dressed, hop in the car, fight traffic, go into a retail outlet, and then stand in line to make a purchase.

That said, shopping malls still exist. When almost anything can be bought online, why are malls still flooded with shoppers?

Because many people still enjoy the act of shopping.

Now, take the mall concept and apply it to the bookseller. I, for one, love perusing the bookshelves at a book store. It’s a great way to find new authors that I otherwise might have missed. I’ve not yet found a way to match this experience online. There’s also a sense of community in a bookstore. It’s fun to be amongst other book enthusiasts, to discuss books read and favorite authors. But, these things alone will not keep customers coming back. So, what can booksellers, both national chains and independent locations, do to keep customers coming back during this digital age? There are no easy answers, no guarantees, but here are my personal thoughts on the subject:

LOOK AT WHAT’S COME BEFORE: Both the music and home video industries have already gone through the same changes. Nearly all music and video content is now available online. Tower Records is a fossil, Hollywood video extinct, with Blockbuster teetering. And yet people still buy CDs, DVDs, and Blue Ray. There are still plenty of people who like to hold a product, to own it, to look at the cover. Booklovers love the smell of books and the feel of them. They like a full bookshelf in their homes. I know many people who will buy an e-copy of a book and then, if they really love it, buy a print copy just to have or to share with fellow book enthusiasts. Today’s booksellers should gain hope from these other markets and look to the survivors of the music and video revolutions for clues. What did the survivors do that kept them afloat? Do booksellers need the equivalent of Redbox or Netflix? What could booksellers learn from these industries that would help to keep them in the game?

LOOK FORWARD NOT BACK: Any industry wanting to be competitive in the 21st century needs to keep an eye on developing technology not with fear but with the mindset of utilizing the advancements to bolster their sales. The book industry has done this by making eBook readers available on iPads and smart phones, by bringing the prices down on eBook readers. But technology continues to move forward. A large segment of video content is streamed right now from sites like Netflicks and Hulu. Could books be streamed? Is there a market for that? What new technologies are on the horizon? How can these be embraced and utilized at the bookseller level? Could booksellers, large or small, develop apps that would allow loyal customers to purchase books directly from their phones? I’m not talking Amazon here. I’m talking Joe’s Book and Lube. One of the great things about new technology is that it often levels the playing field. The small independent bookseller has access to the same technology as Barnes & Noble. Recognizing emerging trends and technology and utilizing these first could give both small retailers and publishers an advantage. Think of an app that targets a loyal customers interests. Local bookstores could alert customers of upcoming releases or specials that fit their past purchase patterns and allow them to buy electronic or print copies FROM THE LOCAL STORE directly from this app. I’m sure there are dozens of such ideas floating around out there.

Now, the question could be posed, “Isn’t this putting more business online rather than bolstering brick and mortar booksellers?” Quite possibly, yes. But, one needs to think big, not small. In today’s environment even a ma and pop bookshop needs to have a national or even international mindset. Allow me to site an example from another industry: Pawnshops. Yes, pawnshops, about as far removed from the book industry as any retail establishment might be. But I think there’s something to learn from them. One normally thinks of a pawnshop as a relatively isolated storefront. Customers come in to pawn, sell, or purchase items. Let’s look at the purchasing customers as they’re our parallel. Time was when all goods sold through a pawnshop were purchased on site. Customers came in, perused the shop, and either bought something or left. Now, most successful pawnbrokers not only offer their merchandise in house but online as well. They sell on their own websites, on eBay, Craig’s list, etc. They’ve embraced current trends and enhanced their profitability. Booksellers have these same opportunities.

HOW ELSE CAN TRADITIONAL BOOKSELLERS INCORPORATE NEW TRENDS? Selling eBook readers and offering download stations are a great start, but don’t go quite far enough. Electronic readers and eBooks can be purchased online. The customer needs a reason to make the effort to come to the store. Price is an obvious factor. If book stores offered eBooks and readers at discounted rates below those offered online, this could draw customers. But prices can always be undercut and Amazon’s discounts make them difficult to beat. Major chains might be able to purchase the rights to eBooks not available anywhere else and even independent stores might offer a catalog of niche offerings (both print and electronic) that are rare or difficult to find. Chain booksellers or coalitions of independent booksellers might be able to enter into exclusivity agreements with smaller publishing houses, gaining exclusive rights to certain titles and/or authors.

MIX THE OLD WITH THE NEW: Many people still love the feel and smell of a print book. They like having something tangible to hold and to own. Retail outlets can offer this while still catering to the eBook trend. How about a package deal? Buy the print copy and get the eBook for free (or at a drastically reduced rate).

EMPHASIZE THE EXPERIENCE: Online buying is quick and easy, but there is no ambiance, no atmosphere. Traditional bookstores have the opportunity to offer the customer much more than can a website. Helpful booksellers can guide shoppers to new authors they might enjoy. Reading areas and coffee shops within stores are still popular and can be emphasized all the more. Author signings and readings offer an additional dynamic and even if authors aren’t often available onsite, carrying autographed copies in stock is a great selling point. People like holding a book that the author held in his/her own hands.

DON’T ROLL OVER AND PLAY DEAD: Change can be scary. The future is vague. Things look much different out there. But, with such times come new opportunities. And those who look forward, who embrace new ideas and technologies will be the ones to prosper. Future bookstores may not look the same as they did in the past, but I really don’t believe they don’t need to go the way of the dinosaur either.

 

Thom Reese is the author of THE DEMON BAQASH and 13 BODIES: SEVEN TALES OF MURDER AND MADNESS. Upcoming releases include the novels, DEAD MAN’S FIRE, CHASING KELVIN, and THE EMPTY. Thom was the sole writer and co-producer of the weekly audio drama radio program, 21ST CENTURY AUDIO THEATER. Fourteen of these dramas have since been published in four collections. A native of the Chicago area, Thom currently makes his home in Las Vegas.

READ THE 1ST CHAPTER OF MY SUPERNATURAL THRILLER, THE DEMON BAQASH: http://demonbaqash.wordpress.com/

SEE ALL OF MY BOOKS AND AUDIO DRAMAS: http://speakingvolumes.us/authors_ebooks.asp?pid=40

Copyright 2011 Thom Reese All Rights Reserved.

 

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