Thursday, March 6, 2014

An Interview With Author Steven Shrewsbury

I’ve known Steven Shrewsbury from Facebook and his personal blog since May of 2010. To say that this author is prolific in his writing would be a complete understatement, as he has written and published over 360 short stories, 100 poems, and with the release of his newest work, PHILISTINE, 10 full-length novels. This author has done it all and is well known for his horror, historical, and ‘Sword & Sorcery’, works of fiction. Hailing from the central plains of Illinois, this self-proclaimed ‘country-boy’ still lives in the same house his grandfather built and cuts an imposing physical presents, standing at 6 feet 5 inches and weighing in at 250 pounds. He is known to many on the ‘Con’ circuit for his story-telling abilities as well as for his ‘WODAN RANT’, which is an entity all in itself. Being a civil war buff and avid researcher, this man knows of what he writes… and he does it with a flair that is hard to match.
I was pleased to have an opportunity to interview ‘Shrews’, as most folks call him, and this interview is here for your enjoyment. Hold on to your hats, folks… it’s going to be a wild ride…

DJW.  First things first… please give us a short synopsis of your latest work, PHILISTINE, and tell us how you came up with the story premise. In your opinion, how does it rank with the rest of your work?
SLS. PHILISTINE is a story of Goliath, the biblical giant, but not the one seen in any scripture. His death is not recorded here. The phrase, “He is a man of war since his youth” always struck me about Goliath and it is an epic fantasy living off that culture of the time. There are plenty of evil wizards, warring armies, monsters, buxom maidens, and lusty heroes (and anti-heroes) to keep all hungry for more. Goliath is sent on missions by one striving to be King of Kings of the Philistia culture, but a dire force is working against him, causing a rebel army to arise and manipulate the gods themselves.  I think it’s my most bloody, action packed, wild tale ever. 

DJW.  Can you tell us, what got you started on the writing journey and who has had the most influence on what and how you write?

SLS. I started telling tales in the sandbox as a kid, always re-telling classic stories and even the Bible until I heard one can go to hell for that. My brother, Mark’s, worn-out old works of Robert E. Howard inspired me, spoke to me, like no other as a child and teen. Harlan Ellison and Karl Edward Wagner taught me there are no limits. Howard, though, is the apex of all for me. He still speaks to me.
DJW. We know most authors put in varying amounts of time on research. How much research went into the writing of PHILISTINE, and how much time did you spend on that research?

SLS. Let’s see, I’ve read about Goliath most of my life, but I put in earnest efforts to make the work accurate to the times, plus the culture. I discovered there isn’t as much known about the Philistines as one might think. I ordered several volumes, out of print and the local library helped me greatly. I read on it for years before I took that first step. While I use the Net for some things, one cannot beat real paper volumes for true knowledge.  

DJW.  We are aware that you have written quite a bit of poetry and several novels. Can you give the readers an idea about where to find some of these previous works?

SLS. Amazon is a good starting point, plus the Seventh Star home page for my most recent works, like PHILISTINE, BLOOD & STEEL, OVERKILL and THRALL. If one searches hard enough, one can locate HAWG still for sale, but I think STRONGER THAN DEATH, TORMENTOR, and many a collection are no longer available. My collaboration with Peter Welmerink, BEDLAM UNLEASHED about a crazed Viking, might be seeing a new life, but that is another matter.  
DJW. Many authors have a routine they follow, or quirky things they do while writing. Can you impart some insight into a typical writing day for you?

SLS. I’ve tried writing in the nude, but it annoys the people at the Laundromat and at airports. Today is a snow day from work, so I have coffee made and will be playing moody, death country music and speed metal, low while I craft a new novel. Granted, I don’t always have music playing or coffee. I oft write with kids yelling and the NICK channel blaring. If that doesn’t make one want to lop off a head, I don’t know what does. I don’t have a set time or routine. When I worked 2nd shift I did, but now, I snatch it when I can. When the dam breaks, look out. I do like to write here in the front room of my house, surrounded by Confederate paintings and Boba Fett drawings by my kids.  

DJW. Please tell the readers, which author you most closely follow in your personal reading and also, what genre’ you favor over all others.

SLS. Lately, Joe Abercrombie is my fav. He’s the goods… love his work. Ron Kelly, Norm Partridge, Joe R. Lansdale… there’s a young lady in the pacific northwest, Jennifer Willis, who is incredible and should be noticed. I do love fantasy, but horror still is fine by me. Also works by Ray Banks, Tim Zahn and some Neil Gaiman. 

DJW. If you could sit down with any other author, living or dead, who would it be and what questions would have for him/her?

SLS. Robert E. Howard, of course, and we’d finish that BRAN MAK MORN work he wanted to do. I’d love to talk with Karl Edward Wagner about writing and drinking. I have a handwritten note from Karl I got as a youth (he wrote it on the back of a reject slip. lol) and I cherish it. It’s in a magazine of mine over on the shelf right now. I’d also like to tell George Bernard Shaw to lighten up. 

DJW. We have read that you typically always have a story to tell. If you could tell all the readers your best funny or weird story, what would it be?

SLS. I’ve shared this with a few folks, but it is funny. I meet a great many people at Cons, a young lady who had a book signed in Louisville, soon friended me on Facebook… and within a few months said, “You are such a big guy, I’d LOVE to see a pic of your JUNK!” To which I pondered, “Why would she want to see where I put the tin cans out by the garage?” Ahem. So, next publicity shots, I will take a few Shrews JUNK pics. Perhaps I will pull out the hand plow, all rusty, and say, “Here’s Shrews’ junk. It isn’t as pretty as it used to be, but still functions and is reliable.”

DJW. If you could talk to a group of novice writers, what would you tell them about the writing/publishing business that you have learned from experience and what would be the most important lesson you’ve learned that you would pass along?

SLS. RUN! No, really… I’d say always re-read and revise what you think is your best work. Always leave it sit and take it up later with fresh eyes. Read other authors of your chosen genre and others NOT in it. Read other ways to tell tales and never be afraid to learn you aren’t the beeswax you think. Also, don’t always listen to the advice of experienced writers. Some of them are paranoid jerks with small penis’s afraid of a new talent.

DJW.  Readers want to know what is on the horizon for you in terms of your writing. What can we be expecting to see coming up from you next?

SLS. Rumor is my novel LAST MAN SCREAMING a Lovecraftian western, was just accepted for publication this year. Who wouldn’t want to check out a work where a one-armed Confederate takes on the spawn of Shub Niggarath while searching for NAMELESS CULTS in 1899 Juarez? More works about Gorias La Gaul are on the horizon too, plus a collaboration by Maurice Broaddus and myself, BLACK SON RISING.

DJW. Please tell us, is there anything you’d like the readers to know about you that we have not covered?

SLS. Read PHILISTINE. It is my greatest work ever. Be on the look-out for blogs, and me at a few Cons later in the year. 

Thanks again to Steven for the opportunity to interview him and review his work. To purchase a copy of PHILISTINE, and many of Shrewsbury’s other works, you can go to or to Seventh Star Press’ catalog page at  To find out more about Steven Shrewsbury, check out his blog at You can also catch up with him on his Facebook page at or on his author page over at Seventh Star Press at

DJ Weaver, co-author of COLLECTING INNOCENTS and reviewer/interviewer for Suspense Magazine and WebbWeaver Reviews

Sunday, November 27, 2011

An Interview with Stan Tremblay, Assist. Publisher at Variance Press

We became friends with Stan on Facebook and found him to be so entertaining and knowledgeable, that we wanted to interview him so that all you guys could get to know him as well. Here is that interview.

WW - Tell us how you got started with Variance Publishing and Find The Axis Design, and what your typical day is like.

ST - . I got started at Variance when the company came to being in 2008 and they needed someone who was moldable and had some graphics experience. When they noticed that I was a Jack-of-all-trades going to school for web design, my skill set fit the bill. I knew that when I started it was going to be a great experience that I couldn’t pass up if I got the opportunity. From there, I took on more responsibility and worked my way up to where I am today doing all facets of the pre-production side of Variance… well except for editing - I leave that to the professionals.
Because of what I did with Variance and the experience I had gained in the pre-production side of publishing, Jeremy Robinson invited me along to help him out doing interiors for jobs he gained through friends and clients that went to his site and found that he produced titles. We decided that we had something going for us and it is a great way to really help the industry, and authors, get top-quality looking titles equal to or better than what has come from many big publishing houses. He thought it would be best to branch out from his website and create a brand, so that’s when FindTheAxis came to see the light of day. A short time later when Jeremy decided to focus on his writing, he all but stopped doing covers, so I started to take over all but a few of the clients coming to us for help.

A typical day… hmm, that really can vary. It typically starts at 630, getting my son ready for school. After wife and Mini-me leave, I head up to my office and begin the day with emails, Google Alerts and any overnight Facebook/Twitter contact. I then go onto whatever is necessary to be done - interior work, cover design, website maintenance - for Variance to be as successful as I can make it. I usually mix in a bunch of social networking as well, making contact with A-list authors and bloggers who may be interested in reading our titles and reviewing them, as well as working alongside the current stable of authors to promote their work both in and out of Variance’s hands. I’ve also been known to do online tutorials to hone my craft to make better covers and give myself ideas for interior art and layout.

I usually stop around 430 to get ready for my family to return home to eat dinner with them and spend a few hours enjoying the togetherness. Depending on my workload, I’ll restart my day with FindTheAxis stuff between 730-9 until I crash, or make myself stop because I know I need to get to bed… though I know my head is hopping with ideas from the day and it will take a miracle to calm down. I’m also in process of redesigning our website and have come up with a new logo that I plan on using regularly, here’s a sneak peek.

WW - What would you say is the best part of your day at work?

ST - I’d say it’s toss-up between helping authors achieve their goals, and feeling accomplished with a quality design that makes everyone satisfied and come back for more.

WW - What does Stan do for fun besides make us laugh on Facebook?

ST - Spending time with my family is a big part of my life, being a non-existent father-figure or husband is not in my vocabulary. I also like to, in no particular order, go to BN and peruse the interior/cover designs while sipping an iced Salted Caramel Mocha, practice my graphic arts skills, PC gaming, read an adrenaline-rushing thriller, and getting a beer or other tasty beverage with the boys.

WW - Please tell us more about your personal writing experience and what you like to write most (your favorite writing genre).

ST - Personally, I don’t write, and while people have told me that I should I just don’t make the time for it right now with everything else I pack into my schedule. My favorite genre to read is certainly Science Thrillers, Speculative Fiction, Creature-features, and Action/Adventure - fast-paced!

WW - Can you tell us who’s work you read most and why?

ST - I’m definitely a huge Jeremy Robinson fan - not because I’ve known him for nearly 20 years, not because I’m a lead character in his Jack Sigler/Chess Team series, but because he knows how to write! He grabs my attention and doesn’t let go until I’m out of breath. They are fast-paced, have lots of scientific craziness, and most have creatures that he ties in seamlessly with modern-day situations and landscapes. The first book I read of his was Antarktos Rising, if you’ve not read it I don’t want to ruin it for you, but I highly recommend it! Sure, some of it may be far-fetched, but leave that portion of your brain at the door and hang on for a crazy, fun adventure.

WW - If you were going to choose another profession, what would it be?

ST - That would probably have to be a Chemistry teacher. I had two in particular who I looked up to very much and reflect back on fondly as two of my favorite educators. There is nothing more important in my mind than a teacher who can connect with their students, get them thinking and learning, and inspire them to reach for more than ‘average’, which they did in me.

WW - Tell us, how hard is it to get a manuscript accepted by Variance and how many authors do you guys publish at present?

ST - Well, we certainly don’t let everyone in. With all of the great talent out there who is yet to be discovered, there is a lot of competition for authors to have to shine above. I would say it is anywhere from 5-10 authors per year at this point, but we are looking to provide a home for more as we grow without a doubt, and currently have 20 authors with published titles through us.

WW - Give us an idea about your feelings on self-publishing—good or bad, and please be honest.

ST - It is all in how it is accomplished, plain and simple. I think that self-publishing can be a very good thing when it is taken seriously and done as a real business proposition. That means after you write it and proof it through friends… you don’t stop, but take it to the next level and hire an editor - one with a proven track record (or at the very least, an English graduate looking for extra credit while pursuing further literary education), get a professional layout so people will want to read - both because it is a good story and because it is legible and does not cause eye-strain, and finally, getting a professional cover that rivals what you would find coming out of a big 6 publishing house. Are you going to drop some money? Of course, but you will have something that people will take a look at and not bypass because it looks amateur. You will have a better chance at landing an agent, getting high sales, and ultimately getting that feeling of accomplishment. Want to know my thoughts on why I think there is such a stigma in self-publishing and POD? It’s due to people taking shortcuts when creating a final product - don’t do it, break the stigma… hey no one said it was going to be easy! But, it will be worth it.

WW - What is the most difficult part of being in the publishing business?

ST - It can be very difficult to meet author’s standards sometimes, especially when it comes to cover design. I really wish that I was an accomplished illustrator, one that can create something from nothing with a pencil and paper, and bring that into something like Photoshop and hit the design out of the park. Unfortunately, I’m at the mercy of the photos that I have access to. Always come to the table with a few ideas, and if a scene can’t be recreated thought-for-thought on the cover it won’t kill your book. As long as you aren’t out-right lying to them and the image is engaging, readers won’t think twice about the fact that they didn’t see it in the reading.

WW - Where do you think the future of publishing is really heading?

ST - That is an amazing question… and if I knew I’d probably play Powerball too! I think it is all up to where publishing houses want to go and how they interact with authors. Mainstream publishing houses have some great perks that the indies don’t get, and this isn’t a woe-is-me moment, it’s the cold hard truth. They get more money coming in because they can charge more and get higher royalty-rates from the distributors. For example, they are able to put their books up for $14.99 and still get that 70% royalty rate where independents like you and I (publisher or not) can only get that up to $9.99. They are more readily available to get support from the book stores, like face-out shelf space, media blasts, and the like. Last point here, many authors are fed up with feeling out of the loop (we are partners after all and ultimately we both want to see success of the title), and not getting their fair cut when all is said and done, a cause and effect reason for so many moving to the self-publishing market who will end up making much more through ebooks never having to cut their royalty with a publisher, and getting to provide more input on the final output.

And that brings us to the other million-dollar question: e-books. Where are e-books going? Where will they take us? At the 2010 Thrillerfest conference, it was thought by industry professionals that e-books would reach a 50% market share within five years. I disagreed, I thought within one- to two-years… and sure enough before Summer 2011 hit we saw a 51% market share. I think books will always be here, no doubt. But I think that with the crazy drop in prices - even for color tablets - it is opening up the market to people who can’t afford the $25 hardcover. By the fourth one, the e-reader has paid for itself and then some. Do I think that this could be the downfall of the bookstore? Maybe, if they don’t grow and change like the rest of everything mutating and trying to find its way. What about libraries? No, libraries will always be around… at least I hope. There is more to a library than just books. It is a multi-faceted location for learning, for community relations, for family building. E-books are going to be what you make of them, but mark my words, they won’t wait for you to jump on board, this train isn’t stopping anytime soon.

WW - Anything else you’d like to tell our readers about yourself, your work or whatever?

ST - Thank you for having me on your blog. The opportunity is so greatly appreciated!
There are a few places you can find me, and hope you come say hello:

• Variance’s ThrillerBlog, Facebook Page, Twitter
• FindTheAxis Blog, Facebook Page, Twitter

You can also come find my directly on Facebook and join in the jolly fun.
Lastly, thanks to all of you who have read the post. I look forward to making contact with you, both here and everywhere else we cross paths.

Monday, August 29, 2011

An Interview With Author Scott Nicholson

We asked Scott Nicholson if he would allow us to ask him a few questions about his writing and he was happy to talk to us. Enjoy!

1. Where did you get the idea for your book, The Skull Ring?

I’d done some research on False Recovered Memory and Satanic Ritual Abuse, and while “Satanic Panic” was largely a phenomenon of the early 1990s, I figured the belief in Satan never went out of style. But it’s more about the psychological battles we fright instead of the larger Good versus Evil.

2. Do you have a favorite author? Book?

It changes from time to time, but I’ve probably read “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn,” “The Old Man and the Sea,” and Ira Levin’s “This Perfect Day” more times than any other books. Generally I like Stephen King and William Goldman and Dean Koontz.

3. We know you used to go the traditional publishing route. What was the major influence that made you decide to become an e-pubber?

Equal parts inspiration and desperation. I was still writing steadily but my market prospects seemed to grow ever bleaker, and I felt I was a better writer. I got the rights back to a couple of books and decided to put them out as e-books and maybe pay the light bill. A year later, it was my job.

4. How long does it usually take for you to produce a book from concept to completion?

I find that four months is a good gestation period, with a month or two for revision. I had a stack of books saved up but I’ll probably be releasing about three or four new novels a year from here on out.

5. What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received? You’ve ever given?

The best writing advice was Bentley Little’s “Keep your head down and write.” But that’s harder to do these days when we have such great opportunities to connect with readers and one another. My advice gets worse and worse every day but in general I say “Be prepared to change your mind and get better.”

6. You have written a ton of books…which one was the most difficult and why?

Probably “Disintegration” because I was purging some of my own psychological junk. I was my own evil twin when I wrote it, so all that came out in the mix.

7. We understand you just signed a two-book deal with Amazon’s imprint Thomas & Mercer. First of all, congratulations. What makes them different from other publishers?

Thanks, I’m delighted. We all see what is happening to bookstores at the same time that e-books are exploding. Amazon has more data on book consumers than anyone at any time in history. I fully expect they will be the biggest publisher on the planet by 2014, if not sooner. They’ve been the leader at every turn of the digital book era, and I am happy to be part of this new venture. “Liquid Fear” and its sequel “Chronic Fear” will be released on Dec. 20, so I hope there are a lot of Kindles in those stockings this year!

8. With so many writers taking the self-publishing route versus traditional publishing, what can a writer do to separate themselves from the pack?

Be more like yourself. That immediately moves you out of the pack. Avoid the pack.

9. Can you tell us of any newcomers to the writing world who have captured your attention?

I have way too many friends writing to go into a list, because I wouldn’t want to inadvertently leave anyone out. Let’s just say I’m very impressed by the diversity of talent that has been artificially suppressed by the traditional publishing system, even though the system could only function with a very narrow gate.

10. Bookstores are closing left and right, but e-book sales are soaring…where do you see the industry in 5 years?

People hate me when I say this but I see 99 cents as the standard price for most e-books, edging toward free with sponsorships. In the same way you sit through a 15-second ad to see your favorite rock video, you will have to flip through ads or tolerate product placement inside the story, but it will be a fair exchange. This isn’t just theory. Amazon already has its ad-sponsored Kindles at a lower cost. It’s just a question of where, when, and how, not “if.”

11. Do you think people will read less with fewer bookstores around or is reading coming back to the limelight because it’s so much more convenient to buy book online?

I resent the whole notion that somehow we’re getting dumber as a nation just because we don’t want to spend $5 in gas and an hour of our time to pay $30 for a book when we can get the same book or its equal for $2.99 with one click, delivered right to our fingertips. This is the Golden Age of communication and literature. Virtually unlimited access to almost anything you want. I can’t see a downside to it, unless you happen to own a bookstore.

12. You’re stranded for the rest of your days on a remote island, what three things would you bring with you?

My wife, my daughter, and her puppy. If you mean “material goods,” I will go with a fishing pole, an ax, and a lighter.

13. If you could chat with any author, dead or alive (although the dead ones may be harder to talk to) who would it be and what would be your first question for them?

Mark Twain, and the question “So, is the devil everything you thought he would be?”

14. There are a lot of authors out there, us included, who look to the Scott Nicholsons, JA Konraths & John Lockes of the literary world for not only inspiration, but for information. Any pearls of wisdom?

Be prepared for change. Stay open-minded. And always give only your best. Don’t assume the other person is right, or that someone knows more than you do. Take chances.

15. What is the one thing no writer should be without?

Faith. There’s a weird place where goals and dreams intersect. Go there.

Thanks so much, Scott. We really appreciate you taking the time out of your day to stop by and answer some questions for us!!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

An Interview with Author Winslow Eliot

WebbWeaver recently got the chance to speak to Winslow Eliot about her life and travels and about her writing. We wanted to share the interview with you.

1. Where did you get the idea for your latest novel, A Perfect Gem?

Two things came together one hot summer afternoon: First, I was driving along a quiet country road after a fabulous encounter with a wonderful man - Bernie Fallon (author of Goodology) At the time he owned the Public Market in my village and he's very much like Gareth in A Perfect Gem.
Then, on my way home, I noticed a small, handmade sign by the side of the road that said 'Crystals and Gems' and a funny arrow pointing up a driveway I'd never seen it before, even though I know this road by heart! Of course I pulled in. There was no one around, so I went around the side of the house to a small barn in the back and there were these two odd-looking gentlemen with a barn full of the most amazing crystals and gems you've ever seen. (This is all true, I swear.) I spent hours and hours with them, touching the stones, learning all about them, sitting in the sun as I held one, talking about their travels...That whole experience seems other-worldly. Afterward, I tried to get in touch with them, but never saw either them or that barn again.

2. You based A Perfect Gem in the area you, yourself, live in. Do you do any locale research or are you fairly familiar with the area?

I moved here from New York in the 1990s so I know it pretty well by now, but I'll always be a newcomer. The town I live in was incorporated in 1750 and there are still only 400 year-round residents. The Berkshires have gorgeous mountain ranges, intense weather, cultural and historic draws, beautiful houses and an interesting mix of people: farmers and others who have lived here for generations, wealthy second-home owners, artists and professionals of all kinds and people seeking an alternative, holistic, sustainable way of life. I try to have at least part of every novel focus around the mythical Berkshire town of Tahton - 'tah' is the Mahican word for heart. The Mahicans were native to this area. There’s rich history, too, that I'd love to explore more: the first legally freed slave, Elizabeth Freeman, sued for her freedom here and won – in 1781! She was a fascinating woman.

3. We know you write romance novels with a mystery theme. Do you think you will ever write in another genre?

Actually, I think by now I've written in just about every genre imaginable - I just wasn't published in any of them. Back in the eighties I plastered my bathroom wall with rejection letters - I had hundreds of them! The reason I became a romance writer was that NAL/Signet was the first publisher to finally agree to publish one of my books. And that’s when I realized how much I had always loved romantic fiction. Jane Austen, Fanny Burney, Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth (she was a baroness and wrote under her first name, back in the 20s.), Georgette Heyer, Daphne du Maurier, Madeleine Brent, Sydney Sheldon, Susan Wiggs - I love them all! So I stuck with what I love. I'll probably always include a romantic theme to whatever I write.

4. Can you tell us which of your books was the most fun to write and do you have a favorite?

Heaven Falls changed my life around. I'd been unpublished since Bright Face of Danger and even my agent was getting discouraged. Then I met John Locke, Claude Bouchard, and Claudia Jackson on Twitter - as well as many other amazing friends - and they took me by the hand and basically said, "Go for it!” I'll never forget the rush of relief and thrill when I realized I COULD be published - I WOULD be published! All it took was a decision! (And Claudia's expertise.) All winter I wrote and wrote - and the response to Heaven Falls when I did publish it made the thrill even more intense. In the fall of 2010 I re-issued Bright Face of Danger which was my most 'successful' traditionally published novel - in fact, it's still selling pretty well in its French edition (Mira Books). A Perfect Gem was great fun because I feel it is filled with lightness-of-being .... This fall I'll be publishing Glass Tower which is darker - more thrillerish, like Bright Face of Danger. Lots of twists and turns - As long as people tell me they can't put my book down, I'm happy.

5. We know that you are well-traveled and have visited many exotic, mysterious places. What one place inspired you most and do you think you will ever go back there?

Living in Hawai'i changed my life, even though I was only there for two years. Arriving there for the first time, I felt I had come to the ends of the earth. The beauty, the magic, the friendliness, the sacredness, and the possibilities imbued me with hope and happiness - after many years of despair. I'll go back - no question.
That being said, in some way I know New York City will always be my strongest inspiration. I don't think there's a single novel I wrote that doesn't include a New York City scene. I was born there and we left when I was two, but because my parents were such travelers, it was the only place in the world I knew would always be there for me. And it has been. When I grew up I moved back and I lived there for twenty years - fell in love, got married and both my children were born in our tiny apartment in the west village. That city has everything: glamour, grit, mystery, passion, history, the best and the worst and everything in between. It is itself a novel. I visit on occasion, but I would like to live there again someday.

6. We know you have said New York Times author John Locke is your mentor and you do some editing for him. Can you tell us how that came about?

He really liked Bright Face of Danger and asked if I'd edit his books. When I first read Lethal People I was amazed at the quality of the writing as well as his story-telling gift and I thought he should try to be traditionally published. He is always so polite, but he was definitely uninterested! I couldn't understand it. But after a while, he totally turned around my previous concept of publishing. All those years I'd taken for granted that I was at the mercy of 1.) a busy agent 2.) a nervous acquisitions editor who had to 'sell' me to a group of other editors who pretty much were only concerned with appeasing their company’s stockholders. John asked, where was the fun in that? I had to agree: it wasn't fun. It hadn't been fun for years. He mentored me not just in the details of marketing and promoting, (tips he's generously shared in his latest How I Sold 1 Million E-Books in 5 Months) but in the pleasure and thrill of being in control of your own destiny. I'll always be grateful.

7. You have won several awards for your writing. Is there one in particular that is most dear to you? Is there one you would still like to win?

There's only one award that truly matters to me - and that's the award of reader appreciation. If my books are beloved by my readers, that is all that really counts. The only reason an award is extra-nice is that more readers will trust the purchase – but I’d like them to love the book for itself, not because it won an award.

8. Can you tell us what one experience with a fan, sticks out in your mind as most humbling and/or rewarding?

One cold February evening I was on the subway in New York and I looked up and someone across the seat from me was reading Bright Face of Danger. I couldn't believe it! I felt this funny tingle go up and down my spine, and I couldn't help smiling. I wondered what to do - should I introduce myself? Should I shake her hand? I was much too shy and I didn't do anything - just went on watching her turn those pages as fast as she could. She didn't look up for a long time, just kept turning those pages, kept turning them and turning them ... and then suddenly she looked up and leapt to her feet in horror - it was obvious she had missed her stop because she'd been so engrossed in the novel. That was a highlight of my life, crazy as it sounds.

9. Where do you see yourself in ten years with regard to your writing career?

I'd like to have at least a dozen beloved romantic and suspenseful novels published. I'd like to have an enormous fan base of happy readers.

10. Will you tell us, what has been the funniest thing that has happened to you at a book event?

You mean like a book signing at a bookstore? I can’t think of anything funny! They’re horrible! My stomach is in knots, I worry about misspelling someones name, I’m anxious that I don’t appear either arrogant or shy, I worry about whether I am meeting the bookstore's expectations in terms of sales; I worry that people will feel sorry for me if no one buys my book; I feel sorry for people who skirt away from me so that they won't feel sorry for me…I can't wait till they are over!

11. Who is your all-time favorite author and what is your all-time favorite book?

Probably the author who had the most influence is my grandmother, Ethel Cook Eliot. She wrote some beloved children’s books (The House Above the Trees, The Wind Boy). She also wrote teenage mysteries, way before the term Young Adult was coined. My favorites are her adult novels (Ariel Dances, Green Doors). She’s mystical, romantic, wise, and, best of all, a good story-teller. That’s my ideal writer.
My all-time favorite book: Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. I could re-read it over and over: it's beautifully written, tightly-plotted, has fabulous characters, is intensely romantic and exciting.

Thanks so much to Winslow for taking the time to answer our question about herself and her writing. You can read more about Ms. Eliot on her website at

Thursday, March 31, 2011

An Interview with Alexandra Sokoloff

The ladies of WebbWeaver recently got an opportunity to talk with Alexandra Sokoloff, author of Book of Shadows, and here is what she had to say.

WW. You have a blog, Screen Writing Tricks For Authors, and are the founder of, an on-line screenwriter’s community. You are also a regular contributor on How important is it for you to give back to the writing community on these forums?

AS. As you know, blogging isn't an entirely selfless activity! It's considered necessary promotion for authors (how absolutely true that is, I can't say). But I'm extremely lucky to have found two blog niches in which I actually can give back to the writing community. Murderati was one of the mystery blogs that took off at just the right time and so we've never had to self-promote - we've had the opportunity to build a real community of authors and readers and we work together as a team more than a lot of groups seem to; I'm privileged to be a part of it. My own blog, Screenwriting Tricks For Authors, came out of the feeling I had that nobody would want to read me just rambling on about myself, so I started posting notes and techniques from the workshops I was being asked to teach on story structure, and it evolved from there into an international following and a workbook of the methods. WriterAction was more fueled by political activism; the Writers Guild is a union, an extremely political entity, more so than authors can possibly imagine, and at the time there was no online forum for WGA members, despite the fact that we were headed into a critical contract negotiation. So it seemed a no-brainer to me to have a private bulletin board for screenwriters to communicate with each other, but no one else was doing it.

WW. What has been the absolute oddest request made of you, by a fan?

AS. I get "Please wear that dress again" a lot. That's not so odd, really, considering the dress.

WW. How did you get started in the all-author, Killer Thriller Band?

AS. That was something that mystery writer and rock concert producer Bob Levinson put together for the first Thrillerfest. It's amazing - or maybe it's not - how many authors were also professional musicians at one time or another. A lot of us from KTB evolved into the band that's part of the Slush Pile Players, now.

WW. Can you tell us a little bit about the Slush Pile Players and when and where fans might get an opportunity to catch one of the performances?

AS. The Slush Pile Players are Heather Graham's traveling theater troupe, made up of authors and quite a few of Heather's wildly talented children (adult children!). For years Heather's been writing these wacky musical revues for the Vampire Ball at Romantic Times Booklovers Festival; the Slush Pile Players are devoted to doing whatever is going through Heather's brain at the time. This often involves stunts like wearing pink flamingo costumes or impromptu pole dancing. Really, she must be using hypnosis or something. RT is in LA this year, April 6-10, and yes, there will be pole dancing.

WW. Can you give us a little insight into your writing process…any odd or unusual rituals that allow you to focus or write more comfortably?

AS. Obviously, front-loading the coffee in the morning to turn off the internal censor. I don't often sit at a desk; I write lying down on the couch a lot, or on a trying day, in bed. It keeps me from having back problems and the cats love it. I don't have any weird rituals that I know of but I do religiously use the index card method and eight-sequence structure techniques I detail on my blog and in the Screenwriting Tricks workbook.

WW. The Keepers Trilogy is a series of books written by you, Heather Graham and Deborah LeBlanc. How did the three of you decide to embark on this endeavor together?

AS. Harlequin asked Heather if she'd consider doing a trilogy with two friends, and Deb and I do the same kind of cross-genre thing that Heather does, mystery/thriller/supernatural, so Heather thought we could come up with something spooky and cool. HQN wanted vampires and werewolves, and since all three of us are in love with New Orleans, it was a natural arena for us to work with - a place where supernatural beings could live fairly exposed lives and never have anyone give them a second glance. And who wouldn't love to work in one of those mystic shops in the French Quarter? So we started with three sisters who own a shop like that, who have an ancestral duty to keep peace between the human and paranormal communities; we threw in a third community of shapeshifters, some criminally hot vampire, werewolf and shapeshifter men that the sisters have to team up with, and we had The Keepers. (

WW Can you tell us the names of a couple of books that you’ve read in 2010, that really stood out for you and why?

AS. Oh, so many. I loved RJ Ellory's, A Quiet Belief in Angels - very poetic and emotional historical noir. I've just finished a YA so have been reading a lot of that, and Melissa Marr's, Radiant Shadows is her best yet, I think, she's going darker, which I love. I was also very impressed with Suzanne Collins', The Hunger Games (okay, I'm behind) - it's such an incredibly great idea and beautifully executed. I think Lee Child's, Reacher books just get better and better - he keeps finding more mythic layers to the character. And of course I buy any Denise Mina and Mo Hayder the first day out.

WW. We see that you have written in several different genres. Is there a particular one that you enjoy writing in the most?

AS. I think I write cross-genre because I never have been able to decide. I most like to read a cross between mystery and supernatural thriller, and that's mainly what I write, but I like any dark and ambiguous story, or ones that have a cosmic mystery, like Tom Stoppard's plays. For my own writing I most enjoy creating a situation in which a reader is constantly guessing whether something supernatural is really happening or if the heroine is having some kind of psychological breakdown or if there's some kind of criminal activity going on. I really walked the finest line with that ambiguity in my latest, Book of Shadows.

WW. With the heightening demand for e-book format, what direction do you see the publishing industry heading in?

AS. Hah - if I knew that, I could retire, couldn't I? It's a revolution. I try to keep focused on the storytelling.

WW. Have there been any talks of adapting your novels for the big screen in the US?

AS. Oh, always, but with Hollywood, you have to celebrate the interest or the option and then let the expectation go. Same answer as above, really: Stay focused on the storytelling.

You can learn more about Alexandra and her work on her web site at and you may purchase her books at

Monday, February 21, 2011

An Interview With Joshua Graham

We recently spoke with Joshua Graham about his wonderful book BEYOND JUSTICE and about his work. Here is what he had to say.

WW. You’ve had a whirlwind year, with several e-books being released as well as some pretty amazing reviews of BEYOND JUSTICE. How have you dealt with you sudden success?

JG. I honestly didn’t know how the public would respond to BEYOND JUSTICE when it was first released. But since then, I’ve been so honored with the reviews, hitting #1 on multiple bestseller lists, and the flood of fan mail. If there’s one word to describe how I feel it would be: Grateful!

WW. Suspense Magazine reviewed your book, BEYOND JUSTICE in September. You have since made their Best of 2010 List. How instrumental has Suspense Magazine and others like them been in getting your name out there?

JG. Suspense Magazine is a fantastic publication and I am certain that by featuring and putting me on the list, they have given me a lot more gadgets to put in my marketing utility belt. By putting me in the same league as Scott Turrow, Ted Dekker, Brad Thor, and Steven James, they’ve definitely helped shape my career. I am so appreciative.

WW. Can you tell us why you chose to write in this particular genre and if you will keep close to it in the future?

JG. I didn’t really think of any particular genre, just the actual story. It can fit into Legal Thrillers easily, but how many legal thrillers include supernatural or paranormal elements as you’d find in a Stephen King book? I love legal thrillers by John Grisham and James Grippando, but I also love Stephen King’s and Dean Koontz’s books as well. I plan to continue writing suspense/thrillers, but I am sure I’ll write other genres as well.

WW. What has been the most humbling part of your literary journey, thus far?

JF. Besides the bestseller lists, the honors, and reviews, I am by far humbled by the letters my fans have sent me. They range from funny and cute, to heart-warming.
Here are a few fan letters I received (funny ones first):

“My husband bought [Beyond Justice] in the mail after work, got your book from Amazon…he’s been reading it all night and can’t put it down. He says it’s so exciting….I don’t think it’ll be long before I get my turn.
(next morning) he’s still reading it…if he’s late to work, he’s gonna tell his boss it’s Joshua Graham’s fault”
~Mei T.
“It was so good. Its message was powerful. Yes, I snot cried.”
~Amy S.
“I was just coming here to say that I am like just over 200 pages in Beyond Justice!! Can I say WOW WOW WOW enough?… Fabulously written book so far!! Now I have to go back to ignoring my children in order to read!”
“Oh Joshua, that was the worse book ever!!! lol It took me like 36 hours to read your book and I bawled like a baby! Yep the last 2 pages I had such a hard time reading through tears!!
~Kaytee S.

Here are the most humbling letters I’ve gotten:

WOW. Not what I expected. It was a pleasant and kind of strange surprise that I happened along this wonderful book (or should I say message) this week! I have been struggling with some things right now and your book put things into perspective. You have a special talent and I thank you”
~Jennifer T.
…Moments ago I finished reading Beyond Justice. I was moved to tears more than once. What an amazing and emotional novel. It is not often I am moved so profoundly. I have had a tumultuous relationship with God over the last 15 years and you, Joshua, have brought me back home. Thank you, sir.”
~Kim L.

I just want to say to my readers, thank YOU. This encourages me like nothing else and reassures me of my calling to write.

WW. Have you gotten an opportunity to meet any writers that you are particularly fond of and if so, who?

JG. I had the honor of meeting and learning from Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch in the Oregon Writers Network Master class for professional writers. I’ve learned so much from them, especially Dean who encouraged me as a writer and bought my first story ever published through Pocket Books.
I also have regular conference calls with two fellow writers from the Master Class, Susan Wingate and Michael Bellomo. We read each other’s work and give feedback. I have to say, they are such wonderful friends and fantastic writers. What a privilege and a pleasure to know and work with them!

WW. Can you tell us what books are in your TBR stack at home?

JG. THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS - C. S. Lewis and dozens of others by bestsellers as well as independent authors whom I’ve recently had the pleasure of getting acquainted with.

WW. When did you know that you wanted to write novels and how did you begin that endeavor?

JG. After I attended my first Oregon Writers Network workshop in 2006 with Dean W. Smith and Kris Rusch, I knew this was what I wanted to do as my career. Shortly after that workshop, in which I learned all about a writer’s career and life as well as created quick synopsizes for dozens of books (BEYOND JUSTICE being one which Kris Rusch had said she wanted to see me write,) I began writing them. I haven’t stopped since.

WW. Most writers have certain rituals or quirky things they do to prepare themselves to sit down and write. Can you tell us about a few of yours?

JG. For me, it’s not so much a writing ritual as it is a daily habit and discipline. I start off every day reading the Bible (one chapter from the Old Testament and one chapter from the New Testament) and then spend a good deal of time in prayer and active “listening.” Many of my book and story ideas are inspired during this time. And all of my marketing strategies that have had any significant success came as a result of praying and listening to the Spirit. I can’t think of a better source of inspiration.

WW. Are there any shocking tidbits about you that your readers do not know? If so, care to tell us about them?

JG. Hmmm… that could be dangerous. Well, Joshua Graham is really just my pen name. And I am not that handsome fellow on the cover of BEYOND JUSTICE (sorry ladies.) People might find it interesting to know that I hold three degrees in music (Bachelor’s and Masters from Juilliard, and Doctorate from Johns Hopkins), I play the cello, worked for 11 years in Information Technology, and once worked as a sales representative for Honda.

WW. We always ask what is the most valuable piece of advice that you have been given and that you would offer up to other aspiring writers?

JG. You are in charge of your own career. Don’t fall into the temptation of thinking, one day an agent or a publisher will make my career. You must learn your craft (writing) and learn about the industry (the business side). Most importantly, don’t let anything stop you from writing, especially fear. We all suffer “this stinks” moments when we write. Push past it and trust your creative voice. Exorcise the critical voice inside which makes you stop writing, prevents you from querying your book to publishers, etc. Only by daring to fail will you succeed.

WW. Can you tell us what your future writing plans are?

JG. God willing, I’m going to write a series of thrillers and Y/A Epic fantasy books. My interests cover a fairly broad range, so it might be that I’ll have a few new pen names for each genre. That will be announced well in advance on my website I love connecting with people on Facebook and Twitter as well. Here is my contact info: ,

Thanks, and I hope everyone will pick up a copy of BEYOND JUSTICE, available at:
Barnes & Noble for the Nook ($2.99)
Amazon: for Kindle ($2.99) or in Trade Paperback
The SONY Reader store and at Smashwords for ALL ebook readers or online reading.
For autographed and personalized paperback copies visit Dawn Treader Press.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

An Interview with author Claude Bouchard by CK Webb

On Thursday, Oct. 1, 2009, I had the sincere pleasure of conducting my very first author interview via phone and e-mail, with Canadian-born author Claude Bouchard. Mr. Bouchard lives and works in Montreal and has four self-published books to his credit. Vigilante, which he wrote in 1995, The Consultant, written in 1996, followed by Mind Games written in 1997 and The Homeless Killer written ten years later. Recently, Mr. Bouchard combined his first two novels, Vigilante and The Consultant into Duo which are available on
I originally met Claude on the social networking site, Twitter and we quickly became friends. He asked me if I would like to read his first novel, Vigilante and review it on WebbWeaver blog. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity and enjoyed this book immensely. I recently asked if he would be willing to allow me to interview him for WebbWeaver and answer some questions from the ladies of the WebbWeaver Book Club.
He agreed and the interview follows:

CK: Thanks so much for doing this...I'm a little nervous.

CB: Thanks for asking me...I'm a little nervous myself.

CK: What was the pivotal moment in your life when you knew you wanted to be a writer?

CB: I had been reading for years; mostly espionage and crime thrillers but in 1995 I got an idea for a story. I didn't really know how to write but I just sat down and started and in two months I had a rough draft of Vigilante.

CK: Is there a line drawn between your art work and your writing?

CB: Not really. I try to concentrate on each equally and focus on them as I work on each particular art form.

CK: Has your writing inspired your art work or visa versa?

CB: Mind games was the inspiration for a watercolor and that watercolor is also the cover art for that particular novel. The art work also comes out in the writing through references to different aspects of art such as art museums, pieces of art work and the like.

CK: Where does you inspiration for your writing come from?

CB: From a lot of reading and the desire to write something that will pique someone else's interest.

CK: Are any of your characters fashioned after yourself, and if so, which one?

CB: Chris Barry has the same initials as myself. Chris Barry is much grander, much more handsome and more debonair fashioned after myself, who happens to do some things I would never do *chuckles*.

CK: In your opinion, what is the greatest book ever answer?

CB: Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

CK: Who is your most inspiring author or who do you enjoy the most?

CB: Lee Child

WebbWeaver Book Club questions answered via e-mail:

Tammy: Do you still enjoy writing after all these years?

Absolutely! I moved away from writing for pleasure for a number of years, not because I didn't feel like writing but simply because I was occupying my time with my painting, guitar and the day job! It really wasn't a conscious decision. It's more that it simply happened. While I was reviewing, revising and self-publishing my old manuscripts last spring, I found my old friends once again and an idea starting brewing to get them back into action. The result was The Homeless Killer which I wrote in about six weeks. Since, I've been spending a lot of time self-promoting my books but have managed to squeeze out three short stories and countless idiocies for the Simple Musings page on my site.

Tammy: Between your art and your writing, which do you enjoy the most?

I hope that "both" is an acceptable answer. I love creating things where I can express myself and let out what's inside. Painting is one outlet; writing is another and playing guitar, another still. Taking away any one of those would leave a very sad void.

Tammy: Who in the literary world would you say is your greatest inspiration?

If by "the literary world" you mean great literary fiction, I must confess that I've never been very attracted by the Hemmingways and Dickenses in terms of preferred reading. I tend to read mainly the same or similar genres as what I write and pinning down one author as an inspiration is quite difficult. John Grisham, Steve Martini and Scott Turow are great with legal fiction. James Patterson rules when it comes to fast-paced page turners. Michael Connelly, Robert Crais (especially the Cole/Pike novels), Jeffrey Deaver and Jonathan Kellerman all do consistently well in the crime genre, each with their own style. Lee Child with his Jack Reacher series also gets glowing praise from me. There are many others whom I haven't mentioned.

Tammy: How old were you when you started writing?

The first time I sat down to seriously write something was in 1995 when I wrote Vigilante so, I was 34.

Tammy: What is your next project?

I'm not even at the starting gate with this one yet so it may end up never seeing the light. However, I have been toying with some ideas and taking notes for a fifth in my Barry/McCall series which could tentatively be entitled Agents will Fall. Very briefly, it would involve a growing number of literary agents being murdered *smile* but let's remember that this would be yet another work of fiction!

Sonya: Does it get easier to self-edit with each book you write?

Not whatsoever! Self-editing is extremely difficult because you know what you are reading so your mind tend to skip over mistakes. If I use The Homeless Killer as an example, I'd type somewhere around ten pages then go back and read them and correct all the mistakes. Next was a printed copy which went to my partner, Joanne for her review and edit (yep, more mistakes). I then reviewed the printed pages again, usually making more corrections before going back to fix everything on the computer. Once the book was finished, Joanne and I reread the revised printed copy, both jotting corrections as we went. Then I submitted for publication and ordered a handful of copies. Jo and I read and corrected again. One copy went to my sister, Lucie, and she got back to me with a number of corrections (most of which Joanne and I had missed). Nope, it doesn't get easier! I do try to read aloud when self-editing as it forces me to read each word and notice missing ones.

Sonya: What literary work is your favorite?

As I mentioned earlier, literary fiction has never been my forte. If I was to pick a classic, it would probably be Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men. In terms of a more modern day epic of historical times, the winner is Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett.

Sonya: Is there a particular teacher in your past who sparked your interest in reading and writing?

Not that I particularly remember. Both my parents are avid readers, even more so my dad and we were encouraged to read early on (along with everything else throughout our educations). That said, if anyone gets kudos for sparking interest in reading and writing (and learning in general) for myself as well as my brother and two sisters, it would be our parents, hands down!

In closing, I would like to thank CK, DJ, Tammie and Sonya for your wonderful questions and interest but especially for inviting me to do this interview!! WebbWeaver Rocks and Alabama's First Official Chapter of Book End Babes Rules!! Merci!