Interview with Bards and Sages Publishing

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Bridgeton, NJ. I had the good fortune of having many teachers who encouraged creativity and a love of writing. We had a lot of freedom with our writing assignments that I think is lacking in education today. It was at the high school library that I first discovered Stephen King. I checked out the library's copy of 'Salem's Lot. I remember thinking two things. First, this was the scariest thing I had ever come across. Second, I could do that.
When did you first start writing?
I started seriously writing when I was thirteen. I would write short horror stories to share with my friends and teachers. I'm pretty sure if a teenager today showed the types of stories I wrote to a teacher now, the poor kid would at best end up with detention and at worst end up medicated and labeled unstable. But thankfully my teachers all had a firm grasp of the difference between fantasy and reality and recognized fiction as fiction.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I'm in the middle of working on two sequels right now. The first is a sequel to my dark Fantasy, the Doom Guardian. The sequel picks up where the events in The Doom Guardian left off. The other is a sequel to my paranormal thriller, A Game of Blood. That sequel is a much more stand-alone work because while it features the same hero, he finds himself dealing with a whole new set of supernatural problems. I also have an urban fantasy short story series called Nancy Werlock's Diary which chronicles the trials and tribulations of a reluctant demonologist taking over the family business after her mother's death. Of the three projects, its a much more lighthearted collection.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I first started publishing in 2004. I had several small press publishers interested in a short story collection, but I just didn't like some of the terms they were offering. I am unfortunately a bit of a control freak and I don't delegate well nor do I like the idea of giving someone else control over my plot or characters. And all of the contracts felt very restrictive.

Around the same time, I was getting involved in the RPG industry and after several conversations with other game publishers learned many of them actually were one or two-person operations who were effectively just self publishing.

I come from a strong business background. I have formal work experience in advertising, direct sales, and public relations. I already had some trade publishing credits under my belt from short story and poetry markets. Once I learned about print-on-demand publishing and ebooks, it became a no-brainer for me to just launch my own business.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
What I love about Smashwords is that it is a proactive business partner. Mark is always looking to expand distribution opportunities and open new markets. Smashwords can get access to retail outlets that an individual author can't.

Letting Smashwords handle book distribution is one less thing on my plate to deal with. I'm not just an indie author. I'm also a micro press with a deep backlist. Smashwords saves me a lot of time having to manually upload books to dozens of outlets. And believe me, the phrase "time is money" isn't just a silly cliché.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The biggest thrill for me is knowing that others are reading and enjoying my work. When I get a fan mail from a reader or someone comes up to me at a convention to talk about my work, it is a humbling and exciting experience.
What do your fans mean to you?
The fans are what motivate you to keep writing and keep trying to get better. Even when they email to complain, the fact that they care enough about the story to actually complain about it is great. Reader apathy is a writer's greatest enemy.
What are you working on next?
As I already mentioned, I have two sequels in the works as well as a short story series. I also edit a speculative fiction journal called the Bards and Sages Quarterly. I also have some rpg projects in the pipeline.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm a pretty hardcore gamer, both pen-and-paper RPGs and video games. So if I am not writing or researching, I'm wasting hours of my life playing World of Warcraft or some other game. I run a Skyrim-themed d20 game on Monday nights, and I play in a World of Darkness storyteller game every other Tuesday. I read a lot, between my Kindle and my physical bookshelves, I own hundreds of books.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I am not the typical ebook reader. I'm an avid reader, but a picky one. I'm not big into popcorn books. I have a subscription to a trade pub called Bookpages that shares news about upcoming books. I'm active on Goodreads and use it as a resource. I'm involved in a lot of writer sites so I sometimes come across authors by accident by interacting with them in a forum.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Vaguely. It was something to do with werewolves attacking a school and the students had to fight them off. Like I said before, stories like that would have earned me a detention if I was a student today. But back then, my teachers just corrected my grammar and made plot suggestions!
What is your writing process?
I'm an instinctive writer. I don't have a set schedule or an arbitrary word count I force on myself. I keep a notebook, and when I get an idea I jot it down and come back to it later. Sometimes it will just be a character concept. Sometimes it will be a plot point. Sometimes it will just be a single sentence. That's actually what happened with my most recent story, Water is Thicker than Blood. Several months ago I jotted down a single line "Rue had suffered just about all the crap from Hank she could abide."

I had no idea who Rue or Hank were, or what Hank had done to make her mad. I just knew this would be important later. A few months later, I was going through the notebook and came across this note I had made, and the story just suddenly made sense. That is sort of how my brain works. I let things ferment for a while and then come back to them.

Once the story is one paper, I set it aside for a few weeks before editing. The time lapse gives me a chance to review the story with fresh eyes. If I try to edit too soon, I'm still "too close" to the material and read what I meant to say instead of what I actually wrote. After the second edit, it goes to a proofreader and then I format and upload.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story I have strong memories of was Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls. I don't remember exactly how old I was. I think around Middle School years. By the gods, I cried so much at the end of that book! My mom thought something was wrong with me. It was such an intense feeling. I know I read a lot before and after that book because I was always reading even as a kid. But that is the first book that really burned itself into my mind.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I own a Kindle. I started with the DX because at the time it was the only ereader that would read native PDFs, and I have a large library of PDF files. I now have a Kindle and a Kindle Fire, though I use the Fire mostly for watching movies and such.
Published 2013-08-30.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Bardic Tales and Sage Advice (Vol VI)
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Series: Bardic Tales and Sage Advice, Book 6. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 58,580. Language: English. Published: August 9, 2014. Category: Fiction » Horror » General
The stories in this year’s collection include knights and dragons, lonely zombies, a musician with mystical powers, an overzealous security system, and more. We consider it the perfect sampler of the wonderful emerging talent in the speculative genres. We hope you will agree.
Bards and Sages Quarterly (July 2014)
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Series: Bards and Sages Quarterly. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 15,730. Language: English. Published: June 29, 2014. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
Since 2009, the Bards and Sages Quarterly has brought fans of speculative fiction an amazing variety of short stories from both new and established authors. Each issue sets out to introduce readers to the wealth of talent found in the horror, fantasy and science fiction genres. Our authors have included Nebula, Hugo, and Pushcart winners and nominees.
Bards and Sages Quarterly (April 2014)
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Series: Bards and Sages Quarterly. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 27,330. Language: English. Published: March 31, 2014. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
Since 2009, the Bards and Sages Quarterly has brought fans of speculative fiction an amazing variety of short stories from both new and established authors. Each issue sets out to introduce readers to the wealth of talent found in the horror, fantasy and science fiction genres. Our authors have included Nebula, Hugo, and Pushcart winners and nominees.
Bards and Sages Quarterly (January 2014)
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Series: Bards and Sages Quarterly. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 12,140. Language: English. Published: January 26, 2014. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
Since 2009, the Bards and Sages Quarterly has brought fans of speculative fiction an amazing variety of short stories from both new and established authors. Each issue sets out to introduce readers to the wealth of talent found in the horror, fantasy and science fiction genres. Our authors have included Nebula, Hugo, and Pushcart winners and nominees.
Bards and Sages Quarterly (October 2013)
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Series: Bards and Sages Quarterly. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 27,980. Language: English. Published: October 1, 2013. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
Since 2009, each issue of the Bards and Sages Quarterly has delivered a unique variety of character-driven speculative fiction short stories from both new and established writers. Our writers include first-time authors, Pushcart Prize nominees and Nebula award winners. This issue contains twelve original tales of dragons, zombies, and exotic places and bizarre mysteries.
Bards and Sages Quarterly (April 2013)
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Series: Bards and Sages Quarterly. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 45,760. Language: English. Published: April 1, 2013. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
Since 2009, each issue of the Bards and Sages Quarterly has delivered a unique variety of character-driven speculative fiction short stories from both new and established writers. Our writers include first-time authors, Pushcart Prize nominees and Nebula award winners. This issue features 21 original stories from Wil Ogden, KJ Hannah Greenberg, Jamie Lackey, Brenda Stokes Barron, and many others.
Bards and Sages Quarterly (January 2013)
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Series: Bards and Sages Quarterly. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 36,390. Language: English. Published: January 10, 2013. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
Since 2009, each issue of the Bards and Sages Quarterly has delivered a unique variety of character-driven speculative fiction short stories from both new and established writers. Our writers include first-time authors, Pushcart Prize nominees and Nebula award winners.
America the Horrific: An Anthology of Horror
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Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 68,290. Language: English. Published: October 15, 2011. Category: Fiction » Anthologies » Horror
An empty stretch of highway. A freak electrical storm. A bus full of strangers. And a mysterious bus driver with a rather peculiar agenda. America the Horrific: An Anthology of Horror presents eleven tales of terror in the tradition of classic storytelling.
Bardic Tales and Sage Advice (Volume 3)
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Series: Bardic Tales and Sage Advice, Book 3. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 36,980. Language: English. Published: July 2, 2011. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » General
Volume Three of Bardic Tales and Sage Advice continues our tradition of presenting some of the most amazing voices in the speculative fiction field. Pushcart Prize nominees Kurt Bachard and Todd Austin Hunt, USA Book News Best Book Finalist Peter A. Balaskas, Best Horror of the Year Honorable Mention Kevin Wallis, and other exciting authors offer their unique visions for readers to explore.
Bardic Tales and Sage Advice, Vol. 2
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Series: Bardic Tales and Sage Advice, Book 2. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 51,930. Language: English. Published: September 26, 2010. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » General
Ten tales of epic adventure that explore everything from the darkest recesses of the human mind to the strangest corners of outer space. Escape the mundane world with this exciting journey into the varied realms of speculative fiction.
Dead Men (and Women) Walking
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Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 65,240. Language: English. Published: October 15, 2009. Category: Fiction » Horror » General
Zombies. Vampires. Undead things that should not be. Now the dead share their tales, with over two dozen tales of brain-feasting, blood-drinking, revenge-seeking horror. Follow the walking dead through playgrounds, shopping centers, deserted towns, and corporate complexes as they continue their relentless quests.
Bardic Tales and Sage Advice
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Series: Bardic Tales and Sage Advice, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 43,560. Language: English. Published: October 15, 2009. Category: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - multi-author
As the gods prepare for their long sleep, a young woman must bear the burden of keeping their memory alive in "Winter of the Gods". A Police Officer discovers you can ban the weapons of destruction, but not humanity's destructive nature in "Netherlands Roulette". A Young Man develops a new perspective thanks to a stolen antique in "The Glass Eye". These tales and others await.
Legendary Horrors
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Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 53,490. Language: English. Published: October 15, 2009. Category: Fiction » Anthologies » Horror
A tourist unlocks a terrible secret that has cursed a small town for generations. A man desperate to hold on to his love at all costs makes a deal with too high of a price. A quiet vacation in a cabin turns into a nightmare for an elderly couple. An investigative reporter gets the interview of the century...with the Boogeyman. These tales and others await.