Interview with Bards and Sages Publishing

Published 2013-08-30.
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.
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Latest books by This Author

Bards and Sages Quarterly (July 2022)
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 17,530. Language: English. Published: June 30, 2022. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Horror » General
Now in our 14th year of publication, the Bards and Sages Quarterly strives to bring fans of speculative fiction a variety of new and established voices to enjoy. Each issue features an eclectic range of styles and voices to delight audiences. This issue features work by Gregory Alan Burhoe, John Didday, Peter M. Floyd, Charlotte H. Lee, Susan Meyer, Carol Scheina, and KT Wagner.
Bards and Sages Quarterly (April 2022)
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 24,040. Language: English. Published: April 1, 2022. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
Now in our 14th year of publication, the Bards and Sages Quarterly strives to bring fans of speculative fiction a variety of new and established voices to enjoy.
Bards and Sages Quarterly (January 2022)
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 28,400. Language: English. Published: December 31, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Science fiction » General
Now in our 14th year, the Bards and Sages Quarterly strives to bring fans of speculative fiction a variety of new and established voices to enjoy. Each issue features an eclectic range of styles and voices to delight audiences. This issue features works by Alice Hathaway, Xan van Rooyen, Naomi Libicki & Alter S. Reiss, Julie Reeser, Jeff Rona, Jeff Dosser, Craig Fishbane, and Dylan King.
Bards and Sages Quarterly (October 2021)
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 32,320. Language: English. Published: October 1, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Science fiction » General
Welcome to The Bards and Sages Quarterly, a journal of speculative fiction. With each issue, we strive to bring readers a wide range of character-driven fiction from established and emerging authors in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction fields. The Bards and Sages Quarterly is the perfect sampler to explore the incredible range of storytelling found in the speculative genres.
Bards and Sages Quarterly (July 2021)
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 33,540. Language: English. Published: July 1, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Science fiction » General
Welcome to The Bards and Sages Quarterly, a journal of speculative fiction. With each issue, we strive to bring readers a wide range of character-driven fiction from established and emerging authors in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction fields. The Bards and Sages Quarterly is the perfect sampler to explore the incredible range of storytelling found in the speculative genres.
Bards and Sages Quarterly (April 2021)
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 19,390. Language: English. Published: March 31, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Science fiction » General
Celebrating our 13th year in publication! Welcome to The Bards and Sages Quarterly, a journal of speculative fiction. With each issue, we strive to bring readers a wide range of character-driven fiction from established and emerging authors in the fantasy, horror, and science fiction fields.
Bards and Sages Quarterly: January 2021 (Special Edition)
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 27,960. Language: English. Published: January 3, 2021. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Science fiction » General
Celebrating 13 years in publication! Welcome to The Bards and Sages Quarterly, a journal of speculative fiction. Each issue offers readers a variety of speculative works from both new and established authors in the field. This issue includes works by Jasmine Arch, Steve DuBois, S.E. Greco, TD Komoff, Maura O;Neill, Nell Ravenna, and Jason Washer.
Bards and Sages Quarterly (October 2020)
Series: Bards and Sages Quarterly. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 22,270. Language: English. Published: October 1, 2020. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Science fiction » General
With stories by Elyssa Campbell, Scott Forbes Crawford, AJ Cunder, Sean Patrick Hazlett, Tim Hereid, M.X. Kelly, Jamie D. Munro, and Julie Reeser.
Bards and Sages Quarterly (July 2020)
Series: Bards and Sages Quarterly. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 20,100. Language: English. Published: July 1, 2020. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Horror » General
Each issue of the Bards and Sages Quarterly brings fans of speculative fiction a wide range of new and established voices in the horror, fantasy, and science fiction genres. Includes stories by Joshua Novak, Michael Gardner, Christian McCulloch, Alex Zoubine, KT Wagner, Matt Neil Hill, and Mathew Morrison.
Bards and Sages Quarterly (April 2020)
Series: Bards and Sages Quarterly. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 26,540. Language: English. Published: April 3, 2020. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories, Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
Each issue of the Bards and Sages Quarterly brings fans of speculative fiction a variety of new and established voices in the horror, fantasy, and science fiction genres.
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