Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Sara Jayne Townsend on Being a Writer and Blasting Zombies

I'm peeling back the curtain again today to give you all a glimpse inside the mind of UK horror and crime author Sara Jayne Townsend. She was nice enough to sit down with me to discuss her process as a writer and the many unique challenges new authors face in breaking in.  

Griffin: Tell us about your forthcoming release.

Sara-Jayne: I’ve got a collection of short stories coming soon, tentatively scheduled for February 2012, with Stumar Press.  Entitled SOUL SCREAMS, this is a collection of 13 short horror stories.  Some of them are supernatural horror, some are more psychological, but they are fairly dark and gloomy.

Griffin: Describe your journey as a writer.

Sara-Jayne: I’ve been telling stories all of my life.  Even as a child, I was making up stories about my dolls and toys, who all had names, personalities and family histories.  I decided I wanted to be a published writer when I was 10, and tried writing a novel not long after.  It was awful, of course.  I knew I liked telling stories, but I didn’t know what made a good story.

Over the years I’ve learned many lessons about how to write a story that will keep the reader interested.  My first publishing contract, for my horror novel SUFFER THE CHILDREN, arrived shortly before my 40th birthday, thus fulfilling a 30-year-old dream.

I’m still learning how to tell a good story.  I don’t think a writer ever stops learning how to write.  There are always ways in which one can hone the craft.  It’s a lifelong learning process.

Griffin: Do you have a daily writing schedule and if so what is it?

Sara-Jayne: I have a day job which involves commuting into London, and it’s often hard to find time to fit the writing and everything else in around it.  I try to catch the early train twice a week, and sit in Starbucks with my NetBook for an hour before work, to get some writing time in.  This means getting up at 5:30am, and if someone had have told me a few years ago I would voluntarily be getting up at this time in the morning, I would not have believed them.  But it seems to be working for me, as it means I definitely get some words written, even in the weeks when I don’t do any writing in the evenings.

Griffin: How much planning, outlining and research goes into each of your books?

Sara-Jayne: I’m a bit anal when it comes to planning, but I’ve learned the hard way this is the way I have to work.  I have too many half-finished manuscripts that were abandoned before the end of draft 1 because I couldn’t work out what happens next.  So now I start with a plot outline, which usually runs to about three pages, detailing all the main plot details.  From there I’ll do a chapter plan, deciding what is going to happen in each chapter.  Once I have that done, I’ll start writing chapter 1.  I will deviate from the chapter plan – either a particular event will need to cover more than one chapter, or I’ll write a chapter and work out that something else needs to happen I hadn’t originally anticipated, but that’s OK.  

I’m a bit lazier when it comes to research.  I tend to start writing without doing much research.  As I’m working on draft 1 I’ll write margin notes for myself – “find out more about x” or whatever.  Then I will try and find out what I need to know, and amend future drafts accordingly.  The most important thing for me is to get the first draft laid down.  If I’m enthused about an idea, I need to start writing it.  I know myself well enough to know that if I went off to do the research before starting, I’d turn it into an excuse to never get started.  Draft 1 is the scaffolding.  Once I’ve got the first draft, I can then build the rest of the novel.

Griffin: How do you deal with writer's block?

Sara-Jayne: I find it best to go away for a while and do something other than write.  Blasting zombies on the Playstation sometimes helps.  Eventually I feel ready to go back to the computer and try again.

Griffin: Any thoughts on the current state of the publishing industry?

Sara-Jayne: I think the e-book issue is becoming a quiet revolution.  There seems to be fear in the industry that e-books will destroy print books, but that doesn’t have to be the case.  There is room for both, and most people with e-readers still buy print books as well as e-books.  But it’s not the case that e-books are a passing phase – they are here to stay, and sales of e-books climb ever higher, while more and more bricks-and-mortar book shops are closing down.  The publishing industry has to accept that e-books are not going away, and adapt to that.  I’d like to see e-book versions of all books available, and I’d also like to see all e-readers using the same format.

Griffin: What authors inspire you?

Sara-Jayne: I discovered Stephen King when I was 14 and he remains a huge inspiration, especially in my horror stories.  I like the way he portrays ordinary, flawed people in extraordinary situations.  

My crime fiction has been inspired by Sara Paretsky, whose character VI Warshawski remains a shining example of a strong, independent-minded female protagonist.

Griffin: What's the best thing about being a writer?

Sara-Jayne: Writers have an outlet for their fears and frustrations.  I’ve never written ‘happy’ stories, and I think it’s mostly because I use the writing as a way of trying to exorcise negative emotions.  Happy feelings I want to hold on too; I don’t feel the same need to write about them. 

As a horror and crime writer, I have an outlet for any feelings of hostility.  I can subject my characters to extremely unpleasant things, and it stops me from going nuts and lashing out at my co-workers or my fellow commuters.  Having that outlet keeps me sane.

Griffin: What's the worst thing about being a writer?

Sara-Jayne: Not being able to earn enough from it to make a living.  I often feel like I’m working two jobs – the day job is the one that pays the bills; the writing job is the one I’d rather be doing.  And that’s before considering the time required to work on promotion.  

Lack of time is an issue.  Sometimes I envy all those people that finish the day job and go home and relax for the evening.  But only sometimes…

Griffin: If you weren't doing this interview right now, what would you be doing?

Sara-Jayne: Probably blasting zombies in Resident Evil…

Griffin: Thanks so much for stopping by! Any last words?

Sara-Jayne: Thanks for having me!  Anyone who’s interested in learning more about my writing can visit my website at http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com and my blog at http://sayssara.wordpress.com.

Sara Jayne Townsend is a UK-based writer of crime and horror fiction. She has two novels available as e-books from Lyrical Press, Inc: SUFFER THE CHILDREN, a horror novel and DEATH SCENE, first in a series featuring amateur sleuth Shara Summers. Her forthcoming collection of short horror stories, SOUL SCREAMS, will be available soon from Stumar Press. Her web site can be found at http://sarajaynetownsend.weebly.com and her blog at http://sayssara.wordpress.com.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Daniel Audet onThe Biz-ness of Writing.

As an aspiring author , maybe like you, my daily efforts consist of writing, thinking about writing and thinking-about-thinking-about-writing. We talk about talking about writing, we talk about writing and we talk about talking about writing about writing. Somewhere in the mix of the mental mosh pit that is most writers minds, is the looming realization (at whatever point it becomes important for you) that writing and publishing is a BUSINESS!

An obvious point, you say? Sure. But, you’d be more than surprised at how many talented writers and authors have a child-like idealistic perspective of the industry (including myself).
You, me, we - need to understand that your writing is a product and a commodity. It’s something you are trying to sell to others in the industry who will be trying to sell your work and you, to bookstores, reviewers and readers.
Let’s look at what that means for us as writers struggling and working our way up the food chain in the publishing industry.
First  - take an informal inventory:
You’re an imaginative determined person fighting for time to write. Check.
You have your website or blogsite or eCommerce site. Check.
You’re active on Twitter, Facebook and other social sites. Check.
You follow writing guru blogs. Check.
You have a pile of the best “How-To” books beside you. Check.
You go to book fairs and signings. Check.
People tell you the writing is worthy of publication. Check.
You’ve sent queries and manuscripts. Check.
Now what?
Hopefully, like any other endeavor wherein MONEY and LABOR are vital parts of the equation, you’ve taken a proactive approach to studying the business of publishing.
For me, when I look at the big picture of this industry I know instinctively that the major players are (sorry dude) NOT writers, (unless you‘re Steven Gore or James Patterson or David Baldacci ). We’re talking about big business and ALL that that implies. Take a long hard look at the industry and try to separate yourself emotionally from the overall insight of how it works. Examine the working elements. Put your ego, attitude and feelings in your back pocket. Look at it from the top down. Publishers, editors, reviewers and industry publications all play an important role in selling a book. (Did I mention how much I LOVE editors?)
Like any industry, labor is a baseline factor, an essential one for sure, but if you can gain the perspective of  the players involved who are trying to survive in a fast paced, extremely competitive marketplace and where and how they do their thing then you’ll better understand where and how you fit in as an author - aka LABOR.
It isn’t just a fight for book sales it’s a fight for dollars, in general.
Study trends like eBooks. Know the difference between online publishing, self-publishing, the large publishing houses and their divisions. Follow bloggers and columnists who write about this stuff. Read up on writers, writers websites, authors who sell lots of books and those who write about them.
Follow links out, look up names of industry leaders and companies involved.
Find the time. You’re a student, not just a writing student either. And, it isn’t just a matter of trying to hook up with people who can help you. The object is to bring your A-game and find partners.
My life has changed so much in the last 3 years, it’s crazy. As I fine tune my schedule and direct more focus and energy towards becoming a break out novelist I look back at how I spent my time and energy and I laugh. I know I could’ve never had any hope of making it to the bestseller list spending only a few hours a week writing, networking and mapping out the industry. I studied, still do, other writers and the industry as a whole and learned that professional means just that - professional. I used to spend more time telling people I was a writer than actually writing. Now I spend, at a minimum, 4 to 6 hours a day writing. Most days it’s more like 8 to10 or more hours a day between writing, reading, networking and studying.
Finally, let me tell you something critical I’ve learned the hard way:
I’ll know I’m there when someone else tells me I’m there.
What?  When is that?
When my short stories win or make it into the finals of competitions, when I get mentions from my peers in their columns and blogs, when people contact me about my work (which they are beginning to do) looking to help with editing or referring me to an agent, AND when my first manuscript is finally tweaked, edited and ready to rock-n-roll and someone is waiting to look it over, when someone buys me lunch to talk a book deal over, and, when people start buying my book. That‘s when.
Don’t think that all you have to do is get the book into an agents hands, go pick out a new Escalade, and then start writing the sequel. You need to know what a good agent is supposed to do and what they’ll expect of you too.
What does an agent do once he or she has a good prospect? Do you know?
What happens next?
Find out, this is what I’m saying.
You’ll realize that the more you understand about every aspect of the ‘bizz-ness of writing’ as you careen down ‘the writers road’ to the best seller list, that knowledge will make you a better driver and a better writer.
If a published author or industry notable chooses to take an interest in you, consider yourself blessed.
And, face the fact that you WILL need a good editor, first a line editor then an overall concept and structure editor. Like I've said, save your money for a really good one.
Stay tuned writers….


I agree with Daniel on a number of points. The bottom line is, being a writer is a life choice, not a get rich quick scheme and certainly not a ticket to getting your own reality show. It takes an insane amount of hard work and a dedication to always improving your craft. Unfortunately, more often than not, it also involves getting your ass handed to you more times than you can count. Paying your dues. That's what the old timers used to call it and the truth of what they believed still holds today. Thanks for stopping by Daniel and we look forward to seeing your novel on a shelf real soon. 

Daniel Audet Author Bio:
Writer, blogger and radio show host.

     At the age of 15 I ran away from home, near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and, in the tough years that followed I aspired to become a professional athlete in 3 different major sports, nearly making it until sidelined by serious foot and hand injuries. Ending up in LA as a model and an actor I’ve worked in over 30 films and 15 commercials, most recently doing a bit as a limo driver in an episode of “Burn Notice”.
     A sports & travel gear designer for a major sports action company in the 80′s and early 90′s, I got to travel the world, (something I intend to resume soon).
Nature called so I became a tree doctor for most of the 90′s and early 2000′s. Gigs as a waiter, a lifeguard, a bodyguard and a truck driver filled in some of the “lost years”. A writer by genetics, I’ve always written stories, poems and song lyrics since I was a kid, having found limited success in all 3 fields. Country music is a passion of mine and hopefully I will be spending more time in the Nashville music scene, maybe even getting song credit for work I’ve done that made it to country radio, and finding honest writing partners so I can get more songs on the radio with my name on them.
I made the choice to seriously and completely dedicate myself to fiction writing a few years ago, that is, to learn the craft and art of writing and storytelling. Without having any idea if I really “had the goods” or the capacity to compete in the big leagues I began my journey down the writers road.
So far, so good.

Connect with Daniel Audet on:
His Blog
Twitter: @danielaudet

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

13 Days of Christmas Giveaway!

If you're looking for a great holiday giveaway contest, you need to swing by Avery Olive's blog. 13 authors are taking part and she's got tons of cool giveaways. Have I mentioned a free copy of MALICE is one of them? You doesn't need more horror over the holidays?

In other news, my short horror story THE GRIP just (temporarily) dipped onto one of Amazon's bestseller lists. Normally short stories don't do that well, so I'm starting to think that giving away all those free copies of THE SECOND COMING might have wetted people's appetite.

Finally, I'm hoping to have the first draft of my post apocalyptic zombie novella HIVE finished by this Thurday (December 15th). I can't tell you how much fun I'm having on this one. I almost don't want it to end. Kinda scary no? I've taken some stylistic chances here too, but in true Hayes style, there's loads of action and hoards of ravenous zombies. Translation: Good family fun. Once that particular bad boy is in the can, I'll be working on a final draft of my 2nd full length novel, NOCTURNAL. That one's straight adult horror and I think people are really going to enjoy it. I'm also sure to get some angry hate mail, so I'm looking forward to that. All joking aside, 2012 is going to be a big year for me and I really look forward to seeing where this journey takes me.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Scott Nicholson's Creative Spirit

So I asked Scott recently what was new in the life of a bestselling author. His answer: "Creative Spirit." 
Now, I'm familiar with all of Scott's work, but I still wasn't sure what he was talking about. 
"A new book?" 
"Kinda," he said. "Back in 2004 it was called The Manor. I've since revised and updated it for the Kindle."
I immediately got excited. Having read and loved The Manor a few years back, I can only imagine how much better it's become. See for yourself.  

"Scott Nicholson is a writer who always surprises and always entertains."- Jonathan Maberry, Dust & Decay

A paranormal thriller by Scott Nicholson

After parapsychologist Anna Galloway is diagnosed with terminal cancer, she has a recurring dream in which she sees her own ghost at Korban Manor. She’s compelled to visit the historic estate to face her destiny and the fate of her soul.

Sculptor Mason Jackson has come to the manor to make a final, all-or-nothing attempt at success before giving up his dreams. When he becomes obsessed with carving Ephram Korban's form out of wood, he is swept into a destructive frenzy that even Anna can’t pull him from.

The manor itself has secrets, with fires that blaze constantly in the hearths, portraits of Korban in every room, and deceptive mirrors on the walls. With an October blue moon looming, both the living and the dead learn the true power of their dreams.

View or sample Creative Spirit at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Kobo, Smashwords, BN.com, or Goodreads. Look for Liquid Fear and Chronic Fear from Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer imprint.

CREATIVE SPIRIT is Scott Nicholson’s revised edition of the 2004 U.S. paperback THE MANOR. Scott is Kindle bestselling author of 12 novels, including THE RED CHURCH, DISINTEGRATION, LIQUID FEAR, and SPEED DATING WITH THE DEAD. Connect with Scott on Facebook, Goodreads, LibraryThing, Twitter, blogspot, website or Amazon page

Friday, December 2, 2011


Just a heads up for all you fans of FREE. My darkly disturbing horror short THE SECOND COMING, just went free on Amazon and it's already a hit the bestseller lists (#6 Short Stories, #14 Horror). If you're in the mood for something a little longer, you'll find my novella BIRD OF PREY HERE as a free pdf download and also on Obooko. While you're at it, might as well pick up my sci-fi horror short THE GRIP, also free. And finally, my novel MALICE is only .99 cents on Amazon for the holidays. All this holiday madness won't last long, so swoop in and grab your copies fast.

Holiday Malice

Attention Christmas shoppers. Malice (Kindle) is now .99 cents for the holidays, so if ever there was a time to pick up a copy for Grandma Suckles, Uncle Bob, Little Billy and the rest of the extended family, this is it.

Sadly, on B&N and elsewhere, Malice is still a whopping $2.99, but I have a warm spot in my cold heart for all you Nook and Epub lovers. If you're interested in picking up a copy, send me an email (griffinhayesbooks [at] gmail.com) with 'Holiday Malice' in the subject line and I'll cut you a Smashwords coupon for $2 off the cover price. For people bad at math like me, that means you'll pay the same as the Kindle folk. A great ice breaker at cocktail parties, trust me.

Please note: No children were harmed in the creation of this blog entry.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Two of my short stories are now free!

I thought the few remaining readers still on my fence about good old Griffin Hayes might need a little nudge. It is high up there and I wouldn't want you getting hurt. For that reason, I've decided to make you an offer you can't refuse. Two free short stories, just for you!

Stop shaking your head in disbelief, you heard right. Two short stories I've recently uploaded to Amazon and Smashwords are now free. To get them, use these Smashwords links and download to your heart's content.

Important: You don't need a Smashwords account to download these stories, only an e-reader since they're in eBook format.

Or if you prefer you can get them on Barnes & Noble:
The Second Coming
The Grip


Jack Barrow has traveled back in time to save his family from a sadistic killer. All he has to do now is convince Dr. Sims at Bellevue Heights Mental Institution that he isn't crazy.


Lt. Cready and Engineer Andreas Chavez have been chosen to man a claustrophobic outpost on the outer edge of the solar system. After a year and a half with no word from Earth, nerves become frayed and tensions mount as Cready begins to suspect that his friend isn't entirely human. 
Let me know what you think! 

Happy Reading! 
Griffin Hayes

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Are ghosts real?

I suppose Halloween would have been a more appropriate time to talk about paranormal phenomena, but I've rarely been prone to doing things in an appropriate way, so why start now? There's a question I've been grappling with lately and I'm not sure why. Are ghosts  real? It might have something to do with my father's recent passing, or it might simply be a product of my lifelong fascination with the bizarre and the macabre. I'm not sure. Normally this topic is rather taboo. I mean say the wrong thing and people are liable to think you've got a screw or two loose.

Now I don't have any stats to back this up, but I'd be willing to bet that most authors out there who use the paranormal as a backdrop for their stories don't actually believe in it's existence. And even if they did, would they dare admit it?

I'll let you, my loyal readers, in on a little secret. Something some of my closest friends don't even know (uh, until now). I'm 99.999% positive that death isn't the end of us. I'm not sure I believe in 'heaven' and 'hell' and all that jazz. I'm always suspicious when someone tells me I need to believe something or else I'll be in trouble.

Like I mentioned earlier, I'm not a big fan of towing the line. But to get back to my point, let's just say when people close to me pass away, they almost always end up showing up in my dreams. Now I can already hear you asking yourself, 'how do you know it isn't just your brain trying to cope with the loss?' The reason I'm confident that in 'certain' cases it was them is because more than once I've had a dream encounter with someone close who told me they'd died before I even found out. I'm not psychic or anything, but this sort of things happens to me a lot. Or for example, I dreamt my sister told me she was pregnant with her first child about a week before she made any kind of announcement. And yes, technically that has nothing to do with ghosts, but regardless, it was freaky and to this day I still have no idea how that happened.

So, do ghosts exist? You're gonna wanna punch me, but my answer is, I'm not sure. I believe we don't really die (though as I alluded to earlier I'm not religious), but I'm hard pressed to completely believe those wispy things people see clamoring down hallways are what we think of as ghosts. As in, Grandma Suckles's restless spirit. I'm more inclined to believe that highly charged events tend to leave some kind of imprint on the environment in ways we don't quite understand yet.

I was once walking through an old part of town with a psychic woman who said she could see a figure perched at the top of a nearby building. The figure would step off and plummet only to reappear at the top again a second later, like a skipping record, jumping to her death over and over for infinity. Or those ghostly Civil War battles early morning hikers sometimes report. I'm hard pressed to believe thousands of spirits are still waging war on each other (although I have to admit the idea's a pretty cool one).

I can just hear all those Malice fans calling me out. But what about James McMurphy's mangled corpse and the way it was stalking poor Samantha Crow? True, but the important thing is I'm keeping an open mind. I've told you about my experiences, what about you? What do you all think?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

New Releases!

Well, I've just uploaded 3 new stories to Kindle. Two of them are creepy and disturbing short stories: The Grip and The Second Coming. The third is a horror/adventure novella called, Bird of Prey. Now technically it's a novelette not a novella, but I've been calling it a novella quite frankly because novella sounds way way tougher than novelette. Especially considering it's about a group of guys who go into an abandoned steel factory to kill monsters. I mean, it doesn't get a whole lot tougher than that.

These stories, each in their own way, are different, but they all have some important things in common. They're creepy. They're fun as hell and they're cheap. Speaking of cheap, within the next two weeks, Malice will be going up from .99 cents to 2.99$. Not because she's been getting some really nice reviews on Amazon and on Goodreads -- which she has -- and not because I've turned greedy -- which I haven't. I'm simply not comfortable selling short stories, even with all the extra goodies they come with, for .99 cents alongside a novel that took me a while to get just right for the same price. Doesn't seem fair. So if any of you faithful blog followers and any of you snooping in the wings are interested in sampling a Griffin Hayes special, now's your chance to do it for less than a buck.

As far as links to these new stories are concerned, this blog of mine is swarming with links to everthing I've written, so I don't think I need to add insult to injury by adding more. I will give you a hint though. Look to your left. ;-)

Last but not least, please feel free to drop me a line and tell me what you think of them.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Kenneth Hoss on Storm Rising and Hot Pockets

There are two thing about Kenneth Hoss I can say for sure. He's a great writer and a real gentleman. He was nice enough to sit down with me in cyberspace for a few questions on his new book Storm Rising – A Kelli Storm Novel and a backstage peek into the life of a writer. 

Griffin: Tell us about your current release.
Ken: My current novel, Storm Rising – A Kelli Storm Novel, is about an NYPD Detective who after twenty-one year’s catches an unexpected break in her father’s murder case. In addition, she and her new partner catch a case that leads to a Colombian Drug Cartel running out of Mexico.

Griffin: Describe your journey as a writer?
Ken: I began my unofficial writing career when I was in High School. I always had a vivid imagination growing up, and it only seemed natural to write down the stories running around in my head. Of course, reading was a huge part of my childhood, and I would voraciously devour anything by Asimov or Heinlein. Later in life, during my time on active duty in the Navy, I found my ambition again, and wrote several short Sci/Fi stories, though failed to find a publisher.

My “official” career as an author began only three short years ago. After being out of it for so long, my first attempts were less than admirable. It wasn’t until I “discovered” Kelli Storm that I found my real voice.

Griffin: Do you have a daily writing schedule and if so what is it?
Ken: Not really. As a writer, and I believe others can relate to this, I am notorious procrastinator. I have to force myself to sit down and write. However, when I do manage to “force” myself, it’s usually a very prolific session.

Griffin: How much planning, outlining and research goes into each of your books?
Ken: With “Storm Rising” I was very detailed in my outline, though the story ended up taking a different direction after a couple of chapters. I did have notes and knew where I wanted the story to go though. With “Storm Warning”, I’m working off of a skeletal outline. Other than getting some background on my side characters, the process is more a “by the seat of your pants” endeavor.

Griffin: How do you deal with writer's block?
Ken: Take a break, watch a little television, pick up a book I’ve been reading, or just sit back and listen to Jazz.

Griffin: Which of your characters are you the most like and which of your characters are you the least like? Why?
Ken: That’s a tough one. There is a lot of “me” in Kelli, though I can’t say I’m like her. Does that make sense? My characters are taken from people I have known, or just met in passing. As a writer, I like to people watch, it’s how I get my characters.

Griffin: Which of all your characters have you enjoyed writing the most?
Ken: I have to say Kelli. Yes, I know, she’s my MC, and maybe I’m just playing favorites. She is a dynamic personality.

Griffin: Finish this sentence. If I wasn't a writer I'd be...
Ken: Soulless. Writing is my one true passion in life.

Griffin: Any thoughts on the current state of the publishing industry?
Ken: I think the eBook industry will keep growing, and hopefully the “Big” guys come to realize that it’s not a bad thing. My only hope is that it doesn’t mean an end to hard copy books. I still like to feel a book in my hand, smell the paper. At the same time, I love my Kindle too.

Griffin: What authors inspire you?
Ken: There are really too many to mention in this short space. I have to say that John Grisham, Tom Clancy and David Baldacci have all been a source of inspiration.

Griffin: How do you come up with your ideas?
Ken: I wouldn’t say that I really “come up” with them. Ideas hit me all the time. I could be driving along, going to the store for example, see a sign or a person, and wham!

Griffin: What's the best thing about being a writer?
Ken: I get to plot murder and mayhem, and it’s legal.

Griffin: What's the worst thing about being a writer?
Ken: The hours!

Griffin: What's your favorite flavor of Hot Pockets?
Ken: I don’t like Hot Pockets. If I have to “nuke” it, it’s usually leftovers from last nights dinner.

Griffin: If you weren't doing this interview right now, what would you be doing?
Ken: I hope that I would be working on my next book.

Griffin: Thanks so much for stopping by! Any last words?
Ken: Thanks for having me. I would just like to share a little piece of advice someone gave me. If you’re going to be a writer, you have to keep your “butt in chair”.

Griffin: Where can people go to satisfy their Kenneth Hoss itch?
 Ken: You can purchase and download my book at the following online retailers:

Barnes & Noble

You can visit me at the following sites:
My blog
Twitter: @kennhoss
Independent Authors Network

Kenneth Hoss was born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1957. Storm Rising - A Kelli Storm Novel is a Police Procedural and is the first book in a three book series. Storm Warning, the next book, has a planned release of Spring 2012.
Kenneth is currently single and lives in Irving, Texas.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The whirlwind doth continue

A fun interview and maybe even a free copy of my novel Malice await you here.

I haven't done a whole lot besides interviews and guest blogging lately, but don't worry, I promise I'll be back shortly to share whatever pearls of wisdom I've collected so far on my indie publishing journey. I'm also open to any questions from the audience.

And as for my droves of fans (I know you're out there), I also want to talk about some of the things that interest you, so leave a comment. I'm happy to answer any and all of your questions.

Got to run, I'm late for another interview. ;-)


Monday, October 17, 2011

Malice blog tour

I've started a rather informal blog tour of late. I'd only planned to do an interview or two, but things kind of took on a life of their own. Here's the interview I did for Malice with The Horror Queen From The UK Fiona Dodwell (link). Fiona's got a great new book called Obsessed she's just released so I'll be featuring her on Publishing After the Apocalypse in the coming days.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Guest blogging

I just finished guest blogging on Scott Nicholson's blog. I talked about dreams and some of the other ways I come up with the wacky ideas I have for stories. Feel free to swing by, check it out and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Another example of FREE+GREAT=WIN!

Scott Nicholson's short story, THE VAMPIRE SHORTSTOP, just became free on Amazon. Finished reading it a few minutes ago and I really enjoyed it. I also noticed this little story's burning it's way up the Amazon bestseller charts, so if you have a few minutes, swing by, pick it up and let me know what you think.

Note: For all you non-technical types, just click the yellow title I've hyper-linked and it will bring you there.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

The new covers for my short stories are in

Once again the great Kit Foster has come through brilliantly. These three stories are currently with my proofreader Diana Cox and afterword will spend a day or two with my formatters, Ted Risk and Lucinda Campbell, so I don't expect them to be up on Kindle for another couple of weeks.

But just in case any of the images have tweaked your interest, I'll include a short summary of each story.

                                  Amazon , B&N, Smashwords

Bird of Prey (Novella) Horror

Nestled in the warm belly of the abandoned Keisel steel works an ancient creature has begun to stir. A one hundred year cycle is drawing to a rapid close and with it the time when the beast must lead her newly hatched young to the feeding grounds.
A handful of the oldest folks in town remember that time well. A time when the sky was clotted with flapping, leathery wings and monsters driven mad by the smell of human blood. They also know of the feeding grounds. They know them as the backyards in which their kids play and the streets of the tiny Alaskan town they call home.
Buck Sanders didn’t know any of this the day he arrived at the steel works to pilfer a length of siding for the roof of his crumbling bar. And neither did his friend Tommy Hodgkins. But they are perhaps the only ones who can stop the curse that has been playing out for centuries. At stake is more than their lives. At stake is everything.

                                   Amazon, B&N, Smashwords

The Grip (short story) Sci-fi/Horror

Lt. Cready and Engineer Andreas Chavez have been selected to man a claustrophobic outpost on the outer edge of the solar system. After a year and a half with no word from Earth, nerves become frayed and tensions mount as Cready begins to suspect that his friend isn't entirely human.

                                 Amazon , B&N, Smashwords

The Second Coming (short story) Horror

Jack Barrow has traveled back in time to save his family from a sadistic killer. Now he just has to convince Dr. Sims at Belleview Heights Mental Institution he isn't crazy.

Friday, October 7, 2011

My first 5 star Amazon review

My father passed away a few weeks back and my sisters and I spent the week clearing out his apartment, so I haven't been terribly active on the blog or twitter. I was thrilled to find that a follower/followee (is that even right?) on Twitter had stumbled onto my book and decided to give it a whirl. Several positive tweets and a 5 star review later I have to say I'm thrilled. I've worked long and hard on Malice so it's a very gratifying feeling.

Now as far as the price, against sound and experienced advice I've dropped Malice to 99cents from 2.99$. My goal is to build some momentum for the post-Christmas Kindle rush and spread some word of mouth. If dropping the price for a limited time helps the cause then so be it. Besides, I'm not keeping that low price for longer than a few more days to a week, so if any of you faithful blog readers are somehow still on the fence, catch the bargain wave while you can.

It's been a little over a week now since my experiment in self-publishing began and to date I've sold about 30 copies. I'm not sure if that's any good or not. Especially since I'm only on Amazon at this point. By next week I'll be uploading to Smashwords and a number of additional e-readers.

There's still a lot I have planned in the coming days for publicity too. Blog tours, more social media, reviews on blogs, word of mouth.

I encourage anyone who has read the book or part of it and enjoyed it, to post a review on Amazon or Goodreads. It doesn't have to be long. Every little bit helps.

Thanks for stopping by

Saturday, October 1, 2011

How I got here

Malice was born from a nightmare. An old woman with long crooked fingernails was crawling after me on the floor. You'll have to trust me when I say I was relieved to wake up from that one.

When I finally sat down to write the book, I had very little idea what I was getting myself into. I won't get into too much detail here, suffice it to say that writing and editing the book was tough. Stage two was just downright stressful: getting everything in shape for my Amazon launch. Anyone who read my 'Crunch Time' post can attest to that. Stage three: getting the word out, is by far the most difficult, but it's also possibly the most rewarding. With the way the publishing business has been going these last few years, authors were expected to pretty much market their own books anyway. Unless you were one of the top guns, your cut of the advertising budget might get you bus fair into town.

That was one of the reasons I opted for the self-published route with Malice. If I haven't gone over my history with the novel I'll try and do it briefly here. I wrote the novel a few years ago. My memory's a touch foggy on how long it took me to write, but let's just say 6 months to come up with a first draft. I'd written two children's fantasy books previously, so I wasn't a complete babe in the woods, but I wasn't all that far off.

My first draft of Malice was 130 thousand words. Way too long for a commercial paperback horror thriller. There was a ton of fat still waiting to be carved. Over the years I probably brought it through a half dozen edits of one sort or another. Hired a professional editor. Chopped 60,000 words off of it (I followed Elmore Leonard's advice: just leave out the boring parts). Got an agent who loved it. Then found an editor at Tor/Forge who apparently loved it, but who didn't think he could sell it. Why? I never found out. That was about the time the economy was circling the toilet bowl and it wasn't long before my agent and I parted ways.

Malice was an orphan.

I said 'screw it,' and started writing a second book. Incidentally, my grandmother was also an aspiring novelist and spent her entire life kicking around the same book (which was never published). That little jingle was definitely ringing at the back of my mind when I started my next book. That one took about a year to write, in part because I was trying to hold down a full time job, and fulfill the kinds of commitments that seem to snatch away so much of our lives.

I've had my proverbial tit in the ringer for years and I never gave up. Not yet. And with my second book coming out in the new year (along with my short stories and novella) there'll be plenty more Griffin Hayes to go around.
Thanks for stopping by!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Seeing your book on Amazon...

Is such a cool, strange, exhilarating feeling. For those who don't know yet, MALICE went live on Amazon's Kindle store this morning. I encourage everyone to head down and have a look. Just click on the book title and it'll bring you there. And for anyone without a Kindle, on the right side of my blog are links to free Kindle software downloads.

Now it's time to put it through the Smashwords meatgrinder and see what comes out the other end.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Uploading to Kindle

As some of you may know from my Tweets, Ted Risk (my formatter) must have pulled an all-nighter, because I sent him my final proofed copy of MALICE at around 2am and I found it in my inbox when I woke up. The man's a star. I'm expecting this post to be rather short since I'll only be addressing the experience I had uploading my novel to Kindle.

Now keep in mind I outsourced most of the heavy lifting (cover design, proofreading and formatting). All told it set me back about 500 bones, but considering I don't get along well with Photoshop or html code, I think I saved myself a world of aggravation.

Overall the process was quite painless. Most of the boxes to be filled in are rather self explanatory. The keywords bit threw me for a tiny loop. You're supposed to pick words that readers might use to find your book. Luckily Scott Nicholson was nice enough to lend a newb (that's me!) a hand.

If you've seen any previous posts then you might have seen I was feeling 'the crunch'. My deadline is October 1st and without Ted's lightening fast skills, I'd need a defibrillator handy, or two.

The cool thing about Kindle (and maybe B&N too, I just don't know yet), is that you can change whatever you want. If my product description blows, or my covers are weak or I decide to include a sample chapter from my upcoming book, that's not a problem. I hope this doesn't sound like a commercial, because trust me it isn't.

If I haven't mentioned it, there's a 24 hour 'review' period while Amazon preps your digital shelf space. Or checks your ebook to make sure it's not porn masquerading as literature. So until this time tomorrow (Kindle), I'm going to just sit back (Kindle), relax (Kindle) and wipe any thoughts of my book clear out of my mind (Kindle, Kindle, Kindle).

Thanks for dropping by.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Crunch Time

I recently landed a great promotional opportunity with author Scott Nicholson (The Red Church). Once MALICE goes live on Kindle, he'll add a blurb and an html link to my book at the end of four of his own books and short stories. The only catch is that I have to be ready by October 1st which, believe me, is no small feat.

I've already got the cover art, thanks to the amazing Kit Foster, who has done an awesome job if I do say so. Incidentally, Kit is already working on the cover for my novella BIRD OF PREY as well as two of my short stories, THE GRIP and THE SECOND COMING. About two weeks ago I lined up Diana Cox who's currently proofreading the manuscript and recently hired Ted Risk who Scott recommended for the formatting.

One important note before I go on. If you're going the hiring route like I did, be sure to consider that everyone you bring on board has their own schedules, some of which might be very busy. The first formatter I hired, for example, wasn't able to get to me until the end of October. As J.A. Konrath would probably say, every day your book sits idle, is another day it fails to find you a readership.

Now, as promised, since this was all new to me, I'll fill you in on some of what I've learned. For anyone about to embark on the self publishing route, I'd say a strong cover--something that really grabs the eye--is a must. Ideally it shouldn't be too dark since online you'll have little more than a tiny thumbnail to temp readers into clicking on your book. If you shrink the image down to 12.5% and it still looks good, then you're in business. This was where my designer Kit really shined. I definitely have a vision for how I wanted the cover to look, but I can't draw for my life so Kit would send me several options until we zeroed in on the look I was after. It's one thing to have a mental image and another entirely to clearly articulate that vision to the person in charge of making it a reality. It's funny how quickly I forget that no one can read my mind. Ouff!

That being said, my suggestion would be to do your cover first. Whether you go it alone, or hire someone, you're going to need it once you get to the formatting stage (more on that in a future post) and of all the stages, the cover can be the biggest wild card. You might get it all done in a single day's work, or it could take you a month. It all depends on the complexity of what you want, and how clearly you can communicate that idea.

Thanks for hanging out.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Out of the frying pan and into the fire

The ugly truth is, I started writing novels because my TV went on the fritz. It's sad really and I wish there was a far more romantic story behind it all. Most of the time there isn't. Ken Follett had his eye on a little sports car back in the 1960s and decided writing and publishing a novel was the quickest way to go about it. My first attempt was a middle grade novel about a fat knight and a pig who could talk. I naively started sending out query letters the minute my first draft was done, thinking 'I wrote the damn thing, surely someone will want to read it.'


Needless to say, with that kind of attitude I didn't get very far. I put that project aside and tried my hand at short stories for a while. I quite enjoyed those, published a couple and a handful of the ones I had the most fun writing will be going on Kindle very soon.

It wasn't long after that I stumbled upon an idea for a novel. Two ideas actually that I mashed together to form the basis of my first novel, MALICE. I won't bore anyone just yet with those kinds of details, especially given that the novel isn't out just yet. My goal right now is October 1st, 2011.

What I really want to talk about is my reason for this blog. Over and above spreading the word that my work is for sale--the equivalent really of flipping an open sign on a store front window--I want to chronicle each stage of the indie book publishing process as I slog my way through it. A process that is just as new for me as it is for a number of people. And like most, I'm hoping in with both feet. So in that sense, one of my aims is that writers might learn a trick or two from the many mistakes I'm about to make.

That being said, I also intend this blog to cater to readers and eventually fans. Perhaps one day droves of them will come shambling up my driveway demanding MALICE PART DEUX or another novella like BIRD OF PREY. See, didn't I tell you when you first got here I was a dreamer? And why not? But ultimately it's about getting better at what you do. Writers in their 80s are still learning and improving their craft. I expect to be the same.

Right now, here's my humble definition of success:
someone buys a story I've written, and then comes back to buy more. Rinse and repeat, like the shampoo instructions. That person, who for the sake of argument we'll call, Turbo Fan #1, will be the proof in the pudding that someone is taking as much pleasure in reading my work, as I've had in writing it. As these blogs progress, that definition of success will change and grow. I may not give you a breakdown of every penny I make. Although I can assure you the first few weeks will likely be depressingly slow. But that'll change. As the heading of this blog indicates. Nothing stays the same forever.