Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Jason White's indie adventure

I met Jason on Goodreads last fall soon after publishing Malice. So when I discovered he'd joined the indie ranks with the release of his first short story collection, I asked him to come by and talk a bit about his journey.  

How Room 118: 3 Stories Came to be.

I’m not much of a people person. They’re unpredictable, often unnecessarily mean and grumpy. But the crazy ones are a different breed altogether, and getting stuck working with one can be just downright scary. It’s because of this that they can also make interesting topics for stories.

When I was putting Room 118 together, I didn’t intend for there to be a running theme throughout the three stories. I simply grouped stories that I thought would work well together. I have to admit that I’m ashamed that I didn’t see it before.

Of all the stories I’ve written, these three are among my favorite. I have two more eBooks, with three stories in each, which I’m planning to release hopefully within a month. When I have all nine published, I will then publish all in one singe collection, in physical form through CreateSpace.

To do this, I hired an artist for the physical book, and I highly recommend him. His name is Ronnell Porter. I created the covers for the trinity of short story collections myself, available in eBook only. I also formatted Room 118 myself, and I’m considering hiring somebody else to do that for the next. I found working with all that html fun, but it is also very time consuming. Time that could be spent writing.

I hired Diana Cox to edit all nine stories, and I highly recommend that you do too. She is great to work with, and she is incredibly professional.

Since publishing Room 118, I’ve had little success in sales, but this has not deterred me at all. It’s been only out for a month, and the reviews have been good thus far.

Over all, self-publishing has become an adventure that’s terribly fun, with much less despair than I thought there would be. I can’t wait to get to work on the next. I also cannot wait until I have the physical copy of my collection, titled Isolation, in my hands, on my bookshelf. It’s a dream come true, really. 

Thanks for stopping by Jason, and I wish you the best of luck! 

Jason White lives in Central Ontario, Canada with his longtime girlfriend, their two cats and one dog. He has over fifteen short stories published in various magazines and anthologies. In his spare time, he enjoys watching horror movies, tasting beers and red wines, playing with his "pack," and reading, of course.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Hive Sample Chapter


I plant my hand firmly on the curve of my waist and say, “Whoever sealed this opening did it in one hell of a hurry.” My repeater is slung over my right shoulder, its weight digging into my back. That's good, because I know it’s right where it should be. I can have it in my hands in well under a second if I need to.
            Bron steps forward. Nearly three hundred pounds of raw muscle, but it's the robotic implants that usually draw most of the attention. Especially his arms, both polished chrome killing machines. “Looks more like a barricade to me.”
            The others stir uncomfortably, and I know it doesn't have a damn thing to do with his thick Norse accent.
            Pennies is fiddling with the cuff of his tunic. His eyes keep dropping to my breasts and I’m a second away from knocking his teeth straight into his nasal cavity. “What do you think they were trying to keep out?” he asks.
            Ret, my second in command, is sitting on a nearby rock watching a dark patch of clouds roll in. He's wiry and handsome, and more than one fellow Mercenary has taken those traits as a sign of weakness. A mistake they’ll never have the chance of repeating.
            “Have a look at the way those metal beams are welded together,” he says coolly, still watching those clouds low and heavy on the horizon. “They weren’t trying to keep anything out. Whoever did this wanted to keep something inside, and badly.”
            There’s a narrow opening below the tangle of beams, no more than few feet high. Keeper Oleg braces a hand on his knee and bends down to study the hole. “This was where the Prospectors entered from,” he proclaims. “I'm sure of it.”
            Yeah, no shit it is. That’s the thought running through my head, right along with a savage thirst that's been building from the moment we left Sotercity. But as long as The Keepers are footing the bill, I don't have much choice but to keep a lid on it.
            Keepers of Knowledge. They’ve been around since long before I was born. Formed during the end times ― an era beyond memory now ― when an advanced civilization slowly self-destructed. They are tasked with gathering whatever scraps of knowledge and technology they can get their hands on.
            As a child, I remember the Keepers telling stories about cities swarming with hordes of monsters. They’d swept across the planet like a plague of locusts with an insatiable appetite. A single bite was enough to kill you or turn you into one of them. The Keepers said it had been a chemical in the water that was supposed to calm the people down. But something had gone terribly wrong. It had taken years before the monsters had been destroyed, and by then there wasn’t much left to save.
            Civilizations rose and fell, and great ones usually died by their own hands. That's about all I know of history. All that really matters, I suppose.
            Oleg stands watching me then waves his hand dismissively at my men: Bron, Ret, Jinx ― my temperamental explosives expert ― and Sneak, my tunnel rat. “Hiring Mercenaries was Prior Skuld’s idea, not mine. Look around you. We’re surrounded by ruins just waiting to fall on people’s heads. A rescue mission requires the proper tools.”
            Oleg’s name-dropping now. He thinks that because the Prior runs the Keepers and the Keepers run Sotercity, we’re supposed to be scared.
            Bron clasps a massive beam in the jaws of one of his gleaming, metallic arms and lifts it with ease. “Is this tool good enough?”
            I put a hand on Bron’s firm shoulder and he lowers the beam. Tact is in order, not quick tempers.
            “Four Prospectors are missing,” I say, scanning the tiny hole that had been cut into the barricade, “and this is their last known location. Doesn’t look like much more than your run-of-the-mill, shake-and-bake operation. We do ‘em all the time. Head in, locate your boys and then hightail it out. One thousand USC each, ten for me since I’m leading this crew, and we all go our merry way.”
            USC. Units of sodium chloride. Fancy talk for tiny pouches of salt. Just don’t get caught out in the rain with it or you’re liable to lose a fortune.
I pause to let this sink in, even though I’m sure he knows most of this already. “Besides,” I say. “Prior Skuld already signed the papers. If you think our fee is high now, just wait till you see what it costs to cancel. Now, as far as your partner goes, if you wanna bring Pennies along so he can keep an eye out for anything valuable, fine by me. But my team works fast and we work alone, so you all better keep up ‘cause Bron’s not gonna carry you.”
            Bron flashes a mouthful of brown teeth.
            Oleg is spearing me with his icy stare, and we hear a voice shouting in the distance.
            “Wait for me! Please! Please, wait!”
            Ret lifts a pair of binoculars. “Azina, we got company. Grinder from Sotercity by the looks of it.”
            I grit my teeth. “Perfect.”
            A Grinder is a term of endearment Ret coined for the hundreds of maintenance men laboring day in and day out to keep Sotercity from drowning in its own shit and dying of dehydration.  
            Apparently, since the world went sliding down the crapper, things have become much simpler. At least that’s what the billboards say.
            Come to Sotercity for a Taste of the Good Old Days.
            There’s something here for everyone. You got yourself a big brain? Join the Keepers of Knowledge. What’s that you say? You’re a greedy bastard? Become a Trader like Pennies. You got a fetish for squeezing into tiny holes looking for artifacts? I understand the Keepers are always looking for new Prospectors. Oh I get it. You like to work with your hands. Grunt work for little or no pay. Got it, not a problem, Public Works goes through Grinders like some people go through dirty tunics. But no, you want it all, don’t you? Then find yourself a trusty weapon ― they’re lying around all over the place ― and start freelancing as a hired gun.
Sounds like one of those damn brochures they’re handing out on every corner, I know. But it’s true.
            Ret’s still got the binoculars to his eyes. “It’s Glave,” Ret says, snarling. “Rosaline’s husband.”
            I snatch the binoculars, and watch the man stumble over a boulder and fall flat on his face. I turn to Oleg. “A panicked husband searching for his Prospector wife is the last thing we need. Send him home.”
            Oleg chuckles. “Worry doesn’t suit you, Azina. You said so yourself this job is a cake walk. The Keepers are paying you a lot of money. I’m afraid you’ll just have to roll with the punches.”
            I sigh. So much for tact. I wanna spit so bad, but my mouth is too dry. 

Hive (No Man's Land Series, #1) available on Amazon

Friday, January 20, 2012

HIVE is now LIVE

Wanted to let you all know that my new post apocalyptic zombie novella HIVE is now available on Amazon. I had so much fun writing this one you have no idea. I've also priced it reasonably at $1.99 so grab your copy today!

Here's the blurb:

Nearly two hundred years after the planet was ravaged by millions of undead Zees, the human race is still struggling to rebuild. The Zees may be long gone, but so too are centuries of scientific advancement.

A group calling themselves The Keepers of Knowledge have set out to retrieve and protect what little technology survived the fall. When four of their Prospectors go missing, the Keepers turn to a no-nonsense mercenary named Azina and her eclectic crew of hardened veterans to find them.

The search leads the group to a crumbling underground city. But what looks like just another ruin from a bygone era isn't nearly as deserted as it appears. Soon, a simple rescue mission becomes a slippery descent into hell as Azina and her men unwittingly awaken a savage, bloodthirsty world. Who will stand and fight, and who will be lucky enough to stay dead?

HIVE is a 20,000-word post apocalyptic zombie thrill ride.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Cover for my new zombie novella HIVE

I'm proud to announce that the cover for my new post apocalyptic zombie novella HIVE arrived last night. Thanks once again to the brilliant and talented Kit Foster. It's always such a pleasure working with him. I also have a fantastic editor, Michelle Dear, recommended by Scott Nicholson. Thanks Scott! Michelle is quick, extremely professional and I'm also discovering something of a marketing guru. If all goes well, HIVE should be available for purchase on Amazon by January 19th. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Luke Romyn: From Bodyguard to Bestselling Author

Today we're not just peeling back the curtain, we're ripping it off the wall. I'm thrilled to be sitting down with bestselling author Luke Romyn. His novels are dark and gritty and intensely realistic. He's also got more muscle mass than the entire Bulgarian Olympic Rugby team. Here we go!

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

Either writing, editing, or working. My life seems to revolve around these things lately – not that it’s so bad. At least I’m not mud-wrestling hobos for spare change. That would kinda suck.

Griffin: You recently released your new novel BLACKLISTED. Tell us a bit about it.

BLACKLISTED is a fast-paced action-thriller, based upon the concept of the government using criminals to infiltrate mercenary networks around the world in an effort to track down a terrorist mastermind. It’s a step sideways from THE DARK PATH in that there are no paranormal themes, but I think I’ve upped the action a couple of notches at the same time. Feedback from readers so far has been awesome.

Griffin: BLACKLISTED is in several ways a departure from your bestselling novel, THE DARK PATH. Some writers spend their entire careers writing the same kind of book. Tell us a bit about your journey with BLACKLISTED and your decision to try something different.

I needed to write this to prove to myself that I didn’t need otherworldly themes to write a great novel. Writing, much like life, is all about learning, and you can’t do that if you never step out of your comfort zone.

In my spare time I often write short stories from many different genres just to exercise my skills. I am not a fool thinking I know everything about my craft; I am an amateur in an arena of kings, and if I ever hope to come close to their breadth of literary talents, I must push myself, learning every singly shred of the craft I possibly can along the way. To do this I must not only write, but read – and read and read and read. I am at the start of a long road, but every step, no matter how difficult, is worth it.

Griffin: You’ve spent 18 years working in the security industry as everything from bouncer to bodyguard to the stars. How have those experiences helped shape the fiction your write?

More than half my life has been spent in the protection of others and I don’t really know how to exist outside of it, unless I am writing. I’ve tried other jobs, but always find myself drawn back to security in one way, shape or form, whether it be for money or simply to help out friends, it is now well and truly a part of my life and I fear it will never let me go.

Through my work, I have seen many things so called ‘normal’ people would not imagine possible. Stabbings, shootings, and violent assaults are all part of my everyday life, so putting them into a story is the simplest thing in the world. My characters often draw from real people I have met in my life; which is kinda scary when you think about some of the things Vain does. The stories are of course totally fictitious, but the fact I have been involved in so much violence throughout my life adds a touch more believability to what happens in them, and I think my readers pick up on that.

Griffin: How much planning, outlining and research went into BLACKLISTED?

All my books – and I’ve written six already, though only two are published so far – are predominantly written spontaneously, with little to no planning or outlining beforehand. I prefer to see where the story wants to go, quite often taking twists and turns of its own accord, and I would hate to restrain that in any way.

In direct contrast, the research I do is intense and thorough. Writing in such an off-the-cuff way makes this difficult sometimes as an idea will suddenly come to me and I have to stop writing in order to research everything involved. At times this can be doubly frustrating in that, after several hours of research, the idea will amount to absolutely nothing or will contradict another part of my story, and as such I have to scrap the entire concept. Adversely, something might pop into my head and lead on to an absolutely fantastic scene or part of the story.

Griffin: I mentioned, THE DARK PATH before which is a great book. I have a serious question: Mike Swanson versus The Dark Man in the octogon. Who's your money on?

Haha! I have never really thought about it. I guess Mike would have more training and physical strength, but Vain can never be underestimated – I mean, this is a guy who comes face-to-face with the Devil and has the balls to taunt him/her.

Mike is a fighter, and although he does become a vigilante for a time, his conscience is constantly against him, but Vain has absolutely no conscience, and kills people mercilessly for money he will never use. I don’t know for sure who would win, but I sure as hell want to be in the front row to watch!

Griffin: On the one hand you have a notorious sense of humor that's been described by many as witty and very random and yet the fiction you write is quite dark. How do you account for that discrepancy?

All of life is about balance, and a person cannot live in an abyss without dying. If I only wrote about darkness and despair, I’d sound like a bit of an asshole, and that’s the last thing I want. Even my storylines, though intensely serious in their nature, are lightened at times through humor. Benny in BLACKLISTED is a prime example, and I’ve had a lot of people mentioning him as their favorite character with his many insane personalities.

On Twitter, where I have close to 160,000 followers, I use humor a lot. On there I often post comical quips as they come to me, quite often in between working on a book. In this way I fire my brain in an off-kilter way, kind of like cross-training my mind, and people have really warmed to it as a result.

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

I think it’s the exploration of imagination; letting loose of all constraints and creating a new world every time I put words on a screen. My dreams are able to grow and thrive every time I sit at a keyboard, rather than simply being constrained within my own mind. In this way I can share them with others, giving them life. And by giving them life, my own life is given meaning.

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

By opening yourself up so much to others through your written words, you also give them power to harm you, to hurt you. Every rejection is like a knife to the heart; whether it’s from a publisher, an agent, or simply a bad review.

Each one of these is like the worst breakup imaginable, but the writer must push on if he or she hopes to succeed. Every failure must be seen as another opportunity for a new path to travel, not the end of the road.

Griffin: What's your favorite Hot Pocket?

I’m Australian and have absolutely no idea what that is, but it sounds painful.

Note: Hot Pockets are painful! Trust me! Jim Gaffigan does a hilarious stand-up routine that's well worth checking out.

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

Things are certainly in upheaval at the moment, but I definitely don’t think big publishers are panicking anywhere near as much as some would like to make out. Much like the music industry when iTunes came onto the scene, the publishing industry will eventually find its feet again and dominance will always be with the biggest boys in the yard.

However, that said, there is now much less to stop popular authors doing it all on their own. J.A. Konrath is a prime example of a big author stepping away from publishers to self-publish, and succeeding while doing it. John Locke is another, even after signing on with Simon & Schuster he continues to self-publish his ebooks – the most popular sales he’s seen to date. If all the big names did the same thing, the large publishing houses would surely crumble, but while they remain with them they will still keep making money and stay in business.

Should big name authors do things on their own? Perhaps. But while they’re making a gazillion dollars without having to stress about all the smaller aspects of publishing, they’re able to focus on writing more books, and as such making even more money. Why the hell would they stop?

Griffin: Where can people go to satisfy their Luke Romyn itch?

My website is http://www.lukeromyn.com. I post some short stories and other mush from my mind on my blog and my highly popular Twitter account.

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

I just want to thank you, Griffin, along with everyone who is helping me along this incredible journey. My fans are rabid and fantastic, and I love them all. Look forward to at least two more great releases from me in the coming year in BEYOND HADES and SLAVES OF VALHALLA; even bigger and better than anything I’ve done to date!

Luke Romyn spent many years, fifteen in fact, working in the security industry. From doorwork in some of Australia's roughest pubs and clubs to protecting Mickey Mouse and the Disney crew from the overzealous jaws of tenacious toddlers, Luke has worked throughout Australia and internationally in a vast array of roles. His first book, THE DARK PATH, is now out and swiftly became a #1 best selling Horror and was also voted in the Top Ten Horror novels of 2009.