Story spotlight: “And the Sea Shall Give Up its Dead” by P.D. Cacek


 
Mac, retired professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies, spends his time watching The Weather Channel and talking to George, the ghost Gerald invented so that he didn’t have to talk to himself.

When the bodies start washing up on beaches around the world, Mac has a lot more to say to George – and George has some things to say as well.
 
 
 
“And the Sea Shall Give Up its Dead” is in the Beneath the Waves collection. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the collection’s Facebook page.
 


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About the Author

P.D. Cacek originally aspired to be an actress, but her dreams were dashed when, while playing Dinosaur Number 1 in her high school’s production of By the Skin of Our Teeth, she inadvertently crawled off the stage and landed in the orchestra pit. Dinosaur Number 1 died that night, but the experience put her on the significantly less perilous path of writing horror.

P.D. is the author of over 200 short stories, and has won both a World Fantasy Award and a Bram Stoker Award for her short fiction. She’s written five novels: Night Prayers, Canyons, Night Players, The Wind Caller, and The Selkie.

“Horror is an emotion, something that reaches past all the barriers and finds the one dark corner of our self-image that has not grown up. Horror doesn’t have to include dismemberments or gushing wounds or ancient demons dredged up by a new housing development. Anything, even a simple evening’s walk, can be horrific if you look at it the right way … and I do.”


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Doorway into Faerie: Sixteen Tales of Magic and Enchantment

Step through the portal and enter the world of Faerie.

What if you followed a path through a city park, and found yourself in another land? What if the archway you just passed is really a portal to Faerie? What if the guardian of an opening into our world has perished, and left the doorway unattended?

If you catch a glimpse of the Faery Queen
Consider whether you should remain unseen
If you come across a faery ring
Listen to the wind laugh, and murmur and sing
But beware, for if you enter the world of the Fae
You may have no choice but to stay…

Walk through the doorway and into sixteen different worlds of magic and enchantment in the third volume of the anthology series A Procession of Faeries.

Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble ~ Kobo ~ Apple Books ~ Books2Read ~ Goodreads

The Stories

Sidewynd,” by Alexandra Brandt, takes us to Edinburgh, Scotland. Born of two worlds but important to neither, Sky Patel balances life between her beloved city and its mirror in the faerie realm known as the Wynd. But everything changes with the retirement of her friend and mentor—and sole protector of Edinburgh’s Old Town.

Now, despite her best intentions, Sky finds her careful balance cracking. And she may be called to do more—and be more—than she could ever believe possible.

In “Midnight Thread,” by Brigid Collins, Cassandra keeps the spiders’ way, carrying a spool of midnight thread to repair the web she’d strung along the ley line. She’d planned to catch the lake pixies when they swarmed at the end of the summer, but had been foiled by her sister, who insisted on creating “art” with one of the pixies. Reduced to dining on moths, Cassandra learns something new and surprising about her own sister.

Lodie is dying, and takes her beloved horse out for one last ride in Diana Benedict’s “Dancing in the Moonlight.” They come across the queen of the faeries, who is following the ley line on the way to her summer court. Even with her magic the queen cannot cure Lodie, but she offers Lodie her heart’s desire.

In Annie Reed’s “How We Danced,” the stroke that robbed Claudia of the use of her body left something magical behind—a doorway to the Other Place. A happy place where she can escape the limitations of the real world for a little while.

If only she had someone to share it with.

Someone who would take her dancing.

The Good Neighbors,” by DeAnna Knippling, is set in the small town of East Smithville where nobody knew why some people, on foggy nights, just flat-out disappeared.

Or rather, everyone knew why. The fairies took people.

The question was: how did the fairies decide who to take?

Tamara is bespelled by a faerie curse, framed for stealing a baby, and watches her boyfriend get spirited away by the beguiling fae bitch in Dayle A. Dermatis’ “At the Mirk and Midnight Hour.”

But Tamara isn’t someone who takes this sort of shit lying down.

She has a legacy to uphold, and a boyfriend to rescue…and a secret that will rock both the faerie and mundane worlds.

Detective Ron Conroy gave up hoping for a better world a long time ago in Karen L. Abrahamson’s “With One Shoe“. When he attends the dilapidated home of Elvira Paradis to investigate the disappearance of her daughter, he finds not only a woman worn beyond her years, but also visions of someplace—else. Someplace wonderful.

A delinquent youth becomes the primary suspect and takes Ron into the world of high school art classes, unrequited love and lost hope. Will the investigation result in the arrest of the wrong man—or rekindle Ron’s faith?

It’s hard to believe something as small as a sneeze can change the world, but that’s exactly what happens in Louisa Swann’s “One Good Sneeze.” Chiaroscuro Addicott Settlemire Moss didn’t believe in faeries, even though Da had always insisted they were real. And then Chia’s world turned upside down the day she found herself in the Land of the Infamous Fae.

In Lisa Silverthorne’s “Dust,” Club Oberon is an opulent dance club where bands of beautiful, vacuous fey hung out when they weren’t on Portland’s streets—stealing human souls. They lured humans to the exclusive downtown club with a pinch and a promise: a pinch of fey dust and a promise of Tír na nÓg’s riches if they’d only take that one last step…into oblivion.

In “To Have…and To Hold,” by Deb Logan, Artie Woodward and Jed Kendrick have fallen in love and plan to marry. But when Jed’s Irish grandmother invites them to visit her in Dublin, they discover what their shared ability to see the creatures they call “Terrors” really means. They are Seers. They can see the Fae…but the Fae don’t like being seen. When Jed is kidnapped and ensorcelled by the Faery Queen, Artie must use every skill she has to rescue the man she loves!

The Gothic mansion in Brenda Carre’s “Venom” would be the perfect place to haunt if there were such things as ghosts. But Marietta knows ghosts aren’t real, since her stupid sister hasn’t come back to haunt her. She wheedles her way into the house to talk with the old woman who lives there, hoping to find something of worth. But instead she learns about venom, which can be useful in so many ways…

Koko and Shacho are living in the ruins of civilization in Japan after a world war in Rei Rosenquist’s “Along These Lines.” Koko goes in search of the Magician, a magical being who had provided a spell to stop the hydrogen bomb and end the wars. Only that was a fairy tale, a story Shacho told on good days. The Magician wasn’t real.

Except the Magician was real after all.

In Linda Jordan’s “At the Crossroads,” Maureen is spending a year in Ireland after the deaths of her grandmother and parents. She’s rented a cottage next to the woods, unaware that her cottage stands at the crossroads of her world and Faerie.

Brea’s mother had not been a normal human woman, but a mystery born of water and starlight in Anthea Sharp’s “Waterborne.” Brea’s soul stirs with a fierce longing for more. She leaves her village after the death of her father, and searches for answers…and for home.

We go back to 1969 in Jamie Ferguson’s “And Then There Are Cats.” Abby had been looking forward to watching the landing of the Apollo 11 lunar module on television, but her orange tabby cat Neill snuck out the screen door, so she’s spending her day chasing after him instead. He runs across the street, into the city park, and down a path Abby hasn’t seen before. Finally Neill leaps off the path and into a small meadow in the middle of a forest…except Abby knows there’s no forest anywhere near the city…

In Sharon Kae Reamer’s “Night Shepherd,” Juliette von der Lahn does biogenetics research late at night in the University of Cologne biology lab. In addition to working on her doctorate, she uses her magic to clone hybrid animals with special properties. One night a korrigan appears in the lab and tells Juliette that the night shepherd, a creature out of Breton Celtic legend, has perished. But these mythical creatures don’t just die, they transform. And they get hungry. Juliette has no idea how to clone the night shepherd, but with the veil open and the irresistible scent of human blood in the air, she’d better learn fast.

Find Doorway into Faerie

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A Procession of Faeries

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Bundle Up: Creating and Promoting Story and Book Collections

Your all-purpose guide for anthologies, boxed sets, and ebook bundles!

Do you want to put together an anthology, boxed set, or ebook bundle, but aren’t sure where to start, nor how to effectively handle promotion? Or are you an author interested in collaborating with other authors on a project, but don’t know what this will entail?

Whether you’re creating a collection or an author participating in one, Bundle Up! can help you! The more aware you are of what’s involved, the more efficient and productive you—and the project—will be.

Today’s software tools make it faster and easier to create collections of stories and books than ever before. They also provide new and innovative ways to create—and promote—these projects.

If you’re an author and are considering participating in a multi-author collection, this book will provide you information about what to expect, how to contribute to promotion, and how to make the most out of your participation in the project.

If you’re a curator organizing a multi-author collection, this book will walk you through the many decisions you’ll need to make and will help you make your project more efficient and successful.

About the Author

Jamie has curated ten multi-author collections and is working on many more, including a monster-themed anthology series she’s co-editing with DeAnna Knippling. She’s also a member of the Uncollected Anthology, an urban and contemporary fantasy author collective, which she joined in the spring of 2018.

She loves creating colorful spreadsheets and has spent her day job career working in software. She’s worked as a developer, product manager, engineering manager, and is currently working as a technical program manager at a large, high-tech company where she creates order out of chaos.

In her fiction, Jamie focuses on getting into the minds and hearts of her characters, whether she’s writing about a saloon girl in the Old West, a man who discovers the barista he’s in love with is a naiad, or a ghost who haunts the house she was killed in—even though that house no longer exists.

Jamie lives in Colorado and spends her free time in a futile quest to wear out her two border collies, since she hasn’t given in and gotten them their own herd of sheep. Yet.

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Story spotlight: “Stormrider and the Lady of Soul” by Karen L. Abrahamson


 
The glamour of living on his boat wears off for Earl James soon after he gets tossed off the police force. With winter storms brewing, the engine having fits, and a broken heater, he figures not much else can go wrong. Then otherworldly Sylvana Stormrider steps aboard and offers him the one thing he truly wants: redemption.

Or maybe not.
 
 
 
 
 
“Stormrider and the Lady of Soul” is in The Faerie Summer bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.
 


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About the Author

Karen L. Abrahamson is the author of literary, mystery, romantic and fantasy fiction including the highly regarded Cartographer fantasy series. She is a well-traveled writer who has explored cultures and countries around the world but British Columbia, Canada is her favorite place to come back to. She lives on the west coast of Canada with two Bengal cats that aren’t quite as well traveled as she is.

When she isn’t writing she can be found with a camera and backpack in fabulous locations around the world.


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Interview: Andrea Pearson on “How to Polish Your Manuscript into a Rock-Solid Book”


 
 
How to Polish Your Manuscript into a Rock-Solid Book is in the NaNoWriMo Writing Tools bundle, a collection of a dozen books on writing. A portion of the proceeds goes directly to the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, a non-profit group created by the families of the crew of the Challenger shuttle. This bundle is only available through the end of November 2018.

Meet Andrea!

Andrea is a bestselling author who’s written more than 50 books and over a hundred articles for professional blogs and websites. She writes fantasy, sweet romance, and co-creates a book each year with her illustrator husband and students from the local elementary school. Andrea has written several books for authors, has a series of online courses on marketing, and hosts a regular podcast with her husband.

How to Polish Your Manuscript into a Rock-Solid Book

Are you an author who is struggling with finding volunteers and professionals to help polish your book? Do you wish there was a guide that offered plenty of suggestions for finding these people?

The Self-Publish Strong series, written by successful indie author Andrea Pearson, gives you advice and guidance on building your brand, publishing, and marketing your own books.

In How to Polish Your Manuscript into a Rock-Solid Book you will discover how to:

  1. Find and train beta readers
  2. Hire editors
  3. Test covers and descriptions
  4. Format ebooks and know where to publish them
  5. Typeset print books and where to publish them
  6. Choose a price for print and ebooks

Excerpt

One of the biggest mistakes new indie authors make is using covers that aren’t professional. Don’t hesitate to hire someone to take over this aspect of publishing for you. Good cover designers have been developing their skills for many years, and the cost of the cover will be worth the perfect design for your book.

A good cover will fit the emotions or theme of your book. Your cover needs to be able to catch (and hold) attention. It needs to match other covers in the genre, and it needs to look great.

A cover can cost anywhere from $25 to several thousand dollars, with the average landing around $300 to $450. How much it costs depends on the originality of the artwork and stock photos used. The illustrations and photographs from the popular PhatPuppyArt website, for example, can cost several hundred alone, and that’s before a cover designer starts working on them. Keep in mind that even if a book cover is expensive, it doesn’t always mean the cover will work. Get critiques on all covers, even when you’ve outsourced the creation to a designer.

– from How to Polish Your Manuscript into a Rock-Solid Book by Andrea Pearson

The Interview

What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give an author on how to go from a finished manuscript to a rock-solid book?

Revise, revise, revise! First, do everything you can on your own, then reach out to volunteers – friends and family, etc. (They tend to be the most kind, if you’re just starting out.) Then look for volunteers and professionals who don’t know you. Apply any revisions they suggest that ring true for your book. Pay extra attention to the things the professionals say.
 
 
What inspired you to create the Self-Publish Strong podcast, and why did you and your husband decide to team up and host it together?

We’ve always wanted to do a podcast—six years ago, we made up our minds to start one, but we couldn’t find the right topic until December 2017. I absolutely love teaching and I wanted a place that allowed me to help others without me needing to be everywhere all the time. I knew I could host my own show, but I didn’t want one with regular guest interviews, since there are so many of those already. On the other hand, podcasts that feature just one person can be a bit boring. My husband is 100% my business partner, and as our listeners can attest, he’s a smart guy with a lot of insight. 🙂 It was an easy decision to do it together. 🙂
 
 
How does your Review Crew and Street Team help you?

They’re soooo wonderful! Reviews are so much easier to get now that I have a review team. And whenever I’m running promotions or want feedback on weird ideas, they’re the first I go to.
 

 
You run a Facebook group, BookBub Promotions and More, which is a place for authors to share notes on promoting and marketing. What’s one of the most useful things you’ve learned from running this group?

That the indie community is fantastic, and people are almost always willing to share. But on the other hand, those who have the most to share usually have the least amount of time to share it. Which is why we do chats with successful authors on a regular basis—they’re unable to participate in the group all the time, but they still want to help others out. Win-win for everyone. 🙂
 
 
You write sweet western romance as Andrea Kate Pearson. What inspired you to focus your stories in a western setting, and why specifically in Montana?

I love westerns—I was raised reading them (I devoured pretty much anything sweet romance, but mostly western romances) and all growing up, I wanted a horse more than anything. I took horse riding lessons in high school and still love westerns and cowboys. We attend the local rodeo every single year—I haven’t missed once. And Montana because I hadn’t set a series there for my fantasy books. I’m taking a break from romance (my fantasy is more established), but I hope to return soon.
 

 
What’s one of your favorite resources for maintaining your business excitement and energy?

Finishing a book! There’s nothing more exciting and relieving to know I’ve finished another story. But also podcasts. I enjoy listening to other authors’ experiences.
 
 
You and your husband developed Bezza’s Book of Enchantments with a local group of kids with the intention of helping them learn writing and illustrating skills. What did you most enjoy about that experience? Do you feel it had a lasting impact on the kids?

We’ve done a book a year with the local elementary school—just tied up #5. It’s so much fun! We’ve been able to watch and interact with the kids as they’ve grown into young adults who have a passion for writing and illustrating. And yes, we feel it has had a lasting impact. They appreciate literature and art much more than they would have otherwise, and their parents and teachers tell us this regularly. It’s not a money-making project, but we absolutely love it and hope to continue serving there for several more years.
 
 
Why did you decide to have characters from one of your series, the Kilenya Chronicles, appear in book six of your series the Mosaic Chronicles?

Characters from my books tend to pop up in other series/books regularly. It makes it fun for me to write and fun for my readers to read! I personally love it when other authors do this, and I was really happy that my readers appreciated it too. It’s like finding an Easter egg. Even the books we write for the school share some characters with my books for adults/teens.
 
 
In addition to everything else you’re doing, you were one of the instructors at the 2018 WMG Publishing Business Master Class. What do you enjoy about teaching marketing to authors and publishers?

Everything! Knowing I’m helping other people, learning more (they say you learn more when you teach), and sharing my passions. I love marketing! I’ve been invited to return as an instructor for 2019, and I’m really looking forward to it.
 
 
What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I’m just tying up the final book in my Koven Chronicles. I’ve really enjoyed this series. Lizzie, the main character, has the ability to stop sparks, so she works closely with local government officials to stop bombs, guns, and fires—wild, residential, etc. It’s been a really fun series.

About Andrea

Andrea Pearson is an avid reader and outdoor enthusiast who plays several instruments, not including the banjo. She is the author of many full-length novels and novellas, including the bestselling Mosaic, Koven, and Kilenya Chronicles. Writing is the chocolate of her life—it is, in fact, the only thing she ever craves. Being with her family is where she’s happiest, and she loves thunderstorms, the ocean, hiking, public speaking, painting, and traveling.

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Story spotlight: “To Each Her Own” by Rebecca M. Senese


Lead detective Maeve Hemlock arrives at a crime scene at the banks of the Incantation River to find the remains of a human liver containing magic residue.

What creature would kill and leave a liver behind?

To save a colleague’s career, Maeve must find a magical killer loose in Crossroad City before he can kill again.

Urban fantasy with an edge, the stories of Crossroad City weave tales where magic and the normal world collide. Where detective Maeve Hemlock and the Spells and Misdemeanours Bureau struggle to keep the law and the magic in check to save all.
 
 
“To Each Her Own” is in the Beneath the Waves collection. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the collection’s Facebook page.
 


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About the Author

Based in Toronto, Canada, Rebecca M. Senese survives the frigid blasts of winter and boiling steams of summer by weaving words of horror, mystery, science fiction and contemporary fantasy.

Garnering an Honorable Mention in “The Year’s Best Science Fiction” and  nominated for numerous Aurora Awards, her work has appeared in Fiction River: Superpowers, Fiction River: Visions of the Apocalypse, Fiction River: Sparks, Fiction River: Recycled Pulp, Tesseracts 16: Parnassus Unbound, Imaginarium 2012, Tesseracts 15: A Case of Quite Curious Tales, TransVersions, Future Syndicate, and Storyteller, amongst others.


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Interview: Craig Martelle on “Become a Successful Indie Author”


 
 
Become a Successful Indie Author is in the NaNoWriMo Writing Tools bundle, a collection of a dozen books on writing. A portion of the proceeds goes directly to the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, a non-profit group created by the families of the crew of the Challenger shuttle. This bundle is only available through the end of November 2018.

Meet Craig!

Craig runs the 20BooksTo50K author group, which has over 26,000 members. A successful indie author, he writes best selling fiction in genres he loves: space opera, military scifi, Space Marine, colonization, and genetic engineering. He lives in Alaska, where temperatures reach fifty below zero, and he and his wife get to watch the northern lights from their driveway.

Become a Successful Indie Author

Demystifying the tangled web of self-publishing to put you on the road to success.

This is a motivational guide based on Craig’s two and a half million published words (mostly with Amazon) to help you see past the hurdles that are keeping you from climbing the mountain of success. Nothing is overwhelming once it’s been explained. If you are smart enough to write a book, you are smart enough to do everything else needed to make your indie author business a success.

Clocking in at nearly 50,000 words, this guide has something for every budding author as well as those who have already published, but for whom success remains elusive. In this business there is only one hard and fast rule—you must find readers willing to pay for your stories. It starts with the first sentence. You have to write a gripping story that people want to read, wrap a cover around the book, and then do the marketing. There’s no doubt that you can do it. Let Craig show you how.

Excerpt

Why publish your books yourself? For the same reason most small businesses start—you have an idea and are the best one to make it a reality. That idea is a story, and you have to write it, then publish it, and then sell it. And then write another one.

Daunting? Maybe.

Easy? Definitely not.

Doable? Eminently.

We publish independently because we get a much higher royalty share, we have complete control over our work, we interact directly with our readership, and so much more. The drawback is that you have to do it all yourself—creativity, production, marketing, and accounting. But indies are betting on themselves, just like any other small business. We stand up and shout, “I got this!” Then we knuckle down and do the hard work where we and we alone are responsible for our success.

Will this book guarantee that you’ll be the next seven-figure author? Absolutely not. But it will show you that if you work hard at the right things, it may not be as far away as you think. Make your hard work work for you.

This book is meant to show you what’s possible, and that you’re not alone on this journey. Arming yourself with information is the best way to win the battle known as “Indie Publishing.”

You can do it. It takes work, but the mountain is not insurmountable.

JK Rowling made over one billion dollars ($1,000,000,000) in book sales alone and estimates suggest that she reached only nine percent of the book reading public. Only nine percent is worth a billion dollars. She didn’t get there because she was trying to get rich. She got there because she wrote great stories and then handled the business side of it.

What if you were able to tap 1/10,000th of what JK Rowling tapped?

Then you would be a $100,000 author, while the average author makes less than $10,000 a year. But we refuse to be average, because we learn from others with readily available information that will help us get to that next level.

No matter where you are on your author journey, there’s always a new level you can reach.

Roll up your sleeves, because it’s time to get to work.

– from Become a Successful Indie Author by Craig Martelle

The Interview

What’s the most important lesson readers should take away from Become a Successful Indie Author?

That if you work hard at the right things, your chances of success greatly improve.
 
 
Why do you believe newsletters are so important?

It is the direct link to my fans. It lets me have a conversation with them at regular intervals. They subscribed because they liked my books. It’s important to keep feeding them.
 
 
What helps you stay motivated?

My fans, the readers who buy my books and make the characters their own. I worked as a Fortune 500 business consultant and seeing the opportunity while applying sound business practices to the art of storytelling is doubly rewarding.
 

 
You’ve written nine books in your Free Trader series, and three books in the Cygnus Space Opera series, which is set in the same universe. What do you enjoy about writing in this universe?

It takes me back to my high school days when D&D was first rolled out. It was a great game of the imagination. The first science fiction role-playing game was Metamorphosis Alpha by James M. Ward. That is the game I loved the most for engagement of the imagination. With the success of the Free Trader series, I was able to connect with James and we have since written two books together and are currently working on our third.
 

 
What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned from collaborating with other authors?

You can learn something from everyone, whether it’s a turn of phrase, depth of character, or so many other things. Everyone you’ve ever met knows something that you don’t. Take a chance to learn what that is
 
 
What suggestions can you give to someone trying to improve their word count?

Practice helps immensely. Writing every day is the key to big word counts. The more you do it, the better you get at it.
 
 
You co-wrote The Human Experiment with Kevin McLaughlin. What was the most surprising thing to you about the experience of collaborating with another author on this project?

That a literary fiction style book takes a different kind of marketing and a different style of writing than either of us was used to.
 
 
Darklanding, a space opera/western series you’re writing with Scott Moon, is being released in a serial format with twelve releases in a season, then a break before the next season begins. Why did you and Scott choose to use this format, and what are your thoughts about it now that you’ve completed the first season?

We wrote Darklanding very specifically to woo the small screen. Each episode can be turned into a one-hour screenplay with minimal effort. We focused on different characters in each episode to make shooting them easier. After completing the first season, we learned that as a series of books in a niche genre, it needs more oomph. We marketed it a great deal before launch. It did well, even with the rapid release but fell off the charts after we stopped releasing.
 

 
You’re a key part of 20BooksTo50K, and a driving force behind the group’s conferences. What’s your favorite part about being involved with this group?

Changing lives. We have helped so many people to turn their lives around. The stories are amazing. I’ve had the pleasure to meet a number of incredible authors because of running the largest self-published author conference in the world.
 
 
What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

I’m working on a number of stories right, building IP (intellectual property) through outlining and preparing three new series. I have co-writers working on three different military scifi/space operas, a space dragon trilogy, and an epic fantasy trilogy. The stuff that I personally write—my lawyer in space series is doing great and I love writing it (I’m a lawyer, too, my sordid past). The biggest new series is a Young Adult Cozy Mystery set of 24 books that we’ll publish next year—a new story every two weeks. These will be novellas, but they are going to be great fun. Look for Monster Case Files in a store near you. 🙂

About Craig

Craig retired from the Marine Corps, spending time both as enlisted and as an officer. Then he went to law school, took his law degree into business consulting where he became a business diagnostics specialist and leadership coach. He retired from that at age 52 because he was away from home way too much. That’s when he started writing full time, and he has not looked back since. This is a great ride! He have a variety of stories now since he’s been at this for a little while, lots of short stories so you can see if you like his style. He has a number of best selling novels in categories that matter to him—space opera, military scifi, Space Marine, colonization, and genetic engineering. As a serial daydreamer, it’s nice to finally get the stories on paper (virtual and digital paper, that is). And then since he runs the 20Booksto50k author group with over 25,000 members, he has taken what I’ve shared, put it into logical order, expounded on a few things, and then published it as a self-help book for indie authors.

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Challenger Center a Launching Pad for STEM Careers

Challenger Center has been inspiring students to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) careers since the organization was founded in 1986.

Challenger Center is a non-profit education organization created by the families of the crew of the space shuttle Challenger. Its global network of Challenger Learning Centers use space-themed simulated learning and role-playing strategies to help students bring their classroom studies to life and cultivate skills needed for future success. Several participants have gone on to careers in space exploration and advanced technology and engineering.

France Jackson

Dr. France Jackson excelled in science and math from a young age, but she credits her experiences at the Challenger Learning Center near her hometown in South Carolina with sparking her determination to have a STEM career.  Jackson was able to go on Challenger Center missions in both elementary and middle school, and attended summer camp during middle school as well.

Jackson, who is a User Experience Researcher for Intel Corporation, thinks it’s vital to have Challenger Learning Centers all over the country. “I think exposure or the lack thereof is one of the major reasons we don’t see more people interested in STEM, particularly girls and minorities. People can’t aspire to be something they have never heard of or don’t know exists. We should expose kids to STEM early, often and in many different forms,” she said.

That geographic diversity can also be a driver of other forms of diversity. “If you don’t show a girl early that it is ok to be interested in STEM and nurture that interest she may think she is different, she may suppress the interest and it will die,” Jackson said. “I also think It is important to expose kids to professionals in STEM careers early on. Let them see people that look like them that are doing jobs they may have never heard of. I don’t think they have this problem in places like Silicon Valley. Kids are exposed to all kinds of STEM professionals, entrepreneurs, and startup owners. Their parents may work in STEM, their friend’s parents, or even someone from their church. It’s all around them. Here in South Carolina, we have to work a little harder to make sure our children are exposed.”

Cameron McCarty

Cameron McCarty attended Challenger programs starting in 3rd grade, and went on to complete over 15 missions. While McCarty knew that a STEM career was the path he wanted to follow after attending several lectures by astronauts at the Challenger Learning Center, he points out that many career paths can benefit from the missions. “So many critical thinking skills are taught through STEM methods. Even if you never enter a STEM field or pursue a STEM degree, everyone can benefit from these core critical thinking skills,” McCarty said.

It’s perhaps no coincidence that McCarty, who is currently the Engineering Camera Uplink Lead for the Opportunity Mars Rover, always signed up to be on the Probe team on his missions. But his best advice for kids today who are interested in STEM careers isn’t about success. “Don’t be afraid to fail, and when you do fail brilliantly. Failure is the best way we learn and can improve,”  McCarty said.

Tess Caswell

When she was just 12 years old, Tess Caswell started volunteering during the construction phase of the Challenger Learning Center near her hometown in Alaska. Now a postdoctoral research scientist with the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University, Caswell says the Challenger Center had a critical influence on her career choice. “I had the opportunity to meet two astronauts: Pete Conrad, who walked on the Moon during Apollo 12, and Joe Allen, who flew two shuttle missions. They gave me advice on becoming an astronaut that influenced my trajectory for years to come.” (See what she did there?)

Caswell got to participate in her first Challenger Center mission when she was 14, and recalls it vividly. “What I remember most from my first Challenger Center mission was the way it built our group into a team. When we first started, everyone was focused on their own priorities at their console in MCC or station onboard the spacecraft. By the end, we were all working as a team to overcome challenges and accomplish the mission.”

Letting elementary and middle school students participate in hands-on missions is the perfect introduction to the rigorous but inspiring work in science and technology, Caswell said. “STEM education in the higher grades can be challenging, so equipping all students with the right skillset to tackle intimidating subjects like math and physics before they become daunting is crucial.”

Ways to Support the Challenger Center

A portion of the proceeds from the NaNoWriMo Writing Tools bundle goes directly to benefit Challenger Center. This bundle, put together by Kevin J. Anderson, is an impressive collection of a dozen books on writing that will be inspirational, helpful, maybe even provocative. You can get all of the books for as little as $15. This bundle is only available through the end of November 2018, but you can always donate directly to Challenger Center!

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Story spotlight: “By Dawn’s Bloody Light” by DeAnna Knippling

A small Midwestern college town. A series of murders that ape the Jack the Ripper killings. Then Laney Miller is butchered just after dawn in front of a second-hand bookstore. The one witness didn’t see anything…except Laney getting dragged out of her car and murdered by an invisible force.

One that carries a straight razor.

It’s a town that has attracted the weird and strange as far back as the eighteen hundreds. Since then disappearances, murders, suicides, and kidnappings have only grown worse. Especially targeted are a group of local girls that carry the same face…

Laney’s face.

Laney’s girlfriend Joy and her friends decide to find the seemingly-supernatural killer and take him down before he strikes again.

In as violent and bloody a manner as possible.

By dawn’s bloody light…they will have revenge.
 
“By Dawn’s Bloody Light” is in The Faerie Summer bundle. You can learn more on BundleRabbit, Goodreads, and the bundle’s Facebook page.
 


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About the Author

DeAnna Knippling is always tempted to lie on her bios. Her favorite musician is Tom Waits, and her favorite author is Lewis Carroll. Her favorite monster is zombies. Her life goal is to remake her house in the image of the House on the Rock, or at least Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. You should buy her books. She promises that she’ll use the money wisely on bookshelves and secret doors. She lives in Colorado and is the author of the A Fairy’s Tale horror series which starts with By Dawn’s Bloody Light, and other books like The Clockwork Alice, A Murder of Crows: Seventeen Tales of Monsters & the Macabre, and more.


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Interview: Scott King on “Story Pitch”


 
 
Story Pitch is in the NaNoWriMo Writing Tools bundle, a collection of a dozen books on writing. A portion of the proceeds goes directly to the Challenger Center for Space Science Education, a non-profit group created by the families of the crew of the Challenger shuttle. This bundle is only available through the end of November 2018.

Meet Scott!

Scott writes fiction, non-fiction, and is a game photographer. He produces an annual calendar that highlights board and other hobby games. He really, really likes coffee.

Story Pitch

Struggling to start your story or lost in the middle? You need a Story Pitch.

A standard pitch is meant for marketing and selling, but a Story Pitch is a powerful tool meant to be used when pre-writing and writing. It can help you jumpstart your novel, screenplay, comic, or whatever type of story you are trying to tell and it can be used as a corrective measure if you get off track during the writing process.

In this book, you’ll learn:

  • The key elements to story
  • How those elements are connected
  • How to construct a Story Pitch
  • How to use a Story Pitch for outlining
  • How to use a Story Pitch to fix character problems
  • How to use a Story Pitch when lost during writing
  • How to use a Story Pitch for writing book blurbs

If you like honesty, no bull, a bunch of humor, and tons of examples in your writing guides, then you’ll love Scott King’s Story Pitch.

Excerpt

A pitch is a description of a story that a person uses to sell it. In Hollywood, it might be that a writer is pitching a screenplay to producers, hoping they buy it. In traditional publishing, it might be an author pitching a novel to an agent who would then pitch it to one of the big six publishers.

Anytime you meet someone and they ask you about what you’ve written, whether it’s a novella, short story, or full-blown three-hundred-thousand-word epic, what you say back to them is a pitch.

Pitching is part of a writer’s world. No matter how much you might hate giving one, you can’t escape it. Book blurbs that appear on the back of a novel or on a retailer website are also pitches. They are carefully crafted descriptions meant to sell the story to a potential reader.

You can use a Story Pitch to create all the pitches I described above, but the main goal of a Story Pitch isn’t to sell the idea of your story to someone else. A Story Pitch is meant to be a tool you can use when pre-writing, writing, and re-writing your story.

Whittled down, a Story Pitch is a synopsis that introduces the key elements of your story, serves as a guide post while writing, and creates enough interest to hook the listener so they’ll want more.

– from Story Pitch by Scott King

The Interview

You write both fiction and non-fiction; do you enjoy one over the other?

I enjoy them equally but for different reasons. Fiction is my way of having fun. It’s creating worlds and characters that readers care about. I use it to offer escape, fun, and to touch upon themes that I think are important. In a different time of my life I was a college professor and doing non-fiction scratches that teaching itch. It’s not working one on one with students, but I still get to feel like I’m helping people.
 
 
The books in your Writer to Author series are all connected to fiction books of yours. Why did you decided to link your fiction with your non-fiction?

One of the biggest advantage to taking a class in writing versus reading a book about writing is that you get to see the mistakes that other students make in their writing and how they go about fixing those mistakes. By tying my non-fiction books to my fiction books it allows the reader to go on a journey with me. When I screw something up they get to see first hand how I fix it. My book on outlining doesn’t just teach how to outline, but shows how I outlined an actual novel. Want to know how a Story Pitch can be used to fix a problem? I use it to solve a major problem I was having in the original draft of my dystopian thriller Resist Them.
 

 
Why make the the tone of your non-fiction books so non-traditional?

I like coffee and poop jokes. I’m not stuffy. That shows in my books. They aren’t written in an academic style. They are written as if me and the reader are hanging out in a cool coffee shop and just talking shop about publishing and the craft of writing. It allows me to write the books in my natural voice which means I get to focus more on content than presentation.
 
 
How did you come up with the idea for your book Story Pitch?

I had previously published Finish The Script! and The Five Day Novel. One of the most popular subjects covered in both books was how to write a pitch. Since the interest seemed to be there, I decided to flesh out the concept into a full book, with a focus not just on how to write a pitch, but how to use it as a tool for pre-writing and re-writing.
 
 
What are the basic building blocks when writing a Story Pitch?

The core of every pitch has four things: Character, the Character’s Want, an antagonistic force preventing them from achieving their want, and the stakes, which is what happens if the want isn’t achieved.

So looking at Avengers: Infinity War it would break down something like this:
Character: Thanos
Want: To put together the infinity gauntlet (so he can wipe out half of all life forms to prevent overpopulation and the lack of resources)
Conflict: The Avengers are trying to stop him from doing so.
Stakes: If he fails the universe is doomed.

Things like genre, voice, and themes can all impact a pitch too, but this should give you an idea of what basic elements are and how they might fit together.
 

 
 
How can an author use a Story Pitch?

If you talk to most authors, they think pitches are important for selling a book. You pitch to an agent via a query letter or you pitch to a publisher. Then you might pitch to a potential reader via the synopsis on the back cover or the description on an online store. A story pitch is great for those things but it can also serve as a guide when writing or as a test when pre-writing.

When I was a college professor, I needed some sort of gauge to measure a student’s story before they started writing it. I had them write pitches, just so I could make sure they had a clear goal with the story they wanted to tell and I realized in doing so that it helped them stay on track through the writing process.

That’s where I think a Story Pitch really shines, helping writers shape their idea before writing. It’s also a great test when rewriting because you can compare your current draft to your original pitch. Doing so allows you to see where an element might have gotten off track or gone wrong.
 
 
Why might an author choose to write a Story Pitch for each character in their story?

Story Pitches are centered on individual characters. If a story has multiple POVs or a writer is simply struggling to understand a supporting character, writing a Story Pitch can help clear things up.

Earlier I used the example of Thanos from Infinity War. Although he is the “villain” in many ways he is the main character of the movie. He has the biggest wants. He is the most proactive of all the characters. He even has a slight arc in weighing what he is willing to sacrifice to gain his deepest wants.

Writing a Story Pitch centering on him makes sense, but the movie was an ensemble piece. It has a huge cast. Going back and writing addition pitches for the other characters would aid in fleshing out those additional story lines and themes that a writer might want to touch upon.
 
 
In Wrath of Dragons, the first book in your Elderealm series, you do some interesting and unexpected things with your dragon characters—especially with Doug the dragon. What inspired you to write about a dragon turned into a human?

There are a lot of fantasy novels where dragons are shape shifters. That’s not a new trope. What I did that was a bit sneaky is play a bit with expectations at the start of Wrath of Dragons. I set the story up so that readers would think dragons were non-intelligent beasts, because that is the view one of the POV characters has. Within the first two chapters that changes and the readers along with the POV character realize that there is more going on than they realized.

Doug’s whole story in the not just the first novel, but the series as a whole is that he is someone trying to learn how to connect with others. He’s an outcast as a dragon. He is trapped in human form. He has no family. He is simply looking for his place in the world. Although this is a fantastical setting, I think that’s something a lot of people can relate to. It’s probably why he has become one of the fan favorite characters of the series.
 
 
With so much working having to go into all stages of publishing as an indie author, do you still have fun writing?

Heck yeah. I’m a story person first. Money is great, and I’m lucky enough to make a full time income doing what I’m doing, but as things are now I make enough and I don’t need to push to make more. In a way that gives me a bit of freedom with my writing. Instead of fast tracking the next book in a series to push for quick releases, I can take a break and write a novella, non-fiction book, or whatever I want. Writing what I feel I NEED to write next instead of what I SHOULD write next keeps things fun. It lets me feel like I am prioritizing story of business.

And to be clear, there is no right or wrong reason to write. I know a bunch of authors who write and it’s a job to them. Their main goal is providing for their family or they are trying to earn a hire Amazon rank. Those reasons to write are just as legit as my reasons.
 
 
In addition to being an author, you’re also a board game photographer! What do you enjoy most about this type of photography?

People are the worst when it comes to photography. People have things they don’t like about themselves… maybe an old scar, the shape of their jaw line, the thickness of their eyebrows, or whatever. In photos they want whatever that thing they dislike to be hidden or minimized. As a photographer I like to capture things as they are and sometimes if you are photographing a person that means photographing something they don’t want. This can lead to cranky humans because you took a real portrait showing who they really are instead of what they want to appear as.

Because people can be a pain to make happy, I gravitated toward non-people photography, mostly food and landscape. That eventually lead to board games and to be honest, board games are great because they don’t have opinions of themselves. Plus publishers and designers are happy when you take real photos of their games. It’s a win-win!
 
 
You co-wrote your newest non-fiction book, Learn How to Write a Novel by Reading Harry Potter with Clark Chamberlain. What led the two of you to write this book?

Clark had done a Harry Potter class and approached me about teaming up for additional courses. Courses are not my thing, but it gave me the idea of teaming up for a book, and this book is what we decided to do!

Basically the book breaks down as a 101 class in how to write a novel and it uses Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone as the example for all the lessons. In a way it’s a layered so that someone who knows nothing about writing could come in and read it and leave with an understanding of what it takes to write a novel. On the other hand, if someone already has multiple books under their belt and knows what they are doing, Learn How to Write a Novel by Reading Harry Potter is a great re-read companion. The book is structured by chapter so you can read a chapter of The Sorcerer’s Stone and then read a chapter of Learn How to Write a Novel to see an analysis of that chapter!
 
 
What story (or stories) are you working on now?

Soooo much. It’s been a strange year.

I cranked out the first draft of Unchained Shadows, the next book in my Elderealm series. It was supposed to only be about 100k, but is pushing 200k. I’m super excited about it. It’s GOOD, but messy because my first drafts are always super messy so it needs a heavy polish and I will wrap it up by the end of the year.

I have half a dozen short stories I’m shopping around. I also have a sci-fi short story I’m turning into a novella. It’s strange and more literary than mainstream. It will probably be out sometime next spring.

Then this past summer our dog, Winchell passed away. He was raised and trained to be a seeing eye dog. It was very hard and still is for both myself and my wife, Lisa. Lisa raised him from a pup and only though a weird quirk was she able to get him back from The Seeing Eye. As part of the grieving process, I wrote a 40k sci-fi novella based on his story. The first draft is done and it needs a re-write. I’ll probably tie it into my next non-fiction book which will be about rewriting. That should also come out sometime next year!

About Scott

Scott King, an international best selling author, was born in Washington D.C. and raised in Ocean City, Maryland. He received his undergraduate degree in film from Towson University, and his M.F.A. in film from American University.

Until moving to follow his wife’s career, King worked as college professor teaching photography, digital arts, and writing related classes. He now works full time as an author.

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