Guest Post on Epic Fantasy Writer – Humor in Epic Fantasy

Almost all authors (including myself) often ponder what is it that readers want. We spend hours, weeks, months, days, YEARS, writing, rewriting, editing, agonizing over a particular word, sentence or turn of phrase.

And still, very often the reader just does not buy into the story. They move onto the next downloaded sample from Amazon, the next game, the next movie or Pokémon Go and all that work is for naught – at least with that one particular reader…

Read the entire article here:

Author Interview – Flight of the Vajra by Serdar Yegulalp

flight of the vajra1. Tell us all a little about your book Flight of the Vajra

At first they were only three. A brilliant starship designer, haunted by the death of his loved ones. A spiritual leader whose faith could transform mankind … or destroy it. A precocious acrobat girl, looking for a new family of her own.

Then came others. An entertainer and playboy whose dissolute lifestyle conceals unexpected ambitions, courtesy of a lover who represents the galaxy’s most powerful worlds. And a pair of detectives–one barely human, the other not at all–with orders to enlist all their help solving a crime that threatens civilization.

Together they formed the crew of the ever-evolving spacecraft Vajra. Seven against a universe where the boundaries between matter and mind have been torn down, where one can wield the power of billions … and where humanity must choose between rebirth or annihilation.

“Nature likes those who surrender to her but she loves those who do not”

2. Where did you get the idea for the book?

“Vajra” was, as I put it to some other folks, my “‘Dune’ moment”. For a long time I’d wanted to write something big, sprawling, set in the far future, and full of Neat Stuff — but I also wanted it to be something that people could connect with and feel moved by. I was also pretty alienated from most of what was going on in space-opera style SF, so much so that I said, well, if I’m this disgusted about it, I should try to do something about it. So I wrote “Vajra”, both as a way to fulfill a desire and as a way to respond to what I thought were deficiencies in the works I’d been seeing in the same genre.
3. Why did you decide to use Inkshares a crowdfunded publishing site?

It’s an experiment. I’ve published “Vajra” on Kindle, but it received no traction worth speaking of, so I thought I might see if Inkshares would be a better platform for helping it find an audience.
4. Why do you write?

I’ll go with a line from Kurt Vonnegut: “I could not help myself.”

5. What are your plans for the future with your writing?

I’ve got one more book finished (“Welcome to the Fold”) which I’m currently sending to agents, and another one in progress that I may well also try getting an audience for via Inkshares.
6. Why should readers help support your book?

When I wanted to promote “Flight of the Vajra” at a convention where I had a sales table, I printed up a little promotional poster that featured a blurb from a friend of mine who loved the book:  “A more responsible version of Tony Stark finds he’s got to save the galaxy – and his team consists of a circus acrobat, a futuristic Dali Lama, Jim Gordon, Seven of Nine, and David Bowie.”
If that isn’t reason enough to support it, I have no idea what is.

Flight of the Vajra on Kindle:

Flight of the Vajra on Inkshares


Author Interview – I Am Waltz – Matthew Dho

i am waltz1.    Tell us all a little about I Am Waltz

I Am Waltz is about a boy named Kyle. On his 16th birthday he is come upon by a robot that is down on its luck. In Kyle’s world a massive race of AI exists solely to complete menial tasks in the First World. They are all owned and controlled by the company that created them called IRIS. IRIS uses patented restrictor chips to limit what an AI version can learn. For example, police robots can only learn to become better police, chefs can only learn to become better chefs, etc. Kyle lives at a cognitive recapture facility, which is really a futuristic junkyard. There his father extracts the AI consciousness and uploads it through the cloud whenever a new hardware version is out. It’s real blue collar stuff, and most people frown upon it because of the grotesque nature of the process. Nevertheless Kyle lives there and on his birthday, he meets a robot pleading for help. This robot has somehow had his restrictor chip removed. (Something that was thought to be impossible). From there the story takes off and enters into a real adventure quest for freedom and answers.

2.    Where did you get the idea for the book?

Originally I wrote a book about a group of people who had won tickets to the world’s first entirely sustainable space hotel. Through that, I wrote about a lot of ultra-advanced AI robots that were the help in this Space Hilton. The idea of ultra-advanced robots who had abilities both cognitively and physically far and beyond that of humans being essentially slaves to those who were really under evolved than them became something I obsessed over. I wondered what would happen if that were a reality.

What would happen if an AI existed that was better than humans in every way, but was limited purposefully in its abilities by those who created it? What would then happen if those limitations were removed? What lengths would the oppressors go to in an effort to gain back that control?

These questions led to I Am Waltz. Through exploring these answers a trilogy formed and the first is I Am Waltz. I wanted to tell the story through a relatable protagonist, so I chose a teen that had been disconnected from the world. This disconnection would provide a thicker connection to today’s readers. So I had my protagonist and a jumping off point of countless questions. From there the story spun itself.

3.    Why did you decide to use Inkshares – a crowdfunded publishing site?

I hate the idea of slush-piles. I hate the idea of having so much control taken away. To just sit on a wish and a prayer that the reader at Publisher XYZ isn’t hungover and is actually going to give my manuscript a read. I think Inkshares is a great marriage between self-publishing and traditional. I think it really fills a void and is the future of publishing.

4.    Why do you write?

Why not? Ok that was not my answer. I have been writing for as long as I can remember, so I am not sure the exact reason. But I do love to tell stories and writing is a great singular way to do that. I love to control of writing and the process itself. Its slow and often lackluster, but fulfilling for me in a very selfish way. Until other mediums such as film, I am not restricted by anything when it comes to writing. No money restraints, don’t have to worry about lighting or sound. It’s all the perfect condition and I can create anything I want.

5.    What are your plans for the future with your writing?

After I Am Waltz hits shelves I will begin writing out the sequel and then the trilogy after that. I brainstormed and roughly plotted the entire trilogy before beginning I Am Waltz and have titles picked, though I won’t reveal those just yet. After this trilogy I have plans for a connected trilogy in the same universe the Waltz Trilogy sets up, though a century into the future from where the third book ends. Beyond that I love film and work on a lot of shorts and that sort of thing.

6.    Why should readers help support your book?

Passion. The competitiveness and broken system that is the publishing world often drowns out a lot of great work. But yet passionate writers continue to plug away and no one ever hears their voice. I am beyond passionate about this book, it’s themes and I whole-heartedly believe its readers will derive a lot of value from it. Sadly without help in today’s world the book more than likely will fade into the abyss, never to be read. From discrimination, persecution and loss to more wild topics such as artificial intelligence and the technological singularity I hope the book to be enlightening and entertaining for all who read it.

7.    What’s your favorite line from the book?
“I Am Waltz.”

8.    I know you are using funds from the book to support a charity.  Can you talk a little about that?

After the tragedy in Orlando I did not feel right asking people to support escapism entertainment without first acknowledging the horrors in our own reality. Money and profitability never has been a motivating factor for why I write. So it was an obvious decision for me to donate any and all author proceeds from this work to the families of the victims that were torn apart by that tragedy.

Pre-order I Am Waltz here

Author Interview – First on Mars – Landon Trine

MarsCover11. Tell us all a little about First on Mars

This book is about the first manned mission to the surface of Mars. It starts of with sabotage and a bunch of other things go wrong. There’s drama, mystery, and suspense as the crew of seven individuals have to figure out how to survive and, ultimately, to work together and get past their differences (or die trying, you have to read to find out).

2. Where did you get the idea for the book?

This idea is a result of years of fascination with NASA, space travel, Mars, and science-fiction, but the actual idea comes from mixing together every different idea for a Mars mission that I know about in a blender and pouring out the result. Every different opinion and idea is represented here. It covers not only the US, but China, the EU, and other countries and private entities in the race to occupy Mars. There’s even a fictional equivalent of Elon Musk.

3. Why did you decide to use Inkshares – a crowdfunded publishing site?
I’ve always been fascinated by crowdfunding, since I first learned about it, and also new ideas around publishing books. For example, I’ve been a long time user of Leanpub to publish technical books (I’m a programmer by trade). Inkshares marries crowdfunding with a traditional publisher and has a really great modern web interface that seems to be inspired by Twitter and Medium. It also has a great community of authors already, which is great.

4. Why do you write?

Mainly I write to connect with others through story telling, but also just because it’s fun. I love to read and I need to write to stay sane. I’ve always had a creative side to me and have found different outlets: drawing, painting, music, and writing. Lately I’ve found that writing is the best way to express the ideas I have in my head…

5. What are your plans for the future with your writing?
In a perfect world I’d be writing full time and churn out tons of short stories and books. In reality I hope to finish at least one novel per year and write some short stories. There are several other books already in the works and up on Inkshares.

6. What’s your favorite line from the book?

That’s a tough one. Perhaps my favorite so far is a quote from Kara about the big question of life:

You asked me once what we’re here for?” Kara said and then paused before adding as she gestured her hand around her, “How about this? To explore.”

7. Why should readers help support your book?

It’s a timely and unique story that needs to be told, as well as an entertaining read. Not only that, but you will be supporting me as a writer and motivating me to keep going. Also, I’ve committed to donating at least $250 to charity (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention) if the campaign is successful.

Author Interview – And The Wolf Shall Dwell by Joni Dee

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and the wolf shall dwell

Joni Dee aka J. Dital

1. Tell us all a little about And the Wolf Shall Dwell

John is a regular Joe working in the City of London. A chance meeting and the death of a man on his way to work, which he witnesses, thrusts him into a world of espionage, politics and Jihadi terrorism. It is essentially a spy thriller, but not a Bond wannabe: the implications are far more political, and it can pass as a political thriller as the scheme traces back all the way up to the corridors of Westminster. No more spoilers!

You can get the first six chapters on my website, it’s still in pre-edit mode, so people – please be gentle

2. Where did you get the idea for the book?

I wrote on my introduction to the book on Inkshares that the idea for this novel came to me while I was walking into Liverpool Street station in London on a very early, cold and dark morning, on my way to work. That was not a cliché. I had written numerous drafts of other ideas and ended up throwing them all to the recycling bin…Then the idea had hit me on that dreary morning. I initially thought what if some guy was chased and ended up bumping into me – would I do something or just freeze on the spot? I rushed to write down the scene the very same evening.

3. Why did you decide to use Inkshares – a crowdfunded publishing site?
I came across JF Dubeau’s book “The Life Engineered” which I reviewed for NetGalley and I distinctly remember I was on the tube on the way to work when I finished it and saw the Inkshares logo and patrons pages (funny but everything seems to happen to me in the mornings, whereas I’m not a morning person at all!). As a result I started exploring Inkshares and decided to upload an Idea. A guy called Vincent Lim liked it, and wrote on my draft page “let’s do this mate!” – You can still see this comment on my page at the very start.

This gave me the kick in the rear-end that I needed and I revived the “three years plus working project” and uploaded chapter one… The rest is, well soon will be history!

4. Why do you write?

I love it. I see brilliant authors like Graham Greene, le Carré, (Roger) Zelazny to match your genre here and I envy them, envy their gift to leave me in a pool of emotions. When as a boy I read Frank Herbert’s Dune, I faked illness to stay home in order to finish it. I’d like to be able to get people to read something of mine and react the same way, I guess to make them feel things they may not have otherwise felt. For me, when I smile to a book, even a small smirk, I think – this has done something here just by playing on my strings. I want to be able to do that too…

5. What are your plans for the future with your writing?
There’s an old saying in Yiddish and Hebrew: Man makes plans and god laughs. If this becomes a best seller and I can go and make a career out of this, I’d be over the moon. If this stays a side profession, and I manage to get this book to as many people as possible and maybe even write a second one, I’ll be content as well. I am taking this one step at the time – let’s get this crowdfunded first!.

6. What’s your favorite line from the book?

Two faves:
First, as anyone who read the preview can see, I am obsessed with the sun, which we don’t see enough of here in London, and I refer to her as a female.
“The sun washed over the Kremlin building. Her rays jumped off the armored vehicles, emphasizing the spectrum festival that was St. Basil’s Cathedral and its proximate buildings.”

“You said it Murray: the Iron Curtain is indeed singing its swan song. The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.”

Both from chapters not yet published anywhere, the latter is an allusion from King James’ Bible, Isaiah 11:6.

7. Why should readers help support your book?

Well… That’s a curve ball… It’s good, it’s refreshing, and it offers a fresh take on the spy thrillers genre with an anti-hero protagonist who could easily have been you or me. I think the imagery will kick them right into the heart of the City of London and will make them forget about their own life and problems while they read. Isn’t that the ultimate goal?

Plus I’m a great guy!

Check out And The Wolf Shall Dwell on Inkshares

Book Review – The Running of the Tyrannosaurs

ROTT Overall review:4.95 Stars (4.95 / 5)

Far in the future, on a distant space station, young girls are chosen, trained, emotionally shaped and genetically modified for one purpose and one purpose only: to run and race tyrannosaurs, who have been brought back from extinction.  This is done for one reason – ENTERTAINMENT, on a galactic scale.

I listened to this novella of Stant Litore’s on Audible on a road trip.  First off, I want to say that I was very impressed with Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, which of course is legendary now.  But, Hunger Games cannot hold a candle to the depth and richness of both story and character in The Running of the Tyrannosaurs.

While this novella is a good read at a superficial level, I found it more rewarding for its allegorical nature, which addresses our society’s fixation on the pursuit of beauty and attention at all costs.

The story line was fresh and new and wonderfully portrayed.  Characterization was beyond excellent, with inner conflicts written with a subtle and deft hand.  I can’t really comment on the readability, since I listened to an audiobook, but I am assuming it is very good – his other book I am reading now (The Zombie Bible) is near perfect.  As far as writing craft goes – Litore is a master.  The cover art is beautiful and  accurately portrays the premise of the book.  For the worldbuilding, I had a hard time getting my head around the venue of the race, but I plan on listening to the book again and I think that will help.

Just so everyone knows – one day Stant Litore will be an author that is taught in literature classes, because his writing is as meaningful and significant as Vonnegut, Huxley, Orwell and Clarke.  Litore is also what I consider to be a “writer’s writer” and worth studying for form and content by anyone who is interested in writing fiction.

Very, very well done.  If I can ever be even half the writer Litore is, I will be content.

Story Line:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Characterization:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Readability:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Writing Craft:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Cover Art:5 Stars (5 / 5)
Worldbuilding:4.75 Stars (4.75 / 5)

The Trope of the Love Triangle and Literacy

literacy rateThe other day one of my Inkshares pals (Evan Graham, author of Tantalus Depths)  posted a vlog on his Inkshares page titled “Writing Women as a Dude and Not Sucking at It.”  In the vlog he talked a little about the book Twilight and the ‘paper thin’ character of the female protagonist.  By all literary standards, the Twilight Saga was a complete and utter train wreck (I won’t even BEGIN to expand on the sexism perspective) but what can’t be denied is its extreme popularity.  In my opinion, the whole Twilight phenomena was one of those cases of lightning strikes, which happens to about .01% of authors (they just happen to be in the right place at the right time and they become international best sellers – it has little to do with the literary quality of their work), and the trope of 1 girl+2 dangerous boys in a love triangle.  This trope holds ENDLESS APPEAL to certain readers. (Another example with this trope – The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, which is really a pretty good work of fiction IMHO).

But, I digress, I have a different take on this particular trope, and is has to do with where I live (East Tennessee).

Sadly, I live in a place where functional illiteracy is as high as 20-30%.  Many people I know have a hard time reading a basic set of instructions – i.e. how to operate a blender, or mix ingredients for a recipe or instructions on how to fill out a form – and I mean a BASIC form, not an IRS form, which are designed for maximum confusion of course.  They can’t even write down a phone number – they need help with it.

So, as far as books go, ANYTHING that will get people reading I support, even if it is ‘bad fiction’ (or bad non-fiction as the case may be).

Without an ability to comprehend the written word, any real ability for critical thinking just goes out the window and people become dependent on being TOLD what to think (and aren’t we seeing the fallout from that RIGHT NOW during this presidential campaign!)

In the mid 90s, I lived in the Washington, DC metropolitan area and at that time, a Washington Post reporter, Leon Dash, wrote a serial piece called Rosa Lee’s Story that completely changed my entire concept of both poverty and illiteracy. Mr. Dash won won a Pulitzer Prize for Explanatory Journalism and the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award for this work.

I highly recommend anyone who is interested in the true impact of poverty and illiteracy read this series.  It will stun you.

More information on the impact of illiteracy overall.



Author Interview – “Squids In” by Matthew Poat on Inkshares

Squids_In_Cover_01_RedoTell us all a little about Squids In

Squids In is a feel good, adult oriented story about a stoner called Toby and this octopus which gets stolen from a military animal testing lab by activists and dumped into Toby’s pool. It turns out that the octopus is a demon at playing video-games and so Toby creates an online account for the creature to play on and they take part in an assortment of player versus player death matches for cash prizes, with Toby amassing quite a fortune and becoming an online gaming celebrity. This all comes back to bite him however when Hendrix  (the octopus) gets stolen from him AND the military animal testing lab pull him in for intense interrogation over the animal lab break in. The last portion of the book revolves around Toby’s search to get Hendrix back. It’s very much written in a “Pineapple Express” style so if you like that kind of thing, this is definitely the book for you.

Where did you get the idea for the book? Real life experiences (LOL)?

My seven month old son was given a “Hank” cuddly orange octopus, one of the sea creatures that appears in the upcoming Disney film “Finding Dory”. When the topic for the Nerdist June writing competition was announced on Inkshares as being video-game related, I just sat on my sofa looking around for inspiration and Hank caught my eye. It was as simple as that.child_squidWhy did you decide to use Inkshares – a crowdfunded publishing site?

I was first brought to Inkshares via an article that appeared on the Geek and Sundry website, when they announced they were running a competition for hard sci-fi novels. Now, I don’t write hard sci-fi and rarely read anything that fits in that genre but I followed the link anyway and discovered this wonderful community of writers who were helping each other to achieve their goals, offered support and motivation. I think that was something I needed in order to get on and write and probably the reason I stuck around. There are some truly great people on Inkshares.

Why do you write?

I write purely as a form of distraction. My work and home life are very hectic and stressful. As a creative person, I am constantly in need of things that fire up that side of my brain and keep me balanced and sane, otherwise who knows what sort of person I will become. I would love to become a full time writer, but my writing skills need to develop in order for this to happen. The more I write, the better I write. It really is as simple as that.

What are your plans for the future with your writing?

My ultimate short-term goal is to finish in the top 3 in the Nerdist video-game contest with Squids In, which would guarantee publication. If the book does not finish that high, I’m not sure if I really want to limp on to Quill. That’s something I need to figure out in a few weeks’ time depending on how things go. I would love to publish the book properly however just so that everyone gets a chance to enjoy some of the artwork my illustrator Eugene Karasz from DeviantArt has done for it.

Why should readers help support your book?

My story is pretty different to everything else in the Nerdist video-game competition and because of this, Squids In is kind of the underdog of the top ten (along with the excellent Mothering: The Game by Regina McMenomy.) The other entries at the sharp end are there for a multitude of reasons of course, they are great ideas and books (shout out to “Destiny Imperfect” by Peter Ryan) but I like a good injection of comedy in the things I read and Squids In has ink loads of that.

Squids In on Inkshares


Writer Income: Big 5 Publishing Authors vs. Indie Authors – from Author Earnings

comparing-50k-trad-vs-100k-indies-768x443I was reviewing this exhaustive report from Author Earnings and found these statistics to be extremely interesting – indeed, the publishing industry has been turned on its head:

“…As of May 5, 2016, only 3 Big Five authors who debuted in the past 5 years are currently making a seven figure run rate from their Amazon sales — print, audio, and ebook combined. On the other hand, 14 indies who debuted in the same time period are right now doing the same.

But what about those “invisible” authors earning $100,000+ per year…?
The ones we keep anecdotally hearing about (and hearing from), who don’t show up on any Amazon category best seller lists?

Well, we found them. They were hiding in plain sight, in our million-title May data set.

Turns out there were 43 of them lurking unseen in the dark spaces between Amazon’s bestseller lists, including one author invisibly earning more than $250,000 a year. Unsurprisingly, 30 of the 43 invisible six-figure earners — including the top earner — were self-published indie authors. Most were writing in the Romance Fiction genres, but there was also an indie author of editor’s-choice Cozy Mystery Fiction, and even more surprising, a traditional-award-winning indie writer of Literary Fiction. We happen to think that’s pretty cool.

When we lowered the author earnings bar to $50,000 a year, we found 142 invisible authors that were earning that much or more on, without any of their titles appearing on any category best-seller lists. 105 of those 142 were self-published indies.

We live in exciting times. Today it’s possible to be a full-time professional author, quietly earning $50,000+ a year — even six figures a year — without ever sending a query letter to anyone. On Amazon alone, the data shows over a thousand indie authors earning a full-time living right now with their self-published titles.

The only gatekeepers that matter now are readers….”


AND IT IS ABOUT TIME……The thought of never, ever sending a query letter again – what bliss!

Complete report can be viewed here:


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