Thursday, June 30, 2011

Killing Cupid: Summer Book Club

Killing Cupid - Mark Edwards and Louise Voss

Killing Cupid is the first book to be featured in the Summer Book Club. Mark Edwards, who co-wrote this darkly-funny stalker thriller with Louise Voss, will be on Facebook on Saturday evening to answer questions and chat.  He will even answer questions about the controversial Dan Brown/Stieg Larsson subtitle scandal if you are nice. Please drop by as his psychiatrist has warned him several times about talking to himself...  Go to for more information.

Can you sum up your book in no more than 25 words?

Killing Cupid is a stalker thriller in which a wannabe writer becomes obsessed with his tutor. But then she turns the tables, with devastating results.

How important is a book's central character?

Vital. Killing Cupid has two central characters. I wrote Alex, who starts off as a creepy stalker but, I hope, becomes more sympathetic as the novel goes on. Louise wrote Siobhan, a lonely writer who it turns out, has a lot of issues. The central idea of the novel is that there is someone out there for everyone - no matter how crazy you are.

What are the central themes of the book?

Love. Or rather, obsessive love.  Both of the central characters in Killing Cupid are lonely and frustrated; they feel that their lives would be complete with a significant 'other'. But neither of them know the best way to find that other person so they act in increasingly bizarre ways.  Of course, we all do stupid things when we're in love, but Alex and Siobhan take it to the extreme. If this makes Killing Cupid sound like a serious book, it isn't. It's a dark comedy with lots of twists and turns and a great joke about haemorrhoid cream.

What was your motivation for writing it?

Killing Cupid was co-written by Louise Voss and me. When we started, Louise was in the middle of a four-book contract with Transworld. I had recently been dumped by my agent. We got drunk one night and came up with the idea of writing something together as an experiment - and also because we thought the idea of a stalker novel in which the stalker becomes the stalkee (I think I just invented that word) was compelling.  Two months into writing it, a lucky meeting attracted the attention of a BBC producer who optioned it. It never got made in the end but it gave us the motivation to make sure we finished it.

What parts of the book are you most proud of?

Apart from the fact that we managed to pull off the tricky act of co-writing a novel without any tantrums, tears or throwing of teacups, my favourite parts of the novel are the scenes where Alex is creeping around Siobhan's house, inspecting her possessions, reading her diary, sitting on her toilet seat for a thrill.. And I love the second half of the book, in which everything turns around and starts moving really fast. And I love Louise's chapters because I just love reading everything she writes.  It was like simultaneously writing and reading a novel. Great fun.

What's your favourite part of the writing process?

I love the first draft because my favourite aspect of writing is plotting, although we never work out the full plot before sitting down to write. We enjoy working it out as we go along. The characters tend to take a life of their own and tell you what they would do next. With Killing Cupid I wrote a chapter which I sent to Louise with some notes about what might happen next. She edited my chapter then did the same. We had no idea how it would all turn out.

Can you tell us something about being an indie writer?

The best thing about the rather insane few months we've spent as indie writers - apart from hitting the No.1 spot on with our second novel, Catch Your Death! - has been the opportunity to 'meet' lots of other writers who have been incredibly supportive.  That's where the idea of the Summer Book Club came from: the idea of creating a mutually-supportive group to celebrate the fact that we'd done it for ourselves, and to show readers out there how many great self-published books there are on Amazon.

Bio: Mark Edwards lives in south London with his girlfriend, their daughter and, arriving this August, a son.  He is the co-author, along with Louise Voss, of Killing Cupid and Catch Your Death, a conspiracy thriller that was the first novel by British indie authors to reach No. 1 on Amazon.  You can find him on Twitter @mredwards.

Killing Cupid is £0.49 on

and $0.99 on

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Author Keith Latch

I've crossed paths with Keith Latch a bit in the horror genre over the last oh so many years, and I am pleased to have him guesting today. Keith describes himself as happily married, a father of one, career-minded and a little bit of a square. Nonetheless, at times, he finds himself looking to the stars for orbiting alien spacecraft and has been known to carry an enchanted sword in the trunk of his car. Oh, and that hockey mask and machete in the backseat…that’s just for Halloween
1. You've been working in the small press a while. What's happening there as the digital revolution takes hold?
Well, I have to say that I was fortunate enough to find an excellent small press to publish my work. However, that was a different time, almost five years ago, which in publishing can be a lifetime. I enjoyed the experience and learned a lot from it, but now with the digital revolution, I can get the same things: editing, cover art, distribution completed on a timetable that fits me much better.  It’s also a little ironic that you ask. I’ve actually just yesterday received the rights back for three of my backlist books, at my request, from the publisher so that I can actually place those titles up for sale, independently, by mid-summer.

2. What do you see happening with the horror genre at the moment?
In my opinion, horror has always been a niche market. While it has a roller coaster market history, the actual horror fans are a small, yet loyal, group whether it is books, film, or whatever. It may come in vogue every few years, but the swelling in the marketplace that occurs when horror is the new fad…again and again…is a good thing, it allows new writers to emerge. When the bubble bursts, we see only the best and brightest continue to produce work, which in the end is a big win for the reader.

3. You've had ebooks out even before the Kindle revolution, right? What kind of difference has it made?
 I self-published A Ghost Story back in 2006, way before self-pubbing was acceptable. But through word-of-mouth and loyal readers, I actually moved enough copies to attract a small publisher. However, the first version of my first contracted novel Cemetery Things came out in ebook several months before the paperback. For a while, it did not feel like a real book. I still relish the day I got my first print copies. I was caught up with the nostalgia of the printed pulp. I wanted to hold the book in my hand. Back in that time, 2007 it would have been, ebooks were more a novelty than anything. However, there were a few ebook readers available. I actually picked one up from Fictionwise and tried it out. I liked it but the ease in which we have today to purchase and load books just wasn’t there. As time progressed, and the electronic market caught on, I saw more and more readers for the ebook versions of my novels versus the print.
Now, with self-publishing catching on, and the ease in which we can publish, I gain more readers each month than I did in a year with the small press.
At first I considered the ebook revolution both a curse and a blessing. We had more affordable content and a much more diverse catalog to browse. Unfortunately, I also knew that any ninny with a computer could type a few hundred pages, purchase a stock photo, and say they had themselves a literary masterpiece. After the last several months, I‘ve decided that was not so horrible. Instead of the so-called “gatekeepers” of traditional publishing, we could now use our own free will to decide what content we’d like to purchase and read. So I sample a few books, erase what I don’t like, and buy and then read what I do. That’s left me with many options as a reader and just as many as a writer because with the money finally flowing towards the writer, and a much better percentage, I am satisfied with a much smaller readership than I would have needed to be successful in the mass market paperback or even hardcover arena.

4. You write in multiple genres. Do you just follow your moods, an intention to reach different audiences, or is it a wide range of interests? And do you feel if that's made it harder to build what they keep calling the "author brand" these days?
I do dabble in many different genres; horror, thriller, science fiction, fantasy, and even a little romance (that one was a dare from my wife just to see if I could do it…she now thinks I can). I’ve even done a comic book project with Steve Wands, who has among many other things worked on a run of Green Lantern for DC and Mike Fiortentino, a very gifted artist. I actually write the way I like to read. I read voraciously everything from Scott Nicholson (editors note--I didn't pay him to say that but the 15 percent is in the mail) to Stephen King, to Brandon Sanderson, to Clive Cussler, to John Varley. As I write, I like to explore new terrain and seek out new stories that can sometimes be challenging. I feel that keeps the writing fresh and entertaining for the reader.
While it may limit my “branding” in certain aspects, I hope that my readers can identify in all my works, regardless of genre, that the stories are actually about people, relationships, and hope. No matter if it’s a horde of hungry zombies, a mysterious killer stalking the streets of Memphis, or the return of a long-lost friend who believes that all your success in life is due to him and he’s ready for his cut of the pie even if it means your death, I do think the same themes permeate my writing. I also hope readers begin to identify my name with a good story versus a category of fiction. 
Also, I think the ebook revolution has and technology in general has given writers a way to build a common community with not only other writers but also readers and even potential readers and I love the idea of that.

5. What's coming up next for you?
As I mentioned, I just received the rights back to my books A Ghost Story, Bestseller, and No Small Thing. I hope to revise those quickly and place those up for readers by August 1. I’m also working on a very ambitious science fiction project, which I’m very excited about. More details to follow…
Visit Keith online at and follow him at twitter, his username is @keithlatch1

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Alaskan Book Cafe

Alaskan Book Cafe: News on Scott Nicholson

Cristina is just starting out in the blog world, so let's give her a warm welcome (she needs it, being in Alaska and all). Also, brilliant storyteller Willie Meikle's got a new book out, Concordances of the Red Serpent. Visit him

And a big event coming up this summer, so be sure to follow my newsletter to get in on all the giveaways and goodies:


Sunday, June 26, 2011

Simon Wood: It's No Accident

This guy's probably one of the more humble writers around--anyone else hitting #2 on the Kindle bestseller list behind Janet Evanovich would be screaming about how great they were. But I've known Simon Wood since before the Kindle era, and he's just a hard-working and talented writer who takes nothing for granted. A former PI and race-car driver, he's won a slew of mystery awards for his short fiction and now he's getting a wider audience with his novels after publishing in paperback with Leisure books and other presses.

His fiction features lots of twists, duplicitous characters, con men, liars, conniving females, backstabbers, and well-crafted writing.

1. First, congratulations on your success. Since we've been sharing ideas for a while, along with Debbi Mack, it's good to see we've all had some luck. And for you, it must seem like a slow grind to the top of the Kindle bestseller list, while from a distance it may seem you're an overnight success. What do you think created the tipping point to break through?

Yes, It’s been a slow haul from my point of view.
I think the success surrounding ACCIDENTS WAITING TO HAPPEN came from having a game plan for the book.  I have eleven books in eBook form, but I made the decision to focus on one title at a time instead of all of them at once, because it’s too much noise for the readers if have too many titles for people to choose from.  I got ACCIDENTS out to bloggers and review sites with strong followings and provided them with copies of the book.  Their endorsements got some sales traction.  People saw that and they in turn discovered the book and recommended it and momentum took over. 

In the end, there seemed to be some website mentioning the book every day and that helped push the book in Amazon top 100 at the beginning of the month.  Then Amazon endorsed the book by sending out an email blast and it pushed the book over the top.  While there was no predicting what Amazon did, I think the tipping started three months ago when I made sure there was a grass roots following for the book.  Once people latched onto it, I helped give it a nudge.  The trick is to now repeat the success with my other titles.

2. What's the difference between being a midlist paperback writer and a successful indie author?
I’m more in touch with how well a title is performing than with my paperback books.  I won’t really know for weeks/months how well a paperback has done because the chain of custody is so long from bookstore to author, because of the delay from the bookstore, to distributor, to publisher and finally to me. In that situation, it’s hard to react to make the book a better seller.  With eBooks, I get to see how well my e-titles perform in real time and I can react accordingly.

3. Any general tips for the aspiring writers out there?
Take your writing seriously.  You may be new, but any time you put anything out for public consumption, you have a responsibility to the reader.  Make sure it’s the best work you can physically produce.  Make sure your book is edited and copy edited as good as any book put out by New York.  And remember, just because you’ve published a book, don’t think your work is done.  It won’t sell simply because it’s available.  Get it into the hands of reviewers and bloggers who will recommend it.

4. You have a diverse background. How does that spill over into your writing?
Probably the biggest way it shows up in my writing is by way of conflict.  I’ve seen firsthand and secondhand how people react to pressure situations.  Sometimes people triumph and sometimes they fail.  And failure leads to people making some spectacular errors in judgment.  This is great fuel for crime fiction.  Human fragility is always interesting.  Some people tell me they wouldn’t do what my characters do in my books, but you’d be surprised how people will react when their backs are against the wall.

5. What can readers expect next?
Print-wise, I have a new mystery series set in the world of motorsport.  The first book is called DID NOT FINISH and it’s loosely based on something that happened when I used to race.  There’ll be a paperback version of my eBook THE FALL GUY which will be out in November.  Ebook-wise, I hope to be releasing the first in the Terry Sheffield mysteries, which features an English guy who becomes a county sheriff in California.  The first book is called, NO SHOW and will be out before the end of the year.

Thanks, Simon, and best of luck--and all the other stuff besides luck!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Der Schädelring: Romantischer Thriller

This is pretty cool. I am not a "numbers screamer," because I believe if you brag about how well you are doing when times are good, you should in all fairness be a whining, sullen, unpopular toad when your sales slide. In reality, the words are exactly the same and YOU are exactly the same. Just because you sell books doesn't make you a better writer nor a better much of anything except, for that particular moment, someone who is selling some books. And it will end. It always does. So bragging is never cool.

That said, I want to give a shout out to Christa Polkinhorn for translating The Skull Ring, because Der Schadelring is #122 in the entire German Kindle store. It is cool. But not ego-boosting, "Take that, Gunter Grass" cool, because we're only selling three or four a day. So what this tells me is the German market is very, very small right now. And I wish I had 30 German books, because the market is there for the taking. And I expect that pattern to duplicate as we make our way around the world with Amazon and Kindle. Thanks, Christa! Danke schoen. And all you translators, call me and let's avoid being toads.


Monday, June 20, 2011

When Things Get Bloody

A guest post by J.T. Warren on his novel Blood Mountain:

I love movies like The Last House on the Left (especially the old version but the new one gets the job done) or I Spit on Your Grave where the unlucky female protagonist is besieged by madmen who rape her and leave her for dead but instead of surrendering, the traumatized woman finds the strength not only to survive, but to get some blood-drenched revenge.  These kinds of movies and novels are often pushed aside as tasteless forays into the darkest corners of the human mind where decent people would never dare to tread.

They might have a point, but I've never been one to spend all my time with the decent folk.  And when I meander down the slope into those dark caves, I always find someone there who wasn't before, someone whose curiosity got the better of them and now that they've seen what was once so taboo, they are unwilling to leave.  The view from the darkness, you see, is a glimpse of genuine truth.  It may be horrible and unpleasant at times, but it is honest.  Many people would rather ignore that.  Personally, I love settling into a cozy corner down there in the dark, waiting for my eyes to adjust, and watching what happens when people confront their fears.

That's what I've tried to do in BLOOD MOUNTAIN.  There are some very unpleasant parts, some graphic descriptions, and, of course, an awful lot of blood.  There's a man named Victor who believes the End of Everything is fast approaching and it is his job to help "cleanse" the world for the coming Dark Time.  He wants Mercy Higgins to be his companion, his love, and he will get that love by any means necessary.  He even has a shiny collection of knives to help persuade her.  When Mercy and her father hike up the mountain outside of town, Victor believes it is his time to get what he wants.  Mercy will confront evil and discover the depths of human depravity and cruelty.  But Blood Mountain is no ordinary place.  Just look at the mysterious crows that circle the mountain and seem to lust for blood.  This is a dark place, no doubt, and in order to survive, Mercy must harness the darkness within her.  Sometimes that can be the scariest place of all. 

If you dare to travel where the decent folk would never go, please come to Blood Mountain.  Don't worry, I know the trail very well, and I know when we're being followed.  Stay close and I promise you'll make it to the end.  But you may get a little bloody. 


Sunday, June 19, 2011

Kindle Summer Book Club

Nine bestselling authors and one free book.

The Summer Book Club features stories, articles, and novel excerpts from thriller writers in the United States and United Kingdom, all for free at Smashwords and The book will be 99 cents at Amazon, with all proceeds going to disaster recovery in Joplin, Mo.

Features H.P. Mallory, Cheryl Shireman, Victorine Lieske, Dan Holloway, Sibel Hodge, Mark Edwards, Louise Voss, Saffina Desforges, and J. Carson Black, as well as my own contributions. We'll have a summer of events and giveaways as well, so be sure to follow our Facebook page for the event. Mystery, paranormal, thrills, chills, and romance all in one tight little package.

Stay tuned for more!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Loving the Hate

I've been a pretty casual sports fan most of my life, though NFL football is my main sports passion now. I got drawn back into the NBA this playoff season for the first time since the Jordan-Bird-Magic days primarily because of the drama surrounding LeBron James and his arrogant, oblivious treatment of fans and my feeling that he was a symbol of all that was wrong with sports and our modern culture.

It's hard to believe now, but when I went back to college to get my degree in the mid-1990s, my goal was to enter sportscasting or a sports-related media field. But the advent of ESPN, the cancerous me-firstism of idiots like Chris Berman, and the adoration of announcer hair gel and blustery opinion over what was actually happening on the court or field quickly repelled me.

Now here I was driven back into a "love of the game" solely because of hate. I hated LeBron James, and I cheered for his Miami Heat to lose. His life of pampered ease, his lack of loyalty, his attempting to take the easy way to a championship instead of shouldering the burden to lift a lesser team to the trophy all seemed reasons to root against him. After his team's failure in the championship series, and his poor, gutless performance, he sat in his post-game conference and chided all of us haters because we had to get up on Monday and go back to our regular, mundane lives while he went to his mansion and a summer of jet-setting celebrity ease.

And my hatred turned to sorrow. Because I realized my hate was just another form of what he was engaging in--a lack of humility and a certainty of what the universe should look like. I didn't want him to win the easy way. Now it will be hard. If he can win now, it will be because he took a deep examination of his life and the sycophants he surrounded himself with, the buffers from the reality we "normal" people face every day. Yet we all know of failure, and overcoming tough odds, and how victory is sweeter when it's tempered on the forge of hardship and sacrifice. If he can do that, I'd love to watch, and even cheer for him.

Sports may not have a lot to do with writing, but today I am incredibly grateful for my own blessings. A hillbilly nerd sitting at his keyboard can live out his dream--but failure was pretty common for many years. Rejection, bad decisions, and pure bad timing and luck all kept a goal out of my reach, even though I had enough ego and hubris to sustain me when success was elusive--there was always someone else to blame. But I never doubted. At least, never enough to stop writing. I somehow figured it would all work out, and either way, I wouldn't know what else to do.

Failure is not only always an option, it's the default setting. Today I celebrate faith, love, and possibility, so why not rise above wishing failure on someone else? Winning inside your own heart is better than winning any championship, trophy, or prize.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

American Horror at Smashwords

Bestselling urban fantasy author HP Mallory hosted me at her blog: Check out her books, she is funny.

Heading off to the North Carolina coast for four days to do a little research for a secret project, as well as take a dip in the ocean. I won't be doing any fishing this trip but may get out on a boat or two. Also, I just released American Horror, an anthology I edited as a communal project. Featuring eight great horror stories from the likes of Maria Alexander, Joseph Nassise, Joe McKinney, Nate Kenyon, and more. Sample it at Smashwords

Thursday, June 2, 2011

New column up

Latest Indie Reader column "Indier Than Thou" up at . My advice? Do whatever works best for you today, because tomorrow will change one way or another. Or maybe you will change. Still working on the Liquid Fear sequel. As they say, these stories don't write themselves.

Liquid Fear is hanging in there...51 days in the Kindle Top 100. Grab a copy while it's cheap, as I'll be raising the price once it's out of the Top 100.