Lamar Giles
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March, 2011

Quick Q&A with Brandon Massey

I’m starting something new here on the blog. I’m reaching out to my favorite authors, authors I’ve just discovered, and any author in between to participate in a quick Q&A session just for the hell of it…

I LOVE talking shop with anyone who’s willing to listen (most of the time that’s other writers) and I know there are people who like to know more about the process from the inside.

I hope to feature a different author AT LEAST twice a month. Most of the writers I’ve met are gracious, open people who like exploring new forums. Maybe over time, this can become a favorite hang out for notable wordsmiths. The literary version of Inside the Actors Studio.

Without further delay, our first author, Brandon Massey

Brandon is the author of a dozen acclaimed novels. His latest, COVENANT, is a real thrill ride, as I’ve stated before.

LRG: A lot of writers have a goal of getting published. Beyond that they tend to target sustainability. I would say you’ve accomplished both, so what sort of goals do you set for yourself now?

BM: My primary goal these days is keep growing as a writer, and for me, that means writing pretty much every day, reading constantly, and seeking out new life experiences and insights.  That last point is especially important. I’ve found that I get my best ideas by ripping a cloth from something that I’ve personally experienced or have some knowledge of, and using that as the basis for a story.

LRG: What has been your greatest accomplishment during your time in the publishing world? What about your biggest disappointment?

BM: Probably my greatest accomplishment is that, for the most part, I’ve always written exactly what I wanted to write, and I’ve managed to find an audience for my stories.  That is extremely gratifying.  I’ve never paid much attention to following the fads.  I write the kind of stories that I’d like to read, and fortunately, a number of people other than myself enjoy them, too.

Biggest disappointment?  Definitely realizing that traditional publishing is basically like gambling.  Talent and hard work has very little to do with success in that realm.  It’s all about the numbers and someone’s subjective (and unproven) opinions of what’s worth publishing.

LRG: eBooks and Independent Publishing…a lot of people make it seem like we’re living in the Publishing End Times. What’s your take?

BM: I don’t think the so-called Big Six Publishers are going anywhere.  I think they will adapt to the new delivery models.  Furthermore, so long as there are writers who want to be taken care of, who want to avoid the business aspects of publishing, traditional publishers will always have a crop of writers from which to pick.

With that said, I do think you’ll see independent authors continuing to carve out a niche for themselves, simply because the channels have been opened.  A few will earn fortunes, a number will earn a good living, and still more will make “hobby money.”

The most gratifying thing of all?  Writers finally have options now.

LRG: You fall through a time warp and land at the feet of a younger version of yourself as they type “The End” on the first novel they/you will ever publish. What would you say?

BM: Start on the next book. Immediately.  Don’t get hung up on one project.  Keep moving and building momentum.

Brandon, thanks for stopping by and giving us a little insight into what you do.

Remember everyone, COVENANT, is the new novel and you NEED to add it to your collection. It’s available in paperback and on your favorite eReader.

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Clowns at Midnight

Nobody likes a clown at midnight” – Stephen King

How can such a simple statement sum up why that man is so good at what he does? But I digress, the I-LOVE-STEPHEN-KING post I’ll save for another night. For now, let’s talk about Clowns at Midnight…or, to really get to the heart of it, Mundane $&*# that’s scary as a #*@$…

In reality the creepy old house in your hometown is probably scary. It’s dirty, it’s got rats and roaches, and if you poke around the foundation long enough with a stick, you’ll find some crackhead’s discarded underwear (or maybe that’s just my hometown). The problem is there’s really nothing compelling about that kind of scary. It’s obvious. There’s literally yellow tape on the door that says KEEP OUT.

Sure, there are a thousand movies where teenagers (really 30 year olds) go into this exact environment and die deservingly horribly. They are dumber than us. That’s not scary. That’s Natural Selection.

What’s scary is the stuff there’s no warning for. The stuff you can’t reason your way around, or avoid. Or worse, the stuff you’re totally aware of, but someone more powerful than you drags you there anyway (like parents taking their kids to the circus to see those creepy guys in the white makeup and blood-red grins).

Stephen King built a career out of noticing when the stuff that’s not supposed to be scary is just about running someone out of the room. It’s not a bad observational skill to have, particularly in the wordsmith game, regardless of genre (I don’t care if you’re writing romance, comedies, or adventure tales…real people should exist in your stories, and real people have fears).

Here’s one of mine (my wife laughs and laughs at this): Wet Tissue.

(get your WTF moment out of the way)

I’m not really afraid of wet tissue paper. I just find it disgusting. It makes me cringe, with it slimy mushiness. By no means do I plan to write a novel about Evil Wet Tissue, but I can focus on the sensation it brings out in me. I can apply it to something else slimy (tentacles?), and I can make my character feel fear.

And maybe my readers, too.

Just something to think about. At midnight. While the clowns are surrounding you.

Do any of you have off the wall fears/deep dislikes? Let’s hear ’em

 

 

 

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Know the business, part 2

Hey, Future Independent Authors out there…check out this conversation between J.A. Konrath and Barry Eisler. Great information.

 

 

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Know the business…

I wanted to write something fun this week, but a more serious topic presented itself.

An author friend of a friend just had their book “accepted” by a “notable publisher”, but in order for them to move forward with  the contract and have their book published, the author must come up with…wait for it…THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS by the end of the month. The author reached out to her contacts (one of which is a buddy of mine) soliciting donations to make her dream come true.

So, you’re probably wondering why I’m not naming this “publisher”. There’s a couple of reasons.:

1) What they’re doing isn’t illegal (but it should be) –  Though they actually call themselves “Co-Publishers”, they openly admit to being a vanity press on their website, and as part of that admission they come right out and say you’ll have to pay if your book is “accepted”. So, no lies are being told.

2) If I have to call my lawyer, I better be having as much fun as Charlie Sheen – I don’t know if I’d be crossing any legal lines if I actually called the publisher out here. And I don’t want to find out, so I’m staying mum on names. That silence, however, brings me to the point of the post.

Writers…guys…you gotta listen when I say this. LEARN THIS BUSINESS. I know what it’s like to want to see your words in print, and I know how good it feels when someone who’s supposedly legit says you’ve got what it takes, but you gotta use common sense. In what world does a 30K Publishing contract that has THE WRITER PAYING THE PUBLISHER make sense?

Money should go TO the writer.

If you plan to pay (and there’s nothing wrong with that…particularly in the changing publishing climate) understand that you can publish your book for a hell of a lot less than 30 Grand.

Do your research, and don’t get all googly eyed at the first company that manages to slip the word “bestseller” on their home page. A good place to do your homework and filter out the scams is Preditors & Editors. Remember, no one cares more about your career or well being than you. Act like it.

This has been a PSA from your Friendly Neighborhood Writer-Man.

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March Announcements…SPREAD THE WORD!!

 

Hey, gang. Just wanted to make a few announcements to start the month off right. Before I do, though, I want to thank each and every one of you who helped make February such an incredible month for my two books. I’ve received a lot of email, and some great reviews over at Amazon and B&N that I will be eternally grateful for. I love hearing from readers, so feel free to reach out to me any time: lrgileswriter [at] gmail [dot] com

Now, a little housekeeping…

That’s all for now. Again, be sure to sign up for the newsletter. And I’m looking forward to another great month with you all…later.

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Half price monkey paws (and other great not-so-great deals)

It’s no secret that “The Monkey’s Paw” by W.W. Jacobs and “The Tragic History of Dr. Faustus” (think Faustian Deal)  are works that have fascinated me from childhood. They’ve directly influenced two of my own stories (LIVE AGAIN and “Wilson’s Pawn & Loan”) and continue to intrigue me to the point that, well, I’m writing about them right now…

There’s something in the idea of THE DEAL. The Ultimate Bargain. Get everything you ever wanted…for a small fee. Have all your dreams come true, even if you’ll have to trade them for nightmares much sooner than you think.

Stories like Paw and Faust are cautionary tales. Whether the writers intended them to be labeled as such (you’d be surprised how little writers–at least the ones I know–consider the possibility of their work having any lasting cultural/social appeal) we may never know, but there are definitely warnings there. Of course we know the obvious signs, but wouldn’t the Devil or the guy selling poisoned wishes adapt with the times?

Sure, we all have sense enough not to wish on that furry, badly preserved paw. And we all know better than to ever shake hands with that horned guy in the suit with the faint wisps of smoke rising off the shoulders. What about the loan officer telling you to get the dream home? What about your new boss who tells you to just ‘massage’ the numbers a little, because, hey, there might be a bonus in it for you?

The things these stories warned us about a century ago are still real threats. Which is why I love the power of such well told tales. They’re timeless. Not just because of the words on the page, but because of the idea behind them. They’ll always be bad deals, and suckers willing to give up everything for them.

That’s why it’s never hard to suspend disbelief when you read/hear/see such stories. We get our kicks out of believing the character is so much more naive/greedy/evil than us. We’d NEVER fall for such a trick. When really, we all have.

Don’t believe me? Fine, fine…you’re too smart for me.

Since I’ve got your attention, though, care to take a look at the items I’ve got right here in my trunk? I’m sure there’s something that will suit your needs.

And the prices are sooooo reasonable. 😉

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