Lamar Giles
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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.


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

 

 

 


Know the business, part 2

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

 

 


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.


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.


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. 😉


Indie Spotlight: Piety and Murder

This week I’m featuring a taut thriller by a former Green Beret. Yes, I do make some interesting discoveries deep in the Indie Publishing Rabbit Hole. The book is Piety and Murder by Thomas Rowe Drinkard. Available in the following formats:  Kindle | Nook

Description: Mack Brinson has two major problems.  He is trying to recover from the long trauma of losing the love of his life—his wife Song.  Now, his only family, Song’s mother Huong, is being systematically, and legally, bilked by a sleazy televangelist’s organization.

When Brinson goes to the smarmy preacher’s headquarters in an attempt to stop the thievery, he is physically threatened.

Brinson is a former Green Beret and isn’t intimidated. He goes after the preacher in an attempt to gather embarrassing information.  When he gets too close, someone tries to murder him in a running gunfight on the Lake Ponchartrain Bridge. 

Along the way, Brinson meets a woman, Pattie, who finally begins to dissolve the emotional walls he has erected.  He begins to learn how to love again.

There is an unseen hand behind the preacher’s organization.  The face of the antagonist is unclear, but when Huong is kidnapped, Brinson has to call on his old Special Operations contacts to find the kidnapper and rescue her.

The face of the man behind the televangelist finally becomes clear and shocking. Vengeance: slow and awful lies ahead.

My take: This suspenseful thriller, written with prescisely detailed prose, and cast with unique characters, delves into a phase of life rarely covered in other books featuring protagonists that boast membership in the Special Forces. Mack Brinson is retired, Post Mid-life, and shares a Southern home with his dog and dead wife’s mother. Rambo this guy is not, and that’s the strength in this tale of duty and vengeance. While Brinson’s days of parachuting into some jungle warzone may be behind him, there’s still plenty to fight for when a smarmy televangelist threatens what’s near and dear. Timely and telling, Piety and Murder is a nice addition to your eReader of choice.


Indie Spotlight: COVENANT

Back again, folks. I’ve been super busy with promotion for my eBooks and new writing, but I realized I’ve neglected the blog for too long. So, in my constant effort to find a sustainable angle that lets me get info out to you all in a timely manner, I’ve decided to feature some of the great books I stumble upon as I go deeper into the Indie Publishing Rabbit Hole.

First up, COVENANT by Brandon Massey. Available in the following formats: Paperback | Kindle | Nook

DISCLAIMER: If you know me, then you realize Brandon’s work isn’t something I just discovered. I’m a long-time fan, and he’s a friend. He is also an Indie Author, so COVENANT does fit the criteria here.

DESCRIPTION: On a golden summer morning, fifteen-year-old Anthony Thorne is on a fishing boat with his father, rods cast into the lake, when the crack of a rifle shatters the silence. His father slumps forward, blood leaking from his chest. Horrified, Anthony spins in the direction of the gunfire, and sees a shadowy figure race away from the shore and vanish in the cover of the trees–a vision that will haunt him for years to come . . .

Anthony pulls his dad into his arms, but he is beyond help. He dies in Anthony’s embrace, Anthony’s scream of anguish echoing across the still waters.

Fifteen years later, a happily married Marine veteran and author of a bestselling series of crime novels, Anthony has achieved a measure of success. But the past still haunts him-—in spite of his eyewitness testimony, his father’s murder was declared a hunting accident, and no one was ever brought to justice.

On the anniversary of his father’s death, a mysterious message arrives from an unknown sender that promises to lead Anthony to the truth. But is Anthony’s helper the angel he’d been waiting for–or a devil in disguise?

Determined to find answers, Anthony and his wife soon find themselves hunted by a team of assassins dispatched by a powerful organization with frightening technological resources. The killers pursuing them are as fanatical in their beliefs as they are well-equipped–loyal followers of a charismatic leader who might be the most dangerous man in America . . .

My Take: Massey cranks up the thrills with a fast paced combination of chases, gunplay, and mega conspiracy that is sure to please fans of the Harlan Coben style novel. Thorne is a natural action hero who I’d like to see more of in the future. I don’t know if there are plans to make him a series character, but I’d certainly enjoy another outing with Thorne.

If you like thrillers and reasonable prices, do yourself a favor and check out Covenant.


My eVolution

Been awhile, folks. Happy New Year (he says, three weeks late).

As always, I apologize for the M.I.A act, but I’ve been gone for a good reason…well, I hope you think it’s a good reason.

Of course I’ve been writing, and also been prepping for the next (immediate) step in my writing career. Indie Publishing.

As of yesterday, you can purchase two of my novels for your Kindle, Nook, or other compatible eReader device.

For the record, this isn’t an ad for either book. If you care to download a free sample or purchase either book, you can utilize this link, or any of the links in the upper right-hand corner of this page.

This is more like the first journal entry in a year long experiment. You see, I don’t know how to market things, and I don’t know if people will like what I’m offering, but I gotta start somewhere. I expect there to be a lot of trial and error as I attempt to strike a balance between my natural inclination to not annoy folks with the necessary assertiveness it takes to make people aware that I have a product they may want to take a look at.

As always, I’m an open book (no pun intended). I’ll post about my efforts, the results, and any hurdles I hit along the way. So far I’ve sold 3 books total. Not bad for the first couple of days. I’ve heard of much slower starts. Time will tell if this first 3 was the start of a movement or the peak.

More to come folks…


The Mockingbirds: A must read

When you’re an adult that enjoys YA a curious thing happens from time to time…you find that the reading is a bit like time traveling. Not so much in the time frames and settings that you read about, but in the emotions and memories. Quite often, I can read work by my peers and vividly recall the best and worst experiences of my high school days. I’m most attracted to books that lend to stronger recall. I want to read books about me.

Admittedly, I didn’t know if I’d get such an experience when I purchased The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney.

DISCLAIMER: Daisy is a friend. I will read and support her work no matter what. Not that she needed my help. The book had been building buzz for some time, and since its debut less than two months ago, has appeared on several ‘best of’ lists for 2010. The Mockingbirds did not require a charity read.

So I didn’t feel bad going into it with an I’ll-give-it-a-shot attitude. I know Daisy is good at what she does, and the whole “Secret Society doling out justice at a boarding school” angle sounded really cool. My apprehension came from the other part…

*(hardly a) Spoiler Alert*

…the date rape.

I never heard about that sort of thing when I was growing up. That didn’t happen where I was from. Was I going to get anything out of a book so far removed from what I knew about life as a teenager?

Silly, silly me.

Like I said, it’s all about the recall. The skilled writer can take a reader to a place of relevancy, a time when their experiences link to those of the character’s like adjoining puzzle pieces. And, I as I read about Alex, a girl who had too much to drink and was violated in the worst way, I recalled some things.

I recalled overheard conversations in the boys locker room that I wouldn’t repeat in polite company. I recalled once vibrant girls disappearing from the social landscape as if they never were. I recalled the meanness, the taking sides, the believing things that were wrong were really right because such notions were simply cooler.

I recalled that in my high school there was no real justice. Just endurance. A secret society of do-gooders would’ve been welcome.

The Mockingbirds is as good as (and possibly more important than) the hot dystopian thriller, or cute girly-girl dramedy. If this book can make me–a guy 15 years removed from his last day in a high school hallway–recall the hidden atrocities children endure, what can it do for those still in the midst of class changes and cafeteria drama?

Buy this book if you’re a teen. If you’re not a teen, buy 2 copies. One for yourself, and one for a teen you know.

Books like this have the ability to transcend from the “great story” category to “modern day parable”. They teach. And, once something is learned, it can’t be unlearned. The lesson here: Silence isn’t golden.

I wish I could recall learning it then instead of now.


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