From the Mind of Master Imaginationist Crystal Connor ~"A Trusted Name in Terror."

The Darkness, Artificial Light, In The Valley of Shadows

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Jacket Cover =D

So I open my email from my editor and what do I find when I open it! My jacket cover. I'm gonna put it in the mail and send it to my mom.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

My 1st Official Author Interview =D

What was the last thing you read by Matt Nord? If your not already a Matt Nord, you will be! His work has been featured in The Book of the Dead, The Book of Cannibals, The Book of Horror, Letters from the Dead, FLASH!, 356 Days of Flash Fiction an Anthology and way to many to list here.

So let me direct you to his blog, where you can see his latest work or rediscover an old favorite...and while your there check out my interview! Or you can read it here! It's my very 1st one =D

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Author Interview with Crystal Connor

Crystal Connor is an up and coming writer who lives in Seattle, Washing ton that writes in several genres, including urban fantasy, science fiction, and horror. Her new novel, “The Darkness,” will be coming out in the near future. Crystal has spared a few moments from her busy schedule to discuss her upcoming novel, her other works and her future projects.

My Undead Mind: Crystal, thank you so much for taking the time to take part in this interview. Let’s get right into it. You live in Seattle, now. Is that where you’re from originally?

Crystal Connor: Yep, born at Ft. Lewis Madigan Hospital and I’m an army brat in every sense of the word.

MUM: When did you realize that you wanted to write?

CC: It’s just something that I’ve always done; I wasn’t thinking that I was going to be a writer when I grew up, I was just writing stories and plays to entertain my family and friends and the reason they were dark around the edges is because I was taking queues from shows like the Twilight Zone, Tales from the Crypt and the Outer Limits.

MUM: In your opinion, what is needed for a story to be good?

CC: For me intrigue, fast paced and a twist or unexpected ending. I think the ending of a story is almost more important than the story itself. I feel so cheated when the ending of a book or movie feels like the author just phoned it in.

MUM: Other than “The Darkness” what other published works can readers find of yours?

CC: The Darkness is my 1st published novel but there are a lot of short stories posted on my blog.

MUM: You write in the urban fantasy genre. What would you consider to be the defining characteristics of the particular genre of story or book?

CC: Ok, this is just between you and me…it will be our little secret, so don’t tell anyone else. I had no idea what the term Urban Fantasy meant until after our 1st focus group. The Darkness was sent to a book club and after everyone read it we all met for lunch. The president of the club said “I really enjoyed The Darkness; it’s a fast paced urban fantasy and science fiction story with an ending you can’t predict. I suspect that it will do well.”

After lunch I asked Rachel, who was my handler at the time, “why did she say that it was urban fantasy…is it because I’m black?” Rachel started laughing so hard she almost crashed us into the freezing waters of Lake Washington. There’s no way to explain how embarrassed I was when I read what Wikipedia had to say on the matter.

…the defining characteristics of the particular genre of story or book? Wow, you know I’m not really sure and it doesn’t help the “official description” is so vague. The Darkness is set in a city, several of them actually, because both main characters are insanely wealthy and are traveling all over the world, but they both have properties and spend the majority of their time in the same city. The Darkness is also 50% 1st person narrative, which is a requirement for an urban fantasy classification, but the other 50% is in 3rd. and there is the paranormal element comes from both the occult and genetic engineering elements. I started calling it urban fantasy because everyone else does.

MUM: What is your favorite genre to write?

CC: This genre question is going to get me a one-way ticket to the asylum; because I spend a lot of time worrying about what genre I write in. Back in June I entered my short story The Ruins into the Seattle Crypticon’s 2010 writing contest and I made myself sick because I started doubting that it fit the required genre.

I have no idea what genre I write in. I thought The Darkness was a horror novel, but I was told by a close friend of mine that The Darkness isn’t scary but it’s suspenseful another friend of mine said he thought it was a little scary but he thought it was Science Fiction. Some of my reviews are trickling in and two reviewers referred to The Darkness as an exotic-action packed-suspense- thriller.A romance novel can be frightening; a thriller can be science fiction, an action book can be a love story, a comedy can he horrifying…with it being so easy to cross and blend genres its really hard to say, I would love to be considered a horror or science fiction writer…but like beauty genre is in the eye of the beholder.

The only thing I can say for certain is that my writing is crossed and blended like my racial heritage. I'm proud to be Black, Mexican, Am Indian and white (Irish) maybe it’s a good thing that my horror is also sprinkled with science fiction, religious undertones, and a pinch of comedy and blended with the supernatural.

MUM: Do you find that you pull from your own life experiences when coming up with a story?

CC: Yes. While serving my country in the US Military and having the opportunity to travel to places that I saw as a child flipping through the pages of National Geographic magazines is why I think a lot of people say my writing is exotic and mystical.

MUM: How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?

CC: No I do not use any set formulas or outlines. I just pick up my pen and start writing. The more I write the more defined the plot and character become and the story starts to unfold. This is a little hard to explain, but I usually write the ending of my stories 1st or from very early on. Once I know the ending I use it as a foundation to build the rest of the story on.

MUM: Do you find that in writing there are some topics that you would consider too taboo? I.e. are there any lines that you won’t cross?

CC: The characters that I create have interracial families, come from single parent homes or have gay parents, some have enough money to do whatever they want while others are counting change to put gas in their 25 year old cars. Some are extremely self-centered whiles others will give you the last piece of bread, even if that means they won’t eat that night. I am not trying to appall anyone or create sensationalism.

My writing just reflects the live I life in. I was born on a military installation where having an Asian mom and white dad, or a black mom and a Norwegian dad who was as big and scary as a Viking and playing with so many different colors of kids that it made a rainbow look boring, seeing Muslim women completely covered and Hindu women with bright clothing and a red dot tattooed on their forehead was normal. I live in a fairly large and diverse city and have had the opportunity to travel outside the United States for extends periods of time. The characters I write about are based on the people and things I see around me.

MUM: I’ve seen in your blog that you hate this type of question, but I’ll ask it anyway! Can you give us a little of what your book, “The Darkness,” is about?

CC: Nooooo, oh why God, whyyyyyyy?!?! Lol, The Darkness is about rouge scientific research project that goes horribly wrong. The experiment they lose control of is a four-year-old little boy named Adam. What it boils down to is the unspeakable things people do when they have infinite power and influence and the consequences of arrogance and carelessness.

MUM: The book features some diverse themes; from genetic engineering to witchcraft. Did you find yourself doing a lot of research on these topics for the book?

CC: Well for Inanna, I spent a lot of time quizzing my mom, older cousins, and aunts. I wanted to be sure that she was believable but there was real fear that someone might try and cast a spell or recreate a ritual that’s in the book. So everything you’ll read about Inanna’s spells and the stuff she’s doing is either missing something or out of sequence.
As far as the science part goes, it’s fiction so the sky is the limit so I just made stuff up and I had a blast. For the most part the scientific research that is taking place in The Darkness is used as a backdrop for the rest of the story.

MUM: These are some pretty weighty topics. Do you consider them to be controversial?

CC: I don’t but you never know how some else might react. An anonymous person posted on my blog that children see enough horrible images and that I should use my talent more constructively because the book cover of …And They All Lived Happily Ever After upset her. A few days after my trailer went live a person posted a comment on youtube telling me I was going to hell, and a reviewer sent back a pretty nasty review because one of the sub characters is gay.

MUM: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

CC: No. I had so much fun writing The Darkness and I want who ever is reading to have fun too. I like to think of The Darkness as a literary equivalent of a roller coaster. There’s no message it’s just fun and scary.

MUM: How long, from conception to completion, did it take for you to write “The Darkness”?

CC: It took five years because in my defense it was just a short story and at the time I considered my writing a hobby. I was working as a mechanic in a Seattle boat yard and some of the guys told the welding instructor that I was a writer. Little did I know that Mike Jones and his wife were both editors and award-winning writers. He took The Darkness home with him, and the next day when he saw me he lost his mind.

He told me to stop fucking around and to start taking my writing seriously. He told me that the was no way that The Darkness was a short story and said that I was just being lazy. My pouting last for about a minute and a half, because the next thing he did was point out how certain sentences and descriptions that he loved and thought were amazing. When got home I started writing.

MUM: If you had to choose one book as your favorite, what would it be?

CC: When I was 28 I was working on a ship and a deckhand let me borrow his book. It was really old, a lot of pages were loose, and it was held together with a rubber band. The book was Homer’s Odyssey. I know, I know you guys are thinking everyone 1st read that poem in high school.

Ok so here’s the thing when I was in high school the only thing I wanted to read was Stephen King or Poe, so I did my BFF’s science homework and she did my Lit homework.

The Odyssey was amazing; the translation I read didn’t have the side and footnotes when I gave him his book back I also gave him a newer book in the same translation along with a copy of the Iliad and bought the set for myself along with the divine comedy. All five of those books were stolen from my library during a dinner party at my house. Who ever stole those books also took an antique bible but left the gold bracelets and rings that were in my master bathroom that’s directly across from my library. I was completely devastated you would have though someone had kidnapped my puppy.

The cop that came to my house so was pissed off, he was like you called us out here because of a couple of books? What is it with you people, you think we have time for this kinda bullshit, call Barnes and Noble we have real word shit to deal with princess. I have been trying to find those books for 8years now. I don’t know who translated it but I know it when I see it. It’s centered text and has old English writing style and word usage like Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner and the divine comedy had all three books in it, it was a large leather bond book with black and white illustrations. If anyone can tell me where to find those books I will be eternally grateful.

MUM: What are you reading right now?

CC: Stephen Kings Under the Dome and Phil Rossi’s Crescent.

MUM: What do you find to be the most challenging thing about writing?

CC: Being able to stop. There have been times that I’ve been up and writing for three days at a time, I’ve written on my forearm with a Sharpie while I was zooming down the freeway and there are times when I’m around people I care about but I’m not listening and I’m not really there because I’m working through a scene or dialog in my head.

My family and core friends are used to it but new friends and potential “love interests” don’t like it because they don’t get they think I’m ignoring them and I am but not because I’m not interested or bored its just that I’m preoccupied.

MUM: What have you found to be the most difficult thing to be in breaking into the writing world?

CC: Building the right team to support me through the transitional phase of writing a book to selling one.

MUM: Do you have any advice for other writers?

CC: I’m glad you asked this question because the answer is the 2nd part of the question you just asked me. When you’re excited about your work, other people will be excited too because excitement is contagious. You need to triple check the people around you to ensure they have you and your book’s best interest in mind…not theirs.

The first time I heard the name Scott Sigler I was on a site called and he has audio books that you can download for free, everyone on Podiobooks does. That’s how I learned about an author named Robert R Best. So I was super excited and we did a casting call for voice actors and found a guy that were we head over hills over…and then I downloaded Miles Reid’s Are you watching me, an audio drama produced by Darker Projects 5 Minute Fears and was blown away. I knew then The Darkness would be an audio drama.

I offered our voice actor the choice of roles and explained the change in plan and he spent almost a week complaining about how no one would listen to an audio drama, and telling me that’s just not how its done and the very best audio book that I could produce was…wait for it… with him as the sole reader. He wanted to negotiate a contract for him to receive royalties, he said I should take that he was confident in me and was betting on my success. It was so insane and at 1st I was really bummed out but then I got really angry. I invited him to be a part of my project and then he throw a diva fit when I changed the way I wanted to do things.

Almost a month went by and I wasn’t focusing on the audio portion of The Darkness, then I was sent a link to a story by Jen Rhodes called The Omega Road Chronicles which is another audio drama that was produced by Necropolis Studio Productions.

Now I know this is going to sound blasphemous but except for David Bruckner’s The Signal, 2007 8 Films to Die For’s Mulberry St, The 28 later films and George Romero’s The Crazies circa 1973 I’m not a zombie fan so I didn’t listen to the entire Age of the Zombies series but after listening to the “Call Me Jack” for just 15min I was fired up about doing an audio drama again.

I sent the gatekeeper an email with a link to my synopsis and asked how much it would cost to commission NPS to convert The Darkness into an audio drama and I get an email back from Dave Frizzell that said “we’re non-profit so we can do it for free, do you need us to write the script as well? The Darkness sound great btw.” (insert angels signing here)
It doesn’t matter if you’re the new kid on the block, like I am or if your about to sell your 100th book, you can never be careful enough about the intentions of the people you keep around you.

MUM: How about those looking to start writing?

CC: 1. If someone tells you your work is not worthy or marketable ask someone else.

2. Learn the difference between constructive criticism and criticism from someone who enjoys being mean.

3. Learn to tell when the constructive criticism isn’t beneficial for you or your writing.

4. If your paying someone for their services do not be afraid to speak up when your not happy with the services they are providing. I cannot tell you how many stress and tension headaches I suffered through, the countless nights of lost sleep and all the time that was wasted because I was afraid of hurting someone’s feelings. The hardest thing I had to do is tell someone that I was not 100% happy with their work or that I did not like the suggestion that they’ve made. It changed the working relationship but at the end of the day you have to take ownership of your artwork. You cannot say oh my book didn’t turn out the way I wanted because so-and-so did this and he didn’t do that…no, people only do what you let them.

5.As a new writer it doesn’t matter if you’ve signed on with a large publishing firm or go the self publish route you’ll be responsible for most of your marketing, do your due diligence and do the research. Know what your paying for and why, and make sure that the people you are working with at the very least, knows and understands your genre. There’s no point in working with a man who boasts his skills produce New York Times Best Selling authors if all of his author’s write romance and your book is about a zombie that needs to find a buried treasure to return to the realm of the living

6.Pay attention to the economy, remember who your competing against and price accordingly.
For example paperbacks by L.A. Banks and Dean Koontz are less than $8.00. Stephen King’s Under The Dome is over 1,000 pages is just $19.99, you can download Scot Siglers books for free. With those types of choices it’s going to be extremely difficult to convince someone to pay $25.99, or $19.99 for that matter, for a book by an author they don’t know.

MUM: Is there anything additional you would like to share with your readers?

CC: Yep. Don’t be an ass, it’s extremely humbling when a person takes the time to conduct an interview or to review your book never forget that. Never lose your enthusiasm or let someone take it away from you and above all else have fun.

Any upcoming appearances you’d like to share?

CC: Yeah I’m going to be on Oprah and The Today Show…lol I’m just kidding! No appearance scheduled a of yet, unless my court appearance for a speeding ticket counts.

MUM: Again, thank you for the interview, Crystal. In closing, are there any other works, websites, products or blogs that you would like to plug?

CC: Thanks Matt for having me, this interview was a blast. I hope to do it again for Artificial Light.

Click follow on to stay tuned for Artificial Light and …And They All Lived Happily Ever After

and for amazing audio drama books check out Dave Frizzell’s Necropolis Studio Productions at:

and go here for 5 minute fears:

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Oh the Horror of it all!

So I get three reviews back today and two of them proclaim about the new exotic-action-suspense-thriller book by Crystal Connor!

What? Oh boy..

Before I get start all three are really good reviews I was totally jumping up and down when I read each one, it's crazy to hear amazing things about your work from critics and colleagues. But when I 1st wrote The Darkness I intended to pen a horror story and looking back on the short story, it was pretty scary. So I'm not really sure how I got lost in the wilderness and lost the genre path of horror. When the 1st rough draft was completed and read I was told by one that it wasn't really scary but suspenseful and another said he thought Darkness was an science fiction thriller.

I'm ok with being labeled a science fiction writer because oftentimes sci fi and horror are are each others evil twin and I grew up reading Robin Cook and Dean Koontz and those are two great examples of writers jumping between horror and sci fi.

So back to the horror of it all, this is probably why I'm getting way more than my share of rejection letters...because I am submitting to the wrong contest and publishing houses, yet I am very reluctant to submit my work to science fiction writing contest, magazines and publishing because when I think of science fiction I think of Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, George Orwell, and Arthur C. Clark. My stories are nothing like that...I don't think.

I lost my mind about what genre I write in a few months ago when I entered The Ruins in the Seattle Crypticon writing contest...I submitted The Monster to Norgus Press a few days ago but I'm not sure how I'll do...again the whole genre thing. I'm going to stressing over it and just be happy with the fact that I can tell a good story.

Ok then moving on.

Dave sent me 1st draft of the 1st few pages of the audio drama adaptation and its incredible =D Its hard to explain seeing your work in screenplay format. I am a very visual writer, when I write all of these characters are moving around in my mind, I see what they see, hear what, they hear...the only way I can kind of explain it is that Dave vision is my vision in 3D

And its super fun to read. There are all kinds of notes that I don't understand, there are breaks for music and fade ins I'm just having a blast.

In closing for those of you who think I ignore your emails about staying on top of the DVD Picks of the Week or movies suggestions for reviews, I don't. I get them all the time and starting next week, I will give you four to make up for this month. And I will do the best that I can to post a DVD pick every Wednesday, or at the very least once a week.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Now why in the hell didn't I think of that?!?

I am preparing to go on tour and Tracee has been sending me alot of the interview questions in advance and that's what I'll be working on the entire weekend. The one question that every asks is....

Can you tell us what The Darkness is about?

I hate this fucking question because I don't know how to answer it. Have you ever listened to a little kid, about 7 or 8 tell you about a movie they saw? Where everything is all jumbled and out of sequence and you have no clue about what the the hell the movie is about and your not sure if you want to see it, but don't have to because they already told you the ending...

That's exactly how I sound. I have no idea why, and it's even worse when I'm asked about the sequel Artificial Light.

Last week I got an email from Angel McCoy (, she is an awarding winning author that I was slinging ink against in the Seattle Crypticon's 2010 writing contest...she beat me! Anyway she was congratulating me on The Darkness and said " I really liked the main character, and I found it exotic and super scary. Nice job :)" She was talking about The Ruins but she is not the 1st person who said my writing is exotic and I think that is a cool thing to say, so why don't I say that?

Dave over at Necropolis Studio Productions (
"From the mind of Crystal Connor comes a story in the not too distant future where the manipulation of science crashes into the practice of the dark arts. Where light is but a fleeting notion and all paths lead to one conclusion… that there’s only one shade of darkness." When I 1st read that, (it's going to be used in our audiodrama intro) I had a moment of disconnect because I was thinking I would so read a story like that. It took me a moment to realize he was talking about my story.


That's fucking awesome! Why didn't I think of that.

The stupid shit that comes out of my mouth goes a little like this:
"Ummmm, ok, see what had happened was..."
"So there is this little boy named Adam. A mad scientist, but she's really pretty and she's rich. Oh, there's a witch her name is Inanna and a dragon."


Note to self...self you need some sleep. The dragon is in the next book.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them....

Ok, so that is the perfect Zen Quote to describe the status of The Darkness. For the better half of last month rereading and making what I thought would be the final changes and edits to The Darkness.

I was told that the word doc would be uploaded into PDF form, and that would take no longer a few days for this to happen. Once the PDF was done, I would review it and sign off on it, then we would sent it out to reviewers and we would move straight into the layout phase.

So I get the PDF file today a about a week later than the "due date" and right away (on pg 2) I notice that none of the changes that I made and signed off on where on the PDF. Which means I can not sign off on the PDF, I can not send it to the print shop and I can not send it out ARC's.

Its kinda bewildering that Necropolis Studio Productions are further along with the audio book than we hard with the paper & Kindle book version.

Are you fucking kidding me? I'm in Hell =/

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Ultimate Bad Guy…oh be still my beating heart.

So going on a recommendation I rented a movie called Serenity and just 15 min in we’re introduced to “The Operative.” and I loved him immediately. This is by far one of the most
commanding bad guys I have seen in film.

Just by looking at him, you know he is the one who’s in charge, yet he does not raise his voice or use a threatening tone of voice. In fact it’s quite the opposite, The Operative is soft spoken and eloquent but the things he says gives you Goosebumps. ommanding bad guys I have seen in film.

The Operative: You know, in certain older civilized cultures, when men failed as entirely as you have, they would throw themselves on their swords.

Dr. Mathias: Well, unfortunately, I forgot to bring a sword.

Dr. Mathias: [as the Operative pulls out his sword] I would put that down right now if I were you.

The Operative: Would you be killed in your sleep, like an ailing pet?

Another thing that is both unnerving and alluring about The Operative is how calm he always is and how he controls every thing and person around him. We never see him mad, or even raise his voice…his fight scenes appear as if they were choreographed by the American Ballet Theatre.

The Operative: I'm sorry. If your quarry goes to ground, leave no ground to go to. You should have taken my offer. Or did you think none of this was your fault?

Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: I don't murder children.

The Operative: I do. If I have to.

Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: Why? Do you even know why they sent you?

The Operative: It's not my place to ask. I believe in something greater than myself. A better world. A world without sin.

Capt. Malcolm Reynolds: So me and mine gotta lay down and die... so you can live in your better world?

The Operative: I'm not going to live there. There's no place for me there... any more than there is for you. Malcolm... I'm a monster. What I do is evil. I have no illusions about it, but it must be done.

I can not say enough about this character except his is the most beautiful, graceful, bad ass, bad guy that I have seen so far and The Operative is my new favorite villain!

Monday, September 13, 2010

The edits for The Darkness are done!

So the edits are done, I sent the final proofs to both Celeste (my editor) and Dave over at Necropolis Studio Productions...No we're not there yet.

For the book version this is now the layout phase, in the next couple of days I am going to get a PDF file of the book to review, this will have everything that you'll see when you hold the book in your hands...the cover art, dedication page, sneak peak for Artificial Light and excerpts from ...And They All Lived Happily Ever After. Once that's signed off on we then start sending copies to reviewers, after we get some of the reviews back they will be included in The Darkness and then it goes to print. But not before we figure out pricing for all the different forms i.e. Paperback, Kindle, Sony Reader overseas markets and so on.

While that is going on Tracee and I will start shoring up tour dates and tour stops =D I am sooooo looking forward to touring!

Now for the audio version of the book. Because it's not a regular audio book with just one reader Dave is going to have to rewrite The Darkness into a screenplay because we are doing an audiodrama...image just listening to a movie or a tv show, that's how the audio version of The Darkness will sound like. Complete with opening theme music and a whole cast of characters.

Dave is reading it now and I am kinda excited to see how he envisions The Darkness. NSP Age Of The Zombie was a PARSEC finalist in 2009 & was nominated again in 2010 and their Just Call Me Jack is also a 2010 nominee =D I'm in super good hands and am really humbled to be working with such a kick ass team. There is a really cool banner but I don't think I can post it here because it's just the 1st draft.

Oh and I am getting a hardcopy of the screenplay and I asked Dave if the all the cast and crew would sign it...yeah, yeah, yeah, I know I'm a super dork but I don't care and you guys love me anyways.

I am so wired that I cannot sleep. My employee and intern will be handling the daily duties of Seattle Crystal Concierge til Wed. I need to get Amber's New Friend done like yesterday. I am going to just stay up because meeting Kathi for breakfast and afterwards I am coming home and going to bed and when I get up I'm writing.

Oh my gosh the DVD pick of the week is brutal, should have it up by Wed. Til next time

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Let's ask the Editor!

Today's interview is with Celeste Bennett of Bennett & Hastings Publishing

Celeste Bennett is an avid reader who began professionally editing books in 1987, before completing her B.A. in English. After twelve years in corporate environments, she opened Bennett & Hastings Publishing.

Celeste is my editor for The Darkness and the 4th person I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing, but I have to tell you I had an ulterior motive for asking her for this interview. I wanted to get a better understanding of this whole reworking process. We were only about a 3rd of the way through the reworking process before I wasn’t having fun anymore.

I think the biggest reason why we were struggling is because, as all of you know The Darkness is my 1st book, and though I had been warned about the reworking process I was completely unprepared and to make things worse I really didn't understand why things were being done the way they were being done. I was once told that writing the book is the easy part, preparing the book for the bookshelves is the hard part...I had no idea how true that turned out to be.

I 1st asked my editor to grant me an interview, she offered that she was too busy…and I was really bummed out about because I thought she was finding a nice way to say no. We were butting heads because I fiercely defended the way I wanted the finished Darkness to look. So to say she was frustrated with me is an understatement because I was really giving her a hard time.

I am glad that I stood my ground and got thru, because for one we are back on even keel Thank God! And The Darkness is exactly what I hoped it would be. I was super surprised and elated when she agreed to the interview
So without further ado, Ladies and Gentlemen...Celest Bennett

In your opinion, what makes a good story? Compelling characters whose motives and thought processes show in their actions. Personally, I like character-driven fiction.

What was your goal when founding your publishing firm Bennett & Hastings? Establishing a place where the less powerful can go to get their work published in a professional fashion. We knew writers who had lost control of their writing when they went to large houses, and we knew writers who had poor quality work produced when they went to traditional self-publishers. We set out to start a company that would provide professional editing and design while allowing the author to retain rights to the work.

What is a typical work day/schedule for you? How many projects do you juggle at once? I start work around 8:00 a.m. and wrap up whenever projects allow, sometimes at 2:00 p.m. and sometimes at 2:00 a.m. The number of projects varies depending on the demand of each. I've never had fewer than three.

Why did you choose to become an editor verses becoming a writer? My skills are stronger in editing, although that (to quote Jane Austen) is because I have not taken the time to practice.

How do you decide which author’s you work will with? I run the manuscript past anyone who will be working with it - the editor, the designer - and get input from each. I look at our schedule and our budget. We choose manuscripts that excite us in terms of writing style or message, or we choose writers who are passionate about their work and willing to invest their own resources.

Can you please tell us the differences between proof reading, copyediting and substantive editing? Proofreading covers spelling, punctuation, and consistency in the use of a style guide. Editing involves looking at the manuscript's structure and involving the writer in corrections. We don't differentiate editorial work, so I wouldn't have anything but the generic to offer in terms of copyediting.

How do you deal with a writer, such as myself, who until they start working with an editor doesn’t understand how editing process works and questions what your telling them? Since the writer retains the rights to their work (which makes B&H unique) we won't publish something the author does not accept. We present our recommendations, but if the writer objects we accept their objections.

Have you ever worked with an author who refused to take your advice or ignored your suggestions? If so, do continue working with the author or do you terminate the relationship? We have, as you well know! If we don't have confidence in the author's decision, we will offer to withdraw. I can think of two instances when we offered to withdraw, but neither offer was accepted.

A few years ago there was a general feeling that self-published authors would not enjoy the same success of author’s who are published traditionally and that a reputable bookstore would never line their shelves with self published books.

With self-published titles such as “50 Simple Things You Can Do Save The Earth” spending 10 weeks on #1 spot on the bestseller list, and authors like Boyd Morrison’s The Ark going from self-published to signing a two book deal contract, what do you think has changed and why do you think so many authors are choosing to self publish?

Technology has changed everything, especially in terms of affordability and reach. Publishing companies are businesses, and companies are under tremendous pressure to return value to their investors. Nothing has changed in terms of publishers' risk management. If a writer can prove they have a loyal readership, a publisher is taking a smaller risk by offering them a contract. Self-publishing allows a writer to establish their readership. It also gives them greater control and shortens the time to market. The business models are apples and oranges. Readers are much more liberal, but S-P still carries a stigma among publishers and critics simply because there is a risk that no quality control has been implemented. Regardless, it has given writers more tools with which to prove their skills.

To date, which of your authors has had the greatest success, and besides writing a really good book, what did they do in terms of marketing and promoting that lead to them accomplishing their literary dreams? Clay Moyle has had the greatest success in terms of reach. His biography of Sam Langford was adopted by the Department of Education in Nova Scotia, and Clay has done a laudable job of getting word out through radio interviews and personal appearances. Non-fiction is always easier to target market, but it's been the author's initiative that has made the difference. The book has been reviewed on several continents and continues to sell well, two years after its initial publication. We're preparing to take it into a third printing.

What is the difference between Self Publishing and Vanity Publishing firms and what advice would you give an aspiring writer to help prevent them from falling victim to literary scams and schemes? The two terms overlap now. Vanity publishing used to mean self-financed publishing. That was in the day when the tools to publish weren't in the hands of everyday people. Now, the two terms are essentially synonymous.

I advise writers to read contracts, be clear about expectations, ask questions and look for testimonials or references. There are a lot of variables in book publishing and selling. The best investments will improve the quality of the product (i.e. design and editorial work). The greatest unknowns, and therefore the greatest risks, are in promotions. If you're paying to have your book entered in a contest, research the value of an award: have past award recipients seen a boost in their sales after receiving the award?

Before investing in any aspect of publication, it's a good idea to create a spreadsheet to forecast costs and profits. Some investments will be valuable and others won't. Not all authors are after a profit. I've been impressed by the number of writers I've met who simply want to promote their stories regardless of financial return. Regardless, I recommend a spreadsheet, to help you visualize where your investment's energy is being directed.

If you think you've truly been caught in a scam (i.e. have paid for a service that never was capable of delivering what they promised) report it to law enforcement.

You’re now living sunny California on a beautiful boat, is it everything you expected how long did it take you to adjust to life on the open seas? George and I moved aboard Nereid three years ago and set sale last August, so we've just celebrated our first anniversary of nomadic life. We love living in a small space with a small footprint, but we can hardly call it life on the open seas! Common wisdom says that cruising is the art of traveling to exotic lands so you can repair your boat there. We've spent most of our time in port. Still, we love the people that this lifestyle allows us to meet, as we love the exposure to fresh air and nature. In two weeks, we will be taking the boat into Mexico; our second international excursion!

In closing is there anything you’d like to say to aspiring or even seasoned authors? First, I commend you for writing! Second, as Garrison Keillor says on The Writer's Almanac, "Do good work." Ask yourself questions about your writing. Invite input from people whose opinions you respect. Third, heed the words of the temple at Delphi and know thyself. If you're setting out to publish your work, be clear about your expectations. Do your research, and be as realistic as you can in assessing whether your plans will get you to your goals. Fourth, I hope the journey is rewarding. Be well.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

It's already fucking Tuesday?!? What the fuck!

Oh my God, so The Darkness arrived yesterday for me to review and send back so that we can format it and send it to the press! I'm super excited and so are a lot of other the reviewers waiting for their Advance Reading Copies, the team over at Necropolis Studio Productions who will be converting The Darkness into an Audio Drama =D and of course my Mom, who calls everyday demanding her copy of the book, at least she's not bugging me everyday about have a kid =D

Let's not forget about Amber's New Friend, which needs to be done by Friday I was hoping to have The Darkness done by Friday but there's no way I will. If I push my self to read 24pages a day I won't be done until Sunday so Sunday it is. I'll be working on both Amber and Darkness at the same time...I'll be farming out my work to my minions this week because I need to get this shit done.

With that being said this weeks interview with editor Celeste from Bennett & Hastings and the DVD pick of the week will be posted next week...sorry guys. Til then.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

DVD review of the week: May

Plotline: May (Angela Bettis) is an awkward, lonely young woman who had a troubled childhood due to her "lazy eye" which caused her to feel abnormal and out of place. As a little girl, May's mother takes her to an eye doctor, who suggests that May wear an eye patch to correct her vision. Unfortunately, this only encourages the other children to make fun of her, most notably on their first day of school, when one of her fellow students asks her if she is a pirate. She has very few social interactions with people throughout her life with her only "true friend" being a glass-encased doll named Suzy made by her mother and given to May for her birthday. After presenting her with the gift, her mother tells her, "If you can't find a friend, make one."

Scariness Factor: I’m gonna give it about a 3 ½ or 4. What makes May scary is the things that we do to each other as people and the things we are willing to do for companionship.

Gross-Out Factor: N/A

Complaints: N/A

High Points: What I really liked about this film is that it takes you on an emotional roller coaster ride. At times May is sweet and enduring, it’s funny and stressful, but for the most part it’s frightening and heart wrenching. The soundtrack rocks!

Personal Commentary: May was a movie that was recommended by one of my followers and though I posted somewhere on my blog that I was done taking follower suggestions after being traumatized from watching “The Stoning of Soraya M.” I’m really glad that May was suggested. Actually I'm glad both movies were suggested. I never heard of this movie and if I had seen the cover in a video store I wouldn’t have rented it.

Stars: 5 stars out of 5. I watched it twice.

Where I rented it: Blockbuster Online

Saturday, September 4, 2010

My birthday spoils!

This year for my birthday I made out like a bandit! I had this huge brouhaha planned for the big Four-oh but a client needed more attention than I budgeted for so I had to canxl my plans and I was pretty bummed out about it.


My friend Kathi threw me a tiny surprise party, her thoughtfulness felt like I had walked into a gala with 100 people yelling surprise.

It was such a big deal, let me tell Kathi and I have had epic battles. We've drew lines in the sand, ripped up peace treaties, blocked incoming phone calls (back when we had home phones), vowed never to speak to each other ever again...not ever! And unfriended each other on myspace and facebook just to turn around to meet for lunch, tell each other secrets that we will take to our deaths, stay up all night watching movies or texting each other, lend each other money, buy each other gifts, bringing hot soup and meds when one of us got sick, taking a "quick" vacation just to start fighting all over again. Kathi and I fight like sisters and she is just as important to me as one. Are ever gonna fight again...probably. But that's what sisters do.

So yesterday when I get home from work I go straight to bed, and I wake up to see a spider crawling across my other pillow straight for my face. I propelled myself from bed and slammed the back of my head into the windowsill. I stood up dizzy and when touched the back of my head my hand felt wet. There was blood everywhere, it was so much blood my bedroom looked like a crime scene. I called 911, one of the paramedics told me I didn't need stitches and an ice pack would do and the other medic saw and killed the spider.

I woke up today and I feel like I've been in a car accident. My head, shoulders and neck are on fire and I'm in a pretty bad mood. I wasn't planning on leaving the house but I have a package at my post office box and if I didn't go get it today I wouldn't be able to have it til Tuesday. So off I went...and it was a package from Star! Another gift =D

Oh my gosh where do I began with Star? My mom calls her Sky =D Man the two of us have been thru the trenches together and there are stories that I can not post here otherwise she'd kill me =D

If there ever comes time when I find self in trouble, and I mean help me bury the body,post my bail, establish a fake alibi, and lie for me on the stand kinda trouble Star is the person I would call. This woman has seen me through and pulled me out of some really dark times in my life and I'm not sure what I would have done without her during that time in my life. When she was living in Seattle there were weekends when we stayed inside all weekend complained about our weight while eating tons of junk food and watching foreign horror films.

She is also one of the people I call in the middle of the night when I am trying to work thru a scene or need to read thru the last four chapts out loud to someone so that I can find my mistakes...and sometimes there are a lot...And she doesn't even complain that she is now living 4hrs ahead of me.

I am still in a lot of pain but I'm in a better mood it was like getting a long distance hug in the mail. I think it's save to say that these women are a really big part of my life and because things have been a little hetic so I just wanted to take some time and say thanks, because Kathi and Star really made my days =D

Not too bad right, but then my kid sis flies into town and just seeing her was like Xmas but then I'm completely bummed out because I can not hang out with her because of that God damned stupid fucking spider...but then she pulls out of her carry on bag and hands me this:

Ok,so not only does it rock it has personal meaning. When I was maybe 12? No older than 15 I told my family that I wanted a mirror on the lid of my casket so that I could look at myself for all eternity. This horrified my younger siblings as they had images of decaying flesh, but now it's just the family joke.

Look at all my notebooks and pens! I think this should get me tru And They All, Artificial Light and about a 3rd of the way thru last book in this trilogy.

So The Monster was completed at around 10:30pm last night and was submitted to Phill Hill Press keep your fingers crossed. I really like the editor I worked with for The Monster his name is Peter and we stayed on the phone for a few hours going over The Monster line by line, comma by comma, spelling error by spelling error. Even though it sounds bad it was really kinda fun. He is super easy to work with and takes the time to explain why he changes the things he changes or the reason he makes certian suggestions.

Amber's New Friend should be done, let me change that needs to be done by the 7th because The Darkness edits have been estimated to be done by the 8th.

I'm signing off for now, my shoulders are killing me.

Friday, September 3, 2010

A different type of profile pic...part 2

Inspired by the work of Joshua Hoffine

When Misha 1st saw the work of Joshua Hoffine, as I was explaining what I wanted in a photo shoot, the very 1st thing she said was “We need to bring Lauren in on this project.” By Lauren she meant Lauren Hoodenpyle a wicked FX artists with a feminine touch.

Ladies and Gentlemen please turn your attention to the drop dead gorgeous, insanely talented miss Lauren Hoodenpyle…

Before we get started can you please explain to everyone the difference between Fashion Makeup, Theatrical Makeup, and Special Effects (FX Makeup)?
Fashion make up is purely beauty make up which is more everyday or make up designed to match to outfits.

Theatrical make is character makeup which is design heavy for lighting that is centered above actors head so therefore its heavy in appearance.

Fx make up is dealing with prosthetics and applications to create the illusion of abrasions and creatures.

Where or what was your training to become and makeup artist and was/is there additional training to become a FX artist? I went to make-Up Designory ( for all aspects of make up as well as creature design which is sculpture and development of body suits and face pieces.

What films of images influenced your decision to get into a career in make-up/special effects? Return of the living dead, American werewolf in London, Dead Alive, Day of the Dead, The Thing, Hell Raiser, and Clash of the Titans.

What do you love most about being a FX artist? I enjoy making monsters come to life. I especially love gore and making it realistic.

What about the horror genre interests you? I have always leaned to towards the macabre.

My fascination with the supernatural started a very young age. Looking for ghost and monsters in the closet were a passion never a fear.

I just love the unexplainable way more fun then any standard day-to-day things.
How important is FX makeup when trying to convey a visual story?
In order to make people feel they are really in a story you have to create the world the story is set in. If the make up is bad or kills the illusion it takes the viewer out of the story. They become aware they are in a movie hence the story is killed.

What do you think draws people to horror movies, images and novels? People love to be scared it is the strongest emotion next to sadness and love. In a world so dry and absent of feeling. I think people miss natural emotions and movies help us remember what we can no longer see in ourselves.

What is your favorite special effect, creature, or scene from a movie?I can not say one in particular. I am fond of the details in clash of the titans for that year. Especial since most of the film are macettes. But also the transforming werewolf in American werewolf in London amazing. Return of the Living Dead’s Tar man…amazing and complete with no C.G. I love that monsters were created from scratch with out help of computers. So to name one would be a lie I love them all!

Do you think there can be an instance where there is too much gore, and if yes, do you think writers and directors go overboard intentionally? I think some movies were created for gore hounds. So when you bring a storyline to say a slasher film you kill the point. Just like bringing to much gore to a psychological thriller kills its purpose. Gore is powerful enough to stand on itself to sell a movie. How many movies have you gone to see because someone was like “they chop off her legs and feed them to a cow” blab la J point made.

As a FX artist where do you draw the line in depicting gory/unsettling images? There is no line. I will go there.

Beyond your own work (of course), who is your all-time favorite FX artist and why? Honestly to many to mention and usually FX effects are not one person there are groups of people behind the making of one monster.

You’ve had the privilege of working on several movie sets, have you ever been star-struck while doing someone’s makeup? No. I am not a big fan of actors. Though I was star struck by meeting George Romero, in fact I told him I loved him. lol

Are you working on any current projects that you would like to tell us about? I am working on a zombie video for Miramax and I own my own custom purse line.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schd'l to talk with me. Can you tell us all where we can buy your handbags and see more of your work?
Sure,you can go to my myspace page or add me on facebook to see