Sunday, December 19, 2010

Just in Time for Christmas!

We worked hard to get America's Galactic Foreign Legion, Book 6: Culture War out before Christmas. I expect everyone will have a Kindle under their tree, and wanted AGFL #6 to be available for the holiday season.

The cover art for Book 6: Culture War shows an alien general riding a captured mule, drinking a Starbucks coffee, smoking a cigarette, and carrying a Taco Bell bagged order to go. The alien general has orders from the Arthropodan Emperor to stamp out evil American influence on their culture, but the general's addictions to coffee, fast food, and American TV sometimes get in the way.

After the general captures the mule, an American border guard comments that he looks like Pancho Villa galloping through the desert. The general researches the feared Mexican general on the internet, and finds that Pancho Villa once attacked the heart of the United States Galactic Federation (Texas). The alien general is determined that he too will ride like the wind on his gallent war-mule against the human pestilence. That is, if he can get the obnoxious Old Earth beast to move!

America's Galactic Foreign Legion, Book 6: Culture War pokes fun at culture clash issues that arise when humanity and aliens are forced to share a distant planet colony. It is a fun read, and I hope fans continue to enjoy the series: six novels down and seven more to go.

Sample chapters can be viewed at my website at

Walter Knight
America's Galactic Foreign Legion series
Book 6: Culture War

Buy the Kindle ebook...
Buy the print book...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Book Review: Jamie Wasserman's BLOOD AND SUNLIGHT

APEX REVIEWS recently completed a great review for Jamie Wasserman's romantic vampire tale, BLOOD AND SUNLIGHT: A Maryland Vampire Story...

Blood And Sunlight: A Maryland Vampire Story
Jamie Wasserman
ISBN: 9781935563327
Penumbra Publishing

Reviewed By Chelsea Perry
Official Apex Reviews Rating: 4 stars

A twenty-three-year old college dropout, Melanie craves excitement in her life...stuck in a dead-end job in the small town of Ellicott City, Maryland, she’s always been fascinated by fairy tales – but little does she know, she’ll soon be caught up in the midst of a living, breathing one...when she crosses paths with a real life vampire, Melanie is forced to realize that fairytales actually can come true, and the concept of “evil” as we know it isn’t always what you expect it to be...

With its own unique, salient appeal, Blood And Sunlight is an interesting addition to the rapidly-growing vampire genre. In his creatively crafted tale, author Jamie Wasserman introduces the reader to quite the flawed protagonist in Melanie, an adventure-craving malcontent stricken with imaginative wanderlust. As the circumstances of her humdrum life dramatically change, though, Melanie eventually realizes the wisdom of the old adage, “Be careful what you wish for – you just might get it.” In vicarious fashion, readers are sure to find themselves equally engrossed in the ongoing evolution of her exploits, as fantasy ultimately becomes reality, and her taste for the life she used to live is forever changed. An intriguing read.

BLOOD AND SUNLIGHT is available from Amazon in print and Kindle...

Apex Review: Sandy Hyatt-James' PARALLEL REVIEW

Recently APEX REVIEWS reviewed Sandy Hyatt-James' science-fiction romance, PARALLEL TRIANGLE...

Parallel Triangle
Sandy Hyatt-James
ISBN: 9781935563303
Penumbra Publishing

Reviewed By Chelsea Perry
Official Apex Reviews Rating: 5 stars

Bestowed with the gift of “The Sight,” young Englishwoman Elizabeth is subsequently charged with completing a crucial task by the leaders of Earthzad, an advanced civilization in a dimension hidden from the people of Earth; however, she soon finds herself falling head over heels for Orion, her handsome taskmaster, which has the potential to complicate her mission...meanwhile, Orion is motivated solely by his overpowering affection for Jocasta, the beautiful, intelligent ruler of his home region on Earthzad; unbeknownst to Orion, even though Jacosta feels just as strongly for him, she harbors a deep secret that prevents her from returning his affections...caught up in a monumental struggle for the peace and stability of the galaxy, Elizabeth, Orion, and Jacosta ultimately find themselves trapped not only within the throes of battle – but also of unrequited passion...

Parallel Triangle is nothing if not imaginative. In gripping fashion, author Sandy Hyatt-James has crafted a winding tale of action, drama, and suspense, featuring vivid, unique characters and cleverly intersecting plotlines. More than just a tale of brooding romantic tension, Parallel Triangle invites readers to travel to the nether regions of their imagination, incorporating impressive elements of fantasy and Sci-Fi while simultaneously exploring the visceral depths of emotional turmoil. Equally riveting and eye-opening, Hyatt-James’ debut offering is the strong introduction of a promising new literary voice. A thoroughly entertaining read.

PARALLEL TRIANGLE is available at Amazon in print and at special limited-time pricing in Kindle...

Apex Review: Robert J. Wetherall, LAST FLIGHT HOME

Recently APEX REVIEWS completed an excellent review for Robert J. Wetherall's LAST FLIGHT HOME...

Last Flight Home
Robert Wetherall
ISBN: 9781935563280
Penumbra Publishing
Reviewed By Karynda Lewis
Official Apex Reviews Rating: 5 stars

Ever since she was a young teenager in Nebraska, Kelly Cavanaugh has known that she was destined for greatness; however, she likely didn’t realize the immensely difficult challenges she’d be forced to overcome in order to achieve it. As she rises to the top of the airline industry, she endures everything from heartbreak to tragedy to the throes of emotional trauma, but through the love of family and friends – as well as the unquenchable passion burning deep within her – she literally and figuratively flies over the worst that life has to offer on her way to fulfilling her destiny...

Last Flight Home is quite the emotionally satisfying read. In his stirring tale of personal triumph, author Robert Wetherall presents the reader with an encouraging reminder of the difficulties we all must face on the road to embracing our fate. Through the ups and downs of his courageous protagonist, Wetherall highlights the importance of remembering that life is a journey, not a destination, and that no matter how challenging our sojourns may be – the only way we ever lose is by failing to try. Highly recommended.

LAST FLIGHT HOME is available from Amazon in print, and at special limited-time sale pricing in Kindle...

Apex Review for Andrew Arrowsmith's REALMS OF BELIAR

Recently APEX REVIEWS reviewed Andrew Arrowsmith's high-fantasy adventure, The Realms of Beliar: The Sword Myndarit...

The Realms Of Beliar: The Sword Myndarit
Andrew Arrowsmith
ISBN: 9781935563105
Penumbra Publishing
Reviewed By Chelsea Perry
Official Apex Reviews Rating: 4 stars

When the peace and stability of the longstanding Empire is threatened by the malevolent Alliance, an upstart group of bloodthirsty tyrants, the secure, prosperous life of old faces a tragic, abrupt end; however, four young, courageous heroes may just hold the key to preserving the Empire’s fate – but, in a world ruled by magic, only if they get a little help from a “higher” source...

Profoundly imaginative, The Realms Of Beliar: The Sword Myndarit is an enjoyable read. In the tradition of Tolkien, Herbert, and other Fantasy/Sci-Fi scribes, author Andrew Arrowsmith has crafted a compelling morality tale featuring unique characters and skillfully interwoven plotlines, all designed to captivate the readers’ interest as the all-engrossing suspense of the saga unfolds. By the end, you can’t help finding yourself inexorably drawn to the outcome of the heroes’ fate, as Arrowsmith proves quite adept at prolonging the much-anticipated climax of his winding tale. A recommended fantasy thriller.

Buy on Amazon today in print, or on sale in Kindle at special limited-time pricing

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Best of the West meets Beast of the East

Authors Walter Knight (America's Galactic Foreign Legion) and Jamie Wasserman (Blood and Sunlight) got to meet in person recently. Jamie, from Ellicott City, Maryland, took a business trip to Seattle, Washington. Both authors were happy to give a brief description of the meeting.

Here's Walt's version...

I recently got to meet fellow Penumbra author Jamie Wasserman (Blood and Sunlight: A Maryland Vampire Story), while he was in Washington state on business. Jamie and a business associate flew to Seattle, staying at the downtown Marriott Hotel. Our meeting was billed as "The Best of the West" meets the "Beast of the East."

I found Jamie not to be a blood-sucking beast after all, but rather a very pleasant and personable fellow. We ate an excellent dinner at the Marriott (on the 26th floor), and Jamie even put the tab on his credit card. We discussed our writing plans and sequels, and exchanged our autographed novels. I gave Jamie my "America's Galactic Foreign Legion (Book 1) Feeling Lucky." Then we posed for photos, holding each other's books. I hope to have the photos on my website soon.

Jamie retired early, but not before sneaking me into the guests only pool area. I live in a very remote part of rural Washington state, so hot-tubbing and a swim in a real pool was quite a treat for me. I don't get to the big city all that often. My how Seattle as grown!

Walter Knight
America's Galactic Foreign Legion

And here's Jamie's version...

It was a dark and stormy night. That is to say, it would have been stormy, had it not been for the persistent warmth and clear skies. But it was night. That was evidenced by the presence of both the moon and the amount of drivers on the road who insisted on driving with their brights on.

I was suffering a horrific case of jetlag, daylight savings time-itis, and a strange rash that resembled former heavyweight boxer David Tua. But I was in good spirits, as I was finally getting a chance to meet fellow Penumbra Publishing author Walter Knight.

Walter is a tremendously generous person, and he had been providing me with a steady stream of marketing advice to help get my book out there. His success is a testament to just how good his techniques (and books) are. He was making an 80-mile drive from a small town in Washington, just to meet me in Seattle, so I figured I owed it to him not to scratch myself at the dinner table.

My first impression of Walt was that he was tall (or that I was short). I worried I might be shrinking, but in hindsight, this might have had something to do with the three complimentary Bailey's I had on the plane.

He was soft-spoken but very confident - a man who would probably be equally comfortable rocking his grandson to sleep as he would leading an assault over Pork Chop Hill.

We had a wonderful meal at the restaurant at the Seattle Rennaisance Hotel. (Mention my name and get half off the flan.) I learned that Walter is every bit as interesting as the characters in his books. He's a veteran, father, grandfather, gambler, history buff, and of course a writer. He owns horses and is married to a wonderful woman who works very hard to keep him in line. There's an autobiography begging to be written - and I wonder if he hasn't put some of it in his science-fiction military series!

We talked extensively about his book. I was genuinely impressed with the amount of details Walt pulled into his narrative - from sources as diverse as Woody Allen and war crime trial transcripts. And he makes it work. I still don't understand how the man finds the time to write so much and so well.

After dinner, I dragged my reluctant co-worker to another room in the hotel to take pictures - East meets West, West is moderately irritated with East, but figures he's here and may as well make the best of it, etc. We exchanged books, a firm handshake, a slightly uncomfortable hug, and then I snuck Walt into the hotel pool to get in a few laps. I was most likely asleep before he changed into his bathing suit.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening talking books, the industry, writing, and, oddly enough, architecture. Walt's a great guy, and I came away with a deeper appreciation for his books.

Jamie Wasserman
Blood and Sunlight: A Maryland Vampire Story

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Werewolves with a passion

Author and guest blogger C. Fern Cook (The 'Wild' werewolf series) has this to say:

I know some of you readers are thinking, all right erotica. I know this genre is huge, but this is not my genre. What passion I am talking about is Dan's and Lizzy's passion for all living creatures. This is my passion too, so why wouldn't it show up in my writing?

If you have read any of my reviews or comments from readers, you will find statements like this: Her love of animals comes through in her writing. In the back-story of all my stories, you'll find animals. The horrors in Wild series are not for the squeamish.

The first of the Wild series, Wild Evolution, involves illegal trapping and loss of habitat for a local wolf pack. The second in the series, Wild Justice, deals with canned hunting facilities. The third in the series, Wild Legacy, encompasses the issue of unnecessary animal testing for medical labs.

Some of the bears in Wild Justice are described as having their teeth pulled and being declawed. This comes from the barbaric practice called 'bear baiting'. This is where they take domestic bears, declaw them, pull their teeth, and chain them up. Then they let the dogs loose. People have the audacity to call this training their dog to tree bears for hunting purposes. They do this in front of cheering crowds. I can't believe people could be so heartless. You'd think this happens in third world countries, but it happens right here in the US. The Humane Society of the United States just ran an article about this in their All Animals magazine September issue called 'Torment in the Arena'. This gives me nightmares. You can't get much more horror than that.

The canned hunting facility is where they fence off an area so the animal cannot escape. The hunter pays big dollars to hunt bears, wild African goats, boar, elk, or whatever they can get ahold of to make good trophies for the mighty hunters to hang in their dens. They hunt these animals down using four-wheelers and dogs. The animal has nowhere to hide. Packs of dogs tear the poor animal's flesh right off their bones before they are called off so the mighty hunter can get a good shot. The hunter's bullet is a release from the terror and pain the animal goes through for the all-mighty dollar.

In the US we still test to see if soap in the eyes will sting. Is that stupid or what? Everyone who's ever had soap in their eyes already knows it stings. Many rabbits snap their necks trying to wiggle out of the straps that hold them down so they can free themselves from the caustic solution dropped in their eyes. This is done to see if the solution will cause redness or swelling when the researchers already know it does. Again, you can't get much more horror than this, and that is why I choose to use real-life horrors in the Wild series. I have to admit I get some pleasure in letting the bad guys get what they deserve in the Wild series.

C. Fern Cook
Wild Evolution
Wild Justice
Wild Legacy

(books available in print through and ebook and print from online retailers including

Monday, November 1, 2010

Tidbits About Werewolf Folklore

Author and guest blogger C. Fern Cook (The 'Wild' werewolf series) has this to say:

When I first developed the story for the first novel in the Wild series, Wild Evolution, I wanted a rancher that shared his land with all creatures including the dreaded wolf pack. I wanted the rancher to interact with the wolf pack. Naturally, this fell into the werewolf genre.

In researching werewolf lore for the novel "Wild Evolution”, I came across some interesting tidbits of information:

* Lycanthrope is derived from the Greek language meaning wolf and man.
* It seems that there is werewolf folklore in all cultures.
* Only in the American movie culture does the werewolf curse cause an involuntarily transform to the werewolf state because of a full moon.
* The Norseman believed that a man would possess the characteristics of the animal if they wore the hide of that animal, such as a bear or a wolf.
* In American Indian culture, it is called the skin walker. The belief is similar to the Norseman; if you wore the skin of the animal, you would possess their attributes. In many Native American tribes, it is considered taboo to don the pelt of a wolf.

To spot a werewolf, look for these characteristics:
* born on December 24th
* has red hair
* the index and middle finger are the same length
* and has a craving of raw meat

I had an uncle that possessed many of these characteristics but I personally don't believe he was a werewolf. The most unusual tidbit of information about werewolf myths from around the world came from Argentina. They believed that the seventh son would become a werewolf. Many parents killed the seventh son or gave them up for adoption.

In order to stop the practice they finally made it a law in the 1920's that the seventh son would become the president's godson at baptism and receive a gold medal. This law is still enforced today. This just scratches the surface of werewolf folklore from around the world, but many of the myths have similar characteristics, I found that to be very interesting. I also found it very interesting that almost every culture has legends or myths about the werewolf.

I picked the skin walker folklore because of the Native American connection. My grandfather came from the Blackfeet tribe but would have nothing to do with the reservation or the U.S. government's Indian government programs. He said they were disgraceful. In his time they were.

I had an uncle who was from the Kickapoo tribe; between him and my grandfather, we spent a lot time out in nature. I have had an attraction to the Native American folklore because of my grandfather and uncle; so, the Native American skin walker legend is the one I chose to go with.

In Wild Legacy, I have chosen to continue on with this and expand the story to include the skin walker legend from the Norseman region. The continuation of the series will expand on this aspect of the legend, reaching back to the old country folklore in the next book.

C. Fern Cook
Wild Evolution
Wild Justice
Wild Legacy

(books available in print through and ebook and print from online retailers including

Vampires Bite - see guest blog at Vamp Chix by Jamie Wasserman

Jamie Wasserman, author of BLOOD AND SUNLIGHT: A Maryland Vampire Story, has guest blogged about vampires at VampChix - go check it out!

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Interview with author Sandy Hyatte-James / Parallel Triangle

British author Sandy Hyatt-James has two books published. Parallel Triangle, a science-fiction romance featuring parallel worlds, is available through Penumbra Publishing. Leslie Dyer, sales and promotion representative for Penumbra Publishing, recently asked Sandy about her life and her writing.

PP: Sandy, how long have you been writing, and was there an inspirational source or defining event that got you started?

SHJ: I started writing after entering a short story competition at school and winning. From then onwards, I wanted to write all the time. I did, as well, much to the annoyance of my mathematics teacher! My most memorable inspirational source was Gone With the Wind, which I read as a teenager. The fact that hat the love interest was set in a rich backdrop of the American Civil War impressed me so much. From then on, I wanted to create romance without neglecting the wider picture, because the two complimented each other.

PP: Parallel Triangle deals with a love triangle – two women who both love the same man. How did you choose this storyline, and how popular do you think it is with the typical romance reader?

SHJ: At this moment, the trend seems to lean towards vampires or stories that contain graphic sex. The love triangle, however, has been around since writing first began. It’s a theme that never really went out of fashion, because it facilitates a unique tension that makes the reader what to keep turning the pages.

PP: Parallel Triangle features two strong heroines. Did you have trouble balancing the story – especially given that each of them is a love interest of the hero?

SHJ: No, I found it an interesting change from the ‘one man one woman’ model. Parallel Triangle has a different take on the triangle theme anyway, which usually features the man being in a relationship with someone else, until the heroine comes along and steals him, or vice-versa. In this case, Orion meets both Elizabeth and Jacosta at the same time and, due to circumstances, develops a relationship with each of them nearly simultaneously.

PP: One of your heroines, Elizabeth, is described as plain-looking, and the other heroine, Jacosta, is described as ravishingly beautiful. Is there any particular reason you wrote these characters that way?

SHJ: Yes. I wanted to illustrate that a man like Orion, who has the pick of women, wasn’t looking for beauty in them; otherwise, he wouldn’t have fallen for Elizabeth. The fact that he also falls in love with Jacosta, who is beautiful, is very much beside the point. What he sees in both women is their inner attraction.

PP: Your hero, Orion, comes across as an anti-hero in the beginning. Why is that?

SHJ: This posed problems for me at first, because he really is dislikeable, isn’t he? However, quite early on in the story, the reader begins to see that this is only on the surface. I wanted to get away from ‘perfect’ hero anyway, because life just isn’t like that. Everybody has flaws. Once that’s accepted, it becomes more interesting to see how Orion redeems himself.

PP: Your story puts some focus on a child abduction, with the child being placed in a dangerous situation. Was there a particular source or impetus for including this issue in your story? And, were you concerned that this subject might bother some readers?

SHJ: This posed another dilemma for me. Again, though, I wanted to show reality, especially in a story with a paranormal thread. It would have been easy to keep the horror of child abduction out of the story and focus solely on the love interest between the three characters. However, Elizabeth is from Earth, a place where child abductions happen frequently. This part of the storyline, therefore, apart from being the vehicle that puts Elizabeth in proximity with Orion, also gives a real perspective to the story.

PP: One of your support characters has learning difficulties. Why did you choose to include him in the story?

SHJ: When I was in the social work profession, I occasionally came across people like Ricky – adults who were essentially children in their minds and needed guidance. As with a child, I wanted to show his innocence and, importantly, illustrate how his lack of guile brought about his being involved with Kim Barton’s kidnapping scheme. Like most children, Ricky has an innate sense of right and wrong. This surfaces in him from time to time, which I believe makes him an important background character.

PP: Parallel Triangle has a science-fiction/paranormal theme. Do you read these genres?

SHJ: To the amusement of my family and friends, I’ve never shown much interest in those genres. It bothered me at first that people might look at these categories and think the book contained weird creatures or futuristic cyber people – which it doesn’t. Essentially, Parallel Triangle is a love story, which just happens to have a smattering of science fiction and paranormal in it.

PP: Can you tell us a bit about your background and living environment, and whether that has had some impact on your writing?

SHJ: Four years ago, I managed a team of child protection social workers. This meant I was dashing about, usually meeting my own shadow coming the other way! There wasn’t much time for anything else. However, when I did get some time, I usually spent it writing. My husband and I came to live in the Bulgarian mountains because we love its peace and rugged beauty. It also meant that I could write full-time. I think my experience as a social worker has impacted my writing. Through it, I met so many people from all areas of life – some nice, some not so nice. I believe this has helped me give authenticity to my characters.

PP: What other books do you have available, and what are you working on now?

SHJ: My third novel is a futuristic romance. I’ve just finished the first draft and I expect it to be out some time next year. After that, I may change genre, because I don’t want to become my writing to become formulaic.

PP: How may readers find out more about you and your books? How may they contact you?

SHJ: They can visit my web site at and contact me on: I would be happy to hear from them and answer and questions.

PP: Do you have any other information or comments you’d like to share?

SHJ: Just that I hope Parallel Triangle gives as much pleasure to the reader as I’ve had in writing it.

PP: Thank you, Sandy, for taking the time to provide us with this detailed look at your work.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Book 4 of America's Galactic Foreign Legion available

DEMILITARIZED ZONE, Book 4 of Walter Knight's sci-fi military humorous series AMERICA'S GALACTIC FOREIGN LEGION is now available on Kindle at Amazon...


and in multiple ebook formats at


Friday, September 17, 2010

Part 2 Author Interview with Blood & Sunlight's Jamie Wasserman

Valencia Wood of Ellicott City Patch Blog continues her interview with Jamie Wasserman, author of Blood and Sunlight, the vampire romance thriller...

Patch: When we last spoke, you were talking about your writing journey and background. Please continue with that conversation.

Jamie: I take a little heart in that I'm told Stephen King writes in much the same manner. There is a bittersweet story he relates in his memoirs about a dying woman who wanted to know how the Dark Tower series would end. Sadly, she wouldn't be around to read it. King told her that he didn't know himself, that the story was creating itself as it went along.

To see the entire interview, visit

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Author Interview with Jamie Wasserman, Blood and Sunlight

Valencia Wood, columnist at the Ellicott City Patch blog has posted a great interview with Blood and Sunlight author Jamie Wasserman. She writes, "In this twisted tale by first-time novelist Jamie Wasserman, Ellicott City is the hometown of Melanie, a waitress and college drop out; [ ] the local sheriff; and Lucas, Melanie's [would-be] boyfriend. With plenty of small-town gossip and drama, Wasserman pushes the theme of vampires, fantasy and fairytales made popular by Stephenie Meyer's Twilight series into a harsher reality."

To see the whole interview, click here!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Barnes and Noble for sale...

Wow, talk about serendipitous, we just posted a blog about getting books on Barnes and Noble shelves, and later today find Barnes and Noble won't have any shelves soon!

Authors ask, "Why isn't my book on the shelves at Barnes & Noble?"

For all you authors self-published or published by small independent publishers, who are wondering why Barnes and Noble bookstores don't put your print book on their shelves, here's the (probable) reason. It is a little-known secret that we feel is necessary to expose and explain.

Our goal in doing so, in part, is to help put a stop to all the naysayers who claim that print-on-demand books are inferior and come from self-published authors who do a poor job of publishing their own books, or from publishers who are just out to scam authors. This claim of course is not true of all self-published authors or all independent publishers.

Some authors go to great lengths to make their books the best they can be. They hire professional editors and cover artists to package their manuscript in a printed format that is both pleasing and worthy of reading. The same holds true for many independent publishers. (And by 'independent' we mean publishers who are not a huge corporate entity like Random House for instance.) But there are vanity and subsidy publishers who charge all their authors for publishing services, with plans to make money entirely off the authors instead of sales of the books to readers.

That IS NOT how legitimate publishers operate. Any small publisher can be legitimate by choosing books to publish they consider well-written and marketable. These publishers might not have the force of a huge corporation behind them, but they are nevertheless legitimate publishers who will publish your book at their expense and do what they can to help sell your book in exchange for a percentage of earnings from those sales. You just have to look carefully to make sure you find one of these legitimate publishers that is suitable to handle your book.

Now, back to the Barnes and Noble question. (By the way, this information is available on the bookseller's web site, but we are broadcasting the major points to answer this question for the benefit of authors everywhere.) It is a complicated explanation, so bear with us...

CORPORATE WAREHOUSING. Barnes and Noble warehouses all the books that can be ordered by their individual bookstores. B&N Corporate chooses which books to warehouse from the 'books in print' catalog that comes out every 180 days, or approximately every six months. Books get into the 'books in print' catalog by being assigned an ISBN and having the 'metadata' for the book (ISBN, title, author, cover image, retail price, etc.) sent to the ISBN gatekeeper, Bowker. A self-published author can either purchase an ISBN from Bowker or use an ISBN furnished by a self-service book printer like Lulu or Createspace. Depending on when the book becomes available in print and when the 'books in print' catalog comes out, it could take up to six months for a book to end up in the 'books in print' catalog.

BOOKLAND BARCODE. Barnes and Noble requires a 'Bookland' barcode on the book that is a UPC barcode for the ISBN plus the retail price of the book. If the retail price is not included on the barcode, then the book will not be considered for B&N's warehousing. Specific print-on-demand printers like Createspace DO NOT give the option of including the retail price in the barcode. In this case, B&N suggests the publisher go to a barcode provider and get stickers printed with the ISBN plus retail price, to be affixed to books before they will be ordered by B&N for warehousing.

STORE RETURNS. Barnes and Noble requires that the publisher or whatever distributor the publisher uses accept returns in case books ordered by bookstores do not sell within a given period of time. The books are then sent back to the publisher/distributor at the expense of the publisher/distributor. In the case of large publishers, books are remaindered (destroyed). Because POD printing is predicated on the idea that the book shall not be put into printed form until the book is ordered (paid for), printers like Createspace do not accept returns. If a publisher wanted to be able to accept returns, the publisher would then have to become his own distributor and order a short run of books to be available for ordering. In that case, the publisher would have to warehouse his own POD books IN CASE they might get ordered by B&N for warehousing - which totally defeats the purpose of POD and the impact on the environment. So, if you use a self-service printer like Lulu or Createspace, you're going to have to order your own books, pay for shipping, warehouse your books, then hope they get ordered by B&N - with the understanding there's no guarantee they ever will get ordered.

QUALITY CHECK. Last but not least, Barnes and Noble requires a catalog from each publisher who wants to be considered a 'vendor of record' - a book distributor where B&N can order books for their central warehouse. For individual self-published books, B&N Corporate will consider books on an individual basis. If they don't meet all the criteria above, plus pass B&N's idea of minimum quality, they won't be accepted for warehousing.

There are some various other requirements, but these are the major ones that stop most small publishers and self-publishers from getting their books onto Barnes and Noble bookstore shelves. This of course does not keep the books from being sold through B&N's online retail bookstore. But it does keep them off the already overcrowded shelves of physical bookstores.

Deciding to absorb all the expense and headaches involved in trying to get a book onto the shelf of a Barnes and Noble bookstore suddenly doesn't look like a winning proposition. Instead it looks like a recipe for losing money quickly.

And that, author friends, is why your book isn't on a bookstore shelf.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

America's Galactic Foreign Legion Book 3 now available

Walter Knight’s America’s Galactic Foreign Legion – Book 3: Silent Invasion is now available in multi-format ebook at Smashwords…

and now available in print... direct from the printer

and now available on Amazon in print... Amazon

and now available on Amazon in Kindle ebook... Kindle

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Blood and Sunlight now available

Blood and Sunlight: A Maryland Vampire Story by Jamie Wasserman is now available in ebook ...

Melanie would love to believe in fairytales but is stuck in a dead-end waitress job in her hometown, Ellicott City, Maryland, with a vampire dress-up boyfriend. Her world is turned upside-down when she encounters the real thing. She meets a wannabe vampire slayer, his father the sheriff, and finally the vampire himself, learning fairytales can come true, and evil isn't always where you'd expect.

Blood and Sunlight: A Maryland Vampire Story by Jamie Wasserman is now available in print ...

Also available in print and ebook Kindle at Amazon. Coming soon to additional online retailers like Barnes and Noble!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

INTERVIEW - author David Berardelli

Official Apex Reviews Interview with David Berardelli, author of Stepping Out Of My Grave

APEX: Thanks for joining us for this interview, David. We're looking forward to sharing more about your book and other efforts with our readers.

DB: Thank you.

APEX: What inspired you to craft such an engaging, heartrending tale?

DB: Like all my books, it just came to me one day. I saw the image of a guy climbing out of a grave and just took it from there. (I can't help it. I've been seeing strange things for years.)

APEX: Given the fact that he suddenly finds himself a ghost, is it difficult for Jake to make the transition into the spiritual realm?

DB: Of course it is. He's a go-getter--a businessman who ran his own software company. He's always had things to do and lived a busy, fast-paced life. Now that he's standing in his own grave and life as he knows it is gone, he's got to face something he's never faced before. He's dead, all alone, and has no idea what to do. But even so, his mind is working just as it always has, and he finds that he's got to do something. He can't just stand there forever.

APEX: Your reviewer commended you for bringing the issue of child abuse to the forefront in the book. Was it difficult for you to broach such a sensitive topic?

DB: Yes, for the simple reason that I had a very happy childhood. My parents were always there for my brother and me as we were growing up, and we always did things as a family. But this was during the fifties, when the family unit still existed. The most frightening memories I have of those days are when we heard our parents downstairs in the kitchen, arguing. I was always terrified they'd split up, but of course that never happened. But it made me wonder how different things would have been if they had split up. I knew several kids from broken homes and even those my age all seemed much older than I was. They also seemed angry all the time. I felt bad for them because they never had the same chances I did.

APEX: You also touch on a host of other issues throughout the course of the tale. How did you ultimately decide upon the specific topics that you chose to address in the book?

DB: Actually, the decision wasn't exactly mine. My characters let me know what they intend to do as the story comes out. I have no idea what's going to happen once I start writing. For me, writing a book is like sitting in the back seat while a couple of strangers drive me somewhere. I just close my eyes and let them take me there. They've never let me down yet. (Hopefully, they never will.)

APEX: What kinds of responses have you gotten to the book thus far?

DB: I've only received a few comments, but they've all been favorable.

APEX: Is there a central message that you'd like readers to take away from the story?

DB: I want my stories to be fun to read and I always try to inject as much humor as possible into them. I'm generally a die-hard optimist who likes to see a happy ending in everything. I also believe in life after death, and that nothing good ever really dies.

APEX: How has your publishing experience been thus far with Penumbra Publishing?

DB: Positive and helpful in all aspects. Pat Morrison and the people at Penumbra are very nice and extremely professional, and I hope to work with them again very soon.

APEX: You are quite the prolific author. Please share more with our readers about your other writings.

DB: I've been living in my head since I can remember. I was writing full-length novels when I was fifteen. My two novels, STALKERS and HIDDEN PREY, were published about fifteen years ago as ebooks when I was writing suspense. My novel, THE APPRENTICE, is another "guardian angel" story, although very different from GRAVE. It was inspired by an incident that happened to me years ago, when I was living in southeastern Ohio. WAGON DRIVER is a doomsday story taking place in this country just a few decades from now, when lethal injection, used to control overpopulation, goes amok. I self-published my detective spoof, FUNNY DETECTIVE, which is available through Amazon. I might turn it into a series if it ever catches on. I've also written a trilogy titled DEMON CHASER, about two recently dead people who escape Hell and are pursued by demons here, in America. These books are, in my humble opinion, my most humorous. I will gladly turn it into a longer series as well if my readers want to see more.

APEX: What are your long-term writing/publishing aspirations?

DB: Right now I'm presently working on four books and have several more waiting in the earlier stages. These are books I wrote years ago. I'm fine-tuning them now as I continue to learn and improve my craft.

APEX: How can our readers learn more about you and your ongoing efforts?

DB: I'm presently maintaining two sites: and

APEX: How can they contact you directly?

DB: or:

APEX: Any final thoughts you'd like to share?

DB: I'd like to thank you for your terrific review.

APEX: Thanks again, David, and best of continued success to you in all your endeavors!

DB: Thank you, too.

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America's Galactic Foreign Legion - Book 1: Feeling Lucky, by Walter Knight
(Humorous Sci-Fi Military Adventure)

America's Galactic Foreign Legion - Book 2: Reenlistment, by Walter Knight
(Humorous Sci-Fi Military Adventure)

Angel's Oracle, by Gary Bolick
(Southern Literary/Historical)

Crystal Clear: Storm Ryder, by Dana Warryck
(Science-Fiction Fantasy Romance) - Mistress Blackheart: Policeman's Prerogative, by Dallas White
(Humorous Contemporary Erotic Romance)

Heart of Steele, by Kessa Stranberg
(Contemporary Romance)

Last Flight Home, by Robert Wetherall
(Corporate Aeronautics Saga)

Lucifer's Last Lover, by Dana Warryck
(Supernatural/Paranormal Fantasy Romance)

Parallel Triangle, by Sandy Hyatt-James
(Science-Fiction Fantasy Romance)

Pixie, by Willa Kaye Danes
(Fairy Fantasy Romance)

Stepping Out of My Grave, by David Berardelli
(Paranormal Ghost Suspense)

Talk of the Town, by Lucille Naroian
(Contemporary Romance)

The Cat's Fancy, by Gwynn E. Ambrose
(Contemporary Humorous Romance)

The Protectorate: Patriarch, by Dana Warryck
(Vampire/Paranormal Erotic Romance)

The Realms of Beliar: The Sword Myndarit, by Andrew Arrowsmith
(Epic Fantasy)

Unforgettable, by Lucille Naroian
(Contemporary Romance)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

REVIEW: Stepping Out of My Grave
Stepping Out Of My Grave
David Berardelli
ISBN: 9781935563174
Penumbra Publishing
Reviewed By Chelsea Perry
Official Apex Reviews Rating: 5/5 stars

While taking an innocent trip to the mailbox one day, Jake Mild’s existence is turned completely upside down: after being struck down by an out-of-control truck, he awakens – in spirit form – in an open grave. Unsure of what to do next, Jake begins to rush home – but on the way he crosses paths with Sierra, a young girl with a black eye, busted lip, and other signs of being beaten. Deciding to follow her home instead, Jake soon explores the depths of his surprising new spiritual powers – but will they be enough to help an innocent little girl in desperate need of protection…?

Stepping Out Of My Grave is an engaging, heartrending tale. Skillfully crafted by author David Berardelli, the paranormal suspense thriller/compelling human interest story tackles a range of different topics, chief among them the devastating effects of child abuse. Unfortunately, most – if not all – kids like Sierra don’t have the benefit of a “guardian angel” such as Jake to watch over and protect them from harm, but at the very least, Stepping Out Of My Grave successfully pushes the issue of abuse to the forefront, encouraging readers not to turn a blind eye if they – like Jake – happen to cross paths with a hapless bruised and battered child one day.

An entertaining mix of drama, action, and well-honed suspense, Stepping Out Of My Grave is a highly gratifying read. Kudos to Berardelli for crafting such a rewarding tale of the “better angels” of our nature.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Kindle Sales reports that Kindle sales through July 2010 are triple Kindle sales for all of 2009. In the last three months Amazon Kindle sales surpased hard cover sales at a 143 to 100 ratio. And, the price of the Amazon Kindle eReader has dropped from $259 to $189.

This means a Merry Christmas for small publisher and their authors. I sincerely hope everyone gets an Amazon eReader for Christmas this year because finally small publishers can compete on an even playing field with the large publishers.

Large publishers can easily get their books on brick & mortar book store shelves by agreeing to take back all unsold copies, creating a monoply for a select few publishing houses. Small publishers cannot take back unsold books because their books are print on demand (POD), and so are locked out of large market book stores.

But with Kindle, both large and small publishers compete on equal footing because everyone shops at the same place online, and prices are competetive. Move over big dogs from New York City. Kindle is the future.

I have noticed Kindle sales of my America's Galactic Foreign Legion series increase quite a bit, a pleasent surprise I did not see coming.

Merry Christmas,

Walter Knight

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


Apex Reviews' recent interview with

APEX: What inspired you to craft this riveting, thought-provoking tale of spiritual transformation?

GB: The genesis of any story for me always begins with a single image, as though I were in the middle of a lucid dream, but wide awake. If the image remains and sits on my brain for a while, I know that a story is there, attempting to break out. The idea of a tongue-shaped, smooth marble rock with four slits running through it persisted, so I began to explore why and how it came to bury itself in my subconscious. I’ve read and studied the works of Carl Jung and his theory of the Collective Unconscious and his theories on why myth and religion are important to mankind. I also studied Greek Art and Mythology in college. Anyway, when I began to walk around the idea and image of the oracle, it set flint to tinder.

APEX: What’s the significance of the book’s title?

GB: Again, it’s the importance of myth, symbols, and archetypes – ideas that Jung advanced better than anyone before or since. The title is meant to evoke the Oracle at Delphi, the center of the ancient Western world, a place where the population went for spiritual and moral guidance. As modern as we all fancy ourselves, we still reach out in the dark for a helping hand. Even today, if one is not religious, then science becomes the answer, a sort of ‘secular religion.’ We’d like to believe that we – mankind – have progressed past this need for reassurance, but we haven’t. The title is a reminder that man has always, and perhaps will always continue to cling to beliefs or ideas larger than himself, to prove to himself that he is not alone. Call it hope or a reaction to the existential crisis, but even those concepts don’t fully describe man’s fear of alienation and loneliness. The indifference of nature, man’s lack of a natural place in the universe ... these force him to create witnesses, large ideas, or monuments that connect him back into the natural world and the abstract, highly subjective world of his own personal experience. Through these creations or ideas, hopefully, he can reconnect with the outside or objective world. Music, a soul that lives on past death, voices from the past that instruct us; these all are all very real expressions of wants, needs, and the need and desire for love. I think we’d all love to be able to go to a place, sit down, and let the wind, the air that we breathe, soothe and instruct us.

APEX: Please share for our readers the legend of how the Four Seasons came to be.

GB: I wanted to create a myth of free will that still worked within the guidelines of the Judeo-Christian dogma. Kurt Godel, in his incompleteness theorems, postulated that any ‘perfect’ system would predict its own demise or flaw. Free will, most believe, is granted by virtue of being created by a single god or maker. But even in a supposedly perfect system – Eden, paradise – the very idea of it will create a response contrary to its original intent. When the four angels refuse to aid Lucifer in his rebellion to take over heaven, but also refuse to remain in heaven after the rebellion has been quashed, they become the flaw, or rather the expression of free will, in the perfect system. Even if free will is bestowed, by its very nature it cannot be controlled – fortunately. The flaw it exposes is the idea that a single overruling idea or dogma, even with the best intentions, can be used to rule, control, or guide every individual. The angels creating the four seasons are permanent reminders of this idea of randomness of the individual creating his own response to a single overriding idea or dogma.

APEX: How does that legendary tale play into the central storyline for the book?

GB: It goes to the heart of inequality and how an individual can counter it and survive. When the angels are trapped in the wind, unable to fight back, even passive, non-resistance will not save them. It is only when, out of loneliness – out of love, if you will – they create within their own time and space and purpose, entities who are a part of, but not participants in the ‘paradise’ denied them. By virtue of their own individual free will, they free themselves from the laws and ideas that had imprisoned them. The myth becomes a blueprint for each character of the story to follow or ignore. Virgil Burnett, the protagonist, named after the poet Vergil, who led Dante through the hell, more than anyone in the story is ‘tested’ by this idea. Free will is the most difficult and painful choice of all. To ignore the racist laws, the inequities of class, suffer the loss of a brother just when he deciphers the music of the oracle, the loss of the profoundly innocent Georgia to the corrupt and evil sheriff Billy, to be in love with an African-American woman when he is ‘unnaturally white,’ to have lost his first love to the twists and turns of capitalism, Virgil is literally and figuratively one of the trapped angels. His only hope of surviving becomes exile. To further ground this idea in reality, I included the real-life character of Sidney Betchet, who in fact was for all intents and purposes, exiled from America in Europe; a common dilemma for many black American musicians of that era.

APEX: How is it that Virgil can empathize more with African-Americans than his white ilk?

GB: Virgil is purposely ‘whiter than white’ – that is to say, a quasi-albino. This was done to drive home the point that racism is a product of the individual’s own self-loathing projected onto the easiest target available. Virgil’s ease and connection with Seer Bonham, Jez, and the black workers at the park where he works is meant to demonstrate that anyone outside of the false norm – WASP – is a threat. His extreme whiteness is just as much a burden as being black. That is why I introduced the whole line of thought touched on by Virgil, Stockton, and Sloe of the ‘reverse negative,’ when white becomes black, and black white. At the heart of racism, color becomes irrelevant. It is the ghosts, the secrets, and the self-hatred that each individual carries within himself that is at the heart of racism. Money or the lack of it, one’s particular religion as opposed to another, one’s birthplace or nationality – the list of reasons why people become racists goes on and on. At the heart of it, skin color really becomes simply an easy excuse, one that carries tragic consequences. The simple idea of a reverse negative freeing us from the idea of color will hopefully help drive home this point.

APEX: As your reviewer mentioned, the story features an impressive mix of fantasy and reality. Was it difficult for you to maintain such a well-proportioned balance in the tale?

GB: Not really. Again, I go back to the influences of Carl Jung and, to a certain extent, the French symbolist poet, Stephane Mallarme. Jung, in “Psychology and Alchemy,” spoke of how the alchemists were the last and perhaps only group that attempted to bridge the ideas of science and faith. Their search for the philosophers’ stone, the transmutation of base metal into gold, or the elixir for eternal life, was the practice of science with the spiritual intent of finding a key or an absolute that would inform them metaphysically. They, in fact, probably did not believe that they would ever find eternal life or transmute lead to gold, but went through the process for the sake of the process, if you will. The experiments were like the ‘music of science.’ The process transported and elevated them to another plane, if but for a short while. Mallarme spoke of describing “not the thing, but the effect it creates.” We, all of us, are constantly attempting to comprehend how the world, people, ideas, and beliefs create effects within us. Both the process of bridging two opposing worlds and trying to interpret the effects they create within us is what guided the mix of fantasy and reality throughout the story.

Examples of what I was just describing can be found in the ghosts of poet Charles Baudelaire and capitalist Thomas J. Burley. The poet chronicled in his poem “The Swan,” the mix of fantasy and reality perfectly. Zeus the great swan who had raped Leda and started the Trojan War, now flaps its wings in front of the Louvre, its time of power and rule gone. Thomas J. Burley, the creator and emperor of Angel and Charon, discovers the poet while on a trip in Europe and searches for him, admiring a man of letters who understood the underbelly of mankind so keenly, his book “The Flowers of Evil,” a revelation for the capitalist. Pairing the two as omnipotent judges, acting as harpies on the psyche of Billy Sloane the sheriff, seemed to me a natural mix of fantasy and reality to help reveal the inner workings of Billy’s hatred and self-loathing. Even the deaf-mute Tiff, in discovering Baudelaire’s “Correspondences” and showing it to Virgil, who in turn talks of seeing Baudelaire’s apartment in Paris, is my approach to fitting fantasy and reality together – they are inseparable. Each informs the other, so the trick is in trying to figure out which has the greater effect on the truth.

Still another example is Willie at the oracle. When he deciphers its mystery, he is taken, leaving a lasting impression on Virgil his brother. In a series of dreams and in vigils by the oracle, Willie returns to Virgil, informing him of how and when the oracle will liberate him. Is this really Willie speaking, or is it the effect that Willie had on Virgil reverberating and continuing to transform Virgil? Like the alchemists, it is the process as much as the idea – the effect is the most important thing.

APEX: What kinds of responses have you gotten to your book thus far?

GB: All very positive. People have been very curious as to why and how the book came about. That’s why I am happy and excited to do this interview.

APEX: Is there a central message that you’d like readers to take away from the story?

GB: There are several, but if I had to choose one, it would be from the closing passage of the story, when the father and son discuss anger, “the anger that never seems to change.” I think if everyone would open themselves up to their own voices, memories, emotions, and connections to the past and present, and let these experiences inform them and own them, then maybe we’d all calm down and be a lot more open and understanding of one another.

APEX: How has your publishing experience been thus far with Penumbra Publishing?

GB: Wonderful! I can’t say enough about the great job that Pat and the entire staff have done.

APEX: What are your long-term writing/publishing aspirations?

GB: I’ve just finished another novel. I’ve put it aside and will return to it shortly to see if it in needs more work. I’ll continue to write and hopefully develop an audience. I never really know what to expect, except that I love to write and will continue to write.

APEX: How can our readers learn more about you and your ongoing efforts?

GB: Go to my website: I have an e-mail address set up with the site: I’ll be happy to answer any and all questions.

APEX: How can they contact you directly?

GB: Again, through the website.

APEX: Any final thoughts you’d like to share?

GB: I really think the exchange of ideas is central to maintaining a civilized world. I wouldn’t ask anyone to sit down and use some of their valuable time if I didn’t really believe in what I was doing. That being said, I think there’s a lot in the story for one to simply enjoy. Sure there’s food for thought, but it’s a hell of a ride, too. Kindest regards.

(For more information or to contact this author, go to his web site at

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Query Letters

Writing a query letter is often an author's first contact with a publisher. It pays to create a good impression. I hope the following sample query is helpful.

Dear Editor:

The iguana says your breath stinks, but I do not like the iguana and so I thought it would be a good idea to query you with my 300,000 word autobiography about Aunt Marge's alien abduction.

I think the iguana is really an alien, but I do not know for sure. It is really a good liar. We always thought that Marge was the liar, always cracking those jokes about a talking lizard in her backyard and a spaceship in her barn. It turns out she kept a straight face because she was not joking.

When she disappeared, I flew out to see if I could find anything. I have always been good about finding things, but finding Aunt Marge has been real hard. I have not found her yet, but I figured I would write all this down. Better if I did it all right away. I keep a note pad by my bed. So, there will be a sequel once I find her.

It could really be aliens who got her because of the spaceship in the barn and all the oil stains on the grass. I asked the police to test for radiation, but they were too busy. I suspect the police might not have an open mind about aliens. But, the iguana says it was not aliens. I think either the aliens left in the spaceship, or the iguana ate her.

So, when you call me up with an offer on my book, I would like some advice: If I eat the iguana, is it cannibalism?



Saturday, July 3, 2010

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Author Interview - Walter Knight

Recently Apex Reviews reviewed Walter Knight's AMERICA'S GALACTIC FOREIGN LEGION - BOOK 2: REENLISTMENT. The reviewer was also gracious enough to interview Walter about his humorous military science-fiction series...

Interview with Apex Reviews
RE: America’s Galactic Foreign Legion

APEX: Walter, thanks for joining us for this interview. We’re looking forward to sharing more about your book and efforts with our readers.

WK: Thank you, I appreciate it.

APEX: What was the inspiration for this quite imaginative military fantasy thriller?

WK: I wanted a vehicle for my humor. I love science fiction, my favorite authors being Harry Turtledove, L. Ron Hubbard, and Piers Anthony. Combine that with my passion for military history and casino gambling, and America’s Galactic Foreign Legion was born.

APEX: Is Joey based on someone you know or have known in real life?

WK: Joey R. Czerinski is of course a work of fiction. Nobody could be that cool. I suppose I can identify with the compulsive gambling part. Gambling is not a problem unless you lose. I give Joey a lot of flaws, and he is not all that honest of a person. But, like most heroes, he did not start out trying to be a hero. Joey just wanted to survive the day, and not be killed by loan sharks or spider-like aliens. Promotions and the responsibility of command wear on Joey, but he has a lot of other flawed legionnaires to help him out. My intent was to be humorous, and that starts with interesting characters.

APEX: What inspired you to feature such a creative menagerie of characters - including talking ATMs?

WK: The beauty of writing a military science fiction parody is that you can get away with writing a lot of absurd stuff. My psychotic talking ATM will do anything to meet its Foreign Legion recruitment quota, including pressure tactics, changing identifications, calling the police on potential recruits, signing bonuses, and lowering standards.

The most fun I had with characters was the aliens. My aliens change as they come into contact with American culture and Joey R. Czerinski. It is funny stuff for my aliens to become addicted to Starbucks coffee, bet on sports events, abuse alcohol, smoke cigarettes, get in bar fights, eat fast food at McDonald’s, wear Nike sportswear, watch American TV, join the Legion, and shop at WalMart. I was very proud when later in the series when my aliens rioted, rushing the front doors at WalMart on Black Friday. It’s a fine American tradition, and the aliens become more American every day.

APEX: What kinds of responses have you gotten to the book so far?

WK: The most common response is that America’s Galactic Foreign Legion made them laugh out loud. If a book can do that, you’ve got your money’s worth. I have been pleasantly surprised at the wide range of response of readers. A friend who hates lawyers thought it was hilarious when Joey dropped a rock from space on a lawyer’s house to get even. Another reader was amused when an alien secret police general tried to disguise himself as the Director of Social and Health Services to avoid being shot for war crimes. Another said he was a librarian, even though we wore a Nazi type uniform that gave him away. My favorite part was when legionnaires try to hide a nuke in a dumpster, and a spider bum objects, threatening to call the aliens’ Habitat Protection Agency. Later the legionnaires sell the nuke, accepting a check. There is some discussion about whether aliens can be trusted to not bounce a check in a war zone. It’s absurd, as I said before. These are examples for the first book, AGFL - Feeling Lucky. The second book is only just now out.

The only poor response I got was the alien human sex scene (yuk). It was quick (only one page) and not graphic. I was trying to be funny. Humor can be a difficult thing.

APEX: Please share more with us about your publisher Penumbra Publishing.

WK: Penumbra Publishing is a small but honest publisher. The thing that impressed me about Penumbra during the query process was that when they answered, they did not respond with the usual form letter. Instead, before committing to AGFL, Penumbra did a free quick edit for content and grammar. WOW. In an age where a first time author is lucky to even get an answer from a publisher, that is quite a response. I understand Penumbra is busier now, and might not be so free with their time, but I was impressed.

Patricia Morrison is a talented editor, and she cleans up my grammar and sentence structure. I am truly amazed at the final product. She can be kind of tough. Patricia thought my alien lawyer wearing glasses and carrying a brief case to be absurd and unrealistic. I agreed. When she realized I was not writing serious drama, she found AGFL amusing, and Penumbra committed to a three year project. Nobody had ever queried with a dozen books at one time before. It took me two years to write that many books. After my first query rejection, I just kept writing until my large body of work could no longer be ignored.

APEX: Reenlistment is actually the second installment in the America’s Galactic Foreign Legion series. Please share more with our readers about Book 1, Feeling Lucky.

WK: America’s Galactic Foreign Legion - Feeling Lucky is the first of a thirteen-book humorous science fiction series. It starts our with Corporal Czerinski and a handful of inexperienced legionnaires sent out to fight the aliens on a distant colony. Some will steal anything that is not nailed down. Others want fun, travel, and adventure. Joey just wants to survive, get rich, and get even. He shoots and bombs the ATM several times, but it just won’t die.

APEX: What are your long term writing / publishing aspirations?

WK: America’s Galactic Foreign Legion will be a three year project. The thirteen books are already written. Book 3, AGFL - Silent Invasion, is being edited as I speak. These books will be coming out every few months. I do not know if I will write a book 14, but I have started page 1.

APEX: In addition to being an author, you’re also a traveler. Please share more with our readers about your pursuits.

WK: I love cross country road trips and exploring casinos. Fortunately there is no shortage of roads and casinos in our great country. I love to explore ghosts towns. My favorite ghost town is Belmont, Nevada, located in the exact geographic center of Nevada. It is the only ghost town I have ever seen that has a domed courthouse.

APEX: How can our readers learn more about you and your ongoing efforts?

WK: I am continuously posting sample chapters and updates for just-published books on my website: Check out the alien and the chapter about “The Frunk.”

APEX: How can readers contact you directly?

WK: My website has my E-mail address on it: I also like to frequent writer blogs, such as W.M. Morrell’s Musings From Down Under.

APEX: Any final thoughts you would like to share?

WK: I hate it when science fiction novels portray a future America that has failed. I also do not like it when authors try to beat me over the head with their politics. I tried to create a future where America conquers the galaxy. I tried to make it funny. Humor can be a difficult thing. I truly believe that if humanity is to ever cross the Galaxy, it will be in American starships. Is that politically incorrect? I think world famous science fiction author Piers Anthony was most accurate when he graciously described America’s Galactic Foreign Legion in the January 2010 issue of his online newsletter, “It’s wild, improbable, but great adventure.” I had a lot of fun writing the series, and hope readers have fun reading America’s Galactic Foreign Legion.

APEX: Thanks again, Walter, and best of continued success in all your endeavors!

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Unpardonable Sin - Boring Your Readers

There are many writing sins a fiction author can commit, but one of the most heinous is boring the reader.

We must assume no author does that intentionally, because the result is losing the reader’s attention. And with so many other activities vying for the reader’s time, no author wants to build into his story a good excuse for the reader to stop reading and never return to finish it.


Consider any author trying to get published. Who’s the first reader of his story (besides a couple friends or family members who will say, “Oh yeah, loved reading your story,” even though they may never have bothered to start it)? Who? An agent. An acquisitions editor. A first-reader going through a slush pile. Anybody who can say either, “This book is great, I think we need to publish it,” or “Ho-hum, another wannabe writer bites the dust.”

Now, let’s say an author does manage to get published (or self-published), even though his story lacks sparkle. What’s going to happen? Readers who read a dull story will kill the book’s sales potential – and possibly the future of other books written by the author.


Because everyone – critic, reviewer, and book consumer – is a reader. And one thing readers do is remember authors. They actively seek out additional books from those authors who thrill and delight them. And if they really like what they’ve read, they’ll recommend the author and his books to anyone who will listen. But those same readers will actively avoid books by authors who fail to deliver a good story, and will tell everyone who will listen to do likewise. That kind of bad recommendation can convince other readers who haven’t bought the book yet not to, thus killing the chance for additional sales, and sales of future books the author may write. What author in his right mind wants that?

Let’s assume the typical author is in his right mind and doesn’t want his book to end up being labeled as boring. What constitutes boring, and how can it be remedied? Here are a few of the main indicators:

POOR PACING. A story that drags along at a snails pace, with little happening to break the doldrums, becomes a chore to read – a chore that many readers will happily forego. Even if the story starts out well, if it has a ‘sagging middle’ or a ‘flat ending,’ it’s got a problem. There are many ways to fix problematic pacing. The best overall idea is to follow the ARC of the story with minor ups and downs – action followed by a short relief passage to lull the reader into a false sense of security, followed by a scene with even more danger or suspense. The overall arc of the story should build from the beginning, with the major premise or conflict presented at the ‘last possible moment’ in the story where it makes sense. Too much back-story up front will spoil the lead-in. The drama should heighten as the story progresses, with a major ‘black moment’ toward the end, where things look most dire. The final conflict should be appropriately difficult, so that the outcome is not clear. Then the resolution and conclusion should wrap up all loose ends quickly, with a nice summary or moral that satisfies the story’s needs as well as the reader’s.

POORLY APPLIED VOICE/STYLE. The author’s writing style may be tongue-in-cheek and take a long, meandering while to get to any point. This is not the best style for a suspense or action thriller – or for many books at all. In today’s fast-paced lifestyle, most readers don’t have the time or patience to indulge a self-centered writer who’s in love with his own words and refuses to edit out convoluted sentence structure or every unnecessarily detailed nuance of arriving at a conclusion. As a courtesy to the reader, the author should get to the point in a reasonable amount of time, and make the journey toward that point amusing, suspenseful, or otherwise enjoyable for the reader.

INFO-DUMPING. Info-dumping can disguise itself in many forms. The most common and popular are:

1) Pages and pages of narrative exposition detailing the background information of the story or characters that the author simply must tell the reader. This is the unskilled or lazy writer’s way of getting all that background stuff out of the way, so that he can then get on with the story.

2) “As you know, Bob,” or detailing story specifics in dialog between two characters, so that the reader can ‘overhear’ the information and become privy to it. Of particular concern is when one character summarizes information for another character – especially information the other character already knows.

3) Story intrusions where the author stops the story to narrate to the reader an important bit of background information about the story line, history, or some character trait or past exploit. Much better is to weave this information seamlessly into the story at appropriate intervals when the information would logically come up in the story. There are many others, some seemingly well-disguised and hard to pinpoint, but these are some of the most common.

HO-HUM CHAPTER OR SCENE ENDINGS. Having your character fall asleep, happy and content, may seem like a good way to end a chapter, but what it actually does is give the reader a stopping point to put the story aside. A much better approach is to end the scene or chapter with a ‘cliffhanger’ that will make the reader want to keep on reading to find out what happens next. A ‘cliffhanger’ puts characters in an untenable position, like facing the villain holding a gun on them, or a speeding car out of control, approaching – a cliff! Will the characters in the car find some way to stop it, or manage to jump out just in time, before the car goes over the edge and crashes in a fiery ball at the bottom of the ravine below? The reader will have to go on to the next chapter to find out! Even if a story does not have scene after scene of breathtaking action, ‘cliffhangers’ can be built in using emotional drama. Like when Suzy’s mother tells her during morning coffee all the minor details of her day yesterday, then – oh, by the way, she happened to see Suzy’s husband with another woman at a restaurant. The unexpected revelation will certainly surprise Suzy and, if the author has laid the groundwork properly in the scene, will surprise the reader too. Ending the chapter there will nearly guarantee the reader will continue reading the next chapter. Result? Not boring.

If you’re having trouble deciding whether your story is boring, the best thing to do is have an impartial reader (not a friend or family member) read it. Here’s where a writing friend or critique group comes in handy. Honest feedback is essential, especially when you aren’t sure how your story stands. It’s better to get more than one person to read your story or a passage you think may be problematic. If the consensus is that it lacks something, your next task is to figure out what and how to fix it. Armed with some basics about what to look for, you’ll be better prepared to fix it properly.

This may sound like a lot of work, but if writing were easy, everyone would be doing it. Wait ... practically everyone is doing it – so it’s even more important for you to write well, to write exceptionally, to stand out from the pack so your story sparkles and tantalizes ... screams to potential readers, “Read me! You won’t be sorry, you’ll be thrilled and entertained, and you’ll love every minute you spend between my covers!”

And that, writing friends, is not boring! It’s getting you closer to your goal of being a successful author.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Author Gary Bolick Book Signing Events

Gary Bolick, author of Angel's Oracle, will appear at the following book signing events...

BOOK SIGNING - Saturday, June 26, 2010, 11:00am EST. Edward McKay Used Books, 115 Oakwood Drive, Winston-Salem, NC 27103

BOOK SIGNING - Saturday, July 17, 2010, 2:00pm EST. Barnhill's wine shop, 811 Burke Street, Winston-Salem, NC, 27101

Gary will be on hand to sign copies of his gritty, mystical 1959 historical novel of racial unrest and the healing power of love. If you'll be in the Winston-Salem area on either of these dates, be sure to drop by and say hello!

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Gwynn Ambrose is a first-time published author with Penumbra Publishing, and also has contributed to the design and execution of several book covers for Penumbra Publishing. Leslie Dyer, Sales/Promotion Director at Penumbra Publishing, conducted an online interview with Gwynn to share her views and experiences with artists and writers everywhere.

PP: Gwynn, please tell us about your background interests. How long have you been writing, and how long have you sustained an interest in art?

GA: Leslie, I've been interested in drawing all my life, from the time I was a tot and got spanked for coloring on the walls at home. I've always been a doodler, drawing little images or scribbles in the margins of whatever might be at hand, be it school homework, utility bills, or notepads by the phone. This tendency has often gotten me in a bit of trouble.

My interest in writing arose when I was required to produce a 'term paper' in eighth grade for social studies, incorporating various geological and sociological factoids. Bored with the prospect of writing a dry treatise on the gross national products of several different countries, I decided to ‘spice things up’ by writing a short story about a ship at sea that visited several ports. The various characters were involved in such things as diamond-smuggling and attempted murder aboard ship. This apparently impressed my hard-nosed teacher, and she pointed out my effort to the class as a shining example of how to creatively fulfill the homework requirement. The experience was an eye-opener for me, and I realized then that a lot of the artwork I’d been doing – drawings, paintings, etc. – were actually illustrations depicting a scene of conflict or action or drama. It was then I realized I was a storyteller, or at least wanted to be one. I went on to illustrate my own comics (or graphic novels, as they are now referred to), and busily wrote many daring and romantic stories to entertain myself. It wasn’t until several years later that I realized I too could become an author of books like those that I eagerly devoured for escapism. It took me a long while to get up the courage to participate in some online and in-person writing and critique groups. When I decided I’d finally developed the writing maturity to complete a novel (short as it is), I felt I was ready for publishing.

In the meantime, I amused myself with learning how to create electronic-based illustrations for book covers and other purposes. So the art and the writing have pretty much gone hand-in-hand for me. I’m sure many other people have similar background stories to tell about their experiences. I know I’m not unique in this, because there are so many creative and successful artists and authors out there, it astounds me.

PP: What are your future plans for putting your creative skills to work?

GA: I hope to remain involved in cover production for Penumbra Publishing, as I’m happy with the environment and eager to tackle creative challenges that each new book cover presents. As far as writing goes, I am involved in a lot of other activities, so sometimes writing gets put on the back burner, even when I have a strong desire to work on current writing projects. Sometimes it’s difficult to set priorities so that personal wants and needs are met satisfactorily. I guess if I were to look at my writing as a profession rather than a hobby, my priorities would necessarily have to change, but that’s hard to accomplish with a ‘day job’ that interferes with preferred pastimes, even if that job represents the major earnings potential in my life.

I guess my real goal, then, is to replace my day job with a creative gig that can sustain the same or even surpass my current earnings I'm making now while working for someone else. Of course I never forget that even self-employed authors and artists always end up working for somebody else somehow, to some degree – and usually the person they work for is the one who buys their work. So it’s a trade-off, but I hope to make it one where I call most of the shots and make most of the decisions I want to make, rather than having someone tell me when to show up and when to leave, and what to do in between. The dream of self-employment seems to promise an end to that, but oftentimes, for writers especially, deadlines loom almost as oppressively as a punching a time-clock.

PP: Gwynn, thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences.

GA: Thank you for asking!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Latest Book News and Updates


The Cat's Fancy is now available in print on Amazon and our web site, and is coming soon in ebook (Amazon Kindle and in other formats at Smashwords and our web site). The Cat's Fancy is a cute, short, and sweet romance revolving around matchmaker Max the Cat. Cat lovers and romance readers, check it out!


Great news - Robert Wetherall's dramatic story of a woman's love of flying has been accepted for publishing and will be available in print and ebook soon. "Last Flight Home" - an emotional tale full of technically accurate background information on piloting and the corporate world of airlines during the Sixties and Seventies.


Progress Report: Andrew Arrowsmith's gripping high fantasy tale "The Realms of Beliar - The Sword Myndarit" features a stubborn and resilient heroine and her entourage as they seek a sentient sword to help them save the Empire from the encroaching evil Alliance. In the last stages of preprint production, the book is coming soon in print and ebook. Stay tuned for more updates on the upcoming release date!


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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Are you and your book ready for publishing?

Many writers want to be published authors but simply aren’t ready.

The reasons are many, but very few newbie writers recognize them. The main reason a writer isn’t ready for publishing is he/she hasn’t put forth the necessary effort to learn the basics that good writing requires – an understanding of grammar and story structure, and the skill to make writing interesting. While just about anyone can string some sentences together to tell a tale, whether it’s something the typical reader will want to spend time reading is another question altogether. Learning and honing these skills takes time and effort – two things in short supply for the impatient newbie writer.

The upsurge of self-publishing in recent years has fueled this impatience, and subsidy or vanity publishers have helped make self-publishing appear to be the grand answer for anyone who thinks he has something worthwhile to say and wants to see it in print.

Self-publishing feeds the desires of newbie writers who rush to see their work in print without first taking the very necessary steps to properly edit and package their books to garner the respect and attention of readers. What can often result is a poorly designed book riddled with laughable errors and saddled with a rudimentary or even embarrassing cover. The opposite can also result – the eager author shells out thousands of dollars to a subsidy publisher, hoping to get a decent cover design and competent editing. Oftentimes those hopes go unrealized, and the book is overpriced out of the normal reader buying market.

So how is the typical newbie writer supposed to figure out when his/her book is ready for publishing? A first step generally taken by most authors serious about attaining publishing status is to get an impartial independent opinion of their book’s publishability. A legitimate and trusted writing critique group can provide valuable insight regarding first-reader reactions to a book. If the writer can’t stand the heat from a writing group, then submission to a publisher or agent is out of the question. So getting one’s feet wet by testing the waters of a local or online writer group is nearly essential. Don’t go by the opinions of friends and family as most of these folks will tell what they think the writer wants to hear rather than what they really think.

Once the author has received sufficient feedback to get a feel for what test readers and fellow authors think of the book – and assuming the feedback is favorable – the submission process to a legitimate publisher or agent is the best trial by fire method for determining whether a book is ready for publishing.

The important thing to remember is that rejection of one’s work from for-profit professionals such as agents and publishers may not be based on the perceived worth or quality of the writing, but more on the projected marketability of the work. And each publisher or agent’s opinion can be based on a variety of factors the author may never be aware of – for instance, another book that is similar is already in the publishing process, or the submission load at that particular time is too high and there’s no one available to properly review the book the writer submits for consideration.

It’s also important for the newbie author to realize that not every writer gets a superior publishing contract with one of the big traditional publishers. Sometimes smaller independent publishers are a better choice. The writer’s most important job after finishing and polishing the work is to research and submit to publishers or agents that seem to be a ‘good fit.’

Self-publishing can seem like a quick, inexpensive, and easy alternative to the work of researching, submitting, waiting, and possibly being rejected by publishers or agents. But make no mistake in believing it is easy – if the book is to have the look and feel of a professionally published book, the author must either hire professionals to do the prepress work, or personally be up to the challenge.

And then there’s the marketing aspect. Self-publishing requires the author to be sales rep and distributor and promotion king all at the same time. While it’s true that most authors, even best-selling authors, must take part in promotion activities, those with name recognition already are way ahead of the game. Stop and think about it a moment. Who will buy your book if no one knows it exists? It will be your job as the author to make readers aware of you and your book. Are you ready for that? If not, then think again about considering yourself ready for publishing.

Your Book - Creation or Commodity


You’re an author, and you’ve finally finished your book, the project you’ve slaved over to make as perfect as you can. It’s your personal tome, a part of you, your baby, your creation.

Now what?

Now that you’ve finished the thing that’s taken over your life for (insert number of years you worked slavishly on your book), what are you going to do next? Are you going to stuff it away somewhere, never to be seen again, or are you going to tout it to the world? The next logical step for most authors serious about writing is to seek publication. A good many will not take this next step due to personal fears or other obstacles, but one thing’s for sure … the motivation for writing will drive what you do next.

So, why’d you write the darn thing in the first place?

Every author has a reason for writing, and not all authors’ reasons are the same. Some dream of instant fame and fortune so they can quit their despised ‘day job’ and not have to worry about money or anything else ever again. (A fantasy that rarely comes true for the typical author.) Others have something to prove to someone, the world, or themselves – usually that they can finish something they set out to do. Still others have a story inside them that’s bursting to be told. The reasons are probably as numerous as the authors who harbor them, but one thing’s for sure, very few people will have spent years of their life losing sleep and missing the growing up of their children just to write a bunch of words that will sit forever in a dusty box under the bed. Writing is a legacy, a thing left behind to remind the world that the author lived and had something he or she felt was worthwhile to say. And that is why most authors want to see their work published and read by others – as a testament and sharing of their thoughts, their lives.
Which brings us back to the question … creation or commodity?

While the story remains in the sole possession of the author, it remains his baby, his creation. However, as soon as the author relinquishes control of the story for publishing, it ceases to be the author’s possession. It ceases to be one of a kind, an oddity or curiosity for contemplation and appreciation. It ceases to be a creation.

When the story is published, it becomes a thing to be replicated and packaged and marketed and sold to consumers. It becomes a commodity.

And why is this distinction important?

One word: marketing. The publisher wants to sell books to make money. The reader wants to buy books to read. These two groups therefore look at the book as a commodity to be bought and sold and used (or consumed) for a practical purpose. A creation on the other hand, while it might be purchased, does not usually serve a practical, consumable purpose. So once the author’s work is handed over for publishing, it becomes a commodity that must be marketed if it is to be sold.


While no author wants to imagine reducing all his hard work and thoughts – his soul – to a pricetagged item for sale, that’s exactly what the author’s book becomes in the hands of those who will use or consume it – his readers. But this shift in thinking is absolutely necessary for the author to realize that sales of his book may very well depend on his own salesmanship.
The author may have spent years honing his writing skills to perfect his book without ever realizing he’d have to equally hone his sales skills to get his book into the hands of interested readers. But that’s exactly what has to happen.

We’ll talk more about marketing in a later post. For now, let it be enough to burst the bubble of the fantasy that sets the author apart as a creative genius with no responsibility for the future success of his creation. The author must sponsor and promote his creation so that it thrives in the commercial world of commodities for sale and consumption.