Monday, October 26, 2015

I've had my own website for a few years now, and honestly it's been pretty much nothing but trouble. (Can something be "pretty much nothing but?") Anyway, I'm not out to bash the website provider or anything. Hell, it's probably my fault. I'm not a "techie" and I never will be, and truthfully don't have any interest in being. So I won't be renewing my domain name, both because I'm not really getting any real use out of it and because I can do pretty much (there's that phrase again) the same things here, on this site, for free, that I've been semi-successfully paying to do on the other site. I don't know how much longer the OTHER website will be up and running, but THIS one, right 'chere, will from this point onward be the home and base of operations for all things Evil Cheez. The ONLY home base.

It occurred to me that, before the old site goes away, I should peruse it and see if there's anything there I'd like to preserve for posterity HERE. I'll be moving a few things over, and I'll start with this piece I wrote as the introduction to the other site. It's a little dated, but I kinda have a soft spot for it. It deals with marketing and the need for an author to get his or her name out there, to get "over" in wrestling parlance, and the true motivation behind most people who put pen to paper. Or, more accurately, fingertip to keyboard. Just  for the heck of it.

(Hey, that's not bad as a preamble. Maybe I'll make that the title my autobiography someday. "Just for the heck of it.") 

A few years ago, my father got it into his head to build, during the dog days of one of the hottest summers on record, a lean-to storage shed connecting to his garage, for which he enlisted my help. Because my Dad knows as little about construction as I do, which is to say he don’ know nothin’, he also hired a retired carpenter, Mr. Gilbert, a crusty, salt-of-the-earth type known to all (more or less affectionately) as “Gibby.” It was bad enough for me having to toil alongside Gibby, what with him being twice my age and working circles around me, whistling and hammering away while I sweated and gasped for breath; but to further add to my sense of masculine inferiority, during one of the (too few and far-between) breaks we took that day, while making casual conversation, Gibby asked me what I did for a living.

No problem, I remember thinking. I got this.

I had, at this point in my life, been working for a couple of years as an acquisitions editor for a literary agency. When I told this to Gibby, I was anticipating his response of: “What’s that?” This latter constituting the typical response of, well, everybody upon hearing my spiffy-sounding job title, I had, I thought, by this time in the game, gotten pretty good at explaining exactly what an “acquisitions editor” was and did, breaking down into layman’s terms the inner workings of the publishing world.
“It’s like this, Gibby. When you go into a bookstore, all those books on the shelves, they were published by one of a handful of publishing companies. Let’s say you have written a book, Gibby, a book about carpentry. You couldn’t just send a copy of it to one of those publishers.”

“Why not?”

“Because they only look at works that are submitted to them from literary agencies. It’s because there are so many other people out there who have also written books. You wouldn’t believe how many there are. And the publishers don’t have time to read through all those books, or samples from all those books, to see which, if any, they might be interested in putting into print. Thus they use the literary agencies as a sort of filter. They know that any work submitted to them by an agency has to be good, at least good enough to have captured the attention of the literary agent in question.”

I was on a roll at that point, determined to make my not-glamorous-at-all job sound as fancy as possible.
“But the literary agencies don’t have that kind of time ether,” I continued, “to read through all those potential manuscripts. They get dozens, maybe even hundreds of proposals in the mail every day. That’s why they hire people like me, “slush monkeys” in the jargon of the business, to search through the reams of possible projects and determine if any of them are worthy of the agent’s time and attention.” Taking a breath, I concluded: “And that’s what I do.”

Gibby took a moment, stared at me, blinking, before responding: “Yeah . . . but what’s the point of it?”
I didn’t know what to say to him. What’s the point? The point of what, Gibby, hiring editors? Oh, of writing in general, you mean. Why, isn’t it obvious, Gibby? The point is, uh . . .

Hmm. What is the point, anyway?

To see one’s name in print, in the credits of a magazine or on the spine of a book? To have one’s work read by the masses (a mass or two, at least)? To impart information, to entertain, to communicate? No. That’s not the primary reason. Secondary, maybe. Otherwise they’d just put their stuff on the Internet for free, or go to a “vanity press.” (Vanity presses differ from standard publishing companies. A standard publisher will pay you for the rights to publish your work. A vanity press will publish as many copies of your work as you’d like, but you have to pay them.) Nothing wrong with that, if that’s what a person wants. But all those hordes of people submitting those reams of projects to literary agencies aren’t just looking to see their words in print. So what’s the point, then? The primary point?

To make money.

A writer wants to sell his product, to put it out there for the world to read and enjoy and be financially compensated for it. That’s the point, Gibby. That’s the point.

And the point of all this, my friends, is to explain to you the “point” of this website.

It gets harder day by day for a writer to “make it” in the publishing world. Even a good writer. I learned from my time as a slush monkey, and learned all to well, that every aspiring author believes himself or herself to be good enough for publication, only a scant percentage actually are. What’s the ratio? I’d say 99% to 1%, with the minority being the ones with some degree of talent and ability (and I’m probably being generous, there). Acquisition editors quickly become jaded, numbed by the constant bombardment of flat-out lousy writing. The agents themselves become jaded. The editors at the publishing houses become jaded. It’s hard, really hard, to find that proverbial diamond in the rough when it’s buried in an even rougher trash heap. This is the burned-out, jaded slush monkey in me talking, here.

Even if a writer manages to get noticed amidst all the flotsam, it’s still a hard climb. No publisher is going to invest much money on an unknown commodity. (Those books on the tables at the big bookstores, set out where they’re bound to get noticed by the foot traffic? The publishers pay to have those books put on that table. And if it’s a choice between Stephen King’s latest or the debut book by you, John. Q. Nobody, who do you think they’re going to drop the money on?) How then can a new writer, an “unknown,” even if he actually is good, hope to make his mark, to stand out?

You have to be your own publicist. Drive yourself all over creation to do book signings for no guaranteed compensation, just to get your name out there. Enter your work in various contests; try to win some awards, just to get your name out there.

Or create a website. Put a sample of your work—just a sample, mind you— online, available for free, and try to get people to visit the site, to read your work. Just to get your name out there.
And that, Gibby, is the point. End of preamble.

With that, welcome, friends, to [...] It’s been a long time coming and I’m mighty proud to have you here. Can I offer you a little something to make it worth your while? There’s some good stuff here on this site. Totally free. Because I have the audacity to believe I am a part of that 1% mentioned earlier, that my work actually is worth the time it will take you to read it, and I aim to prove it. It’s like drugs, man. The pusher gives you some for free because he believes you’ll like it and come back for more. Only my work is far more benign than drugs. But, I hope, no less addictive. Heh heh heh.

Right, then. What can I interest you in today? Proceed to our menu, mon friends. Order when you’re ready.
(By the way, you all are going to want to drop by this site not infrequently, as I intend to add new content fairly often. I figure I’ll keep a blog of sorts, containing all my sacred and profane ramblings about anything and everything. I’ll update you on my latest theatrical productions. I also might put some more free stuff on here, sooner or later. You never can tell with me.)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Interview with YA Author Nina Soden

Tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Michigan. I have always been creative, be it art, theatre, film – anything but singing – Trust me, you don’t want to hear that! I earned my bachelor’s degree in Theatre and Military Science from Eastern Michigan University where I spent my free time either on stage, rappelling down buildings, or working. After college I moved to Los Angeles, like so many other want-to-be actors, in pursuit of my dreams. I worked to pay the bills… but my love was acting and I was actually somewhat successful, mostly in commercials and independent films and I had a great time doing it.

When did you start writing?
I started writing poetry and short stories when I was younger but went for years without writing. Then out in Los Angeles I got inspired to write again. I started with poetry and wrote what eventually became my first book Private Words Unspoken, a compilation of poetry. After poetry I moved to screenplays. After getting married, my husband and I left California and started our family down south. Needing an artistic way to express myself I joined a number of the local theatre groups. I also started writing again and in 2012 I published my first novel, Awaken.

How would you describe your writing process?

Every writer is different, I don’t outline my stories like a lot of authors do, at least not on paper. I tend to let me characters lead me and the story more than I lead them. I have been completely shocked, more than once, by where my stories have taken me. But, it just proves my point that stories can evolve on their own. Characters take on a life of their own, even if just in my head. In my second novel, one of my favorite characters died, I hadn’t planned it and I was heartbroken when it happened. Although I may not have wanted to see that character die, unfortunately that was just what had to happen.

How did you start writing about vampires?

Growing up, my dad and I would spend late nights watching horror films. From a very young age I loved all the classics; The Changeling, Nosferatu, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, King Kong, Godzilla, It Came From Outer Space, House of Wax, Frankenstein, The Fly, Night of the Living Dead, Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing, Psycho, The Wolf Man, Dracula, and so many others. I didn’t even care how well made they were or how realistic. I remember watching The Blob and laughing so hard. I loved it. I guess with my love of those types of movies it was inevitable that my writing would move in the same direction.

Tell us a little about your latest project.

The Hunted is the second book in the SECTOR C Series. The series is set in a futuristic dystopian society governed by a council of vampires and lycanthropes.


"In the future, most of the world is governed by a council of vampires and lycanthropes. Sector residents are offered the freedom to live as they desire provided they stay and abide by the laws handed down. After being jolted awake by the blaring screech of the sector alarm, Zelina is dragged from her bed, gagged, and tied to a chair. Confronted with the brutal murder of one of her former classmates, she realizes that all eyes are on her as the primary suspect. Whether she was involved or not doesn’t matter. In the eyes of most sector residents, and most Council Members, Zelina is already a pariah—feared for the powers she will certainly come to possess. For she is the first human known to have both vampire and lycanthrope blood flowing through her veins.

Zelina will find herself on a gripping adventure that will take her beyond the borders she’s known all her life in an attempt to save those she loves—and herself from becoming The Hunted."

Can you tell us about your main Character?

Zelina is described as having long dark brown hair with bronze/brown eyes. I envision actress Adelaide Kane when I write her, but I’d love to know who my readers envision. She is strong, loyal, and very determined. She is willing to put herself at risk to protect others or stand up for what she believes in.

Do you have any other books that aren’t part of the SECTOR C Series?

My first three books, Awaken, Beginnings, and Revenge were part of another series The Blood Angel Series.

What kind of vampires can readers expect from your books?

While I love the traditional vampire myths – death before rising sleeping in coffins, not visible in mirrors, sensitivity to garlic, being burned by the sight and touch of a cross, death by driving a stake through their heart, my personal favorite bursting into flames when exposed to sunlight, and so many others, my books don’t really follow those same guidelines for vampires. I write YA (young adult) and NA (new adult) novels, so although I limit the sexuality and gore, it is still in there.In both the Blood Angel Series and the SECTOR C Series I introduce the idea that vampirism is a virus. The host doesn’t have to die, as in traditional myth, but transforms in such a way that they evolve beyond their human abilities or rather limitations.I believe that vampires can be sexy and scary, good and evil, menacing and still intoxicating. I’ve been told that my books give a fresh new look to an old concept and breathe new life into what it means to be a vampire.   

Do you have a favorite place in which to write?

I can write anywhere, I use a laptop, but I guess if I had to pick a favorite place I would say either at my desk in my home office, cuddled up in blankets and pillows on my bed, or sitting drinking coffee at the local Starbucks. I know the author at the coffee shop sounds cliche but it really is a very relaxing, creative environment.

What is your next favorite thing to do besides writing?

Writing takes second seat to spending time with my kids, but other than writing I love acting. I went to college for theatre and that has always been my first calling. I do a lot of community theatre and used to do a good deal of film when I lived in Los Angeles. 


What is your most memorable moment while writing?

I love answering this questions because in the four years I’ve been published my answer has never changed. I actually have two moments that are equally special to me. The first was when I was sent a photo of a school project a young girl did. It was a book report, with photos and character descriptions for Awaken, book one in the Blood Angel Series. The fact that she had enjoyed the book that much, and that she could so easily visualize the characters in the story really made me happy. It proved to me that what I had written wasn’t just a story I enjoyed, but that it was a story others could enjoy as well. The second moment was when the first shipment of books showed up on my front porch. I opened the box and there it was, a paperback copy of the novel I wrote. It was like a dream come true. I still get excited every time a box of my books arrive. Maybe it’s silly but even going through the whole process, concept to publishing, it never feels fully real until you hold that book in your hands.

What can your readers expect from you next?

Well, I haven’t started my next book yet, but I’ve been asked by a number of readers to do another book in the Blood Angel Series. So, I will be writing a novella all about Phoebe, one of the supporting characters in books 2 and 3. I’m excited to find out what happened to her after the end of Revenge and where her life has taken her.

Other than that, I will be appearing at the Rocket City Nerd Con, October 23-25.

Event Details

When: Fri., Oct. 23 through Sun., Oct. 25

Where: Huntsville-Madison County Public Library-Downtown Branch, 915 Monroe St SW, Huntsville, AL 35801

Price: $15 for day pass, $35 for weekend pass (children 10 and under free with adult ticket)

  1. BLOG: 
  2.  Facebook:
  3. Twitter:
  4. Twitter: @Nina_Soden
  5. Amazon Author Page:
  6. Awaken (book 1):
  7. Beginnings (Book 2):
  8. Revenge (Book 3):
  9. The Chosen (book 1 ~ SECTOR C):
  10. The Hunted (book 2 ~ SECTOR C): Coming soon to Amazon.