Awesome Sauce, Zombies, and Self Publishing Dos and Don’ts


I’m excit­ed to wel­come Matt (Awe­some Sauce) Williams back to my site. For those of you who don’t know, he is an ubber pro­duc­tive author and blog­ger whose taste for top­ics knows no bounds. He recent­ly pub­lished a zom­bie nov­el enti­tled Whiskey Delta which he first seri­al­ized on his blog. Today he’s here to tell us about Whiskey Delta and his most recent for­ay into self pub­lish­ing. Pull up a chair, you just might learn some­thing. Talk to us, Awe­some Sauce.

1. For those who don’t know, give a brief run down of WD. What was the inspi­ra­tion? When did you pub­lish?

Whiskey Delta is basi­cal­ly my take on the zom­bie apoc­a­lypse. After read­ing and watch­ing numer­ous fran­chis­es on the sub­ject, main­ly for the sake of research into what makes the genre work, I real­ized they all had some­thing in com­mon beyond undead crea­tures. With­out excep­tion, they all focused on the lives of your aver­age cit­i­zens, or on a mot­ley crew of peo­ple who were thrown togeth­er by neces­si­ty. Always these peo­ple were unpre­pared, untrained to deal with their cir­cum­stances, and had to impro­vise and strug­gle to stay alive. Frankly, I want­ed to see a sto­ry where the peo­ple fight­ing the undead were trained, pre­pared, and knew how to deal with it, even if they still had a hell of time doing it.

Nat­u­ral­ly, I was inspired by the recent upsurge in pop­u­lar­i­ty that zom­bie fran­chis­es have seen in recent years. 28 Days Lat­er was a big one, as wasThe Walk­ing Dead, the minis­eries and the comics. I also gained a lot of knowl­edge from the minis­eries Gen­er­a­tion Kill, which chron­i­cled the 1st Recon Battalion’s exploits dur­ing the 2003 inva­sion of Iraq. Between all that, I had a strong desire to write about zom­bie killers who know their trade, warts and all!

I began pub­lish­ing it chap­ter for chap­ter in the spring of 2012, and fin­ished it just shy of the sum­mer. I took the plunge and decid­ed to make it avail­able to the pub­lic one year lat­er, in April of 2013. While I still want­ed to fin­ish up work on its sequels and edit it before release, an unex­pect­ed shout out from Max Brooks kind of forced my hand and I uploaded it to Kin­dle with­out seri­ous edits. The result was pret­ty rough, but still con­tained the sto­ry I had cre­at­ed with­out alter­ation or dis­tor­tion.

2. WD is self-pubbed, which I think, aside from being brave, is the smart thing to do these days as it leaves con­trol in the hands of the author. That said there are pros and cons. Tell us what they are in your expe­ri­ence.

Self-pub­lish­ing means cut­ting out the mid­dle man — or the gate-keep­er, depend­ing on how you view pub­lish­ers — and being able to take your work direct­ly to the pub­lic, which is a big plus. This is espe­cial­ly use­ful con­sid­er­ing that tra­di­tion­al pub­lish­ing is los­ing mon­ey on a dai­ly basis due to the expan­sion in social media, direct pub­lish­ing and print-on-demand hous­es. As a result, they are tak­ing less chances on new authors. Lucky for us, the source of the prob­lem also presents a solu­tion.

On the down­side, there’s the issue of being com­plete­ly respon­si­ble for your own suc­cess. As an indie, you are respon­si­ble for all of your own edit­ing, pub­lic­i­ty and pro­mo­tion. As such, you real­ly have to com­mit to a long, hard slog and hold out while peo­ple real­ize you exist and see the mer­its in your work. You also have to con­tend with the per­cep­tion that indie works are sub­stan­dard, ama­teur­ish works that aren’t worth people’s time or mon­ey. Over­com­ing this is not easy, but hope­ful­ly with time, you’ll estab­lish a read­er­ship and dis­tin­guish your­self from the herd.

3. You’ve dis­cussed the good and not as good news about WD on your site since self-pub­bing it. Tell us what you feel you’ve done right/wrong. What would you change if you could?

Well, one should always be hap­py that review­ers are find­ing nice things to say about your work. And every review has said that they liked the sto­ry, but were both­ered by the qual­i­ty of edit­ing. Nat­u­ral­ly, I feel like I was wrong to pub­lish it so soon and wor­ry that these reviews which call into ques­tion the qual­i­ty of the work will affect long-term sales. So even if I do release a 2nd edi­tion that’s error-free, the dam­age has been done.

How­ev­er, I remem­ber quite clear­ly why I put the book up when I did. I knew that a nod from Max Brooks might trig­ger inter­est in my book and send some peo­ple over to Google to look for it. And I knew that inter­est would quick­ly fade if peo­ple couldn’t find it. I have since come to the con­clu­sion that the fact that it falls under the head­ing of zom­bie fic­tion is what is attract­ing read­ers, but at the time, I was con­vinced word of mouth pro­mo­tion from an estab­lished author would make all the dif­fer­ence.

So real­ly, bar­ring some kind of pre­scient fore­sight on my part — which would have told me to just wait until it was edit­ing before pub­lish­ing, or drop the sequels and focus on the orig­i­nal — I can’t imag­ine hav­ing done things dif­fer­ent­ly at this point. Live and learn, I guess!

4. What advice would you offer oth­er self-pubbed authors?

Best advice I could give was the advice that was giv­en to me over the years. I kept it in point form for the sake of sim­plic­i­ty:

  1. Do what you love, the rest will take care of itself with time.
  2. In the mean­time, keep your day job. Until such time as you’re mak­ing enough mon­ey to sup­port your­self, you’ll need that steady income!
  3. Don’t wait to be dis­cov­ered. Use the tools that are at your dis­pos­al to pro­mote your­self and make things hap­pen.
  4. Do your home­work. Before you can put your idea into prop­er writ­ten form, you need to do your home­work and learn what works best for you.

5. Which of the char­ac­ters in WD would you most want to befriend in real life? Why?

Tough ques­tion, but I think the Mage would be a very good per­son to meet in real life. He’s enig­mat­ic, even to me, and I know for a fact that he’s the kind of per­son who’s had some very inter­est­ing expe­ri­ences. Not only that, but he keeps you guess­ing. You’re nev­er quite sure how much he knows, or whether or not he’s a good guy…

You can catch Matthew Williams here:

Sto­ries by Williams





Interview: Nadine Ducca and Serving Time



SERVING TIME front coverI am hap­py to fea­ture an inter­view here with Nadine Duc­ca. She has just released her debut nov­el, the first in a series, called Serv­ing Time.  It sounds like a win­ner and I’ve added it to my “to read” list. You should too. You can also try your luck at win­ning a free copy of Serv­ing Time over at Goodreads. I hope I win it. Too bad there’s no way to enter the con­test more than once. 😉

Goodreads Give­away!!!!

Oth­er places you can find serv­ing time on Kin­dle and in print:

Every­one, please wel­come Nadine, indie author extra­or­di­naire! 

Nadine, thank you for join­ing me and giv­ing me the chance to take part in your efforts to pro­mote Serv­ing Time. As an indie author I appre­ci­ate the need for expo­sure. It sounds as if Serv­ing Time is going to be quite a sto­ry, one that I am def­i­nite­ly inter­est­ed in read­ing.

1. Give us a brief expla­na­tion of what Serv­ing Time is about.

When inter­plan­e­tary pilot and smug­gler Tris­tan Cross final­ly decides to do good for a change, the entire uni­verse seems bent on stop­ping him.

Serv­ing Time is a sci-fan­ta­sy pur­suit across the solar sys­tem as Tris­tan and his broth­er Eneld try to give the cru­el mega­com­pa­ny Star­Corp the slip and start a new anony­mous life on Earth. Dur­ing their voy­age, they’ll dis­cov­er that someone—or something—else is after them…and there are much larg­er threats out there than Star­Corp…

Here is the offi­cial book descrip­tion:

Life and death have been indus­tri­al­ized. The Forge, the birth­place of every soul, is a rum­bling fac­to­ry owned by the god­dess Time, man­aged by Lucifer, and pow­ered by the labor of demons and imps. In this dystopi­an world, a rene­gade inter­plan­e­tary pilot run­ning from his past doesn’t stand a chance.

Han­dling Nep­tun­ian meth and dodg­ing secu­ri­ty can­nons are all in a day’s work for Tris­tan Cross—not that he’s one to com­plain. Work­ing for the smug­gling com­pa­ny Star­Corp is an improve­ment over what he used to do for a liv­ing.

How­ev­er, when Star­Corp gives Tris­tan a one-way tick­et into the brainwashed—and dis­turbing­ly suicidal—Loyal League, he decides to run from the com­pa­ny and start a new life in the only safe haven he knows: Earth. With the help of his broth­er, Tris­tan embarks on the most haz­ardous jour­ney of his life, one that will place him at Time’s mer­cy. Lit­tle does he know the demons run­ning the uni­verse are crav­ing a feast, and his own soul is the next item on the menu.

2. What was the inspi­ra­tion for Serv­ing Time? How long did it take for Serv­ing Time to ger­mi­nate into a full fledged tellable tale?

Serv­ing Time start­ed out as a short about 15 years ago. When I was a teen, I spent much of my free time jot­ting down short sto­ries. In fact, I have two full-length nov­els from when I was around 15 or 16, but I’m too embar­rassed to even begin edit­ing them!

The sto­ry that even­tu­al­ly evolved into Serv­ing Time was about two broth­ers who made a liv­ing loot­ing derelict space ships. In the short, they quick­ly end­ed up on the system’s “Most Want­ed” list, and decid­ed to flee to Earth, where they knew the space author­i­ties wouldn’t be able to find them.

As a teen, I shelved the sto­ry when the broth­ers met Verin, a dis­con­cert­ing man who offered to help them escape to Earth, but who seemed to have a very dif­fer­ent agen­da in mind. Sev­er­al years went by, and the short sto­ry gath­ered some dust—but wasn’t for­got­ten.

When I fin­ished uni­ver­si­ty, I was ter­ri­bly frus­trat­ed with myself. I had had enough of doing what I was sup­posed to do. It was time to start doing what I want­ed to do! That was when I promised my char­ac­ters (who were giv­ing me for­lorn looks as they stood by and wait­ed) that I would tell their sto­ry.

The process of trans­form­ing the short into a 120,000 word nov­el took about three years, main­ly because at first I had no idea what I was doing. I had to learn the­craft. In June of 2011, I enrolled in a cre­ative writ­ing course, and in Novem­ber of the same year I joined Cri­tique Cir­cle, an online cri­tique group.

I was final­ly doing what I had always want­ed!

Then came the long hours of pound­ing at the key­board. And the changes—oh, so many changes!

Over time, names changed. The main char­ac­ters’ goals changed. The plot twist­ed itself into a knot. Some char­ac­ters slipped into obscu­ri­ty while oth­ers rose to the occa­sion and sur­prised me with their ver­sa­til­i­ty. Creepy crawlies grad­u­al­ly popped up in sev­er­al chap­ters. The plot evolved, and fan­ta­sy demand­ed a cen­tral role. I end­ed up wel­com­ing it into my sto­ry, and what a great deci­sion that was!

3. Of all of the char­ac­ters on your book, which one would you most want to befriend. Why?

I have a soft spot for Seth, the child­like own­er of the Robot Rehab in the space colony Ring­wall. He spends his days strip­ping old robots and using the parts to cre­ate new…well… Let’s be frank here: they’re abom­i­na­tions. But don’t get me wrong! They’re very cre­ative abom­i­na­tions! Every now and then, Seth adds a lit­tle something—shall we say…unusual?—to his robot­ic cre­ations, a dis­qui­et­ing habit that earned him the title of “can­ni­bal.”

He’s such a bright, chirpy and quirky char­ac­ter, and so absolute­ly obliv­i­ous to his innate creepi­ness, that you just have to love him! In my case, I’d love to spend a few days with him in the Robot Rehab and check out all the mon­sters he’s assem­bling. How­ev­er, don’t let his youth­ful appear­ance and easy­go­ing dis­po­si­tion fool you; there’s great poten­tial buried deep in that mind of his.

I love him so much…you can’t imag­ine how guilty I feel about every­thing I put him through.

Here you can see an inter­view with Seth.

Here you can catch a sneak peek into Serv­ing Time involv­ing Seth!

4. I’ve placed Serv­ing Time on my To Read list. It sounds real­ly inter­est­ing espe­cial­ly since it seems so much hap­pens in space. So, for that rea­son, I assume ST is a sci-fi tale. How did you han­dle the sci­ence in this sto­ry?

Indeed, Serv­ing Time is a soft sci­ence fic­tion tale. Although I adore sci­ence fic­tion, I’m not a big fan of hard sci-fi (my eyes tend to glaze over when­ev­er I encounter an entire para­graph of pure tech­ni­cal descrip­tion). I pre­fer char­ac­ter-dri­ven sto­ries to tech­nol­o­gy-dri­ven ones, and that’s exact­ly what Serv­ing Time is.

For the sake of cred­i­bil­i­ty, I did per­form exten­sive research regard­ing Mar­t­ian ter­rafor­ma­tion, trav­el dis­tances across the solar sys­tem, and the like—but I also left a lot of room for fan­ta­sy.

As we trav­el through the chap­ters of Serv­ing Time, we grad­u­al­ly notice that the sci­ence fic­tion world is infest­ed with an entire menagerie of unusu­al crea­tures, rang­ing from the (self-pro­claimed) demon mas­ter Robert West­brook, to the packs of demons rem­i­nisc­ing of bet­ter times, to the god­dess of Time her­self, as she strug­gles to keep every­thing togeth­er and make amends for her past mis­takes. Time is a vain crea­ture, and just admit­ting that she made a mis­take takes its toll on the entire uni­verse.

One of my all-time favorite authors is Robert Sheck­ley, whose wit­ty and humor­ous short sto­ries have cap­ti­vat­ed me for years. The col­lec­tion Untouched by Human Hands is absolute­ly mar­velous, a five-star read. While com­ment­ing on his work, Sheck­ley him­self once said: “I felt I wasn’t real­ly writ­ing sci­ence fic­tion.” Well, I can relate to that. While writ­ing Serv­ing Time, I some­times also felt I wasn’t real­ly writ­ing sci­ence fic­tion; my char­ac­ters just hap­pened to live in a cou­ple cen­turies in the future! With the uni­verse a cler­i­cal mess, it’s clear that many of the ele­ments in Serv­ing Time are pure fan­ta­sy.

5. What do read­ers have to look for­ward to in the next install­ment of Serv­ing Time?

I’m not going to reveal if Tris­tan and Eneld reach Earth safe and sound—you’ll have to read Serv­ing Time to find out! How­ev­er, I will tell you that our heroes are in for one heck of a jour­ney, and things just seem to get more and more com­pli­cat­ed as they go. The adven­ture will take an unex­pect­ed turn and con­tin­ue in book two:Making Time.

As I men­tioned in a recent blog hop, Mak­ing Time is a “sci-fi expe­di­tion into Hell.” Expect mon­sters. Dozens—no, hundreds—of them! Expect adven­ture and chal­lenges, and maybe even a tad of romance.

Mak­ing Time is almost com­plete. The plot is planned from begin­ning to end; I just need to wrap up sev­er­al of the final chap­ters.

Click here to see a WIP Blog Hop post about Mak­ing Time!

Thank you very much for the inter­view, Khaal­i­dah! Before say­ing good­bye, I’d like to invite you all to my Goodreads give­away for a chance to win a free signed copy of Serv­ing Time! Just fol­low the link to enter.

No, no. Thank you for join­ing me. It was a plea­sure and an hon­or. Good luck Nadine!




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Blog – News and writ­ing tips






The Reason I Don’t Watch the News


Granada, de Cine This morn­ing as I was head­ed to the kitchen to pre­pare a late break­fast for my fam­i­ly I stopped for a moment to catch a par­tic­u­lar­ly com­pelling bit of news on an inter­na­tion­al news chan­nel. There was this loop­ing reel of footage that kept show­ing the body of a tiny girl wrapped in a white sheet. She was dead after hav­ing been bru­tal­ly raped by two men who had kid­napped her. This footage also showed the poor girl’s shell shocked par­ents. Their grief was pal­pa­ble.

This is why I don’t watch the news.

Accord­ing to the news report, the kid­nap­ping and rape of young women is near­ly epi­dem­ic in India which is sec­ond only to the Unit­ed States. The reporter inter­viewed young women on the streets of India regard­ing the recent pas­sage of laws that would mete out severe pun­ish­ments to any man con­vict­ed of rape. This was all com­pli­cat­ed by the fact that the num­bers of women who are actu­al­ly will­ing to report the crime are min­i­mal due to the shame of hav­ing been the vic­tim of such a crime. Yes, the vic­tim is shamed and blamed.  The per­pe­tra­tor? Not so much. This is misog­y­ny at its worse, when it is woven into the very fab­ric of the cul­ture. It is sad, unjust, and plain hor­rif­ic.

This is why I don’t watch the news.

But, just so we don’t point blam­ing fin­gers at India, or some coun­try in the Mid­dle East, or any oth­er so-called third world coun­try we’d like to pre­tend is so much less pro­gres­sive than we are in the West, misog­y­nis­tic ideals and a whole host of oth­er cross-cul­tur­al cross-soci­etal ills is as broad and diverse as the peo­ple who uphold and abide by them.

It doesn’t mat­ter the coun­try or cul­ture because peo­ple are peo­ple, and not all of us are good. And of those of us who are good, not all of us are com­plete­ly good.  Sim­ply, we live in a world of most­ly good inten­tioned peo­ple, but amongst those good peo­ple is anoth­er more insid­i­ous ele­ment that we should all be afraid of.  They are there.  We don’t know who they are but, we work with them and go to school with them and we talk to them while wait­ing in line at the reg­is­ter.

Why don’t I watch the news?

Because it makes me angry, and because it scares and sad­dens me. Watch­ing the news makes me lose faith in the world and the peo­ple in it. And, I’ll sound a lit­tle Sybil-ish here, it also gives me a tiny bit of weird hope. In our ever shrink­ing glob­al com­mu­ni­ty we are learn­ing more and more about each oth­er and as such we are slow­ly elim­i­nat­ing mis­con­cep­tions about peo­ple who are dif­fer­ent from us. We are shar­ing the best of our­selves and hope­ful­ly doing away with the worst. As long as there is an Earth with peo­ple liv­ing on her face, we will see ugli­ness and injus­tice and error, but things can be bet­ter, right? This is my hope.

This also brings me to the top­ic of my writ­ing. My major WIP, Bilqis, which will be book one of the Hin­ter­land Chron­i­cles, echoes much of my woes about the state of the world we live in, per­son­al and glob­al.

I am for­tu­nate to have had extreme­ly few open­ly racist or anti-Mus­lim expe­ri­ences in my life. I’ve had peo­ple say some incred­i­bly asi­nine things to me, but I’m not hyper­sen­si­tive and I can gen­er­al­ly deter­mine the dif­fer­ence between mal­ice and igno­rance. With that said, we all know that racism still exists and anti-Mus­lim sen­ti­ment is per­va­sive and in many instances hearti­ly accept­ed. This is what the Hin­ter­land Chron­i­cles address­es.

What I’ve attempt­ed to cre­ate is a world/society that is scarred by reli­gious tur­moil and racism, much like our own. Imag­ine that the gov­ern­ment, with the best of inten­tions, has tried to solve the issue of reli­gious and racial divi­sive­ness by out­law­ing the prac­tice of any faith. Imag­ine that those peo­ple who per­sist in reli­gious obser­vances are pun­ished, ostra­cized, and eject­ed from the major cities. Imag­ine that they are forced to make their lives scav­eng­ing off the land which is a vast waste­land.

What do you think would hap­pen?

I’m still work­ing on the first draft, but it is dif­fi­cult to write about issues of faith/religion with­out sound­ing as if I am preach­ing and pros­e­ly­tiz­ing, which I am not. I pray that I am suc­cess­ful.

We should absolute­ly mine infor­ma­tion from our expe­ri­ences and the world for our writ­ing.  This includes the news.  I sup­pose I’m sim­ply not strong enough to tol­er­ate it… or to say it in a more for­giv­ing way, I’m too sen­si­tive. On sec­ond thought, it isn’t an alto­geth­er bad thing is it? Aren’t most writ­ers and artists intu­itive deep think­ing indi­vid­u­als?

If they’re not… shhh. Don’t ruin the illu­sion. I kind of like it.