In Which We Are Concerned With a Bear

A particular bear, in fact.  I was introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh at a very young age(and, being a fan of the A.A. Milne books even more than the Disney films, I can’t help writing the name with dashes the way Milne did).  I saw the Disney film “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” in the theater when it was released as a feature in 1977.  I was six years old.  “Now We Are Six”, the title of Milne’s third book reminds us, and when I first saw Pooh and his friends on the big screen, I was.

It was shortly after seeing the film that my mom tracked down the books for me at the library.  I devoured them, and Mom and Dad eventually bought me my own hardcover copies of each.

From that point on, Pooh became a fixture in the landscape of my imagination, and his friends from the Hundred-Acre Wood–Piglet, Rabbit, Tigger, Owl, Kanga, Roo, and of course Christopher Robin–right along with him.  They never left.

I grew up, to be sure, but my love for the books and films (and at least one animated TV show) about Milne’s beloved bear persisted.

But why?

Well, people who know me could tell you that I do my level best to keep in touch with my inner child, and that, as a writer primarily of science-fiction, fantasy and horror stories, my inner child gets to come out and play more often than some people’s might.  And all that is true, but that’s not the whole story.

There’s room in the Pooh stories for growth: they’re built that way.  They’re readable as stories about animals, for a child.  But they’re also stories about friendship, and about the spectre of what happens when one friend leaves another.  Particularly, the shadow of Christopher Robin’s growing up hangs over all of his adventures in the Hundred-Acre Wood.  Growing up, the Pooh stories tell us–whether on the page or the screen–is inevitable, and unavoidable.  Pooh lives with the constant fear that, one day, when he does grow up, Christopher Robin will forget him.  It’s the same poignant fate that powers the pathos of the classic children’s song “Puff the Magic Dragon.”    Christopher tells him, though, that he will never forget him, even when he’s a hundred.
How old shall I be, then?” Pooh asks Christopher.  “Ninety-nine.”

And it’s the power and the promise of the adult not forgetting the child he once was, or the things and people he loved when he was a child that allows “Winnie the Pooh” to have its persistent, persuasive magic.  I think it’s a magic that sustains itself whether one is seven, or forty-seven; nine, or ninety-nine.

There are other qualities in the books and the cartoons that give them depth and value, and have led, I believe, to their persistent appeal both to kids and to the adults they grow into.  Pooh and his friends have recognizable human qualities, even archetypal ones.  Pooh calls himself a Bear of Very Little Brain, yet he’s the one who, with his simple wit and patience, who usually finds the right answer even when the supposedly ‘wise’ Owl cannot.  Piglet is a tiny creature and cowardly on the surface, but he’s usually the first to confront any loud noises in the dark of the wood.  Tigger, although boisterous and constantly boasting that he’s a loner, needs his friends perhaps more than any of the whole group.

The depth of the characters in both the Pooh movies and the books led to a book called “The Tao of Pooh” by Benjamin Hoff, in 1982, in which Hoff used the Pooh characters and their attendant archetypal qualities to explain the Eastern philosophy of Taoism.  A sequel was later written called “The Te of Piglet.”

So ,”The Why of Pooh” is the question I’ve been more frequently asked, and the answer for me is this: like Jeff Bridges’ character of “The  Dude” in “The Big Lebowski”, Pooh abides.  He persists.  He waits, and he transcends his audience, and yet also accompanies them, from the simple and delightful woods of childhood make-believe, into the thicker and darker forests of adulthood.  And whether we are nine, or ninety-nine, he waits for us, and he doesn’t forget–and in that persistence, he allows us to keep remembering, too.

 

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Spotlight on Nicholas Yanes

 

In this edition of Portals and Pathways, the spotlight falls on my friend and fellow Council Tree Productions colleague, Nicholas Yanes.  Among other things, Nick is the guy who always does such a great job with the articles the Sci-Fi Pulse website features, from time to time, about my work (and the work of others).  I’ve also come to find that Nick and I share a devotion to creativity as a craft that must be worked at, a drive to put in the time it takes to achieve in the craft, and an obsession that sustains us through the times when the world looks at us like Nimoy regarding Shatner, with eyebrow raised.

I’m glad Nick took time out of his busy schedule so we could have this chat, but that’s the kind of guy he is.  Here’s Nick!

Q: We met through our mutual friend Joel Eisenberg, and our common association with Council Tree Productions.  How did you get involved with Council Tree?

 

Short Answer: I noticed that Joel posted a call for pitches. A buddy and I had been working on an idea, and we decided to pitch it to Council Tree. Joel loved it, and has been working with us to develop it since then.

 

Long Answer: Before I started my Ph.D. program in Fall 2018, I knew that I wanted my dissertation to be about William Gaines, MAD Magazine, and EC Comics. Around this time, I learned that a movie about Gaines was in the works and being developed by these two people named John Landis and Joel Eisenberg. Wanting to talk shop with them, I made sure to look them up once a year just to see if I could interview one of them for my dissertation.

 

Sadly, I finished my dissertation and earned my doctorate before I could talk to Landis or Eisenberg.

 

Sometime after I graduated I learned that Joel had co-written this cool fantasy novel, Chronicles of Ara. I was working for Sci-Fi Pulse at the time, so I reach out to see if I could interview Joel about this book. The interview went so well that Joel was willing to talk to me about Gaines and EC Comics.

 

During our first conversation Joel learned about everything I had done so far and asked me, “How are you not represented by an agent yet?”

 

It was a small question, but it highlighted that Joel was impressed by my work and it meant a lot to me. It was a needed boost to my confidence when I was at a low point.

 

Since then, Joel’s learned that I’m always willing to help and that I’m reliable. So when he saw potential in the show my friend and I pitched him, I think Joel knew that I would be willing to put in as much work as he demanded of me.

 

Q: What current projects are you working on, creative and otherwise?

 

A: Academically, I’m working on a book about the TV show, Hannibal, with the brilliant scholar, Kyle Moody. I am also developing my dissertation into a book because the world needs more content about EC, MAD, and Gaines.

 

Other than developing a show with Council Tree, I am working on a collection of inter-connected short stories set in a supernatural Iowa.

 

Q: Give our Portals and Pathways readers a little sense of your background, if you would.  Is writing your full-time job?  If not, what do you do?  How did you get started writing?

 

A: Sadly, writing is not my full-time job yet. I’m currently juggling two to three jobs at a given time, in addition to writing articles, working with Council Tree, and applying for full time work.  My main gig has me at a local college helping students learn how to write and I’m also a private writing coach for person who wants to start a company that produces educational products. I’m also an excellent house/dog sitter. (By the way, being a dog sitter is great because it is like having a new pet dog every weekend.)

 

I had always been interested in telling stories but it wasn’t until I was finishing my Masters degree at FSU that I got hooked on being a writer in the published sense. This because I not only wrote my MA thesis on WWII era comic books, but I got part of it published in an academic book called, Captain America and the Struggle of the Superhero. After that seeing my name in print, I knew that I wanted writing and publishing to be a huge part of my life.

 

I actually became so motivated to publish that I got a book contract during the first of year of my Ph.D. program; this book would become The Iconic Obama.

 

 

Q: Are there any people you consider inspirations?  What is it about them that inspires you?

 

A: I’m inspired by anyone who has a great work ethic. One of the threads that connects all of my friends is that we are all these low-level workaholics who are always willing to pull all-nighters to get the job done. We love to party and hangout, but we all also know how to focus to get a job done.

 

I’m particularly motivated by this type of personality because this is what separates professional writers and creatives from hobbyists.

 

Q: Do you have any particular work rituals or routines?

 

A: My workday routine involves me trying to get out one page of content.  Due to the time requirements of work and staying fit, I’m lucky if I can just get a solid hour of writing in everyday.

 

On the weekends is when I can really produce. I tend to hang out at Ave Maria University’s library on the weekends. It is open to the public and is a great place to just write.

 

If I can’t make it to AMU, I will find a coffee shop that I can stay out for several hours while I write and develop content.  In addition to being home to several Starbucks locations, Naples, FL. also has two great non-Starbucks coffee shops that I love to write at: Second Cup and Kunjani.

 

Regardless of where I’m at, once I’ve gotten my coffee ready, my earplugs in, and a word file opened, I’m ready to get to work.

 

Q: What are two of your favorite books or films?

 

My two favorite books are The Devil in the White City and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay. Though one is non-fiction and the other is fiction, they both inspired me to rethink topics and time periods I thought I fully understood.

 

Q: Do you think the creative industries today—film, books, music, art—are too commercialized?  Which do you think is more important—‘making’ (as in the creative act itself) or ‘making it’ (commercial success)?

 

This question immediately made me think of this quote from Paddy Chayefsky (screenwriter of Network and author of the novel Altered States), “Stop thinking about writing as art. Think of it as work. If you’re an artist, whatever you do is going to be art. If you’re not an artist, at least you can do a good day’s work.”

 

Coming from the academy, I was constantly surrounded by tenured professors with guaranteed paychecks who preached against commercialized art and scholarship.

 

This is nice in theory, but once you realize that bills won’t get paid by a random interpretive dance, it becomes essential for creatives to begin to think of their creative work as work.  Once a person realizes this, it becomes key for them to think of how much time they invest in a project and what its ROI will be.

 

I’ve noticed that creatives who approach their work like this tend to not only have a more realistic understanding of their industry, but they are more willing to accept feedback and criticisms in order to improve their work.

 

Q: Any advice for beginning writers/creatives?

 

A: The best advice for writers and creatives I could offer is the same advice that other professionals have given to me: read a lot, write a lot, re-write/edit more, and be grateful for any feedback you get.

 

And more importantly, this is a marathon, not a sprint; so think in terms of years, not in spans of weeks and months.

 

Thanks for taking time to do this, Nick!

Spotlight on Kellie Freese

Todays Portals and Pathways spotlight falls on my friend and fellow Dark Moon Press author, Kellie Freese.  Kellie is a talented poet, a kind soul and a self-proclaimed ‘nerd’–three of my favorite kinds of people all rolled into one!  Let’s hear what she has to say.

 

Q::  When/how did you start writing?

A:  I honestly don’t remember a time I didn’t write. I wrote stories and plays when I was a kid and as I got older, I realised that I could only really communicate through prose and poetry. I literally threw poems at people and ran so I wouldn’t see their reaction! I’ve learned to use writing as more than just an emotional tool and I can actually write things purely for fun now! (Sometimes)

 

Q:  Do you like reading poetry?

A:  Absolutely. I read a lot of poetry written by friends,  and iI love the classics. Mostly Poe,  Byron, Yeats.  But I do like some modern artists as well. Love  Bukowski and Angelou). And some up-and-comers like Hilborn and Francisco.

 

Q:  What else do you like to read?

A:  Anything vampire!!! I like fantasy and science fiction. I’m a gigantic Harry Potter nerd! Mostly I love the good old musty stuff. I idolised the Bronte sisters growing up and Wuthering Heights is my all time favourite book!

 

Q:  Do you write other things?

A:  I do. Mostly horror fiction. In fact I have a story in (the anthology) Aftermath by Dark Moon Press called Zero. I also have a very sweet children’s book I hope to release at some point.

 

Q:  Favorite authors?

A:  Anne Rice is my favourite, hands down, but I have  very eclectic taste. My favourites run from Hawthorne to Rowling with many stops between!

 

Q:  How did you discover Dark Moon Press?

A:  I’ve been a fan of Eric (Vernor, the CEO of Dark Moon Press) ’s work for a long time.  I have many of his books and quite a few pieces of his art. Over the years, I’ve come to admire and respect him (and my fellow authors)  very much.

 

Q:  Do you have a writing process?

A:  I really don’t! I’d love to be able to say I have a schedule or ritual or something, but honestly, I just write what pops into my head. My stories and books tend to have a bit more structure during the writing process, but I don’t have a routine to speak of.

 

Q:  Any advice for other writers?

A:  Write! Just keep creating! Don’t worry about sales or popularity. That will come in time.  Have faith in what you’re doing and never give up!

 

Q:  Anything else you’d like to share?

A:  Just that I’m overwhelmed with gratitude.  For the opportunity to share my life’s work  I never thought I’d be published and now I have this tangible thing to share with others. I recently had the immense honour of Anne Rice purchasing my book! And for my wonderful husband and children and friends who have always believed in me, even when I didn’t. Im just amazed by what my life has become.

 

Thank you for letting me share!!!

Thank YOU for sharing, Kellie!

 

 

 

 

Spotlight on Lenora Rogers

 

 

Today’s Portals and Pathways spotlight focuses on author and blogger Lenora Rogers.  She’s been working for several years on her novel The Haunting of Simone, and she also has a fascinating blog that can be found at https://lenorasculture.wordpress.com/.  She’s a fascinating, friendly, talented and giving soul who’s been through a lot, particularly in the last few years.  Here’s Lenora.

 

1. How did you get started writing? I’ve always loved reading, especially history and the arts. I’ve been promoting authors for years and thought of writing myself but didn’t think I could. But a good friend named Victoria Adams encouraged me to start with a blog. Once my blog on history and the arts was set up, it grew fast. The next thing I knew, I started working on a historical fiction novel.

2. I know you have a large blog following. How did you develop your blog? I blog on things I’m passionate about like history and the arts. Seems there are many people interested too.  My blog followers grew rapidly.

3. What are some of your interests besides writing? Dance, painting, woodwork and many more.

4.I know that you’ve had some pretty tough health problems over the past few years.  Can you give an overview of what’s happened, just for our “Portals and Pathways” readers who don’t know? I had gastric bypass a year and a half ago and was also found to have gastroparesis, it’s where the nerve in your stomach help push your food into intestine which made eating almost impossibly. I went to a gastroenterologist and was also found to have hereditary hemochromastosis, an iron overload disease, also no cure like gastroparesis, so have phlebotomy treatments. I’m still strugging with health.

5. What are some of the things you do to offer support to other writers? I support writers by blogging and in my writers and readers group which has grown to over 21,000 members. I encourage writers of different genres to blog each other.

6. If readers who see this want to donate, how can they help? I have a gofundme link for donations. https://www.gofundme.com/lenoras-food-and-medical-expenses You can also donate on PayPal at chrmeldan3@yahoo.com or send a gift card by mail. It has been difficult trying to get healthy. I need help with meds and medical equipment and food and repairs on my car.

 

  1. What other activities do you enjoy? I love to go metal detecting with my brother on historic places. I’ve been working on my family genealogy for years. I help feed my elderly neighbors when I can.

 

  1. Any favorite authors you can tell us about? Favorite types of books? Music?  One of my favorite authors came by accident. I found a set of books that were translated from French to English in the 1800’s by author Honore de Balzac. I enjoy reading from many authors and doing reviews. I love to read horror and nonfiction. I love classic rock, blues, jazz and classical music.

 

  1. Do you have any advice for beginning writers? Follow your heart and find what your passions are. Just start writing when a story comes to you and don’t worry about spelling and other errors….fix that later. Writing and reading are one way I help keep my mind off being sick and getting depressed. It may work the same for you.  Also, always post reviews for authors to show your support.

 

Thank you so much, Lenora!

SPOTLIGHT ON ANGEL RAE

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Today, the Portals and Pathways interview spotlight falls on my friend and fellow Dark Moon Press author Angel Rae, author of such books as the novel Magick Man and the nonfiction Conversations with the Dead.  She’s a kind soul who believes that connection is more valuable than isolated self-interest, and I agree with her!  Welcome, Angel!

When did you decide you wanted to be a writer? I know, a cliched question—but everyone’s answers are always different, so it’s always worth asking

I have written poetry and short stories since I was a teenager but never considered being an “author” until I was approached by Eric Vernor. So, technically, the “urge” to be a professional writer didn’t come until three years ago!

What do you like to read? Have your favorite authors impacted your own work in specific ways?

Spiritual Nonfiction, Paranormal Nonfiction— Paranormal Romance (fiction) Erotic Novels.  J.R. Ward and Christine Feehan have been huge influences on my style of writing fiction novels.

Do you have any favorite books? 

Nature Speak & Animal Speak & Animal Wise by Ted Andrews.

The writer’s craft is often a solitary one.  Is there a value in community for a writer—writer’s support groups, online writing groups and the like?  What do writers stand to gain from interacting with other authors?

I have found author groups to be quite beneficial, in many ways. I love watching the achievements of other writers, feeling excited for them. What they can do gives me fuel to go after my own goals. Authors that support each other, expand together!

How did you find Dark Moon Press? It found me. I wasn’t even looking for a publisher! I was seeking information on how to get a book printed out or self-publish through by asking Michelle Belanger. She had a friend that owned Dark Moon Press and was more than happy to help me get started on getting my book into print form but asked what my book was about. I explained what I wrote and was soon asked to send my work to the owner, Eric Vernor. A few months later, I was a published author!

You use the pen name Angel Rae. Why Angel Rae and nor Angel Vaow?

Very few can pronounce my last name correctly and my middle name is Rae. When asked what I wanted my name to be, I panicked because I hadn’t thought about any of that! Again, I wasn’t planning on publishing any of my work! So, I thought quick and chose my first and middle name. I could have used my whole first name, but again, I didn’t want to take the chance on people not knowing how to pronounce it right. It’s Angelica, by the way!

What’s a subject you haven’t tackled yet that you’d like to write about? Horror! No doubt!

How would you feel about a film or TV adaptation of one of your books? Elated! Although, my fiction is quite “steamy” and unless it’s put on HBO or CINEMAX, it would be “chopped to bits” and I wouldn’t be happy about that!

Do you listen to music when you work? If so, what kind of music?  If not, why not? After several attempts at this, I cannot. I end up singing and losing focus. I’ve tried listening to Native American flute and drumming music, which I love to listen to, but again, lose focus if it’s a really good song. No music for me. Just throw on Netflix, pick a show and let it play in the background. But, it can’t be a new show that I haven’t seen. It has to be something I’ve seen a million times or it distracts me from writing.

Do you have any advice for writers who are just starting out? Don’t stop at one! Keep writing! Even if you can’t finish a book, move onto another, then go back to the unfinished one. Dedication is key! If you truly want to make a career out of writing, then the time must be put into it as if it’s a full-time job…with no vacation or sick days! Journal everything! Characters, scenes, places, names, topics, titles for future books–everything!

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Spotlight on Kevin Eads

Today’s spotlight falls on novelist and teacher Kevin Eads, a fellow author of mine at Dark Moon Press.  Kevin’s an incredibly prolific guy with a lot of great, and frightening, ides–but I’ll let him tell you.

Tell me a little about how you got started writing.kevineads

I probably started writing when I was young as I had quite an imagination. It stemmed from growing up on a 40 acre farm in northern Indiana. I was drawn to the spooky and usual. I moved to the city in high school and started rapping. I even recorded three songs…two were used on an independent horror movie soundtrack. After finishing law school, I was inspired to start writing again, and I started writing horror screenplays.

 

After meeting Eric, (Eric Vernor, Dark Moon Press CEO and founder) I started to write short story collections and novels to submit to him, and now, 20 some books later, I am still at it.

You write in a number of different genres. Do you have any particular favorite authors?

While I write mostly horror, I have dabbled in pulp fiction as well, writing short stories with old 1940’s style private detectives.

 

My favorite author is probably Ian Fleming. I absolutely love the James Bond novels. I thoroughly enjoyed the way that Mr. Fleming could tell a story.

 

I also enjoy Edgar Allen Poe. When I was teaching, I always read the Tell Tale Heart to my students before I started class.

 

One thing that I don’t like is an author who uses too many words to describe anything. I don’t want to read a book that is 1000 pages long. You will lose my attention. Keep it simple but keep it interesting.

 

How did you find Dark Moon Press?

 

 

Eric Vernor was a student of mine at the college where I was teaching. He had recently started Dark Moon Press. We started chatting after class and connected with a love of classic horror films. I talked to him about some of my ideas and he was interested in publishing me. I was happy to work with him.

 

I will never forget when my first book “The Amulet of Elisabeth Bathory,” came out. While it is not what I would consider one of my best books…as I have improved with each and every year, holding it in my hands was an amazing feeling. I don’t think I can ever really describe what it was like to hold that first book, only that it was amazing.

 

I actually hope to start my own little publishing company one day, having been inspired by Eric’s work here at DMP. It would be something completely different though, as not to compete against a good friend of mine.

Is there a type of writing you haven’t tried or a subject you haven’t tackled that you’d like to take a shot at?

I had started writing a coming of age comedy set in a grocery store, but I was not able to finish it. I also took a stab at writing an action story, but have yet to finish

I like to play to my strengths, which are largely horror. I add to it of course and have elements of comedy in the stories as I find horror amusing. I also have added romance and political thriller elements to other stories as well.

What’s your favorite way to promote your work?

 

I like to promote my works in whichever ways I can connect with the fans. I love doing radio interviews and podcasts. I also love going to book signings and horror conventions.

 

What’s the most important piece of advice you have for new writers?

The first thing that I would say is not to give up. Getting started is rough and can certainly crush your ego at times. The creative process is difficult, challenging and rewarding. Focus on the reward at the end…keep your eyes on the prize. Also, find a good editor, and listen to them. Don’t let it hurt your feelings, instead, use what they are telling you to create a great work of art.

Do you have a particular writing process, or does it vary depending on the genre or subject you’re working with?

It really depends on what I am writing. When I am writing fiction, I run certain ideas through my head at night before I go to sleep. As I have a wild mind and imagination…I don’t sleep well. I probably spend an hour or so at night running the ideas through my head. I do this many nights before I am finally ready to get behind the computer and start writing.

 

If I am working on non-fiction, much of what I am doing is research. Just like when I was in law school, I have to motivate myself to get behind the computer and pull up some books, and start the research process. Don’t get me wrong, when I get started, I enjoy what I am doing. It can just be a challenge to get started.

 

Do you have a favorite book?

A favorite book…no I do not. I have quite a few that I like. As I mentioned before, I love all of the Ian Fleming James Bond novels. I find them all an exciting read. I also loved the Raymond Benson James Bond novels that followed in the 1990’s. Mr. Benson tells a story that makes me feel like I am reading Fleming.

 

As far as horror book though, I would have to say Stoker’s Dracula. I find it fascinating how he told a story through letters, diary passages, and newspaper clippings.

 

What are some of your interests besides writing?

I enjoy watching old classic horror movies, which should come as no surprise. I enjoy making beer and traveling, especially day trips to wineries, breweries, zoos, amusement parks, and museums.

 

I think again all that I described as interests helps inspire me as a writer.

What do you think is your greatest strength as a writer, and what one area you most need to work on?

I think that my greatest strength is that I never have a lack of ideas. I have been told by many people, including those who have worked in Hollywood, that I have many outstanding ideas. That though leads to my weakness. I am not a patient person and in the past I had put together stories before they were ready. It is something that I have obviously worked on. I also lack patience waiting on editors.

 

 

Spotlight on Eric Vernor

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This time, the spotlight falls on my friend and my publisher, noted author, occult researcher and Dark Moon Press CEO Eric Vernor.  Eric’s a kind and fascinating individual with a broad range of writing interests and an unbeatable work ethic.  Welcome to Portals and Pathways, Eric!

 

  • How did you get started writing? Do you have any specific literary influences?

 

I started writing back in 2004 with Embracing the Darkness: Understanding Dark Subcultures, when I interviewed people of different alternative lifestyles, like Goths, witches, Satanists and other interests like modern primitives, black metal enthusiasts and BDSM. This was in part to dispel misconceptions that ‘different than normal’ was evil, as a guide for parents, teachers and law enforcement in order to understand the people they might encounter in their careers and also partly a historic reference for those in the culture to better know the particulars of their own background. It took off and I kept researching and writing other dark genres, like the paranormal, vampire history and other related topics.

My literary influences are Gavin Baddeley, who wrote Goth Chic and Lucifer Rising: A Book of Sin, Devil Worship and Rock’n’Roll, because he tackles similar themes in a journalistic fashion. Other influences of mine are Michelle Belanger of The Psychic Vampire Codex, and the fiction series Conspiracy of Angels. I am a big fan of Rosemary Ellen Guiley also.

 

  • Do you have a process for researching a topic for a new book?

 

Since the vast majority of my work is academic research or ‘dark sociology’, I typically start with an introduction relating my own reason for having an interest in the topic, then I begin with the oldest known reference to the subject and bring it forward into modern popular culture, while citing various books for citations of my facts and in order to bring it down to a relatable level , I make mention of contemporary films for my reader to connect the with the material.

 

  • When did you have the idea for starting a publishing company of your own, and what do you think are the advantages of that versus publishing with someone else’s company?

 

It sort of happened by accident. I didn’t want the stigma of its time period in being a ‘self-published hack’ because I didn’t want an editor’s mighty red pen to strike out one of my interviewees section, so to keep my material mine, I created an imprint called Dark Moon Press. An early mentor, author and now dear friend named Michelle Belanger designed the logo so it would look like a publisher put it out. It became successful and I kept writing, which eventually attracted more authors. Now in twelve years, we have branched out from occult books to science fiction, true crime, romance novels and paranormal with over forty authors, and 240 titles and sell in fourteen countries that I know of.

 

In being a publisher myself, I have much more freedom in what my book looks like, when it comes out (six months as opposed to two years with a typical publisher) and since I have been published elsewhere, I have a better understanding of what my authors needs are, and what isn’t being done for them that I can provide. As a small press, I can be more directly in contact with them for input, as well as direct contact with distribution like Amazon, stores , and libraries, which translates to faster sales, which helps all parties.  My writers get to help develop their book, from fonts, cover art input and get networking resources like radio interviews, lists of conventions and writers tips from me I share, because most of the time it is a sink or swim job. New authors don’t realize that their career is in their own hands, no matter who publishes you. Being a New York Times level Stephen King is nearly impossible, so I created a writers’ success course and book, So You Want to Be a Successful Writer, to pass on my decade of experience learned the hard way on how to make a good living off being creative instead of working as a labor of love at a hobby, while slaving away at a day job you hate.

 

 

  • How would you describe your work ethic? How did you develop that?

 

My work ethic is roll out of bed, check email and social media, then after getting back with fans, authors and buyers, I place orders for the day and throw myself into cover designs, book formatting, updating my web designer so she can build the publishing site quicker, and then any free time after that I devote to writing my own books, which amounts to roughly six per year.

 

I developed my work habits by trying to create a system that was efficient for a business and yet gave me time late at night to free my mind of the demands of publishing, so I could be creative without distractions. I paint to be more free flow creative; to loosen up (and it sells via social media to fans), so I am not bogged down with research all the time. I tell people, writing the type of books I do keeps my interest varied, but the method of doing it is much like a thesis paper in college that never stops, so you need something to unwind with.

 

  • Do you have any particular music you like to listen to when you work?

 

I avoid music while writing because it takes all my focus to not make mistakes, unless I am painting, in which case I love Nox Arcana, Evanescence and Nightwish. Melodic Goth music helps my mood and art flows easier.

 

 

  • What about your artwork? How did you get started with it?

 

I was always interested in art.  I come from an artistic and musical family. I started off with the Bob Ross method around ten to master backgrounds, and then incorporated figure study and portrait techniques into it to create fantasy and Gothic art, occasionally erotica.

 

 

  • Do you have any particular influences in the visual arts?

 

My influences in art are classical Renaissance artists for realism, and in the modern age, my friend Joseph Vargo was an early influence who taught me his stone techniques (it was a proud moment in my life when he agreed to write the introduction in my art book), the artist Brom, Frank Frazetta, and Luis Royo.

 

 

  • Do you have any advice for someone who wants to have a successful career in a creative field?

 

Never give up on your dreams, first off. Master your skills; either find teachers and mentors or use books and YouTube tutorials to develop techniques. Read the life stories of successful people to get inside their heads; the motivational thinking they share will keep your chin up during the lean years. Do it because you love it, perfect it, and learn marketing and social media tricks. Nobody can just get accidentally discovered; they work hard and get noticed because they fought for it.

 

 

  • What are your goals for the coming year?

 

To grow my business so that 75,000 libraries carry my company’s titles, that all my writers earn a good living doing what they love, and to finish my eighth book of the year. I also want to finish a horror film starring one of my writers, Hollywood actor Robert LaSardo (Nip Tuck, Death Race) and convince Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes, Z Nation)  he needs to take the role I offered him at a couple conventions ago! With Robert and John Dugan (Texas Chainsaws ‘Grandpa’)  already signed, Dark Asylum and its sequel, Hell Hospital, should take off in 2019.

 

 

  • What do you think is the best thing you’ve written?

 

I think Haunted Asylums is one of my best, but I also have a special place in my heart for Embracing the Darkness: A Decade of Darkness, which brought my debut book full circle in a retrospective new edition.

 

 

  • Bonus Question: You do a lot of personal appearances every year. Why do you think this is valuable?  Is it something you would recommend to other writers?

 

Absolutely needed. Without getting out there and meeting fans you miss that personal touch. Fans want to see you, shake your hand, and get that autograph with a smile to connect with you. The networking is vital to your career also, I have meet movie and television stars, the majority of my authors I sign were because I met them at events, and you can always learn tips at events from others who have been doing what you do.