Saturday, July 23, 2011

Welcome to "Ask an Author"

Welcome to Ask an Author, formally known as We have a brand new name and new web presence. However, we have the same mission to provide writers seeking publication with the opportunity to ask successful authors questions. These authors will not only offer advice, but will blog with writing tips, as well. Unpublished authors can read about and learn from the how-to success stories of those who have made it in the publishing world.  If you have a question, simply leave it as a comment and your question will answered as quickly as possible, by the nearest, available published author, sometimes your concern will be addressed by more than one author.




Diana's Success story

I began writing after I retired from the Navy, AGC(AW). I quit counting rejections at 100 as I deducted that I knew how to earn a rejection. :) So, I continued to take writing courses on-line, to attend chapter meetings, and to keep my focus on my dream of becoming published.

After 9 1/2 years, I was 3/4 through my 11th novel when I received "The Call" from Kate Duffy and Sulay Hernandez for my 8th novel. It was an amazing day. I didn't yell or anything, but cried. Once I calmed, I read my prepared note near my writing desk to the editors, "My sincere thanks. Can you please explain what your offer is." I wrote everything down, then I thanked them for their time and told them I would get back to them in the next day or so. When my kids came home from school, I shared the exciting news. Then, I called several writing friends, culled sage advice, and a couple of days later I negotiated a two-book contract.

To date I've sold four novels, have acquired an amazing agent, my books are sold worldwide and have been translated into Portuguese and Thai. I'm now working on proposals for the last two books in the MacGruder brothers series. In 2012 I'm traveling to Scotland for a book signing tour. Some of my goals include being a NYT Best-Selling Author, owning a summer home in Scotland, and best, to sponsor an entire home for Habitat For Humanity!

His Captive/Alexander MacGruder
His Woman/Duncan MacGruder - 4 star Romantic Times review - 2009 Booksellers Best Finalist
His Conquest - Pre-Order now! / His Destiny - Nov 2011

Diana Cosby

Hal's Story

Hal Bodner is the author of the best selling gay vampire novel, Bite Club.  He tells people he was born in East Philadelphia because so few people know where Cherry Hill, New Jersey is located.   The first person he saw in his life was C. Everet Coop, future US Surgeon General, who delivered him.  Thus, Hal was ironically destined to become a heavy smoker.
    He moved to West Hollywood in the 1980s and was only induced to leave when he found a Fab-U-Lous hundred year old mansion in Highland He is currently going through the hair-pulling Hell of renovation and restoration.
  Hal has been an entertainment lawyer, a scheduler for a 976 sex telephone line, a theater reviewer and the personal assistant to a television star.  For awhile, he owned Heavy Petting, a pet boutique where all the movie stars shopped for their Pomeranians. Currently, he owns an exotic bird shop.
    He has never been a waiter.
    He lives with assorted dogs, and birds, the most notable of which is an eighty year old irritable, flesh-eating military macaw named after his icon,
Tallulah.  He often quips he is a slave to fur and feathers and regrets only that he isn't referring to mink and marabou.  He does not have cats because he tends to sneeze on them.
    Rapidly approaching middle-age, he remembers Nixon.
    He got "married" very late in life to an incredible man.  Sadly, after five amazing, if turbulent, years he was widowed and can sometimes be found sunbathing at his husband's grave while trying to avoid cemetery caretakers screaming at him to put his shirt back on.
    In Flesh and Stone is Hal's first crack at paranormal erotic romance and he enjoyed writing it immensely.  For Love of the Dead is the erotic paranormal zombie romance that "they" all said couldn't be written; so, of course, Hal just had to write it!
    At the moment, he is putting the finishing touches on his new trilogy of gay superhero novels while, at the same time, pulling his hair out over his first science fiction novel.  Along with Stoker Award winning author, Lisa Morton, Hal is launching a new e-publishing website, Phantom Hollow Publishing, which focuses on horror and "out there" paranormal romance.

Kody's Story

My path to publication literally occurred within a few months. After I started to take my writing seriously in late 2006, I began to submit my work to multiple publications, using the advice offered from publishers and the input of friends in order to hone my craft. Within six to seven months, I had landed my first tentative acceptance with my story [A] Prom Queen's Revenge. After engaging in dialogue with the webzine's editor, Cindy Rosmus, and completing the edits she asked of me, my first story was published within the next few months. In all, it took me only one year for Prom Queen accepted for publication after its initial conception. Nearly four years later, I have been published over thirty times and have a short story collection coming out and two other novels scheduled to either be written or released. I guess I'm what you'd call an 'instantaneous success.' It takes some people years to get published, while some never do because they're unable or unwilling to explore alternative mediums of publishing. I had a goal in mind when I began to get serious about my writing--I wanted to be published, I wanted to be known. Once you have something in mind and are willing to make it a reality, you're almost always able to accomplish it. All it takes is a little determination and a lot of willpower.
Kody Boye
Dark Genre Writer

Rhiannons story

My road to the Tor book deal was not the one usually traveled. Don’t get me wrong. I tried for years to find my way into publishing through traditional means. I met with a great deal of rejection because I was basically doing everything wrong. I didn’t realize that at the time and stopped writing for several years, discouraged with the process and drained of all hope.

A few years later, a friend of mine started editing for a small press. She remembered I had a vampire novel in progress (more like on indefinite hold) and offered to help me get it ready for submission. The publisher wanted to see it as soon as it was done, so it seemed that I would finally get my foot in the publishing door. I set about rewriting my vampire story (it needed a lot of work) and was happy to have someone guiding me.

It was about this time that I had a vivid image come to mind one day while I was at work. I saw a woman, in a pink bathrobe, long hair flowing in the wind, standing on her front porch, staring down at tiny fingers pressed under the door desperately reaching for her. I knew instantly that it was the first day of the zombie rising and that her zombified toddler and family were trapped in the house. She was the lone survivor and in shock. That is how I came to meet Jenni. I took a break, wrote a quick “short story,” posted it to a forum, and went back to work. I had never written a zombie story before and I was surprised how easily it had come.

The response on the forum was very positive and people asked if I was going to continue the story. I sat at my desk and wondered if there was more. It was like the scene from the Matrix when they jack in and get a massive download of information. Suddenly, the whole story was just there…just sitting in my mind…just waiting to be written.

Over the next two years, I wrote the story in “mini-chapters” and posted it online. It garnered a huge following. I was surprised to have a growing fanbase that clamored for more and reviewed the chapters as they were posted. When the epic zombie tale was done, the fans wanted it published so they could own their own copies.

The small press interested in the vampire novel had closed their doors before I even finished the rewrite, so I knew I had to buckle down and send out query letters. My query letters suck. They really do. They’re awful. I was turned down over and over again. Yet, the fans kept begging for the story to be published. I was receiving emails on nearly a daily basis. The fans just couldn’t understand why a big NYC publisher wasn’t snapping up the story.

It was my husband who sat me down and said, “Look, with all the new media taking off, we can publish As The World Dies ourselves.” I was very resistant to the idea, but the more we researched, the more possible it seemed. I already had a fanbase waiting, a blog that I could use to update the fans, we knew artists, and had friends who could edit. As the last round of rejection letters came in, it made sense to go our own way. The fans were waiting.

As The World Dies ended up as a trilogy. It was over 1,600 pages long when I finally compiled the entire thing and over 300,000 words. It was enormous. Luckily, there were places in the story where we could cut it and make it into three books. As The World Dies: The First Days was released August 14, 2008. Sales were slow the first month, but within three months the book had caught on and it hasn’t truly slowed down since. It has garnered very good reviews from the horror community ( gave it four stars). Because of the strong female protagonists, Jenni and Katie, the books have gained a large female following, as well. The Hathor Legacy, which highlights strong women in media, gave it a very good review, and Rainbow Reviews also gave it a great review, concentrating on the bisexual character of Katie. Bitten by Books has given the first two books glowing reviews.

As The World Dies: The First Days won the 2008 Dead Letter Award for Best Book (Fiction) and was named one of the Top 10 Best Zombie Novels of the Decade in December 2009.

As The World Dies: Fighting to Survive, also received positive reviews and won the 2009 Dead Letter Award for Best Book (Fiction). As The World Dies: Siege was released on August 14, 2009, completing the trilogy.

The TV/Film rights for the series were optioned in September 2009 and the paperwork was signed at Horror Realm in Pittsburgh where I was attending as a guest author. The producer is currently working on trying to bring the books to TV. He had approached me about the film option in May 2009 and I liked his vision. Since the option was signed, I have been approached by other directors, producers and screenwriters about the option.

Permuted Press, an indie publisher that is now co-publishing books with Simon & Schuster, had approached me soon after the release of the first book about publishing all three novels. I had considered the offer then refused it, feeling I needed to give the Indie Author route a good shot before giving up. After the Tor deal was announced, the publisher for Permuted Press told me I did the right thing turning him down.

Right before Horror Realm I was approached by another publisher (who shall remain nameless). Luckily, I had an entertainment lawyer (due to the TV/Film option) and he advised me to find a literary agent after hearing the offer (yeah, it was that lackluster). He offered to refer me to literary agents he works with and I agreed.

Within a week, I was mailing off copies of my novels to Hannah Brown Gordon, literary agent from Foundry Literary + Media in New York. It was just another week before I heard back that she liked what she was reading. Within two weeks, we had a phone conference and she offered to represent me. I discussed it with my husband and I signed on with Foundry right before Thanksgiving.

Over the Christmas holidays I compiled all my reviews, interviews, awards, etc and sent the whole package to Hannah. She wrote the pitch and put together the package in January. In the last week of January, she pitched As The World Dies: The First Days.
On February 8th, we got word that Tor was interested.

March 15th we had a good deal for all three books.

The moment it all became real was when Senior Tor Editor, Melissa Singer, sent me an email that read “A Deal! We got a deal!”

In all my dealings, not once did the fact that I had self-published work against me. If anything, the fact I had a fanbase, an author’s platform, solid sales, good reviews, and support from the horror/zombie community worked in my favor. I have actually been congratulated on my success and Tor has told me they look forward to building on the foundation I laid.

To think I self-published to make my fans happy and inadvertently ended up fulfilling my greatest dream.

Margaret's Success story

First, Find Your Publisher!
I was writing for nigh on twenty years before I was published, and possibly longer – can’t remember exactly.
 Have you heard of these crazy people who write all the time? They weave stories and then after editing and re-writing, they hide them away in a cupboard, a drawer or a suitcase under the bed. That was I – my hiding place was an old battered suitcase.
 I was, and I guess still am, a compulsive writer. I couldn’t stop. I could write anywhere, on the top of a bus, in a train rattling along at speed, secretly at my desk in the various offices I used to work. Nothing came between my imagination and me. What happened to me? Now I have to have my trusty computer and have to be sitting at my desk. Madness.
 Then I met John. We met on a blind date and I remember the very first thing he did was make me laugh. He carried on doing that for almost thirty-eight years. If anyone could get me to laugh, it was the man I married.
 Truthfully, from other boyfriends I hid my secret passion for the pen and ink but it’s hard to keep such a secret in a marriage. “What you doing?” he asked me. We were living in St Tropez at the time (that’s another story). He was out working all day; I was never sure what time he would get home so I hadn’t time to hide my scribbles away. “Writing,” I said.
“Writing what?” he asked.
 You couldn’t lie to John. He couldn’t tell a lie, even a white one, so it’s very hard to do that to someone so honest. I fessed up. “So what you going to do about it?”
“Let’s see about that.”
 John read my stuff, considered it good enough to be published. But no, I didn’t write something publishable straightaway. I kept putting it off, but John nagged. Eventually, three years on I started to go into it seriously. But first off, I realized what I had to do was “find a publisher” Not any publisher but the type of publisher who published the kind of material I wanted to write.
 That’s how I discovered Robert Hale. I studied the local library shelves and saw that Hale  published the kind f book I wanted to write, so I set about writing a novel. It was a contemporary romance. It was away from me for six weeks and then it came back. Lots of chewed nails happened between the novel going and its return. Oh dear, my heart sank. That blinking John, I thought, I knew I would never be a “published author!”  However, there was a letter, not just a rejection slip. The publisher wrote that the book was not quite right but if I had anything else…
 Well I made it my business to have something else. Changing track I wrote an historical romance and guess what…Bingo…yes please, they would buy it. Delirium. I am not sure who was the happier, John or me; let’s say it was neck and neck!
Now I have written twenty-three novels – and my latest, due out in October, will round that up to twenty-four. Does it feel different now from when I was first published? No, of course not, the excitement of someone wanting to buy my work is still there. It never goes away. Only now it’s tinged with sadness because John died in January. No more bottles of champagne and toasts before a candlelit dinner but I know that somewhere, somehow he is celebrating with me.
 So there you have it – the best advice I can give is first find your publisher. Make sure you are sending your novel to the publisher who is publishing that kind of material. No good sending a super thriller to a publisher who only publishes biographies.  Do your research and then…go on you know you want to mail it off.
 Margaret Blake
Beloved Deceiver
Eden's Child
Fortune's Folly
Published by Whiskey Creek Press.