It's All Connected

by Jennifer 20. January 2015 09:49

For a very long time, I, like many young readers, didn’t know or understand much about publishing. I went to bookstores, picked up books that I thought I’d like to read or borrowed books from the library. I didn’t know much about different publishing houses or even the difference between traditional publishing and indie publishing. It wasn’t until I began writing and submitting stories that the difference became clear. I also realized how connected everything really was, especially in the speculative fiction side of publication.

 

From the outside, publishing seems to be a wild and crazy industry, and it can be. At first glance there’s a mad rush of stories to fit into select spots in anthologies, publishing houses and magazines. There’s tears on occasion, sometimes anger and shoulders to cry on along with virtual high fives, congratulations and cheers. It can be a scary place at times, especially for a new writers. But with some time and some mentoring things begin to make sense.

 

There’s many different types of publications in the world of speculative fiction. If you start at the top, there’s the traditional publishers--the ones that most people are familiar with on bookshelves. These brick and mortar companies have stables of authors, warehouses of books and thousands of customers. They often carry books with familiar themes or characters.

 

Indie or independent publishers are often thought of having a smaller fan base and books that are a bit more difficult to find but that isn’t always the case. Some indie publishers have a wide distribution list that includes bookstores. Even though they might not be as well knows as the big 5 publishers, many indie publishers have a very strong and loyal fan base. They are often more willing than the larger publishing houses to take a chance on a new sub-genre or a unique piece of literature. Many indie publications have found a niche and cater to a particular corner of the market.

 

And while most people think of publishing as books, we should not dismiss the importance of magazines. In speculative fiction, there are many popular magazines both in print and online. While few only print publications have survived through the years, online magazines--often referred to as ezines--have grown in popularity. Some have subscriptions but many are free. They offer a wide variety of stories that are often thought provoking and well as entertaining.

Even though speculative fiction seems to be segmented into the big publishers, indie publishers and magazines, it’s really very connected. What happens on one segment often has implications in other portions. For example, an upsurge in a particular type of story often begins in the magazines and indie publishing houses. Once it catches on, the large publishing houses are more willing to take a chance on something new. Other changes, such as contract negotiations often start in the larger publishing companies (though not always).

Authors and editors often wear several different hats according to what publication they are working for at the time. Authors often have short stories in magazines, while writing novels for larger publications. Editors often work for a variety of employers including indie houses and guests in ezines. New writers often get to know the business by volunteering for positions such as slush readers, public relation positions and internships. As writers gain experience, they often lend a hand up to newer writers, offering the same types of advice they received when they started out.

So while yes, speculative fiction publishing might seem complicated it’s mostly because of how connected everything is. Once you dive in, it’s much less scary.

~The Shadow Minion

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AIP Holiday Gift Exchange

by Jennifer 12. January 2015 11:27

Apocalypse Ink Productions decided to do something just a bit different this year for the holidays.  Instead of exchanging gifts among our authors, we decided to have the main characters of our series exchange gifts. Now I know it’s a bit after the holidays, but you do have to remember some of these characters are on the run or are difficult to contact so their responses are a bit delayed. (Plus the Shadow Minion was sick.)

 

Trinidad received a gift from Karen Wilson.

It was just a brown cardboard box—perfectly ordinary except for one key detail. It was addressed to her. Trinidad had never received an unexpected package before. Pre-arranged drops and trails of dead letters were more her style, in truth. Karen had gone above and beyond.

 

“Brilliant, gyal.”

 

Trinidad grinned, pulled out her knife, and sliced through the tape. The box sprang open. The first item was a jar of lotion—something she could always use. Winter was particularly hard on her skin. Freezing wind and dry heat seemed to conspire against her. She tried a dab of the cream. “Lovely.”

 

The rest of the box was filled with arm warmers. Trinidad chose a pair with black and turquoise stripes and slipped them on. They’d keep her toasty and her fingers would still be free. Pretty and practical was a winning combination.

 

Trinidad grabbed her coat and the remaining knit sleeves. She only needed one pair, after all. The city would help her find others out in the cold. It would be a fine thing to pass along the joy of a surprise gift and she figured Karen would approve.

 

Her steps were light as she headed out for what would surely be one of the best walks of the season.

 

Darien received a gift from Trinadad.

Darien went to the door shortly after the knock, opening it just in time to see the UPS man leaving. He offered out a shout of “Thanks!”, to which the driver waved over his head without turning around to look back. Darien wasn’t surprised – he couldn’t imagine just how many deliveries the man had to take care of today. He wondered, did UPS hire extra drivers for this time of year, or did they just make their current drivers work longer hours and hopefully get paid overtime? He shrugged and picked up the box, carrying it back into the kitchen.

 

Putting the box down on the table, he looked at the return address on it, curious who knew that Susan and he were staying here. They had tried to keep their location a secret, only telling a few choice people they could trust. The name on the return label read Trinidad O’Laughlin, and he snapped his fingers in recognition. Susan had reached out to Trinidad after meeting up with her online discussing supernatural forces. She was insistent that Trinidad was someone they could trust, and Darien trusted her instincts. Although, why was Trinidad sending him a package?

Darien grabbed a knife from the butcher’s block and sliced through the tape. It was a few days after Christmas anyways, so there was nothing to wait for. Inside was a note that simply read “I had a feeling you would need these.”

 

The first item that he pulled out was a five pound bag of trail mix. It was labeled as high octane energy mix, and that title made him smile. If there was any way to describe his life after realizing what he was, it was definitely high octane and energetic. Hell, he barely was able to manage keeping track of his life himself, and he was the one living it. This would be immensely helpful if they needed to go on the run again. For weeks, this type of food was all that he, Susan, and Richard had survived on. Considering that he was getting that itch again that it might be time to run, this was quite serendipitous. Did Trinidad know more than she let on?

 

The second item in the box looked like a key. It confused him at first until he turned the package over to read the back of it. According to the description, it was a multi tool disguised as a key that could be used as a screwdriver or a knife. Given that it would fit easily onto his key ring and not be as obvious as a Swiss Army knife, this could come in handy. Even if it was small, you could never underestimate the value of having a knife on you at all times.

 

He’d need to send a thank you to Trinidad for her gifts, or ask Susan to send her a quick message. But he still couldn’t help but get the feeling that these gifts were not just for the season. Something in the back of his mind told him that they were an indicator of things to come. Perhaps he should get back to work on that escape plan, just in case it was necessary.

 

Gordon received a gift from Darien.

This is fantastic, Darien - it's got a wonderful heft to it. Edge is nice and sharp. I wish I could say it wouldn't come in handy, but I have a feeling you got me just what I'm going to need on the trek West.

 

As to friends, well ... I'm full of them. ::smiles:: But he'll make a great addition. Happy holidays and best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful New Year!

 

Karen received a gift from Gordon.

The package arrived at the Kendrick’s Historical Library instead of to Karen’s home. That, in and of itself, was unusual. Then, it was from Gordon. She shook her head. With all that was going on with him, it was amazing that he feel the need to send out gifts this year. Then again, little things. And with her casual acceptance of his personal brand of weirdness, she supposed he’d appreciate that.

 

She read the note attached before she opened the package.

 

Hello Karen - Happy New Year!

 

I apologize for the lateness of this package. We were hitching through Kansas around the holiday proper, and you wouldn't believe how long it can take to get to a FedEx.

 

I know you're a wired person, but with your new work in the library and the number of people you seem to keep track of, I thought this might be a helpful accessory. Consider it a low-tech backup for a busy lifestyle ... Kate Spade's still a thing, I hope?

With that, she ripped into the brown paper and saw Gordon’s thoughtful gift. Karen grinned at the notebook. “Well, I did just say that I needed to chronicle my adventures for the library. This is a perfect way to start.”

 

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News About Town

by Jennifer 7. January 2015 13:28

AIP is pleased to congratulate Dylan Birtolo on achieving active membership status in SFWA.

AIP is also pleased to congratulate Jennifer Brozek on her forthcoming short story collection, Apocalypse Girl Dreaming, from Evil Girlfriend Media.

AIP author Peter M. Ball has some great advice for a young writer at his blog.

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2014 was a good year

by Jennifer 1. January 2015 08:55

2014 was a good year. We published 4 novels and 2 novellas.


Also, we acquired the Cross Cutting trilogy by Wendy Hammer.

In 2015, we plan to publish:

  • The Torn Soul, Sheynan #3.
  • Chimera Incarnate, Karen Wilson Chronicles #4.
  • Crusade, Flotsam #3.
  • Famished: The Ranch, Gentlemen Ghouls #3
  • The Thin, Cross Cutting #1.

Not a bad plan, eh?

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Urban Fantasy Roundtable for Under an Enchanted Skyline

by Jennifer 27. December 2014 10:08

The authors of Under an Enchanted Skyline box set ($0.99, available only until Dec 31st), participated in an urban fantasy roundtable. AIP authors Jennifer Brozek and Peter M. Ball have the first books of their respective series in this box set of urban fantasy. It's a great time to see if they, or any of the other authors, suit your fancy.

Most Urban Fantasy stories focus on magical creatures and entities. Even so, ordinary people still play important roles within the story line. Do these “normals” have much of an impact in your story…and if so, in what ways?


Erik Scott de Bie: As a superhero adventure, Eye for an Eye is a bit of a black sheep: it features exactly one character with magical abilities—Lady Vengeance. In addition to her high-tech hero opposite, Stardust, the story features a series of mundane characters, including The Raven, who is the tech-based vigilante you’d get if you combined Iron Man and Batman, and Elizabeth Stevens, Stardust’s non-superhero wife, tech company tycoon, and the smartest person in the whole novella.

Phoebe Matthews: Always. It is the normals who have to solve the problems created by magic and by paranormals. Sorry, no superheroes here.

Django Wexler: Yes, definitely. Again, a common UF trope is that the protagonist is in some way special, somewhere between the monsters and the normals so he or she can serve as a guide to the fantastic for the readers. In the John Golden stories, this is literally true, since John’s only real power is to transport himself to the fairy burrows and back again. But since fairy burrows run on real-world computer systems, he has to deal with the “normals" who build and maintain them – system administrators, executives, users, and so on. He’s more or less an exterminator, since fairies are a nuisance!

Janine A. Southard: As the collection’s compiler, I don’t have a story in this boxed set. I have, however, had the chance to read them all. Each author in this bundle blends fantasy characters into the normal world, or vice versa. There couldn’t be a super-natural adventure without a familiar jumping off point. In some cases the protagonists are as magical as magical can be, making their way in our normal world. In others, simply touching the magical world transforms a normal person’s experience.

Cedar Blake: Well, Luke and Chalice provide the impetus for Rachel’s “transition,” and Rachel’s rotten manager Margie supplies the push that gets her going. Her pal Ashli (inspired by a real-life friend of mine back when I lived in the Bay Area) adds an essential (in)sanity check for Rachel, and Kim the Yoga Girl acts as sort of a benevolent archon figure, watching over the point of transition and providing a small yet significant test as the hero steps from one threshold to another. So yeah – Rachel’s story could not exist without these key figures. “Normal” or otherwise, they provide foundations and activities that make everything else possible.

Jennifer Brozek: Absolutely. The mundane people in a story become the “everyman” characters that the Reader can identify with. They are the normal people who have to face extraordinary circumstances. Many characters in my UF series are normal people just trying to get by as they are affected by the supernatural events going on around them. Many times, they show that the normal person can be just as effective as the supernatural creature.

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Other questions and their roundtable answers are with: Phil, Erik, Phoebe, Doug, and Janine. This was a great roundtable. And I hope you all enjoyed it.

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Happy Holidays!

by Jennifer 23. December 2014 09:46

All of us at Apocalypse Ink Productions hopes that you are having a very merry holiday season. We appreciate every single one of you.

For those of you who might be alone at this time of the year, twitter has the #gloaming, a virtual campfire where people, like me, will be hanging out to trade stories and share company. Come on by if you'd like.

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Why Novellas?

by Jennifer 16. December 2014 08:40

When most people think of books, they imagine a typical 250 page novel that can be picked off the shelf at a local book store or shopping center. While some might be thicker and some thinner, most of the titles are an average size. But what most people don’t realize is stories come in many shapes and sizes.

  

Authors generally estimate the word count of their stories, and as they progress in skill they can closely identify if a story is a flash (1,000 words), short story (1,000 to 10,000), or something a bit larger. Most novels are around 75,000 to 150,000 words but there’s this grey area between 10,000 to 75,000 words that are called novelettes and novellas.

 

Some stories warrant a full 100,000 words but others don’t. Many very well known authors such as John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway and even Stephen King realized this and used the novella--or short novel form--to tell stories. Sure they could have filled the pages with more information or descriptions, but they felt that the best way to tell this particular story was to keep things focused on what was necessary.

 

While novellas has been very popular in the past they fell out of fashion.They became harder to find except for already published works but the last few years has seen a re-emergence of these types of stories. Novellas are perfect for our on the go lifestyle as you can pick them up during the day and be finished in a few hours. You can also slip a slim paper edition into your purse or bag or use them for a quick gift.

 

Apocalypse Ink Productions feels that the short novel is the perfect form for the stories we offer our readers. We found these action packed, engaging stories worthy. So if you like some dark or urban fantasy with a little bit of horror mixed in, give our authors a try.


Don't forget! AIP is having a winter sale. Code: WINTER2014 gets you 20% off your entire order.

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AIP acquires CROSS CUTTING from Wendy Hammer

by Jennifer 30. June 2014 09:46

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Apocalypse Ink Productions is proud to announce they have acquired CROSS CUTTING, the novella trilogy (THE THIN, THE HOLLOW, THE MARROW) from Wendy Hammer. This dark urban fantasy is set in contemporary Indiana.

ABOUT CROSS CUTTING'S MAIN CHARACTER:
Trinidad O’Laughlin is a Walker. She has the power to magically bond with a place and call to it for aid, but without a territory to call her own—she’s adrift. Trinidad grew up on the shores of her namesake island and in Ireland, but it’s cities that call to her. Trinidad travels to Indiana in search of a home and the possibility for romance with Achilles Vetrov, a clairvoyant bass player she knew years ago.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Wendy Hammer grew up in Wisconsin. She has English degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Ball State University. She now teaches literature and composition at a community college. Her stories can be found in Pantheon Magazine’s anthology Gaia: Shadows and Breath, on Liquid Imagination, and in Plasma Frequency. Another will appear in the forthcoming anthology: Suspended in Dusk (Books of the Dead Press). Wendy lives in West Lafayette, Indiana with her husband.

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RPG Bard: RPG Book Creation for GMs, Writers, and Fans

by Jennifer 21. June 2014 08:22

Check out the new RPG Bard Kickstarter project. RPG Bard allows authors and GMs to create beautiful roleplaying game books for D&D 5.0, 4.0, 3.5, Pathfinder, Call of Cthulhu, and other game systems, then save them out to PDF for immediate use, sharing, or online, print, or print-on-demand sales. Our book "Industry Talk: An Insider's Look at Writing RPGs and Editing Anthologies" by Origins award-winning author Jennifer Brozek will be part of the backer rewards, along with four titles from other award-winning authors.

Here's a cover example.

 

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Genre Talk: Dark Fantasy

by Jennifer 18. June 2014 09:15

Speculative fiction covers a very broad range of literature from sword and board fantasy to the monsters that keep you up at night. Most of the time a story will be pretty clear cut as to what it can be classified as, but some stories sit in between two genres.

 

When we think of magic, many people think of brightly colored fairies who grant wishes. Bad things don’t happen when magic is involved, does it?

 

Horror might seem simple, but it’s one of the most complicated genres to write. It’s a genre of making you care about someone or something then yanking it away leaving the reader shaken.

 

What happens when you mix the two?

 

Imagine a story where fairies trick children into leaving their homes and take them back to the hollow hills only to be slowly devoured by the very creatures that promised to save them from a dull normal life. Or, murder victims have been found in the city and it’s up to a detective to not only find the murder but stop him before he completes his rituals to open a portal of darkness.

 

Stories like these can be classified as either fantasy or horror but most often sit in a sub-genre called dark fantasy. Dark fantasy combines elements of the fantasy genre such as magic with darker elements such as monsters. Often these stories have a more grim setting and very little humor. Dark fantasies also often have a sense of urgency, as things must be stopped before it is too late.

 

While the term dark fantasy is probably relatively new, the genre isn’t. The original Brother’s Grimm stories were as dark and fantastic as they come. Many of our modern fairy tales are softened renditions of these dark stories. H. P. Lovecraft wrote about magic and monsters in his tales. If you’ve read Elric of Melnibone, you’ve tasted the dark words of Michael Moorcock.  Even Stephen King has dabbled in dark fantasy in his Dark Tower series. Many movies such as Pan’s Labyrinth, the Dark Crystal, and Legend also deal with magic and dark themes.

 

Like much of speculative fiction, dark fantasy gives us glimpses not only into fantastical worlds but the strength of the human spirit as it faces surmountable odds. These stories gives us hope that even when things seem darkest, persistence and hope can turn things around. It’s an important thing to remember when we look at our world today.

 

So if you like magical elements and dark themes give some dark fantasy stories a chance. Perhaps you’ll find a new favorite genre to enjoy.

 

~The Shadow Minion

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