Guest Blog: What Scares a Horror Author?

by Jennifer 6. October 2015 14:00

Oh, dear.

I wish I feared the things in my books. Eternal damnation or creatures from beyond the veil. I wish ghosts and aliens made my hair stand on end. Honestly, however, they don’t.

Given my publisher, I wish the apocalypse gave me pause, but no dice. I watched The Day After in grade school, and while I later understood why it was such a big deal, even at the time it seemed kind of silly to worry about it.

Even threats that are all too real – serial killers, drone strikes, and mass shooters – don’t really scare me. I mean, I’d be scared if I knew that one had targeted me. I’d be even more terrified if someone I love was a victim of one.

Nevertheless, as with the end of the world, I learned early on that worrying about unlikely things (and by the numbers, these things are unlikely) does more harm than good. To spend your life preparing for a disaster that never comes is counterproductive, if it gets in the way of enjoying your life in the moment.

I know. Hello, ants. Meet the grasshopper.

No, none of those things worries me.

I won’t share the one thing which terrifies me above all else. To do so would be paradoxical; this may give a clue in and of itself.

Instead, let me speak of L’appel du videThe call of the void. The unlovely language of science and psychology calls it High Place Phenomenon; but the French philosophy is so much clearer and more true.

At its most basic, this is the urge to jump off of a tall bridge, or building. I used to think it only happened to me, that it was the apex of a certain tendency toward self-destructive activities; but I’ve learned that it’s a widespread phenomenon.

That helps, somewhat. It makes things seem more rational.

It doesn’t help when I’m there.

The last time it struck me was here, in Door County, Wisconsin. Adamant that I could overcome it, that this time would be different, that I am a grown man who needs to face his fears, I insisted on climbing to the top.

Once there, Leanne tells me I was simultaneously shaking and paralytic until I had to sit down, where I couldn’t see over the railings. I barely remember that. I just remember looking at the treetops, and picturing them rushing past me. Looking at the rocks and feeling them scrape against my skin as my body rolled down the ravine. I remember that my hands hurt gripping the railings tight on my way back down, wincing as merry children raced past me on their way up.

Per Kierkegaard’s The Concept of Anxiety, the anxiety of individual freedom and responsibility causes L’appel du vide. The fact that one is free to make any decision, even the most terrifying, triggers immense feelings of dread.

Kierkegaard called this our "dizziness of freedom," the ability to make any choice we want at any time in our lives. That terrible sense of freedom, and the consequences it carries, lies at the heart of my greatest fears.

Read into my writing whatever else you may wish. This one’s now a given.

~Ivan Ewert, author of the Gentlemen Ghouls series.

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Author Etiquette: Dealing with Disappointment

by Jennifer 28. September 2015 12:00

Apocalypse Ink Productions started our segment on Author Etiquette earlier this year and it has been a great success. AIP loves authors, we wouldn’t be in this business if we didn’t and we want to do our best to help support authors.

Almost every author I’ve encountered has had a dream of being on the NYT Best Seller’s List and earning a six figure income. It does happen sometimes, but for the majority of writers, it’s a struggle to keep going forward. Most authors have to split their time between a day job that pays bills and the quest of writing the breakout story. Over time dreams begins to fade as the rejection pile grows and many authors begin to wonder if their stories are good enough and even if they should be an author in the first place.

Being an author is possibly one of the most difficult occupations out there. If you ask for advice you will find there’s a thousand ways to write a story and none of them are right and none are wrong; every author follows a different path to success. What works for one won’t work for another. It’s difficult to point at a particular road a new or struggling author should take when they are feeling down.

It’s normal to feel disappointed when you get a rejection. But sometimes it weighs on you. After a while many authors begin to feel as though they are imposters
people who pretend to be in an occupation. It’s a very common form of doubt that plagues many creatives.

So what can you do about it?

Let Other People Know

For many authors, it’s difficult to let other’s know that we are feeling down. Afterall, we get to play in these interesting worlds and let our characters do amazing things—what do we have to be sad about?

Plenty, but we don’t have to hold it in. Confiding in a close friend, family member or even an open post on social media, can let others know that you are struggling. Establishing a support group is essential to help creatives handle the ups and downs of what we do.

Take a Step Back

Sometimes we get so caught up in the process of creating, editing or rewriting, that we forget that there’s a lot more going on in the world. Take a night or weekend off away from your story and even the internet. Go outside for a long walk in the sun or go out with friends for a fun evening. Even a short break such as watching a show with friends or family can help set aside the disappointment and give you a new outlook.

Sometimes you might even have to take a longer break. A short recharge might help for a little while but sometimes an author might need to set the writing aside for a week, a month or even longer, before they feel ready to face submissions and the results. It’s okay to feel you need a longer break. It’s necessary sometimes but don’t forget to come back.

Try Something Else

I know many authors who are creative in other fields as well. Some like to knit and crochet, while others draw or create jewelry. By changing your focus to another outlet, you sometimes get a different perspective on those rejections. You might just let your subconscious work out an issue or figure out what story will be next.

If you aren’t sure you have other creative skills (and yes everyone does they just may not want to let other people see them) then volunteer for some slush or beta reading. Look at your own bookshelf for something you’ve not read yet. Stop worrying about your own writing for a little while.

Talking with a Professional

But sometimes talking with your support group or even taking a break doesn’t relieve the feelings of disappointment. Sometimes those feelings get deeper and darker.

If you, a friend or relative, is dealing with more than simple disappointment, then it may be time to talk to a professional. Depression is a very serious health issue that can be helped by physicians and counselors. Sometimes medication is the answer. For others counseling makes a difference. Getting help is the first step to relieving that dark weight that looms over you.

Disappointment doesn’t have to strangle your creativity. Asking for some support, taking a break, doing something new and sometimes contacting a professional health provider can help you when you are feeling down. A

The bad news is we all suffer from disappointment at some point or another.  The good news is, we’ve all been there before.

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OryCon and SF Authorfest 9

by Jennifer 23. September 2015 10:25

It's official, Apocalypse Ink Productions will be at Portland, Oregon's OryCon 37 (Nov 20-22) in the dealers room. We'll have all our new books, including our signed, limited edition books from Dylan Birtolo and Peter M. Ball. Also, Jennifer Brozek will be on hand to sign her books as well as make an appearance at SFAuthorfest 9 on Nov 22, from 4-5pm at the Powell's Beaverton location.

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The Sheynan Trilogy Omnibus is Released!

by Jennifer 15. September 2015 09:20

Apocalypse Ink Productions | Amazon
DriveThruFiction | Barnes&Noble
Note: The hardback signed limited edition of this book is only available on the AIP website.

This dark urban fantasy adventure by Dylan Birtolo is an omnibus of three novels: The Shadow Chaser, The Bringer of War, and The Torn Soul, and features three new short stories.

The Shadow Chaser:  Darien Yost is a young man haunted by blackouts and vividly realistic dreams. When mysterious strangers start to appear, claiming that he has a power which makes him unique, he finds himself entangled in their world; a world of shape shifters. Soon, he is thrust into the middle of a centuries long war, and must master his ability before either side claims him... as an asset or a casualty.    

The Bringer of War: Months have passed, and the Arm of Gaia and the Shadows still struggle to control Darien’s destiny, attempting to use him to tip the balance of their war. But Darien has embraced his power. He and his allies have gone on the offensive, hunting down those who are trying to enslave him. Meanwhile, another renegade shifter has appeared, trying to pull Darien away from his friends for reasons of her own.  

The Torn Soul: Time is running out for Darien. As new players and new dangers enter the scene, Darien must confront his past, and convince the Arm of Gaia and the Shadows to work together against a new enemy—before his mind is lost to the Sheynan’s curse.

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Author Etiquette - Promoting Without Annoying

by Jennifer 25. August 2015 09:48

Welcome again to another edition of Author Etiquette. Apocalypse Ink Productions started this segment a few months ago and so far it’s been a great success. AIP loves authors. We wouldn’t be in this business if we didn’t; but we have seen situations blow up that could have been prevented with just a little bit of patience, communication and common sense.  Whether you are a new author or a pro, it’s sometimes handy to have a small reminder on how to handle a situation before it it gets ugly.

It’s exciting when you receive an acceptance and even more exciting when that short story or novel goes live. In order for those sales numbers to rise, it’s important that as many people as possible are aware that your book is out. It’s very tempting to make several posts about your new work on every social media site and spam your followers, but that’s not a good idea. Many people get annoyed if you are continuously promoting your new work without a break.

How do you balance the excitement but not annoy people?

There are several things you can do to help you promote your novels, short stories or other projects. Most are simple but they do take a bit of effort and planning. Some of the most popular are blog hops, book review sites and giveaways. These events are fun and often draw in more readers than you could on your own.

Blog hops and tours
Many writers have blogs of their own and are always searching for content. Most are amiable to allowing other writers to post about themes, writing styles and new works. By asking a group of authors to allow you to post on their blogs you can schedule several in a row and create your own book tour without leaving home. This is often referred to as a blot tour or blog hop. In many cases, several authors agree to post on each other’s sites. New readers are drawn in and many times you can pick up more followers and new fans. This works best when you pick authors who write within the same genre or subgenre as you do but sometimes crossing genre boundaries does work well too.

Book Reviews
Getting your book on a review site takes more work. Review sites often have large, dedicated audiences. Some readers follow reviewers religiously and consider reviews when picking up new books. It’s a great way to connect with new readers but it has drawbacks. While many reviewers are happy to have your book, they are often overwhelmed with the amount of requests for reviews. If you are lucky one out of twenty will get to your book at some point. In some cases, it could be months before you get a review.  On the other hand, even if they can’t write a review, review sites often post author reviews and guest posts so it is worth it to contact them.

Everyone likes winning, that’s why giveaways are very popular events. Planning a giveaway event can be as simple as having people comment on a post or as complicated as following a blog hop to gather clues for an entry. Apps such as Rafflecopter can make your life easier by collecting names and email addresses. Or you could go with simple and pull a name out of a hat. No matter what type of event you plan, make it fun and exciting. For best results, combine a blog hop or a post on a review site for a giveaway. And if possible, have several smaller prizes and one big prize.

There are other ways of promoting your work such as cross promotions with other projects, establishing a team to assist you or even hiring someone to handle promotion. All of these take time and coordination but they are successful ways of reaching more readers. No matter what direction you take, your goal is to reach people not annoy them.


THE THIN has been released!

by Jennifer 15. August 2015 08:19

Cross Cutting series #1
Apocalypse Ink Productions | Amazon
DriveThruFiction | Barnes & Noble

Trinidad O’Laughlin is descended from Wardens—guardians bonded to a territory by magic. She shares the gift, but has no place of her own. A distress call from Indiana may give her a chance at one—if she can survive long enough to take it.

Indianapolis is afraid. Twisted creatures known as The Thin have cut into our world and are preying on its people. The city can’t fight the monsters alone and Trinidad doesn’t have much time to forge a connection strong enough to make a difference.

The race, and the fight, is on.

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THE THIN Cover Reveal

by Jennifer 6. August 2015 09:50

THE THIN, Book 1 of the Cross Cutting trilogy by Wendy Hammer to be released on August 15, 2015

Trinidad O’Laughlin is descended from Wardens—guardians bonded to a territory by magic. She shares the gift, but has no place of her own. A distress call from Indiana may give her a chance at one—if she can survive long enough to take it.

Indianapolis is afraid. Twisted creatures known as
The Thin have cut into our world and are preying on its people. The city can’t fight the monsters alone and Trinidad doesn’t have much time to forge a connection strong enough to make a difference.

The race, and the fight, is on. 

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Author Etiquette: Be Careful What You Say

by Jennifer 21. July 2015 08:44

Welcome again to another edition of Author Etiquette. Apocalypse Ink Productions started this segment a few months ago and so far it’s been a great success. AIP loves authors. We wouldn’t be in this business if we didn’t; but we have seen situations blow up that could have been prevented with just a little bit of patience, communication and common sense.  Whether you are a new author or a pro, it’s sometimes handy to have a small reminder on how to handle a situation before it it gets ugly.

The past year has been difficult for a lot of authors. We’ve witnessed several situations where writers have found themselves cornered by either what they’ve said, what they’ve participated in (willingly or not), and what they’ve done. Not all of it has been intentional and some of it has been carefully orchestrated to put the author in a bad light. But friends have been put in the spotlight and it hasn’t always been comfortable.

Some authors are very open with their opinions and post them regularly on social media and their blogs. They feel comfortable with their views and want to share them. Other authors purposely pose discussion topics on their feeds to encourage discussion especially with current hot topics. These authors understand that these discussions can cause backlash and are prepared to deal with it. Not all authors are.

Even though authors use words, what we put on a page on the first round isn’t always what we want to say. Most authors write several drafts of a story before sending it out for publication. By then we’ve carefully picked words and phrases selected to clarify our meaning. However, posting on the internet, especially social media can leave the author open to uncomfortable, embarrassing and sometimes damaging discussions and arguments simply because they posted a comment that wasn’t clear or touched on a hot topic and may not have thought out what they want to say.

When an author shoots from the hip and makes a quick comment, they may not always be as clear as they would like to be. This can lead to misunderstandings as to the intent of the post. Compound that with social media—where a discussion could be broken up by several posts and conversations—things can get taken out of context or completely misinterpreted.

This is why every author should think carefully about what they say and how they say it especially when dealing with touchy subjects, prickly people and delicate situations.

Usually you are safe posting about neutral things such as pets and kids and normal daily activities. But other subjects that have the potential to cause trouble such a personal opinions must be handled more carefully. Even choosing to participate in a discussion that someone else has started can be a point of potential trouble. A seemingly innocent question could be a baited trap, to either test out the social or political position of the writer or to lead into an argument. It’s a common ploy especially in the age of internet trolls. And you never know who’s watching.

Some authors choose to lay low and not participate in many of the volatile discussions. It can be safer that way, especially if the author does not feel comfortable engaging in arguments. But sometimes you do have to respond. If you feel you have a position where you need to make a comment do it carefully. Write out your response before hand. Craft it to say exactly what you mean. Use clear and concise words. Keep it short. Then set it aside.

Most authors will admit that they’ve wanted to join into an argument or discussion, wrote out a post then waited for a few hours or days before deciding whether to post or to delete it.  Sometimes the discussion dies down on its own and no other action is needed. Othertimes the post—with a few revisions—is necessary to either keep the position fresh in people’s minds or make your position on the subject clear.

But even if you are careful, sometimes either you slip up and say the wrong thing or someone misinterprets what you wrote. What do you do?

First of all, own up to a mistake. If you owe someone an apology, do so as quickly as possible and preferably in private where you can discuss the situation. If you’ve posted the wrong information, make the effort of correcting it. Post an edit comment to the post where you apologize and try to make corrections. Don’t just edit the post so that the incorrect information disappears. This can lead to a lot of confusion as people try to find out what triggered the argument in the first place.

Second, don’t engage with trolls. There are people out there who simply want to start an argument and keep it going. There are several tactics that they use to do this. Learn to identify them and either ignore the argument or learn to evade the discussion.

When fronted by a trollish question or behavior, the best advice is avoidance. By not engaging in arguments and not answering baited questions you aren’t putting yourself into a position where your words can be twisted against you. If necessary you can block the posts so that you no longer have to see them.

Third, learn when to disengage. At times you will need to step back from the discussion. With certain topics, things can get heated very quickly. If you feel overwhelmed, back away. Let things resolve itself. If you need to engage again later, make sure to read through all posts so you can follow the entire discussion. If the discussion has concluded, don’t revive it unless you are prepared to handle a new influx of arguments.

Lastly, try to promote discussion. Hot topics can get heated very quickly and sometimes you will get caught in the middle between two sides. If you can, direct the argument into a discussion so that both sides can lay out the issues.  Don’t expect a resolution but hope for understanding.

We hope that none of you are put in the hot seat in an argument on the internet, but realize that it’s not always avoidable. We hope these tips help you when you are posting on the internet. Always remember that what is posted on the internet can be seen by thousands in just a few minutes. Be aware of what discussions you are participating in. Choose your words carefully.


CRUSADE Has Been Released!

by Jennifer 15. July 2015 09:33

Flotsam Trilogy #3
This is the final book in the series
Apocalypse Ink Productions | Amazon
DriveThruFiction | Barnes & Noble

My name's Keith Murphy. For nearly two decades, my partner, Danny Roark, and I hunted down the dark things that prey on normal humans. But, on what we thought was a routine job, something went wrong. Now the end of the world is coming at us like a freight train on steroids.

When Danny goes down, it's me who has to figure out what those fools left over from the Raven cult have planned.  It's a puzzle I've got to figure out before those doors open wider and real monsters—ones that my rag-tag, mostly demon, army can't handle—come through.

Roark was the one who knew about all this magic and end or the world stuff, not me. I guess I'll figured it out as I go.


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Endeavour Awards - Jay Lake

by Jennifer 13. July 2015 10:19

Last year, the writing community lost a very wonderful man. Jay Lake was a thoughtful, open and wonderful writer. He was greatly admired by many people and his loss is still felt today.


Apocalypse Ink Productions is happy to see that his writing legacy is still standing strong. Jay has been nominated for 3 Endeavour Awards this year. The Endeavour Award is given to a Fantasy or Science Fiction author residing in the Pacific Northwest. Nominations are collected through February and judged by a panel. Finalists are announced in July. In November at OryCon, the winners are announced.

Jay was author or co-author of the following books which have been nominated:

  • Last Plane to Heaven by Jay Lake (Tor Books)
  • Metatropolis by Ken Scholes and Jay Lake (WordFire Press)
  • Our Lady of the Islands by Shannon Page and Jay Lake (Per Aspera Press)

That Jay’s books has been nominated affirms that his writing has touched readers and authors everywhere. While he’s not here in body; he’s here in spirit.

If you would like to read more about  Jay Lake, please check out Jay Lake’s Process of Writing. It contains a collection of thoughts and blog posts from Jay as he begins his journey on becoming a writer. It’s a great reference for authors in every stage of their career.