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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Origins Game Fair

by Jennifer 8. June 2014 22:45

Apocalypse Ink Productions will be at Origins Game Fair with a table in the Library in the dealers hall. Jennifer Brozek and Dylan Birtolo will also be at Origins in the Library and on panels in the Writers Symposium. Be sure to come by, say hello, and get a book signed!

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Jay Lake

by Jennifer 2. June 2014 06:58

I thought a lot, yesterday, about how to make a professional blog post about the death of one of our authors, Jay Lake. In the end, I think the personal blog post I made just hours after I discovered that Jay had passed is the best thing I could have written.

“I do not want to read this on Tor.com. I do not want to write this about Jay. I don’t. I really don’t. But I have no choice. Jay is dead.

He wrote for me. My first anthology,
Grants Pass, when I was nothing and no one. He wrote for me every single time I asked him to. For the Edge of Propinquity. For small press anthologies and large.

He was my mentor for years before I published his non-fiction book,
Jay Lake’s Process of Writing. We talked by phone, by Skype, and at conventions. He was generous with his time and his advice. It was this wealth of knowledge that led me to ask him if AIP could publish a non-fiction book. It was then I learned so much more from him.

I can’t help but feel for his family, Bronwyn, Lisa, and the rest of those family members—by choice and blood—whose  names I just can’t remember though the tears.

All I can remember is how good he was to me and how much I’m going to miss him.

Radcon 2009 - Not the first time I met him in person but close to.

JayWake 2013.”

All of us at AIP will miss Jay. Our hearts and sincere condolences go out to his family.

 

9 June 2014 - This link was sent to me by Simon Owens: The Legacy of Jay Lake: the Novelist Who Blogged His Own Death. I think it is worth a read.

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Intereview with Dylan Birtolo

by Jennifer 19. May 2014 08:58

Interview with Dylan Birtolo, author of The Shadow Chaser.

What drew you to Speculative Fiction?

In all honesty, I have to blame this on my parents. I grew up in a home where science fiction and fantasy were everywhere. Heck, the first stories that I remember my parents reading to me as a child were the Chronicles of Narnia. It fed my imagination when I was young and I’ve always had an overactive imagination. That just helped give it shape and a playground to run amok in. There is something fascinating about those two words “what if” that just entertains me.


Was there a reason you started writing?

I think that I started writing when I realized that it gave me even more freedom than reading a book. Sure, reading a book was a great way to escape, but a lot of times I would want things to end a different way or would want some different element pulled into the fantasy world. It just clicked that if I wrote the stories, I could do anything I wanted. And then there was the idea that I could share it with other people, and create a world for their imaginations to run wild in. It was just too much to pass up.


Where do you get your ideas?

All over. My mind wanders a lot when I am not actively engaged in something and sometimes I will be walking down the street when I will see something that will trigger an idea. Like if someone is jogging with their dog I suddenly might start thinking about what if the dog was the one in charge taking the human for a walk, or something like that? I also tend to get a lot of ideas from my martial arts. I like to write combat, and most of my stories have a lot of combat in it. One of the exercises that we do is shadow sparring, where you imagine fighting multiple opponents. It is inevitable that I will be doing this and then start adding in other fantastical details, like telekinesis or energy shields and the like. I can’t help it – I just pull in these ideas. Those usually blossom into a world or into a character, and then that becomes something I want to right about. So what will start as a random thought will grow into a universe where I might want to tell a story.

Now if I have to write for a specific anthology with a specific theme, I usually mull the theme over in my head for a few days, trying to think of a twist to it that I can add. I want to put in something unique. It doesn’t necessarily have to be “the big twist” at the end of the story. For example, I was invited to submit to an anthology about time travelers. I wanted to do something different, so I thought “what if there was a time traveler, but he could only go back in time for fractions of a second? What would he do with this? What COULD he do?” And the story evolved from there.
 

What's your current writing process? Outliner/Pantser, when, do you play music? pen/paper or keyboard/ink? any rituals? Etc

I definitely have my rituals. I have one notebook which I use for every story I am about to start writing. When I am in the planning stages, that is the extent of my ritual. I don’t so much like music, but it doesn’t bother me either. The thing is, I never know when the idea will hit me. As I said, my mind wanders a lot. So I have the notebook and a pen with me at all times. That way when the idea does hit, I can write some notes and sketch out the storyline. I will do this until I have a pretty good idea of the story scene-by-scene.

After that, it becomes a bit more ritualistic. I always write on the computer and always in the same font and format. The interesting part is that this is not the font or format I want to submit a story in. But, it is what I am used to and what I like, so I keep it even though it means more work on the back end. I play (either on headphones of my speakers) one of two playlists. Each one runs for about 4 to 5 hours. I usually alternate between the two and will skip to certain sections in the playlist if I need a specific type of music to fit the scene. And once the writing starts, it HAS to be on the computer. I simply cannot write fast enough with pen and paper to keep up with my brain. Heck, sometimes I have trouble typing fast enough.


How did you get started with AIP? 

I got started with AIP because I met Jennifer Brozek several years ago. She was actually the first person to buy a piece of short fiction from me and publish it. That was for the Edge of Propinquity, before AIP existed. When I decided that I wanted to run a Kickstarter project for my novels, I needed to get a publisher to buy into the project and back it provided enough funds were raised. Naturally, I approached Jennifer to see if AIP would be interested. She is an amazing editor and has excellent business savvy, so I knew it would be a good choice for me if they would be up for it. Thankfully, they said they were and that’s what started our working together.
 

Talk some about the Sheynan series.

The Sheynan series is a collection of books set in the modern day, but with a twist. As you’ve learned by now, I like twists. There are a bunch of people who exist that can change into an animal form. But they keep their existence hidden from the rest of humanity. It was important for me to make the stories seem realistic. I tried to create it in such a way that it might seem like these people do really exist and it isn’t pure fantasy, because I think it is more fun that way. So I spent a lot of time thinking about things like how they would hide their identity, what steps would they take to keep it a secret, what resources would they need at their disposal to keep from being discovered, and so on. I wanted to make it believable enough that someone might just wonder “what if…”

As for the individual books, they follow a young man who has the very rare ability to shift into any animal. Needless to say, this makes him a very valuable ally or asset depending on who you talk to. I don’t want to spoil too much, but basically he is a normal guy living a somewhat normal life who gets put into this crazy world and realizes that nothing is going to be the same again. This trilogy is about him, and the evolution he goes through. At the end of each novel, he is substantially different than he was at the beginning.
 

You mentioned before that you practice and teach martial arts (and joust- so cool!) Did that make the action scenes easier for you to write?

Most definitely. I have always been good at writing action scenes. Most of my early stories were almost exclusively action and fighting because I knew it was my strength. I think a lot of that comes from my experience. I know techniques and I know weaponry and can pull that in to make the fights a little more believable. You would be surprised at how much a little bit of believability makes any scene that much stronger.


What are you working on now?

Currently, I just finished up the rewrite for The Bringer of War, the second novel in the trilogy. While I am waiting for the editor to get back to me on that draft, I am working on a couple of short stories for anthologies I was invited to submit to. I am also plotting out the third book in the series since that one will be brand new and is not just a rewrite. I have the general outline completed but need to compose my scene by scene layout. And at the same time – because you can never have too many irons in the fire – I have a classical sword and sorcery novel on hold. The Sheynan trilogy comes first, but I am antsy to get back to this other new novel I have partly completed.


Best and worst advice you've received or heard about writing.

The best advice I ever received was on how to know you’re a writer. You’re a writer and you should be if you have these story ideas clawing through your head and you feel like you need to get them out. If you don’t have that level of passion, and that need to tell a story, you should seriously consider if professional writing is for you. Because it will take that level of drive.

The worst advice I ever heard was that you need to write and publish four books a year to make a living off of writing. Whether or not that is true, I think it is horrible advice because it takes what should be, in my opinion, a very creative and enjoyable process, and breaks it down into a “realistic day job”. Now, I realize that sometimes people need a reality check, especially about how hard it is to make a living as a writer. And I fully admit that I don’t know how close to true that statement is because I’ve never been just a fiction writer for a living. But, even just hearing it put a bad taste in my mouth.


Any last words?

Enjoy what you do. There’s this other piece of advice that isn’t specifically related to writing that I absolutely love. Two people are having a conversation and one asks “What’s the purpose of life?” and the other responds “To live.” Yes, that can be viewed as a smart ass comment, or can seem very shallow. But, I think there is a much deeper truth to that. Living is going to be different things for different people. For me, a large part of it is telling stories, and hearing or reading other people’s stories. That’s why I do it, and I think it is something important to keep in mind. To pull it back to writing – the minute you start writing for someone else, or start writing for a specific goal or “market” other than something you enjoy creating, nine times out of ten that’s the moment you are going to lose the reader.

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Inspiration

by Jennifer 4. May 2014 21:51

When interviewing a writer--or an artist of any type--one very common question always seems to pop up. “Where do you get your ideas?” I’ve rarely ever heard an interview without it and the answers are as varied as the people who are interviewed. I like simple answers best. “Everywhere” is always a good choice.

For many artists, inspiration is all around us. It can’t be determined by math or science--although those things can certainly add to the pot of ideas. For some, music is a common source, so are photos and landscapes. Other times, it’s a person walking down the street or a phrase in a newspaper. But it isn’t just a single thing that causes someone to create. What often happens is the artist picks up bits and pieces of things and with one event, several ideas come crashing  together, leaving you staring into nothingness for a few moments as you sort out what is going on.

Inspiration is a driving force for an artist and it often produces highs and lows. I’ve heard writers say the muse won’t leave them alone and even wakes them up at night.  While other days they despair because  it seems as though they’ve been abandoned. Inspiration can be fickle while teasing you with just enough of an idea to begin to put it on paper before everything fizzles out. It can also drive you to writing until your wrists are sore because you are so close to the end. In many cases most artists report depression on days the muse isn’t present and a high on days they are filled with ideas.

Some people have so many ideas it makes others jealous. But if you look closer, those successful artists have learned to harness their creativity so that it comes in a more steady stream. They tickle the muse back and ply her with what she craves: more experiences to feed upon and tidbits of things she’s never seen/felt/heard before. The muse can’t help but cooperate as her little mind is full to the brim with possibilities. That slips over to the artist as he or she continues with a smile.

So if you are an artist of any sort don’t starve your muse. Take her to a museum, a walk in the park or a concert. You never know what might tickle her fancy and lead to your next big idea.

~The Shadow Minion

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Keystones is available for purchase!

by Jennifer 15. April 2014 09:36

KEYSTONES is now available at the AIP store, in Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

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The Shadow Chaser is Available for Purchase

by Jennifer 14. April 2014 08:02

THE SHADOW CHASER is available in our webstore here or on Amazon here.

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Interview with Ivan Ewert

by Jennifer 8. April 2014 09:36

Ivan Ewert is the author of Famished: The Farm. Its sequel, Famished: The Commons, is going through the editorial process right now.

--
What drew you to Speculative Fiction?

Ha, I just did a blog post about this! My father was a huge speculative fiction fan. His library was the thing I coveted most in my young life. When I started reading, I was actually more interested in legends like King Arthur, Robin Hood, and such – things that Disney probably turned me onto initially – but the trappings of fantasy were there.

Therefore, as I was reading, dad would suggest things I might enjoy. In third grade, I think, there was a confluence – my mother was teaching (voluntary) art classes to grade school kids, and she brought in the Brothers Hildebrandt, where I learned about The Hobbit. That was it. Done. Fantasy all the way.

Lovecraft was my introduction into horror, straight out of dad's library. He also had a lot of originals from Van Vogt, Asimov, and such, but he preferred hard science fiction, which I just don't find interesting. When I found social science fiction, I got more into it.


Was there a reason you started writing?


I drove my mother nuts with "Let's pretend" as soon as I was old enough to communicate. She humored me, though there was the occasional "Let's pretend you're Ivan, a human boy, and I'm his mother, okay?" I loved make-believe so much more than reality. (Let us leave that in past tense for the moment …)

So again, in grade school, I sat down and wrote a play at some point for my friends at school. I remember a cuckoo clock, living toys, and a lost girl. Not much else. Everyone loved it, though, and I was hooked on both the creative aspect and the attention it garnered.

Role-playing games distracted me for a long time, and didn't write much in high school – I was making stories but not having to work at writing them down. After college, I took it more seriously.


Where do you get your ideas?

Do you know I think you're the first one to ask? Ideas have always come to me most easily when moving through the darkness – driving before dawn, flying through the night. Moving silently, alert for danger, other travelers, and story fragments.


What's your current writing process? Outliner/Pantser, when, do you play music? pen/paper or keyboard/ink? any rituals? Etc.

AIP turned me into an outliner. Once I have the outline done, I carve time in my daily calendar, aiming for a minimum of one hour (usually my lunch hour at work).

When that time hits, I turn off my email notifications, my telephone, and any instant message programs. I work in Microsoft Word, though I just bought a new laptop and plan to give Scrivener a whirl. I don't like writing by hand as much. That distracts me.

Music is key. KEY. For horror and science fiction work, I'll usually go to bandcamp.com and search tags for ambient, downtempo electronica, or doomjazz. Fantasy is either Azam Ali Radio on Pandora.com or Darkfolk Radio on Last.fm.

Then, I just write until the time I allotted is up.

I don't have any real rituals. I do give a short "thank you" every morning to whatever's given me all the good in my life, which includes an imagination and the ability to convey it.


How did you get started with AIP?

I met Jennifer Brozek online through Livejournal; I think it was a friend-of-a-friend thing. I had a lot more spare time at that stage in my life, and I posted little snippets of tales and writing exercises online. We became friends online, then met up at a convention and – to my mind, anyway – became friends in real life.

When she founded The Edge of Propinquity, she asked me to contribute; and I can't tell you how happy that made me. I really enjoyed the work, and the discipline it required. Not that I was perfect. At all. I did enjoy it, though; and I'm beyond flattered that AIP continues to believe in me and work with me. They are wonderful, wonderful people whom I love very much.
 

Talk some about the Gentleman Ghouls series.

The Lovecraft short story, "The Picture in the House," which scared me sleepless, inspired the main subject matter. I wanted to examine the way that closed, insular societies work. Cults and secret societies have always fascinated me, as has the American experience as a whole, which I hope will come across more clearly as we release the books.

I wrote the first book, FAMISHED: THE FARM, over the space of four years. FAMISHED: THE COMMONS took a little over one year. I've written quite a bit about the process of editing those.


What are you working on now?

I have a dear friend named William Dolan who paints tremendous Chicago street scenes (check him out at http://www.dolanart.com/). His motto is, "I never talk about my work. Talking about it makes me feel like I've done something about it, and as such, the work never really gets done."

I saw a lot of truth in that. Talking about the work dilutes it for me and makes it easy to pretend it's moving along faster than it is. I'm still focused on the Gentleman Ghouls series as well as some poetry and short stories, one of which I'm very excited about.


Best and worst advice you've received or heard about writing.

The worst advice is "write what you know." I hate that phrase with a passion; it lines shelves with copyists and endless memoirs of suburban alienation. I've said it before; write what you're excited to know more about.

The best advice … Steven Raichlen, one of my cooking idols, says, "Set concrete goals with realistic timetables." Creative work is still work, and if you just dream up this great big book you want to write "someday," well. Someday never comes.


Any last words?

Not last, I hope.

But I believe in you. I believe in everyone reading these words … you can do anything you want to. It might not be easy, it might not be fun; but it's possible. When you think nobody has any faith, think again. I want you all to succeed and live a life that you find worth living.

--

Read more about Ivan at his website.

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