Author Etiquette: Grace

by Jennifer 24. March 2015 10:01

Apocalypse Ink Production started our segment on Author Etiquette last month and it was 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.

 

Last month we spoke about Patience. It’s a very important skill to learn. But there are other elements of being an author that are important to remember.

 

Because very little in publishing moves quickly, it’s easy to lose patience and become frustrated. Other authors--whom you think are less deserving than you--might get chances on projects you’d love to be part of. At times we feel overlooked and undervalued not only in our own lives but in the writing world as well.

 

So when an opportunity arrives where we feel we can contribute, it’s very easy to jump in with our opinions. But this isn’t always the best option.

 

Authors are passionate people who know how to use words, but when it comes to being emotionally involved that skill seems to disappear. Many authors have jumped into a matter loudly proclaiming an opinion only to be embarrassed and frustrated that their side wasn’t taken seriously. Other times an author or publisher has the best intention but doesn’t take the time to carefully craft the correct words. This can often lead to misinterpreted intentions, phrases taken out of context and things spiraling quickly out of control.

 

It’s okay to be passionate about something.Everyone has things they are passionate about. There’s a lot in the world that needs passionate people so that changes can happen.  However, there are always going to be others who will not support change because of personal views, experience or stubbornness. Often they are just as passionate at resisting change as those trying to make the change.

 

For instance:

 

Writer A passionately believes that there are not enough dragon stories being published. He’s an avid reader and has seen the decline in dragon stories over the years. He believes that all publications should change their submission guidelines and state that a dragon must somehow be included in the story. Bob then begins a campaign on his blog and other social media outlets for this cause.

 

Editor M believes differently. She’s tired of dragon stories--they were the rage three years ago--and sees that purple elephant stories are making a strong showing in her submission queue. She doesn’t pay much attention to Writer A’s campaign at first until Writer A mentions that Editor M has not changed the guidelines for her publication.

 

Thinking that Writer A’s proposed policy change is ridiculous, she responds publically. Before long there’s an online battle between two factions. There are hurt feelings on both sides that leads to more and more anger and very little discussion about the real problem.

 

It can be difficult to deal with passionate people but sometimes a little grace can help. From the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary, Grace is described as:

the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful

 

In a situation with passionate people it’s often a good idea to first find out why they are so passionate about that idea. While it might seem silly to you, perhaps they do have a very good underlying reason for their thoughts. You don’t have to agree but allowing the other side to state their point might make it easier for you to argue yours. If you acknowledge that the opposing side has a point, it might leave them open to think about yours. In discussion, think things out slowly and clearly. Attacking the person (verbally or otherwise) or the idea itself is never a good idea and can often make the situation worse. State your side of the idea and why you feel that way and point to concrete evidence that supports your side. And it really is okay to step back and say “Hey, I’m going to collect my thoughts on this. I’ll be back with you in a little bit.”

 

Many times no one is going to change their minds. We are human, we want to be “right” and it’s very difficult for many people to change their minds especially if they are emotionally close to a subject. But by being respectful and considerate, you might just be able to walk away from an argument without virtual bloodshed.

 

If you’d like to see an example of Grace in action, look here. I can’t think of a better way to handle such a situation.


~The Shadow Minion


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CHIMERA INCARNATE has been released!

by Jennifer 16. March 2015 08:48

Chimera Incarnate
Karen Wilson Chronicles #4
This is the final book in the series.
More InformationBuy Now.
Amazon | B&N | DriveThruFiction


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My 1 Year Minion Anniversary

by Jennifer 4. March 2015 21:12

Sometimes there are moments you can  point to in your career or life that definitely changes the path you wander on. I’ve been working on the back end of some small press organizations doing slush work, some promotions and beta reading. At the end of 2013 had decided to really push my writing and get submissions out and work hard on my short stories. But then I was approached by Jennifer to work as her personal assistant and help promote Apocalypse Ink Productions.


Being a minion wasn’t anything new to me. I’ve been behind the lines in publishing for a little while, but this was a bit different than what I had had been doing. I’d be responsible for roundups, blog posts and updating various platforms. I’d be helping authors promote their work and answering questions to problems. I’d have a much more visible role in publishing.


I jumped at the chance and I’m so very glad I did.


Publishing--no matter if it’s a large or small company--takes a lot of personnel to get everything done. It is possible for one person to start a publication and hold down the fort without assistance but at some point, he/she’s going to have to have help. As the slush pile grows, the editing challenges get harder and the distribution becomes more diverse, having people designated to do certain job takes a lot of stress off of the owner/publisher. Without help burn out is not only a possibility but a certainty.


Many independent publishers rely a lot on volunteers and this is a great place for newer writers to learn a lot about the publishing industry. There’s always an open call for slush readers somewhere and most people can find a publication to read for in a short amount of time. Slush reading really does help a writer learn to identify what works in a story and what doesn’t. It’s often one of the factors that begins the change of an okay writer to a good writer.


But volunteers also learn other things too. Sometimes they get to work with authors by editing stories or checking for errors before publication. They also might get to help out with promotions by sharing posts or signal boosting.


Working for AIP and Jennifer has allowed me to do this and much more. I’ve helped organize a Q&A for blogs for the authors of a box set. After finding a list of about 500 reviewers I’ve finally pared it down to those who are still active, and found and added several who weren’t on it. I’ve written press releases, contacted reviewers and set up interviews along with checking stories for errors prior to publication and much more.


And in the next year I’m sure there will be more minion challenges. I’m learning all I can, not only because I think it’s important for authors to at least have an idea of how publishing works but perhaps one day I’ll start a publishing imprint of my own (not in the near future I assure you!) There is still so much more to learn and I’m happy to figure out the puzzles that are handed my way.


So if you ever get a chance to become a minion--volunteer or paid position--jump at it. You are going to learn a lot about publishing and writing. It’s hard work but it’s so worth it.


The Shadow Minion

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Author Etiquette: Patience

by Jennifer 17. February 2015 10:00

Apocalypse Ink Production is starting a new feature on our blog this month on Author Etiquette. 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.

 

Patience is always a great quality to have especially if you are a writer. If you don’t already know, very few things in publishing move quickly. While it might not take long to write some short stories, once you submit, its a waiting game. You have to wait for deadlines then responses from editors. Sometimes this takes a while. It’s easy to lose patience when you are eager to hear a response.

 

For example:

Writer X sends off a short story to Publisher 1. Writer X sends the story at the beginning of the reading period so he knows he’s going to have to wait. Publisher 1’s first readers work through the slush pile sending up stories that they think are publishable.


As the deadline approaches Writer X begins to get excited as he should hear back first since he  submitted early in the reading period. The deadline passes and so does the projected response date. Writer X has heard nothing.


Writer X emails Pubisher 1 and demands an answer on the submission but before Publisher 1 can respond, Writer X pulls the story.


This is an unfortunate situation for both the writer and the publisher. It isn’t exactly a common occurrence but it happens more often than you think.

 

While many publications run like a well oiled machine, sometimes there’s a glitch. Editors get sick or have real life issues or they receive more submissions than expected. Technical difficulties can cause a loss of submissions. Weather related issues can cause loss of electricity or the ability to access the internet. These problems and many more can cause a publication to get behind. Publishers often update the blogs or submission pages if such things happen but sometimes authors are left wondering what happened to their stories.

 

In cases like these, a query letter is the best response. A query letter is a polite request by an author on the status of a story. It often contains the title of the story, the date sent and a brief statement by the author. This is often sent after the response time has passed. Most publications post response times on their submissions page but it’s not always accurate. Sometimes an author must resort to Duotrope or the Submission Grinder for more details on response times.

 

The query letter notifies the publisher that the author would like a quick update on the status of the story. Publishers usually respond to queries quickly with a brief message on where the story is in the publication queue but sometimes no response is ever received. While queries are often more for the writer they can notify the publisher of problems. At times the query alerts the publisher that either the story has gotten lost, was never received or other problems. In these last cases, publishers usually try to rectify the situation as quickly as possible.

 

In the above situation, Writer X was not patient enough to allow the publisher time to respond. He did not wait to find out if his story was being held for consideration by the publisher--possibly for a special project or other edition. The editor could have had his hand hovering over the send button on a response when Writer X pulled the submission. We don’t know. Instead Writer X demanded a response and pulled the story before anyone had time to respond.

 

It’s difficult to wait, I’m very well aware of the fact. Some publications have an extremely long wait period and many go over the expected response time. But by being patient, you cultivate the air of being open to the publisher’s requests. It makes the editor more secure in their decision to take a chance on a story that could need some major edits. It improves your chance of your story being picked.

 

So next time you look at your spreadsheet or submission tracker and find a story that’s been held overly long, take the time to write a polite query letter to the publication. They will respond as soon as they are able. And in the mean time, don’t fret, write another story.

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CHIMERA INCARNATE Cover Reveal

by Jennifer 9. February 2015 09:11

CHIMERA INCARNATE, the fourth and final book of the Karen Wilson Chronicles
by Jennifer Brozek
To be released on March 16, 2015
Available for Kindle pre-order now.

“The Veil is breaking. The Nightmares are coming through.”

The supernatural forces of Kendrick may have defeated the Children of Anu, but every war leaves destruction in its wake. And fixing the collateral damage is never easy.

The fourth and final volume of the Karen Wilson Chronicles tells the story of what happens when all the chips are down, places of power have been consumed, and one of Karen’s greatest allies teeters on the edge of oblivion. The Grey Lady and her people are fading. Only their pact with the Makah people, and the land of Kendrick itself, is holding their ancient foes at bay.

Karen and her allies must find a way to save one of their own before the Veil falls and the world as they know it is destroyed.

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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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