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Guest Host: Jon Clinch April 25, 2013

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in indie authors, literary fiction, self-publishing.
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Jon Clinch (photo by Michael O'Neill)

Jon Clinch (photo by Michael O’Neill)

Jon Clinch‘s new novel, The Thief of Auschwitz, departs somewhat from his first two critically acclaimed novels, Finn and Kings of the Earth. Whereas Finn and Kings of the Earth dealt with American stories and voices, The Thief of Auschwitz is set primarily at the Nazi death camp notorious for its atrocities against Jewish people. Furthermore, Clinch chose to self-publish The Thief of Auschwitz, rather than go through a traditional publishing house as he did with his first two novels. The result is the first literary novel to receive critical acclaim with reviews in leading media.

The Thief of Auschwitz begins with the voice of octogenarian Max Rosen: “The camp at Auschwitz took one year of my life, and of my own free will I gave it another four.” A provocative opening sentence for sure. The Thief of AuschwitzMax goes on to describe himself as, “the last believer in looking at things the way they are, and reporting back.” He’s a renowned painter now living in New York and reluctantly organizing a retrospective of his work at the invitation of the National Gallery. He’s cantankerous and critical, taking frequent swipes at Andrew Wyeth and his Helga.

Unfolding through Max’s craggy impressions of today’s art world come his reflection of the years spent at Auschwitz. Some of the story is told by Max, yet the majority of the story rolls out in cinematic third person.  After evading Nazis for more than a year, Max and his sister, Lydia, along with their parents, Jacob and Eidel, are captured and taken to the Auschwitz work camp. It’s known at the camps that children cannot contribute to the work, so they are immediately exterminated like unwanted pests. Lydia is only 12 and is sorted into the children’s death queue immediately. The women are separated from the men. Max, tall and sturdy for his age of 14, takes his father’s advice and tells the registrar he’s 18.  This is where the story begins.

Throughout his life Max is haunted by the camp, but even more so by self-comparison of his work to that of his mother. A talented and self-taught painter, Eidel carries with her to the camp only one painting—a beautiful portrait of Lydia. This portrait plays a crucial role in Max’s survival, while forging a secret he carries with him forever.

Many authors have written about Nazis and death camps and memorialized the people who died there. Each of those novels have their place in the canon of Holocaust literature. The Thief of Auschwitz rises to the top of that canon, painting the horrors of camp life and survival with elegiac strokes, while portraying shades of humanity behind the Nazi masks.

Unmediated InkHaving had his first two critically acclaimed novels top-listed by big publishing houses, Clinch has a rare position within the crossroads of traditional and indie publishing paths. Clinch reveals his indie publishing process and offers seasoned advice in a new book, Unmediated Ink now available on Amazon.

Born and raised in the remote heart of upstate New York, Jon Clinch has been an English teacher, a metalworker, a folksinger, an illustrator, a typeface designer, a housepainter, a copywriter, and an advertising executive.

Jon has lectured and taught widely, in settings as varied as the National Council of Teachers of English, Williams College, the Mark Twain House and Museum, and Pennsylvania State University. In 2008 he organized a benefit reading for the financially ailing Twain House—enlisting such authors as Tom Perrotta and Stewart O’Nan—an event that literally saved the house from bankruptcy.

Jon lives with his wife, Wendy—founder of TheSkiDiva.com, the internet’s premier site for women who ski—in the Green Mountains of Vermont.

Follow Jon Clinch on Twitter: @JonClinch.


Indie Author Showcase: Marc Nash November 26, 2012

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in alternative publishers, science fiction, self-publishing.
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Marc Nash in #litvhat

Marc Nash: Guest host for November 26, 2012

Marc Nash is no stranger to #litchat. He regularly participates in the weekly discussions as @21stCscribe. He joins us today in our bi-annual Indie Author Showcase to discuss his approach to writing and publishing in the indie universe.

Nash’s latest novel is Time After Time, a sardonic, sci-fi, romance where the object of seduction is the target of a time-traveling assassin. In the Yoni world of the future, women rule in a peaceful civilization without war and conflict. Men are nothing but emasculated sex slaves and working grunts. When F-10, the chosen assassin, is sent back in time to kill Hayley, the mother of the future leader of the women’s revolt, he’s completely unprepared for the violent world that awaits. And since time has developed this arc across multitude parallel worlds, the assassin must carry out his mission in each one. Playing in the background of the story is a D.J. who spins songs to communicate with the thugs his gangster brother uses to rule and terrorize the streets wherein Hayley lives. The psychological effect on F-10 as he completes his mission in each parallel world plays out in dark Groundhog Day-esque repetitions until the final scenario.

Marc Nash has published five books on Kindle and signed a contract with US indie publisher Temporary Infinity for a collection of his short stories to be released in 2013. He spent 20 years in the counterculture, working at Rough Trade Record Shop. He currently works with a freedom of expression NGO, which monitors censorship around the world. Nash lives in London with wife and twin boys, whose soccer team he has managed and provided him more sleepless nights than anything in the literature world!

Follow Marc Nash on Twitter: @21stCscribe.

Indie Author Showcase February 27, 2012

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in self-published authors, self-publishing.
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Twice a year #LitChat features authors who have taken their career into their own hands by publishing outside of traditional means. Digital and print on demand publishing is making it easier for authors to cut out the middleman—in this case, publishers, distributors, and bookstores—and going straight to the reading public with their work. This week we have Marjoire Gibson McCarthy, Jenny Gardiner and Dawn DeAnna Wilson joining us to share the reasons why they chose the route of self-publishing.

On Monday,February 27, Jenny Gardiner, whose first publishing success came when she won the American Title III competition with her sassy novel, Sleeping With Ward Cleaver. Gardiner followed that women’s fiction debut with a pet memoir, Winging It: A Memoir of Caring for a Vengeful Parrot. More fiction followed with Slim To None, Anywhere But Here,  Where the Heart Is, and writing as Erin Delaney, Accidentally on Purpose, and Compromising Positions. In her most recent novel writing as Jenny Gardiner, Where the Heart Is, Reese Larkin has given up on ever going home again, until she realizes that home is the only place she’ll ever be able to reclaim what’s most important to her. After a call from a long-lost friend, she decides to embark on a road trip to revisit her past and along the way comes to realize that home really is where the heart is.

Follow Jenny Gardiner on Twitter: @JennyGardiner.

Wednesday, February 29 features guest host J.H. Bográn. Born and raised in Honduras, Bográn is the son of a journalist, though he ironically prefers to write fiction rather than fact. Bográn’s genre of choice is thrillers, but he likes to throw in a twist of romance into the mix. His works include novels in both English and Spanish, along with short stories. A contributor to The Big Thrill magazine, Bográn  is also a screenwriter for Honduras domestic television and movie reviewer for La Prensa. He’s a member of the International Thriller Writers and of writer’s online community Backspace. Bográn’s latest novel, Treasure Hunt, features Alexander Beck, a for-hire thief who can be contracted through the web by posting ads with his handle: The Falcon. Back in 1978, Bill Porter hijacked a plane; the proceedings of that caper were securely hidden inside a cave in a Central America country. Falcon is hired to retrieve it in a risky race against Jack Davis, a former cellmate of Bill, who is also after the money. Jack will stop at nothing until he gets a hold of the money; kidnapping Bill’s daughter Jamie is only the first step.

Follow J.H. Bográn  on Twitter: @JHBogran.

Dawn DeAnna Wilson guest hosts on Friday, March 2. A former newspaper reporter with a MFA, Wilson’s first two novels were traditionally published by small presses. When the rights to these novels reverted back to her, Wilson went digital with her own publishing brand, Carraway Bay Press, and hasn’t looked back. Among available titles are St. Jude, Leaving the Comfort Cafe and Ten Thousand New Year’s Eves. She has also published a collection of short stories entitled, Welcome to Shangri-La, North Carolina. Her sassy women’s fiction title, Leaving the Comfort Cafe, recently spiked in Amazon, driving her near the top of its category. In this satisfying story, you’ll meet saucy Blythe Shelley, who got a 1600 on her SAT and a full scholarship to Cornell University, but never went. Instead, she took a job as a waitress at the Comfort Cafe in Conyers, North Carolina. Austin Parker wanted to follow his college crush to New York City, but a slumping economy prompted him to take a job as town manager of Conyers, NC, where his master’s degree was no match for the well-oiled machine of “good ol’ boy” Southern politics. When Austin goes to the Comfort Cafe to sample its famous raspberry pie, he gets much more than dessert—he gets a dose of Blythe, who brings a splash of color into his gray-flannel world.

Follow Dawn DeAnna Wilson on Twitter: @CarrawayBay.

If you’re interested in following the path of these three entrepreneurial authors, be sure to read Wilson’s Digital Publishing 4-1-1.

Taking the E-Road: Publishing Direct to E-Book June 20, 2011

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in commercial fiction, e-books, fantasy, fiction, literary fiction, self-published authors, self-publishing.
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Last March bestselling author Barry Eisler made publishing headlines when he announced his new novel would circumvent traditional publishing and go direct to market as an e-book. The writing was on the wall long before Eisler came public with his choice. Nearly two years earlier author J.A. Konrath had already cleared obstacles barring the successful promotion and sales of fiction through self-publishing to e-book. Shortly after Eisler’s announcement, Huffington Post published this insightful conversation between the two authors, which went on to become a live discussion continuing today through Konrath’s A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing blog. How will such defections of bestselling authors affect the publishing industry at large? Last week PBS Media Shift addressed this issue with this report on literary agents acting as self-publishing consultants. The publishing paradigm is shifting so quickly now, the image is blurred.

This week in #litchat we’ll discuss the trend of authors–both known and unknown–to go direct to e-book.  We’ll feature three authors who have taken their careers into their own hands and boldly gone where Konrath and Eisler have already been. These authors, however, aren’t bestellers. Yet. Each of them have already achieved success within e-pub rankings and are forging new paths for other yet-unpublished authors to follow.

Monday: Georganna Hancock

Georganna Hancock shares the inside tips on how to whip a manuscript into shape for successful e-book formatting, promotion and sales. Hancock’s rich experience as an editor is the focal point for this discussion, as she emphasizes the importance of professional editing for content, grammar and style that is often skipped by self-publishing authors. She’ll also share insights on how to set-up an Amazon account for direct-to-Kindle publishing, how to format your manuscript for the best e-book results, as well as promotional and marketing tips for sales. Hancock holds a Master’s Degree from Northwestern University and now works as an independent editor and publishing consultant.

Follow Georganna Hancock on Twitter: @GLHancock.

Wednesday: Eileen Cruz Coleman

Eileen Cruz Coleman has published two novels direct to e-book. Her first novel, Sweetwater American, was released on Kindle in February 2010. Excerpts from Sweetwater American have been published in short story form in The Saint Ann’s Review, Bathtub Gin, Thought Magazine, Rosebud Magazine, Sundry: A Journal of the Arts, In Posse Review, Small Spiral Notebook, and Slow Trains Magazine. Excerpts from Sweetwater American have also been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has won third place in Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers. At this writing, her latest novel, Rumpel, is holding the number 2 position at Amazon Kindle’s Horror/Ghosts category. Rumpel is a literary retelling of the Brothers Grimm classic, Rumpelstiltskin, peopled with sinister spooks and textured with dark swaths of chicanery.  Cruz Coleman was born in Washington, D.C. and is a graduate of the University of Maryland with a degree in European History. She lives in Maryland with her husband and two children.

Follow Eileen Cruz Coleman on Twitter: @EileenCruzColeman.

Friday: Billie Hinton

Billie Hinton began her own publishing company, November Hill Press, in the summer of 2010, launching her first title, Claire-Obscure, a literary fiction masterpiece. In the year that has followed, she has published two more literary fiction titles, The Meaning of Isolated Objects (December 2010) and Signs That May Be Omens (March 2011, continuation in the Claire Quartet). In February 2011, she published the first in her middle grade Magical Pony School series, Jane’s Transformation. These titles have been shaped through the years by Hinton’s magical literary touch and now come to readers through Kindle and Smashwords. Her writing has been praised by bestselling authors, critics and other publishing pundits, both in traditional and transitional fields. Hinton, a psychotherapist by vocation, also leads writing retreats designed to unleash the creativity and empower writers to project completion. She lives on a small horse farm in North Carolina with her husband, two teenagers, three horses, a painted pony, five felines, and two Corgis.

Follow Billie Hinton on Twitter: @billiehinton.

Indie Author Showcase June 20, 2010

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in alternative publishers, fantasy, literary fiction, self-publishing, YA fiction.
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June 21-25, 2010

It’s that time of year again for #litchat’s Indie Author Showcase. While traditional publishers remain the standard of success for authors, the stigma of self-publishing is vanishing as indie authors whose work falls through the cracks of commercial publishing trends are finding success on their own. Indies of film, music and other arts are celebrated, isn’t it time to salute the finest of indie authors?

This week we’re featuring three authors who have chosen to take their writing career into their own hands, and each of them in different ways.

Monday, June 21: Dan Halloway — Digital Publishing and Community

Dan Holloway is a writer, blogger, music journalist, theologian, arts promoter and mental health campaigner. He is a founder member of Year Zero Writers, a collective of contemporary fiction writers set up to give people a place to write directly for readers, free from commercial consideration. He is the author of the novel Songs from the Other Side of the Wall, and the collection of stories and poems (life:) razorblades included. Dan’s short stories, articles about publishing, and journalism have appeared in places as diverse as PANK, One in Four Magazine, Editor Unleashed, Emprise Review, The Indie Handbook, and the urban writing biennial XCP: Streetnotes.

Dan has organized cross-arts events from the Free e-Day Festival, to the current Year Zero Live tour, using untraditional venues from music clubs to art galleries and tattoo parlors. His latest project is eight cuts gallery, a real and virtual space designed to blur completely the boundaries between literature and other arts.

Follow Dan Holloway on Twitter: @agnieszkasshoes

Wednesday, June 23: D.R. Whitney — Established a Publishing Company

D.R. Whitney wrote The Last Princess as the first in a series she calls The Goddess Prophecies, an epic fantasy adventure featuring a contemporary heroine drawn to the mythic isle of Avalon. An adult version of The Last Princess was originally offered by a small press, but during #litchat we’ll learn why Whitney reclaimed her project, revised it for YA, and established her own publishing company to bring it out. In addition to the trade paperback, Whitney has produced an audio version of the book a lush soundtrack and a theatrical delivery. A film adaptation is claimed to be in the works. Savvy marketing, a million-dollar budget and relentless belief in her work keeps Whitney in the game.

Whitney’s journey to The Goddess Prophecies began in Britain where she spent several years researching Celtic myth and legend. She is currently completing work on her second installment , entitled: “The Last Princess and The Staff of Power.” Whitney lives in Los Angeles with her music producer husband, James and three Pekingese.

Follow D.R. Whitney on Twitter: @goddessprophecies

Friday, June 25: William H. Johnson — iUniverse (self-publishing house)

William H. Johnson comes from a background of theater and film, where independent artists are highly respected for working outside the mainstream. With this background it was natural for him to go it alone, rather than pursuing a deal with a traditional publishing house. Johnson received a bachelor’s degree from James Madison University where he developed a passion for theater. Since relocating to Southern California in 1997, William has directed numerous plays from David Ives one acts All in the Timing to Samuel Beckett’s masterpiece, Waiting for Godot. In 2004 he began training and developing The Magic Meathands improv comedy ensemble, a performing company whose mission of com-mune-edy outreach has been blogged about on idealist.org and featured on CNN Headline News: Local Edition.

In 2009 he began writing essays on race in America and political commentary that have been published in three different regional newspapers. Johnson’s first novel, The Dark Province: Son of Duprin, was released in March 2010.

Follow William H. Johnson on Twitter: @AuthorWilliam

Topic of the Week: Alternative Avenues in Publishing November 1, 2009

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in grit lit, self-published authors, self-publishing.

BooksAreGreatGiftsAs publishing continues to morph into an uncertain new model, many authors are taking their careers into their own hands through smart choices in self-publishing. Self-publishing is not to be confused with independent or small press publishers, POD printers, nor is it a true form of “indie” publishing. Self-publishing is when an author pays or shares in the costs for the printing, distribution and marketing of his or her book. A self-published author may use one of the established self-publishing houses (also known as vanity or subsidy publishers) or create a publishing corporation of his/her own.

Print on demand (POD) technology, along with the new wave of ebook formats, plus the marketing muscle of the internet, has simplified the self-publishing equation.

Many self-published books suffer from poor content editing, abysmal copy editing and proofreading, bad covers and interior design, and/or egotistical authors who believe their products to be the undiscovered work of this century’s Shakespeare. This may sound harsh, but those in the field–particularly book reviewers–know it’s true. It’s the proliferation of these self-published books that mire the field and leave reviewers and readers with bad impressions of self-publishing.

XFindingtheMoonInSugarLitChat-TheFirstExcellenceWe’re pleased to introduce two authors whose work is a pleasant exception to the negative expectations of self-published books. Each of these books could hold its own against others of like genre produced by any of the big, traditional publishers. They are well written and plotted, their covers are attractive, interior design is easy on the eyes, they are relatively free of typos and publishing style errors, but most of all they carry you along from opening to closing. Most interesting of all, both of these authors never pursued traditional publishing with these manuscripts, opting for self-publishing from the start of their projects.

Gint Aras

Gint Aras

November 4th will feature Gint Aras, author of Finding the Moon in Sugar. Gint chose to go directly to self-publishing as a means to circumvent big publishing and get his work before the eyes of readers in his own time. His novel, Finding the Moon in Sugar, is a gritty tale of post-teenage wanderings, those years in between closing the past and opening the future. Written in a voice raw from toxic love, readers can’t help but side with Andy, the hapless main character, as he stumbles through one adventure after another in the exotic streets of Vilnius, Lithuania.

Gint Aras (Karolis Gintaras Ukauskas) was born in Cicero, Ill. to immigrants displaced by World War II. He attended the University of Illinois in Urbana/Champaign and earned his MFA from Columbia University. To support his writing, he has worked as a hearse driver, fast food guy, hotel houseman, pasta cook, actor and delivery man. He currently teaches English and Humanities at Morton College and lives in Oak Park, Ill.


Donna Carrick

On Friday, November 6, guest host will be Donna Carrick, author of three novels, all of them self-published. Donna’s most recent novel,The First Excellence, follows Fa-ling, a young, adopted Canadian Chinese woman on a journey into the heart of mainland China where she was born. While traveling through Zhuang province with a group of Canadian couples adopting Chinese babies, Fa-ling encounters murder, kidnapping, political intrigue and organ theft.

Donna grew up in Canada’s military and now resides in Southern Ontario with her husband Alex and their three children.  Along with their beloved family pets, the Carricks spend most of their free time in Ontario’s north country.  The First Excellence draws on her experience in adopting a child from China.  Here other two novels are Gold And Fishes and The Noon God.

Follow Donna on Twitter at @Donna Carrick.

Follow Gint Aras on Twitter at @Gint_Aras.

Topic of the Week for April 20-24: Alternative Avenues to Publishing April 19, 2009

Posted by Carolyn Burns Bass in alternative publishers, self-publishing, weekly topics.
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Traditional publishing houses are feeling double the crunch from the recent economic downturn. Not only are budgets being cut, but big publishing is undergoing a transformation as e-books are making a significant impact in the way books are published. The Kindle and other e-readers (Sony and iPhone) are reducing the amont of printed and bound books. On top of that, self-publishing giants like Lulu, iUniverse, and Amazon’s BookSurge are making it easy for writers to print their books outside the big publishing arena.

This week we’ll chat with self-pubbed authors, as well as independent editors, publicists, e-blook authors, self-publishing brands and POD printers about alternate routes to publishing. Monday will be open chat.

Elizabeth Burton

Elizabeth Burton

On Wednesday, we’ll talk with ElizabethK. Burton, who has been executive editor or Zumaya Publications since 2003 and took charge of the publisher’s operations in July 2006. Zumaya was established in 1999 by authors Tina Havemen and Diana Kent Jones and incorporated in 2006.

Initially, Zumaya opted for print on demand (POD) for the simple reason it was the economical way to produce print books. Zumaya does not require any author financial participation; set-up and production costs have always been Zumaya’s responsibility. As Elizabeth became immersed in the business of publishing–up till then she was a writer and editor-she saw the wastefulness of the existing business model as unacceptable. (Overprinting and remaindering books.) After some research, she determined POD can be more economical and environmentally friendly.

zumayalogoAccording to Elizabeth, Zumaya’s inventory-free business model distinguishes them among other alternative literary publishers. Zumaya doesn’t do print runs unless they’ve been ordered. Zumaya is committed to presenting quality books by talented authors and leaving behind as little environmental footprint as possible.

Carmen Shirkey

Carmen Shirkey

l recap the week’s discussion with guest host and author Carmen Shirkey. Carmen published her novel The List through BookSurge.

Carmen received two degrees in Rhetoric and Communications and History from the University of Virginia (she’s a crazy Wahoos fan) where she was also a member of Alpha Xi Delta sorority. She then proceeded to become a gypsy – moving from city to city. Currently, she resides in Virginia, but who knows where she’ll end up next. Her cat, Pooh Bear, who is also a character in The List, would prefer to stay in one place long enough to adequately mark his territory.

The List, by Carmen Shirkey (BookSurge)

Aside from writing, Carmen’s passion is travel. She once got a fortune cookie that said “you will step on the soil of many countries” and took it seriously. She hopes that enough people will buy her book so that she can go on permanent vacation, instead of packing all her travel into two measly weeks a year. That’s how much vacation she gets in her full-time gig as a Web editor. Carmen Shirkey was born in Staunton, VA, and The List is her debut novel.