5 Years in Publishing: A Reflection

From my dear friend, Sarah. What an accomplishment!! The best is yet to come.

...and then there was Sarah

being-a-good-writerYesterday was my 5 Year Publishing Anniversary (or “Pubiversary” as some of us call it. Authors are allowed to make up words, right?). The day was a busy one for unrelated reasons, so I didn’t get to celebrate as I should have. But five years is a long time, and my celebration will come in the form of reflection.

The last five years might as well have been fifty for how much has changed for me as a direct result of publishing my work.

Let’s back up further, to 2000. I was watching TV with my husband (we weren’t married yet, though; not until the following year). A single line popped into my head: “It was raining the day I buried my wife.” Depressing, right? But if you’re a creative type, like me, depressing ideas often become opportunities. I was struck with the overwhelming certainty I was meant to write…

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Monster: A Counterplay Short

Helen invites an old friend to lunch, but she has more on her mind than simply catching up. Taking place more than thirty years before the start of the Counterplay prequel, Monster delves into the psyche of beloved Caissy matriarch, Helen, her tumultuous past with ruthless Bob O’Malley, and the tragic, abominable decision that changed and shaped both their families.

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Author Interview with Jeremy Simons

I met Jeremy a few weeks ago on a North Louisiana book group. It’s always nice to find people who write in my neck of the woods. As Jeremy references below, there’s not too many opportunities in this area to connect with other authors. I haven’t read any of his books yet, but they sound like the perfect addition to my  October TBR list. Thanks, Jeremy, for telling us about your process and best of luck to you. 

 

1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)

 My name is Jeremy Simons. I’m from Grayson, Louisiana, and am married with three daughters. I’m a horror/suspense author with Twilight Terror Press, a subdivision of Celestial Waters Publishing. Aside from my two published works with Celestial Waters, I’ve had numerous stories appear across the web and in zines and anthologies.

Buried Alive can be found here:
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/595771

Amazon: http://amzn.to/239h8nt

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/27968917

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/1123043067

Books-A-Million: https://m.booksamillion.com/p/9781519524751

Check out the official trailer here: https://youtu.be/a6ZlEmGXppo

 

My debut novel Untold Tale can be found here:

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/606590

Amazon: http://amzn.to/23a5xof

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28506118

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/1123248192

Books-A-Million: https://m.booksamillion.com/p/9781523338481

Check out the official trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4FV17n_m1O4

 

Stories:

A Dead Man Tells No Tales-Carnage Conservatory: http://carnageconservatory.com/2013/10/11/a-dead-man-tells-no-tales/

 

Beware of Hitchhikers-Aphelion: http://www.aphelion-webzine.com/shorts/2014/04/BewareHitchhikers.html

 

Beware of Hitchhikers II-Aphelion: http://www.aphelion-webzine.com/shorts/2014/08/BewareHitchhikers2.html

 

The Man In The Hills-Voices From A Coma: https://imaginalisdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2014/08/voices-from-a-coma-issue-1.pdf

 

Lifeless Lane-The Horror Zine: http://www.thehorrorzine.com/Fiction/Sept2014/JeremySimons/JeremySimons.html

In Print: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/069225255X/ref=mp_s_a_1_14?qid=1436242838&sr=8-14&pi=AC_SX110_SY165_QL70&keywords=the+horror+zine

 

White Christmas-Hellfire Crossroads Volume 4: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B00PH62FMS/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1436242904&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SY200_QL40&keywords=hellfire+crossroads&dpPl=1&dpID=613oRarJsTL&ref=plSrch

 

White Christmas-Deathlehem Revisited: http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0996223274/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1451537939&sr=8-1&pi=AC_SX118_SY170_QL70&keywords=deathlehem+revisited

 

Trick or Treat-October’s End: http://www.lulu.com/shop/horrified-press/octobers-end/paperback/product-22361596.html

 

The Woman in Red-X3 Anthology: http://www.lulu.com/shop/thirteen-oclock-press/x3/paperback/product-22347417.html

 

Closing Time: http://www.short-stories.me/index.php/horror-stories/826-jeremy-simons

 

Five Days-Massacre Magazine: http://viewbook.at/massacre8

 

Beware of Hitchhikers 1 & 2-Midnight Ghosts: http://www.lulu.com/shop/thirteen-oclock-press/midnight-ghosts/paperback/product-22625899.html

 

You can find me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jeremysimonsauthor.

On Twitter: https://twitter.com/jeremi1986

My website: https://www.Jsimonsauthor.webnode.com

On Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15044092.Jeremy_Simons

And on my Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/jeremysimons

 


2. How do you choose names for your characters?


I choose them in several different ways. Sometimes, they’re coincidental. Some, I base off of people in my life. There was even one occasion when I combined the names of three of my favorite horror actors to form the name of a serial killer. But usually, I just sift through random names until I find one that clicks.

 

3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?


 I think I have to say yes here. I definitely imagine them in real life situations and occasionally I will refer to them as if they are real.

 

4.  Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?

Yes, although not traditional music. I usually listen to comedy tracks or parody songs while writing. Or I run on the Lex & Terry and listen to replays of their shows.


5. How long have you been writing?

I’ve been writing on and off since I was a kid. My mom still has a story I wrote for school when I was in third grade (I believe) about a ghostly next door neighbor. But I’ve only just recently had an interest in getting published. 

6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.


 Just a few years ago. I kept all of my stories in a small filing box at my mom’s, and I was moving some stuff out of her house and came across it. By then, it had been so long since I’d written anything or even looked at them that when I read back through them it was like reading a new author. And not to toot my own horn, but I thoroughly enjoyed them. I knew then that I had to try. And when my first story, A Dead Man Tells No Tales, was published on Carnage Conservatory’s website (even though it was a small venue with no monetary pay), I knew it was meant to be.

 

7. Do you have a muse?

 My muse would have to be my wife. She was definitely the inspiration behind Buried Alive. She inspires me to be better and do better.
 

8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading)


I improve by simply reading and writing. Any critiques I receive through rejections, reviews, or editors…I incorporate those into all of my writing and not just that particular work. I do wish there were workshops and conferences in my area…I’d definitely attend.
 

9. Writing quirks or superstitions?


I don’t believe I have any quirks or superstitions. I just write.


 10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress

 My current work-in-progress is about an alligator. I’ve always had a fascination with alligators, and in Louisiana, although they are commonplace, I don’t recall any attacks in my area. My job as a horror/suspense writer is to bring forth the terrifying, bring to light what you never think possible, and what better way to do that than dropping a monstrous man-eater into a river where there has never been an attack (at least not in my thirty years of existence).


 11. What book are you reading now?


 I’m currently reading Miss Crabtree’s School for Unnaturals (The Unnaturals Book 1) by Hargrove Perth. 

12. What genre do you write in? What about POV?


I write mostly horror and supernatural, with some suspense thrown in; I’d like to believe I could write in any genre, but for the time being, it always seems to go dark. As far as POV, it’s whatever strikes me at that time. Most of my works are third-person POV, but love first-person because of the correlation between myself and the narrator; first-person (at least to me) seems more intimate; it’s more like I’m writing about myself than a fictitious character, and I think the emotion becomes deeper…realer.

 13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?

Preparation for me is simple and minimal. I prefer to steer away from chapter outlines and just let the writing flow; you can always edit later if the chapters run on too long. I start with a few main characters (usually two or three), give them a basic profile (looks, profession if they have one, point to the plot, etc.), and just cut loose. The plot is the most important to me: beginning, conflict in the middle, end. For me, too much characterization or these meticulous outlines that you can easily get hung up on sticking to can bog down a good story before it even gets started if you’re not careful. Let the plot be the strength. Build the characters off of the plot…not the other way around. And just let the story flow.

 
14. Do you know how your stories will end?


 Yes and no. I always start out with an ending in mind, but it seldom plays out that way. It goes back to minimal preparation I guess. The less you know about the story and characters, the more freedom you’re giving them to take the story in whatever direction it needs to go. It’s more of a surprise that way, and if the writer isn’t surprised and blown away by the story, the reader will not be either.
 

15. Do you books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?


I think if you look hard enough in any book, you’ll find a message, and it always be interpreted differently depending on the reader. My novella, Buried Alive, that message is clear and easy: revenge, justice, standing up for yourself, not depending on anyone but yourself. But my novel, Untold Tale, not so much; never trust the government could be an angle I guess, or maybe, taking responsibility for your actions (but it ends horribly for most involved). You be the judge. But entertainment is equally important. If I’m not entertained by the story and enjoying myself, the writing will be stale.

16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?


I guess I’d say sunflower seeds, ranch or pickle flavored.

17. Tell us about your other passions.


Reading, of course. Spending time with my wife and kids. Playing video games. Cooking. Playing basketball.

 18. What’s something interesting about you?


My intelligence. Most people look at me and think that I’m not that smart based on my appearance or accent. But I love proving them wrong.
 

19. Share a small sample(limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.

Simon inched backwards, afraid to remove his view from the wreckage, oblivious to what lurked behind him. He stopped cold when his back bumped into something solid. His heart leapt in his throat as that precarious snarling started up once more. He turned, unsure if he wanted to see it coming or not, not really wanting to see it, but unable to maintain a blind eye against it.

This is a paragraph from my current work-in-progress about an alligator. It’s untitled at this point.
 


20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?

 Thank you and keep reading. That’s the truth, but also to please post reviews. Don’t be shy about it. Reviews are critical to an indie author. If you follow me on social media, like and share when you see a post. Promotions are hard work and their success lies heavily on the fans. Exposure is an indie author’s best friend.

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Dear Louisiana…


Dear Louisiana, 

I know you are hurting. We are hurting too. From Bossier Parish all the way down to Vermilion Bay, and in the places in between. From Slidell to Natchitoches, Ruston to Houma. Every one of us who loves this great state sees your plight, and we’re here to shoulder the burden. Side by side. Arm in arm.

You’ve been knocked down and you might think no one cares. You’re on your back scared, afraid… drowning. You may believe all hope is lost and the sun will never shine again. Reach inward, Louisiana, dig deep and you will find the light inside of you. 

You were born with an indomitable spirit, and though there are parts of you that sit below sea level, you rise. You are a mix of faiths and races and you march to the beat of your own drum. You draw us in with your southern hospitality and when we leave you, we find that we long to return.

You are lightening bugs and thunderstorms, crawfish and meat pies, evenings on the lake, sultry nights in the bayou, you are Christmas lights, Joyeux Noël and a dash of Tabasco in black-eyed peas. You are the perfect blend of jazz and country with a pop flare. You are loud and you must let the good times roll. You are a generous slice of King cake and we always want more. You are a second line band and a sportsman’s paradise. You are home.

Though it may be dark now, we see your tears, Louisiana, and we are crying along with you. We will not let you go through this alone, because when one of us falls, we all stand ready to help him up. 

Stay strong. 

Love, 

Your people

Housekeeping, Happy Birthday, and a Bloody Caduceus  

If that doesn’t get your attention, nothing will. 

Happy two-year-old book birthday to my very first book formerly known as The Waiting. When I began publishing two years ago, I was young and naive regarding the ways of the book world and honestly believed within 6 months, I’d have made my editing investment back and readers would be clamoring for the second installment. Neither of those things happened.  It. Was. Depressing.

I wanted to quit. 

Like seriously, wanted to throw in the towel and walk away from writing forever because in my mind, not only had I wasted money, I’d wasted my time and my editor’s time. But thanks to encouraging friends and family, I didn’t give up, because there’s nothing in this world that brings me as much joy as creating stories. Over the next year, my family went through our lowest time ever. We struggled personally, financially, emotionally. Through it all, I kept writing… pulling the hurt and frustration from my own life and pouring it into the pages of these books. 

Bet you think this story ends with some motivational spiel about how I made it to a bestsellers list or sold thousands of copies of my books. It doesn’t. Not yet, at least. But give me time. Age brings wisdom for sure and experience puts you in touch with those wiser than you. I’ve been blessed with both of those things recently.

My first series (The Waiting Series) is undergoing a complete makeover. In an effort to match the outward packaging to the inward machinations, backstabbing, and revenge we all know these books to be, I’ve changed the name of the series to COUNTERPLAY. For those of you who don’t know much about chess, Counterplay is  is defined as defined as active maneuvering by the player in an inferior or defensive position.

Could that be any more perfect for this tumultuous cast of characters? 

In addition to the series name change, the titles and covers will be different as well. Kathy, my beloved editor, will be making a pass over each book again, and Sarah M. Cradit (who did Witch Dance’s cover) has created compelling and poignant cover art, that nearly took my breath away. The above Cadduses is for the prequel and this is the art for the first cover. 


In addition to allllll these awesome things, I finally have a newsletter. Promise to keep it relevant and spam free. Sign up HERE and receive a COUNTERPLAY short story. 

What I’m working on: 

  • I’ve had the privilege of alpha reading Sarah M. Cradit‘s latest novel, Secrets Amongst the Cypress, and while Sarah is away on business, I’m making a run through. If you like paranormal and New Orleans, you’ll love her. Seriously. 
  • Revising ALL six of the available COUNTERPLAY books, plus editing next one to be published. Not much will be different, but for creative reasons, a few names have been tweaked and situations changed within the series. 
  • Writing COUNTERPLAY’s seventh installment. 

So…two years later, I’m not quitting. I’m not giving up. I’ll keep writing my stories and do whatever it takes to get them seen. But I can’t do it alone, so thank you to all the people who constantly encourage me or listen when I complain. This isn’t an easy profession, but there’s nothing else in the world I’d rather do. ❤️