Friday, September 30, 2011

The Value of Bookstores in an Ebook Age

The Value of Bookstores in an eBook Age
by Frank Hall

Ebooks are a wonderful thing to the book industry. They have increased the number of readers, and more books are being sold now then ever before. But there are still things that a bookstore can do for you that you can't get from surfing a website.

First, there is that personal touch. In our store we know our customers, and we know what they read. We can help find books that you might like, even when you are not in the store. Not every book is available as an ebook,and we can find those out of print ones for you.

Another advantage that I think we have as a physical store front is the ability to look at the book before you buy. Yes, I know nearly everyone offering ebooks now have the option of downloading a sample to read. But it is always the beginning of the book. Many of our customers flip to the middle of the book, and sometimes the end, to see what the writing is like there. Sometimes the first chapter or two of the book is not enough to decide if you want to invest your time in reading it.

Talking with people online is fine, going to a forum and using facebook to discuss the book you just read is great, but there is something about that human interaction face to face that appeals to everyone at some point in time.

What better place to talk about books than a bookstore? Well, maybe a library, but you have to be quiet there. Come in, sit down, and have a nice chat about books with us or a fellow customer. We see it happen all the time, and 9 times out of 10 you will learn of a new author you haven't read that you are going to pick up and try.

Despite naysayers, print books are not going away anytime soon. Ebooks have just helped spawn a change in the industry. For the better, in my opinion, as I stated in the opening. More books being sold more readers out there. What could be better then that?

But the smell of old books is still the best smell in the world!

-Frank Hall
Owner of That Book Place and Hydra Publications

Visit the sites for That Book Place and Hydra Publications:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pick of the Week: The Sticks, by Andy Deane

Pick of the Week (#4): The Sticks, by Andy Deane
(Delirium Books)
-Selection made by Stephen Zimmer

The Book:Something evil is stirring in the sticks outside the small town of Jefferson, Virginia... And Brian was already having one hell of a night. After a disastrous outing at a party full of snobs on the rich side of town, his girlfriend Alicia dumps him then promptly vanishes under suspicious circumstances. Searching for her in the dark of night while working his way through a backwoods maze and the outlandish characters that inhabit it, Brian instead finds an enigmatic dark-haired beauty named Jessica and a monster he hadn't believed existed outside his beloved horror films. But before the night is through, everyone and everything Brian cares about will be threatened by a creature that is all too real, a bloodthirsty beast lurking in the woods of Jefferson. Fighting for his life, Brian tries to uncover the truth about the evil stalking him and the mystery surrounding Alicia's disappearance, but time is running out. Welcome to a night in THE STICKS.
(publisher's excerpt)

The Author:Andy has been writing stories and songs from the time he realized he could do either. Much of his first novel (THE STICKS, Delirium Books, 2009) was written while passing long miles between gigs on the road with his band Bella Morte. Since finishing THE STICKS Andy has completed a novella (THE THIRD HOUSE, Thunderstorm Books, 2010) and a second novel (ALL THE DARKNESS IN THE WORLD) which is due out this fall from Thunderstorm Books.

He is best known as the frontman and lyricist for the internationally renowned alternative rock band Bella Morte. They have released two EPs and seven full-length albums. (Bio excerpt from author's site)

The Publisher:Delirium Books, established in January 1999 by Shane Ryan Staley, is one of the leading specialty presses in the horror genre. Operating in the Midwest (Northern Indiana), Delirium Books has quickly gained the reputation of bringing to print the best new voices in horror fiction, including fan favorites Greg F. Gifune and Michael McBride as well as bestselling author Brian Keene. Delirium has also published established genre authors such as Brian Lumley, James Morrow, Douglas Clegg and David B. Silva.

Delirium Books won the Bram Stoker Award for Excellence in Specialty Press Publishing. This was presented to Delirium Books by the HWA (Horror Writer’s Association) in 2005.(bio excerpt from publisher's site).
Visit the official site of Delirium Books at:

My Comments:The werewolves are primal and the action speeds along in The Sticks, a highly gratifying read that was one of my favorite horror novels of the past couple of years. An ensemble of compelling characters fill this novel, ranging from the rocker/metalhead protagonist, Brian, to Myrtle, a crazy older woman that likes to run out of her house and expose herself to those unlucky enough to be passing by, to Hank, a reclusive fellow living among heaps of odds and ends.

They are all made to contend with the terror of the lycanthropes, who are visceral and brutal. A brooding tension permeates key scenes, delivering horrific payoffs when the shapeshifters make their presence felt.

Yet what lifts this book above other novels of its subgenre is Andy's subtle and skillful touches in the relationships between characters. The developing bond between Brian and Jessica, and the nascent friendship between Brian and Nate are two examples of what elevates this book above the crowd, as characters that you rapidly come to care about are placed into dangerous situations with quite uncertain outcomes.

The Sticks delivers a hard-hitting, well-paced werewolf tale, with the appropriate depths of character development and plot construction needed to bring the horror reader a very satisfying lycanthropic adventure.

So make Andy Deane's The Sticks from Delirium Books the SSP Blog's Pick of the Week!

Pick up The Sticks today! Direct Paperback and Kindle Links Below:


Kindle Version:

Friday, September 23, 2011

Author Costs in Attending Conventions: A Brief Overview

Author Costs in Attending Conventions: A Brief Overview
by Stephen Zimmer

Conventions are a fantastic venue for authors to meet readers, gain exposure, and network. While containing many enjoyable moments, they do require a lot of effort and expense on the part of the author, and it is my hope that this overview of the reality of attending conventions will help give readers and others some insights into the things that authors undergo to attend these events.

Unless you are on the top of the heap on the NY Times list, it is highly unlikely that your publisher will give you much support for appearances and events. From mid-list authors at Big 6 publishers, to small press authors, to self-published authors, the burden of expense falls upon the authors themselves. It is up to the author's own initiative to decide, in most cases, what conventions will be best, and how many of them are doable financially. The author pays for the table space, travel costs, food, and hotel, in addition to any incidentals.

Things certainly haven't gotten any easier in the last year. With gas costs pushing higher (as of now ranging between $3 and $4 a gallon across the USA), the costs of simply getting to the conventions have risen considerably.

For the purposes of this overview, I will examine a mid-sized convention taking place within a reasonable range of distance. This translates to a Convention of around 1000 to 1500 in size of attendance, in a location around 3 hours from the author's home.

Taking a vehicle with modest fuel economy, the first expense is going to be roughly $50 in gas to get to the convention and back home.

Next is accommodations. If you stay at the convention site, the cost will average around a hundred bucks a night, give or take a few dollars, but many authors opt to stay at discount hotels just off-site. We will go ahead and use the cheaper hotel option, so we will estimate around $60 a night for both the Friday and Saturday of the convention weekend.

To effectively sell books at a convention, you need table/exhibit space. Small conventions will be around $30-45 for table space, whereas a mid-sized convention will be more around $60-75. We'll use the cheaper option here as well, going with the lower end $60 figure for a mid-size event.

For food, you can take advantage of the con suites at many conventions, but at larger events these are not always available. We'll estimate a per diem of $20 in food support for this simple demonstration.

The total expense, so far, with the cheaper options on hotel and table space, is $290.

This cost could go even higher if the convention does not give the author a complimentary badge for serving on panels. As most cons do give authors participating on panels a badge, for doing a certain amount of programming, the cost of a badge will be omitted from this estimation. Just know that at a few conventions, an additional $50-75 would be added to the $290.

Now, let's take a look at the books themselves. Most good publishers will allow you to purchase books at a wholesale-type rate that is just marked up very slightly from hard cost. A roughly 300 page novel will therefore run about seven bucks to an author, to round the cost to an even figure.

The author then has to decide what to sell the book for. With a book of about 250-300 pages, in trade paperback format, the price that will move the quickest to buyers is $10. However, that is only a $3 margin over hard cost, which means that one would have to sell nearly 100 books over the weekend to cover the cost of the convention and the cost of purchasing the books. At $12, a person would have to sell 58 books exactly, and at $15, they would have to sell approximately 36 books.

Now, bear in mind that most authors I have been around range between 10 and 25 books sold for a mid-sized convention. True, there are those such as Shane Moore and Nick Valentino who are amazing sellers of their work. Shane has sold over 70 books in an afternoon appearance at a 7-11, while Nick has sold stacks and stacks of books at events of moderate-larger sizes (I have witnessed this in person as a neighbor of his in the dealer room). However, sales figures like Shane's and Nick's are not the norm for most authors. Rather, they are the exception.

So, let's take the top range for most authors and add an additional five units to round sales out at 30. At the $10 price figure, this is 70 units short of a break even level, at the $12 figure, it is just over halfway to the break even level, and at the highest price, which is going to be the toughest to move books at, with the size of the book and price, it is still 6 books short of breaking even.

As you can see, even with attaining a pretty good sales weekend in terms of copies sold, all three price scenarios fall short of covering cost. It is a real challenge just to approach a break-even level at a convention for most authors, and uncommon that an author can fully make expense, and perhaps have a little money to come back with.

There are ways to further mitigate costs, such as sharing hotel rooms, sharing table space, etc, but it is nonetheless very hard to cover the spread on a convention weekend. Even WITH sharing hotel and table space, the third tier of pricing is the only likely area for most authors that cost could be adequately covered, and that third tier is a much tougher pricing to sell a book of around a 300 page count at. This is not meant to be discouraging to authors, but instead something for convention goers to keep in mind when they are browsing the dealer rooms.

Instead of picking up a New York Times best-selling novel at the convention that you can get in any bookstore, why not give a little more attention to the exhibiting small press authors and find something that appeals to you? These authors are putting a great deal on the line in attending conventions, and have a lot of time, effort and financial sacrifice invested. Give them a little support and encouragement by picking up that $12 book, and help them get a little closer to covering their trip expense in the process. At the very least, you are reducing the financial bleeding that they will likely incur over the weekend.

You will find yourself discovering quite a few literary gems, which are every bit as good as major press offerings. Take careful note that increasing numbers of independent press and even self-published authors are filling up the top end of the sales charts in the eBook world, in a market where they are not gated out from getting on the shelves like they are in the traditional distribution channels flowing into the chain stores (A sector that is rapidly decreasing in this new age of publishing).

I say this to make the point that I am not advocating acts of charity in browsing and purchasing from author tables at conventions. Rather, I am inviting those who haven't tried independent, small-press, and self-published offerings to discover what increasing thousands and thousands of readers are finding out; many authors on the small, independent, and self-published level, in this new age of publishing, have works that are every bit as good as major press offerings.

The author of today's brave new world of publishing has to wear many hats, in addition to writing. They must be travel planners, marketers, public relations representatives, sales people, office managers, and more. Conventions are a very important part of the equation, but it is not easy for authors to regularly attend them due to the financial hurdles. Hopefully,this overview of the situation facing authors who attend and exhibit at conventions has given you a better appreciation of the sacrifices involved on the author's road.

-Stephen Zimmer

Connect with Stephen at:
and now at Google+

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Art of Procrastination

The Art of Procrastination
by Rodney Carlstrom

Procrastination = Death:

Granted, the video above is hyperbole; a slippery slope on the topic, but procrastination is still a malady suffered by the majority of the world's population. Although I could point fingers, and blame certain aspects of today's culture for procrastination's rise in popularity, it's something we as humans have suffered through for as long as we have been human.

Procrastinating is a serious issue, one that we often look past because we've programmed ourselves to it's presence, and because most people hate confrontation, let alone confrontation with ourselves. Sometimes it's hard to realize your own faults. Would you rather have someone who looks up to you realize your flaws, or would you rather it be you who catches your mistakes and fixes them? It's only been recently that I've come to that conclusion, and decided to wage war against this malady; a personal crusade, if you will.

This revelation came to me one evening, when scrolling through the reviews and posts on Sci-Fi Guys. I realized there were large gaps between posts. (And for those that follow Sci-Fi Guys Book Review, yes, I know, it still only has updates posted. I'm working on it!) I thought on it for a bit, and realized the reasons for these bald patches: 1.) I don't treat it like a job, 2.) I read the book, and either it failed to blow me away, or it was so good I'm afraid of writing a review that makes the title seem like it's my new favorite book. 3.) I find other things to do, instead of reading, or writing the review (i.e. writing and posting updates).

For me, 95% of the time it's reason number three. Call it lack of personal discipline, but my habitual inclination in regards to my work ethic has always been that I work best when it comes down to the last minute; when, come hell or high water, I'm burning the midnight oil to produce a final product I can turn in the next day. Although I hate pressure, it seems to be the only real way to get me to do anything. I realized that early on, and it's the only way I've done things since. However, there's a difference between doing something last minute and procrastinating past the deadline. If the former is how you work best, then by all means don't change a thing.

It's not just Sci-Fi Guys that I've noticed this with. My writing has also suffered from procrastinating. You see, just like the writer in the video above, procrastinating could very well be the death of you, before you have even started. Not a physical death mind you, but what if you procrastinated for so long that you never got around to writing that short story, or that novel you've been wanting to write since the idea first popped into your head?

Now, let's say you did write that short story or novel, and come to find out, you weren't that bad at putting words on paper and making sentences. In fact, you're so good you've been nominated for prestigous awards within your genre. Hell, let's say you only win one out of the hundreds. Wouldn't it be worth it? You can't know what you don't know. So why waste time putting it off?

For those that do find themselves procrastinating when they should be writing, or procrastinating at anything they want to see themselves succeed in, there are three rules I would suggest following:

1.) Surround yourself with successful, like-minded people. If you're able to find a group of local writers to get plugged in with, or a reading group that reads the same genres you do, then rules two and three will naturally, over time, take care of themselves. By enveloping yourself with like-minded people, you begin to slowly pick up the same kind of habits they have.

This also includes cons. Essentially you're marketing yourself; what you write is you, whether you realize it or not. Yeah, Facebook is a great tool, but there's nothing as memorable than actually meeting a fellow writer, or lover of books, in the flesh. Those kinds of encounters tend to make a bigger impression on a person than liking their current status update.

2.) Accountability. Like anything worth doing in life, sometimes you need to be kept accountable. So, find someone who will make sure that you write those one thousand words a day, or keep resubmitting the stack of homeless stories that sit collecting digi-dust on your hard drive.

Keep in contact with them. Meet up for lunch, or set aside time to sit down and talk it out. This, most of all, will help with procrastination.

3.) Treat it as a job. If you treat your writing with as much care and seriousness as your job, you won't fail as much. For those business-oriented folks, go one step further and treat it as though it were your own business.

Make a daily schedule, where you set aside time to read or write. It could be as long as it takes to reach a thousand words, or long enough to read two chapters. But regardless of what's going on in your life, make it happen.

Although these won't immediately help you flush away the impulses to procrastinate, slowly but surely your mindset will change, and you'll want success enough to actually do something.


Be sure to visit The SciFi Guys Book Review blog or add them on Twitter at the following links:

Rodney's personal blog and Twitter page can be found at:
The Bloody Pen

Monday, September 19, 2011

Pick of the Week: The Cold Ones, By Elizabeth Donald

Pick of the Week (#3): The Cold Ones, by Elizabeth Donald
(Sam's Dot Publishing)
-selection made by Stephen Zimmer

The Book: How do you kill someone who's already dead?

It was an experiment. A way to create a better soldier. Efficient. Ruthless. Unclouded by conscience.

But some things shouldn't be altered. Some creatures are best left to myth. Because you shouldn't have to pray to just stay dead.

Major Harvey's team has already lost some of their comrades as they struggle to contain Its insidious influence. Now she leads the few survivors in a desperate fight to keep the Cold Ones away from the mainland. Away from us.
And the man at her side has only a little time left.

The Author: Elizabeth Donald is a writer fond of things that go chomp in the night. She is the author of the Nocturnal Urges vampire mystery series and numerous short stories and novellas in the horror, science fiction and erotica genres – and a three-time winner of the Darrell Award for speculative fiction, including one for her short-story collection, “Setting Suns.” By day, she is a reporter in the St. Louis region, which provides her with an endless source of material, and writes CultureGeek, a pop-culture newspaper column. Her latest releases include "Blackfire," a sequel to her bestselling zombie novella, "The Cold Ones."

The Publisher: Sam's Dot Publishing, based out of Cedar Rapid's Iowa, is an outstanding speculative fiction publisher whose catalog numbers several hundred publications, including magazines, anthologies, trade paperbacks, and chap books. For further information on Sam's Dot Publishing, you can visit their official website at

My Comments: Elizabeth Donald is a superb writer, who is well-known for her vampire tales in the Nocturnal Urges series. In The Cold Ones, Elizabeth explores another realm of the undead with a very engaging zombie story. The Cold Ones is a fast-paced read, with loads of action, several memorable characters, and some nice emotive touches. Readers will come to love Elizabeth's trademark wit and sharp edge, both of which are in full evidence in this story. She introduces a wonderful protagonist in Major Sara Harvey, whose tongue and no-nonsense attitude are as sharp as her fighting skills. The Cold Ones sets up what promises to be a very good series of zombie fiction, as the story continues in strong fashion in the second installment, Blackfire.

So make Elizabeth Donald's The Cold Ones from Sam's Dot Publishing the SSP Blog's Pick of the Week!

Pick up a copy of The Cold Ones at The Literary Underworld today!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Being the Little Guy at a Big Convention

Thoughts: Being a Little Guy at a Big Convention
by Ren Garcia

I'm a small author. I have no illusions. I have my small but loyal fan base, and every day I add a few more, but it's a lot of work. Keeping your brand moving is like a hamster running on the wheel-as long as the hamster is moving, the wheel turns, but, the moment he gets tired, goes for lunch or-God forbid-takes a day off, the wheel refuses to turn any further. It really would be nice if the wheel turned by itself. Keep on turning, you wheel you.

A key component of spreading the plague that is my brand is showing my smiling face: craft shows, bake shows, car shows, any place I can set up a table is fair game. And, truth be told, those lowly roadside shows can be a virgin goldmine: "You wrote this??" they cry. "Really?" An author standing proud amid fresh fruits and salted meats is a real novelty, and out comes the wallet and off goes the book sitting merry in its bag. Everybody wins.

A convention, on the other hand, is a whole different sort of cat. You got mind-scanned people coming and going in droll waves, you've got costumes and flashing lights and buffets of questionable foods . and you've got authors left and right, coming out of the baseboards, reading, speaking, standing in front of their tables, hucking and shucking. Wow! At a convention, being an author isn't really a big deal. It's pretty normal.

And then, you've got the handful of "Name Brand" folks moving about, the authors who are rather Big and have an Established Following, messiah-like amid the eager faithful. Just like in Lankhmar on the Street of the Gods, the bigger gods take their place at the end of the street and all the little gods and ragged priests line up nearby, hoping to snag a wayward or drunken worshipper or two. In such an environment, being shy and coy simply will not do. You cannot simply wait for the fish to jump into your boat, you've got to trawl for them.

My good friend Pete Grondin, author of the McKinney Brothers murder-mystery series, is a master at it. People pass by and Pete fearlessly casts his: "Hey, lady! You like murder?" he asks to astonished stares and quickening paces. But, occasionally, people stop: "Yes, I do like murder," they reply and the sale is transacted. So I sigh and give it a go: "Hey! You like Science Fiction?? No? You like Fantasy? How about Romance . I got `em all!"

Oh, is it tiring.

For me, the greatest value of attending a convention is the contacts and genuine friendships I make. I walk around and talk to the authors and show genuine interest in their work. I listen to them. I support them either with a pledge to mention them at future events or with my money. I speak on panels, and occasionally people remember that. I've met some great people. I met the incredible Shandahars-Tracy Chowdery and Ted Crim, I got to know Nic and Fiona Brown of "Werewolf for Hire" fame, I met the sweet and misunderstood Elizadeth Hetherington (is she ever tall and, of course the amazing and also upbeat Stephen Zimmer. I come out of these conventions exhausted, a little soiled, but enriched-people who didn't know I existed before know me afterward and that is worth it all.

I sometimes wonder what it might be like to be the Brand Name, the Big God sitting at the end of the street entertaining throngs of followers. Does the Big God know the names of his followers, can he recall their faces?? Certainly, it can't be as fun and fulfilling as snagging that select person or two and making a real connection. Now that's a happy ending.

Bowl Naked


Ren Garcia on Facebook

Ren Garcia on Twitter

Visit Ren's blog and website:

Would you like to be introduced into Ren's literary world? Here's a couple of titles that will get you underway!:

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Pick of the Week: Brine, by Adrienne Jones

Pick of the Week (#2): Brine, by Adrienne Jones
(Creative Guy Publishing)
– Selection made by Rodney Carlstrom

The Book:
Meet Elliot, respected Cape Cod painter. Unbeknownst to his admirers, Elliot's got some demons in his past. When he tries to paint them out of his system, his plan backfires. Now Elliot's got some demons in his present and future as well.

Spawned by a power of both mind and matter, Elliot's demons are very real, very weird, and very, very pissed off.

The people in Elliot's life called him 'closed off.' So he looked inside himself. Deep inside. What he found, he brought to the surface. Now its violent manifestations are holding him hostage at his beachside cabin. Worst of all, they know how to sing and dance. (Synopsis taken from

The Author: Adrienne Jones is the author of the books Brine, Gypsies stole my Tequila, The Hoax, and editor of the collection Grimm and Grimmer. She spent her early life in the Boston area, where her parents fed her an endless menu of mystery novels to keep her quiet. Ultimately moving to Vermont, she ate cheese, tried to ski and fell down a lot, but remained in the Green Mountain State until earning a Bachelor's Degree in Communication. Thereafter she trekked back down to the flatlands where she worked various jobs as a journalist, film maker, office-grunt an copywriter. She now lives in Rhode Island and writes full time.

The Publisher: Creative Guy Publishing is a small publisher in Vancouver Canada, which has put out a number of noteworthy titles since 2002, including Amityville House of Pancakes series, numerous chapbooks, audiobooks, and e-book novellas, Tales of Moreauvia historical SF Magazine, and many more unique publications. At CGP we bring you the unusual, but not the alienating.

My Comments: Last year when I went about narrowing down my Top 10 List of 2010, I wasn't at all surprised to find Adrienne Jones' Brine near the very top. Any book that will keep me up well past my bedtime, automatically deserves my attention. I haven't had many books like that come to my attention, but Brine did, and I managed to read it in one mindblowing sitting. With this novel, Jones does a marvelous job with keeping the pace smooth, and quick, filling it full of memorable characters, and a kick ass plot that keeps you guessing with each page. Brine reminded me of King's Duma Key, except it had been amped to twelve, and allowed to snort an arm-length line of coke. It starts out weird, and quickly goes to weirder, and ends at extremely weird. If you like fish, and author's with an imagination beyond your typical mass-market blasé mentality, then pick up a copy of Brine.

So Make Adrienne Jones' Brine from Creative Guy Publishing the SSP Blog's Pick of the Week!

Pick up Brine today! Direct Paperback and Kindle Links Below:



Friday, September 9, 2011

A Look at Small Press Publishing in Hydra's First Year

A Look at Small Press Publishing in Hydra's First Year
by Frank Hall (Publisher, Hydra Publications, and owner of That Book Place in Madison, IN)

Over the years my family of antique dealers acquired a large number of books. After I left college I decided I would try selling them online. A little over five years ago, my girlfriend at the time, now my wife, and I decided to open a used bookstore. Last year we decided to step it up again and add a small press to the mix. Thus Hydra Publications was born.

The past year has definitely been interesting. Borders has come crashing down, e-book sales have gone wild, authors have had to boycott their own publisher when they stopped sending royalty checks. There is no doubt about it: the publishing world is in flux.

I see a lot of change coming, some voluntary, some not so much. The big houses are so entrenched in their ways it is hard for them to change. That is why this is a perfect time for Small Presses to take over. We are more willing to adapt to change. We are more willing to take a risk.

The glory of having your book published is a wonderful feeling. I see the look in authors when they are at their first signing, or when they see the copy of their book for the first time on the shelves of a store. At a store like mine, we have the advantage of being able to display local authors, or ones from a local small press. If you are lucky enough to get your title in big chain store you will be fighting for space with tens of thousands of other titles. Is that worth it? The odds of someone finding your book is pretty low. Indie bookstores are where you should be focusing. You will get more exposure there than in a chain.

That is where publishers need to focus. That and online. As a bookstore owner I really hate Amazon. As a small press owner I love Amazon. Anyone, anywhere in the world, can get your book from Amazon. It is the best venue for small presses.

We as small presses need to work on honing our online marketing skills. Social media sites like Twitter and Facebook will lead to more sales in the long run then anything else we will be able to do. Through our own marketing efforts and working with our authors to make them marketing experts online, sales can only increase.

As much as it pains me as a bookseller, ebooks are the future for a publishing house. They are outselling print books around 3 to 1 currently. This doesn’t mean that physical books are going away. Sales have been steady for them. It just means that more then ever, more books are being sold, a majority of them ebooks. That is a good thing.

More people are writing, more books are selling, and more people are reading. So the outlook is good in my opinion for small presses and for indie bookstores.

Want to try out some Hydra Publication books? Here are a few to look at:

Or a Hydra eBook!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Two New Video Trailers for SSP Books

We hope you are enjoying some of the new additions to The Seventh Star Press Blog, such as Rodney Carlstrom's first post, on life as a reviewer, to the new Pick of the Week segement, with Terry W. Ervin's Flank Hawk as our first selection. Much more is coming In addition to the new content, we will keep you up to speed on Seventh Star Press developments, and in that regard, we have two new video book trailers to tell you about.

The first is for Jackie Gamber's Redheart, Book One of the Leland Dragon Series. The second is for The Seventh Throne, Book Three of the Rising Dawn Saga. Please give them a look, leave a comment on the YouTube Page, and pass around the link on your blogs and FaceBook/Google+ pages.

Hope you enjoy them!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Pick of the Week: Flank Hawk, by Terry W. Ervin II

Editors Note: This kicks off our very first SSP Blog Pick of the Week segment, which will highlight a book, author, and publisher that we recommend for you to try out. Expect some variety in these picks, which will be made by our blogging staff. The writer making the pick of the week will be credited with the post. We feel that publishing is a unique (and quite hard) industry to be in, and we hope we can help you find some quality authors and presses in the process of these picks.

Pick of the Week (#1): Flank Hawk, by Terry W Ervin II (Gryphonwood Press)
-selection made by Stephen Zimmer

The Book:
What happens when fire-breathing dragons battle Stukas for aerial supremacy over a battlefield? Can an earth wizard's magic defeat a panzer? Krish, a farmhand turned mercenary, witnesses this and much more as he confronts the Necromancer King's new war machines resurrected from before the First Civilization's fall. Worse yet, a wounded prince tasks Krish to find the fabled Colonel of the West and barter the royal family's malevolent Blood-Sword for a weapon to thwart the Necromancer King's victory. Flank Hawk is set in the distant future where magic exists and brutish ogres are more than a child's nightmare. (Synopsis from listing

The Author:
Terry W. Ervin II is an English teacher who enjoys writing Fantasy and Science Fiction. He is an editor for MindFlights, a guest columnist for Fiction Factor and is the author of over two dozen short stories and articles. Flank Hawk is his debut novel. When Terry isn't writing or enjoying time with his wife and daughters, he can be found in his basement raising turtles. To contact Terry, or to learn more about his writing endeavors, visit his website at

The Publisher: Founded in 2004 as a fantasy print/webzine, Gryphonwood Press publishes speculative fiction novels in print, including epic and modern fantasy, sci-fi, steampunk, and adventure with a touch of the supernatural. Gryphonwood is committed to introducing talented new voices to the field of speculative fiction. The roster of Gryphonwood Press includes authors such as David Wood, Jim Bernheimer, Terry W. Ervin II, and Sherry Thompson. Visit Gryphonwood Press on the web at

My Comments: I am going to be doing a full review of Flank Hawk very soon, when I get enough of a time window to do a good one, but suffice it to say that this was one of my highlight reads of the year. I'm giving it five stars. Terry takes some definite chances with this book, in crossing some genres by bringing in things like Panzers and Stukas to a fantasy-based setting with dragons and the like. A risk like this could have gone either way, descending into something very silly or soaring, and I can tell you that the latter was achieved in Flank Hawk. Terry's prose flows, his characters really shine (and the mercenary elements evoked some of the things I loved about one of my favorite fantasy authors, Glen Cook, in his Black Company series), and it is anything but predictable. I highly recommend Flank Hawk, which is the first book in a series, if you would like to indulge in a truly original fantasy read.

So Make Terry W. Ervin II's Flank Hawk from Gryphonwood Press the SSP Blog's Pick of the Week!

Pick up Flank Hawk today! Direct Paperback and Kindle Links Below:


Thursday, September 1, 2011

My Life as a Reviewer: A Love Affair

Editorial Note: As promised, the Seventh Star Press blog is expanding! New contributors and content bringing you a look into the world of authors, publishing, and more will be gracing the blog in the future.

Today, we kick it off with a nice piece from Rodney Carlstrom, a reviewer with The Sci-Fi Guys Book Review, who gives us a look into what led him into becoming a reviewer, as well as some insight into his process of reviewing. This one should be interesting for both authors and publishers alike!

My Life as a Reviewer: A Love Affair
by Rodney Carlstrom

I'll be the first to admit that I love books, but I'll be the last to admit that I have a problem.

Since that fateful trip to my local library, where I managed to pick up my first 'big boy book' at the age of 12, – J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit – it's been a non-stop race to see how many books I can devour before I die. (Not that I plan on kicking the bucket anytime soon, mind you.) And within those nine years, I think I've done a damn good job of putting a dent in my ever-expanding list of Books-to-Read-Before-I-Die.

Some would call it an obsession. I tend to think of it as a love affair.

Fast forward four years: that first trip to the library has now turned into a weekly occasion, or whenever I can get there. If it meant walking, riding my bike, or catching rides from friends, I found a way to walk those isles of familiarity. For a kid of sixteen, hormones raging, testosterone pumping, that was the closest I ever thought I'd get to having a lover. And oddly enough, I was okay with that.

It was during my browsing of the new fiction shelf that I picked up two novels that would further change my life: Brian Keene's The Conqueror Worms and Gary A. Braunbeck's In Silent Graves (Stephen King's The Shining followed soon after). Although not my typical diet of Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, Star Wars and Star Trek novels (I blame my father for instilling his love of science fiction in me), these two titles plucked at heartstrings I never knew existed. It was then that I decided I wanted to do the same thing they did for a living; I wanted to write my own stories,and get paid for doing it.

It was in the following years that I began to write. Two short stories later, and I had found my newest obsession, and my second love. And even though I hit a few hard spots along the way, (losing 80,000 words of outline for a fantasy trilogy thanks to a nasty virus) they didn't stop me. I got back up, brushed myself off and put my fingers to the keyboard once again.

So you see, it was only a matter of time before I realized that I could combine the two things that I loved most: writing (albeit not fiction, but a chance to exercise my thoughts and opinions) and reading. Add in a best friend, boredom to the nth degree, a bookcase of novels just waiting to be read, and all summer to read them, and thus The Sci-Fi Guys Book Review Blog was born.

Granted things change. Where at first there were two steady reviewers, now there's only one. Instead of individual podcasts for each book review, there's a single post. Since that initial post two years ago, I've changed as well. Instead of just focusing on reviewing the newest title, I'm dissecting every novel, chapter, page, paragraph and sentence I read.

And with every new review I write, I learn what works best within that novel. Whether it be the mechanics the author uses, the tone or feel the author evokes, the development of the characters, or the author's ability to allow me to escape long enough to block out the world around me, there's always something to have been learned by the last page.

One of the best pieces of writing advice ever given to me came from Horror author Brian Keene, who said that the only way to become a better writer was to read and write every day.

That's it.

It's that simple: Read and write. Every day.

Luckily enough at the time, I was already in a position where I was doing half of what he prescribed.

The other half came from wanting to be as good a storyteller as J.R.R. Tolkien. As imaginative as Stephen King. Or to have the ability to pluck the heartstrings of readers who had never known such a sensation existed, like Gary Braunbeck. Or to tell one hell of a good story like Brian Keene.

Though there are many things that happened before that piece of advice was imparted to me, the most important thing I ever did to open doors in the publishing world, and to hear Brian Keene reaffirm me that I was on the right track, was to start Sci-Fi Guys. It's been two years since I blogged the first post, and since then it has enabled me to get my foot in doors I could have never dreamed of before.

Including the words you're reading right now.

Even though I'm not yet published (I have several stories out floating around, waiting to be snagged), I consider it an honor to be allowed to share my thoughts, ideas and ramblings with readers of the Seventh Star Press Blog.

And to think it all started with a love affair...


Be sure to visit The SciFi Guys Book Review blog or add them on Twitter at the following links:

Rodney's personal blog and Twitter page can be found at:
The Bloody Pen