Monday, May 30, 2011

PATHS TO PUBLICATION: Victoria Thompson

Paths to Publication
As part of the virtual book tour for Many Genres, One Craft, I have more contributor interviews this week: Victoria Thompson, Albert Wendland, Michael Bracken, David Shifren, and Venessa Giunta.

Now, find out how Victoria Thompson got published.

I wrote my first novel without really intending to get it published. I just had this story in my head and couldn’t forget it. I wrote it down so my head wouldn’t explode. When it was finished, I started thinking I should try to get it published, so I sent it out to five publishers who published Westerns, thinking it was a Western. By the time I’d been rejected by all five of them, I had realized it was really an historical romance set in the Old West. I sent it to an agent who didn’t want to represent me but who suggested I send it to Zebra Books, because they specialized in first time authors and maybe they could give me some tips. The editor at Zebra liked the book, and her tips were to make it 200 pages longer and put in more sex. I did that, and they bought it. This was my first book, Texas Treasure.

-Victoria Thompson

Victoria is a contributor to Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction, a writing guide edited by Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller and based on the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction graduate program.

Friday, May 27, 2011

PATHS TO PUBLICATION: Randall Silvis

Paths to Publication
As part of the virtual book tour for Many Genres, One Craft and Armchair BEA 2011, this week kicks off my MGOC author interview series for the next month and a half! This week we'll hear from David Morrell, Jason Jack Miller, Tess Gerritsen, Susan Mallery, and Randall Silvis.

And, now, Randall Silvis:


I lived in the woods and wrote my ass off for ten years and collected nothing but rejection slips. Then suddenly one summer, four stories accepted and an invitation to the MacDowell Colony and a literature fellowship grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and a couple of playwriting prizes. Next year the Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Meantime I kept writing my ass off and eventually had ten more books published. I'm still writing my ass off and still trying to write the best book I've ever written and still wondering why nobody loves me enough to hit me upside the head with a shovel and tell me, "Enough already!"

-Randall Silvis

Randall is a contributor to Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction, a writing guide edited by Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller and based on the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction graduate program.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

PATHS TO PUBLICATION: Susan Mallery

Paths to Publication
As part of the virtual book tour for Many Genres, One Craft and Armchair BEA 2011, this week kicks off my MGOC author interview series for the next month and a half! This week we'll hear from David Morrell, Jason Jack Miller, Tess Gerritsen, Susan Mallery, and Randall Silvis.

And, now, Susan Mallery:

Don’t give up. Getting published is a whole lot less about talent than it is about persistence. There are hundreds of talented writers who will never sell because they won’t finish/edit/submit their work. No publisher is going to knock on your door and beg to read what you’ve written. It’s up to you to polish it and get it out there. It’s also up to you to write the next work.

You never know which book is going to be “the one.” I started writing romance in college, while studying accounting. One December, during my second to last semester, I was very close to beginning my big push for finals. I was in my last writing session for nearly two weeks. I had the whole day to write and I was so excited to spend all that time with my characters.

About ten that morning I got a call from the agent I had at the time, telling me I had a rejection. Being a brave little soldier, I handled the call professionally and went back to my computer. Just before lunch, I went to check the mail and there was a different rejection. Two in one day, on different projects.

I really lost it. I started crying and knew I could never do it. I would never sell. I didn’t have whatever was required and I should just give up. I thought about not going back to write in the afternoon, but something told me if I gave up at that moment, I would never go back to it again. That I would forget about writing and my dream to be published would be over. Frankly, I wondered if that was so bad. Who was I to think I could be published?

But the dream was more powerful than my disappointment, so after lunch I returned to my computer where I wrote the first kiss in that story. I was crying the whole time, knowing I was an idiot for believing, but I wrote it anyway.

That first kiss still exists, word for word, in my first published book. Because that’s the one I sold. If I’d stopped that day, I would never have known how close I was. I wouldn’t have achieved my dream.

So don’t give up. You can’t know when it will happen or where. Yes, it’s hard. In NY publishing, approximately one in a 1000 submissions are bought. One in 1000. But I did it. Other people did it. It’s not that we’re so much more talented—it’s that we didn’t give up. Neither should you.

-Susan Mallery

Susan is a contributor to Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction, a writing guide edited by Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller and based on the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction graduate program.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

PATHS TO PUBLICATION: Tess Gerritsen

Paths to Publication
As part of the virtual book tour for Many Genres, One Craft and Armchair BEA 2011, this week kicks off my MGOC author interview series for the next month and a half! This week we'll hear from David Morrell, Jason Jack Miller, Tess Gerritsen, Susan Mallery, and Randall Silvis.


Tess Gerritsen took an unusual route to a writing career. A graduate of Stanford University, Tess went on to medical school at the University of California, San Francisco, where she was awarded her M.D.

While on maternity leave from her work as a physician, she began to write fiction. In 1987, her first novel was published. Call After Midnight, a romantic thriller, was followed by eight more romantic suspense novels. She also wrote a screenplay, "Adrift," which aired as a 1993 CBS Movie of the Week starring Kate Jackson.

Tess's first medical thriller, Harvest, was released in hardcover in 1996, and it marked her debut on the New York Times bestseller list. Her suspense novels since then have been: Life Support (1997), Bloodstream (1998), Gravity (1999), The Surgeon (2001), The Apprentice (2002), The Sinner (2003), Body Double (2004), Vanish (2005), The Mephisto Club (2006), The Bone Garden (2007), The Keepsake (2008) and Ice Cold (2010; UK title: The Killing Place.) Her books have been translated into 37 languages, and more than 20 million copies have been sold around the world.

Her books have been top-5 bestsellers in the United States and abroad. She has received the Nero Wolfe Award (for Vanish) and the Rita Award (for The Surgeon) and was a finalist for the Edgar award (for Vanish.)

Her series of novels featuring homicide detective Jane Rizzoli and medical examiner Maura Isles inspired the hit TNT television series "Rizzoli & Isles," starring Angie Harmon and Sasha Alexander.

Now retired from medicine, she writes full time. She lives in Maine.

-Tess Gerritsen

Tess is a contributor to Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction, a writing guide edited by Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller and based on the Seton Hill University Writing Popular Fiction graduate program.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: JASON JACK MILLER (The Devil and Preston Black)

HEIDI'S PICK SIX
As part of the virtual book tour for Many Genres, One Craft and Armchair BEA 2011, this week kicks off my MGOC author interview series for the next month and a half! This week we'll hear from David Morrell, Jason Jack Miller, Tess Gerritsen, Susan Mallery, and Randall Silvis.

So, without further introduction, ladies and gentlemen, Jason Jack Miller:


Jason Jack Miller


1. Which of your characters is your favorite?

2. Tell me about your travels.
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Costa Rica was fer-de-lances, kinkajous and volcanoes. Mexico was pyramids and beaches. Zion was cool nights and red rock claustrophobia. Florida is cypress knees and egrets and a mouse. Czech Republic was Kafka and cabs and a rekindling. Outer Banks is family and hush puppies and sea grass. Germany was train stations and beer and holding hands. Canada was border guards. Vegas was Mesa Grill and bling. Austria was pizza and fog and church bells. Kentucky is barbecue and bourbon. West Virginia is wild and wonderful, snuggled in a tent with a handful of blueberries beneath a sky filled with stars and thousands of their seldom-seen cousins.

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3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Coffee for when the writing is going so well I can't stop to eat. Milk for the Captain Crunch and Nutter Butters. Tea for the rest of the time. Darjeeling or English Breakfast in the morning, green the rest of the day.


4. What else can you do besides write?
5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
I probably would've stopped writing a long time ago if it wasn't for my wife, Heidi. She believes in me when I'm down on myself and helps me to keep going when I think I'm ready to throw in the towel.


9. Food you could eat everyday.
New York Pizza and Pasta, round pie with pepperoni and peppers, Los Mariachis' chili verde, Jameson whiskey, Black Bear Burritos Pizzadilla, Martin's Red Hots, Woodford Reserve bourbon, Fabrizi's homemade spaghetti, Sirianni's pizza, Saffiticker's soft serve, Eat'n Park wedding soup. You didn't say I had to pick just one. Oh, and Colasessano's pepperoni buns. And pekoras from Mother India.


10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?

11. What kind of music speaks to you?
Johnny Cash, Wilco, The Clash, The Beatles, Zeppelin, The Roots, Jack Johnson, Radiohead. I like music that takes me somewhere or tells a story. I like it when an artist leaves a little blood on the stage.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
John Lennon, Jack Kerouac, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Joe Strummer, Neil Gaiman, Ed Abbey, Sherman Alexie. And Sara Gruen. Water for Elephants is a darn-near perfect novel.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Jason Jack Miller is a writer, photographer and musician whose work has appeared online and in print in newspapers, magazines and literary journals, and as a smart phone travel app. He has co-authored a travel guide with his wife and served as a photographer-in-residence at a Frank Lloyd Wright house. Jason is an Authors Guild member who received a Master’s in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill where he is adjunct creative writing faculty. He is a contributor to the new writing guide Many Genres, One Craft. In between projects Jason can be found mountain biking in West Virginia or looking for his next favorite guitar. He is currently writing and recording the soundtracks to his Appalachian Gothic series, which includes the novels, The Devil and Preston Black, Under the Rainbow, and Hellbender. Find him at http://jasonjackmiller.blogspot.com.

Monday, May 23, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: DAVID MORRELL

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

As part of the virtual book tour for Many Genres, One Craft and Armchair BEA 2011, this week kicks off my MGOC author interview series for the next month and a half! This week we'll hear from David Morrell, Jason Jack Miller, Tess Gerritsen, Susan Mallery, and Randall Silvis.

So, without further introduction, ladies and gentlemen, Dr. David Morrell:

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David Morrell


1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
One of my novels, The Shimmer, has several scenes about small private planes. As research, I took some flying lessons (I’m the authorial equivalent of a Method-trained actor) and enjoyed the experience so much that I became a private pilot. I love being able to get above everything and clear my head by flying.


5. Who are you reading right now?

6. Pop culture or academia?
I’m a rarity, a fiction writer who had formal training as an academic (I was a full professor of American literature at the University of Iowa). I’m reminded of the great jazz pianist Oscar Peterson who had classical training and performed Bach etc. before he devoted himself to jazz. My knowledge of literary history and of how books are put together has been a big help to me.


7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.

10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
Hemingway compared writing a novel to running a marathon. He was talking about mental attitude, but I think the metaphor has a physical application also. To me, it’s essential to exercise as a way of compensating for long hours at a desk. For many years, I ran five miles a day. Then I switched to tennis. Now I favor a treadmill. Physical conditioning helps an author think better, I believe.


11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
In my writing book The Successful Novelist, I describe an alternative to outlines. Basically it’s a long letter that I write to myself in which I ask why a particular project is worth a year of my life. Then I start probing the book’s general idea, asking questions, looking for the story’s implications. The final document is sometimes 30 single-spaced pages and sets the direction for the book.


13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
At Penn State, I wrote my Master’s thesis on Hemingway’s style. While I don’t write like Hemingway, he certainly influenced me as did a British thriller writer, Geoffrey Household, whose Rogue Male (1939) showed me how to describe action in an outdoor setting, sort of like Wordsworth with weapons.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?

David Morrell is the award-winning author of First Blood, the novel in which Rambo was created. He holds a Ph. D. in American literature from Penn State and was a professor at the University of Iowa. Noted for his research, Morrell has written numerous international bestsellers that include the classic spy trilogy The Brotherhood of the Rose (the basis for an NBC miniseries after the Super Bowl), The Fraternity of the Stone, and The League of Night and Fog.

International Thriller Writers honored him with its ThrillerMaster award. His writing book, The Successful Novelist, discusses what he has learned in his almost four decades as an author.

David is a contributor to the new writing guide Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction, based on the Seton Hill University MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program and edited by Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller.

Jason Jack Miller is the next author interview.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Carole Waterhouse

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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Carole Waterhouse

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?

2. Tell me about your travels.
I've always loved traveling, even as a child, and often do so in unconventional ways. When I was in college in the late seventies, I spent a summer backpacking through Europe with a friend and then spent four months the next year traveling alone through England, Ireland and Wales on a bicycle. A man I met on the first trip, while waiting in the standing room line at the Vienna Opera House, was the one who inspired me to travel by bicycle. He had been had been doing that and absolutely everything had gone wrong. His bike had been stolen in Italy and he was going to have to return home early because he had run out of money. His clothes were completely tattered. He asked me and my companion to stand behind him while entering the opera house so that no one could see the holes in the backside of his pants. I listened to his tale and realized that while nothing had gone quite right, he was still having a wonderful time. That's when I became brave enough to try something similar the next year. Lately I've been going on hiking trips, including the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, the Cappadocia area in Turkey, and inn-to-inn walks in the Austrian and Swiss Alps. This year I have plans to hike along the Amalfi Coast in Italy. The older I get, the more I want to see of the world, and for some reason I feel compelled to do it on foot.


3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
4. What else can you do besides write?

5. Who are you reading right now?
I just finished A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. I especially like work by international writers and find fiction an especially inviting way of learning about other cultures. Maybe it has something to do with my love of travel. Reading international work is like traveling through words.


6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
All around me. I take details from interesting people I meet and conversations I have, mix them together, and let my imagination take off from there. Most of my characters are based on composites of people I've met. One of my all time favorite characters is a woman I created who was based on a combination of my father's personality and one of my favorite horses.


9. Food you could eat everyday.

10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
I love horses, hiking and biking. I live on ten acres with my three horses, one of which I foaled myself, and another that I raised from a two-year-old. I'm often conflicted because morning is my favorite time to ride and write. Riding always seems to win. My horses have been making their way into my writing more and more. In fact, every book I've written has a horse in it somewhere. There's a scene in The Tapestry Baby that describes the birth of a foal and the details were all taken from the experience of watching my own foal being born. I spent three weeks sleeping in my own barn so that I wouldn't miss it.


11. What kind of music speaks to you?
I enjoy many different types of music, everything from pop to classical. I've always liked the liveliness of Celtic music and several years ago I joined a Scottish Country Dance group. Several times a year I go to a ball where live music is played. There is nothing like the experience of dancing to live bagpipes!


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I never outline. I always have an ending in mind--I at least have to have a general direction before I can start--but it rarely ends up being the ending I actually find myself reaching. The characters always end up changing things as I go. By the time I reach the new ending, the beginning usually no long fits and so I start from the beginning again, refining everything as I go along.


13. Celebrity crush.
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
15. Do you still watch cartoons?

A creative writing professor at California University of Pennsylvania, Carole Waterhouse is the author of two novels, The Tapestry Baby and Without Wings, and a collection of short stories, The Paradise Ranch.

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Her fiction has appeared in Arnazella, Artful Dodge, Baybury Review, Ceilidh, Eureka Literary Magazine, Forum, Half Tones to Jubilee, Massachusetts Review, Minnetonka Review, Oracle: The Brewton-Parker College Review, Parting Gifts, Pointed Circle, Potpourri, Seems, Spout, The Armchair Aesthete, The Griffin, The Styles, Tucumari Literary Review, Turnrow, and X-Connect.

A previous newspaper reporter, she has published essays in an anthology, Horse Crazy: Women and the Horses They Love, and Equus Spirit Magazine. Her book reviews have appeared in The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Pittsburgh Press, and The New York Times Book Review. Visit her online at her website: http://www.carolewaterhouse.com and her blog: http://carolewaterhouse.wordpress.com.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

SECRET WRITERS: LEE ALLEN HOWARD

Secret Writers

Lee Allen Howard


As part of the three month mega VBT for the writing guide Many Genres, One Craft, Calum, The Secret Writer, and I are hosting the Secret Writers series.

LEE ALLEN HOWARD
A name is a trademark, one you hope will become known and connected to your writing. When you're writing in the genre world, a name can represent a certain genre that you pen for. My primary genre is horror -- always has been -- so I use my full name, Lee Allen Howard. (I started using all three names
when I discovered how many "Lee Howards" were out there!) I also liked that it has the same number of syllables as "Edgar Allan Poe," along with the same middle name. This gives me uniqueness with resonance.

I use a synonym for my erotica to maintain anonymity with those who may be offended by the subject matter. It helps prevent some who are prejudiced about the genre from attaching this stigma to my other work. Using a pen name also keeps readers with sex-on-the-brain from finding me in the phonebook!

Using a pseudonym protects me and helps maintain brand recognition between different genres -- important for someone who writes not only horror and dark crime, but gay erotica, and spirituality, believe it or not.

BIO
Lee Allen Howard has been a professional writer in the software industry since 1985. Besides editing fiction and non-fiction, he does editing and layout for health and fitness professionals. Lee writes horror, erotic horror, dark fantasy, and crime. His publication credits include The Sixth Seed, Severed Realtions, Cemetery Sonata anthology, Out newspaper, Thou Shalt Not... anthology, and Amber Quill Press. His article "Your Very First Editor" is part of the writing guide Many Genres, One Craft, edited by Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller. Lee also writes about metaphysical and consciousness issues on his blog at http://buildingthebridge.wordpress.com. You can also visit him at http://leeallenhoward.com.

LINKS
Lee Allen Howard - http://leeallenhoward.com

Lee Allen Howard blog - http://buildingthebridge.wordpress.com

Many Genres blog - http://manygenres.blogspot.com

Many Genres, One Craft - http://www.amazon.com/Many-Genres-One-Craft-Lessons/dp/0938467085/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1302017939&sr=1-1

The Sixth Seed – http://www.amazon.com/The-Sixth-Seed-ebook/dp/B004TTWWRM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1302019399&sr=1-1

Severed Relations – http://www.amazon.com/Severed-Relations-ebook/dp/B004WKR5KC/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=merchant-items&qid=1303330538&sr=1-2

Thou Shalt Not… - http://www.amazon.com/Thou-Shalt-Not-Allen-Howard/dp/0977187101/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1302019326&sr=1-1

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Friday, May 20, 2011

SECRET WRITERS: ADINA SENFT

Secret Writers


Adina Senft


As part of the three month mega VBT for the writing guide Many Genres, One Craft, Calum, The Secret Writer, and I are hosting the Secret Writers series.

ADINA SENFT
People take pseudonyms for a number of reasons: for privacy, to honor a relative, or because their name isn’t very, um, attractive and they’ve always wanted a good reason to change it. In my case, it was for market reasons. My new Amish Quilt trilogy of women’s fiction is so completely different from the young adult novels I wrote as Shelley Adina that in order to prevent reader confusion, my publisher felt it was best to start with a new name.

"Adina Senft" is my middle name and my maiden name, and since it’s German, it fits well into the Amish fiction landscape. Of course, booksellers are probably going to hate it … "How do you pronounce that?" is the most common question I get. The answer is, "One letter after the other."

BIO
Adina Senft grew up in a plain house church, where she made her own clothes and perfected the art of the French braid. She’ll graduate in June 2011 with an M.F.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania, where she teaches as adjunct faculty. Writing as Shelley Bates, she was the winner of RWA’s RITA Award for Best Inspirational Novel in 2005, a finalist for that award in 2006, and, writing as Shelley Adina, was a Christy Award finalist in 2009. Three of her books have shortlisted for the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Carol Award for book of the year. Of her fiction, publisher and industry blogger W. Terry Whalin has said, "Readers will be lost in the vivid world that [she] paints with incredible detail and masterful storytelling."

A transplanted Canadian, Adina returns there annually to have her accent calibrated. Between books, she enjoys traveling with her husband, playing the piano and Celtic harp, and spoiling her flock of rescued chickens. These days, she makes period costumes and only puts up her hair for historical events and fun.

LINKS
Adina Senft - http://www.adinasenft.com

Many Genres blog - http://manygenres.blogspot.com

The Wounded Heart - http://www.amazon.com/Wounded-Heart-Amish-Quilt-Novel/dp/0892968540/ref=sr_1_7?ie=UTF8&qid=1305944998&sr=8-7

Many Genres, One Craft - http://www.amazon.com/Many-Genres-One-Craft-Lessons/dp/0938467085/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1302017939&sr=1-1

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Thursday, May 19, 2011

SECRET WRITERS: ELAINE ERVIN

Secret Writers


Elaine Ervin


As part of the three month mega VBT for the writing guide Many Genres, One Craft, Calum, The Secret Writer, and I are hosting the Secret Writers series.

ELAINE ERVIN
There’s a common misperception that using a pseudonym is about “hiding.” There are certain instances in which that could be part of the explanation (e.g. teachers who’ve written romance or erotica, only to be “outed” and forced to face scrutiny from parents or their employers).

While I cannot speak for other authors, I can say that in my case, nothing could be farther from the truth. We live in the day and age where a world of information is at our fingertips, literally. If I’m giving a talk or a radio/internet interview, there is realistic potential for a listener to Google me in moments. To ensure they find me quickly, they need to be able to spell my name upon hearing it and, I’m sad to say, the correct spelling of my birthname seems to elude the average ear. I’ve seen everything from Irvin to Irwin to Erwing.

The decision to take a pen name seemed unavoidable; however, an equally critical decision was which name to choose? I wanted a name at the beginning of the alphabet since, when readers are browsing the shelves/catalogue, they tend to begin at the front of the section.

The first full-length novel I sold was a sweet romance (In Perfect Harmony) to Avalon Books. It was set in my hometown of Nashville, Tennessee, and was about a young woman struggling to catch a break as a country singer who crossed paths with a country superstar suffering burnout from the pressures of the business. This was a world I’d heard stories about since I was a little girl, given that my grandfather was country music singer/songwriter (Jack Adams—Little Jimmy Dickens’ “Geraldine” was most popular song).

Choosing the name Adams was a perfect fit. It provided a name that was easily spelled upon hearing; even better, it allowed me to honor the name of my grandfather (whom we lost to a stroke in 2003). In keeping with the pattern of my birthname (first and last names start with the same letter), I took Alayne Adams.

While my initial motivation to take a pen name/s had to do with marketability, I have also discovered another reason. Authors are frequently asked for their autographs, sometimes a picture, too. One of the Seton Hill faculty shared an experience in which a “fan” repeatedly asked for an autographed picture (rather than a book), and his persistence seemed odd given that he made the request multiple times in a short span.

No one knows the individual’s true purpose for the request, however, it did generate interesting debate among faculty and students. Your picture, signature, and personal information—together, these represent a practical red carpet to an identity thief, however, a person who doesn’t “really” exist wouldn’t have that same concern.
To date, I haven’t had any difficulty in bouncing between my “identities.” Using a pen name actually helps the writing process because I have to think about exactly which “hat” I’m putting on as I write. I get to shake off the worries I might have in my “real” life and immerse myself in “Alayne’s” world for a while.

For those of you wondering just how you go about indicating a pen name to your editor/publisher, I do it in the header of my manuscript: Ervin (w/a Alayne Adams) – IN PERFECT HARMONY – pg. x.

Hopefully this information will help you decide if a pen name is for you, or it will help you understand why some of your favorite authors might choose one for themselves.

BIO
Elaine Ervin has written two novels (published by Avalon Books) under the pen name Alayne Adams and is currently working on her third. She is also an adjunct professor of English and is on a quest to learn to make the perfect barbeque recipe (both sweet and spicy).

LINKS: Alayne Adams - http://www.amazon.com/Alayne-Adams/e/B001JS86VM/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1304027129&sr=8-1

Many Genres blog - http://manygenres.blogspot.com

In Perfect Harmony - http://www.amazon.com/Perfect-Harmony-Avalon-Romance/dp/0803498624/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_1

The Not So Simple Life - http://www.amazon.com/Not-Simple-Life-Avalon-Romance/dp/0803477538/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_2

Many Genres, One Craft - http://www.amazon.com/Many-Genres-One-Craft-Lessons/dp/0938467085/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1302017939&sr=1-1

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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

SECRET WRITERS: ANNE HARRIS

Secret Writers

Anne Harris


As part of the three month mega VBT for the writing guide Many Genres, One Craft, Calum, The Secret Writer, and I are hosting the Secret Writers series.

ANNE HARRIS
Somewhere around 2007 or so, I bifurcated. That's not as disgusting as it sounds. Up until then I had enjoyed a modest career as a science fiction and fantasy author under my real name, Anne Harris. But a number of circumstances coincided that led me to stop writing under that name, and reinvent myself under not one, but two new pseudonyms.

I had a young adult science fiction novel, Libyrinth, under consideration with my longstanding publisher, Tor. My editor loved the book. The problem was my sales history. My previous books, though well-reviewed, were not runaway bestsellers, and I was beginning to experience the dreaded Death Spiral, wherein booksellers order increasingly fewer and fewer of your titles, and sales diminish accordingly. I was asked to adopt a pseudonym so that Libyrinth could be presented to the buyers as a debut title from a new author, thus separating it from the handicap of my past numbers and hopefully inciting larger orders. That's how Pearl North came into being. As to how I settled on that particular name, that's another story and you can read about it here http://heidirubymiller.blogspot.com/2010/11/paths-to-publication-pearl-north.html (along with a more detailed and grisly account of the Death Spiral.)

But that's not all that was going on in my career at that time. The muse is a law unto herself, and I had found mine in yaoi manga, slash, m/m romance--pretty much any genre you can think of devoted to men falling in love with other men. For my copious thoughts on what the hell that's all about, you can check out the Why We Like It http://www.friskbiskit.com/why-we-like-it category on my blog. For now, just take my word for it that I had seen the light and there was no turning back. Unfortunately, many of those around me were less than entranced with this exciting new direction in my work. In particular, the reluctance of my agent and of my editor at Tor constituted real stumbling blocks to my pursuit of creative fulfillment. Maybe some authors would have obediently shelved their plans for world domination through boylove in favor of sane, commercial pursuits. But I've never had that kind of self control. One day it dawned on me that I didn't need anyone's permission to write whatever I wanted. At that moment, adopting the pseudonym Jessica Freely for my m/m work seemed blatantly obvious. Since then, I've published nine m/m erotic romance novels, novellas and short stories, primarily with epublisher Loose Id. I'm working on a new one right now.

So that's it. That's the story of how Anne Harris became Pearl North and Jessica Freely.

Thanks for reading!

BIO
Anne Harris writes science fiction, fantasy and, as Pearl North, young adult sf. Her novels include Accidental Creatures, which won the Spectrum Award for glbt sf, Inventing Memory, a Book Sense Pick, and Libyrinth. Her short story, "Still Life with Boobs," was a 2005 Nebula Award finalist. She also mentors grad students in Seton Hill University's Writing Popular Fiction program. Her essay "Perfect Disaster: Don't Let Perfectionism Squash Your Creativity" appears in Many Genres, One Craft, edited by Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller. Visit Anne and Pearl at bookviewcafe.com.

LINKS
Anne Harris - http://bookviewcafe.com

Jessica Freely - http://www.friskbiskit.com

Many Genres blog - http://manygenres.blogspot.com

Many Genres, One Craft - http://www.amazon.com/Many-Genres-One-Craft-Lessons/dp/0938467085/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1302017939&sr=1-1

Accidental Creatures – http://www.amazon.com/Accidental-Creatures-Anne-Harris/dp/0312875606/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1303303112&sr=1-1

Inventing Memory – http://www.amazon.com/Inventing-Memory-Anne-Harris/dp/B000H2MXDI/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1303303246&sr=1-2

Libyrinth - http://www.amazon.com/Libyrinth-Pearl-North/dp/B003NHRAJ6/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1303303280&sr=1-1

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Conference: 2011 Pennwriters Conference - A Retrospect

The energy at this year's Pennwriters Conference is still surging through me! I'm channeling it to work on two novellas in the Ambasadora-verse and finish up the second full-length novel in the series, so I barely have time for this post, but I had to give a little retrospective, mostly in photo form, like the one below of Jason and me with Saturday Keynote Speaker Jonathan Maberry.

His speech should be required reading for the business--its theme was positivity and community, two sentiments I have always embraced when it comes to writing and the business of writing.

Thanks to the participants in our all-day intensive workshop Many Genres, One Craft, based on our new writing guide of the same name. (Buy it at Amazon right now!)
Seton Hill Writers (Timons Esaias, Heidi Ruby Miller, Jason Jack Miller, Natalie Duvall, Matt Duvall, and Michael A. Arnzen) taught one hour sessions on craft in the morning, then career in the afternoon.

Each participant received a free hardcover copy of Many Genres, One Craft as a thank you gift. Plus, lots of candy for answering questions!
The Author Tea and Signing was huge! So many great books and their creators all in one room. Signing for Many Genres were Timons Esaias, Cathy Teets of Headline Books, Inc., Heidi Ruby Miller, and Jason Jack Miller.

Jason and I had a wonderful group for our Sunday workshop The First Page is the Worst Page. It's a team-taught workshop we've been doing in one form or another since becoming adjunct faculty at Seton Hill, and it seems to be quite effective, considering we use the ideas to enhance our own prose.

My biggest epiphany during the conference (because I always have one)--I'm going to re-brand myself to repel people who would never read my work anyway. Seriously, thank you, C. J. Lyons for giving me permission to be myself! What a lesson to have learned. This of course means some changes around the site soon, but it was time to redecorate.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

SECRET WRITERS: PENNY DAWN

Secret Writers

Penny Dawn


As part of the three month mega VBT for the writing guide Many Genres, One Craft, Calum, The Secret Writer, and I are hosting the Secret Writers series.

PENNY DAWN
Do I write under a pseudonym? I suppose I do. However, the name on the spine of my books is on my birth certificate, on my passport, and I'm sure it will be on my death certificate, too, so it doesn't often feel like a pen name at all. I write under my first two names, leaving my Catholic names and my last name out of the limelight. My reasons for doing so are two-fold, although both circle around the genre in which I write:

First, I write erotic fiction. I don't see any reason why my baptismal and confirmation names need to be involved in something sexy. In that vein, why should I use the name I was given at the altar of St. Gilbert Catholic, when I was married? Marriage is a sacrament, and like baptism and confirmation, we receive names for performing the rites involved. Therefore, I omit these names out of respect for my faith--seeing as my fiction doesn't quite jibe with much of what I learned in Sunday school. While I'm Penny Dawn S*****-T***** S****** in other facets of life, I am Penny Dawn when writing erotica. Think Clark Kent and Superman...or at least Madonna and Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone.

Second, while I cherish my privacy (and I'm leery of stalkers, but that's another story), I'm also proud of every word I write. I don't mind if my neighbors know that Penny Dawn of erotica is really PDSTS of the PTO. But someday, my daughters, ages 7 and 9, might mind. They ought to be awarded the opportunity to decide how involved they want to be in the publishings of my alter ego. Maybe they'll be embarrassed to tell their high school boyfriends that their mom writes erotica. Maybe they'll be proud. I don't know how they'll feel, but they deserve the chance to decide for themselves. I'm raising daughters with strong voices, but my genre falls under harsh criticism. My decision to write erotica has nothing to do with my girls, so they shouldn't have to defend me or my work, if they don't want to do so.

BIO
Penny Dawn is the author of seven novels, including Measuring Up, Rolling in Clover, and Ancient History, seventeen eBooks, and countless poems and trade articles, including "eFabulous: Publishing in a Paperless World" for Many Genres, One Craft, edited by Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller. Penny teaches her craft at two colleges in the Chicago suburbs, volunteers at elementary school writing centers, and edits the work of hopeful writers through The Calliope. When she isn’t writing, or teaching others to hone their ability to do so, she immerses herself in other passions: parenthood, the discipline of dance, home improvement, and her yellow lab. You can visit her online at http://www.pennydawn.com.

LINKS
Penny Dawn - http://www.pennydawn.com

Many Genres blog - http://manygenres.blogspot.com

Many Genres, One Craft - http://www.amazon.com/Many-Genres-One-Craft-Lessons/dp/0938467085/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1302017939&sr=1-1

Measuring Up – http://www.amazon.com/Measuring-Up-Penny-Dawn/dp/1592797555/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1302017787&sr=1-1

Rolling in Clover – http://www.amazon.com/Rolling-Clover-Penny-Dawn/dp/1592797369/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_11

Ancient History - http://www.amazon.com/Ancient-History-Penny-Dawn/dp/1592797113/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1302017748&sr=1-1

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Excerpts: Many Genres One Craft

Excerpts

Reposted from the MGOC site:


HEIDI RUBY MILLER
photo by Jason Jack Miller


EXCERPT from "Tomorrow's Kiss: The Duality of SF Romance" by Heidi Ruby Miller in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction:

Romance and Science Fiction. Because the classification for either of these genres is open at best, deciding how to define the two when blended strains the mind. For this article we'll settle for an anemic definition: SF Romance presents a plot which relies on an alternative reality, usually brought forth through technology, as well an emotional journey of a couple or multiple couples.

With such an exciting and intriguing concept, why do Romance and Science Fiction readers have such a difficult time embracing SF Romance? The answer may come down to nebulous percentages. What portion of the plot, character interaction, and ending is SF and what portion is Romance? If a writer sways too much in one direction or the other, she fears losing part of her audience.
--

EXCERPT from "The Shifting Grail: A Quest for a Good Read" by Heidi Ruby Miller in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction:

A good, believable grail should be evident to your readers immediately because character motivations provide the foundation for a gripping plot. (How much less exciting would Jurassic Park have been if there was no need to flee the island?) And, when other goals stumble in the character's way and need immediate action (the power outage to the dinosaur paddocks), look out, the grail shifts. The possibilities for reader engagement have just expanded ten-fold (like Dr. Grant riding the rapids to escape the T-Rex).
--

EXCERPT from "Be an Archetype, Not a Stereotype" by Heidi Ruby Miller in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction:

Be a Hero/Heroine.
Don't be infallible or pretend you're the perfect man/woman…everyone struggles at something. Perfection is boring.

Be a Villain.
Don't be evil-for-the-sake-of-evil. Even a bad guy/gal gets behavioral motivation from somewhere. Access your daddy issues.

Be a Sidekick.
Don't show up the hero/heroine. I know it's hard, but you're only there to make them look good. Sorry.
--

EXCERPT from "I'll Scratch Your Back and You Promote My Book" by Heidi Ruby Miller in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction:

Giving and receiving in equal measure.

I end my daily yoga sessions with this meditation, then try to put it to practice in all aspects of my life. And, as a former marketing director, I found out how important that philosophy is for promotional interactions as well.

There's a reason sayings like "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" and "you have to give a little to get a little" are so common -- it's because they're true. Think of situations in your own life. Aren't you more likely to help someone who either has helped you in the past or who will be there for you in the future? That balance makes us feel good. We don't like to be taken advantage of, but on the flip side, we gain satisfaction from returning a favor. Promoting your writing can bring about these same feelings while avoiding the guilt of egotism.
--

EXCERPT from "Touring Virtually" by Heidi Ruby Miller in Many Genres, One Craft: Lessons in Writing Popular Fiction:

Real world book tours often cover large distances, making them expensive and time consuming, so most authors also choose to tour online by asking sites to feature them and their books according to a planned schedule. Here's how to set up your own Virtual Book Tour (VBT):

1.Decide how long and when you want to tour. Do this at least three months before the book's release date. If you have limited time, I recommend scheduling your first stop at least one week prior to your book's release, then continue through the first two weeks of its availability. If you can start earlier, however, you can generate more word of mouth and entice pre-orders. Why not make it a month-long celebration?
--

Heidi Ruby Miller pursued several career paths, just not at the same time, including contract archaeology, foreign currency exchange at Walt Disney World, secondary foreign language teacher, and Educational Marketing Director for a Frank Lloyd Wright House. Now she is adjunct faculty at Seton Hill University, where she graduated from their Writing Popular Fiction graduate program the same month she appeared on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire. Her fiction is in various print and online publications. Among them are: Ambasadora, "The Islands of Hope" in Sails and Sorcery: Tales of Nautical Fantasy (Fantasist Enterprises Ed. by W.H. Horner), "The Surrender" in Best of Every Day Fiction 2008 (Ed. by Jordan Lapp, Camille Gooderham Campbell, and Steven Smethurst), "Mr. Johnson's Boy" and "Sounds in the Jungle" in Eye Contact. She is a member of The Authors Guild, Pennwriters, Broad Universe, and the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Read her author interview series at http://heidirubymiller.com.

Monday, May 09, 2011

SECRET WRITERS: CRYSTAL B. BRIGHT

Secret Writers

Crystal B. Bright


As part of the three month mega VBT for the writing guide Many Genres, One Craft, Calum, The Secret Writer, and I are hosting the Secret Writers series.

CRYSTAL B. BRIGHT
I decided to use a pseudonym, not because I was embarrassed by writing erotic romance and wanted to distance myself from that side. I did it because I wanted readers to have sort of a shorthand to know what they're getting. When readers pick up a Crystal B. Bright book, they know it'll be a contemporary romance or paranormal romance where the sex mentioned in the book won't be as risque as in an erotic romance novel. When readers pick up a Bridget Midway novel, they know they'll get a great story with sex written in an explicit way.

As far as how I picked my pseudonym, that was easy. Well, once I stopped overthinking it, my final decision was easy. Most people think that my real name, Crystal B. Bright, is my pen name because who would name their child Crystal B. Bright? After trying to find names that were sexy, funny, mysterious, and catchy, I remembered something I had heard of how soap opera stars or porn stars pick their names. They take a middle name and the street they grew up on as their name. I told that story to some friends and one friend quickly said, "Oh, no. Porn stars use their pet's name and the street they grew up on." So I could have been Spunky Midway.

BIO
A self-professed nerd, Crystal B. Bright has been telling stories for as long as she can remember. Not one to give up on her dreams, she was determined to make it as an author after earning her B.A. in Creative Writing from Old Dominion University and her M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University. Her essay "Write from the Heart" appears in the new writing guide Many Genres, One Craft, edited by Michael A. Arnzen and Heidi Ruby Miller. Crystal makes Virginia Beach her home. She enjoys writing, reading, watching movies and spending quality time with her family and close friends. To know more, please visit her website at www.CrystalBrightWriter.com.

LINKS
Crystal B. Bright - http://www.CrystalBrightWriter.com

Many Genres blog - http://manygenres.blogspot.com

Many Genres, One Craft - http://www.amazon.com/Many-Genres-One-Craft-Lessons/dp/0938467085/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1302017939&sr=1-1

Corporate Desires - http://www.amazon.com/Corporate-Desires-Bridget-Midway/dp/1606599976/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1303303646&sr=1-3

Corporate Needs - http://www.amazon.com/Corporate-Needs-Bridget-Midway/dp/1606599992/ref=sr_1_5?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1303303646&sr=1-5

Revamped - http://www.amazon.com/Revamped-Crystal-B-Bright/dp/1586088882/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1303303879&sr=1-1

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Tuesday, May 03, 2011

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Douglas Smith

HEIDI'S PICK SIX

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Douglas Smith

1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
That's a tough one. I can't write a story until I feel that I really understand the main characters in the story, especially what they need in their lives and what drives them. So by the time I've written a story, I feel that I know each of the characters. Which makes it hard to pick a favourite. It's like picking a favourite among your children. I'll name a few candidates. Gwyn Blaidd from my short story "Spirit Dance" and Jason Trelayne from "Scream Angel." Both stories won the Aurora Award. Gwyn reappears as the main protagonist in my recently finished novel, so he must have had an appeal to me to want to spend more time with him. Asai and Sawako, the two lovers from "The Red Bird," and Maroch, Laure, and Elise, the lovers (it's complicated) from "Bouquet of Flowers in a Vase, by van Gogh." And of course, Bishop, The Last Dead Man, and Mary from "Memories of the Dead Man." Bishop is the protagonist of another planned novel, and that story was a way of getting to know him through Mary's eyes. All of these stories are available in my two collections, Chimerascope and Impossibilia, or as separate ebooks at http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/DouglasSmith


2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
4. What else can you do besides write?
5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.

10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
I enjoy cycling. Toronto is a great city for a cyclist (once the snow disappears), with miles of beautiful trails through the Humber or Don river valleys, or along the lakefront. I used to ride a road bike, then switched to a mountain bike and did some off-road trail riding for a while. This year, I've switched to a hybrid, and I'm riding in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, which is ~213 km (130+ miles) over two days, riding (along with about 5,000 other riders) from the CNE grounds in Toronto to Niagara Falls, ending up right beside the Falls at the end. Or at least that's the plan--I've just had arthroscopic surgery on my right knee, so I'm hoping I'll be able to get back to training soon. The ride is June 12-13, and I've raised just over $4,000 so far. If anyone is interested, you can donate to my ride here: http://www.conquercancer.ca/site/TR/Events/Toronto2011?px=2626025&pg=personal&fr_id=1361


11. What kind of music speaks to you?
Hard rock for pleasure, classical when I'm writing. Springsteen is my music god. I love all the classic rock bands: Stones, Zeppelin, AC/DC, the Doors, David Bowie, and the Moody Blues were (are) some of my favourites. Canadian bands like Tragically Hip, Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Metric. But the Boss is my all time favourite. He's an amazing storyteller. I love his ballads. He tells stories through real characters, everyday people struggling with whatever life has thrown at them. What I love is that his characters always have this attitude of defiance and hope despite the odds against them. So many of his songs just speak to me of the bigger stories behind the ones that he just gets to hint at in just a few lines. I've written some stories based on or inspired by his songs, and there are more that I want to write. Someday I’d love to put out a collection of all my Springsteen-inspired stories. My dream would be to get his endorsement, include some lyrics of the songs to intro each story, and have all the proceeds go to his favourite charity. It’ll probably never happen, but I’ll keep writing the stories—because I’d do that anyway.

But when I'm writing, I can't have any music with lyrics playing, or generally any strong emotional flavour. So when I write, I tend to have baroque or chamber music playing. Vivaldi is a favourite when I'm writing. It's there. It's stimulating intellectually but I can put it into the background and focus on words without it competing for that part of my brain.


12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I generally will always have an outline. For short stories, this tends to be just in my head, although I might at least have worked out the list of scenes that I will need. I also generally do not write any story, even a short one, from start to end in sequence. A lot of my stories have begun with me writing the closing scene first. I like it when that happens--it gives me a clear target to aim at for the rest of the story. Sometimes the ending changes, sometimes not. But it's a rare story that I write in the same order a reader will consume it.

With novels, I work from character outlines first before I do any work on the plot. I need to know my characters well enough that the choices they will make at each plot turn will be clear and obvious to them (and so to me). For my first novel, I then had a detailed scene list.


13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
Roger Zelazny is probably my all-time favourite SF&F writer. I don't think I write like him, but I'm sure there is an influence there somehow. Ray Bradbury was another favourite of mine, and I still greatly admire his short fiction. Hemingway was an eye-opener for me when I discovered him, in terms of a wonderfully lean prose style that communicated as much by what he left out as what he put in. Other writers that I enjoy (but have no idea if they influence my own writing) include Charles de Lint, Neil Gaiman, and Tim Powers.

But I also see a *lot* of movies, and I think they influence my writing style as much as anything. And I'm a huge fan of anything from Joss Whedon, but especially Buffy. Still the most brilliant piece of creativity to ever hit TV. I love watching the eps on the DVD where Joss provides commentary. They're like a writing workshop.


15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Definitely. Family Guy and American Dad, but I also have the DVD collections of the old Bugs Bunny and Looney Tunes classics. Bugs is my all-time fave cartoon character.


Douglas Smith is an award-winning Canadian author of speculative fiction, whose stories have appeared in over a hundred professional magazines and anthologies and twenty-four languages around the world, including InterZone, Amazing Stories, Cicada, Baen's Universe, Weird Tales, The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror, Postscripts, On Spec, and The Third Alternative, as well as anthologies from Penguin/Roc, DAW, and others.

His newest collection, Chimerascope, including an Aurora winner, a Best New Horror selection, and nine Aurora finalists, is available from ChiZine Publications. His first collection of short fiction, Impossibilia, is available from the award-winning UK press, PS Publishing. A complete list of Doug's published fiction is available here along with reviews of his stories.
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Doug was a finalist for the international John W. Campbell Award for best new writer, and has twice won the Canadian Aurora Award. He's been an Aurora finalist seventeen times and has several honourable mentions in The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror. You can check out a complete list of his award history here.
An independent film based on his story "By Her Hand, She Draws You Down" toured festivals in 2010, winning several awards. Doug recently completed his first novel, based on his award-winning short story, "Spirit Dance."