Why do I write?

Feeling trapped in a dead end job has forced me to take a hard look at my life up to this point. And the one question that comes to mind is.

Why do I write?

What odd combination of chemicals in my brain has led me to believe I can be a writer?

This is not doubt talking, as I’m quite confident in my ability to create. This is an honest search for an answer to explain the reasons behind what compels me to put pen to paper. Unlike other well known writers I had an idyllic childhood. There was no abuse, sexual or otherwise, to explain the driving need to create. I have no emotional problems, but I do suffer from clinical depression. I’ve been on and off the medication to control it as I see fit. I abhor taking the medicine as it makes me feel autonomous. Like it’s not really me in my skin anymore.

But digging deeper than that.
What is it in my psyche that compels me to sacrifice good money in exchange for several hours each day of pounding at the keyboard in the hope of creating something worthwhile?
I have enough experience in business that if I could devote half of the time and energy I put into my writing into building a business I’m confident that I would be very successful. But I hesitate, opting instead to stare at the blank page until beads of blood form on my forehead.

For what?

Money? Pfft, like that’s gonna happen.

Fame? Doubt it.

Without fame and fortune what is it that locks me to my keyboard every day of the week, Sundays included?

What is it that drives you to write?

Let’s put aside the bullshit and speak frankly about what it is that forces you to get up everyday and work on your latest project.

5Qs with Patricia Russo

1.) When did you first consider yourself a writer?

A.)  When I was fifteen.  That's when I decided I was going to be serious about it, and that serious about it meant finishing stories I started and then submitting them, and resubmitting them when they got rejected, which at first was, naturally, always.  I first wanted to write when I was in the third grade.  I was already reading way above grade level, and was fascinated by words.  I started learning how to put words together then, in the third grade.  Got some attention for my writing in elementary school, but it was when I was fifteen that I got, as I said, serious.

2.) What is the hardest part of writing?

A.)  Liking the story after it's done.  Not being totally in despair at how bad it is once it's there in print or online.  Very rarely do I like anything I have written.  I always see what I wanted to be there, but isn't.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.) Excited, but I had no one to be excited with me or for me.  My parents had no clue of what I was trying to do, or how important it was to me.  I found the acceptance letter when I came home from high school.  My mother and aunt were there -- they looked at me, nodded, made some casual comment, and went back to their conversation.  I went back to my high school, running part of the way, in order to catch my English teacher, Mrs. Weiland, to show her, because I thought she would understand.  But by the time I got there, she was gone for the day.  The next day I showed her the acceptance letter, and she was really happy for me.  But by then my own excitement had faded...:-)  Mrs. Weiland died young, only a year or so after I graduated.  I wish I could have shown her Shiny Thing.

4.) In addition to writing, what else are you passionate about?

A.)  I am not quite sure how I'm going to interpret 'passionate' in this answer.  I am angry about a lot of things.  I can get very up in people's faces when health and safety issues are involved.  I believe that the greatest good is to reduce pain.  So perhaps I am passionate about that -- in a violent, aggressive way...:-)  If passionate means, 'what do you really like' -- well, Doctor Who, and the band New Model Army.

5.) If you could ask any author, living or dead, one question, what would it be?

A.)  I don't know if I would ask anybody anything.  ("Dear Mr. Dickens, so what the hell was the ending of The Mystery of Edwin Drood supposed to be?" :-)  I might want to tell a couple of people something.  Like Emily Dickinson -- that her work would be not only remembered and honored, but that people would be amazed by her genius.  (Not that she would believe it.)  Or Keats -- No, man, your name was not writ in water.

If I can stray from writers to artists (though she counts as both), I would ask Emily Carr, the Canadian artist, something:  How?  How did you do it?  How did you suddenly make that cognitive leap late in your life and do work that was so much more than the work you did when you were younger?  She is one of the few examples I can think of of creative people where that happened.  -- Of course, she would say, "I don't know.  It just happened."  Being of a certain age myself, I keep hoping for that cognitive leap...

Bio: Patricia Russo had her first professional short story, “True Love”, published in 1987 in the anthology Women of Darkness: Original Horror and Dark Fantasy by Contemporary Women Writers, edited by Kathryn Ptacek. Since then her work has appeared in Lone Star Stories, Electric Velocipede, Abyss and Apex, Talebones, Tales of the Unanticipated, Not One of Us, in the anthologies Corpse Blossoms and Zencore, and in many other fine publications. She is that rarest of authors: she has no website, no blog, nothing on the internet to indicate that she even exists — except for a trail of fiction that reveals the prolific and generous writer behind the name.(From Bio posted at Papaveria Press)

Shiny Thing blurs the lines between fantasy, horror and science fiction. The stories inside are suffused with magic and danger, and will sometimes chill you to the bone. With a delicate touch Patricia Russo reveals humanity in all of its foibles and glorious moments, in settings that range from the perfectly average to the absolutely sublime. You can never be quite sure who is the monster and who is the heroine, and sometimes there is no divide. The characters are people you know, yet they do things you would never expect, and within each story there is one shining thing that somehow changes them all. You know the old saying — all that glitters is not gold. Well sometimes, all that is gold does not glitter. In Shiny Thing, your life depends on being able to tell the difference.

5Qs with Robert Dunbar

Q: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

A: Growing up, I had younger brothers (and innumerable small cousins) and always told them stories, especially after dark, and I remember my audience grew especially enthusiastic during thunderstorms. Long before hitting my teens, I’d started writing these stories down. By the time I’d had a play produced at a little “experimental” theater and some poetry published in a couple of journals, my identity was pretty well fixed. At twenty-something, I could hear the self-conscious catch in my voice when I told people about my work. It wasn’t until after my first book was published that I detected a note of confidence whenever I announced, “I’m a writer.”

Q: What is the hardest part of writing?

A: The starvation.

Q: How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A: Nauseated and traumatized. Without my knowledge, an editor had hacked the novel to pieces, something I didn’t discover until I actually held the published book in my hands. A moment that should have been a thrill … became a nightmare. Over the years, all my dealings with that publisher were pretty much in line with this experience.

Still, there were compensations, like the moment when I realized I’d never be an unpublished novelist again. And a restored version of the book was eventually published to considerable critical acclaim, and it is currently in its tenth edition. Ah, validation!

Q: In addition to writing, what else are you passionate about?

A: Reading. Never trust a writer who isn’t.

Q: If you could ask any author, living or dead, one question, what would it be?

A: You mean like if I could go back in time? I’d probably want to ask Rupert Brooke for his phone number.

I’ll explain when you’re older.

Robert Dunbar has written for television and radio, for newspapers and magazines. He is the author of the novels WILLY, THE PINES and THE SHORE and the collection MARTYRS & MONSTERS. His most recent project is the novella WOOD.

Fake reviews, paid reviews, and sock puppets oh my!

British author Stephen Leather has admitted that he used fake identities to promote his work online.

Bestselling author RJ Ellory confessed to posting flattering reviews of his own work and to using assumed names to attack other authors he viewed as rivals.

The New York Times posted this story about John Locke purchasing book reviews from the now defunct gettingbookreviews.com. He freely admitted to doing it, but stressed that he didn’t specifically request favorable reviews. While that may be the case, when one reads between the lines of how gettingbookreviews.com operated, it becomes obvious that reviewers were motivated to post favorable reviews. I’m sure Mr. Locke was aware of this fact.

Personally I’ve always felt that purchasing reviews, or posting fake reviews is a sign that the writer lacks confidence in their work. They knows it’s not the best they can put out there, or am I just being naive?

It’s taken some time and patience but I’ve managed to accumulate nine reviews on Amazon, along with reviews on Horror Fiction Review, Literary R&R, and Hellnotes just to name a few. At Zoetrope I ran into a guy on their forums who offered to show me how to make good money with a crappy book in just a few short months. It involved sock puppets and fake reviews. My own sense of integrity compelled me to distance myself from him.

I believe what many others have said about readers being able to recognize what these types of reviews really are. The reading public is not as gullible as many would lead you to believe. They know bullshit when they see it and following a path such as sock puppetry will only result in your online presence being vilified and any future work, no matter how well done, or how brilliant it really is, will carry the putrid stench of your actions and be viewed with disdain and mistrust forevermore. Okay a little melodramatic, but you get my point. 

New writers beware. It might look easy on the surface, but you’re only hurting yourself in the long run.

5Qs with Kat Yares

1.) When did you first consider yourself a writer?

A.)  I think I've always considered myself a writer - or at least since I could write a legible sentence. Have always written stuff, even poetry, and have earned a living from my words at times. But I didn't consider myself an author until I had a short story accepted into a magazine and actually got paid for it.

2.) What is the hardest part of writing?

A.)  Putting butt in chair and just doing it. Next to that, is the absolute necessary rewriting/revision process.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.)  You could have heard me whooping and hollering all the way to the next town, I think. I still have that first dollar made taped to my desktop.

4.) In addition to writing, what else are you passionate about?

A.)  Movie making. Can't call it film making because no film is involved. But I love the creativeness that you can achieve looking through the lens of a camera and then putting the scenes and segments together to tell a story.

5.) If you could ask any author, living or dead, one question, what would it be?

A.)  I would love to converse with John Steinbeck. And if I could only ask him one question it would be, Can I borrow the characters from Grapes of Wrath to interact briefly with my characters in the story I'm working on now?

Kat Yares has been writing fiction her entire adult life. She is an author, screenwriter and indie movie maker. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous print publications and online. She was accepted as a member of the Horror Writers Association in 2001.

Her fiction is primarily in the horror/thriller genres. Unlike many, she writes horror not to gross out or startle her readers, but to make them think. Most of her stories are mind games and deal with mans (or woman's) inhumanity to man (or woman). She is currently working on a two book series - set 2000 years apart. Part fantasy, part thriller - the two stories that comprise The Descendants are reminiscent of both Marian Zimmer Bradley's Mists of Avalon series and Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code.

Her work can be found at all major online retail book outlets by using her name in your eReader to discover what is available.



Amazon Author Page:


Barnes & Noble




They do judge a book by its cover.

While I've gotten some pretty good reviews for my novel, in a sense validating my ability as a writer, at least in my mind, one problem I've always had with the finished product was the cover. I was never really happy with it. I've always felt that was the biggest obstacle to sales, that and my inability to market effectively.

Honestly, look at it, does that inspire you to part with twelve of your hard earned dollars?

While preparing to publish I looked into how much it would cost to have a cover done professionally and was shocked by the prices I ran across. They ranged anywhere from $600.00 on down, with the quality of the portfolio matching the asking price of the artist. Lets face it, your brother -in-law might be able to make you a cover for twenty bucks, but would it have the same quality as a cover from say Jeroen Ten Bergee who has designed covers for traditional and self publishers? Probably not.

So with the approaching holiday season, yes Halloween is a very important holiday in my book, I wanted a cover that would pop, that would inspire the average reader of dark fiction to take a peek beyond their first impression of my offering.

My biggest problem right now is money. I don't have any, and with my current employment picture I don't anticipate having any for some time. So I spent the past month and a half pursuing photoshop tutorials and experimenting with the program. In the end this is what I came up with.

I'm now happy with the cover for my book and am in the process of updating it across the web.  But a very important lesson I've learned and one I hope to impart is don't get in a hurry getting your work out there. Take your time, spend the money on a decent cover, as well as editing (it's one thing I did do right at least) and formatting if necessary. If you don't have the money, or you've spent what you have for editing, then you may have to follow my path and learn how to use any one of the design programs out there, some of which are free.

Even though we may have been brought up to believe otherwise. People do judge a book by its cover.

5Qs with Nickolas Cook

1.) When did you first consider yourself a writer?

A.)  The day I actually typed "THE END" on my first full length novel. Of course that didn't happen until I had written two partial (very, very bad) novels that sounded like every other writer but myself, and dozens of short stories over the course of about ten years.

2.) What is the hardest part of writing?

A.)  For me it's always been difficult to keep an objective frame of mind when I go back to re-read or edit a finished story or novel. Left to its own devices, my pesky habit of second guessing myself will usually make me think what I've written is terrible, or worse, it will convince me that I need to rewrite every line fifteen times 'to get it right'.
When I start feeling doubtful about my work, I generally use two methods to head it off at the pass: I will either read the 'offensive' material aloud so that I can hear its cadence and its weak spots, and/or I will sometimes set the finished work aside for a few days to give myself some distance and an opportunity to feel as if I'm coming back to it with a new set of eyes. It usually feels less 'offensive' at the point, and I can then pick out the things that really need editing, without the sense that every sentence is terrible.

3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?

A.)  I felt so giddy that I almost broke out into 'The Snoopy Dance of Joy'.
More importantly, I felt more confidence in my skills and ability to create something worthwhile. All the rejection letters that followed didn't have the same sting and felt a lot less damning. After all, I had been published, so I had proof that I must be making progress.

4.) In addition to writing, what else are you passionate about?

A.)  Krav Maga, a brutal close combat self-defense system created by the Israeli military and the Mossad in the 50s. I've been a student since 2007, and am now an instructor a couple of nights a week at the same studio where I started.
My other great passions include collecting classic jazz and blues albums, my wife and our house full of Chinese Pugs, a couple of which are rescues.
And of course this is probably axiomatic, but I also have a tremendous book collection of about two thousand books. I read voraciously, history being a particular subject I find myself gravitating towards these days.

5.) If you could ask any author, living or dead, one question, what would it be?

A.)  I would probably pick Ambrose Bierce, and my question would be, "How did you really die?"

Nick is the author of:


It's the late 70s and Max and Little Billy are back from Vietnam trying to mind their own business when they stumble onto the murder of a local boy. With organized crime and violent thugs on their trail, it's up to these two local heroes to solve the murder. What they find will shake the foundation of their entire community.

Available from Grand Mal Press