News, Interviews & Articles

Author Spotlight: Chris Roy

Chris Roy reveals some hard truths about the indie publishing industry: “The general public believes that when a person gets published, they will make serious money. The truth is most books don’t get published, and only a small percentage of published books sell. It’s a mad world filled with competition, even at indie level.”



Author Spotlight: David W. Berner

Today David W. Berner tells us to shut up and start writing. “Get after it! I do not believe in writer’s block, inspiration, or wishing and hoping. Writing is work. Get to it. Set deadlines, set goals, and cherish and protect your times to write.” David is the author of four books of memoir and two novels. He also writes a weekly column entitled “Walks with Sam” for the website Channillo. David is a veteran reporter and anchor or WBBM radio in Chicago, has produced documentaries for public radio, and is an associate professor in the Communications Department at Columbia College Chicago.



Wrong Words

by Renee Miller      

It’s wise to understand and be aware of trigger words and words that just rub people the wrong way (even without reason) so we can either avoid them or use them to elicit the desired response from the reader (without annoying them or turning them off).



Author Spotlight: Frank Morelli

Frank Morelli, author of NO SAD SONGS, talks about the supportiveness of the indie publishing world and the absence of his spleen. A Philadelphia native, Frank now lives near Greensboro, NC in a tiny house under the trees with his best friend and muse, their obnoxious alley cats, and two hundred pounds worth of dog.



Author Spotlight: Michelle E. Lowe

Meet Michelle E. Lowe, steampunk novelist and lifelong storyteller: “Life, in general, offers an abundance of inspiration. I find it in both current and past events. I find it in our history and in life’s fine details such as works of art and in music. Inspiration comes from everywhere and can also be found hidden like change under the couch cushion. It’s just there.”



Fake it Till You Make It?

by Renee Miller      

In any industry, be it publishing or anything else, a lot of people believe in the idea that if you act like you’re successful, you will be… eventually. Essentially, it’s similar to the believe that you should only toss positive energy into the Universe so that the Universe gives you only positive things back. I used to think this was a lot of horse shit. I mean, hard work and skill are the keys to success, aren’t they?



SHELFIES: Catherine Lundoff of Queen of Swords Press

by Bill Kieffer      

It’s been a bit of a whirlwind. I’d been working on starting up Queen of Swords Press for several years, but hadn’t reached the stage of actually publishing books until January of 2017. It’s been amazing to see the cover art in progress, interior design work by our designer and the reception the books have gotten so far. I’m not sure that small press publishing had a great year, however, Lots of small publishers have folded recently, some of them quite dramatically. I think that’s always hard on readers as well as writers and the whole publishing ecosystem. It’s been a tough year for me personally, with lots of juggling and some health issues, but I’m hoping that I’ve got enough of a handle on things to apply what I learned last year to this one and work smarter.



SHELFIES: Adele Wearing of Fox Spirit Books

by Bill Kieffer      

We won the British Fantasy Society Award for best small press in 2015. It was awesome. I was completely flawed and there were so many people we have worked with in the room, it was a lovely feeling. We have had a number of works shortlisted and it’s always nice to get that acknowledgment of our authors and all the work we do. In some ways when a writer we work with gets an agent or sells books that feels the same as when we get shortlisted for an award, James Bennett and Ren Warom have got amazing trilogies with Orbit and Titan and every time something like that happens we celebrate a little at FS. That’s partly the ‘I was right, they rock’ dance and partly the ‘good things happening to good people’ dance btw. I would love Fox Spirit to be seen as somewhere to discover new writers you might enjoy as a reader and seeing our writers go on to bigger better things is confirmation that that can be the case.



Announcing the 2018 Novel of the Year!

     

Our Novel of the Year, Editor’s Choice winner is are THE LAST DETECTIVE, a sci-fi noir that deftly meshes two genres and sets itself apart. While detective novels and sci-fi novels have been done, THE LAST DETECTIVE treads the line between the two niches and also hits home on a philisophical note. Meanwhile, our Reader’s Choice award goes to THE VATICAN CAMEOS, a Sherlock Holmes adventure.



Interview with Monty Johnston

     

In the world of writing, we spend a lot of time talking about the mapping of plot, our audience, and the marketability of topics and themes. But what about the simple art of writing? The passion that makes us put words on paper. The editor of Underground Book Reviews takes an afternoon to talk to a local self-published author in Lexington, Virginia, and comes away with a new take on the art of writing.



Author Spotlight: Michael Ludden

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. If you are an author and like what you see, go to our submission page for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews! Please welcome Michael Ludden!



Once Again, Don’t Be a Dick

by Renee Miller      

Bullying should be left where it belongs; with the childish things of the past. It should not be something adults engage in. It definitely shouldn’t be something so-called professionals would even consider being a part of.



Author Spotlight: Dan Chabot

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. If you are an author and like what you see, go to our submission page for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews! Please welcome Dan Chabot!



SHELVIES: Nicole Kimberling of Blind Eye Books & One Block Empire

by Bill Kieffer      

Before starting Blind Eye Books, I worked as a line cook and as a bookseller for the now departed Waldenbooks. I was not a tremendously good bookstore employee. (I don’t like to alphabetize and I refused to upsell the company credit card.) However, I truly excelled at suggesting new books for readers. This was before the amazon.com algorithms had been invented so I spent a lot of my time thinking about what different kinds of readers enjoyed. That’s served me very well. Blind Eye Books titles have won several awards. To date we have three Lambda finalists and one Lambda Best Novel win. We also have a Gaylactic Spectrum Award, a Carl Brandon Parallax Award and a handful of Rainbow Awards. It’s always wonderful to win awards. It really helps authors believe more firmly in the clarity and validity of their own voices and visions.



Why It’s Tough to Be a Woman in Horror

by Renee Miller      

Horror, both films and books, has a bad reputation in terms of its track record for gender equality. Much of it puts the woman in the role of victim, or glorifies the torture of a pretty young thing as a source of pleasure for the viewer/reader. With such a misogynistic taint on its image, why would any woman want to be a horror author anyway?



Don’t Forget to Vote for the 2018 Novel of the Year!

by Amy R. Biddle      

Judging will close at midnight on February 28th, and winners will be announced in the last March issue, on the 26th. If you would like to be a part of this honorable venture, pick at least two, read them before the end of February, and make sure to vote!



SHELFIES: Angela Quinton of Werewolves Vs.

by Bill Kieffer      

Two projects in 2015 launched the publishing arm of Argyle Werewolf, such as it is: an illustrated chapbook version of a short story I originally wrote for a Hic Dragones anthology, and Werewolves Versus The 1990s. The former was a function of self-indulgence – my wife had done some wonderful illustrations for my story The Librarian, and I wanted a stand-alone artifact I could sell at conventions. The latter was the first issue of a digital anthology of short stories, poetry, comics and art produced by friends that I pestered for the purpose. Something happened and now we’re on issue six and I don’t have to pester anyone anymore.



When the Well Runs Dry

by Renee Miller      

…although it’s not a real condition, for many writers, it feels very real. It is smothering, panic-inducing, and, sometimes, paralyzing. However, I still maintain that writer’s block is a fantasy, and it is not something that should keep you from writing.



It’s On! Vote for the 2018 Novel of the Year

by Amy R. Biddle      

This year we have had well over 300 books submitted to Underground book Reviews. Our goal is to find great independent literature, but with that many submissions, the task is daunting. As we agonize over the final choice Novel of the Year: Editor’s Choice, we are ultimately in search of finding the book that is larger than the box it has been placed in. In order to do so, we put aside our own genre preferences and ask ourselves what the reviewer thought made it so special. Meanwhile, you, dear readers, are in charge of finding our Novel of the Year: Reader’s Choice.



Endings and Beginnings: Good Riddance, 2017

by Renee Miller      

At the end of every year (or the beginning), I think it’s important for writers (or anyone, actually) to take stock of what they’ve accomplished, as well as how far they have to go. It helps refocus our attention on the important things (like actual writing) and it sometimes allows us to decide what goals we need to let go of.



SHELFIES: Morissa Schwartz of GenZ Publishing

by Bill Kieffer      

I am in the sixth generation of my family to live in New Jersey. I was going to go to NYU. I was going to do it. I was going to be a city girl. Wasn’t for me. I’m too Jersey. I like the suburbs. I like being able to have the quietness while also being able to go and do things. The city is too loud to live in all the time but to visit it’s great and only a quick train ride away. I say I have the best of every world here. I can work on the beach, go to the city, visit the library…go anywhere really, whenever I please. I was raised in an entrepreneurial household. I grew up in my parents’ carpet store from a week old. My parents always encouraged me to follow my dreams. I went to a specialized high school for students who wanted to be doctors, but, deep down I always enjoyed literature. I had my first national story published when I was 12 years old, had a position working for Scholastic at 13, and self-published my first book when I was 17, so literature was always a big part of my life. I started taking it really seriously, though, when I was in college. As an English major, I won some great awards for my writing in college and that encouraged me to write my book which was published by a midsize publisher and success. The success of my book made me want to help others with their books.



The Power of People

by Renee Miller      

Listen, writing is a lonely endeavour. Just you and that blank page until one of you blinks. I get it. However, selling books isn’t a one-man/woman job. You need people to help get your book in readers’ hands. What people? Your people.



SHELFIES: Peter Frycki of Out In Jersey Magazine and OutInJersey.Net

by Bill Kieffer      

I met Peter Frycki very early in 2017 at my first LGBT networking event. It was a hard sort of thing for me as I’m terribly uncomfortable if I’m near real people and away from the keyboard. Next to the host of the event, Brian Blatz of Fiddleheads Bistro, Peter was the first person I screwed up the courage to talk to. The shiny magazine covers attracted me. I’d never seen them before in my part of New Jersey. And I wanted one, so I had to approach him, if only to buy one. Turns out they were free and my life has improved just a little bit but snagging them. Peter turns out to be one of those great conversationalists and when his eyes lock on yours, you instantly feel engaged with the pleasant weight his attention. So, I thought I’d let you meet one of my newest friends, a publisher who doesn’t publish the books we usually share here on Underground Book Reviews. He’s very much an Indie Publisher that you should know!



How to Get a Publisher (Possibly)

by Steve Wetherell      

This is not me launching away from the starter platform of indie publishing to join the stellar ranks of the Traditionally Published. That imagery is kind of reductive and more than a little outdated when you consider the labyrinthine reality of the writer’s career path in the internet age. But I am going to be published. I will be represented by a publisher.



Author Spotlight: Connie Lacy

Please welcome Connie Lacy to our Author Spotlight! Author of The Time Telephone, Connie is fascinated with time travel, the paranormal, and global warming. Today she talks about the benefits of KDP and the indie author community.



Is Your Book Eligible for the Novel of the Year?

     

As we enter into the second half of the year, it’s time to start thinking about our upcoming 2017 Novel of the Year. All Top Picks are nominations for both of our Novel of the Year awards: The Editor’s Choice and Reader’s Choice awards. Our Reader’s Choice award is selected by a combination of editorial input and reader popularity. Because of that, we are expanding the eligibility for this award to include all books that reveiced a 5-star review this year, as well as any 2017 Badge Winners.



Author Spotlight: Phillip Vega

Phillip Vega has always been a storyteller, but he’d never put pen to paper until a few years ago. Suddenly, he had a publishing contract, and in the midst of the vortex of marketing, analytics, refining, and continuing to write, he discovered what he defines as his true calling, his passion.



Patreon Offers Serialization For Indie Writers

     

Patreon works with artists, musicians, podcasters, and other creative people. But where writers are concerned, it is designed much like a supportive structure for serialization. Authors can organize things their own way, but the basic idea is to make content available in pieces, exclusive to “patrons” paying through the site. It’s almost like being your own independent magazine, unveiling little pieces of your story, novella, or novel on a schedule as determined by you and you alone.



Our Preoccupation with Violence and Horror, and Why It’s Okay

by Renee Miller      

We’re spinning a tale, crafting a make-believe world where nothing that happens is real. Inside that fiction, though, within that lie we’re telling, we should offer the reader the opportunity to examine the truth, no matter how unpleasant it might be.



Line Editing 101 or Proof I am a Masochist

by Renee Miller      

The most important part of my editing process, in my opinion, is the line edit. I know this is confusing for some writers. I mean, isn’t all editing a line edit? We read every line, after all. Not exactly. For me, line edits are a massive undertaking and possibly the most intimidating step in my self-editing process. Sometimes I know I’ve made a colossal mess in my first draft, so I cry a little when I know it’s time to edit, because I really don’t want to “see” the mess I’ve made.



Underground Matchmaking Wizardry

     

Our goal at Underground Book Reviews is to provide a service for indie authors, not just reviews, but also networking and finding quality services to use on their books. So when we heard that one of our highly rated authors had teamed up with one of our graphic designers, we thought it was a success story that needed to be told.



Self-Editing Tips: Because No One’s Perfect

by Renee Miller      

Editors are a writer’s best friend, as I’ve said many times. I love editors, even when I hate them for pointing out how awful I am at this writing thing. The work they do isn’t just about correcting spelling errors and chasing down rogue commas. An editor can look for a multitude of unrelated errors in a single pass, and best of all, a good editor will find those errors and give you hell for them. But it’s impossible to do a good job if you’ve handed that editor a steaming pile of first draft shit.



Author Spotlight: David K. Hulegaard

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. If you are an author and like what you see, go to our submission page for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews! Please welcome David K. Hulegaard!



SHELFIES: J.F.R. Coates of Jaffa Books

by Bill Kieffer      

Jaffa Books is an independent publisher/retailer of fiction based in Brisbane, Australia. They have a lot of genres, but I know them mainly as a Furry publisher. But that might be because J.F.R Coates and I both belong to the Furry Writer’s Guild. Plus, Jaffa Books will be publishing Bill Kieffer’s collection of furry noir crime stories in the next few months: Cold Blood: Fatal Fables.



Blue Crow Publishing: A Small Press with Big Plans

     

Blue Crow Publishing, LLC, was founded by Katie Rose Guest Pryal and Lauren Faulkenberry in Chapel Hill, NC. BCP released their first titles this month, and will release three more this fall. In 2018, they plan to publish 5-6 books in the spring and fall, both fiction and nonfiction. How does a small press get started? Lauren and Katie, contributors to Underground Book Reviews, tell us the Blue Crow story



Author Spotlight: Brandon Davis Jennings

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. If you are an author and like what you see, go to our submission page for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews! Please welcome Brandon Davis Jennings!



Writer Vs Cynicism

by Steve Wetherell      

Cynicism is easy, after all, and nothing worthwhile ever came from anything easy. Cynicism is easy, but a novelist must be sincere.



Go Fund Yourself

by Renee Miller      

Writers should be paid. We can all agree on this. My question is: Should readers pay before the story is even written? As you probably guessed by the title of this week’s article, I want to talk about author crowdfunding campaigns.



On Collaboration…

by Steve Wetherell      

Writers talk to their fans a lot these days, but, just as interestingly, writers talk a lot more to other writers. Team-ups, anthologies, collaborations and the like are inevitable, and while this is potentially great news for the reader, it’s also a sea worth sailing for any adventuring wordsmith out there.



SHELFIES: Sara-Jayne Slack of Inspired Quill

by Bill Kieffer      

Inspired Quill is a not-for-profit traditional publishing house. This means that our authors don’t pay us a penny (we pay our them decent royalties), and any profits we make get put straight back into IQ to expand our processes, marketing budget, etc. We currently publish across 7 genres: Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Steampunk, Dystopian, YA, Literary and LGBT. We used to be a ‘we’ll accept every genre!’ publisher, but over time we realised that in order to do a great job on each title, we needed to focus down. We haven’t gone totally niche, but we actually have a list of accepted genres now. We’ve always published both paperback and eBook versions, so we’ve been pretty ahead of the curve when it comes to formats. And while we’ve always been keen on publishing works that show diversity (PoC, LGBT, Disability, Gender, etc), over the past year or so we’ve really been focusing on the importance of these elements and have redeveloped our social mission statement.



SHELFIES: Sarena Ulibarri of World Weaver Press

by Bill Kieffer      

World Weaver Press is an independently owned and operated publisher of fantasy, paranormal, and science fiction, currently based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. They publish many short story anthologies, and also novels and novellas. Learn more in an exclusive interview with the one and only Bill Kieffer!



How Do I Go Indie?

by Renee Miller      

The bits and pieces that go into the physical process of publishing yourself are easy to learn about online. What a lot of these guys don’t mention is that it rarely amounts to anything in terms of money and it’s hard on the old ego.



Author Spotlight: Brett Armstrong

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. If you are an author and like what you see, go to our submission page for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews! Please welcome Brett Armstrong, winner of our most recent Pitch Perfect Pick competition!



Don’t Get Mad. (Seriously, don’t)

by Renee Miller      

Don’t become emotionally invested in the virtual reality that is social media. (Yes, I know it’s very real, but it shouldn’t consume your real life.) Forget about image. Forget about marketing and being likable. Forget about all the very good reasons you should NEVER lose your shit online.



Interview with Jeannie Zokan

     

Candi Sary interviews Jeannie Zokan, author of EXISTENCE OF PITY. Learn about Jeannie’s upbringing in Columbia and how it inspired her coming-of-age novel set in the mountains of Cali, Columbia.



Writing to Market- Should You?

by Steve Wetherell      

It’s just pop music, man, and It’s exactly as cyclical and cynical as any other medium or art. First you get the innovators, then the establishers, then the imitators. Then something else comes along and the whole dance starts again.



SHELFIES: Sheela Lambert, Director of the Bi Writers Association

by Bill Kieffer      

Within a few months of finding the bi community, I started looking up when I came into the building and seeing this sign that said “Lesbian and Gay” but not Bisexual or Transgender. That started to bother me. I brought the issue up to the other women in my women’s group and we started talking about it. A whole bunch of us formed a working group. We wrote a letter. We got some other people from outside our group involved: men, a bi woman black poet that I hadn’t known before – other people connected us up. We had three or four representatives go into a meeting with The Center. That was the beginning of that. It took them about ten years to actually change the name and become fully inclusive. The purpose of these awards is to acknowledge and reward the authors, the publishers who publish bi-themed books, and to encourage them to continue to do it. From the time we started that one little category in the Lammies, where we identified maybe 18 books, ultimately winnowed down to 10 that fit our guidelines. Now, this year, for the Bisexual Book Awards, with 13 categories, I started with 200-something books and wound up with 106 submitted. That’s a lot of progress.



SHELFIES: Jesse Dedman of Deadman’s Tome & Horror

by Bill Kieffer      

In 2008, I started Demonic Tome after crossing out large sections of horror mags in a Writer’s Digest. I would search to find that a page of “open for subs” magazines were either defunct or in a hiatus. It was that moment that I wondered how hard it is really to publish, especially as an ezine. It’s much harder than you think. Much harder. Demonic Tome, great name. I would love to go back to that. But I change it. I changed the name and established a brand because its hard to advertise and market Demonic Tome. The name worries the wrong people. I’ll bring back the label for a future project. Maybe something so dark and demented that it really sends the overbearing religious families for a riot.



The Ever Expanding Stage…

by Steve Wetherell      

Humanity likes to puff out its chest and talk about final frontiers, but the fact is the vast majority of us have barely explored the unknown reaches of people a few hours away, let alone outer space.



Beware of Know-It-Alls: Writing Advice and What It’s Worth

by Renee Miller      

The best writing comes from experience, and experience requires us to make mistakes. Learn from them. Instead of looking for the answers from someone else, dive in and find them on your own. Don’t follow others blindly, hoping to find the easy way, because there isn’t one. Sure, lots of people out there say they have the answers, but they have THEIR answers. A lot of them are full of shit too, so there’s that.



SHELFIES: Joanne Merriam of Upper Rubber Boot

by Bill Kieffer      

URB is a micro press (we only publish 2-4 titles/year). We have two series: the Floodgate Poetry Series, which is published annually and contains three poetry chapbooks per volume, and the Women Up To No Good series, which is published more irregularly and features dark fiction by and about women. We also publish anthologies, novellas, and single-author poetry and short story collections. … My best business decision so far was one that I didn’t realize would be a good decision when I made it. I was pitched an anthology by H.L. Nelson of dark, horror, and speculative fiction by women, which eventually became Choose Wisely: 35 Women Up To No Good. I thought it would do alright, but would mostly just be a lot of fun to work on. I released it the same month as our immigrant science fiction anthology How to Live on Other Planets: A Handbook for Aspiring Aliens, which got a decent amount of press for a small press title, getting mentions in Strange Horizons, Dark Matters, Gnome Reviews, and Boing Boing. But Choose Wisely, which was mentioned only in Best New Fiction and InDigest, outsold How to Live on Other Planets two to one, and eventually got a nomination for a This Is Horror award. (And it was every bit as much fun as I expected to put together.)



Authors Assemble! The Pros and Cons of Joining Forces

by Steve Wetherell      

Many of you have no doubt found yourselves attached to like-minded writers, and maybe even found yourselves writing under a banner, rather than as a lone wolf. I myself have done this a couple of times, and I’d like to share with you my experiences, so that I can help you decide wether you’re a dangerous maverick renegade, or belong on a team of dangerous maverick renegades.



Interview With Ginger Bensman

by Candi Sary      

Learn more about Ginger Bensman, an outdoor enthusiast with an interest in mythology and indigenous South American cultures, and the author of TO SWIM BENEATH THE EARTH. She talks about the extensive research that went into the novel, her methodology, organization, and how she turned a personal obsession into a stunning piece of fiction.



Come Closer, Snowflakes

by Renee Miller      

There’s nothing wrong with confidence. Nothing wrong with believing in yourself or being proud of what you’ve written. There is, however, something wrong when you start to believe you’re better than everyone else.



What is a Pitch Perfect Pick?

     

Learn more about our Pitch Perfect system and upcoming changes. The Pitch Perfect Pick award based on the pitch, premise and first few pages. We invite you to participate in the program by voting on books you’d be interested in reading, or books you think should be reviewed. You are NOT obliged to have read a book in order to vote on it! Our new program will begin in June.



Is 30 the New 60?

by Renee Miller      

As a reader, I used to be VERY anti-novella. I mean, I want the most bang for my buck, so give me ALL THE PAGES. Right? Not exactly. I used to think an entire story couldn’t possibly be told in less than 50,000 words. In fact, many novellas I read “way back then” didn’t feel finished.



Author Spotlight: J. Lynn Else

J. Lynn Else is a history buff and ancient Egypt geek. Her book, THE FORGOTTEN: ATEN’S LAST QUEEN was named an Indie Editor’s Choice book by the Historical Novel Society in 2016. Her latest release THE FORGOTTEN: HEIR OF THE HERETIC is now available via Amazon.com and delves deeper into the story of Akhenaten and Nefertiti’s family.



SHELFIES: Siri Paulson of Turtleduck Press

by Bill Kieffer      

Turtleduck Press grew out of a small online writers’ community. Several of us were ready to start publishing, wanted to go the indie route, and decided to band together to pool our skills, marketing power, and resources. Our mandate has always been out-of-the-box works. We started with a broader mix of genres – including poetry chapbooks and novellas – and later sharpened our focus to SF&F romance. We launched in November 2010 with three books: Knight Errant by KD Sarge (gay science fiction romance), Hidden Worlds by Kit Campbell (a short YA fantasy novel), and Life as a Moving Target by Erin Zarro (a poetry chapbook about living with chronic illness).



Basic Book Promotion on an Indie Budget

by Lauren Faulkenberry      

Being an indie publisher means you have to do endless self-promotion, and frankly I’d rather be writing. But in the year since my first novel was published, I’ve learned a few simple things I can do on a regular basis to keep my books visible. Here are a few of the easiest tricks I’ve learned, which you can do right from your desktop.



Talent Vs Hard Work

by Steve Wetherell      

Anyone can write if they put the hard work and dedication in, even those idiots who stand around prattling about wishing and luck. Talent is just following through on a decision to be good at something. Right?



The Price of Free

by Renee Miller      

Longevity is a rarity in publishing these days, in both traditional and indie markets, so it follows that a publisher has to do whatever it can to pay its authors. This is why we’re seeing Kickstarters for anthologies, and other crowdfunding campaigns to try to keep the doors open. As an author, I feel better knowing a publisher is able to fund itself, but the sad reality is readers have come to expect shit for free, or for next to nothing, so what’s a publisher to do? How can they stay afloat when they’re fighting a free market?



SHELFIES: Thurston Howl of Thurston Howl Publications

by Bill Kieffer      

THP started when I volunteered—after self-publishing two titles—to edit and publish a charity anthology for the National Wolfwatcher Coalition in 2014. Throughout the submission process, a handful of authors expressed interest in me publishing their work, despite my limited experience. C. R. Benson, Roland Jenkins, and Justin K. Arthur was some of the first ones to request my services. As more clients came in, I realized I needed a full staff to handle the clientele.



How to Kick-start Your Next Novel

by Lauren Faulkenberry      

We’ve all been there: you have this great idea for a book, and then you sit down to start it and your fingers freeze, and your brain is going in a dozen directions, and the next thing you know, you’ve blown a fuse and it’s been an hour, and you’ve deleted the first line forty times, and you’ve typed three words. Not even a whole sentence. But I’ve got two tips to start your story, stop your stalling, and get you the momentum you need.



2017 Novel of the Year Results

     

We’re excited to announce the top two books from our previous year of reviewing. The competition was stiff. We had over 700 submissions and 50+ reviews. After our stringent Pitch Perfect Pick selection, and careful review process, our judges had the monumental task of choosing between these 13 contenders for the Editor’s Choice award, and our readers voted on our Reader’s Choice award. Don’t miss these two must-read books.



The Seven Vital Virtues of Indie Author Success

by Steve Wetherell      

Every Indie Writer is different, but the successful ones all have certain things in common that we can all learn from. I present to you the Seven Vital Virtues of Successful Indie Writers.



Feeling a Little Empty?

by Renee Miller      

No matter how you work, even you have a scheduled routine, at some point you start to feel overwhelmed.



SHELFIES: Weasel of Weasel Press and Red Ferret Press

by Bill Kieffer      

My name’s Weasel. I got my Bachelor of Arts in Literature and I now use the damn thing as a piece of scrap paper fueling Weasel Press and our projects. I’ve published quite a few books with some publishers, most are now out of print. I do have two current books: “a warm place to self-destruct, (Self-Published),” and “We Live for Half-Moons (Thurston Howl Publications).” I don’t like to talk much about my childhood. All I can say about it is that it happened and now I’m here. I got into literature in late high school early college. I was going to be a horror writer, that is until I found the Beats. The first time I read Ginsberg’s Howl my heart stopped. I went crazy. I started writing beat literature. I don’t know how well I’m doing, but I write a bit of furry lit as well. I try to have a Burrough’s take on Furry or a Bukowski take on Furry. I’ve just not seen a furry Kerouac haha! Aside from that I’m mainly a poet and I fight hard for poetry as it doesn’t get a lot of respect nowadays. But we need it, more than ever.



Can Fiction Teach Us Empathy? 10 Books that Changed Us for the Better

by Lauren Faulkenberry      

Now more than ever, it seems vital to work toward understanding each other. So this month I asked a few writer friends to tell me about books with protagonists who taught them what it was like to truly walk in someone else’s shoes—someone very different from themselves. Here are our top ten recommendations.



Shyness and The Indie Author

by Steve Wetherell      

The symptoms of shyness and social anxiety are often born of being a perennial outsider, and this can be very useful indeed to a writer. In a sense, us writers report the news, we don’t make it. Standing on the side lines can sometimes give you a better view of the game. However, I worry that normalising the “LOL introvert!” trope is something of a crutch, the same way that when I joke about my weight, I worry I might be making excuses as to why I drove past my gym last night because I saw an ice cream van.



The War On Descriptive Writing

by Renee Miller      

The general “rule” is to avoid purple prose or fluffy narrative, writers should avoid the use of adverbs and adjectives whenever possible. I say there ain’t nothing wrong with an adjective, guys. Even a well-placed adverb is all right now and then.



Underground Author Blogs with Talpa the Bookmole

by Brian Braden      

There is a lot more to Underground Book Reviews than just great reviews and books. We’re a gateway to blogs and articles from high-quality authors. You could browse Underground Book Reviews for hours, finding tips on writing, author resources, and enjoyable articles on many subjects. This week, Talpa brings you five members from the UBR Community of Authors.



Meet UBR Co-Founder Brian L. Braden.

by Brian Braden      

Underground Book Reviews co-founder Brian L. Braden is returning to Florida’s Amelia Island Book Festival this Saturday, 18 February. From 10 am to 5 pm, he’ll be selling and signing his newest book, the epic fantasy adventure THE GOLDEN PRINCESS. He will also be talking to authors and readers about Underground Book Reviews. If you are in the Jacksonville area, be sure to stop by!



Challenging Fiction by Renee Miller

by Renee Miller      

The second you let fear participate in the writing, you’ve failed. Never be afraid. Not of the reader or yourself. Write the story that needs to be written. Write the characters that the story requires.



Interview with Rosemary Johns

by Chantelle Atkins      

Today I’m interviewing British author Rosemary Johns, author of Blood Dragons. Here she tells us how she researched the novel which spans several decades, how she climbed into the mind of a vampire, and what we can expect from the next books in the series.



A Few Moments with Talpa the Book Mole.

by Brian Braden      

Other than reading obsessively, I’ve been keeping my promise and surfing the internet so you don’t have to. Here are a few blogs and articles, plucked fresh from this week’s interwebs, and brought to you by Yours Truly, Underground Book Review’s official spokes model. You can thank me later.



Don’t Forget to Vote for Novel of the Year!

     

Voting for our Novel of the Year – Reader’s Choice will close January 31st, and the final winners will be announced in the first March issue of 2017. Below, you will find a description of the awards and prizes. Voting takes place on our Facebook page.



And Now A Word from UBR’s Official Spokesmodel.

by Brian Braden      

You know what book I’m reading now? Not yours, that’s what. Because you haven’t finished writing it, because your too damn busy looking at cute cat videos and getting pissed off at someone else’s political posts. I know that’s harsh, but too many of you indie authors are surfing the net instead of writing your next book.  Don’t worry, I have good news. Talpa is here to help. From now on, I’m going to surf the internet for you.



SHELFIES: Brian Kaufman of Dark Silo Press

by Bill Kieffer      

Let me introduce you to Brian Kaufman of Dark Silo Press, a Colorado based micro-publisher of supernatural horror. If there was ever a good place for a zombie stronghold, it would have to be somewhere in Colorado. Since 2013, Mr. Kaufman and Dark Silo Press have shared nightmares with the world via insidious ebooks with covers of primitive, outsider artwork. They’ve earned the honor (or the onus) of being the first publisher to be interviewed for Shelfies.



The Rise of the Word Police

by Steve Wetherell      

To be clear, I’m not paranoid. I’m not an ageing comedian baffled at college kids (yet.) I’m not going to use the term SJW (except for just then, obviously.) I am not gunning for political correctness. What I am talking about are people, on all sides of the political spectrum, who isolate a phrase or word from its context to make a judgement on a work as a whole, or the character of the author as a whole.



Practice What You Speak: 7 Tips for Dynamic Dialogue

by Lauren Faulkenberry      

Writing dialogue is tricky. It needs to sound realistic, but it can’t be too realistic. We all want our characters to sound like real people, but when people talk, there are a lot of unnecessary words tossed around. As writers, we have to carefully craft what our characters say so that the words seems effortless, but yet serve a purpose. So how do you create killer dialogue that seems effortless and does its job? Read on.



Vote for the 2017 Novel of the Year – Reader’s Choice

     

We have thirteen awesome indie books vying for Novel of the Year. One will be selected as our Editor’s Choice. The Reader’s Choice is up to you! Voting begins NOW and ends January 31st. Don’t miss your chance to weigh in on our most prestigious award!



A Message to the Writer, to be Opened January 1st.

by Steve Wetherell      

I’m talking of course about your New Years Resolutions. Other, lesser mortals may have made promises about gym memberships, healthy eating, and to stop having faith that The Walking Dead will become interesting again. Not you, though, because you’re a writer. You promised loudly that you were going to write the ever loving crap out of 2017.



How to Write Like a Guy When You’re Not

by Renee Miller      

A penis doesn’t make a character an alien creature with unfathomable motivations or desires.



Long or Short: All Sizes Matter

by Renee Miller      

There’s no money in short stories, you might be saying. Why bother? Well, you’re wrong. it can be profitable, but that’s not the main reason you should write it.



Does Your Book Qualify for Assigned Reviews?

by Amy R. Biddle      

The Assigned Review program is designed to fund and expand our free Selected Review program. In an effort to reach more authors and pay our Reviewers fairly, we came up with the Assigned Review program, a system in which Certified authors may pay to assign their book to an available reviewer. We like to think of it as crowdfunding for indie authors; every paid-for Assigned Review helps fund a free Selected Review.



Interview with Kyle V. Hiller

by Chantelle Atkins      

Today I’m talking to Kyle V. Hiller, author of The Recital. Kyle is a West Philadelphia native. He attended Temple University’s Tyler School of Art, with discipline in English and Filmmaking. The Recital is his debut novel, and his inspirations include Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Harriet the Spy, Stargirl, Age of Miracles, and anything by Haruki Murakami and Hayao Miyazaki.



Are you a REAL writer?

by Steve Wetherell      

What makes a REAL writer? A lot of people seem to think they know the answer, but is it even a question that can be answered? Or should be?



This Week’s Sales and Giveaways

There are 9 sales and giveaways going on this week, including a giveaway of 10 copies of THE NIGHT OF THE SEVENTH SUN by Steven Burgauer: “Man versus Neanderthal in the mountains of Iberia.”



Interview with Deb Dorchak and Wendi Kelly

by Chantelle Atkins      

Bonds of Blood and Spirit is an exciting series authored by Deb Dorchak and Wendi Kelly. Loyalties is book one in this series, and in this interview, Deb explains how the story came about and what it’s like writing books with another author!



Keeping Your Momentum During NaNoWriMo

by Lauren Faulkenberry      

Well, writers, we’re in the home stretch of National Novel Writing Month. If you find yourself running out of steam at this critical point, don’t fret. We’ve all been there. Sometimes you just need to take a step back and re-evaluate for a minute before you proceed towards the finish line. If you need a little boost in momentum, here are some tips to sustain your creative energy and keep your word count on the rise through our final days.



Interview with Victoria Valentine

by Chantelle Atkins      

Victoria Valentine is an accomplished author in both the romance and horror genres. Agony Of Being Me, however, is a contemporary and gritty YA novel, which concludes with Part Two; Finding You. Here, Victoria tells us the story behind Agony, takes us through her writing process and talks about her writing and publishing journey so far.



Rule Breakers: Writing Rules You Should Break & A Few You Shouldn’t

by Renee Miller      

It seems like fiction has a shit ton of rules we’re supposed to follow. Actually, there are so many, it’s tough to keep them all straight, so we never know if we’re breaking them or not. You probably are, but that’s okay. Sometimes you should break those rules, because it’s the only way to write something truly spectacular.



So You Want Me to Review Your Book

by Lynne Hinkey      

Thank you for your review request. I am honored that you’d trust me with that responsibility. Yes, I’m flattered, but are you sure about that?



Interview with Dominic Carrillo

by Candi Sary      

Dominic is the author of our 4.5-star book, THE IMPROBABLE RISE OF PACO JONES. He is an 8th grade Endligh teacher who writes about identity, class, and relationship issues through his fiction. He talks about his journey in self-publishing and his upcoming novel.



Ask Me About My Genre Agenda

by Steve Wetherell      

And yet, and yet, they spit on us still, those high fallutin’ types. Those snobs who snatch only the best of what we love, and call us sad for having loved it. Those trend watchers who invented the YA genre so they wouldn’t have to admit they liked kid’s books. Those phonies who’ll shun the time traveller, but gush over The Time Traveller’s Wife.



Are You a Bookmole?

     

Bookmole (book-mōl) – noun, a person dedicated to reading underground, banned, rare and independent literature.



Author Spotlight: Steven Burgauer

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. If you are an author and like what you see, go to our submission page for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews! Please welcome Steven Burgauer!



Sure, You CAN Publish a Great Book, but SHOULD You?

by Renee Miller      

I believe that every one of us has a novel inside them. We can all write a story, and we can all find folks who will love it. However, that doesn’t mean we all should publish.



Style and Voice Part 2: Finding Your Voice

by Renee Miller      

Last week we discussed writing style and how voice is an important element of a good one. But what the heck is “voice” when referring to writing. Well, let’s see…



Interview with Igor Ljubuncic: Author of THE AMAZING ADVENTURES OF DASHING PRINCE DIETRICH

by Lynne Hinkey      

“I have learned a lot of stuff through trial and error. Sorry, that’s a wrong term. Through trial and more trial. It’s not about errors, it’s about improving on what you do and making it better, faster, more elegant, more professional.”



Style and Voice Part 1: What’s Your Writing Style?

by Renee Miller      

Style is a complex element in fiction writing, because it’s mostly subjective. There is often no right or wrong, so it’s hard to tell if your style is “good.”



Join us at The NCWN Writer’s Conference

     

We’re excited to announce our presence as an exhibitor at the 2016 NCWN Writer’s Conference in Raleigh, North Carolina on November 4-6. We will be selling Top Picks, Underground Titles, and a few select Pitch Perfect Picks. If you are in the area, stop by and meet co-founders Amy Biddle & Brian Braden, as well as our columnist Lauren Faulkenberry, our reviewer Lynne Hinkey, and the author of our 2016 Novel of the Year winner, Ted Kelsey. The exhibitor’s tables are available to the public, but if you register for the event you will also have access to a litany of professional workshops, readings, panels and lectures.



4 Ways a Road Map Can Propel Your Novel Forward

by Lauren Faulkenberry      

As a writer, I’m torn. I enjoy the discovery that happens while writing, as many of us do. I delight in letting characters develop organically, based on decisions they make and conflicts they create. Part of the joy of writing for me is having surprises happen along the way. But sometimes that’s the hardest way to write.



Author Spotlight: Keith Hirshland

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. If you are an author and like what you see, go to our submission page for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews! Please welcome Keith Hirshland!



Author Spotlight: Brian G Murray

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. If you are an author and like what you see, go to our submission page for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews! Please welcome Brian G Murray!



They Will Judge Your Book by Its Cover

by Renee Miller      

They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but let’s face it, people DO judge it exactly that way. Your book’s cover is its packaging. It’s often the first promotional element your readers see. As such, you should want to make it the best damn packaging possible.



Author Spotlight: Peter J Meehan

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. If you are an author and like what you see, go to our submission page for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews! Please welcome Peter J Meehan!



Five Years of Underground Book Reviews

by Brian Braden      

A strong vision, a commitment to quality, and stubborn persistence – these are the hallmarks Underground Book Reviews carries forward. Aren’t these also the hallmarks required of a successful author? Absolutely. I think this is why we’ve connected so deeply with our core audience – indie authors. It’s our bond with you that infuses us with a deep respect for everything you must endure to bring quality fiction to your readers. We, too, are indie authors. We want you to succeed. That’s what we’re all about.



UBR Flashback – Review of MAGEBORN: THE BLACKSMITH’S SON by Michael Manning

by Brian Braden      

On our fifth anniversary, UBR takes a special look back at our very first book review. MAGEBORN: THE BLACKSMITH’S SON by Michael G. Manning.



Grammar Police: Step Away from the Keyboard

by Renee Miller      

Grammar is hard. I know. I unintentionally break grammar rules all the time, although I try very hard not to. God, those wretched commas. There are some grammar rules, though, that professionals should never make. Yet, I see you making them.



5 Tips for Creating Masterful Plot

by Lauren Faulkenberry      

Most writers I work with struggle with plot more than anything else. If you’re like a lot of them, your book idea might be built around one central intriguing event. So you’ve got a bold/clever/exciting event: now how do you build all of the scenes around it to create a whole novel? Read on, my friends.



Branding: Hugh Howey, Pokemon Go and Weeding the Garden

by Steve Wetherell      

Brand might seem like a word a marketing executive says before she eats a live baby or however it is they work their terrible magics, but if you’re an author and you’re shilling your books then you have a brand whether you realise it or not. Social media is your platform, how you behave on social media, how you are perceived on social media, is your brand.



Author Spotlight: A. C. Burch

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. If you are an author and like what you see, go to our submission page for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews! Please welcome A. C. Burch!



Facebook Virtual Launch Parties: Being the Best Host Ever

by Renee Miller      

A virtual launch party is an online event where you promote your book. It’s like a regular launch party (which might be held at a library, bookstore or bar/restaurant-type of place), but you get to do it from the comfort of your home, in your pajamas, or naked. Whatever floats your boat.



Want to Be Prolific? A How-To On Writing ALL THE WORDS

by Renee Miller      

As I tried to answer this how do I do it question, I realized it’s not really that amazing. Not even impressive. First, I get up early, stay up late, and second, I follow a few “rules” that help keep the words flowing.



Author Spotlight: Elle Boca

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. If you are an author and like what you see, go to our submission page for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews! Please welcome Elle Boca!



But What Do You Know?

by Renee Miller      

…if I only wrote what I knew, I’d be limited to female characters in small towns who went to work every day, engaged in awkward, but not unpleasant sex, and swore a lot… and had a lot of physical injuries, and who gorged on potato chips and Netflix.



Author Spotlight: Gary Anderson

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. If you are an author and like what you see, go to our submission page for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews! Please welcome Gary Anderson!



6 Ways to Widen Your Audience

by Lauren Faulkenberry      

By now you know that if you’re going to be in this self-publishing/indie publishing game, you have to find ways to promote yourself. Unless you’re fortunate enough to have a publicist in your corner, you’re going to have to put on your self-promotion hat and cook up ways to get the word out about your work. The good news is, everyone’s on social media. The bad news? Everyone’s on social media. We have to make you stand out.



Author Spotlight: Rolf Margenau

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. If you are an author and like what you see, go to our submission page for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews! Please welcome Rolf Margenau!



Diversity: Opportunity, not Obligation

by Steve Wetherell      

While the big time players are charging rhinos, we Indies are rabbits— we’re small, we’re fast and we’re constantly reproducing. We can whip up a transgender vampire litRPG before a bunch of marketing executives can discover whether kids are still saying ’On Fleek’ or not. (They’re not.)



Author Spotlight: Igor Ljubuncic

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. If you are an author and like what you see, go to our submission page for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews! Please welcome Igor Ljubuncic!



Underground Title Debut: THE GOLDEN PRINCESS

by Brian Braden      

Co-founder Brian Braden releases his newest book, which follows a favorite heroine from his epic myth-based fantasy series, BLACK SEA GODS. If you haven’t started Brian’s books, now is the time: it’s all on sale this week!



Pull Out or Stay Put: Panic is a Terrible Business Partner

by Renee Miller      

How is removing all of your books from Amazon, the largest retailer for most indie authors, benefiting you



Author Spotlight: John A. Autero

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. If you are an author and like what you see, go to our submission page for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews! Please welcome John A. Autero



Gearing up for the 2017 Novel of the Year

     

As we enter into the second half of 2016, it’s time to start thinking about our Novel of the Year. This year, we are opening our doors to more than just our Top Picks! Find out if your novel could qualify.



Underground Title Debut: THE BARRIERS by Katie French

by Katie French      

Today Underground Book Reviews co-founder and former editor releases the fifth book in her best-selling young adult dystopian series, THE BREEDERS.



Space Werewolves of the Planet Sex (A Message Fiction)

by Steve Wetherell      

Be careful with your politics, because pretty soon you’ve got preachy prose and two-dimensional characters. Clever satire becomes bitter sarcasm. The warm handshake of wit becomes the finger wag of admonishment. Worst of all, it’s a one way ticket to a derailed plot.



Author Spotlight: Susan-Alia Terry

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. If you are an author and like what you see, go to our submission page for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews! Please welcome Susan-Alia Terry!



Interview With Philip Brown, Author of LIGHT RUNNER

by Candi Sary      

The author of LIGHT RUNNER discusses astrology, LA and character building… Philip grew up with three strong sisters and a lineage of strong women. He learned to appreciate their fortitude and determination. In writing LIGHT RUNNER, he wanted to convey his own heritage of their powerful resilience through the character of Dara.



Underground Title Debut: Release of THE UN-FAMILIAR: A Tale of Cats and Gods

by Lynne Hinkey      

I’m pleased to announce that my latest novel, The Un-Familiar: A Tale of Cats and Gods, was released by Casperian Books on Friday, July 1.



7 Self-Promotion Ideas for New Authors

by Lauren Faulkenberry      

Today, with so many books being published and so many being promoted online, we authors have to find a variety of creative ways to promote our books to get them in the hands of new readers. So how do you make your book stand out of the crowd without being annoying? How do you start promoting when your book launches? Read on.



Author Spotlight: John McDonell

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. If you are an author and like what you see, go to our submission page for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews. Please welcome John McDonell!



Negative Reviews Are Good For You

by Renee Miller      

When did we become a nation of back-patting do-gooders? Why is it so wrong to tell someone we don’t like something? When did we decide we’re never going to say anything negative ever again?



Author Spotlight: T.E. Scott

At Underground Book Reviews, we aim to highlight as many quality authors as we can. To this end, we welcome T.E. Scott into the spotlight! If you’re an author, submit a book for review to be considered for Author Spotlight eligibility. Only Underground Certified authors may apply.



Guilt: The Most Useless Emotion of All

by Renee Miller      

Throw away the guilt, because there is only one person whose happiness you can control.



Author Spotlight: Quentin J. Parker

At Underground Book Reviews, we aim to highlight as many quality authors as we can. To this end, we welcome Quentin J. Parker into the spotlight! If you’re an author, submit a book for review to be considered for Author Spotlight eligibility. Only Underground Certified authors may apply.



Write Like Nobody’s Reading

by Renee Miller      

“Write with the door closed, rewrite with the door open.” – Stephen King



Author Spotlight: Barry Finlay

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. If you are an author and like what you see, go to our submission page for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews. Please welcome Barry Finlay!



4 Steps You Can’t Skip When Submitting Your Manuscript

by Lauren Faulkenberry      

Luck is only part of this story. The rest is about perseverance, research, and partnerships. After my hiatus (those years my book lived in a folder in the guts of my laptop), I got serious about fixing the flaws in my book. I found some great resources and a top-notch beta reader—and found a great publisher just a few months later. Can you replicate all of this? YES. You have a story. What are the top three things you can do to get your manuscript in a publisher’s hands?



Interview With Robert Cowan

by Chantelle Atkins      

Robert Cowan is a Scottish author with three titles out to date. Searching for Ethan, Daydreams and Devils and the recently released For All Is Vanity. Having thoroughly enjoyed Daydreams and Devils, a book I can only describe as being a bit like The Commitments meets Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, I was keen to interview Robert and find out more about the inspiration behind Daydreams and Devils, as well as his indie journey so far.



Underground Announcement: Release of CHASING CHAOS by Katie Rose Guest Pryal

by Katie Rose Guest Pryal      

Today is the publication day of my latest novel, Chasing Chaos, and I’m thrilled to share the news with my friends here at Underground Book Reviews. Kathryn Craft, award-winning author of The Far End of Happy and The Art of Falling, says this about Chasing Chaos: “Pryal pierces LA’s film industry veneer to find complex and relatable characters and then winches the ties between them, pulling the reader right into the fray. The result is as psychologically astute as it is engaging.”



Author Spotlight: Lis Anna-Langston

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, please welcome Lis Anna-Langston!



Introducing Our Community Forum – Participate and Win Prizes!

     

In an effort to foster community at Underground Book Reviews, we’ve opened a brand new forum! The goal is to connect authors, readers and industry professionals. To encourage conversation we’re offering the prizes for users who write 10 forum posts or more in 2016.



Interview with Tony Wirt

by Chantelle Atkins      

Tony Wirt’s debut novel, A Necessary Act, is a gripping psychological thriller about the moral dilemma a sixteen year old boy faces when he realizes the school bully shows every early sign of becoming a serial killer. Should he do something to stop him before it’s too late? Here, Tony tells us where the idea for A Necessary Act came from, and whether or not there is likely to be a sequel…



Do you Audio?

by Steve Wetherell      

Audio books are not just here to stay, they’re a big part of the future for those of us who read, write and love stories.



You Hate Social Media? Really…

by Renee Miller      

…social media for authors is exactly what we make of it. Nothing more. Nothing less.



Author Spotlight: D. B. Patterson

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. If you are an author and like what you see, go to our submission page for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews! Please welcome D. B. Patterson!



A Thank You Letter to Our Invaluable Readers (and prizes!)

     

Underground Book Reviews is, at its core, a community. Last year, we transitioned from a small blog to an online magazine, and the move was fueled by you, our readers. During that first year, we asked many of you to explore our “Beta” website and give us feedback. You did, and the responses we got were invaluable.



Sometimes It’s Okay to Fluff

by Renee Miller      

We’re told to eliminate fluff from our writing. Get rid of the extra shit. Don’t build up the prose with unnecessary fluffy nonsense, because there’s no purpose to it. No message.



REVERIE Wins Our First Popular By Vote Badge!

     

The “Popular by Vote” badge is given to the first book to break a vote threshold on our website. REVERIE by Lauren Rico is the first to break 100 votes, and wins the honor! Our new threshold if 200 votes.



Interview with Frank Haggerty

by Candi Sary      

An award winning photographer, artist and author, Frank Haggerty talks about his affinity toward flawed characters and how his Jersey upbringing inspired his writing.



False Gods

by Renee Miller      

In this industry, and by “this” I mean the publishing industry, it’s easy to believe in gods. It’s comforting to know that somewhere out there, someone’s got it all figured out.



7 Steps To An Effective Writing Group

by Brian Braden      

If the title sounds very “businessy,” it’s because it is. Authors spend enormous amounts of time writing a book, but usually screw something up during the publication process. Writing groups, if run properly, help us avoid the big mistakes, improve our craft and, maybe along the way, make some money. If you’re going to form or join a writing group, remember the purpose is to help you write better, edit better, better covers, better sales, better everything. That just doesn’t magically happen, it takes a plan.



Author Spotlight: Veronica Purcell

Veronica is a web fiction writer for notable-ish series such as Seriphyn Knight Chronicles and a handful of other pieces that have found years of fame with spam-bots, spam crawlers and adware tracer cookies.



Release of Raking the Dust by Top Pick Author John Biscello

     

It’s our pleasure to announce the second book by author John Biscello, whose debut novel made it to our list of Top Picks in 2014, and subsequently won Novel of the Year!



Great Writer Advice (That You Haven’t Heard Yet)

by Steve Wetherell      

There’s a lot of advice out there from people who haven’t surfed the wave of mass popularity, and aren’t household names, and in many ways this advice is more pertinent to you and I, the indie author. After all, there’s a lot of luck that goes into being a megastar, but becoming an artist in your own right is all about you- the work you put in, and the way you educate yourself.



Author Spotlight: Jean Lowe Carlson

Jean Lowe Carlson writes epic fantasy fiction, dark supernatural romance, and dystopian fantasy. Her sensual, raw worlds remind one of Jacqueline Carey, Clive Barker’s Imajica, Anne Rice, and Robin Hobb. Jean holds a doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine, and has a keen awareness of psychology and human behavior, using it to paint vivid and emotionally complex characters set amidst the broader scope of nations in turmoil or societies with riveting secrets. Not afraid of exploring all kinds of relationships, including LGBTQ and BDSM, her genre-bending novels are exciting, passionate, challenging, and lush.



Underground Title Debut! The Illusion Exotic by Brian L. Braden

by Brian Braden      

Today, Underground Book Review’s co-founder Brian L. Braden releases his first short story compilation, the illusion exotic: six tales of souls turning life’s corners. From the Old West, to the edge of space, six people must learn to abandon the illusions that feed their fears, and trust in love, friendship, and courage.



The Forgettables: Secondary and Incidental Characters

by Renee Miller      

Some writers pen plot-driven tales, while others, like me, prefer to let the characters shine. Some of us achieve a balance between both plot and character, where both are equally important. Whichever way you write; characterization is always crucial to creating a memorable story.



Interview With William Darrah Whitaker

by Lynne Hinkey      

>Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Darrah Whitaker, author of the fast-paced, fun and thought-provoking novel, My Life as a Sperm. Darrah’s background in screenwriting really comes through in his work, with dialogue and action that jumps off the page and begs to be heard and seen on the big screen.



The Dark Side of Publishing: Bullies

by Renee Miller      

In adulthood, bullying simply becomes more refined, and we have to deal with it in different ways, because you can’t get your mama to tell his mama what a dick her kid is being. You may live by the old advice to ignore a bully and they’ll go away. You’re a grownup now.



Farewell from Pryal Style

by Katie Rose Guest Pryal      

Thirteen months ago, I published the first Pryal Style column here on Underground Book Reviews. Today, I publish the final column, which happens to be the thirteenth (despite my triskaidekaphobia).



Author Spotlight: Lynette Hill

Lynette Hill is a lifelong nomad obsessed with fantasy, folklore and mythology. In between teasing her cat and drinking too much black coffee she travels around Britain and writes fantasy novels.



Future Stress (And How To Deal with It)

by Steve Wetherell      

If you’re planning on using current technological implications to shape your future world, then Future Stress is something that is bound to affect you— now so more than ever. So how to deal with? Booze? Well, yes, but also other things…



What’s a Girl Gotta Do For a Review?

by Renee Miller      

Need book reviews? Those little buggers are hard to get. I thought I understood the game, but my paltry review numbers on Amazon are evidence that I do not. Or are they?



Author Spotlight: Philip Brown

Philip Brown, YA contemporary fantasy author of Light Runner, is motivated by the power of words to change lives. He teaches high school and is inspired by his students, many of whom struggle to overcome difficult social and personal issues. He believes the classroom is a place filled with brilliant and amazing stories.



Haters Gonna Hate

by Renee Miller      

Some of you might think who you are doesn’t impact your book sales. I mean, what matters is that you wrote a kickass book, right? Pfft. Don’t kid yourselves. Your likability is important to a reader.



Websites for Writers Part 2: Design and Blogging Ideas

by Katie Rose Guest Pryal      

This column, the follow-up to my last column, delves deeper into suggestions for how you might design and use your author website, including suggestions for design and blogging.



Author Spotlight: Brandon Zenner

Brandon Zenner is an american fiction writer. His short fiction has been published in both print and online publications, the first being submitted when he was just 19 years old. THE EXPERIMENT OF DREAMS, his debut ebook thriller, has reached Amazon’s top-ten charts within its genre many times. His second novel, WHISKEY DEVILS, was released in early 2016, and nominated in the Global Ebook Awards. His genres of choice are thrillers, crime, dystopian, and science fiction.



Launch Your Writing Career Like James Bond

by Katie Rose Guest Pryal      

You are going to burst onto the public scene like Athena. You will not apologize. You will not be “beta” or “just figuring this thing out.” Like James Bond, you will be a pro from the get-go.



Author Spotlight: J.D. Cunegan

Fresh off his debut novel Bounty, J.D. Cunegan introduces his intense follow-up, Blood Ties, a mixture of murder mystery and superhero epic that re-introduces the reader to his comic book-inspired storytelling and fast-paced prose. A 2006 graduate of Old Dominion University, Cunegan has an extensive background in journalism and a lifelong love for writing. Cunegan lives in Hampton, Virginia, enjoys reading, and is an avid auto racing fan.



The Difference Between Writing for Free and Being a Chump

by Steve Wetherell      

Say you’re a musician. A good one. Damn good. You dream of being a rock star, of people finding special meaning in your words, of listening to what you have to say, of snorting cocaine from various parts of your body.  Maybe you get there, maybe you sort of get there, but more likely you don’t, and realise that you probably never will. So what do you do? Give up? No. Maybe you start busking, maybe you join a covers band, maybe you become a session musician. You’re not a rock star, but you’re getting paid for what you love, and that is as much a dream as any of us can hope to achieve.



Author Spotlight: DAVID BULITT

David Bulitt is a father of four daughters and best described by a client as “the non-shaving, motorcycle-riding, bourbon-drinking, non-lawyer, lawyer.” He is regularly included as one of the DC area’s finest divorce lawyers by Washingtonian Magazine, Bethesda Magazine, Best Lawyers in America and SuperLawyers.



Interview with David Khalaf

by Yvonne Lieblein      

Meet the author of THE SIXTEEN BURDENS. Born in Orange County, California David Khalaf studied print journalism at the University of Southern California, where he served as editor of the Daily Trojan newspaper and held court on the patio outside Carl’s Jr. He later went to graduate school at USC for creative writing. He has been a waiter longer than he cares to remember.



The Myth of the Crazy Writer

by Renee Miller      

The implication, made by other writers primarily, that creative minds are predisposed to mental instability is irritating, and it’s insulting to those actually suffering from mental illness. Writers are not crazy. Crazy is not a requirement for success in this industry. In fact, I imagine it’d be a hindrance, but that’s just me.



Author Spotlight: Adrian Baldwin

The author of our 2016 Readers’ Choice Novel of the Year, we welcome Adrian Baldwin to the stage for an Author Spotlight! Adrian Baldwin is a Mancunian now living and working in Wales. Back in the Nineties, he wrote for various TV shows/personalities. Since then, he has written three screenplays, one of which received generous financial backing from the Film Agency for Wales. Then along came the global recession to kick the UK Film industry in the nuts. What a bummer! Not to be outdone, he turned to novel writing – which had always been his real dream…



Meet UBR Co-Founder Brian L. Braden at Amelia Island Book Fest.

by Brian Braden      

Underground Book Reviews is taking it on the road! UBR co-founder Brian L. Braden will be at the Amelia Island Book Festival this Saturday, 20 February at 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Amelia Island Book Festival (AIBF) takes place just north of Jacksonville, Florida. This year, over one hundred authors, traditionally and independently published, will be participating.



Gender Wars: Do Men and Women Write Differently?

by Renee Miller      

Many feel that acquisitions editors and readers are biased when it comes to the books they prefer, choosing one gender over another, regardless of the quality of writing involved. I wondered, how do they know if the person they’re reading is male or female.



Three is a Magic Number: Using UBR to Find More Readers.

by Brian Braden      

Most indies don’t have publishers, nor do they have agents, publicists or money. What they do have is the internet. If they are really lucky, they have the internet and Underground Book Reviews.



Nothing Left to Write?

by Renee Miller      

In fiction writing, it’s widely believed that there is literally nothing new under the sun in terms of story. Every plot, when stripped to the basics, has essentially been done before. You can’t possibly bring anything to the table we haven’t seen before. Yawn. So why bother?



Author Spotlight: Allen Brown

Hidden deep within the woods of the Albertan mountains, Allen spends his nights churning away at his passion. Writing. A new comer to the industry. Learn Allen’s secrets!



OLGA Wins 2016 Novel of the Year

     

Over the last year, we received over 1,000 submissions, wrote 52 reviews and selected 11 Top Picks to vie for Novel of the Year. Each of these 11 books were vetted by a moderator, then read by a reviewer and at least two judges before the final decision was made. Selecting the Editor’s Choice award was extremely difficult – with excellent books of all genres competing on the same level, it’s hard to choose a favorite. Obviously, all 11 novels were well executed, but the final winner goes to a Young Adult novel that is so full of imagination and character that it was impossible to put down.



The Road to Top Pick Novel: Pitch Perfect Pick

by Brian Braden      

“I want to read this.” With those five words, readers begin a potential love affair. What makes us pick up a book and slap it on the checkout counter (or click “Buy”)? That’s what publishers have been trying to figure out since there were publishers.



Underground Announcement: CHASING CHAOS by Katie Rose Guest Pryal

by Katie Rose Guest Pryal      

The third novel in the Entanglement Series is a go, and the cover reveal happened just last week—so now I can share the cover with my Underground people!



Muddling Through a Media Kit

by Katie Rose Guest Pryal      

A media kit (also called a press kit), is a marketing tool for authors use when reaching out to the media—including book bloggers—retailers, and more. The important thing to remember about a media kit is that its audience is not your readership, but rather members of the larger book marketing industry. Because I publish my novels with a small press, putting together a media kit is a task that would fall to me. Since I’ve never done this before, and I’m betting many of you have never done this before either, I thought I’d narrate this process in a column so we could all learn together from my mistakes.



The Writer’s Mistress

by Steve Wetherell      

Like many of you, I was disappointed by fantasy-writer/man-bear G.R.R Martin’s announcement that he wouldn’t meet his deadline for completing the next Game of Thrones book. Disappointed, but also unsurprised. The GoT universe is now so vast that I’m genuinely surprised Martin can fit it all in his head without incest and murder dribbling out of his nose. How does he even function in the real world with all that going on? Even those of us who aren’t writing enough books to build a house with can have trouble balancing our fictional worlds with our real ones.



Author Spotlight: Julie Starling

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. If you are an author and like what you see, go to our submission page for a chance to be featured on Underground Book Reviews! Please welcome Julia Starling!



Comedy Writing: Not as Easy as It Looks

by Renee Miller      

For me, comedy writing is about poking fun at the things we tend to take a little too seriously. Love, sex, religion, politics, hate, pain; all of it is fair game in my books. If we can’t laugh at the negative or snicker at the weirdness in our lives, then what’s the point?



To Free or Not to Free

by Renee Miller      

Writing is a weird “job” in that everyone, sometimes even writers, view our efforts as a hobby. Something we do because we love it (and we do, mostly). It’s not work. It’s not hard, blah, blah, blah. Before we can expect to be paid, we must first establish ourselves as “authors.” Build an audience. You’ve gotta prove you know what you’re doing and impress the masses with your alleged talent, and only then are you good enough to be paid.



Author Spotlight: Susan Moore Jordan

Here at the Underground, our goal is to promote as many quality indie authors as we can. Toward this end, we’re continuing Author Spotlights. This week we’re featuring Susan Moore Jordan!



Welcome to the New Underground Book Reviews

     

It’s been a long time coming, but it’s 2016 and we’re “officially” launching our new, improved website. We’ve been operating at undergroundbookreviews.org for the better part of a year, and maintaining our old site as well (.com). Today, we’re making the official switch – From now on, no new articles will be posted on the .com website, and all operations will take place here, at .org! We like to think of our new site as “Goodreads meets Linkedin meets BookBub” but for indie authors only! It’s still a work in progress, but our goal is to connect as many readers, authors and industry professionals as we possibly can. As always, we start by finding good indie books…



Interview with Sara Rich

by Candi Sary      

Author Sara Rich talks about her graduate research on ancient religions, and how she used her knowledge to craft the world in LIGATURES.



Websites for Writers Part 1: Should You Have Multiple Websites?

by Katie Rose Guest Pryal      

Your website is a very personal thing. It is your personal representation on the internet. Thus: your website is a high-stakes representation of you. At the same time, it is a living creation that you have to maintain and nurture over time.



Vote for the 2016 Novel of the Year!

     

We have eleven awesome indie books vying for Novel of the Year. One will be selected as our Editor’s Choice. The Reader’s Choice is up to you! Voting begins January 4 and ends January 28. Haven’t read any of them? Well, most of these books are on sale, so now’s your chance to weigh in on our most sought-after award!



The Road to Top Pick Novel: Get Certified!

by Brian Braden      

We keep hearing that independently published books need a “filter”, a formal process to separate the serious novels from the not-so-serious. If this is true, who is qualified to provide such a filter? Not us, we’re just indie writers like you. Anyway, thousands and thousands of indie novels are published in the English speaking world every year. A formal process of sifting through all of them is daunting, to say the least. Maybe a different tack is needed. Maybe indie novels don’t need a filter. Maybe indie authors need a standard. Welcome to the Underground Certified program.



Author Spotlight: Tim Patten

Underground Certified Author, Tim Patten, tells us to take more time to edit.



Interview with Traci L. Slatton by Yvonne Lieblein

by Brian Braden      

Traci L. Slatton, international best-selling author and founder of Pavrati Press, takes us on a creative journey — from taking editorial notes on a Stairmaster, to supporting artists through her podcasts and publishing endeavors, to imagining which books she would inhabit if she could step into their stories



Interview with David Rawding

by Candi Sary      

Candi Sary interviews this week’s author, David Rawdig.



It’s Time We Got Serious

by Renee Miller      

We’re in this together, guys, and that’s why I’m using Miller Time to give your heads a little shake. You all have the time to write and I’ll prove it.



Author Spotlight: Jillian Green DiGiacomo

ABOUT THE BOOK: CODENAME CUPCAKE CODENAME CUPCAKE is the story of Molly Peterson, frazzled suburban mom who takes her first day “off” from full-time parenting to visit New York City. When she witnesses a crime in progress, Molly’s mommy instincts kick in and she instinctively grabs the gun out of the would-be criminal’s hand, just as she would take any dangerous object away from a child. With that, her life changes forever. Recorded by a bystander’s iPhone, the “hero mom” video goes viral and Molly becomes an instant, albeit reluctant, celebrity. But the real fun begins when a super-secret spy agency recruits Molly. At first she is thrilled: super powers! An “enhanced” mini-van! Secret tunnels from New Jersey to Manhattan spy headquarters! Life is great! But then she is given her assignment: to infiltrate the PTA at her son’s elementary school. She must join every committee and volunteer at every event in order to be in the building enough to find out why Midwood Elementary School is getting chillier and chillier, discover who is behind the dangerous cooling trend, and prevent a potential calamity. Molly is completely on board for the spying part. It’s the PTA part that she dreads. CODENAME CUPCAKE is a hilarious send-up of parenting, PTA moms and dads, PTA avoiders, spy novels, and comic books. Readers will cheer for Molly as she grapples with both the ordinary and the outlandish in her new life as a super-mom.



Writing What You Know, the Journalism and Blogging Edition

by Katie Rose Guest Pryal      

In my first novel, Entanglement, the hero (Timmy) and heroine (Greta) end up working together in a niche company owned by the hero, called Pacific Production Lighting. Pac Lighting owns hundreds of stage lights, thousands of meters of cable, multiple lighting control boards, meters and meters of truss, motors to hang the truss from event spaces, and more. When Greta first enters Pac Lighting’s warehouse, she’s awestruck by the huge space and the huge amount of gear. At readings, audience members often ask me how I know so much about such a unique business. I seem to know an awful lot about stage lights and cable and such. Did I just do a lot of research? Sort of…



So You Want to Quit…

by Renee Miller      

Only a small percentage of us make this journey in one giant leap. The rest have to take slow, steady, baby steps up a steep hill, while being pelted with giant, fiery balls of shit, without any shoes and a broken umbrella.



The No-Fail Author Newsletter Formula

by Katie Rose Guest Pryal      

So you’ve decided you want to send a newsletter to help you connect with your readers. You’ve created a Mailchimp (or other) account. You taught yourself the software. You’re totally ready to do this. There’s just one problem. What on Betelgeuse do you write in your newsletter? I mean, really. Authors are supposed to post to Facebook, Tweet, keep a blog, write guest posts (ahem), and now send out newsletters, too!? When are we supposed to write our actual books? I’m about to give you a no-fail newsletter formula that will make sending out your author newsletters as painless as it can possibly be. Step 0. Become super familiar with your newsletter software. This is important. You don’t want your software to stand in the way of your newsletter success. I’m going to write these instructions based on the presumption that you have already read the Mailchimp tutorials and watched the YouTube video guides. (Mailchimp is what I happen to use. There are other newsletter platforms out there that are also good.) OK. No that you are a pro (okay, semipro) with your newsletter software, let’s talk about what you want to put into your newsletter. Step 1. Create a title and a theme. A newsletter is much easier to write if you have a starting point. It is also much more interesting for people to read—that is, people are much more likely to open the newsletter—if they know what they are getting. By giving your newsletter a title and a theme, then you are doing yourself a favor, because you have a starting place when it comes time to write your newsletters, and you are doing your readers a favor, because they know what to expect. The title of my newsletter is “Writing Isn’t Sexy,” and the theme is how, although it may seem like the writing life is glamorous, it really is so, so not. I created header art for my newsletter, and it’s the same every month. Again, the consistency is for my readers, so they know what they are getting. Step 2. Break your newsletter into sections, and then use those sections every time. Just like having a theme, having consistent, predictable sections in your newsletter helps your readers know what to expect in your newsletter. Here’s an example of what might be a newsletter’s sections: (1) Main story of the month.* This is a large box. (2) Books update. This is a medium box. (3) Recommended Reads and Book Deals. This is a medium box. (4) Short Bio (of you). This is a small box. (5) Social Media Links (yours). This is a small box. What’s with the “boxes”? Mailchimp lets you design a newsletter by using templates, and within those templates you use drag-and-drop elements such as text boxes to create your newsletter design. Each one of those sections up there is a drag-and-drop element in Mailchimp. I made recommendations for how big each of the sections should be in the list above. Once you’ve …



Sinking Ships: Political Correctness and Fiction

by Renee Miller      

To me, writing is art. Fiction is a powerful form of creative expression. My goal is to be original and fresh. I want readers to say, “Wow, I’ve never considered that before” or “Day-um! I can’t believe she went there.”



Interview With Robert Klose

by Lynne Hinkey      

Robert Klose is the author of Long Live Grover Cleveland, a hilarious satire on academia, his first novel. His previous works include Adopting Alyosha: A Single Man Finds a Son in Russia, chronicling his quest in finding and bringing home his first son; two essay collections, Small Worlds: Adopted Sons, Pet Piranhas, and Other Mortal Concerns and The Three-Legged Woman and Other Excursions in Teaching; and a children’s book, The Legend of the River Pumpkins. In this interview, Robert says “…after marinating in the culture of higher academia for many years, and bearing witness to the often amusing and sometimes unbelievable circumstances that tend to erupt in such a closed system, I felt that only fiction could do it justice.”



Schedule Yourself: Productivity Tips for Writers

by Katie Rose Guest Pryal      

I’m going talk about one way that you can show respect to your life as a writer. To your writing career. To writing, period. You can schedule yourself.



How To Commit Murder

by Renee Miller      

Fictitiously, of course. I don’t want you nutjobs actually killing anyone.



Taking Risks

by Renee Miller      

If you’re sitting there right now, considering the indie route, but you don’t like risks, this is the wrong game for you.



Hate It All You Want: Social Media Can Sell Books

by Renee Miller      

I struggle with book marketing. The perfect formula for selling books eludes me, as it seems to do with most authors.