Friday, November 26, 2010

Interview with Grey Dogs Author, Ian Sandusky

While I’m on an interviewing streak of sorts, I figured it was time to do another. This time I had the pleasure of sitting down with Grey Dogs author Ian Sandusky. I was able to pick his brain about his writing, his process and also about his book.

SDA: Tell us about your book, Grey Dogs.
IS: The short synopsis of the book is ‘When a vicious illness rips across Southern Ontario like wildfire, Carey Cardinal must confront his past or fall victim to the rabid infected tearing with their broken teeth at anything in their path.

SDA: How did it come to you?
IS: On the wings of angels. No, not really. Over the course of slogging through bad memories - some real, some invented - mixed with a healthy dash of inspiration from works I previously loved reading.

SDA: I love how the best stories just kind of happen like that. Tell me why this story was important for you to tell?
IS: Some stories are important to tell, others are created to entertain - and I think this falls somewhere in between. I don't think I can be as pompous as to think the world would be seriously deprived of quality literature without GREY DOGS, but I think the whole story of striving to overcome something much larger than yourself despite your past transgressions may strike a chord in more people than not.

SDA: I know I’m jumping around but going back to the beginning, what led you to be a writer?
IS: In honesty, the lack at the time of the kind of horror fiction I wanted to read. After one night and a few glasses of wine, the decision to write what I wanted to read myself hit me in the head like a ton of bricks, and I haven't been able to stop since.

SDA: It kind of happened the same way for me as well. Once you decided to write, what do you feel was the hardest part of writing a book?
IS: Editing. I don't know how some people can love it. The last thing I want to do is carve apart my glorious mind-child after I just reared it to adulthood, only to stitch it back together into something resembling Frankenstein's monster on crack. Let's just say my red pens often don't get the workout they should.

SDA: What was the longest part of the process, writing the book or publishing?
IS: Publishing, by far. I actually wrote GREY DOGS over the span of approximately ten weeks, but the publishing process from acceptance to release on Oct. 31st took about six months - but even then, that's pretty fast for print publishing. Apparently chasing down good, solid cover-art is a big part of the battle, but the wait was well worth it.

SDA: That being said, what was the deciding factor for publishing how you chose to?
IS: Print publishing was the only way I wanted to go. Call me old school, but I just spent countless hours working on a digital copy of the book - the last thing I wanted was to see another digital copy. ePublishing is a great thing, but my goal was to have my story bound in paper.

SDA: So now that you’ve finally done it, what was the most gratifying moment of writing the book?
IS: Scrawling "END" at the bottom of the first manuscript. No matter how badly in need of editing it was, it was finished. I had set out to write a book, and I finished. I didn't care what anyone thought of it - getting it finished after weeks of work was more rewarding than anything I had done to that point.

SDA: Well the whole thing is a pretty great accomplishment overall. That being said though, if you could change anything about your publishing/writing experience this far, what would it be any why?
IS: If I could change one thing, I would have pushed to get an agent a little more when I was first offered a contract for GREY DOGS, rather than panicking and signing more or less right away. That was a pivotal moment, and I likely could have cashed in on it by gaining representation - but hell, that battle wages on for everyone in my shoes.

SDA: Do you infuse characteristics of people you know or yourself in your characters?
IS: Of course, I think that every writer does it, whether it be conscious or unconscious. People write about what they know, and everyone has at least witnessed some form of the human condition interesting enough to write about. Just make sure you leave the names out - nobody likes a lawsuit!

SDA: Well now let’s talk about other influences. Who has been your biggest creative influence?
IS: Other writers, who's stories I hear via forums, Twitter, blogs, and the like. The schools I've attended and the cities I've grown up in have all had at the very least small groups dedicated to artistic pursuits, but for whatever reason I've never really connected with them. Reading the success stories of other writers making their dreams into reality is what makes me want to sit down and churn up some ideas of my own.

SDA: Who has been your worst critic?
IS:Myself. Without a doubt, but I don't think that's unusual. I think I'm still in shock anyone wanted to invest in what I threw on the page, if you catch my drift.

SDA: Well what is this worst critic’s writing process, meaning do you have a certain setting you have to be in to write?
IS: I brood in the dark confines of my oak-panelled library as a crow perches on a stained bust of a Roman senator while the rain splatters the stained-glass windows. Since I lost that place in a poker game, I usually just have to sit down, push away the distractions, and get down to it. Any setting is a good setting in which to write, provided you can get a steady, uninterrupted flow going for a substantial length of time.

SDA: Speaking also of critics, if someone gave you a less than stellar review of any of your work on a public forum, would you respond, and if so how?
IS: Likely? No. I've seen too many authors ruin their reputations defending their works in flame wars on review sites. At the end of the day, someone isn't going to like your work. Responding to one only shows you're willing to argue with anyone, and that usually doesn't turn out too gracefully. If anything, I would thank them for their honesty, and hope they would reconsider something else of mine in the future.

SDA: I'm testing a few theories about writers and would value your input on it...Do you consider yourself a procrastinator?
IS: A hundred times yes. I would find translating the Bible into Klingon interesting, if I had a paper due the next day.

SDA: Have you ever struggled with writer's block?
IS: Every day, to some degree or another. I've never been so blocked that even a few words erk out though - that would be a sad, frustrating day.

SDA: Also, do you feel that writers are all in some way deep down masochists at heart?
IS: To some degree - who else would willingly put their thoughts on the page? Someone's bound to tear it apart - that's just reality. Beats staying silent, though.

SDA: I will close with this. You did it, wrote a book start to finish, got it published, so have I. That being said what do you think is the biggest thing holding most writers back from becoming authors? IS: Commitment. I know, I know - everyone says it, but 'writer's write.' What they often forget to tack on is 'often.' Anyone can hammer down a few words, but an author is someone who commits themselves to a manuscript and finishes the bloody thing. It isn't pleasant, and it certainly isn't glamorous, but you can't pitch a half-completed work.

Thanks again Ian for the chance to get a glimpse inside your world. It was much appreciated. If you would like to check out more about Ian Sandusky or his novel Grey Dogs, check out his website:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's Official


I am officially published.

The book is available in print now and even though it's finalized, I am not sure it has really sunk into me yet. I know that this is epic in the grand scale of my life, but I also know it is just the beginning!

Smashwords Version

Buy it in Print

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Bring On The Pain

You’ve written a book. If you’re neurotic like me, you stress and worry over every inane detail of the book. I spent almost as much time formatting and tweaking things that no one else will probably give a damn about, just because it was aesthetically pleasing to me.

And yet here I am, about to do it all again. *sighs*

But let’s face it, we’re all drama-queens, or kings depending, and we fuss and whine over how trying this process is, and yet we do it again. Why? Because we actually enjoy it. We are entertainers and we feel that we must suffer for our art. This is true, but I think the lot of us are masochists. We enjoy the pain.

Now you can say I’m crazy but let’s discuss this…

Definition of Masochist: someone who obtains pleasure from receiving punishment.

So we beat ourselves senseless writing a book. We miss out on time with family and friends, time spent doing any number of other things. We agonize over the details of the story and beat ourselves up over the smallest of creative details such as delivery of dialogue or a scene not playing out right. We cause ourselves countless hours of migraines and stress and in some cases borderline panic attacks on the verge of a nervous breakdown. We suffer from self-inflicted writer’s block (sorry people, it is self-inflicted) which only makes us more stressed. We finally finish the book only to go through it with a fine tooth comb and peel out pieces of our finished product which pains us like ripping a bandaid off a wound repeatedly. This is all done to only spend even more time editing and re-writing, doing the whole process in pieces over again.

Then, depending on how you decide to publish…

Indie- you agonize all alone in your creative world, fine-tuning every detail because you feel the crazy need to prove your product is just as good as any mainstream published work. Because you have all the loudmouths that tell you that you are a failure and not a real writer because you chose to self publish…
Or you can go with traditional and you send query after query after query, only to receive some piss poor rejection letter (if you even get word back at all). And on the off chance you do get accepted, then you have to fine tune it how the publisher wants etc.

Then you’re published… whichever way you chose to go with, you did it. All that agony is worse than childbirth and lasts a hell of a lot longer…

So you’re sitting there, satisfied with yourself and smiling subtle grins to yourself every time you think about it because guess what? You’re no longer a ‘writer’ you are officially an author now. It’s done, it’s over, it’s behind you… live it up and enjoy the wonderfulness of being accomplished.

And then you get that itch… that gnawing inside of you…

And you start all over again!

So you tell me, how are you not a masochist? ;)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Guest Blog by A.R. Braun

You've busted your ass to write the best novel you could. You've spent countless hours in critique groups slaving over others' stories. You've revised via the crits they wrote you and paid too much money for a professional website. You've poured over countless grammar books and read like a fiend until you think you'll lose your mind, trying to learn from the greats. You've blogged even though you had nothing to say. Shit, you've reached inside and found something to say. You've worked your butt off getting accepted in pro-paying short story magazines, anthologies, and even free e-zines. You might have also written a chapter in an instruction book. You worried at your WIP so there wouldn't be one error that would make an agent reject you. You added a bunch of people to your website, blog, Twitter, and Facebook, trying to build an author platform. You've read agent blogs and got involved in the Absolute Write forums. And still an agent doesn't care. Is all lost?

Not anymore. Gone are the days when if an author doesn't find an agent, the author won't make any money. Thanks to the Amazon Kindle, writers can now sign with Amazon and find themselves in a profitable venture, cutting out the middleman. You'll still need an online presence and luck, but why not? That's the way it is with anything.

How many good writers are passed up by the major houses because someone's latte wasn't hot enough, I wonder?

Complaints keep coming in about the e-reader. Writers and readers alike claim they love the smell of paper, but I doubt many people are sticking their noses in a paper book. It is great to have a high-quality color cover. Yet soon, e-readers are going to solve that problem, too. I still love my paper books, but I'm not sniffing 'em. Hey, I smell (get it?) a new generation of huffers! The book sniffers!

Here we are in the most exciting year for authors to ever come our way. Let's face it, the old publishing model doesn't always work--except for King and Koontz and a few others--so out with the old and in with the new. Revel in this, writers. I'm not saying to forget trying to get an agent. That's what I'm doing. Just know that if you don't, this no longer spells DOOM.

I owe a debt of gratitude to J. A. Konrath's blog for the information in this post:

A.R. Braun is a horror writer who has just finished his debut novel. You can connect with him on his blog or on his website:

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Get Off Your Butt and Do It Already!

Like the title implies, this isn’t so much of a kiss and make it better blog as it is perhaps the kick in the ass you may be looking for.

I know when I started writing almost 8 years ago, I didn’t think I’d ever get to the point I’m at now. I thought, “Well this is fun, let’s just have fun.” I should have listened then to people that were pushing me to do something with it. My cop-out then was that it would become a job and lose its level of fun for me. It was a cop-out that I used for 7 years.

I got into online writing groups, storytelling etc., it was a lot of fun. The constant feedback that I got was a huge ego boost, as well as gave me the instant gratification that I needed. This became another cop-out for me. That publishing my work didn’t give me the immediate feedback I got from online writing and I wouldn’t stick with it without it.

You want to know what the turning point was?

Seeing a man that I had watched grow from what I’ll affectionately call a multi-para writer (only him and perhaps a select few others will know what I mean) into a published author. And the kicker was that his book was readable! Imagine my surprise at how quickly once he put his mind to it that it became a reality. That kind of was a high power’s way of slapping me in the face and going, “See what you’re missing?”

So I was happy for him, but at the same time I was pissed off at myself. Pissed for allowing my fear and inane sense of incapableness hold me back from doing what I genuinely love doing.

I also listened to the supposed experts tell me that your first novel is going to suck, that it may never get published. That you should write your book start to finish and then delete the whole thing and start over. I have a middle finger just itching to fly high for those experts. My driving need to always prove people wrong was also the kick in the ass I needed.

My point is this: You HAVE to want it. No amount of reading the how-to guides will aim you in any direction other than that. Your mom can’t want it for you, your dad, your minister, your kids, your family, your friends. YOU. HAVE. TO. WANT. IT!

So what are you waiting for?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Personal Musings - Ego Boosters

I did it!

I finished a novel and it is finally published! In e-book at least. Print copies available hopefully by December 1st but still.

I swear… there is so much to say and I really don’t want to bore anyone with it. So I decided to write this blog, and try not to ramble (too much).

I’ve heard people say a lot of different things about creativity and what it can achieve in your life, but none of it rang true until now, so allow me to give you some insight…

Me: a little over a year ago

I was divorced, dealing with a very nasty custody battle, got to see my daughters an accumulated 12 weeks a year because they lived in another state.
Dating a man who I loved but because of my own struggles personally put a massive strain on our relationship.
Working at a job that while it wasn’t a chosen field, I was good at, but every little thing drove me insane about the injustices of the world.
Felt like an overall failure to be 28 years old and starting over from scratch with very little to show for in almost 3 decades of life.
Did online hobby writing and used the crutch of lacking follow-through and ambition to ever do a book. Allowed people to tell me that the stuff I wrote would never be able to be published because it was child’s play.
Self-esteem was non-existent due to the fact that I allowed myself to be a doormat to most of the people in my life because I was afraid of speaking up for fear of hurting someone’s feelings.

Me: Now

Still divorced but guess who has physical custody of her daughters now? :D
Hopelessly in love with a man who treats me like a princess, and is willing to put up with my neurotic side.
Still working at a job that I am still good at, and yes things still annoy the crap out of me, but I’ve come to terms with it.
Feels like I can take on the world now because guess what? I’m a published author.
Ambition played a very minor role in this process for me personally. It was finally being fed up enough of being told I never will and wanting to shove it in a few peoples faces that hey guess what? I’m published!
Don’t care so much about hurting feelings because I would rather be hated for who I am than loved for who I claim to be.

So that is my happy dance for this evening… sorry if I rambled! xoxox