Archive for the ‘Publishing’ Category

Profile Photo (Cropped)Just recently, I received a couple of very nice emails from one of my readers, which came at the perfect time because I was feeling a bit depressed. I thought I would put together a quick post to share these with my subscribers. 

These emails (shared with her permission) are regarding my horror/thriller Devil’s Nightmare:

Email #1:

Started reading your book. More than half way done already. It’s so good I don’t want to put it down.

I have to thank you for getting me reading again. I use to read a book a day. But in February and March of this year, I had cataract surgery done on my eyes (doctor said I was very young to be getting them). So since the 60’s, I don’t need glasses anymore. It’s so hard to get use to seeing with real eyes. I do need reading glasses though and was nervous that I wouldn’t be able to do it. But because you getting this book, I gave it a go and now I know I can do it!!!

Email #2

I finished the book last night. It was excellent!!! I haven’t read a good horror story in years. I couldn’t put it down last night because I had to find out how it ended. I use to love Stephen King but he started to have so many characters in his books that I found it hard to keep track of them all.

Also, I never wanted to read a book on my tablet because I always wanted the physical book to read from. But after reading your book, I find it a lot better. I think the illuminated screen helps me see the words better.

You have my permission to use my note and I’m happy it helped you too. You are a gifted writer. Keep up the writing!

This, my friends, is one reason why I enjoy writing fiction. I love my readers! Enjoy your weekend!

Sharky Teeth

SCRATCH LINE

Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is author of the Amazon Kindle bestselling horror novel Devil’s Nightmare and the contemporary family motor sports drama Pursuit of a Dream (Victory Lane: The Chronicles). He lives in south Texas and has called the Lone Star State his home all of his life. Pruneda is also very active in social media and an avid gamer who can often be found fighting side-by-side with friends on his favorite first-person shooter . . . but he prefers survival horror.

You can follow Robert on Twitter @SharkbaitWrites and on Facebook at http://Facebook.com/AuthorRobertPruneda.

To receive notifications for future blog posts be sure to follow this blog by clicking the follow button (for WordPress users) or subscribe via email on the sidebar. You can also subscribe to the Sharkbait Writes Newsletter here. Your email address or personal information will never be shared with others.

11421672_659686480829196_1751638737_nMy buddy and fellow Texas author Nat Russo recently invited me to participate in this author blog tour about the writing process. Nat just published his first novel Necromancer Awakening last month and became an instant success on Amazon, hitting four bestseller lists in just a few short weeks. So, if you enjoy a good dark fantasy read, be sure to visit Nat’s website and grab a copy of Necromancer Awakening for your Kindle.

So, what exactly is The Writing Process Blog Tour? It’s pretty straightforward and simple actually. Each author who is invited to participate in the blog tour answers four questions about the writing process. The author then introduces three other authors. The idea is to help readers discover other authors that they may not have known about otherwise.

So, without further a doo-doo, read on to learn a little bit about what makes my writing gears turn . . .

What am I working on?

My initial intention was to write Devil’s Nightmare—my first stab at a horror novel—and then move on to another project. However, after getting a number of requests for a sequel through social media, I decided why the heck not? So, I put my other project aside and began working on Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions. I wrote the first book from the perspective of my protagonist Detective Aaron Sanders, but Premonitions is in third-person in order for the readers to get a broader picture of the story. This will also allow for readers to “get to know” a few of my other characters a little better.

I have actually found writing in third person a welcomed challenge compared to writing in first person, which is a bit easier for me, because in that style I get to experience the story through my protagonist’s eyes, as does the reader. With third-person writing, it’s almost like stepping back and watching a movie play out in my head. There is a lot more going on that I need to keep up with than just following one main character’s journey. There is still a main protagonist, but in this style of writing I get to reveal more about other characters that I am unable to do in the first-person style. I think it’s going to make Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions an even better novel because of it. Premonitions is slated for an October, 2014 release.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The short answer . . .

My novels don’t have zombies, vampires, or werewolves in them (although, lycanthropy is definitely something I want to explore further).

Now for the long answer . . .

When I decided to start writing in the horror genre I never thought about how my work would be different than others. I simply wanted to pull the crazy ideas out of my head, get them typed up on screen, and hopefully develop interesting and creepy tales that others would find entertaining as much as I enjoy writing them (and hopefully come back for more). I have had people compare my work to other authors in the horror genre, which I find flattering, but for me it’s all about having fun and sharing my stories with the world. Some readers have also mentioned that my horror writing seems clichéd at times, while others pointed out that it’s a bit difficult not to have some clichés in any horror writing. If you really think about it, most horror novels or movies borrow the same concepts from ages past, but then put a twist or some other unique flavor to it in order to make it their own. With that said, if you read Devil’s Nightmare, you’ll probably point out some of those familiar plot points, but I believe it worked out based on the majority of reviewers having positive things to say about the novel.

When it comes to this genre, my writing is more of a blend of horror, thriller, suspense, mystery, and some drama . . . but the overall theme is horror. Come to think of it, there is one other thing that I think sets me apart from others in the modern horror genre. I’m a risk taker when it comes to certain elements of the horror stories that I’m writing. It will probably remind you of some of the 80s style of horror, which may or may not work for you. This topic brings me to the next question.

Why do I write what I do?

The horror genre is my absolute favorite, whether it is on film or in print. I enjoy watching the classic hack-and-slash campy horror flicks such as Friday the 13th and Nightmare on Elm Street; monster-themed horror flicks such as The Relic and American Werewolf in London, and classic horror tales like Cujo and Jaws, which is a particularly special kind of horror because the stories are built around believable scenarios.

I think the horror genre is starting to make a comeback, particularly in the paranormal arena (and yes, the vampires too). This is something I don’t think we’ve seen since the 70s and 80s. My reason for writing in the horror genre goes much further than simply tapping into a genre that is growing in popularity. In my opinion, that is the worst reason to write in any genre. I feel that you should have a special passion for the genre you are writing in, not just because of thinking you could syphon a quick buck from doing it. If that was the case for me, I’d be writing romance . . . and trust me, you don’t want me writing romance novels. My main character’s poor excuse of flirting skills in Devil’s Nightmare should be all the evidence you need for that. 🙂

Aside from it being my favorite genre, I chose to write horror because I personally want to read more stories that I enjoyed reading and watching when I was a growing up. Now, does this mean my target audience is the teen/young adult demographic? Who knows? Could be, but probably not. My goal is to offer stories that will remind readers of the cult classic horror stories but with a modern setting. I also hope to help introduce the genre to people who may not have tried it before, and according to a few reviews, I have succeeded in bringing at least a few new readers into the dark side of horror. 🙂

The horror genre isn’t for everyone, though. I understand that, so instead of filling my stories with a bunch of blood, guts, sex, and f-bombs, I try to balance the story out enough to where newcomers to the genre can enjoy it and maybe come back for more. For those that live for horror, I hope to deliver what they expect in a good creepy tale. And if not, well, I’m okay with that too, because as I long as I’m having fun writing, it’s all good to me.

How does my writing process work?

First of all, before I begin writing my novel I write a summary of what my story is going to be about. This may be several pages long or just a few paragraphs, but what it absolutely must have is a beginning and an end. I have to know how the story is going to end before I begin writing, but I usually do not use an outline. I’m a “pantser” in that I give my characters the reins and buckle up. This is how I wrote Devil’s Nightmare, and it was one hell of a ride. It was probably one of the most enjoyable experiences I have ever had with any project I have ever been involved with. Even though I knew what was going to happen at the end of the story, I had no idea how I was going to get there. I gave my protagonist a problem and joined him in his attempt to solve it. I believe writing without an outline is one of the main reasons why I have had so many readers tell me that they couldn’t figure out “who the bad guy was” or “how the story was going to end.” That’s because at those same moments, neither did I. 🙂

Now there is a challenge to writing without an outline. The fact that I do not have a road map to get to my final destination I can easily find myself sitting in front of my computer staring at a blank screen, and that happens often. That’s when I have to step away from the manuscript and try to put myself in my character’s shoes. What would he do in this situation? Or what twist could I throw in at this point to make my characters hate me even more? At that point, I rub my hands together with an evil grin and start typing again, often until five or six o’clock in the morning.

One important thing that I do when I write my first draft of any story is not worry too much about the details. The purpose of writing the first draft is getting the story itself on paper, or I should say on screen in my case. I consider my first draft as a skeleton with all the major organs, but not necessarily all of the muscle and skin intact. That’s where the second draft comes into play, which is where I am currently with Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions. This process is a bit different than what Stephen King mentions in his book On Writing, which I highly recommend that every writer should read. King says that the second draft should be the first draft minus ten percent. Well, I try to follow a lot his advice, but this one I fail at miserably. It’s more like the second draft equals the first draft plus twenty percent. I guess my first draft is kind of an outline in that sense, but not really.

Anyway, writing a novel is a lot of work. I can take anywhere from a few months to a few years from start to finish. Devil’s Nightmare took me just over a year, and Premonitions will probably be closer to the eighteen month range. There is a lot to consider when you decide to write a novel, because the process requires several steps from brainstorming, outlining (if you choose to use one), writing the drafts, sending off the manuscript to beta readers, editing, rewrites, formatting, cover design, and finally publication. Oh, and then there is the whole marketing thing. Click the publish button and just kick back and wait for all those royalties to show up in the bank account, right? Buzz! Wrong! It doesn’t work that way.

The last step in the writing process is the hardest and lengthiest of them all. This is something that I’m still trying to figure out. One thing is for certain, though . . . it requires a good chunk of your time and a bit of luck before people begin to discover your work. Some people get lucky and become instant successes, others start seeing sales months after publication, and some give up right away when they don’t become best sellers within the first month of publication. It takes a lot of patience, dedication, and belief in yourself as an author to reach the level of success that you choose.

Success is defined in many different ways depending on the individual. To me it’s not about the money (although, royalty checks are a nice bonus), it’s about doing what I love most, and that is tapping into that imagination that we’re all born with, and turning it into something that I can share with others. Many enjoy what I write (which is a huge reward in itself) and some have very vocally expressed their hatred towards my writing too. That goes with the territory. At first it bothered me. Now, it just fuels my passion to continue writing and strive to improve my craft.

Final thoughts . . .

Thank you for taking the time to read about my writing process. Now, it’s time to pass the torch on to three other writers. Be sure to subscribe to their blogs to learn more about them and their writing process. First, I send you to my friend from “down under” the lovely and talented Aral Bereux.

 

Aral Bereux, www.aralbereux.com

“I write so I can visit places that don’t exist, meet people who were never born, and experience life as though it were new again.”
– Aral Bereux

Aral Bereux Profile PicAral Bereux is the author of the international best seller on Amazon, The Julianna Rae Chronicles, available from Barnes & Noble, Angus & Robertson, GoodReads and more. She is also the creator and indie artist advocate for #indiecorner, supporting all walks of independent artistry on her webpage. In her debut dystopian fiction, she outlines the potential of a New World Order and the destructive forces that may await us. Borrowing from the urban fantasy genre, she hopes to soften the blow with the additional suspended reality. But be cautious of her world…this is no scant series of urban/dystopian fiction…her mythical watchers are watching, but then so is Big Brother…and you may very well leave the finished books with a touch of paranoia (or as she likes to refer to it – “dystopias”)

Bereux has studied at university for over 12 years and has worked in a maximum security men’s prison during that time. She theorizes on conspiracy thought; debunks paranormal activity during ghost hunts (but believes in the boogyman); and strives for the truth when the Illuminati and New World Order are mentioned (who would’ve thought?). She draws on her life experiences to write and publish books; and is currently delving into the new world of developing script for gaming applications.

SCRATCH LINE

Next up, is a newborn writer in her own words, Marilyn Parel . . .

Marilyn Parel, www.OnBecomingAWriter.com

Marilyn Parel Profile PicOnBecomingAWriter.com is my writing space. I’ve written much over the years, but never published. I’m not good at fiction, but enjoy composing short stories, poetry, and the occasional satirical essay. I’ll use this space to park my work.

I always start out being serious about a subject but, somehow, my little mind takes twists and turns and the serious ends up being the humorous; at times, even sounding exaggerated. I can assure you, however, that what I write is based in truth, no matter how preposterous it sounds.

In my previous life, I was a kindergarten teacher. The classroom, of course, provided me a wealth of material for my writing, as did the ancillary characters who helped hone my humor. Prior to that, I wrote marketing and communication plans for major corporations, including crises communications, which I found hilarious (in a good way.)

I enjoy running, good food, good wine, good company, and music.

SCRATCH LINE

And last, but certainly not least, I send you to my Canadian “birthday twin” author Sheilagh Lee.

Sheilagh Lee, http://sheilaghlee.blogspot.ca

Sheilagh Lee Profile Pic (cropped)Sheilagh Lee was born and raised mostly in London, Ontario, Canada. She is the mother of two grown daughters and happily married. She loves a good story and loves to read. You might see her out and about, watching people, or maybe just talking to people. Growing up she feasted on tales of family history, and other imaginative stories; as her family continued the long tradition of passing on stories orally. Those tales and more of her own itch to be told; so she has put pen to paper and fingers to computer to get them all down.

Sharky Teeth

Robert “Sharky” Pruneda is author of the Amazon Kindle bestselling horror novel Devil’s Nightmare and the contemporary family motor sports drama Pursuit of a Dream (Victory Lane: The Chronicles). He lives in south Texas and has called the Lone Star State his home all of his life. Pruneda is also very active in social media and an avid gamer who can often be found fighting side-by-side with friends on his favorite first-person shooter . . . but he prefers survival horror.

You can follow Robert on Twitter @SharkbaitWrites and on Facebook at http://Facebook.com/AuthorRobertPruneda.

To receive notifications for future blog posts be sure to follow this blog by clicking the follow button (for WordPress users) or subscribe via email on the sidebar. You can also subscribe to the Sharkbait Writes Newsletter here. Your email address or personal information will never be shared with others.

I just wanted to pop in and let everyone know that Sharkbait Writes will have an official newsletter in the near future. I just signed up for MailChimp to generate an email list, so if you would like to be a part of this “exclusive club” then all you have to do is click on the creepy image below to sign up.

Click on the image below to sign up to my newsletter Devil's Nightmare (Cemetery-Eyes No Title)

What’s the difference between signing up for my blog and signing up for the newsletter you say? Well, for starters, newsletter subscribers will get exclusive content that I will not post in my blogs. Also, if you sign up for my newsletter you’ll have a chance to win some cool stuff, like autographed books, gift cards, etc. Oh, and I promise not to sell your email address to all those annoying spam bots out there and will only send a newsletter your way on an occasional basis.

So, what are you waiting for? Click on the image below (or above; I’m not picky) to fill out the short form and you’ll be all set. And as an incentive, the first ten people to sign up will receive a FREE digital copy of my novel Devil’s Nightmare, sent via Amazon (or .mobi via email if outside the U.S.). You don’t actually need a Kindle to read it, though. There’s an app for that! 🙂 Every new subscriber will get thrown in a drawing for another prize to be determined. It may be an autographed copy of Devil’s Nightmare, a gift card, or an all-expense paid trip to the Bahamas (but don’t get your hopes up on that one 🙂 ). 

Have a great weekend, everyone! Sharky Teeth

Click on the image below to sign up to my newsletter Devil's Nightmare (Cemetery-Eyes No Title)

January FP BadgeThat’s right, ladies and gentlemen. My bestselling horror-thriller Devil’s Nightmare will be FREE on Friday, January 24. See details below:

Free ParTay Super Free Friday! For One Day Only, Jan. 24th, Devil’s Nightmare will be FREE! If you like Devil’s Nightmare you might also like these other FREE books:

Saved, A woman taken and the Navy Captain who saves her. By Lorhainne Eckhart.

Vegas Series, Fast-paced, hot romance, sassy Vegas detectives and mind-blowing conflicts galore! By Mimi Barbour.

The Brotherhood of the Snake, What if humans were more powerful than they thought? By Carmen Caine.

The Wand-Maker’s Debate: Osric’s Wand: Book One, A world of magic in its infancy. By Jack D. Albrecht Jr. and Ashley Delay.

Zack Meets Deezel, Brother and sister befriend ghost of movie star action hero. By Roy Jet.

To enter to win a Kindle and $25 worth of Amazon gift cards, simply visit FreePartay.com and sign up for our newsletter!


Devil's Nightmare

As the title indicates 2013 was full of ups and downs for me on both a professional and personal level. There were a lot of great things that happened in 2013, but the year wasn’t void of disappointments and tragedy either.

First Horror Novel Published

Devil's Nightmare Original eBook CoverA year ago today, I published my second book and first horror novel Devil’s Nightmare through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform. I also published it through Smashwords, Kobo and Barnes & Noble’s Nook publishing platforms, but publishing on the Kindle is what shined for me. More on that later. I started writing Devil’s Nightmare in January 2012 after quitting my job at the local newspaper a few months prior, and nine months later the first draft was complete. It was a lot of fun writing and publishing this novel and I take great pride in the fact that I was able to get it written and published within a year. This is compared to writing and publishing my first book Pursuit of a Dream, which took over two years to write and I didn’t even handle the publishing part myself for the print edition, but that’s a whole other story.

A year ago today I hit the publish button with a homemade cover that I created for Devil’s Nightmare with a free eBook cover program I found online (I can’t remember which one I used). It was pretty plain with a photo of lightning that I used with permission from the photographer. With plans of having my cover redesigned for the print edition I figured this cover would work for a couple of months until I could scrape up the money for a professional designed one. Sales were pretty much non-existent at first, and to be honest I could not help but be discouraged. It’s normal, though, and I got over it. I just needed to work on getting the word out. It wasn’t going to sell on its own and marketing has never been one of my strong suits and I knew it was going to take a lot of time and patience. At this point writing isn’t my primary source of income, so patience was definitely the key.

Financial Highs and Lows

Jireh Administrative ServicesMy main income comes from my home-based administrative support business called Jireh Administrative Services. I provide various services from transcribing, PowerPoint presentations, general office support, and also write resumes from time to time all from the comfort of my home office. I also added “funeral support services” and work part-time at a funeral home (perfect for a horror writer, right?). This basically materialized from working as the obituaries coordinator at the newspaper. One of the funeral home owners offered me a part-time job when I left the newspaper, so I help occasionally in the evenings, but I have also worked funerals driving the limo and hearse. I usually just help out during visitations and rosaries, though. Anyway, by the summer of last year I was keeping very busy and feeling confident that leaving the newspaper was the best decision of my life. Life was good and I no longer had to deal with ridiculous office politics.

Keeping very busy with my home business and working with the funeral home to help pay the bills also resulted in unintended consequences. Due to not being very structured I didn’t reach my goal of publishing Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions this month. As a matter of fact, I barely did any writing during the last half of the year, so I’m pretty disappointed about that.

However, something happened, which I think was both a blessing and a curse. In the last quarter of 2013 I only received about a third of the business I was receiving during the spring and summer. The curse . . . a lot less income. The blessing . . . more time to write and time to focus on getting more structured in 2014. On a positive note, while I did lose a big chunk of income for Jireh Administrative Services, sales for Devil’s Nightmare have finally become steady and I’m now receiving monthly royalty checks from Amazon.

Devil’s Nightmare enrolled in Amazon’s KDP Select Program

Devils NightmareIn July after having virtually no sales on any eBook platform, except for a few here and there on Amazon, I decided to try Amazon’s KDP Select program, which basically meant I would be selling my eBook version of Devil’s Nightmare exclusively on Amazon in exchange for free promotional tools and enrollment in the Kindle Lending Program. I figured I had nothing to lose. So, I set up my first free promotion, which I shared and advertised on Goodreads. After the free promotion I went from selling just a few copies of Devil’s Nightmare per month to hitting a couple of bestseller lists on Amazon UK . . . actual sales, not free downloads. Sales were also better in the US, but they were still pretty slow. Once I started getting more reviews on Amazon US, however, Devil’s Nightmare began outselling the book in the U.K. I also started getting sales for my first book Pursuit of a Dream, which is also now exclusive on Amazon.

Devil's Nightmare (6 in Horror Suspense Amazon UK)Right now my focus is on getting Devil’s Nightmare into as many Kindles as possible, so I decided to keep the book at 99 cents, which is what seems to be the sweet spot for my novels right now. Granted I would get a lot more royalties by selling them at $2.99, but I get a lot more readers at the 99 cent price point. Volume is more important to me right now than royalty income. It’s pretty cool to see my novel listed next to Stephen King’s and Dean Koontz’s books too! I’m nowhere near retirement numbers, but to me I consider the results after signing up for KDP Select a huge success.

Rest in Peace, Grandpa

GrandpaAnd now my life’s roller coaster climbs another peak and plummets at high speed once again. Actually, throughout the year the subject of my grandfather has been a very touchy one. Without going into a lot of detail, my grandmother died in 2008, and then shortly afterwards my grandfather met someone at one of the local Bingo halls and basically had himself a new companion. That was uncomfortable at first, but he needed companionship. So, everyone in the family was pretty much okay with it . . . at first. To make a long story short, she turned out being a gold digger and just as my grandfather’s health declined this woman convinced him to elope, change the will, moved him 300 miles away from his family and refused to tell anyone where he was living. There’s obviously a lot more to this story. This woman has been married three times, and she will again soon I’m sure because my grandfather died just a few months after this woman married and brainwashed him into thinking his family didn’t love him and was just after his money (It’s not like he was a millionaire and, ahem, she’s the one that was after his money). She pretty much took most of what my grandmother and grandfather had worked for and was going to leave for my mom, aunt, and uncle. My grandmother and grandfather were married for 60 years. This woman knew him for about four or five years and was married to him for only a few months before he died and she took almost everything. All of this could have been prevented, but the legal system makes it extremely difficult to prevent these kinds of things from happening. Law enforcement wouldn’t do anything and adult protection services wouldn’t or couldn’t do anything because they were consenting adults and my grandfather had to be the one to get rid of this woman. I literally could write a book about this whole ordeal. It’s just so unbelievable. You see movies about stuff like this and never think it could actually happen to your family, but it did.

The Rollercoaster Ride Ends and a New Year Begins

So, as you can see, it was quite the roller coaster ride for me and I just gave you the Cliff Notes version even at 1,400 words. However, while the year ended with a bit of a sour taste in my mouth, I do have great expectations for 2014. I have a plan that includes getting back on track with my writing and getting Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions completed and published by this summer. I may even have another story published by the end of the year if everything works out as planned. Furthermore, for those who have enjoyed Chumming with Sharky™ you’ll be glad to know that it’ll also be making a comeback this year. So, stay tuned and be sure to subscribe to this blog for future updates.

Chumming with Sharky

Oh, and one more thing to add about 2013 that leaves me pouting . . .

I still haven’t won the lottery!

Cheers! Have an awesome and prosperous 2014, everyone!

Sharky Teeth

You might also like:

Hanging with Rutger Hauer
Beta Readers: Do I Need Them?
Huge Mistake or Best Decision I Ever Made?
Self-Publishing Seminar in San Antonio

Devil’s Nightmare by Robert Pruneda available in print and eBook formats. Click the image below for more details.
Devil's Nightmare

Michael Hicks Self-Publishing Seminar in San Antonio

You can get Season of the Harvest FREE for multiple e-readers.

Friend and fellow author Michael R. Hicks has been on the road traveling with his wife Jan in their RV for the past week or so and recently made a stop in San Antonio where Mike was invited to give a self-publishing seminar at the Forest Hills Branch of the San Antonio Public Library. I met Michael Hicks on Twitter a couple of years ago when he was in the transitioning process from working full-time for the government at the NSA to becoming a full-time writer. For those who don’t know who Michael Hicks is, he is best-selling author of Season of the Harvest and the very popular sci-fi/fantasy In Her Name series. Heck, Amazon even “stole” the cover art from his books to promote the Science Fiction and Fantasy category for the Kindle. Turns out they had the legal right to use his cover art under their publishing terms of service.

Anyway, Mike informed me of his trip to San Antonio a couple of months ago, so I made plans to attend the self-publishing seminar and then have dinner with Mike and Jan afterwards. Mike also happens to be one of my PS3 gaming buddies when we can coordinate our schedules to do so, which is hard to do since I’m typically a night owl and he’s an early bird. When we do manage to hit the Black Ops 2 battlefield it’s like the blind leading the blind. Needless to say, we don’t win very often. 🙂

I made it to San Antonio a bit earlier than expected due to the traffic on I-10 being much less congested on a Saturday afternoon than I had expected. So, I breezed through San Antonio fairly quickly. So, with about an hour to spare before the self-publishing seminar I browsed through the aisles in the Forest Hills Branch library, grabbed a book and read while I waited for Mike and Jan to arrive. They weren’t as fortunate as I was coming into San Antonio from San Marcos due to an accident on the loop, but people were just starting to trickle in for the seminar, so it was all good.

Michael Hicks Self-Publishing Seminar (by Jan Hicks)

The seminar itself was very informative. Michael covered everything from writing his first book and sending it out the traditional way, receiving rejection letter after another, throwing that book under a desk for several years and then finally publishing it himself in 2008. He talked about his experience with trial and error and gave some tips regarding writing in general, editing (and pointing out that authors editing their own work is not editing), the importance of an eye-catching professional looking cover, the various options for publishing (and avoiding vanity presses, such as AuthorHouse, at all costs), book reviews, and finally marketing. It was a lot to cover in about ninety minutes, but it was good information nonetheless.

Post-Seminar Dinner at the River Walk

Michael and Jan Hicks San Antonio River WalkAfter a brief Q&A, Mike and I exchanged books (okay, I gave him one and he gave me two), signed them and then synched our GPS units to guide us downtown to the River Walk for lunch. We stashed our vehicles on the fifth floor of the Rivercenter Mall parking garage and searched for the elevator down to the mall. After the elevator door opened and then immediately closed, almost taking my hand with it, we decided we should probably just take the stairs. As soon as we found the exit Mike, Jan and I studied the information map to find our chosen destination for lunch, Boudro’s Texas Bistro. The map wasn’t the most user-friendly guide I had ever seen to say the least. We looked for the big red dot that supposedly indicated where we stood, but instead (after doing a little eavesdropping) someone else pointed at a screw at the bottom of the map that represented us. Mike, the clever guy that he is, pulled out his smart phone and opened up his Google Maps app and activated the pedestrian GPS which pointed us in the right direction.

It was about six-thirty in the evening by the time we found Boudro’s Texas Bistro, but there was a forty-five minute wait and I still had over a two-hour drive back home to think about. So, we backtracked towards another restaurant, passing a Mexican restaurant and a pair of singing mariachis along the way. With no wait time we chose the Republic of Texas restaurant for our post self-publishing seminar meal. I had heard so much about how lean and tasty bison burgers were so I decided to try one along with some sweet potato fries. On the same token Mike had been pressed by someone on Twitter to try fried catfish for the first time and apparently enjoyed the very large portion. This catfish must have been huge! It reminded me of those chicken fried steaks that hang over the side of the plate. He only ate half of it. Mike’s wife ordered the Akaushi Burger which is a beef originally from Japan and only bred in Yoakum, Texas (very near my hometown of Victoria) and guarded by the Texas Rangers (that’s the law enforcement division, not the baseball team). 🙂

Mariachis and a Very Energetic Waiter

We had a great time socializing while eating our dinner outside on the River Walk, but we could have done without the pushy mariachis who wanted to serenade us when we were browsing the menu. After a couple of “No thank you” responses they finally disappeared into the crowd in search of other patrons to bother—I mean entertain. While the mariachis were kind of an annoyance, it wasn’t too big of a deal to me since I’m used to them. Our waiter, on the other hand, was a different story altogether. He was probably the highlight of the evening! We all agreed we wanted what he was having. I have never had such a high-strung waiter in my life. This guy was so hyper and full of energy that he could probably benefit from laying off the caffeine a bit. As Mike pointed out he must have been pumped full of Red Bull or something. The waiter did give us good service and the food was great too!

After dinner we hiked around the River Walk for about another half hour  or so. We made a quick stop in one of the gift shops so Mike could grab a t-shirt; he’s buying one in each city he is making a stop at during his summer RV trip. No gifts for the two monster cats waiting for him at the RV park in San Marcos though, but they probably ended up eating the leftover catfish and burger.

Vehicle Hunting and Surviving the Man-Eating Elevator

Back inside the Rivercenter Mall (and back in air conditioning) we hunted for the elevators to the parking garage. It took a few minutes but we eventually found what we thought was the correct one. We had to pay our parking fees first using the little kiosk before venturing off to our vehicles. I hesitated before stepping inside the elevator after the first experience I had earlier in the evening, but this one played nice and didn’t try to eat me. After a short ride to Level E the doors opened . . . to the roof of another parking garage. D’OH! Wrong elevator! The kicker is you have 30 minutes from the time you pay your parking fee on the kiosk to the time you actually leave the parking garage. So, time was of the essence. Fortunately, we found the correct elevator and our cars were still parked safely where we hid them. The Rivercenter Mall gods hadn’t zapped them yet.

All-in-all, my trip to San Antonio and time spent with Michael Hicks and his wife was relatively flawless and very enjoyable. It’s always nice to be able to physically meet friends you have communicated with over the past couple of years via social media. It’s a day and age we live in now where friendships can be built online and carried over into the real world. This brings me to a point I would like to make. As much as we enjoy chatting it up on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or whatever favorite social media site you hang out at, there’s nothing like hanging out with your friends in person. So, step away from the computer, smart phone or tablet every once in a while and go spend some face-to-face time with friends and family.

A Few More Pics From My Day Trip to San Antonio

Below are a few more pictures from my trip to San Antonio. Jan Hicks took the photo of the star, which was a decoration on the table at Republic of Texas Restaurant on the River Walk. She also took the photo of Mike and me. The only good photo I managed to take with my phone was the one with the Tower of the Americas in the background.

Devil's Nightmare (coming Jan. 15, 2013)

It’s official!  My latest novel Devil’s Nightmare is now available for purchase on Amazon for all Kindle readers and Kindle reading apps. Just click on the cover image and you’ll be directed to my book’s page on Amazon.com. My novel is also available on Amazon UK here.

I was originally planning on publishing this novel on January 15, but I was up late last night working on my synopsis do to a bit of insomnia (i.e. I couldn’t stop thinking about publishing my book). Now that the Kindle version is up and ready for purchase, I will be working on the .ePub version for Nook and Kobo. They should be ready within the next week. Until then, if you have a Kobo or Nook, you can get the .ePub versions on Smashwords here. You can also download 20% of the book for free. I’ll let everyone know when the book is available on Nook and Kobo in a separate post. 

Thanks again for your support and encouragement as I release this novel for the world to enjoy! Have an awesome week! 

Cheers!

Robert Pruneda
Author of Devil’s Nightmare and Pursuit of a Dream.

Devil's Nightmare (coming Jan. 15, 2013)Final Edits Completed in the Wee Hours of the Morning

I’m pleased to announce that at approximately 3 a.m. this morning I completed the final edits for my upcoming supernatural horror Devil’s Nightmare. After four drafts and countless numbers of hours (and many sleepless nights) I was able to shave nearly 3,000 words off the original 125,000-word manuscript  while also doing some polishing with the help of my awesome beta readers. You were all a very integral part of this process and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I couldn’t have done it without you! 

Devil’s Nightmare Now in Formatting Mode 

With the final edits complete I’m now switching gears to the task that is probably the most tedious of all during the publication process . . . FORMATTING! At least this time around I don’t have to worry about those blasted tabs that plagued my previous novel. Rookie mistake! I’m currently working on the Smashwords Edition of Devil’s Nightmare and going step by step through Mark Coker’s Smashwords Style Guide to make sure I don’t miss anything. In hindsight I probably should have done this before using italics throughout my manuscript because now I have to go back and reapply them. Oy! Oh, well. Mark that one off as another lesson learned.

After I’m finished with the Smashwords formatting, I will work on the Kindle, Nook and Kobo versions. A print edition will be forthcoming later this year. I just have to scrape up the cash to pay my cover designer. I’m taking donations. 🙂

Devil’s Nightmare On Schedule for Jan. 15 Release

While I still have a lot of work to do with the formatting, I still plan to hit that publish button on Jan. 15, 2013. I have a few bloggers ready to help me promote Devil’s Nightmare, but I’m still looking for more. So if you are willing to open up some virtual real estate for an interview, guest post, or spotlight feature, I would greatly appreciate it. I am also looking for authors to cross promote on Sharkbait Writes with interviews and guest posts, so don’t hesitate to ask. 

Now back to formatting!

Cheers!

Robert Pruneda
Author of Devil’s Nightmare and Pursuit of a Dream.

Still Alive and Kicking

Considering the fact I dropped off the face of the blogosphere recently and the world didn’t end today, I figured I’d put together a quick post to let you all know that I’m still alive and kicking. The truth is I’ve been very busy with the whole self-employment thing and frantically working on Devil’s Nightmare so I can have it ready shortly after Santa Claus delivers all those new Kindle, Nook, and Kobo readers all over the world next week. And for those of you who already have an e-reader you most certainly will have shiny new gift cards to load up on some great books to read in the coming weeks.

(Insert shameless self-promotional plug here)

Devil’s Nightmare Available in Mid-January 

I just finished attacking my printed manuscript with pink red ink and have applied the edits for the first five chapters this week. I plan to take advantage of the downtime from the day job over the weekend and throughout next week (and the fact that the world didn’t blow up today) to finish applying all of my edits. I will then review feedback from my awesome beta readers (Thank you, Sara, Sheilagh, and Dannie!) and make additional edits during the first week of the New Year. Formatting for the e-book edition of Devil’s Nightmare should begin during the second week of January, and if all goes as planned, I will have this novel published on January 12, 2013! That’s my goal, anyway.

Devil’s Nightmare Virtual Book Tour

On that note, if you have a blog and would be interested in hosting me during a virtual book tour I would greatly appreciate it. You can contact me here by leaving a comment or sending me an email at SharkbaitWrites (at) gmail (dot) com. You may also contact me via Twitter @SharkbaitWrites. I will certainly return the favor for those wanting to promote their work on Sharkbait Writes!

I wish you and your families safe travels during the holiday week and a very merry Christmas! Thank you all for the support you have given me throughout this year as I have put hundreds of hours into Devil’s Nightmare. You are the best!

Cheers!

Robert Pruneda
Author of Devil’s Nightmare and Pursuit of a Dream.

Steven Montano, author of the Blood Skies series, recently tagged me for this cool little blog hop called “The Next Big Thing” where I get to tell you a little bit about my current work in progress (WIP). I would also like to recognize S.G. Lee, author of the working title A Penny Saved, A Murder Earned, who also tagged me a while back with a very similar post, so since I wasn’t able to get that post done before this one, I’m going to kill two birds with one stone (sorry for the cliché). 🙂

Update (Nov. 20, 2012): The lovely Marina Martindale also tagged me for this blog hop recently, so I’d like to also give her a shout out. You can read her post HERE.

The Next Big Thing blog hop started on She Writes, and has been circulating around the web for a while now, and I’m happy to take part. Here’s the rundown of how this works:

If I tagged you, use this format. Include an introduction to your interview post and a link to the person who tagged you to participate. Answer the ten questions about your current WIP. Include some pictures if possible. Tag five other writers/bloggers by sending them an email and then add their links to the end of your interview post. Their answers should go up the week after. Sound easy enough? Of course it is! So, now that I got all of the details out of the way, on to my responses.

1. What is the title of your book (or work in progress)?

Now available in multiple e-book formats. Click on the cover image for more information.

Now available. Click on the cover image for more information.

The title of my current novel is Devil’s Nightmare. (Update: Released Jan. 6, 2013) 

2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

The general idea for my book was inspired by a personal experience I had when I was around eleven or twelve years old. Some friends and I would make Ouija boards to talk to spirits, and while we all accused the other of pushing the marker, I’m not convinced it was simply a game. We had heard the stories that you should never play with a Ouija board by yourself or else risk being oppressed by demons. We all dismissed it as a bunch of crap, of course, but I think we were all curious. I was the only one stupid enough to actually do it.

For weeks I would play with the Ouija board by myself out of pure fun, asking childish questions about fame, fortune, girlfriends, etc. I didn’t know if I was actually summoning spirits with the Ouija board or if it was just my mind playing tricks on me and causing me to subconsciously move the marker with my fingers. It didn’t matter; I was having fun with this Ouija board.

The fun and games ended after I started having nightmares, and then late one night I woke up and could not breathe. I tried to get up from my bed, but I could not move. I felt something pressing against my chest and then I saw the eyes floating above me. Those hideous eyes will forever be embedded in my brain. They were almond shaped and a pale yellow. They narrowed and grew closer to my face. I wanted to scream. I wanted to get out of my bed and run away, but my body froze. The pressure in my chest continued to constrict my breathing. All I saw were those horrible eyes among a shadowy figure.

Finally, I could breathe and I screamed with hysteria, but I still could not move. Moments later, my parents rushed through my door and turned on the light. The eyes and shadowy figure disappeared. I then shot up from my bed with my shirt drenched in sweat and my face flowing with tears. I ran to my mother for protection crying about the demon that I had just seen. It was the most horrifying experience I have ever had in my life. Was it a dream? Was it my imagination? Or was it truly a demon oppressing me because I had broken some spiritual rule of the Ouija board? I don’t know for certain, but I can tell you this . . . that Ouija board went in the trash the very next day and I have never messed with one ever since.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

Devil’s Nightmare is a supernatural thriller with horror elements.

4. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

This was a tough one that took a lot of thought. I put together a PDF document of my hypothetical cast for Devil’s Nightmare, which includes Christian Slater playing the lead character “Detective Aaron Sanders.” Click here for the rest of the main cast.

5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

I find it hard enough to write a regular paragraph synopsis, so you can imagine how difficult it was to come up with a one-liner, but in the spirit of this blog hop, I’m going to give it a shot:

Detective Aaron Sanders investigates the brutal deaths of three youth and two adults, and the evidence leads him to an evil force that cannot be defeated without unthinkable consequences.

6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

At this time I plan to self-publish, but I have considered submitting Devil’s Nightmare to a small publisher. I just haven’t made up my mind yet. (Update: I decided to self-publish. Released on Jan. 6, 2013)

7. How long did it take to write the first draft of your manuscript?

The first draft took me just under nine months to complete.

8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I don’t like comparing my work with other books due to simple respect of the creative and unique efforts of those authors. However, for the sake of this post I will say that one of my beta readers recently compared my writing to Stephen King. That was an unexpected compliment that really boosted my confidence, and while I would never try to compare my writing to the King of Horror, I did find it very flattering and encouraging. This also sets up my response to the next question.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Stephen King inspired me to write Devil’s Nightmare. I’m a huge fan of the horror and thriller genres and have always wanted to take a stab at a horror novel and finally decided to go for it this year. Stephen King’s non-fiction book On Writing is probably the biggest inspiration to me as a writer. It was after I read this book that I shifted my thoughts of writing novels from simple aspiration to heartfelt dedication. If you’re serious about writing a novel, I highly recommend that you pick up a copy of On Writing by Stephen King.

10. What else about your book might peak the reader’s interest?

I think fans of the thriller and horror genres will find that Devil’s Nightmare is a unique story that will hook you from the very beginning. I wrote Devil’s Nightmare without an outline for the sole purpose of trying to avoid making the story predictable. I found that if I didn’t know what was going to happen next as I wrote it, then it would make for a more enjoyable experience for the reader. I believe I achieved that and found it very challenging and rewarding writing in this fashion. Now I obviously had a general idea of the story’s direction throughout the writing process, but there were many times where I found my characters pushing me in a different direction . . . and I tend to listen to them. After all, it was their lives on the line.

I wrote most of Devil’s Nightmare late at night with the lights off and was very pleased that certain scenes gave me cold chills that ran up my entire spine. It is my desire to share that same experience with my readers. Devil’s Nightmare is available in print and ebook.

MORE rules:

If I tagged you, your blog post should be scheduled to publish between Sunday, Nov. 4 to Saturday, Nov. 10. If you are on She Writes, you put the post up there too. Your blog post should be labeled: The Next Big Thing Blog Hop (and not The Next BEST Thing Blog Hop, like I originally labeled it. I’m such a dork!) :-).

Here are the authors I am tagging. I hope you will be able to participate in this fun blog hop, and I look forward to reading your responses.

Eden Baylee, author of Fall Into Winter and Spring Into Summer
Karen Einsel, author of The Good Dr. Grant
Spencer Brokaw, author of The Impenetrable Spy series
Dannie Hill, author of In Search of a Soul and Death’s Door
Jessie James Freeman, author of the Billy Purgatory series

Be sure to check out their blogs and their books. They are all awesome and great writers. Also, be sure to comment below. 🙂

Cheers!
vV””Vv