Friday, February 22, 2013


My path to publication wasn't so much a path, as much as it was an experiment. Before I ever sat down to (try) and write a novel I was already fascinated with the whole independent/self-publishing movement. I've always been self-employed, and self-published (but only as a songwriter to this point), and I've always had a professional interest in new markets and emerging technologies; in this case, markets and tech like Kindle Direct Publishing.

As an avid reader and techno-junkie, I was into eBooks as soon as I got my first iPod. It didn't take long before I started coming across all the self-pubbed books on Amazon. I was pleasantly surprised when I quickly came across several talented, independent writers who were putting out great books and having real success all on their own. I was very impressed with how Amazon had everything set up, with reader reviews and the whole "people who bought this book also bought that book" thing. It's a great way to explore books and find new writers. But it also ignited my entrepreneurial spark as much as my creative spark. I couldn't help but think, "why not me?"

I'd never written a novel (my writing background is as a scriptwriter). I'd tried to write a novel a couple of times but failed miserably. It was something I still wanted to do, and now I saw a real opportunity. I was motivated. I also needed a plan.

I started doing all sorts of research, charting the sales of these new, indy-authors, examining the paths they had taken; everything from their publishers, editors, formatting, the cover designers they'd chosen, their marketing and their blogs and websites. I even studied publishers criteria for timeframes for delivering manuscripts, what they pay in advances (or don't pay). It didn't take long before I started to see patterns forming - why certain independent books were finding readers, while others would forever remain at the bottom of the rankings, sometimes regardless of the quality of writing (but that's a whole 'nother topic for discussion - drop me a line and let's chat!).

At this point I still didn't have an idea for a book. Like I said: "Ass backwards." But, I now had my path to publication. I had a budget mapped out for editing and for cover designs. I came up with a budgetary formula based on a percentage of the sales goals I had set for myself. It worked out to about 30% of my (hoped for) gross revenue. I also had my time budgeted. Now, acting as my own 'publisher' I put myself on a deadline. I 'hired' myself to deliver a manuscript on time. I was going to write a novel in six months (from first draft to final edit), hire editors and designers and publish it myself. Then write three more novels in the next two years. (I'm totally behind schedule on that front).

Now, I hope I don't give the impression that I was doing this as a lark. I have huge respect for anyone who can complete a novel. I also take writing very seriously. I've studied writing, hold two writing degrees (not that that means anything), I've taught creative writing, and been lucky enough to sell the first screenplay I ever wrote. I've even had my plays produced. I've just never written a novel before. And I definitely didn't think it would be easy. This was an experiment. These were just targets.

There were a lot of false starts when it came time to doing the actual writing; lots of panic and crippling self-doubt. It was an emotional roller coaster to be sure. But, yes. The book got done! One more milestone on the path complete.

With the first draft done, I immediately started work on the cover, as well as my web site. The biggest mistake I see people make is to leave the cover to the end. Big, big mistake. Trust me. I did design work for fifteen years. Everyone leaves it to the end. Then they get rushed, the cover sucks, and their project is a flop. Lesson learned: start your cover early! The cover is soooo important. It's the first thing people see. It shouldn't be left as an afterthought. Gah! (sorry for the lecturing).

The most challenging part of the path was still to come, though. Editing. My first editor didn't work out at all, and I lost a good two months. Even while I was looking for a new editor I didn't realize just how much I needed one. I really thought all I needed was  a good proof-reader. But that two month lull turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. While my search for an editor continued, it gave me time to dissect the book and come to the conclusion that I needed a real editor, and not just a proof reader.

Again, I got really, really lucky to find the editor I did. Fortunately, there's lots of freelance editors out there, and they're all willing to give sample edits. It was a stressful process, just like trying to find a good illustrator for my cover, but find him I did. Working with my editor was one of the most satisfying creative experiences I've had. Up until then, writing the novel was a solitary experience, but suddenly, it was a very collaborative effort. I still shudder to think of how close I came to not finding him, and how the book might have turned out had I not.

Side Rant/Plea To Other Indy Writers: Meet with lots of editors! Find the one who 'gets you.' And never, ever, make the mistake of thinking you can't afford the service. You can't afford not to hire an editor.

My editor also took care of all my formatting for Kindle and ePub, so that was another piece of the puzzle falling into place. After  that, all that was left was to upload the book to Amazon, iTunes, etc., and then wait. I was about to find out if this 'experiment' was going to work or not.

What still blows my mind, to this day, was that I didn't have to wait long to find out (things went very well).  Now, I just have to finish this next novel and see if the whole thing was a fluke.

Post Script: I suppose I could have just said, I hit the upload button. Welcome to the world of ePublishing.

~Cary Caffrey
February 2013

Cary Caffrey grew up reading vintage science fiction from the 60’s and 70’s, loving the works of Harry Harrison and Joe Haldeman, Ursula K. Le Guin, Andre Norton and, of course, Douglas Adams. He still thinks The Forever War may very well be the best Science Fiction novel ever written. "If Ridley Scott ever gets off his can and makes this movie, we're sure to be in for a real treat (favourite director, meet favourite writer. Favourite writer meet... Well, you get the idea. Wild)."


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Katje Van Loon


1. Which of your characters is your favorite?

2. Tell me about your travels.
When I was very very young, my mom and my Oma took me to various places in South East Asia. I remember staying at a hotel called the Ferengi hotel (I'm not sure how it was spelled, but it was definitely pronounced that way) so we called home using silly Ferengi-voices with a fake ransom demand for "two of Starfleet's brightest". I recall jumping up and down on the bed in Hong Kong shouting "WONDERFUL HONG KONG, I LOVE HONG KONG." At some point, we went to see the elephants and got to ride on one's back. When my sandal fell off my foot, the elephant picked it up with his trunk and handed it back to me. There was also a photo op with a snake across our shoulders -- one of those massive boa-types. I remember I wasn't scared at all; all I could focus on was how damn heavy the snake was and how I wanted them to finish taking the picture already so I could have an unbroken collar bone.

In Malaysia, we saw the viper temple, and I tried to pet a cobra as he was being charmed. Mom got her first gray hair on that trip.

She got her second gray hair in northern Thailand when I almost got my hand taken off by an alligator (or crocodile; I don't remember exactly which one it was; I was busy moving my hand out of the water) whilst we traveled by river boat. I was not the most cautious of children.

I got to go to Yukon for my twelfth birthday, with my dad. We camped for a week, went panning for gold, and I got to try out my knowledge of the lupine language with a local wolf pack. We also bought a large cinnamon bun on the way from Whitehorse to Dawson City, and went hiking off the highway, where I almost got carried off by a swarm of mosquitoes. The Beringia Museum was a special treat. Giant sloth skeleton = nightmares for weeks.

When I was eighteen, mom and I went to Guatemala together. I learned what alcoholic drinks I liked and mom quickly got marked as an easy target by vendors of weaving goods, who followed her back to the boat we were taking around Lago Atitlan. I shook my head and said "I can't take you anywhere," as she got buried under a pile of huipils.

I've also been to various places in the States and when I was six we went to Ottawa for my god-mom's election as only female Prime Minister of Canada. Well, we went for her campaigning as leader of the Progressive Conservative Party (not the same party as the nowadays Conservatives). I still have my pink "Kim" cap and I remember helping my mom hold up a massive sign that said "KIM" three times on it, shouting "KIM KIM KIM KIM" with the rest of the crowd.

Future travel plans include: everywhere.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
I love both coffee and tea, but in order to function I need a cup of joe in the morning. Or afternoon; whenever I wake up. 
4. What else can you do besides write?
I have over two decades experience in the performing arts -- from modelling to stage work to film, as a techie and an actor (I prefer acting, but I'm awesome at both). I also play three instruments, all terribly (piano, alto sax, and guitar); I sing (passably); I crochet, knit, and sew; I bake delicious things; I cook (my fiancé doesn't believe me, because I'm lazy and usually make him do it); I paint; I once ran a restaurant and I used to work as a barista (which I loved and would do again in a heartbeat, as soon as they make positronic spines); I can drink several shots of 80 proof booze within half an hour and still be standing (in related news, my liver is plotting my death).
5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
I once wrote an execution scene from the point of view of the condemned. It was incredibly draining and very difficult.

Aside from that, the toughest scene I ever had to do was a certain character's death. I called my mom after I was done, sobbing hysterically, screaming "He's dead! I had to kill him! Oh gods, mom, he's dead!" This prompted her to say "We are talking about your book, right?"

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?
12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
13. Celebrity crush.Ryan Reynolds. He inspired me to buy Green Lantern underwear. (That, and the fact my fiancé's a massive GL fan....)
14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?

15. Do you still watch cartoons?
Yes, though looked at comparatively to how much I watch live-action shows, not that much. Regardless -- Brony Pride! Also, Netflix has an ever-expanding selection of favourites from my childhood, so I foresee much more cartoon-watching in my future. 
Katje van Loon is quite possibly the real-life incarnation of Kara ‘Starbuck’ Thrace. Not afraid of a fight, a frak, or some firewater, Katje tackles life head-on no matter the danger. Called crass by some, Katje maintains that zie just calls ‘em as she sees ‘em — through scotch-goggles.
While not writing, Katje spends zir time dancing burlesque, acting, drinking, subverting the heteronormative, gender-binarist paradigm, and killing filthy Cylons.


Amor vincit omnia. As a new leader, pledged to dark forces, takes the Sceptre, can the embattled, valiant women of Athering prove that the power of love is greater than the love of power?

All Bellica Yarrow wants from life is to stay the course. Her military career fulfills her childhood dreams and affords her a freedom royalty never did. Yarrow doesn’t need anything more than the steadfast friendship of her Major, Caelum, and her Chief Medical Officer Jules.

The Goddesses have other plans, however. They set in motion events that threaten the Bellica with madness and despair. Constancy has been Yarrow’s standby, but betrayals on every side push her further into chaos. She watches the puppet-Empress, her aunt, destroy the country, and dreads the day Zardria, her power-hungry twin sister, takes the Sceptre and rules openly.

Should Bellica Yarrow keep her military oath, or topple her sister’s cruel regime? Can she?
The choice is nearly impossible. The longer she equivocates, the more she risks the lives of everyone she holds dear. Meanwhile, Zardria has her own idea of how events should unfold – and what Yarrow doesn’t know could cost the Bellica her life.

Buy Bellica at The Pack Press -

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

NEWS: Deanna Lepsch Joins Dog Star Books Editing Team


I want to welcome Seton Hill Writer, IMJ Columnist, and all-around great friend, Deanna Lepsch, to the RDSP editing ranks. We will be working together on the Dog Star Books imprint.

Congratulations, Deanna!



1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
The main character in my book Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from the Past is Peter Bentwhistle. He is in part based on myself, despite the fact that he's a dragon. More than a little reluctant and carefree, he cares deeply for his friends and always tries to do the right thing in any circumstance. He is slightly naive, maybe because of his dragon nature and the fact that only a few years have passed since he completed his education in the nursery ring, which is a trait that I find endearing in him, but which has a tendency to endanger those around him. We share a love of team sports, in particular hockey, appreciating its ability to help people bond with others, the sheer thrill of helping and/or being helped by a team mate and the fast paced action that you find yourself caught up in. When the moment catches up with him, he overcomes his fear and steps up in a manner that I could only dream of matching.

In the sequel which I'm currently writing, a new character, Flash, another dragon (to start with, anyway) comes close to taking the title of my favourite character.

2. Tell me about your travels.
3. Coffee, tea, or milk?

4. What else can you do besides write?
About the time my eldest child was born in 2002, I was made redundant from my job as a service engineer. I jumped at the chance to become a full time house husband and dad, and think that I have done a pretty good job. Despite some of the down times....and there are a few, I consider myself very lucky and privileged to have been able to take care of both my kids and help with their education and moral upbringing. They are both a credit to both myself and their mother. 

At present, I work at a school as a teaching assistant and have done for over two years now. I seem to have an affinity for working with young children and helping to get the best out of them. At the end of 2012 I left the school I was working at to take up the opportunity of a different position at a new school. It broke my heart to leave the old school, and the reaction of the children when I left was amazing to see, and meant so much. To think that you might have contributed just a little to a child's education is so rewarding in itself, but when they express just how sad they are to see you leave, it brings home exactly how much of a part you might have played in their all round development. Although sad to leave the old school, the new job and school is all that I dreamed it would be. The staff and kids alike are great, and the school itself sits in the most picturesque of country villages.

5. Who are you reading right now?
6. Pop culture or academia?
7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
Sounds a little odd I know, but hardly a day goes by that I don't dream about some part of one of the stories in my books. It may just be a tiny part but in intricate detail, or it may be a whole scene or a couple of chapters. Sometimes as soon as I wake in the morning, I can totally recall what it is I've dreamt about and can hold that in my head until I get a chance to write it down. Other times it may not come to me until much later on in the day. Often I find myself busy towards late afternoon/early evening, when.....'BAM!' a thunderbolt from nowhere the dream from the previous night just pops into my head. Sometimes I feel like it's a curse, but my wife keeps telling me it's amazing. As I started writing my second book, there was something in my first book that I had to get round. 

Something that was crucial to the plot that couldn't happen, but had to happen for the story to move forward. I was really, really stuck and thought about this one 'event' for nearly two weeks. Then I went to bed one night, and my last waking thought was of the problems I faced in explaining the that part of the plot away. Like a comedy moment from a film, as soon as I woke up the next morning, I sat straight up in bed and declared, "I've got it". I'd dreamed about my problem in the night, and what I hadn't figured out in over two weeks had easily been solved in my dreams. Moreover, the answer itself had been so easy and obvious, that I actually felt a little silly for not working it out earlier. That particular 'event' is absolutely crucial to the whole storyline in every part of the Bentwhistle books. Weird or amazing.........who knows?

9. Food you could eat every day.

10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
I enjoy most sports, particularly team ones, but have played field hockey for many decades (not sure I want to say how many). Although I still play, I'm at the point where I'm picking up a lot of small injuries on a consistent basis. Whether due to my age, the fact that I've played so long and have already damaged/worn out different parts of my body...who knows? But I find it harder and harder to take to the pitch and take part. Up until last November, I'd got to the point where I think I was playing some of the best hockey I'd played in a very long time, and I was certainly doing more running around than I'd done in a decade. But lo and behold I go and pick up an Achilles injury that has since prevented me from playing in a match. I still help coach my children every Sunday, and have helped coach hockey at my new school, but this injury seems to be one of the worst, if not the worst that I've ever had.......and I've had a few. Outside of spending time with my wife and children, If I had to choose only one thing to would be hockey! I truly believe it was why I was put here and I know my life would be totally different (and for the worse if I'd not found it. Anyone reading this who hasn't tried really should. It's the best thing in the whole world.

11. What kind of music speaks to you?

12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
I have a rough outline of the whole story...... the bigger picture, broken down into the key events of the different books. So I'll know the key events and the order in which they'll come in each book. But I do tend to start off a chapter, knowing that I have to either get to that key event from some particular point, or knowing that I have to include that key event in there, and then I just see what happens. Sometimes........the writing just seems to take over. I remember I had the house to myself, and it was actually quiet....something of a rarity. I sat down to try and write my 1000 words a day (something I aim for...but don't always achieve). Anyhow, I started writing and before I knew it (if you'd have asked me at the time, I'd have said I'd been writing for less than an hour), I'd written over 5000 words, and nearly three hours had elapsed. did that happen? While that's the most I've written like that, those little moments keep happening every now and then, and it's always fascinating to see what it is that appears when you get swept along on the tide of words. Most of the time it goes off at a tangent, combining things from my real life, with things in the fiction of my story. At first I thought this a little odd, and would not fit in with the story at all, but as I've previously stated, the main character, Peter Bentwhistle, although a dragon, when in his human form is based loosely around me, and so I figure if it's something on my mind, it isn't too far-fetched to think that it would be something on his mind. So to answer the question.......BOTH! Planned out, and whisked along, although not all at once.

13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
I remember at school hating reading. The books were just so.......dull! I tried, I really did, but absolutely nothing captured my imagination.....well, not at school anyway. Star Wars had captivated me outside of school, so I had a collection of comic books, but as for just normal books......not so much. After I'd left school, and had started full time employment, I remember having to work in a bookshop. As I walked through it to go out to my car, I recall seeing a book, not just any book....but a Star Wars book. I continued my work until I finished, and then on the way out, bought the book. It was the start of the expanded Star Wars universe and I devoured it all in one go. My reading habits haven't been the same since. Shortly after that, I joined a book club, you know the five books really cheaply and then have to buy another ten at full retail before you can cancel your membership. Anyhow, they sent me a very thick hardback copy of a Tom Clancy book. I was, of course, being in my late teens, way too lazy to send it back. So I kept it by my bed, and bored one night, opened said book, and yes you've guessed it, read it all the way through in about three sittings.......fantastic! So as you can see........anything Star Wars, particularly the expanded universe, I can't get enough of. The characters in Tom Clancy's books are so descriptive and captivating that I really feel immersed in the story. Other authors whose books I love reading include Terry Goodkind, Trudi Canavan, David Gemmell, Dan Brown and J.K.Rowling. The Harry Potter books I think are just amazing; the imagination with which they've been created is just awesome. If you look at the first book and compare it with the last one, the difference is just almost every respect, but like the books, you feel you've been on a journey of transformation.....with the characters, the school, the magic the kids learn, the creatures...everything. What's not to love? While I think the Harry Potter films have done a good job of capturing the essence of the books.....give me the book every time and I would happily read it through in one go if at all possible.

But despite all of this, there is one author, for me, that stands above all others and who I would aspire to be like if at all possible. His name is Terry Pratchett and he is responsible for amongst others the disc world series of books. They are fantastic....I've not found a single one that I didn't like. The writing in them flows along so easily that you get swept away in the storyline and lose all track of time. The books for me though, stand out for two reasons in particular. One: you can picture everything in your head as if you were watching a film.'s so easy. The characters, the world in which they're set, the creatures, the magic, the conversations.....all of it. Two: the humour. I've read books that have made me cry......although hard to write, I almost think this is easier than making someone laugh. I don't mean just chuckle. I mean crying with laughter. I can think of at least four Terry Pratchett books that at some point make me cry with laughter. Even just thinking about the parts in the books as I write this are making me laugh. If I had to recommend one of his books, and yes, it's one of the ones that make me cry with laughter, then you have to read the 'The Fifth Elephant'. 

These are all my writing influences, but there's one other that I HAVE to mention. My wife......Rachel Cude. Without her, my book would never have come to fruition. Not just because she's put up with me asking stupid dragon questions at every time of the day and night, and not just because she's put up with me typing away on my keyboard either early in the morning, or stupidly late at night. Not just because she read my book dozens of times and has proven to be one of the best proof readers and editors about....not just with my book, but others as well. No...because of the support and encouragement she's showered me with during the whole writing process. I'm a very lucky man.

15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Paul Cude is a dedicated husband and father to two children. When not looking after his gorgeous kids he's a teaching assistant, as well as a budding author. He loves playing hockey, watching and having a go at any sport (particularly team sports), reading and writing his books, and having wonderful days out with his beautiful wife and kids.

DESCRIPTION for Bentwhistle the Dragon in A Threat from the Past:

An adventure story children and adults alike will love, about the present day world in which dragons disguised as humans have infiltrated the human race at almost every level, to guide and protect them. Three young dragons in their human guises become caught up in an evil plot to steal a precious commodity, vital to the dragon community. How will the reluctant hero and his friends fare against an enemy of his race from far in the past?

Fascinating insights into the dragon world are interspersed throughout the book. Ever wondered how dragons travel below ground at almost the speed of sound? Or how they use magical mantras to transform their giant bodies into convincing human shapes?

In an action packed adventure that features both human and dragon team sports, you’ll get a dragon-like perspective on human social issues and insight into what to do if you meet a giant spider grinning at you when you’re wearing nothing but your smile! You’d be flamin’ mad to miss it.

 Paperback -

Kindle -

Monday, February 18, 2013

CAST YOUR CHARACTERS: Pretty Girl-13 by Liz Coley



AUTHOR: Liz Coley

PUBLISHER: HarperCollins Katherine Tegen Books, 2013

Pretty girl
13 when she
went missing
to her family
to her friends
to the world
but still missing
her self

In Liz Coley's alarming and fascinating psychological mystery, sixteen-year-old Angie Chapman must piece together the story of her kidnapping and abuse. Pretty Girl-13 is a disturbing and ultimately empowering page-turner about accepting our whole selves, and the healing power of courage, hope, and love.


Saxon Sharbino as ANGIE (Angela Gracie Chapman)
Vanished at 13 and reappeared at 16 with no memory of the lost time. She’s a girl trying to put herself and her life back together when so much has moved on without her.

Brighton Sharbino as TATTLETALE
One of Angie’s alternate personalities is the child version of herself frozen at age six or seven. She loves horses and the idea of riding.

Keifer Sutherland as DETECTIVE PHIL BROGAN
Assigned to the case from the beginning of Angie’s missing time, a skilled and empathetic detective, he’s the father of a thirteen year old girl himself.

Jodie Foster as DR. LYNN GRANT
Angie’s unflappable and elegant therapist who helps her explore her options for recovery.

Darren Criss as GREG
Angie’s first crush, first boyfriend, and first kiss just before she disappears. She returns to find him three years older, even more attractive, but now involved with their mutual friend Livvie.

Avon Jogia as ABRAIM
Senior who Angie’s new best friend Kate fixes her up with for the prom. His gentle and generous heart may be the best answer to Angie’s ordeal.

Liz Coley’s short science fiction has been published in Cosmos Magazine, both online and in print, as well as in several print anthologies, including The Last Man, Strange Worlds, and More Scary Kisses. She is the author of young adult alternate history novel Out of Xibalba (self-published under the LC Teen imprint): the story starts when the world ends. Most recently, her debut novel with traditional publishing, psychological thriller Pretty Girl-13, is being released in at least ten languages on four continents. Visit her online at or on Twitter and Facebook as Liz Coley Books.

Find Liz online at these links:






- @LizColeyBooks -

Buy Pretty Girl-13 at Amazon.

Friday, February 15, 2013

SFFS: Snippet #7 from Atomic Zion

Atomic Zion


This is my SF Thriller, Atomic Zion, which is in its final revisions. The book was influenced by my time as the Educational Marketing Director at Frank Lloyd Wright's House on Kentuck Knob and by reading stories from Michael Crichton, Robert Ludlum, James Rollins, and Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child.

I've skipped to a section which highlights Evie's synesthesia and her feelings for Nick as he tells his dying mother that his grandfather, her father, was just murdered and that Nick is being accused of the crime.

Back Cover Blurb...

On the night of his 91st birthday, a former Wright Apprentice is thrown from the fifth floor of the Guggenheim Museum in New York. The only clue to clear his grandson of the murder is a note written in Navajo code which warns "The Bear has awakened."

These four words throw Nick Vanko into the middle of a decades old international cover-up where Wright Apprentices encoded WWII-era secrets about genetic experimentation into their blueprints. In order to stop a being who isn't quite human from unleashing a biological weapon upon the U.S., Nick must find Broadacre City, the fabled utopia designed by Wright, but supposedly never built. Searching by his side are an old Navajo CodeTalker, a woman who sees emotions as colors, and a Mossad agent who is really working for the Russian mafia. But can Vanko trust any of them?
She looked back through the open door of the hospital room as Nick and his mother spoke. A pale orange halo surrounded his seated form, spreading to the fragile woman in the bed. Both of their expressions crumbled and flickers of brighter orange appeared, then a stroke of pink--sunset colors.

To Evie they were the colors of death.

Nick buried his face in his mother's arm. His sobs of apology matched the heaving of his shoulders.

Tears blurred Evie's vision. She took a step toward the door, her only thought to comfort Nick, but stopped herself. This was a private moment between them. They had no idea she felt their grief as though it were her own.
Find other wonderful snippets at Science Fiction Fantasy Saturday!

CAST YOUR CHARACTERS: The Devil and Preston Black by Jason Jack Miller





DESCRIPTION: Preston Black has a nasty habit of falling in love with the wrong type of woman. But girls who don't play nice are the least of his problems. This handsome bar band guitarist isn't washed-up, but he's about to be. He's broke, he's tired of playing covers and he's obsessed with the Curse of 27.

He's about to add 'deal with the devil' to his list.

Lucky for Preston, he has help. Like the angelic beauty who picks him up when he's down. And the university professor who helps him sort through old Appalachian hexes and curses to find the song that may be his only shot at redemption. And when things get real bad, he has the ghost of John Lennon to remind him that "nothing is real."

Let Raw Dog Screaming Press author Jason Jack Miller take you to a place where love is forever even when death isn't, where magic doesn't have to be seen to be believed, where a song might be the only thing that saves your soul.

MURDER BALLADS AND WHISKEY is a unique blend of dark fiction, urban fantasy and horror. It's Appalachian Gothic, Alt.Magical.Realism, Hillbilly Horror. It's AMERICAN GODS meets JUSTIFIED. TRUE BLOOD with witches. It's Johnny Cash with a fistful of copperheads singing the devil right back to hell.


Joseph Gordon-Levitt as PRESTON BLACK

To say that Preston's had a run of bad luck implies that he'd once had good luck. Which isn't the case. But what he lacks in fortune he makes up for with ambition. And passion.


Danicka is a flame in a dark room. And she knows that Preston likes playing with fire.

Katie Holmes as KATY STEFANIC
She's the angel on Preston's shoulder, but that doesn't mean she isn't afraid to yell in his ear every now and then.

James Franco as PAULY PALLINI

Pauly isn't even close to being Preston's half-brother. He'd be the opposite, whatever that is. A full brother. A brother and a half

Robert Forster as DINO MICHELINO 
 Preston's boss. He wants what's best for Preston. He just doesn't want to see Preston kill himself to get it. 



David Straithan as JAMIE COLLINS

Preston's guide to the past. Together they trip down the 'old plank road' to a place where secrets have been buried for far too long.


Channing Tatum as STU CROE

Preston's best friend, next to Pauly. Stu gives Preston strength and piece of mind, but even Preston couldn't talk him out of reenlisting. 

Jason Jack Miller is a writer, photographer and musician whose work has appeared online and in print in newspapers, magazines and literary journals, and as a smart phone travel app. He has co-authored a travel guide with his wife and served as a photographer-in-residence at a Frank Lloyd Wright house. Jason is an Authors Guild member who received a Master's in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill where he is adjunct creative writing faculty. In between projects Jason can be found mountain biking in West Virginia or looking for his next favorite guitar.

Find Jason online at these links:



- @JasonJackMiller -

Find Raw Dog Screaming Press online at these links:




- @RDSPress -

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

COVER: Odd Men Out by Matt Betts


Fighting for survival in a post-Civil War America overrun by zombies, Cyrus and Lucinda join a military group called the Odd Men Out, and together they face a terrorist army from the North in a showdown over a weapon of enormous power.

Odd Men Out by Matt Betts

Steampunk and Alternate History coming from Dog Star Books in Summer 2013

Cover Art by Bradley Sharp