If you’re paying attention, you know that one reason it’s so long between novels is that my employer/co-author Kevin Eikenberry and I also write business books. In fact, today we sent the final draft of The Long-Distance Team: Designing Your Team for the Modern Workplace to our publishers at Berrett-Koehler.
When I return I hope I’ll have an interview or two to post, and maybe even a sneak preview of the cover for Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker. Be good to each other, read something, buy a book and leave a review.
Normally if you make someone cry, it’s because you’re a terrible human being and have done something awful to that person. Last week I made a couple of people tear up and got a couple of audible sobs. It felt great. Like really good. Yay me.
Okay, this probably requires some explanation.
As a writer, we hope to elicit emotional responses from our readers. We want them to laugh, gasp, get excited, or otherwise go on the emotional journey our characters are on. Is Lucca going to survive? Will Johnny beat the bear-shifter and make it out of Las Vegas (plug for book 2 there. Pay attention.) The problem is that the very fact they are reading means we aren’t with them when they consume our product.
Most of you know, and are tired of me saying, that I spent over 15 years as a standup comedian. For anyone who has ever stood on a stage, you understand the addicting nature of that art form. You write something, perform it in front of a live audience, and get an immediate response. Hopefully, they laugh. Maybe they chuckle, but not the roar you expected, so you need to tinker with that joke in the future. Maybe they get up and slap you on national television. Either way, there’s instant feedback on if that piece was any good or not.
I would give credit if I knew who said it, but somebody once wrote that “writing novels is like telling a joke and waiting a year for the laugh.” It’s true. While I hope my audience responds to what I create, you seldom really know. Maybe you get a good review. Once in a blue moon, I get an email or Twitter message from someone who enjoyed my work. (I can’t suggest doing this strongly enough. On any given day a writer may need validation. Trust me.) Mostly, I topple the tree in the forest and hope someone hears it fall.
So what happened the other day? How did I make someone cry and enjoy it?
A few months ago, I channeled one of the saddest moments of my life into a Flash Fiction Piece called, “A Simple Purse.” It meant a lot to me. In the interest of transparency, it captures a moment more than 35 years ago when my mother passed away. I watched my father have to clean out her handbag for the last time. It’s the only time during that ordeal I ever saw him lose it. I’ve waited all this time for a way to tell that story and do it justice.
To launch the 2022 edition of the publication, I was invited to read on a Zoom call with over a dozen talented writers (mostly poets, which is intimdating as hell. Anything more complex than a dirty limerick is outside my wheelhouse.)
The reading was in alphabetical order. When your first name is a “W” and last name is a “T” you’re used to waiting your turn. I was blessed to hear some very moving, creative, and angst-ridden work. Then it was my turn.
It was a Zoom call, not a typical literary event. I was looking at a bunch of tiny boxes with faces in them. I ignored them and began reading my story from a piece of paper in front of me. Out my voice went into the void, and it was met with silence, as expected. Then I heard something unexpected.
Everyone was supposed to have their microphones muted, but I heard a distinctly audible sniff. Then another one. I looked at the screen and saw two people wiping their eyes, and they weren’t the sniffers. There was a long pause.
Then Heather, the Editor and Faculty Advisor (blessings upon all who take that job on, especially in schools) thanked me. She also told me a little about how the staff reacted when reading my submission, and how they’d hoped my story wouldn’t get picked up anywhere else so they could publish it.
My little flash story, which I doubted anyone else would understand, made grown-ass people cry. 565 of my words moved them.
This may sound ridiculous, but this was one of the most validating moments of my writing career. I have published a lot of work in my time, and most of it just goes out into the void. An unpaid piece in an obscure literary magazine I only found through Submittable reminded me my words matter. They can move people. They are important to someone besides me.
Support your local lit mags and the writers who contribute to them. Let people know you like their work. Just saying.
One of the more humbling parts of the publishing process is where I find myself today: seeking those illusive “blurbs” for the cover. You know what I’m talking about: “I laughed, I cried, it was better than Wicked…”some author slightly better known than the author of the book you’re looking at.
Basically you’re creating the illusion of brilliance by association.
For the uninitiated, this is how it works. You think of someone who meets your criteria: They have to be someone you think will like the book. They have to be willing to read your imperfect baby even though it’s not formatted or finally proofed yet. Ideally, they are a known quantity so that the audience will say, “Hey, I’m a fan of John Wing, (or Sarah Tasz or Gemma Clatworthy or whoever) and if he/she liked it, I will too.”
I have been blessed to have an ever-expanding network of writers whose work I enjoy and have shared with you here. That’s where I went first.
Well, as I wait for the cover of the latest book, I have been sending out copies of Johnny Lycan & the Vegas Berserker and holding my breath. The results are trickling in and I’m happy to report people really enjoy it.
“Compelling characters, fast-paced action, magic crystals, and a berserker. It’s Johnny Lupul in Vegas baby! As always, Wayne Turmel has created a compulsively readable action-packed story with a unique take on the werewolf mythos. An enjoyable read and I can’t wait for the next installment!”G Clatworthy, author of the Rise of the Dragons series
“Johnny Lycan and the Las Vegas Berserker is a riveting Sin City romp like I’ve never seen before. Aliens, covens, and magic of all stripes rocket across every page, with the reader (and sometimes Johnny too) holding on for dear life. Harry Dresden better watch his back–Johnny Lycan is the snarky, shapeshifting badass you’ve been waiting for.” –S.G. Tasz, author of the Dead Mall series
“Get a flashlight, because you’ll be reading The Vegas Berserker well into the night.Johnny’s world is full of mischief, mayhem, and magic—excuse me, magick—and I can’t wait to read more.”—Luke Swanson, author of Spectators of War and The Other Hamlet Brother
“The stakes are high — life and death high — as werewolf private detective Johnny Lupul goes to Las Vegas to take custody of a mysterious ancient artifact. It’s a full moon, and the fur is about to fly!” – Jill Hand, author of the Trapnell Thrillers, White Oaks and Black Willows
“I loved this book. A rollicking, clever ride with a story so good you forget it’s a genre novel. If Jack Reacher was a werewolf, he’d be Johnny Lycan.” –John Wing Jr, Comedian and author of A Car to Die For.
Can’t wait to see how these look on a cover. Hell, can’t wait to see the cover. Meanwhile, if you haven’t read Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk, what the #@$%@#$% are you waiting for?
One of the advantages of trying to schlep your own work, is you run into other authors. In this case, I had the honor of being interviewed by Madilynn Dale for her ChapterGoddess site. We had a blast, but I thought it was only fair that I give you all a chance to meet this prolific author. YOU CAN WATCH MY VIDEO INTERVIEW WITH HER HERE
Okay, lady. Tell us about you.
Hello, I’m Madilynn Dale. It’s a pleasure to chat with you all. I’m a mom first and foremost and a creative second. I tend to dabble in a various number of things from writing, painting, to drawing, but my stories are my strongest point. Sometimes I think my 4-year-old son does a better job drawing than I do but at least I tried right?
When I write I don’t stick with one genre but span many. I like things more on the steamy side, but I create work in the genres of paranormal, fantasy, romance, and adventure. On top of all the creative stuff I’m also a Physical Therapy Assistant here in my home state of Oklahoma. I’ve kind of put that career on pause though to focus on my writing and being a mom. We live in quite a crazy time after all.
I’m also a huge reader and coffee addict. I love wine too but that’s only for the evenings. I read a wide range of books I am a mood reader though so if I’m in the middle of something and it loses my attention because of a sour mood, I put it aside and come back to it.
Tell us about your latest book, Black Flames.
I have several books published which you can find on my website www.thechaptergoddess.com but I want to really focus on my latest release Black Flames. This is the first novel in the Ember trilogy which I plan to release all this year, 2022. It’s an empowering story following young Ember as she discovers herself, breaks free of her shackles, and embraces herself. She finds love along the way and must escape hell. Literally. Her life is basically turned upside down after she discovered her mother’s one night stand with the devil.
Here is the actual synopsis for those who are curious. 😉
Ember believes she’s a latent wolf until she finds herself facing a demon using hellfire. The black flames trigger something within her and the world as she knows it is dumped on its head. Has her entire life been nothing but a lie?
Tied to the future Alpha via contract, she seeks an escape to find her true mate. Confused by the emotions surrounding her discovery, she sacrifices herself to save her pack and is taken to hell. With a false engagement and memories erased, she finds herself part of a larger plan. Can she fulfill her role and manage to return home without her secret being discovered?
I know you’re prolific, and right now you’re in the middle of a shifter series (and why don’t shifters in urban fantasy ever have chest hair, but that’s a different story.) What are the roots of your series?
In creating Ember, I found that I channeled a lot of my younger self. Her drive and determination to be a badass without falling apart is something I struggled with at a younger age in college. Of course, I obviously can’t fight like she can, nor do I have any of her powers, but she must find a way to overcome the oppressive requests placed on her by her parents and other authorities to find herself and live the life she wants. I feel like I had to go through a version of that myself and really a lot of us do. I loved creating situations where she had to deal with her emotions and take the higher road. It’s something even at my age I struggle with. I hope she inspires others.
Now her magic, which is the ability to change into a certain animal of hell and use fire, was something of a darker twist on my favorite type of beings. Shifters are something I’ve always found myself drawn to. They are a bit different from were animals in that they turn into bigger versions of the actual animal. At least that is how I portray it in my work. The fire is something I feel like if I had a power, it would be to use fire. Something about the way flames dance in the hearth during the winter calms me and usually puts me to sleep but fire can also be extremely destructive.
Indie publishing has so many successful writers that those who don’t read ebooks, particularly, never heard of. Who do you read?
There are so many authors that I have enjoyed reading over the years. Only a few really stick out though and several of them helped inspire my writing. Ivy Asher, Sarah J Maas, Deborah Harkness, C. L. Schneider, Jaymin Eve, P.C. Cast, Kaylana Price, Tarriona Tank Ball, Cassandra Claire, Jennifer L Armentrout, Ivy Smoak and Andrzej Sapkowski. These authors all write in romance, fantasy, adventure, urban fantasy, paranormal, poetry, and more. I love how unique their work is and how easy it is to escape into their work.
Your social media game is strong, and I”m jealous (but I would stroke out trying to do everything you do.)
twitter, Facebook author page, website etc.
I am a bit all over the place really. The easiest place to find links to my books is on my website. The majority of my stuff is published wide so you can pick your favorite book site there.
I believe one of the most important concepts in writing fiction is that the success of a story depends on the villain. Johnny Lycan would be a weird little adventure story without Kozlov. But good antagonists have a reason for being all villain-y. Some writers dig deep into that.
Hi. I am Isra Sravenheart, a USA Today and Amazon Bestselling author. I first found success with my book Her Dark Soul in 2017 which is book 1 in my Dark Spell series. Of which I am currently promoting the boxed set of 1-4 in the series. I am very much an introvert at heart living with my four cats who are sassy as they deem themselves to be. I’m also an avid binge-watcher of fantasy and paranormal shows such as Supernatural, Vampire Diaries, Buffy Angel. I also am releasing my first PNR book this May “Forbidden Rendezvous with the Devil” an interesting tale about young lone witch Sabine who has faced a break-up and now founds herself entangled with two vampires.
There’s a lot going on there. Tell me about your series.
Dark Spell series is a dark fantasy series featuring witches and warlocks. It’s an epic vivid world that I created with angels, demons, unicorns, dragons, light-bringers and I mainly focus on the aspect of villains and their POV. It spans eight books and mainly follows Isra and Astrid in their journey however things are not as clear cut as they seem. Don’t judge someone because nothing is what it seems. The good guys might look cute on the outset but they have their own tale of darkness to tell.
It has been compared to Grimms and Disney by many of its readers however it has a dark tone and focuses on aspects such as betrayal, forbidden love, unrequited love and dealing with one’s own personal demons (darkness.)
What are the roots of the story? Where does all this come from?
I love exploring a villain’s POV and while we’re not justifying what they did and we know it’s bad, we can understand the root of the character so at least their actions become understandable, Not everyone is born bad. There has to be a good reason. What makes people tick? I look at the ins and outs of the whole emotionally dragged-out mess, whilst not condemning them for it because everyone has their own reasons for being a certain way. It’s been a fun series to write and I love how there has been such a wide range of characters and eccentric personalities. My fave characters to write are Astrid and Samuel the light-bringer. He is off his rocker, to quote my editor Jody Freeman.
Who hurt you like this? Who are the authors who influenced you?
Neil Gaiman. Gregory Maguire, L Frank Baum, Phillip Pullman. lots of dark fantasy vibes here. That;s kinda my jam and read most of these when I was young especially the oz and Wicked series.
One thing about being with a publisher like Black Rose Writing, rather than publishing myself, is that you become a community and get introduced to plenty of other writers. One such person is Oklahoma author Luke Swanson. I got a chance to read his new thriller, Epicenter, and thought it would be great for you all to meet him as well.
Luke, what’s your deal?
My name is Luke Swanson, and I’m a fledgling author from Oklahoma City. I currently have three books published—a mystery, an action thriller, and a tragi-comedy—with a fourth coming in July. If I had an agent, they would tell me, “Write a consistent genre, you dolt!” But I don’t, so I do what I want.
I feel you. Moving from historical fiction to urban fantasy was hardly a career move. What’s your latest novel, Epicenter, about?
Epicenter is a standalone sequel to my first book, The Ten, which is a murder mystery. Epicenter shifts into full-on action mode—I’ve had a reviewer describe it as a Die Hard movie, which is high praise (as long as they’re talking about 1, 3, or 4). On a hot day in Los Angeles, Detective Jason Flynn finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time. He needs to keep a witness and a hostage safe as a brutal cartel is gunning for them all. And on top of that…the “Big One” hits. The worst earthquake in US history rocks the city, and Jason and his reluctant allies need to survive.
As someone whose life got upended by the Northridge quake, I thought that was a great twist, and you caught some of the chaos that would naturally follow while just trying to do your darned job. Where did the idea come from?
I love Jason Flynn, who I created as a lead in The Ten. I could have made a continuing crime series with Jason solving a murder every week, but I didn’t feel I would do very well in that space. Michael Connelly and others have already mastered that genre. Thus, I took Jason and tossed him into an action movie. Epicenter specifically came from a few daydreams. For one, I wanted to put Jason through the wringer. In this story, he has the worst day imaginable, and his character arc reflects that. Also, I was inspired by the breakneck pace of Mad Max: Fury Road, as odd as that might sound. There’s no stopping for a breath, there’s only survival. I loved that idea. Being from OKC, I also am constantly toying with the idea of a mystery set during a tornado…and since Jason lives in LA, I transposed that obstacle onto him, with an earthquake.
What inspired you to be a writer?
I’ve always been a huge reader, and the idea that someone somewhere someday might be inspired by a book I’ve written is what motivated me to put words onto a dauntingly blank page. I love stories, and I hope to share that love with my readers.
Who did you read as a kid that inspired (or corrupted) you?
As a young reader, my bread and butter was the Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz…and as a modern reader too, since I still keep up with that series. I love Steven James’s thrillers too.
How can people contact you or learn more about your work?
You can follow or reach out to me on Instagram! I’m fairly reachable, and I’d love to chat with readers. You can also follow me on Goodreads to see what I’m reading and Letterboxd to see what I’m watching—after all, the media one consumes tells you a lot about them.
Speaking of Black Rose, the second in the Johnny Lycan series, Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker, is coming out on December 8. If you want to be the first kid on the block to receive swag or news about the book, sign up for my newsletter by clicking the link on the side of the screen. Meanwhile, Johnny Lycan and the Anubis Disk is available now in paperback or Kindle.
First, 2022 is not a real year. It’s science fiction. Blade Runner took place in 2019. Soylent Green takes place in 2022. But I’ll play along and pretend that it really is the Year of Our Lord 2022. If that’s the case, what will I be up to?
When it comes to the dreaded Day Job, there are two big creative projects in the pipeline.
The Long-Distance Team, which is about designing the work culture you really want, is under construction. It will be officially out on January 22, 2023, but available for pre-order before the end of the year.
Also, it’s likely I will be doing a podcast. It won’t be the late lamented Cranky Middle Manager Show, but it will be informative and snarky. Details to follow.
On the fun, creative front look for the second in my werewolf detective series. Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker will be out before the end of the year from Black Rose Writing. The third book in the series is under construction so it won’t be 2 years between installments, I pinky swear.
You can find out everything that I’m up to creatively by signing up for my infrequent but action-packed email newsletter. Use the signup box on the side of the screen.
Johnny Lycan 2 is done and ready to go to my publisher. But I need to do the dreaded back cover blurb. You know, the short bit on the back that sucks people into reading a book they’ve never heard of.
Here’s what I”m working with for Johnny Lycan and the Vegas Berserker. Seriously, let a brother know what you think…
The world’s favorite werewolf P.I. is off to Las Vegas. What could go wrong?
Life’s good for Johnny Lupul. He has a steady gig and a growing reputation as a guy who can get things done. He’s even learning to keep his Lycan side under control—mostly.
But when he’s sent to Sin City on a simple retrieval job, things go sideways. He bumps up against a coven of unconventional witches, a psychic pawn broker, and a mysterious enemy with a darker and more violent secret than his own.
“Like Spenser for Hire with bite.”
“Turmel has created a series that’s part detective noir, part urban fantasy, with plenty of snarky humor.”
What do you think? Too much? Not enough? drop a comment or an email and help me out.