AKAQ’s First Anthology: Let’s discuss

First of all, this year is going to be a busy one. In this month alone I’m going through lots of personal changes and they are all very significant, life changing type changes. Writing-wise I have huge plans, both for my own endeavors and for this blog here. The most important is an anthology.

Right now? I would love to just hear input from any writer, any reader, or just anyone who frequents this blog.

When and if I get this going these conditions wont change:

1) Genre: Speculative fiction, crime, noir, horror and sci fi. Pretty much any pulp type material.

2) Cheap and nonprofitable: Depending on the amount of authors I’d like to keep the ebook under $3 and over 99 cents. All profit will go towards the AKAQ website, which includes upgrades, access to more images (Which this website lacks, except for book covers. We have tons of those thanks to Amazon.) and other website related costs.

3) Availability in Amazon. Others are up for debate.

Now, these are topics I would like to discuss:

1) Submission length. Maybe flash/poems in-between stories.

2) Help. I would like either someone who wants to help editing or perhaps some beta readers. I personally like using the writers to go through the whole book, but surprisingly I feel like I’m the only one that ever does it and I feel like I’m bothering the editor, even though I want the whole book, which has my story in it, to be as polished as possible.

3) Covers: I have some ideas already maybe using the image we currently have on our frontpage.

4) A physical book: I once sold pre-orders to my first book and found how successful it was. But after that found almost no sales through lulu.com After that I moved over to Amazon and found a way better and pleasant market. I would like to sale pre-orders through lulu.com again. It’s cheap, I can drop the price to $5 bucks and still make the donation worth it. After all the primary point is to get writer’s work out there and the website’s funds are, if anything, not important at all.

5) Do you want in? I want to include at least 20 authors, and I think I can easily get pieces from the usual bunch around here. I think I plan to send some invites first and then open it up to submissions. This way I could get some bigger names mixed with some new talent.

So discuss, I love a good online discussion. 🙂

-L. Vera

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My Problem With Zombies

L .Vera


Zombies. They’re everywhere. I’ve written perhaps . . . two stories about zombies. I thought that number would be higher, but compared to vampires, werewolves and any other creatures of horror, zombies usual involve character interactions. Zombies are rarely the main character and so you can easily paint circumstances and include other elements. There’s no real formula besides someone gets infected and others have to deal with it. But that’s not my problem.

The problems are with zombies themselves. I think they are a very flawed creature. Okay, vampires and others have flaws too but they all have strict formulas. Here are the basic formulas which can be tweaked or changed:

Vampires: Weakness to sunlight, silver, holy artifacts, garlic and/or virgins. They have super strength, super intelligence and can fly. Many can change forms from animals to a simple mist of air. They are sexy and can mesmerize a person with a stare or with some strange rape power, vampires have.

Werewolves: Weaknesses include silver, I think everyone hates silver, and  . . .well that seems to be it. They also tend to rip their clothes off during transformation, usually during a full moon. So they usually run around naked killing things. Fun night, I’m sure. They are super strong, super fast and gosh darn it people like them. Lately the also seem to be very buff in human form, and almost hairless.

Zombies: They are sick, infected and eat brains. Wait? Do they? Then they bite people and they in turn also become infected and in days the whole world is infected except like a handfull of people. Really?

Okay, so you see where this is going. First of all brains. Let’s talk about brains. It’s a lie. Zombies just eat anything with meat, always have and always will. I cannot recall a moment in a movie or novel where brains were eaten. I’m sure it has happened; but it’s got to be more of a delicacy. To me it looks like they like flesh and guts over anything else. There’s never a shortage of intestines being eaten in any zombie movie. Mant times the brains are intact, so is the whole head. Matter of fact, most zombies have a whole intact head. Any damage to the brain and they die. So on to my next point.

Zombies are those that only got bitten enough to turn and get the hell away. Otherwise they’d get completely devoured. We aren’t talking about vampires who can bite someone and vanish into the night leaving a warm human to slowly turn into a cold creature of the night. Zombies are hungry, like a mindless pack of wolves. So those that turn into a zombie must have gotten away after their first bite. Then they turn and slowly make their way to the crowd of zombies. Seems a bit unlikely. I think in most cases we’d find them locked in rooms, or held up in a quite place.

Now my biggest gripe. The infection spreads like a rumor of Justin Beiber being a lesbian. Really? Days and only a handful of people live. I personally write all my zombie stories either years in the future after the infection and/or a slow infecting virus. One where people, as a mass, have a chance. It’s not like the have super strength, or super anything really. They’re mindless diseased people. The only thing that gives them an advantage is numbers. It just makes more sense to me, of course I like to be as realistic as possible in any story even if I’m writing something already outrageous, like killer rabbits from outer space or something.

In conclusion, I still prefer a good zombie story over vampires and werewolves.

Aignos Publishing seeks Hispanic Authors

Taken from their website:
We are currently seeking books in the areas of General Nonfiction, Crime Fiction, Science Fiction, Literary Fiction, and World Literature. We have a particular interest in Hawaiian and Hispanic authors, but are open to writers of all backgrounds. We accept novel manuscripts, short story collections, essays, and theatrical works. We are seeking authors with at least one previous publishing credit, whether it be in newspapers, magazines, short stories or previous novels. We will consider unpublished authors, but they will not be our main focus. We currently can only accept English and Spanish submissions.
1) The book has to be complete and assembled when submitted.
2) Send three chapters via email to jon.marcantoni@gmail.com. If the book is a collection of short stories, send the first three stories. If the work is a play, send the first three scenes.
3) The first page of your submission should include your name, email address and phone number, followed by a synopsis of your work (500 word minimum).
Notes: Stumble upon this locally through facebook. I, also being hispanic, don’t see many opportunities for hispanics that doesn’t involve heavy latino culture in the stories, which I never found interesting. Here they are simply looking for hispanic or Hawaiian authors who have a finished book or novella.
-L. Vera

Writing With Music: We All Do It


You know that song. That one song that created vivid thoughts and ideas in your head. Did it contribute to a story? It happens all the time, we writers find inspiration everywhere. Some while mediating after Yoga or breaking into their own house after you forgot your keys. “That would make a great story.” Most of the time it’s almost uncontrollable, but if you manipulate your surroundings I believe you can set yourself in the right mind set. It’s like a rockstar listening to music before the go out on stage. That’s what you are a writing rockstar. Besides a little exercise the right music is also essential to clearing the mind and focusing.

What I listen To.

Depending on the genre I find different music useful. For example, a good sci-fi story with the ambiance of some techno perhaps some dubstep really let’s my dive into those scenes, especially those cyber punk clubs with the insane dj’s and rockstars. The UK makes the best dubstep and I’m also a huge Dillion Francis fan.

Now speculative fiction seems easier to write with some poppy punk music for me. Throw me some MXPX, The Offspring or even some Ramones. Why? I have no clue.

Horror, is usually heavy or violent. Combichrist, Three Days Grace or The Misfits.

I started writing noir. Seems like everyone is doing it and everyone keeps sending my pulp fic and noir books to read. So now I’m there, typing about a man who’s a total jerk, but he’s gotta win, well very few people win in my stories. Anyways, Alkaline Trio or Tom Waits.

Why It Helps.

That constant mood, it’s not always there. I’ll write 1/3 of my story in the john and another while I watch television. Days later it’s finished throughout the day, either between waiting for someone or something, eating, or doing who knows what. But every time the mood is different. I always regret not writing in one sitting. It’s not always possible, but if you started an album or genre of music and used it every time you began to write again, it has a better grip on that mood you were in.

Everyone is different, but I think you should try it and let me know. Perhaps give me a tip on writing other genres.

-L. Vera

On Writing a Villain by Paul Guthrie

On Writing a Villain

By Paul Guthrie, author of The Wrong God

Readers love a good villain. So what makes a villain readably scary? To begin with, he has to be fallible. This seems obvious, since in any good-vs-evil story the good guy has to win, but it affects the writing, especially for a superhuman villain. He can’t be omniscient, for example. Godlike villains need underlings with more human scale and powers. In Lord of The Rings Sauron has the Nazgul and the orcs. In Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time saga the Dark Lord has the Forsaken. The hero (or heroes) builds strength by facing the lesser villains before the climactic confrontation. High fantasy is a tricky business; if the villain is too powerful, the reader may ask why he doesn’t just squash the hero like a bug in the first chapter and put the book down.

Terror and horror are more effective when they are personalized. Imagine a story of genocide, in which the protagonist is a member of a group targeted for annihilation by a government. The enemy is diffuse; an army or a police force, and the hero has allies. Now imagine a story about a fugitive falsely accused of some crime and pursued by a corrupt and sadistic cop. His enemy is specific and he has no friends. The action may be similar in both stories – escape, evasion, outsmarting the foe. But the fugitive story can be tighter, with the reader more emotionally involved, because the single villain can be more intimately portrayed and, perhaps, individually defeated.

Human scale villains work best when they are cruel but emotionally identifiable – Hannibal Lecter comes to mind. The most frightening events we imagine are tortures inflicted on individuals (not groups) by other people. Things that, in a text book or news article, would make us ask how one human could do that to another human. In writing a fictional human villain the author has to give the reader enough of a hook into the mind of the villain to be able to say “Yeah, I believe he is capable of such an atrocity.”

What will happen to the villain? Will he be killed or redeemed? If the story ends in redemption it often works to show how he became evil in the first place. A pattern for this might be a man who is embittered by unrequited love, becomes brutally cruel to everyone around him, but is redeemed by the love of the heroine (I know, very nineteenth century). If the villain is to be redeemed, his villainy can’t be so terrifying that the reader can’t accept the redemption.

A common technique is to keep the identity or nature of the villain hidden from both the hero and the reader, so that they discover him together. This can be dangerous, though. How many times have you reached the great reveal in a mystery or thriller, discovered the villain, and been disappointed?

As an author, you get to decide on the nature of villainy. Is he simply someone without a conscience? A sadist? Arrogant and self-righteous? In The Wrong God the story would turn on the intersection of religion and politics, in a recognizably contemporary setting. Observing that world, I find that the common trait of the most despicable players is hypocrisy. Not just the personal hypocrisy of the ones who try to impose rules that they themselves flout, but the manipulative hypocrisy of the ones who inflame believers to violence.  So one decision was whether to allow the reader to discover that the villain is a hypocrite from the beginning, or keep it a surprise for the end.

Initially I thought surprise, but as I was creating Wendell Murchison, the villain in The Wrong God, my wife was reading the early drafts, and she kept wanting more backstory on Murchison. How did he get to be who he is at the time of the story? As she put it, nobody is born bad; they become bad. She began to believe in the character and care about him – not in the sense of rooting for him to win, but wanting to understand him. So I changed things around and added material about the backstory early in the book in flashbacks, with the idea of hooking the reader on the villain as well as on the story. A reader who is interested enough to ask how your villain got that way and wonders what will happen to him is going to finish your story. And that’s what you want, isn’t it?

Originally posted at http://elizabethbaxter.blogspot.com/ .

Visit www.thewronggod.com for a look at the book.

How To Kill Someone The Right Way

A sequel to “How To Kill Someone“. Confidence was the main theme of that last article. You can’t sell a death if you don’t believe it. But what else do you need to write a good scene? Here are some other pointers I picked up that I think are useful.

Gore and Blood: I can look back at everything I have ever written and have not once describe how the person died in every vivid detail. Gore and Blood – to me – are almost like overused adverbs. You don’t need them. A simple “And he died” can make a scene dramatic with only a handful of words. Of course you can’t have two people talking and cut straight into it.

“So Murray, whatcha doing tomorrow?” And he died. 

It’s a worthless and very amateur line.

Try with feelings first.

There was a burst, not like a sound and not like a light but of pain and it tore through his back and left him lifeless on the floor. There on the dirty alley, where children once laughed, Murray died.

A death in two sentences and to me fills the world easily with the right image. No description of guts or organs being destroyed. You don’t really need it. Which leads us to the next important topic . . .

The Lead Up: Plain and simple, it helps if your reader see it coming. People dying out of thin air is just broken writing. A man walking alone, or a man not in the middle of conflict works the best. A lot of times stories have too much stuff going on, with people hunting this guy and that, you lose the power of just slowing things down. So back to Murray . . .

Sun dripped along with the water drops from the brick walls. Each stealing a piece of attention that Murray should have had for his own safety. The walk had already tired him and carrying the two suitcases had already taken a toll on his shoulders, yet he smelled something in the air. I once read that water didn’t have a smell, it was a catalyst for your sense, boosting your sense. So what you  are actually doing is smelling something that’s already there. And there, at the end of the alley was Genova. Standing like a gun fighter waiting for the clock to strike and the smell reminded Murray of his father.

You know why girls like bad guys? It’s because if a nice guy brought them roses they feel just like an other girl that he gave roses to – nothing special. But when a douchebag brings a girl a single rose, he is going up and beyond for her, making her feel like the only person in his life that means anything to him – pure fucking special. (My own sexist theory.) Writing is the same way. You got to take it slow, tease the reader with some slow paces so that when you hit something fast, something climatic it feels like . . . they are getting something special.

Tools of Death: Now this is important. One day I want to write a whole post on guns. For now, I’ll settle with some little tidbits. Just remember that you need to research. Research, research and research. Buy a gun, buy a knife. Hold them in your hand, write how they make you feel. Shoot a gun, smell the air, listen to the sound and watch what it does to a target.

Or read these handy little guides online.

Stupid Gun Mistakes EVERY Writer Makes

So you want to write about guns…

Emotional Paint: Everything we try to convey, we paint. We paint with keystrokes. This article is intended for those who need help doing something they haven’t done or something they can’t figure out of to do – paint death. I like to paint with real emotion. I always find it easier to write about feelings when I recently have used them. So I want to tell you a personal story. I have to warn you, animals were killed in it and you may not agree with what I did. So here it goes:

There was a neighbor, there’s always one like this, who had two large boxers that turned into eight over months. They were big, strong and dug holes like trenchers. In a matter of months they had killed two of my neighbor’s dog, my wife’s seven year old lab and three cats of ours. Now, we live outside city limits, so there really is no one to help us with our troubles. We, my wife and I, love animals. We had 9 cats living outside at one time living in that yard, which sits in front of our new property. We used to live there but bought the property across the street and the cats refuse to move. What can I say, it’s their property too.

So one of the cats had kittens, she was the only one that wasn’t fix and since we had lost other cats we thought it would add some sunshine to our yard, after all kittens are incredibly adorable. And they were. I fell in love immediately, and I don’t like cats. I’m a dog guy, but these little furry balls of joy liked me, and would climb on me as I feed the other animals. How could I not love them.  At this point, the boxers numbers had thinned. There were now two killers. 

Somehow, perhaps determination of these crazed animals, they got in my yard. Littered throughout the yard were many dead kittens and my wife’s oldest cat. Now I don’t condone killing anything, I never in my life even wanted to go hunting with my father and brother. It’s not for me and I’ve always made it clear, yet there I was standing with a flashlight in one hand and trying to balance a rifle in the other, aiming at the two dogs that won’t leave my yard and had just left little shadows of life in my yard; the cat’s yard – our yard.

I killed one. The other wouldn’t leave, just sat close to the dead body perhaps hoping he’d come back to life. I fired, maybe I missed because I saw the look on his face. Or maybe I just didn’t see the point in killing both dogs. I didn’t miss completely, he now walks around with a limp, but I look back at the day and I don’t regret anything. Wait, I do regret something. I regret not killing that other dog.

This one event inspired many of my newest stories. I really think the best way to paint is when you are emotional. Try writing when you’re angry, when you’re sad or, my favorite, when you’re in love.

-L. Vera

Soul Destruction by Ruth Jacobs

In preparation for the launch of her book, Soul Destruction, novelist Ruth Jacobs embarks on a new blog. The blog – Soul Destruction Diary – is written in the voice of Nicole O’Connell, Shelley Hansard’s closest friend in the first book.

Nicole, a call girl from London, travels to Sydney, Australia, in the hope she will break her heroin habit. The diary charts Nicole’s time there – the numerous people she meets and the situations, some dangerous and life threatening, in which she finds herself. Within days of arriving, she meets a fellow junky, Lorna, and is back on smack. Lorna appears on the outside to be a good friend to Nicole, but there are things about Lorna, Nicole is yet to learn. Mickey, who Nicole meets at Manly Beach, falls in love with her. But can he save her from Lorna? And most of all, can he save her from herself?

Ruth Jacobs comments, “My plan is to write and publish between three to seven new blog posts each week for the next few months on www.soul-destruction.com. Each will be a short diary entry and once complete, the diary will form a new novel.”

The book will form part of the Soul Destruction series, the first of which follows Shelley Hansard, a crack-psychotic, heroin-addicted, London call girl who gets the opportunity to take revenge on a client who raped her.

Sophie Lambert, Director at Tibor Jones & Associates (www.tiborjones.com) says, “I can’t help but be incredibly impressed by Ruth’s frankness and honesty and the clear passion with which she writes.”

Jane Frankland, The Go2 Expert, (www.jane-frankland.com) who encouraged Ruth to promote herself and her novels through blogging says, “Ruth has drawn much from a dissertation she undertook on prostitution. She spent time, and undertook interviews, with three call girls. One of these interviews has been transcribed and is available on her blog.”

Ruth adds, “Recent times have seen prostitution glamorised by the media. That at least 75% of prostitutes have been sexually and physically abused as children is the reality. 70% of prostitutes have experienced multiple rapes. At least 67% of prostitutes meet the criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder. These are the facts and they are far from glamorous.”

The Soul Destruction novel and diary tell it as it is – soul destroying. Ruth’s writing is gritty, her characters are real and accessible, her stories are well told, and each blog will leave you wanting more. Ruth is enjoying great reviews since launching and is currently seeking representation from a literary agent or interest from a publisher. She can be contacted at ruth@soul-destruction.com.

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From a press release from a representative of Ruth Jacobs.

-L. Vera