Signing with Hartwood Publishing

This post may ramble a bit as I explain the situation, so let me just summarize everything right up front. I’ve signed a contract with Hartwood Publishing letting them publish my novel Bold Bounty, an historical romance that has ties to my Werewolf Saga.

Okay, now for the details …

I learned of  Hartwood Publishing by reading Gordon L. Rottman‘s novels The Hardest Ride and Ride Harder. I enjoyed both of them. They’re western novels, and the first one made The USA Today bestseller list. I’m about halfway through my second western novel, so I thought I’d see if Rottman’s publisher might be a company I’d consider for Badger’s Bend when it’s finished. To my surprise, Hartwood requires that all stories have a strong romantic element, which Rottman’s books do, though I didn’t consider them romance books. Badger’s Bend has a romantic subplot, but like I said, it’s only half finished and isn’t even the project I’m working on at the moment. But I was intrigued by the company and recently finished a round of edits on Bold Bounty, so I thought I’d dangle that worm out there and see if there was any interest. There was.

So, a little about Bold Bounty. The novel was originally written at about the same time I was writing Shara. I finished it before I started college, so that was about 1997 or so. In 2001 it took third place for Historical Romance in the annual Oklahoma Writers Federation, Inc. contest. At the time, it was a straight historical romance about a Welsh noblewoman captured by Vikings and given to the son of their chief as a potential wife. The woman, Morwen, was betrothed to a cruel French marquis, and that was the conflict.

Then along came Douglas Summers. Mr. Summers was a British werewolf friend of Josef Ulrik who had a very short appearance in Ulrik. Although he died quickly, Summers stuck in my head because of his role in The Pack as an historian. I created “The Halden Cache: A History of the Foundation Stone, and Translation of the Accompanying Text” and attributed Nag Hammadi-inspired document to Summers. In this fictional document, Summers relates how Bjorn Halden came to be a member of The Pack and how Bjorn held meetings of many members of The Pack every 10 years. Bjorn is the son of the Viking chieftain in Bold Bounty. See how it all starts to tie together? For the story of Bold Bounty, Bjorn is NOT a werewolf. The series title for these romance-heavy novels tied to The Werewolf Saga (yes, there are more than one) is The Werewolf Saga Apocryphal Tales. Honestly, Murdered by Human Wolves and Call to the Hunt should both be part of this series, but whatever.

So, why Hartwood Publishing instead of MoonHowler Press? Frankly, I’m hoping for more money. Rottman making the USA Today bestseller list made me think Hartwood must know something about marketing, which is seriously my weakest point. Also, I’m not so good at cover design. I think I’ve done a few decent covers with stock images, but overall, they’re pretty basic. Sales. MoonHowler Press books just aren’t moving. Is it the self-publishing stigma? My lack of skill marketing? Are the books not very good? I don’t know. Even the free e-books don’t generate enough reviews for me to find out what people do and don’t like. I’m hoping working with what seems to be a reputable smaller press will help me gain exposure. I never thought I’d work with another small press I’m not in control of, but I look forward to seeing what Hardwood Publishing will do with Bold Bounty.

And yeah, I know … romance. Publishing a romance next, a western novel this past summer. Where’s the horror? I dunno. But here’s a shocker … the book I’m currently working on is a contemporary romance without any supernatural elements whatsoever.


3 New Books for June

I’ve been busy since school let out less than a month ago. I’ve edited two books and published them, plus one more. All of them are outside my usual genre. Now it’s time to promote them and try to convince you to buy them.

First up is A Light Beyond. This is one I imagined several years ago, when I still had an agent who didn’t really believe in me. He shot the idea down, but it wouldn’t leave me. I wrote the book last semester, putting down a little over 50,000 words in a pretty short time for me during a school year. This is the story of Robert Prince, who meets an older woman when he’s 13 and falls in love with her. He has a friend who is a bully and a home life that is less than good.

Structurally, I tried something different with this short novel (or long novella). Each chapter is from a different stage of Robert’s life. We begin in a Cincinnati subway tunnel, where he’s been severely beaten. We then move to the summer of 1978, when he’s 13 and meets Alia, the older woman down the street. The third stage stretches over a much longer period of time, beginning when he’s about 18 and concluding with the chapter that reveals why he’s in the subway at age 51. Every third chapter goes back to one of these stages of his life.

For the few who are interested, there is a lot of nostalgia in this book for me. The chapters with young Robert are set on the street where I grew up and characters visit real places like Longfellow Junior High School, Bob’s Cone Corner, Hendrie House Buffet, etc. There really was a woman living in the house described who a “frenemy” of mine insisted was a hooker. Like Robert, I spent a lot of summer afternoons working puzzles, playing board games, and reading. But pretty much all the major plot elements are fiction.

A Light Beyond is available in both paperback and for Kindle and the Kindle app.

This next book is pretty special to me. My first genre love was for the Western, though it was more for movies than books. I’d wanted to write a Western novel for many years, but frankly, was afraid to branch out. The research seemed intimidating, too. And yeah, that same agent who dissed A Light Beyond didn’t want anything to do with Orphan when I proposed it to him.

This one is also told from three perspectives, but it’s three different characters. First is Ramsay, a wanted man just trying to get west, away from his old life and all the disappointments it held. When he catches a man cheating at cards in a small east Kansas town, the man pulls a gun and Ramsay has to kill him. This leads the man’s nephew, Jack, to decide that Ramsay is now responsible for him, so he tags along. Back in Chicago, Les finds out his lover isn’t who she claimed to be, and she’s pregnant. If he wants to maintain his relationship with her, he must leave his job as a packinghouse foreman and use his old Pinkerton skills to track down a meat baron’s missing grandson. Eventually, Ramsay, Jack, Les, the grandson, and a bounty hunter all meet up. There’s some shooting.

About the only other thing I can say about this one is that it’s dedicated to the memory of Johnny Quarles, Johnny lived in my hometown when his first novel, Brack, came out in about 1988 or so. I was about 22. Surprisingly for my introverted self, I picked up the phone and called him shortly after his book came out and found him to be a warm, helpful man with a wonderful family. He gave me a lot of good advice and let me interview him for various newsletters and such. In the early days of the Internet he even paid me to create and maintain his first Web site. My character, Ramsay Quarles, takes his name from Johnny and Johnny’s character Brack Ramsay. I hope my book is a worthy tribute to a great man.

Orphan is available as both a paperback and for Kindle and the Kindle app. The audio version is in production at the moment.

The third book I released this month is a really old manuscript. I’m talking like 25 years old. Songbird was written when my wife was pregnant with our first child. We never asked to learn the gender of our kids before they were born, preferring to be surprised. I know, that’s unthinkable today with all the elaborate gender reveal parties, but … whatever. We knew if we had a boy he’d be named Alexander and if we had a girl she’d be Rebecca. So the songbird of the story is named Becca and the wandering sailor who rescues her from the Trolls is Zander.

As you may have guessed, this is a children’s fairy story. Becca trades her freedom to save her village and she’s locked up in the Troll king’s Fang Tower, where she has to sing every time a Troll rings a bell. Zander hears her one day and vows to rescue her, but the Troll king’s ransom requires that Zander find the legendary land of Farin and bring back Queen Roshell’s wedding ring. Can he do it before the Troll king forces Becca to marry him? Well, it’s a fairy tale, so you can probably guess the answer to that one. It’s a chapter book, so I guess the target audience here is probably grades 3 to 8. The font is bigger than normal, so the page count is higher than the word count would suggest.

You’ll find several homages to J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Lloyd Alexander in this one.

Songbird is available in both paperback and for Kindle and the Kindle app.

Thanks for sticking with me!


End of May

I haven’t blogged just to blog in quite a while. So, as I’m sort of between projects and figuring out what to do with myself at the start of summer, I thought I’d do an update on my life. Because both you readers care, right?

School’s Out for summer. It was an interesting year. Not always a good time, but come the end of the year all is forgiven and transgressions (mostly) forgotten. I’m going to really miss having those seniors in my life on an almost daily basis. They’re good young folks with very bright futures ahead of them.

It would seem I have broken a tradition the Advanced Placement English students of the Class of 2017 had going. I’m apparently the first English teacher of their high school career to not quit the school after having this group. For some of them, the trend goes back to eighth grade. For what it’s worth, I did apply for a couple of jobs at other schools, but nobody called for an interview.

No surprise here, but the Oklahoma Legislature has failed to find a way to raise teachers’ salaries. Many teachers are leaving the state, which is just as well since a lot of schools are having to reduce the number of teachers they can afford (and increase class sizes). This includes my school, where class sizes for English are expected to be 35 students per section … although that math doesn’t really add up when all things are considered and we’re looking at 40+ kids in some classes.

But hey, in other news I finished a new book. It’s called A Light Beyond. I’ll be posting the cover and blurb here in a few days. This is a book I proposed to my previous agent several years ago and he shot it down (like he did everything else I proposed). Now it’s written and is being edited. It’s currently at about 50,000 words, which is an odd length, pretty long for a novella but not long enough to be a novel. I’m not looking for a publisher for it. It’s going straight to my own MoonHowler Press and will hopefully be available at SoonerCon 26, which starts June 23 and really should include your presence.

Students asked me a while back how many books I have published. I couldn’t answer at first. The answer is 16. They asked how many I’ve written. That answer is 30. Eight of those unpublished books will hopefully be released in the next year as I find time to polish and do the layout and design for them.

Two Book Updates

god of discord and othersI’ve made a couple of updates to two of my books that have been available for a while. The first is God of Discord and Other Weird Tales, which until very recently was only available as a Kindle e-book. It has a slightly revamped cover and is available in print for the first time. Also, the typos that were present in the original Kindle version have been fixed. Some of the stories in this collection have been previously available in my bigger collection, Darkscapes, but several are appearing in one of my own collections for the first time here.

Here’s a link to buy it from Amazon in print, electronic, or audio formats.

Next up is Two Oklahoma Ghost Stories, which was actually the first book published until my MoonHowler Press imprint. At that time I used one of CreateSpace’s stock covers, which did not represent the two stories at all but was the closest I could come to anything relevant among the choices offered. The current cover places images related to the original publications of the two novellas onto a background texture.

2 okiesThe stories themselves are Little Graveyard on the Prairie and Seven Days in Benevolence. The former was originally only available in a very limited hardcover from Bad Moon Books (BMB still controls the e-book rights to it), while the latter was a paperback from doomed Scrybe Press, with the e-book available from Double Dragon Publishing; I reclaimed both print and e-book rights to those.

Here’s a link to buy it at Amazon. (As of the writing of this blog the Amazon listing is still showing the old cover.)

Now, here’s my question to you: Should I go ahead and re-release Seven Days in Benevolence and Little Graveyard on the Prairie as separate novellas under the MoonHowler Press imprint, or is this double book priced at $9.99 enough? Separately I’d price them at about $5 each.

I thought about killing off the Two Oklahoma Ghost Stories collection to re-release the solo novellas, but the collection has it’s own ISBN and it’d never really go away from my CreateSpace dashboard, so I kept it and just updated the cover.

Prometheus Syndrome Available Now

prometheusJosh Cooper has always had trouble managing his anger. His rockabilly band in Florida went through so many personnel changes that finally Josh’s best friend, Tony “Boozer” Curtis, called it quits and moved to Nashville. But then Josh got a call from Boozer, asking if he’d like to join him in Nashville for a fresh start, but only if Josh can keep his cool and stop firing other musicians. Josh and girlfriend Rana pack up and head north … until Rana convinces him to take a scenic turnoff.

Josh and Rana find themselves prisoners of a man reverently referred to as The Professor by his ignorant hillbilly followers. Disgraced and terminated from his research position at a university, The Professor now carries on his experiments in an abandoned coal mine modified for his use. Josh’s anger is just what he’s been needing to complete his work.

Capturing human emotions, distilling them, and injecting the serum into corpses to create an undead, rage-powered army is The Professor’s plan for revenge against those who wronged him. Controlling his anger now is more than a professional necessity, Josh realizes. People will die if he gives in to the rage he feels over his captivity, the loss of his guitar, and what The Professor made him do to Rana.

Can he do it?

The Prometheus Syndrome is actually the first novel I ever completed, and that was back in about 1988, proudly pounded out on a Smith-Corona Electra XT typewriter. Then I rewrote it (really, it was mostly retyped) and it languished on Smith-Corona PWP-3 portable disks for years after I gave up sending it to publishers and agents. I finally came to realize I wasn’t very good at several things in the ’80s, but I always liked the story idea. So, about 15 years later I dusted off the disks, ran a clean hardcopy of the manuscript, then fed it through one of those newfangled copiers that would scan text and save it electronically. Over the next few years The Prometheus Syndrome received a complete overhaul.

Bad Moon Books was the first place I sent it after that. It was accepted for publication sometime after Amara’s Prayer was to be released. Years rolled by, until I finally withdrew the book, and it did nothing for a while. Then I sent it to Permuted Press, where it was again accepted. And we know what happened there. As I said in the post linked to there, that was pretty much the final straw for me and the small press field. So, I’ve published The Prometheus Syndrome myself under my MoonHowler Press imprint.

Quick shout-out to friend and fellow teacher John Carey for providing the eyes you see on the cover.

The novel is available in paperback and electronically for the Kindle and Kindle app. I’d love to hear what you think of it. I will have copies at SoonerCon 24, too. Click my STORE link above for more buying options.

(I am willing to make a few PDF proofs available to reviewers, but only if those requesting it have a track record of reviews to show me. Contact me with your e-mail address and a link to your reviews, if interested.)

My Books Withdrawn from Permuted Press

Well, that didn’t take long. Sorry, folks. My bad. Yes, it seems every time I get involved with a small press publisher things go into the crapper.

  • 3F Publications? Gone.
  • Scrybe Press? Gone.
  • Graveside Tales? Gone. (Yes, the Web site is still there, but check the dates.)
  • Stone Thread Press? Closed up shop just before Inheritance was released, so … Gone.
  • Fine Tooth Press? They seem to be gone, too, though the publisher is active as an individual on Facebook; the Web site is gone and no word about Darkscapes sales in a few years now.
  • Bad Moon Books? Switched from limited editions to trade paperbacks, but will only sell through their own Web site, not allowing the discounts needed to sell through distributors, so sales of Amara’s Prayer have been pretty much non-existent.
  • Permuted Press? What, do you live under a rock?

My favorite vampire Gabrielle Faust blew the lid off what’s going on there. I received an e-mail from Permuted Press’s president, Michael Wilson, last week, but with the stress of getting benchmark tests ready at school, I didn’t give it the attention it deserved until I saw Gabrielle’s post. The company has decided to stop releasing paperback versions of most of the titles it had under contract. This would have included the three they contracted from me this past summer.

I entered that contract reluctantly, and after quite a bit of negotiation. I did it because I enjoyed several Permuted titles published in the company’s early days under different ownership, and because Gabrielle was working with the company as an author and in the publicity department and said she believed the company was about to do big things. Well, they did. They switched her title from print with e-book to e-book only the week it was supposed to be released.

I’m not interested in seeing The Prometheus Syndrome, Scratch, and The Living Dark released only in electronic format, so I asked to have my contract terminated and all rights returned. Permuted Press granted that request in less than 12 hours. It was a very cordial parting.

What will I do with the books? I don’t know. At this point I’ve about given up on any and all small press publishers. I know, I know, I’ve said that before. But for real now. If I can spring for cover art I’ll probably release them through my own MoonHowler Press. Why give up most of my royalties for paltry sales to someone who may or may not pay me or stay in business for the life of the contract when I can publish the books myself and be wholly responsible for their success or failure? I would rather not self-publish, but honestly, any stigma still clinging to that method can’t be as bad as the stigma of being tied to an unreliable company beyond my control.

For the moment I will continue trying to find representation that will market my young adult fiction to major publishers, but for adult horror, it looks like self-publishing is the way to go for now. I know there’s a lot of horrible stuff being self-published, but I hope you, the reader, will sample some of mine and work by other authors who have chosen this path and support us with your buying power.

Inheritance update, plus more

Inheritance front low resStone Thread Publishing has my novella Inheritance up for pre-order on the Smashwords site. You can reserve your copy right here. It will be available through Amazon’s Kindle on the April 1 release date. Also, issues between Stone Thread and Apple have been resolved, so it will be available in that format, too. But I could make it so that you don’t have to wait …

That’s right. All you have to do is show me that you are a legitimate book reviewer. Do that and I”ll send you a review copy in PDF, MOBI, or EPUB format.

You can read my full description of the story in my original announcement about Stone Thread acquiring the book

MoonHowler Press will release a paperback version and likely an audio version as well.

Speaking of free, how’d you like an audiobook? To celebrate the shara audio coverrelease of Shara in audio format Audible has given me promotion codes to allow listeners/readers to download a free copy. You can use the codes to claim your free copy of any of my audiobooks. (Okay, you can use them for any book, but you wouldn’t use a freebie from me to download somebody else’s book, right?) The first three volumes of The Werewolf Saga are now available in audio format. I’m hoping to have Nadia’s Children available later this year.

To claim any of these freebies, just leave a comment and let me know where to send the audio code and/or what format you want for Inheritance, or send me an e-mail at STEVE(AT)STEVENEWEDEL(DOT)COM. Once again, a review would be appreciated.

You know what? If you’re willing to do a review, I’ll send you any volume of The Werewolf Saga in PDF format. This is for a limited time.