Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Next Big Thing (Week 28)

I'm very grateful for being asked to participate in The Next Big Thing, which Jayne Denker is spreading across the blogosphere.

1- What is the working title of your book?

The latest is The Fall; we’re also launching the submission request for the next anthology, which has a working title of Summer Burn.

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

This time last year we were finishing up what became SpringFevers, the first anthology from Elephant’s Bookshelf Press. We didn’t have a title for the collection yet. All we had was an organizing framework. Spring Fevers is a collection of relationship stories. But as we were coming up with Spring Fevers, our editorial team suggested that we do more anthologies and use the seasons as a connecting theme. From there sprouted The Fall, which as a title lent itself to sharing tales from the apocalypse. Of course, with the hoopla and concern about the Mayan calendar predicting a massive change in the world as we know it on December 21, 2012, we thought this would be the perfect year to do The Fall, so we hustled ourselves right into another project.

In a sense, Summer Burn will be somewhat of a mix of the previous two anthologies, in that we’ll focus on relationships that are by their very nature short-lived. The emphasis will be on the burn rather than the summer. One of the questions to be explored is whether a relationship is meant to last or not.

3- What genre does your book fall under?

It’s an anthology, and the stories in The Fall touch on a variety of genres. We have what might be considered “traditional” apocalyptic tales – stories of individuals and communities dealing with war or plague or some version of destruction and its aftermath – as well as atypical apocalyptic tales that share a sense of humor. I think readers will be pretty surprised to find a lot of laughs on the path to Armageddon. But to be more specific, you’ll find Young Adult, Steampunk, Romance, Fantasy, and some straight forward

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

Hmm, that’s actually difficult for me. I’ll try to answer for the story I wrote, “The Last Day of Fall,” which focuses on four people who decide they need to leave the relative safety of where they live after a devastating string of terrorist attacks left it a fallow field. I have images in my mind of who these people are, but I purposely left the physical details of the characters rather vague. I picture the main characters, Michael and Beth, to be in their mid-twenties. In my mind, he’s slim, dark-haired, probably still fights off the occasional pimple. She’s small and lithe with an athlete’s build. I suspect there’s any number of young up-and-coming actors who could fit those roles. I’d need to do a casting call and whip through their comp cards before setting up an audition.

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

The Fall is an exploration of the apocalypse, with glimpses of ancient prophecies, technological Armageddon, failures of government, a distracted deity, and yes, zombies sharing the moment with love, yearning, humor, and hope.

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

The Fall, like Spring Fevers, is published by Elephant’s Bookshelf Press, which is the LLC I launched earlier this year. They both contain stories by agented authors as well as those who are still seeking representation. I do not have an agent currently, but I do intend to seek representation when my novel-in-progress is ready to submit. I value the control of independent publishing, but I also respect the advantages of traditional publishing.

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

The short answer is about six months. After the necessary prep work we did as a team, we launched a request for submissions back in April and made decisions on stories as we received them. The submission deadline was in August, but we’d already been editing the previously approved stories before then. We were scheduled to publish on October 29. If that date sounds ominously familiar, it’s because Hurricane Sandy swept through much of my home state of New Jersey that same day. 

I lost power in the midst of applying for the copyright online and had to delay publication a few days. Even as they expressed sympathy for my situation, everyone involved in the publication of The Fall found a certain level of irony that a collection of stories about the apocalypse was itself affected by a disaster of almost apocalyptic proportions. In the days immediately after the storm, I was able to do what I needed to publish  aided by the generator at the first aid squad where I’m a member.

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

This is a horrible thing to admit as publisher, but I’ve not fully compiled that comparison. I think it’s a small field because it’s not very lucrative. Instead, I’m competing against the enormous number of inexpensively produced independent publications, so spreading the word has been critical. Indeed, that’s really what we’re trying to do overall in Elephant’s Bookshelf Press. My goal with these anthologies is to help build awareness for each of these authors. Ultimately, when the first of these writers attracts broader attention with their debut novels, their new fans will look for their earlier works. We’ll be here and good readers will continue to be exposed to the family of writers in the Elephant’s Bookshelf Press catalogue. Personally, I love the idea that my little company could help readers discover not only the early works of authors they know from novels they love but also other talented authors who might not yet have a publishing deal.

9- Who or What inspired you to write this book?

The first anthology, Spring Fevers, arose from an email conversation between writer Cat Woods and me. I’d been thinking of exploring independent publishing and an anthology seemed like a good way to get started. I decided to be a bit more entrepreneurial with the project and created a publishing company. The goal of Elephant’s Bookshelf Press is to help emerging authors establish themselves. We’ve published the first stories of writers I think will eventually be able to make a fine career out of their writing. We also have stories by several agented writers whose debut novels are scheduled to be released within the next year or two.

10- What else about your book might pique the reader's interest?

The final story in The Fall is one that readers will either love or hate. It’s called “The Last Sacrifice,” and it’s written by a South African writer. It’s a disturbing tale that depicts a tribal high priest whose faith to his gods is total, despite a series of disappointments when the gods seem to disapprove of the sacrifices that have been made. I think readers are going to either love or hate that one. There won’t be much middle ground. It’s very intense.

Tagged for next week (Week 29) are some of my very talented writer friends. Check out their blogs next Wednesday, December 19, when it's their turn to post answers to these same questions about their own works-in-progress!

Ryan Graudin (Ryan Writes)

Sunday, December 09, 2012

Q&A: Author R.S. Mellette

R.S. Mellette is a fiction writer, screenwriter, actor of stage and screen and a font of clever ideas that translate into enjoyable, engaging, and fascinating characters. He is currently between agents. In 2012, he had short stories published in each of the anthologies produced by Elephant’s Bookshelf Press. He shared some thoughts with us about the similarities and differences between writing for film and television versus writing for print as well as a little bit about what shaped him as a writer.

EB: How long have you been working in the entertainment industry?
RSM: Depends on what you want to call working. I caught the bug my junior year of high school when I realized that my dream of becoming an astrophysicist might not be within my skill set. I was acting in a school-sponsored show at the same time and was told in a serious way that I was good. That's when I decided to go into theatre.

If you want to count bill-paying jobs in the industry, I moved to Los Angeles in 1988 and started working at Universal Studios around 1990. Since then, I've been employed in one way or the other in the business. Sometimes I'm in an office doing work that could be in any other business. Sometimes I'm on a set with the director and producer keeping up with script changes. There have been times when I was in charge of everything and times I was a lowly extra.  I'd like more of the former.
EB: How does your background in theater, television, and film inform your writing?

The skills definitely transfer. In fact, most of the actors I worked with at North Carolina School of the Arts are now writers. Peter Hedges (What's Eating Gilbert Grape?) was a year ahead of me. In my acting group alone we had Mary Beth Bass (Follow Me), Richard Register (TV's Make It Or Break It) Bobby Bowman (Yes, Dear; My Name Is Earl; Raising Hope), Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games), just to name a few.
When actors train -- and I mean a university degree, study-as-hard-as-a-doctor-or-lawyer type of training -- they are really studying writers. A stage actor will say "I've done Mamet" or Simon, or Shakespeare, or Moliere, or whoever. By not only reading these stories, but getting inside the characters, seeing everything from the character's point of view -- literally -- then joining an ensemble to tell the story live in front of an audience for immediate feedback, an actor learns very quickly what works and what doesn't. We also see words on the page turned into a real thing, like a set, costumes, sound, lights, etc. This helps the budding writer learn what words do inside other people's heads.

As I've become more of a novelist, I constantly marvel at the little things that work in all of the arts. In college we actors were told to make a list of active verbs, since that's what we play. An actor can't play an emotion. We can only try to achieve a goal against great obstacles. Any writer who doesn't find that sentence familiar needs to study more.
When writing, I try to approach each character as if I had to play the role live on stage -- where a slow scene feels like death. I could never do that to another actor, nor my characters.

EB: Can you share a few tips you’ve learned from screenwriting that translate well to novels? 
RSM: Working on Xena: Warrior Princess, I learned the importance of the "Act Out" -- the beat just before they cut to commercial. This is the same as a chapter end in books. In TV, like in theatre, these need to have an extra strong hook, since the audience will literally walk away for a while. You have to have a big story beat to make them want to come back.

When I got into film editing I learned things like "always cut on motion." If there's nothing happening on screen just before a cut, then the scene will feel slow painfully slow, even though it's really just milliseconds too long. In a novel, if there are too many words in a sentence, the read feels slow -- regardless of the style.
There are a thousand other little things like this in my head.

EB: What is Dances With Films?
Dances With Films is a film festival in Los Angeles with the motto: “No Stars. No Politics. No Sh*t.” My film premiered there in 2000 and won best screenplay. I've been working with them ever since.

Again, the similarities between industries is fascinating. A screenwriter/director will have a project that they'd like to be distributed by a major studio, just like a novelist has manuscripts they'd like to have published by one of the big six. The filmmaker may make the movie, just like the writer may self-publish the book. The difference is the filmmaker then has to find a distributor to sell his/her movie, where the writer has to sell individually.
Dances With Films gives uber-indie filmmakers a place to show their work. We break the ice for a lot of filmmakers. I guess in the publishing world it would be like having a convention where unpublished writers are chosen for the quality of their work to do a reading for a live audience. Sure, there might not be editors or acquisitions execs in the audience -- but having the feather in your cap of being chosen might help along the way.

EB: You’ve had some feathers in your cap from the television world. For example, a character you created for an Internet project happened to become the first to translate to screen. Please share what happened and how that came about.

RSM: It's kind of a long story, but I've gotten good at condensing it over the years. One of my first jobs on the lot at Universal was for Television Information Services. They did all of the computer stuff for TV production, sales, etc. When I left that job, I "floated" on the lot -- which is like being in an old-fashioned temp pool. I landed the job on Xena when a fax from the Hercules office in New Zealand landed on my desk. Someone handed it to me saying, "This came to the wrong number, throw it away." It was the final approval for the series budget on a new TV show, so I called the Renaissance office to ask if they were waiting on it... a couple of months later, I had a job.
Later, I ran into one of my old bosses from TVIS. He was doing this thing called a webpage for Xena. I was vaguely familiar with what that was and asked if he wanted to meet with the writers. I knew full well an idea would come out of that meeting, and that I'd be the only one available to write it. That's how The Xena Scrolls were created. A year later, when they did an episode based on my characters on the website, I got the story credit.

A year after that, when all my friends in TVIS were replaced by an entire department called New Media – and companies wanted to merchandise products based on my characters that were only on the website, and not in any episodes, the lawyers came in and it all got shot to hell. A few years after that, the WGA had a long strike asking for many of the same things I was back in 1995. I don't think either one of us got them.
Did I say I'd gotten good at condensing this? I lied.

EB: When did you start thinking of yourself as a writer first and actor or filmmaker second?
I've always written, but I never thought of myself as a writer until I temped as a writer's assistant on a Fox TV show called M.A.N.T.I.S. The writer I was working for asked me if I'd like to stay on full time. When I said yes, I knew I was putting acting on the back burner for long time.

After making my movie, JACKS OR BETTER, I wrote a script called HANNAH'S ADVENTURES IN SPACE, which did well in a couple of script contests and landed me two different managers, but everyone said it was such a big budget project that it couldn't sell without a built-in audience. I had been told for years that I should turn it into a book, but I didn't want to be one of those bad screenwriters who show up in theatres in Los Angeles trying to do their movie as a play so they can sell it as a film.
My beloved theatre is not their stepping stone.

My Dad has always been a struggling novelist, so I knew that writers felt the same way about their art as I did about mine. When I did decide to try Hannah's Adventures In Space as a novel, I worked hard to learn the art, the world, the culture of being a novelist. I worked with my Dad on that manuscript. He taught me a ton. Even with the suggestions I didn't agree with, I learned that I have a voice. Through a writing group here in LA and on Agent Query Connect, I polished even more.
Now I consider myself a writer -- be it stage, screen, or novel -- whatever is best for the story and the marketplace.

EB: That’s an important distinction I think a lot of writers don’t understand. How do you determine whether a story is a novel, a screenplay, or a play? 
RSM: In a word? Budget. (laughs).

I think the story is the story is the story, regardless of the medium in which it's told – but the telling of the story changes. You have to take advantage of what each format brings you. POV for example. In Hannah's Adventures, the screenplay, I can put the leads in different locations and cut between them even though Nadir, the sidekick, is the narrator. That's an excepted convention of film. The book is in first person, too, but the medium isn't so forgiving. Nadir had to be involved in every scene. At first, this stopped me dead in my tracks. My Dad and I worked hard on how to "introduce the evidence" into the story – but once we did, it became much stronger. Now, if I ever get to go back to the screenplay, I have to put those changes in where they help the telling of the story in a movie, and keep them out where they don't.
My current project, Billy Bobble Has a Magic Wand, started as a bad short story, became an even worse TV pilot, then a pretty good novel. At least I think so. Now, I've gone back to the TV pilot, taken a breath, and slowed my pace. A TV series gives a writer hours and hours of time to tell the story. Each episode is just a chapter or two. Characters can develop almost in real time. It's a whole new challenge, and a whole new field to run around in. I'm having fun.

EB: How do you approach a new story or novel? What spurs your ideas?
RSM: Damned if I know. If I'm actively trying to come up with a new story I try to get really, really bored. I wrote in high school that, if necessity is the mother of invention, then boredom is the father. If I give my brain nothing to do, it will start entertaining itself, then I just listen.

I also try to forget a new idea as soon as I get it. The ones that keep coming back are the ones worth working on. Right now I have ideas lined up like planes landing at LAX. My problem is juggling writing time, selling time, and life time. But every writer knows about that.
EB: Yes, indeed. I just saw an arrivals board appear in my mind with the titles of a dozen of my works in progress and works in a mental holding pattern. Seems like everything’s being delayed. Must be bad weather over Cleveland.

RSM: And don't you love it when someone says, "You're a writer? You know, I have an idea for a book..." You want to point to that board and say, "try another airline."
(Both laugh)

EB: Anyway, the stories that appeared in Spring Fevers and The Fall were both pieces you’d written years ago and had to revise to make a bit more accessible to a contemporary audience. In digging through your trunk, what have you found about your writing and how it’s progressed over the years?
RSM: I think every writer has those moments when they read some old work and think, "I wrote that!?" This can be an exclamation of joy or dread. I have a lot of stories in the trunk that I hope to burn before I die for fear of someone reading them -- but with “The Idea Exchange” (Spring Fevers) and “The Last Performance of the Neighborhood Summer Theatre Festival” (The Fall), I felt like I'd channeled some other, better, writer. Sure, they needed polishing, but not as much as I had thought they would.

That's the thing about short stories, there really is no good reason to write them except that you must. There is a lot of passion in short stories, and that almost always makes for great writing.
EB: I think that’s a great way to close. Thanks, R.S. for your time and sharing your experience with us.

RSM: Thank you.

The Elephant's Bookshelf

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Book and the Web site

It's alive! Ok, it's been live for a couple weeks now, but I've not posted it here, per se. The Fall: Tales from the Apocalypse is live and available via Amazon. We will make it available via other sites as well, but you can go to Amazon now and get it, go to our new Web site and get it (via Amazon....). Heck, if you have my number, you can call me and order it, but that's the least effective means at the moment.

By whatever means you prefer, I'd love to hear back about what you think about the collection. Go to Goodreads or Amazon and leave a review, or post a comment here or on the new site. Positive, negative, indifferent: All are welcome.

Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Still Waylaid by Sandy (and now her little friend's in town)

A moment that should have been about celebration is now about survival. No, that's not one of the stories in the new anthology from Elephant's Bookshelf Press: The Fall: Tales from the Apocalypse, but it could be.

No, I'm still without power, without heat, without phone, without train service to New York, and without much tolerance for those who lord their newfound electricity over those without. And as I type, there's snow falling in my neighborhood, as the latest nor'easter is blowing its way through town to see if he can knock down the trees that Sandy left standing but weak.

Enough about me. How are you all doing?

Have you seen The Fall? Do you know where to find it? Check out Elephant's Bookshelf Press, LLC, and you'll find what you need, or just go to Amazon and search for The Fall. And let us know what you think!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Q&A: Author Lori Sjoberg

LoriSjoberg grew up on a steady diet of science fiction and fantasy. Star Trek, Star Wars, Twilight Zone, Outer Limits – you name it, she watched it. That diet nourished her imagination, she says, and once adolescence hit, creativity plus hormones added up to a bevy of enticing story ideas. Her debut novel, a paranormal romance called Grave Intentions, will be released by Kensington Publishing in January 2013.

Lori, who also spends time on AgentQuery Connect (which is where I met her), spoke with me via email about her book and her writing life.

Elephant’s Bookshelf: You’ve done a wide variety of things in your adult life--worked in retail, financial services, insurance--and you grew up a lover of science fiction and fantasy. How did that add up to paranormal romance?

Lori Sjoberg: For a while it didn’t add up to much of anything. After college, I got so wrapped up in work (especially during the retail years, when I worked 60-70 hour weeks) I rarely had time to read. And if I did read, it was business related: self-help, industry education, motivational, etc. Strange as it sounds, I was reintroduced to the wonderful world of recreational reading by the wife of my then-boss. She talked me into reading the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. That reignited my passion for fiction. Recommendations from friends led me to Anita Blake and Sookie Stackhouse, which opened my eyes to the wonderful worlds of urban fantasy and paranormal romance.

EB: Does your work life inform your writing, or is writing a way to basically escape from your work life?

LS: For me, it’s an escape. My job is fairly analytical and structured in nature, so it’s nice to let the creative side come out and play. After a long day at the office, I let the left side of my brain take a breather while the right side gets a workout.

EB: What was it like to see the cover for your novel for the first time?

LS: It was quite a rush, although I must admit it took me a couple minutes to work up the courage to open the attachment. So much hinges on a book’s cover – if it doesn’t catch the eye, the reader might not be interested enough to click on the link. Same thing goes if the cover is hideous. Plus, I’d seriously considered self-publishing before receiving the offer from Kensington Publishing, so I already had a few cover ideas in mind. But the apprehension gave way to happiness and relief when I realized the folks in the art department had gifted me with an eye-catching cover.

EB: Considering how you’d spent some time thinking about the cover, how involved were you in the final decision?

LS: Very little. My editor worked closely with the art department to create the final cover image.

EB: How many manuscripts had you completed before the one that became Grave Intentions?

LS: I completed two full-length manuscripts (and a whole bunch of fan fiction short stories) prior to Grave Intentions. At the moment they’re tucked under the bed, where they will stay until I have the chance to give them a thorough rewrite.

EB: How is the impending release of your novel different from what you expected?

LS: Even though I’d heard about it from some of my author friends, I still wasn’t fully prepared for the time lag between the completion of final revisions and the release date. I was one of those kids who barely made it to Christmas without tearing open a present, so the next couple of months are going to be excruciating.

EB: What's next? Is your next novel in the writing stage, the editing stage, or the pre-production stage?

LS: I’m currently working on the sequel for Grave Intentions. At last check, it’s around 70 percent complete. For better or for worse, I tend to edit while I write. Once the manuscript is complete, I’ll send it to my beta readers for one final round of critiques/revisions before sending it off to my editor. If all goes according to plan, I’ll be submitting it to my editor at the end of this year.

EB: We look forward to seeing and hearing about your progress. Good luck, and thanks for sharing with us!

LS: My pleasure.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Q&A: Poet Caroline Hagood

In my meanderings through life, I often catch myself getting distracted by unexpected beauty and wit, especially when I step my toes into the puddles of joy that are writers' blogs.

One writer I discovered quite by accident, Caroline Hagood, has graced the electronic pages of this blog, back when she was still blogging at Culture Sandwich, where she posted poems, book reviews, interviews, and thoughts on art and culture in general. These days, she’s in a Ph.D. program at Fordham University, but she recently had her first book of poetry, Lunatic Speaks published by FutureCycle Press. As the Elephant’s Bookshelf blog begins its new incarnation as a brief rest stop for writers and readers of all stripes, I thought it fitting to allow a poet to deliver the invocation.

EB: How long have you been writing poetry?

CH: I've "written" since I was a dyslexic kid who couldn't read or write for years after everyone else, and my mom was kind and patient enough to write down my early "songs" that only she and my dad could possibly love.

EB: Do you follow a consistent process in your work or do you vary things as the ideas come?

CH: I try to type things into my electronic graveyard--what I call my computer file that's longer than I should ever share, which contains many unformed poem thoughts--every day. Then I try to form a finished poem out of this wreckage once a week. If anyone ever finds this password-protected document, I will feel very embarrassed and very sorry for them.

EB: Much of your work comes across as very personal. Do you fear you expose too much of yourself in your poetry or is there still a layer or two between you and your audience?

CH: There are definitely some layers there. I think people often assume that every (especially first person) poem is autobiographical, but, as others far sharper than I have noted, although there is always some kind of truth there, it just may not be conventionally factual. It would be like reading someone's dreams and thinking they all happened to the dreamer. For instance, although I wrote about it in my collection, I have never received a letter from a dinosaur, although I am very open to it.

And, yes, I fear that I expose too much of myself every day. My whole life is basically one big emotional risk, but I'm usually glad I took it.

EB: Thanks so much for sharing with us, Caroline.

CH: My pleasure.


Monday, October 01, 2012

The Fall: Tales From the Apocalypse

Faithful followers, you have not been forgotten. With the summer now in the rear view mirror and October upon us, I present to you the cover of The Fall!

Designed by Calista Taylor, the cover conveys exactly the feel I'd hoped to share. While the orange-hued clouds might be reflecting the fires of destruction in the distance, they might also be tint of the dawn of hope. The collection of fourteen stories by thirteen authors (it just worked out that way, I swear!) includes its share of dystopian images (and yes, more than a couple zombies), but it also includes humor, romance, and the promise of new beginnings.

The book is slated to be released on 10/29 and will be available in electronic form as well as print. If you enjoyed Spring Fevers, you'll be happy to see stories from Mindy McGinnis, Cat Woods, J. Lea López, A.M. Supinger, R.S. Mellette, and myself. But you'll also find several writers who will see their first Elephant's Bookshelf Press stories published, including Jean Oram, R.C. Lewis, Amy Trueblood, Alexandra Tys O'Connor, Patricia Carrillo, Ryan Graudin, and Judy Croome.

I'm very proud of what we've been able to produce, and I want to thank my production team of Cat Woods, Calista Taylor, Jean Oram, Mindy McGinnis, and R.C. Lewis who provided invaluable assistance through the entire process.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Preparing for the Apocalypse

Summer is essentially over. The kids are back in school. Temperatures are dropping, little by little. The skies are darkening earlier. Leaves are falling on the grass.

And here at the Elephant's Bookshelf, we've been busy in the background getting an anthology ready as well as a Web site for Elephant's Bookshelf Press. I won't guarantee the site will be ready by launch date, but that's definitely my target. This blog will continue to exist and be a major component of the site, which will also offer information on the next anthologies in the works and future submissions for anthologies and longer works. Yes, "elephans," we intend to publish novels. Maybe as soon as 2013.

In the meantime, I intend to make some updates to what we do here on the blog. Coming soon, for example, are more interviews with authors, editors, filmmakers, publishers, even some poets! I hope to make the Elephant's Bookshelf a regular blog tourist area for authors who want to promote their work. If some of you would like to write reviews of upcoming or newly released books (or even offer a new spin on your old favorites), please let me know.

As I prepare EBP for the fall (and The Fall) feel free to share some comments about what else you might like to see here and on the new site. You can leave a comment here or send me an email at, which for now is the official email of EBP, but that should be changing soon too.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Close to Deadline

The deadline to submit stories to be considered for our next anthology, The Fall, is fast approaching (it's Friday!), and I've been pleasantly surprised by the increasing number of emails I've received -- including those from writers I didn't know previously and others I didn't know were going to submit.

I have to admit, it really is thrilling to get those emails because it means other readers have shared their thoughts on Spring Fevers and the writers have taken a look to see whether Elephant's Bookshelf Press, LLC, a place worth being published.

Although several stories have been accepted and our copy editor is working with those authors, we also have a few that are awaiting a final thumbs up or thumbs down. So please don't fret if you've not heard a definite answer on the story yet. However, if you submitted and I didn't say anything whatsoever, please resend. I respond to all submissions as soon as I see them to make sure you know we received it.

So, once again, if you're considering submitting a dystopian, apocalyptic, or post-apocalyptic story (and we've allowed some leeway on those definitions), please send it to

We've also begun preparations for the next anthology, which would be published in the summer of 2013. More on that later.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Calling All Super Readers!

As one of my daughters' favorite cartoons says: Calling all Super Readers!

Did you love Spring Fevers? I don't mean just the story by your buddy or the one you wrote, I mean the whole enchilada, cover to cover, e-pixel to e-pixel (or whatever they're called.)

If so, I'd like to speak with you. It can be over the phone (my dime), or via email. Heck, I'll even send you an address if you prefer a written item of snail mail. Whatever way you prefer, that works for me.

What's in it for you? Well, the first five Super Readers will be sent a free copy of The Fall when it comes out. We're working hard to produce it and it's making progress. But part of what I'm looking for is how to make it and the next works of Elephant's Bookshelf Press also as strong as they can be, too.

Super Readers, please send a note to You can even use Super Reader in the subject line. You deserve it!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Guidelines for the Coming Apocalypse: A Call for Submissions

I’ve decided to expand the pool of writers for the next anthology from Elephant’s Bookshelf Press. In light of this, it behooves me and our editorial team to share some clear guidelines about what we’re looking for.

One thing shouldn’t need to be said, but I’ll say it anyway: We’re looking for quality. We’re not the Statue of Liberty. We’re not looking for your tired or poor stories. If you have one yearning to breathe the free air outside of the trunk where it’s sat for the past twenty years, make sure you give it some mouth to mouth. Inspire your manuscript with a healthy dose of vitality. That worked for some writers published in Spring Fevers.

What we’re looking for right now are submissions for The Fall. It will be an anthology of short stories that are dystopian, apocalyptic, or post-apocalyptic in nature. More to the point, they will deal with endings and subsequent beginnings. To be sure, we writers can be a depressing lot if left to our own maudlin devices. And some of the stories will carry a dark cloud along with them, which means we’ll need some that, perhaps, blow those clouds away and cleanse the palette and the prairie.

I’m looking for one submission per author. Sorry, no previously published stories. If it’s appeared on your blog already, let me know, but that is not an automatic kill in my book. Send submissions to The deadline is August 17. If you have something ready before then, you are most welcome to send it early. It will definitely help us stay on schedule. Sorry, there's no payment for an accepted story. .

These stories can take just about any form: science fiction; young adult; middle grade; heck, even romance if you can swing that. The restriction is erotica. It’s not that I don’t appreciate a well-told sexy story, but they're not always appreciated by readers – or writers whose stories appear right after the erotica, for that matter.

The maximum length is 10,000 words. That’s a maximum, not a target. None of the stories in Spring Fevers came close to five figures.

For ease of formatting and time-saving on the copyediting and final proofing, please adhere to the following format styles:

·         Use Times Roman;

·         12 pt. type;

·         1" margin all around;

·         Double-spaced lines;

·         Do not add extra line between every paragraph;

·         Instead of an extra line between a paragraph to denote a break, please use a single “#”;

·        Paragraphs indented 0.5". Please use the autoformat settings on Microsoft Word for paragraph indentations rather than manually inserting a tab or individual spaces. This feature is found under the ‘Paragraph’ format window;

·        Use a SINGLE SPACE following a period at the end of a sentence, NOT two spaces;

·        Use STRAIGHT QUOTES rather than SMART QUOTES. This is an autoformat/autocorrect feature in Word that, if checked, turns straight quote marks and apostrophes into ‘curly’ quote marks and apostrophes. This can cause formatting issues when the text is converted to a final font and style for publication. Under WORD OPTIONS, click on PROOFING, then on AUTOCORRECT OPTIONS, then make sure the line that says ‘Replace straight quotes with smart quotes’ is UNCHECKED.

Should you choose not to adhere to these guidelines, your story will still be considered. It’s an annoyance, but it’s not a deal breaker. The more you can do in advance, the faster the editing process will go and the cleaner and more consistent the final published book presentation will be.

Because that’s part of what we’re looking to create, too – a clean, consistent book that readers enjoy by authors whose work they want to read again and again. Ideally, you’ll discover that Elephant’s Bookshelf Press, LLC, will produce books and anthologies that entertain the reader and keep them thinking. A laugh here and there is also appropriate.

After all, whether you’re facing the end of the world, the end of a relationship, or the end of a blog post, it’s good to be able to smile and say, “Yeah, that was pretty darn satisfying.”

If you have additional questions, feel free to post a comment here, or you can send it to the email address above. A comment will allow me to respond for everyone. Because if you were confused, it’s possible others were too.

Thanks in advance to everyone!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Author Q&A: J. Lea Lopez

J. Lea Lopez writes women's fiction and erotica, as well as traditional stories. Two of her stories, "The Haricots Verts" and "The Adventures of Sasquatch," appeared in the relationship-themed anthology Spring Fevers, which was published earlier this year.

I reached out to her to get a little more information about what what went into those stories and how she likes to write.

Elephant’s Bookshelf: Tell us a little bit of the background of the stories that appeared in Spring Fevers. Were these inspired by anything in particular or just products of an imaginative mind?

J. Lea Lopez: “The Adventures of Sasquatch” began as a story I'd written a couple years ago for a contest in a magazine that required I cut it down more than I had wanted. I didn't win the contest, and ever since, the story has just been sitting on my computer. I thought it was a great fit with the theme for Spring Fevers. Plus, I was able to go back to the longer version. I polished it up and sent it on its way. The story was partially inspired by my own size 11 extra wide feet. Georgia's frustration with that aspect came straight from personal experience.

“The Haricot Verts” was sparked by the simple phrase "Tell him." It's that little subconscious voice in your head that talks to you, saying all the things you wish you could be honest enough to say. It also turned into a fun little exploration of the second person point of view.

EB:Do you like to experiment in your writing or are you more of a traditionalist?

JLL: I tend to keep to a more traditional form. I have certain preferences - minimal dialogue, not much focus on physical setting. Flash fiction is a fun place to experiment with things that are different, like the second person point of view in "The Haricots Verts." My novels are pretty standard form, though.

EB: The two stories are like night and day. One is a short vignette and the other is longer, fleshed-out story of a single mother who decides to finally put her best foot forward. If I may be so bold, do you prefer the quickie or the extended love story?

JLL: "Her best foot forward." Ha! Love the pun. But ask any woman, and I think she'll tell you there's a time and a place for both the quickie and the good old-fashioned lovemaki--er, love story.

The two stories really are very different. I love them both, but if you were making me choose, I'd have to say “The Haricots Verts” is my favorite. It has all the things I love: tension, a complex relationship, an undercurrent of sexual tension, and a sense of urgency, all in such a little space. It just tugs at something in me every time I read the story.

EB: Do you tend to work on multiple projects at once or one thing at a time?

JLL: I attempt multiple projects, but usually I end up not making much progress on any. For several weeks now, I've been stuck in the "thinking and scheming" frame of mind for about three different projects. I have to buckle down soon and start focusing on one first, then another, so I can actually get something accomplished.

EB: What are you working on?

JLL: I'm working on an erotic short story collection as well as polishing up my first novel, Sorry's Not Enough (not erotic), both of which will be out later this year. Sorry's Not Enough is the story of Charlotte's struggles with family, trust, sex, betrayal, and love. I'm also still in first draft mode with another novel, Confessions of a Non-Believer, about a young woman thrown into emotional and spiritual turmoil after the death of her fiance. Then, way on the back burner (see, I told you I try to do too much at once!) is my planned erotic novel series.
EB: We're looking forward to them, Jen. And we hope you'll find something in your trunk of stories to contribute to our next anthology. Thanks so much for sharing with us Jen!