Category: publishing

Office politics from the seclusion of my desk chair

angst, HWA, personal, publishing, World Horror, writing life April 19, 2016

Who knew that one would have to deal with office politics even when one works alone?

I didn’t.

Okay, I mean, I know I don’t live in a vacuum, and do still deal with people, so it couldn’t go away completely, but I did hope that the DRAAAAAHMA would be minimal. It trickles in. Last week was more of a deluge. And it was a thousand times worse for some of my friends and fellow writers.

Once I started seriously writing, it didn’t take long for me to realize what a huge place the writing world really is. I decided to join a couple writers’ organizations. At the time, the Mystery Writers’ of America and the Romance Writers’ of America were my two choices (my graduate thesis was a mystery with a bit of romance). I ended up writing horror and mystery, so here I am now… a member of MWA since 2010, Horror Writers’ Association since 2011 (I still have my welcome email from then-president Rocky Wood), and International Thriller Writers since 2014.

I consider the HWA my “home” organization.

I am not going to pretend that I have been around in these organizations as long as many other writers. I started writing later(ish) in life than many writers. There are folks who have been involved for a lot of years. I tip the hat of respect to those who have weathered some of what has come before me.

I’m not sure what I expected when I joined the HWA. There have been some really wonderful opportunities– pitch sessions at HWA-sponsored events, panels and seminars, classes, other programs I have not taken advantage of. However, I see a few things that make me go hmmm.

Two of these hmmmm things share space: exclusivity/non-transparency and conflict of interest. To a lesser degree, availability and dissemination of information is another problem, mostly because the website is such a pain to navigate.

Please don’t accuse me of being merely a hanger-on. I volunteered during one of our conferences. It was not a good experience, which speaks to the exclusivity problem the HWA is facing. I was not made to feel as if I was a part of the organization. I didn’t go into volunteering even expecting a pat on the back (from other volunteering I do, I know that doesn’t happen), but it would have been nice to have questions answered when I asked them.

Before I go any further, I would like to recognize and show appreciation for current HWA president, Lisa Morton. She removed her work from Stoker consideration while she serves. Given the rumors that abound (and as far as I personally know, JUST rumors) regarding nominees and winners relationship with the board, she did the right, if painful, thing.

Many of the processes the HWA uses are not transparent. There was recently a problem with a juror for the Stoker awards. Chaos ensued after this juror himself made public his position. If the jurors were listed on the website, those concerned enough with who makes up those juries could check and then communicate with the board directly and potentially avoid the public flap we just saw. We (“we” in the grand sense of “we”) would have nothing to complain about if we don’t catch it. I understand that the identities of the jurors are kept on the down low  in order to help prevent people from harassing them, but I don’t think it’s in the best interest of the organization.

I’m also talking about people in positions of power who could possibly damage, or at least put up some roadblocks to, careers. Being put in infuriating situations that I can do absolutely nothing about without potentially being blacklisted. In the last week, I’ve watched that happen and I’ve watched some of the fallout. It’s not easy being a writer not firmly established in a genre. There’s no room for mistakes or perceived insults. It’s terrifying. And when someone in that position of power takes advantage of their clout… well, it’s a game changer.

More transparency and fewer influential people at levels of authority would go a long way in making the HWA more useful to authors in general.

I know these things are very difficult, given the scarcity of volunteers. Finding new ways to attract volunteers is another issue. I’m not talking about money-oriented things. Something like a pre-registration gathering for volunteers interested in one would be great. It would be a way to get questions answered and familiarize everyone with faces. When I volunteered, I didn’t even know who I could turn to with questions.

HWA is an organization poised to be able to do a lot of good for writers. I think the org needs to decide what the top priority really is and make that clear.

Because I, for one, really hate the office politics.

 

 

Derailment and getting personal

angst, avoidance, intellectual property, personal, publishing, writing life, writing peeves, writing process February 17, 2016
train derailment

Oh no!

This is a tough blog post to write. There’s nothing inherently negative… nothing catastrophic has happened in my life to change things irrevocably… but I’m not good at personal. I tend to be fairly private, especially where emotions are concerned. They make me… uncomfortable. But no anxiety, friends, I have no terrible, life-altering news.

This is also tough to write because I have so much to say and so many ways I could approach it. And some things that are at the heart of my problems I can’t say much about. I’m surprised and grateful that I’ve had a few people approach me about resuming blogging (mostly the reviews… who knew?), some of whom I don’t know at all.

The third reason it’s so painful is that I feel like I’ve failed. I’m not good at admitting this. I’m also not good at compartmentalizing. When I feel anxiety, it bleeds into much of the rest of my life. The recent stressors in my life made feeling joy in creating a little difficult.

But I have to start somewhere, right?

Here’s my biggest problem: I haven’t been writing as much as I need to. I am still working on Theo’s next story, and I have had a few new ideas pop up, but I’ve allowed discouragement and distraction to really get in the way. It’s not exactly writers’ block, I don’t think, it’s more like writers’ avoidance. And using the excuse of being incredibly busy and not commanding my writing time.

Busy-ness first. Two years ago my husband and I started talking about making Pittsburgh our permanent home. We’d always imagined living somewhere on the coast after the sprogs leave home, but the longer we stay here, the more we love it. If we were going to commit to da ‘Burgh, we needed different living arrangements. And if we were going to commit to new living arrangements, we wanted to move closer to the sprogs’ school and build a house. We bought 30 acres north of Pittsburgh and began the process of designing our house. After working with our first builder for almost a year, we fired them. This summer we found a new architect and builder. The new builder folded in December. So we’re on our third build team and still barely have a foundation for our beautiful home. This is a full-time job. I have never experienced anything so frustrating. I don’t know if it’s just that I’ve finally given up on trying to control the build process or somehow I sense that the third time is a charm, but I feel like I can allow this build team to take some of this off my hands. It’s still a lot of work, and a HUGE source of stress, but I can’t go on as preoccupied as I was with the project. Building a house is a temporary endeavor… writing is for the rest of my life.

And the icing on this shit cake… is something I can’t really discuss. Let me just paint this picture… Imagine you’ve created something you are very attached to. You kind of love this thing you created and you are a smidge protective of it. Then someone comes along, changes one tiny detail of this thing you love, claims to base it on something it really has nothing in common with, slaps a different name on it, and sells it. Somethingsomething intellectual property. I believe this is the biggest source of my avoidance. Why create when it can be taken from you?

There are some colleagues who know the details of this situation. The hardest thing to hear was that I have to get over it, stop being so sensitive, suck it up, etc. That stung (partially correct, yes, but not helpful in the least). A bit of my support system shattered that day and I’ve struggled to rebuild it. It became abundantly clear to me that although writing is my dearest love, the business of publishing and protecting one’s property is something I despise with the ferocity of a thousand thousand suns.

Let me be very clear on something: this is in NO WAY reflective of Blood Bound Books. They have been supportive throughout, and I am still grateful to work with them. (Hi, Marc and Joe!)

So here’s what I’m going to do. I’m aiming at updating this blog twice a week. One review, and one update on what I’m doing or writing-related discussion. I’m also reinstating my daily word count goal on any project. My priority is Theo, but if I can’t summon him, I’ll work on anything.

If you have advice for me, leave it in the comments. I welcome it. If you’ve gotten this far, you have my gratitude.

Book Club for Horror Enthusiasts

book clubs, book review, genre fiction, mixed genre, publishing, reading, reading with a purpose February 7, 2014

Hey everyone!

For a last several months, I’ve been a member of the DarkFuse Book Club. For a flat fee, you receive many, many titles delivered to you for your ereader. If you enjoy horror, particularly horror that isn’t mainstream, and if you enjoy supporting a great publisher and its authors, please do check this out. This has been a really great bargain and I’ve received some titles I’ve truly enjoyed (I will be reviewing some of them in the coming weeks).

I am in no way affiliated with DarkFuse, nor did they ask me to write this. I’m just really pleased with what they’ve offered and I don’t want it to go away. If you love horror and want to support the community, check it out. It’s 100% worth it. I linked to it above, but here’s the link anyway: http://www.darkfuse.com/book_club/

Have a great weekend and happy reading!

Special pre-release sale and pre-orders!

editors, genre fiction, Habeas Corpse, marketing, publishing, reading, release, SHU WPF, zombies October 23, 2013

I started to type the title of this post as BIG NEWS! HUGE NEWS! and then realized that I *might* want to retain a smidge of dignity.

I don’t know why, because I am truly excited for you to finally meet Theo!

First thing, here’s the cover in its entirety… and seriously, Mike Arnzen wrote the most awesome blurb ever.

Habeas Corpse final cover

Here’s the whole blurb:

“Dexter meets Deadite in Nikki Hopeman’s HABEAS CORPSE — and what a treat this novel is. It’s rare that a debut novel can reignite a subgenre, but Nikki Hopeman’s book just might be the most clever zombie story to hit the shelves in quite some time. Hopeman writes a book with brains, in every way:  fun and funny, gory and glorious, this witty tale of an undead ‘Riser’ who bends his unique talents toward investigating crime has single-handedly resurrected my interest in brain-sucking freaks.  Such a clever premise.  I can’t wait to read her next one… but till then I think I’ll happily just read this one again!” — Michael Arnzen, Bram Stoker Award-winning author of Play Dead.

I had the privilege of working with Dr. Arnzen at Seton Hill, and he’s amazingly talented and a really wonderful teacher. I was floored by the blurb and am humbled.

So, on to business!

Habeas Corpse is available at a special pre-release price of $2.99 for the Kindle only for a few days. Get yours here. You can also preorder the paperback edition here.

This has been such an incredible journey for me. I owe a huge shout-out to RJ Cavender, who helped make the book what it is and Marc Ciccarone and Joe Spagnola of Blood Bound Books for seeing the potential in Habeas Corpse. They’ve been so great to work with.

And now it’s up to you, my lovely readers. I hope you love Theo in all his zombie dorkiness as much as I do.

Blogging is rough work (or I think it would be if I did it more often)

agents, conventions, genre fiction, Habeas Corpse, idols, KillerCon, marketing, Mistresses of the Macabre, publishing, release, World Horror September 30, 2013

Hey there intrepid readers!

Seriously? Have I been so remiss about posting that I haven’t actually written a blog entry since February??

*puts self in blogger time-out*

I’m equally bad about tweeting. Twitter is overwhelming to me, so I generally don’t use it. I do like Facebook, so if you like my blog, come like my FB author page, too (just click the link there). I am a little better about posting to my FB page than I am here.

So anyway… things have been busy since I last posted. Lots of writing, plenty of editing, a motorcycle accident that left me with a broken elbow and some awesome bruises, a couple of conferences, a retreat, the loss of a dear friend. I’ll spare you an epic post and just write about one thing at a time. You can come back for more later.

In June I went to New Orleans for World Horror. This was my third HWA convention, and I always have a blast. I did not, however, enjoy New Orleans. The whole trip started off wrong when my flight down was canceled (this has never happened to me… like, a complete cancellation) due to poor crew scheduling. How does that happen? Anyway, the flight was canceled, which meant two whole different flights, and I got in almost six hours later than I was supposed to. I think I got to the hotel around 1AM, and I was feeling pretty pissy because I’d actually gotten up at 3AM to make the flight that was canceled before the airline (*cough* United) even contacted us. It was hot (like REALLY hot… New Orleans in June…) and the smell in the French Quarter was… was… Let’s just say every time I left the Hotel Monteleone I said to anyone standing within earshot “WHAT THE FUCK IS THAT SMELL??” My best guess is it had something to do with the fact that the French Quarter is below sea level, so nothing drains, there’s trash out 24/7, human *substances* in the street and it’s all mingling and baking that incredible heat. I have what might be called an acute sense of smell, perhaps to make up for my terrible hearing, and it was torment.

That said, the Hotel Monteleone was gorgeous. The beignets were oh so yum. The company was second to none. I had the opportunity to speak with some of my writing heroes and they knocked my socks off. The panels were great, particularly the women in horror panel. I spoke with an agent who’s interested in seeing some of my work, and I’m hoping to have good news on that front in a few months. I was asked to sign a few copies of Mistresses of the Macabre at the mass book signing, which was an awful lot of fun, and I finally got to meet Lori Michelle, my editor for Mistresses. Here are some pictures from World Horror Con 2013:

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Panel on writing dialogue with some of my peeps.

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Panel on working with an editor with my own fab editor, RJ Cavender.

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And a panel on women in the horror genre with Lucy Snyder.

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The Walgreens in New Orleans carries alligator heads.

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Sign on Bourbon Street.

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Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop and Bar. Really just a bar. It was built between 1722 and 1732 and is believed to be the oldest building in the US used as a bar. No electric lights. Questionable odor and the guy in the banana hammock out front really added pizzazz.

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Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo.

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The Hotel Monteleone has no 13th floor. Where is it?!?!

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Random view of Bourbon Street.

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Cafe Beignet, just a block away from the Hotel Monteleone.

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My husband and mentor/brother-from-another-mother waiting for beignets and coffee.

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BEIGNETS!! I tried my first one and proclaimed, “It’s a funnel cake!!” (I was raised in Pennsylvania Dutch country). Scott promptly gave me the smackdown and said,”NO! It’s a BEIGNET. If you call it a funnel cake, it’s a SNACK. If you call it a beignet, it’s BREAKFAST!”

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I tried to keep my nose buried in a cup of coffee most of the time so I didn’t have to smell the air.

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My new friend.

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How can a writer NOT like a place called THE BACK SPACE BAR?

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Here we were waiting to take a vampire tour, which I was convinced would be full of delicious cheesiness and perhaps people jumping out and yelling boo, but ended being the highlight of the trip.

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See why I thought the vampire tour would be cheese-a-licious? Nope, he was very knowledgeable about NOLA history and gave a fantastic tour.

World Horror Con is always super awesome, and besides the odor of New Orleans, this year didn’t disappoint.

I’ll write a post on the SHU In Your Write Mind later and also one about KillerCon, which I’m just recovering from.

I do have some excellent news on the publication front… we have a release date for Habeas Corpse! On November 2, 2013, the world will meet Theo. Write it on your calendar and buy a copy! Buy three! Buy one for your mom! I’m really excited, and even more so since I met Marc Ciccarone and Joe Spagnola of Blood Bound Books at KillerCon. They’ve been great to work with and are genuinely fun guys. I’m glad to be working with them.

So NOVEMBER 2!!

Till next time!

Out with the old, in with the new

publishing, reading, releases, writing and technology, writing life December 31, 2012

Happy New Years’ Eve to all my friends!

I finally convinced my webmaster to update my website. He’s still cursing over adding cover art, but he’ll get there. Or I’ll take his cookies.

2012 was a good year for me… books were completed, short stories written, submissions sent, my first professional writing contracts were signed. As I sit here with my trusty laptop and a cup of coffee, I think back on a year that wasn’t bad at all.

On the horizon is 2013. I’m so excited to move forward and see my projects in print and continue these fabulous professional relationships. I see many good things in the future, and I wish the same for all my readers and friends.

Finally! A Big Announcement!

Habeas Corpses, marketing, publishing, writing life December 7, 2012

Drum roll please… Okay, just imagine one or something. Just lots of fanfare and whatnot and whatever you do, DO NOT imagine me doing an obnoxious happy dance. Because I don’t need to pay the therapy bills for that mental anguish.

On to business!!

I’m thrilled to finally be able to announce that I’ve signed with Blood Bound Books to publish my horror novel, HABEAS CORPSES.

Yes, they chose to keep a variation of my working title. I’m very happy about that, since it took a long time and a genius suggestion from a good friend to end up with that title.

Editing fun!

Editing fun!

 

We’re in the editing stages now and I’m lucky to be working with RJ Cavender. I’ll write a blog post about the process in the near future, but for now I’ll just say that this will be a better, stronger story with his guidance. I have a graduate degree in writing, but I’m learning a ton while doing these edits.

I can’t wait for everyone to meet my zombie.

I’ll keep everyone updated on artwork and release dates from here at the blog and also on my website. I’m absolutely thrilled to be working with everyone at Blood Bound Books and can’t wait to share this story with everyone!

Tagged again! Questions about Habeas Corpse

publishing, writing life, zombies November 30, 2012

The excellent writer Kristin Dearborn tagged me in another round of blog questions. Kristin’s book Trinity is available right now from DarkFuse. Go get one!

Each week an author provides his or her answers to the ten questions below and then tags five additional writers, each of whom answers the questions on the subsequent Wednesday (I’m early, since I have a busy few days ahead of me), again tagging five writers, and so on.

1. What is the working title of your next book?

I’m currently working on the final edits of my novel Habeas Corpse, and I’m writing the first draft of the next book in my Corpse series, Edas Corpse. Since Habeas Corpse is the first in the series and will be published first, we’ll take a look at it in this post.

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

This novel actually started as a short story. I’m a big fan of The Walking Dead and Dexter. I also love Richard Matheson’s “The Funeral,” particularly the humor elements. The original short story featuring my zombie, Theo Walker, also included vampires and ghosts and was a humorous take on what a police force might be like if it included the undead. After a few of my beta readers took a look at the short story, they told me the idea had novel potential, so I revised my idea into what is now Habeas Corpse.

3. What genre does your book fall under?

I’ve struggled with this question for quite awhile now. This novel has elements of horror, humor, and mystery. It just didn’t fit into any one genre. I had no idea how best to market this story, so I actually am working with a professional editor to help me refine the story enough to classify it. Now I can pretty comfortably call it a horror novel. There’s a great deal of dark humor and, yes, zombie gore.

My vision of Theo... just make his complexion a little grayer.

My vision of Theo… just make his complexion a little grayer.

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Oh, geez. This is fun, because I tend to find pictures of my characters online to help me have a clear picture of what they look like. I find it helps me with consistency– no blue eyes turning brown halfway through the novel. The actor who I chose to help me with Theo is James McAvoy, in his rumpled, geeky glory. Detective Gavahan is played by Goran Visnjic, no doubt. Marjorie Frey would be played by Zhang Ziyi and Kaley Cuoco would play Shelby.

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

Zombie Theo Walker is a forensic technician with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police… and the evidence is tempting.

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

At this point in my career, I’m not an advocate of self-publishing. I have a feeling Habeas Corpse will be published by a small press.

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

I started the novel version of Habeas Corpse in May, 2011 and had a completed first draft by the end of the year. It was a really rough draft, though, and I went through a lot of revisions. I’d say I had a first decent draft done by March, 2012.

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

I hate making comparisons, but I’ve been told Habeas Corpse is kind of a mash-up of The Walking Dead, Dexter, CSI, and True Blood. I can’t get a bigger compliment than that. I think the Dexter comparison, more the books than the show, is probably closest.

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Like I mentioned above, Matheson’s “The Funeral” definitely sparked this story for me. I love the combination of different characters in the short story. Jeff Lindsay’s Dexter rolled together with the zombie mythos intrigued me. What if Dexter’s Dark Passenger wasn’t a secret? What if it was something he struggled with everyday and everyone expected him to make a stupid move? What would it be like to live under the pressure of scrutiny just because of what you are? I’m also a science nut, which definitely comes into play here.

10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Habeas Corpse is set twelve years post-zombie apocalypse. There’s a bit of social commentary in the story concerning zombie rights, since they’re integrating into society. The world is a different place. It’s also set in the great city of Pittsburgh, so anyone with a soft spot for the Steel City will appreciate the details. My science background was of use in Habeas Corpse, and much of the forensic information is as accurate as I could figure. I actually met Dr. Cyril Wecht while I was working revisions, and he’s the inspiration for Dr. Libitin.

So who’s up next? I’m going to tag Ann Kopchik, Jenn Loring, Patricia Lillie, Carla Anderton, and Natalie Duvall.