Saturday, June 30, 2012

DJ Molles: The Remaining

I am very happy to have the opportunity post this interview with DJ Molles, author of the highly successful post-apocalyptic series: The Remaining. This is the first of several interviews I'll be posting with self-published authors that I believe show significant talent and deserve recognition.

Needless to say, if you haven't checked out DJ's work yet, do it now. NOW!! DO NOT WAIT!!

Seriously, I've read it, it's awesome. Here's the interview.

1: When did you first start writing, and what inspired you to do so?

I've been writing stories of some kind since I was old enough to type. When I was very young, my father read Tolkein and CS Lewis aloud in the evenings. I think hearing those amazing stories from Middle Earth and Narnia really got me thinking.

2: What other work have you done that your current readers may not be aware of?

I have about a dozen short stories, and a few books that sit languishing in the digital dungeon of my computer, most likely never to see the light of day. There are a few of them that I think I might be able to polish up so that people might enjoy them. I enjoy the current genre I'm writing in, but it's definitely not the only thing I write.

3: Where did you get the idea for The Remaining? How did the story come to fruition?

I'm very interested in the TEOTWAWKI genre, and the "prepping" movement. I also love "zombie" stories. So I wanted to see if I could combine these two loves of mine in an interesting and realistic way. I decided to write The Remaining simply because I wanted to write something that I enjoyed writing, and really had no intention of letting anyone read it. Then, when I was finished, I thought, "well, this is actually half decent...maybe someone else will like it."

4: Who are some of your influences/authors you admire? Favorite books?

Aside from the mountains of Star Wars fan fiction I devoured when I was a kid, the first adult novel I purchased was The Taking by Dean Koontz, and I've enjoyed his writing ever since. Jack Ketchum is another amazing author, that really took me by surprise because he's never made it big. I will say that I have to be cautious with my writing after reading a Cormac McCarthy novel, because his voice is so strong it tends to influence me a bit.

5: What plans do you have for stories outside of The Remaining universe?

I have one book that I wrote several years ago. It needs some work, but I still really like the story, so I would like to fix it and get it out there. I'll also admit that between The Remaining: Aftermath, and the third book that I'm writing now, I pounded out a good portion of another story I had rolling around inside my head. I'm actually really looking forward to finishing that story.

6: What are your thoughts on self-publishing vs. traditional publishing?

I hate to say it, but I think traditional publishing is a failing industry. And this is not based on any prejudice of mine, but simply on the overpowering digital age. I think if traditional publishing can get its act together and start selling their digital books at reasonable prices, they might eventually survive, and actually come out on top.
Self-publishing also has its flaws. It is to books what YouTube is to videos: most will be unseen, some will see mild success, and a select few will become huge. Because there are so many, it makes it difficult for the consumer to find the good ones. In a perfect world, traditional publishers would use things like Amazon's Kindle Store as a way to make their jobs easier. You can see how popular a product is without spending a dime on it. Unfortunately, they're very stuck in their ways.

7: Would you accept a book deal from a major publishing house if the terms were favorable?

At this point in time I have complete and total control over my story, without interference from other outside sources trying to make me fit a mold. I'm able to write what I want, and not what someone else thinks the public wants. That being said, I wouldn't be opposed to a traditional publisher, but the terms would have to be VERY favorable.

8: What advice would you offer to a first time writer?

Write because you love to write. If you enjoy writing the story, people will enjoy reading it.

9: Who would you like to give special acknowledgment for helping you achieve success as an author?

My dad has been a very encouraging force in my life. I feel bad for all the crap I made him read when I was a kid, because I thought I had written some amazing tale at 10 years old. He was always encouraging, but honest. If he didn't like something, he would tell me why. I think that helped a lot.

10: Who does your (awesome) cover art?

My wonderful wife is responsible for my cover art. She is a professional photographer ( and she does amazing work.

11: How did you feel when you published your first book, and what kind of reaction did you get from friends, family, or co-workers when they found about it?

I'll be honest, I kept it very quiet. I was almost a little embarrassed by it. Only my family and close friends knew, and they were very supportive. Then it started to do really well, and people started coming up to me and saying, "Hey! I didn't know you wrote a book!" It still kind of surprises and humbles me when that happens.

12: How did you feel when you broke the 10K copy sold mark.

I set out with extremely low expectations, because I hate to be disappointed. So for me it was the 500 copy mark. Up until that point I had kept telling myself that it was only my wife's facebook friends being nice and buying my book. Then I looked at 500 and thought, "Not even my WIFE has that many facebook friends. Holy crap, people are actually reading this!" I think that was the first time it hit me that complete strangers were actually reading and enjoying my writing.

I hope you enjoyed this, and in the next few days I'll announce who the next author interviewed will be. Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Powers of Ten

It's been quite a while since I've made a blog post.

It's also been quite a while since I was on Facebook, and there is a good reason for that: I've been trying to finish the sequel to No Easy Hope. This week, I finally completed the manuscript and I can't tell you how exciting it is to know that this project is almost complete. I have to do a couple of rounds of editing to polish things up a bit, but it probably won't be more than a couple of weeks before the finished product is ready to go. The cover art has been ready for a couple of months now, thanks to Keary Taylor, and now that I know how to properly format and convert my own documents for upload to Amazon and Nook, things should go much more smoothly than the first time around.

In gratitude to everyone who has been patiently waiting for this book to be released, let me provide a bit of insight (no spoilers) to the story.

It picks up three months after the epilogue in NEH. Gabe and Eric have just survived a bitter, freezing nuclear winter and are starting to run low on supplies. With pickings grown painfully thin near their remote Appalachian hideout, they decide to embark on their journey to Colorado, but not before meeting and befriending some unexpected allies. This book covers the beginning of their trek westward, but does not cover the entire journey. That is far too big of a story to fit into just one book; it will probably take two or three. It does, however, tell the story from both main characters perspectives rather than just Eric's as in NEH.

Although Eric is still the primary focus of the story, Gabriel's role takes on much more signifigance as we learn more about the kind of person he is, and what his life was like prior to meeting Eric. This Shattered Land becomes more than just a story of survival, it becomes a testament to the power of loyalty, friendship, and perseverence through the most difficult of times. Surviving the Dead, as a series, is meant to be a story about the power of the human spirit to endure and to overcome, and I think the second installment in this series embodies that  idea very well.

The book itself is about 110,000 words long, slightly longer than standard novel length. I think it's probably between 350-400 pages in standard paperback print, about the same length as NEH.

Finishing this book comes right on the heels of hitting the 10,000 copy sold mark for my first novel. As of today, it's 10473. (yes, I check it everday because I'm OCD like that) I can't begin to describe to you how much of a sense of accomplishment that gives me. I know for some people 10,000 copies is no big deal, but for me it's huge. For most of my life, I never imagined I'd ever sell 10 books, much less 10,000. I consider No Easy Hope a resounding success, and I am more motivated than ever to keep writing, keep improving, and keep coming up with fast paced, entertaining stories that will keep readers coming back for more.

So what's next for Surviving the Dead?

I think the end of This Shattered Land makes it pretty clear what direction the story is going. I don't want to give away too much, so I will just say that this series is only getting started. There is a lot to tell, and it is going to take me a long time to tell it. The plot thickens, the action scenes will get larger and more dramatic, and the story will take several dark twists and turns in the years to come. I'm looking forward to it.

After TSL is published, I'm going to take a short break from the series so that I can start on a project I've had on the back burner for quite some time now: Jeremiah Cain: Vampire Hunter.

Where Surviving the Dead is my contribution to the Zombie Apocalypse genre, Jeremiah Cain is my contribution to Dark Urban Fantasy. And no, it's not going to be a bunch of smutty porn. If you want that, go read Fifty Shades of Grey. It's going to be a thriller/action adventure series. Expect lots of fighting, blazing guns, flashing swords, and hard boiled anti-heroes. Should be a hell of a ride.

Lest you grow impatient with me, and the dragging snail's pace at which I write my books, I ask you to remember that I have to work a full-time job to support my family and my writing addiction. I also have a two-year old who pretty much runs my life, and takes up all of my free time while he is awake. Not that I mind, I love the little guy, but spending time with him makes it tough to find time to write. Maybe one day I'll be able to make enough money at writing to do it full time, but I'm not there yet. Not even close.

In the mean time, I'll keep plugging away at it and hopefully someday things will work out for me. I write because I love writing, and I'm going to keep doing it because I want to. If people are kind enough to spend a few bucks on my work and enjoy it, then that's even better.

As always, thanks so much for reading my work, and if you like it, go tell a friend. Or at least leave a good review. You keep buying 'em, and I'll keep writin' 'em.