Reflections on the Fang: David Moody

moodyIt’s always good to do something that pushes you outside your comfort zone (or so they tell me). As a writer, it can be all too easy to stick with what you know, but in doing that you run the risk of writing the same story over and over again, and while some folks have made a decent career out of just that, it’s not for me.

I’ve spent a lot of time writing apocalyptic horror novels, and they’re all books which have some grounding in reality. Although I’m usually writing about extraordinary things (zombies, alien invasions, the death of the sun and the end of the world… you get the picture), I consciously populate my stories with ordinary people and settings, figuring readers will better be able to buy into the horror and adventure if they can relate and picture themselves in the books.

I love being a writer. I love the escape… the release you get when you’re conjuring up stories. My long-suffering wife often says I spend too much time in my own head, but I like that. I’m a thinker. I’m happy in my own company. I’m something of a control freak, I guess.

So back at the end of 2013, when James Thorn got in touch asking me to be a part of a collaborative novel project, I was torn. Knowing what I knew of James and his work at the time, it was clear the project wouldn’t be anything like the stuff I’d been writing previously. And the idea of collaborating? That was the last thing I wanted to do… Work with other people on a novel? Me? Seriously?

But I stopped myself from sending an automatic ‘thanks, but no thanks’ reply, and I’m really glad I did. I got to thinking about comfort zones again and how, no matter how hard I tried to convince myself otherwise, taking part in the project would be a positive thing.

And it was.

Within months I found myself reading up on Warlocks and mysticism in the Deep South… subjects I’d never had any interest in previously. I was given a prompt (nothing like the kind of scenarios or situations I usually wrote about) and a couple of characters (who were incredibly far removed from the kind of people I tend to populate my stories with), and I set about writing. I won’t lie and say it was easy, because it wasn’t. I found it hard – damn hard, in fact, and there were a couple of occasions where I almost threw in the towel, figuring the gap between The Black Fang Betrayal and my writing style and my audience was a chasm too wide to be able to bridge.

But then again, I realised, I’ve had moments like that with every book I’ve written. Every story seems ready to trip you up at one point or another, and it’s just a question of working through until you get to the other side (in fact, the entire manuscript of my biggest selling novel, HATER, ended up in the bin on more than one occasion while I was writing it).

So I guess working on Black Fang with James and the other authors has been a wake-up call for me. It’s been a reminder that when you’re doing a job as frequently solitary as writing, you need interaction and stimulation… you need to push boundaries and look at things from different perspectives. And I make no apologies if this post sounds a little clichéd, because it’s true. Collaborating on Black Fang was a cathartic experience, and I’m very proud of the results. Ten folks from ten wildly differing backgrounds, often thousands of miles apart, came together and created something unique that readers all around the world are starting to enjoy. Now that’s pretty cool, whichever way you look at it!

David Moody

David Moody grew up on a diet of trashy horror and pulp science fiction. He worked as a bank manager before giving up the day job to write about the end of the world for a living. He has written a number of horror novels, including AUTUMN which has been downloaded more than half a million times since publication in 2001 and spawned a series of sequels and a movie starring Dexter Fletcher and David Carradine. Film rights to HATER were snapped up by Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy, Pan’s Labyrinth, Pacific Rim) and Mark Johnson (Breaking Bad). Moody lives with his wife and a houseful of daughters and stepdaughters, which may explain his pre-occupation with Armageddon. Find out more about Moody at www.davidmoody.net

Reflections on the Fang: Michaelbrent Collings

collingsWriting The Black Fang Betrayal was a totally unique – and totally enjoyable – experience. I usually avoid doing anthologies unless a) I love the people who are involved, or b) the idea is just…that…good. With TBFB, I got both.

I was contacted by J. Thorn, with whom I’d worked in the past. He asked me about doing a “collaborative novel.” At first it sounded like a nightmare – what, we all take a single chapter? We sew them together like some kind of written Frankenstein’s monster? I remember how that story ended. No thank you.

But the more I found out, the more interested I became. Unlike most collaborative novel ideas, this one was well-thought-out, with a story that leant itself to episodes that would be self-contained in one sense while at the same time leading irrevocably through a greater narrative arc. And the arc itself – warlocks, betrayal, darkest magic – sounded like a hoot.

Count me in.

The story was easy to write. Not because I didn’t think about it, not because I didn’t care, but because when you’re excited about a project, excited to be a part of something, sometimes it just flows. This was one of those times.

The Black Fang Betrayal has been a hoot. I hope it makes a billion-trillion-bajillion dollars. But even if I see $6.75 in royalties, the chance to work with such a fun story – and such fun storymakers – has been well worth it.

Michaelbrent Collings

Michaelbrent Collings is a #1 bestseller and internationally bestselling author, as well as one of Amazon’s top selling horror writers and one of the top indie horror writers in the United States. A member of the WGA, he is also a produced screenwriter whose movies have been released across the globe. Michaelbrent has a wife and several kids who are all much better looking than him (not hard to do!), and put up with the crazy life of a writer (a person who mumbles a lot and periodically has better conversations with the voices in his head than with real people). For this they will go to Heaven no matter what. Michaelbrent also makes good chocolate chip cookies. This has nothing to do with his writing, but it’s nice to know.

You can follow him at
http://facebook.com/MichaelbrentCollings and sign up for his new release alerts at
http://eepurl.com/VHuvX.

Reflections on the Fang: TW Brown

brownThe Black Fang Betrayal is a collaborative effort arranged by J. Thorn. It is a dark tale of magic and sorcery. When I received my invitation to be a part of this book, I was not only surprised, I was a bit intimidated. This is not a genre that I had even a passing familiarity with at the time I was asked to join and write a piece.

Worse still, I have partaken in a collaborative effort in the past. It did not go well. It had no real structure and you were simply given the piece up to your chapter and told to take the story from there. It was worse than playing the schoolyard game of “Postman” in Hell.

I knew right away that this was going to be different. For one, there was a very specific structure that was laid out and that we were asked to adhere. I decided to give it my best shot.

To be honest, I sort of expected to send my portion in and then receive a polite email saying “thanks but no thanks.” The degree of support was amazing. In the end, I believe that our little group of authors put together something special and almost seamless. Yes, you might be able to pick out the varying styles, but I believe that only strengthened this particular story. I was amazed and delighted at the finished product.

It was my pleasure to be a part of The Black Fang Betrayal as a contributing author. It was an honor to be included with some very impressive names. I hope that readers will find it entertaining.

TW Brown

Tucked away in the Pacific Northwest, TW Brown is always working on that elusive “next book.” He is the author of the DEAD, That Ghoul Ava (a horror comedy), and Zomblog series.

Besides writing, he is also an editor and is enrolled in the UCSD editing certification program (4.0 GPA thus far). He has edited for some of the top Amazon Horror authors, including Mark Tufo, John O’Brien and Heath Stallcup.

He lives for football season when he can cheer on the Oregon Ducks and Seattle Seahawks. He is a fan of Cookie Monster, KISS, and Dr. Who (along with most things British).

His blog can be found at:
http://twbrown.blogspot.com/

You can contact him at:
twbrown.maydecpub@gmail.com

You can follow him on twitter @maydecpub and on Facebook  at:
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-TW-Brown/
.

Reflections on the Fang: T.W. Piperbrook

piperbrookWhen J. Thorn first asked me to do the collaboration, I was excited but apprehensive. How would ten authors come together to do something seamless and original? More simply: how would we pull this off?

In writing our portion, we were each given a story prompt, two character’s names, and a tarot card to serve as a clue to defeat the guardian warlock. We were also given a starting and ending city. In addition to figuring out the story, I spent a decent amount of time on research—figuring out the backdrop to my tale to get the details right. The premise was a little outside of my genre, but in the end, it was well worth the effort.

The book came out better than I could’ve imagined. Probably the coolest part was getting to read the other author’s stories and seeing what everyone came up with. Up until a few weeks ago, I had no idea who wrote what. Hopefully people will enjoy reading the book as much as we have enjoyed writing it.

T.W. Piperbrook

T.W. Piperbrook was born and raised in Connecticut, where he can still be found today. He is the author of OUTAGE and the best-selling CONTAMINATION series. Among other occupations, the author has spent time as a full-time touring musician, touring across the US, Canada, and Europe.

He currently resides with his wife, a son, and the spirit of his Boston Terrier.

For NEW RELEASE alerts, sign up at:
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For more information, visit his website at
www.twpiperbrook.com.

7 Tips for a Successful Collaboration for Introverts (or for people who hate meetings)

I recently organized and published a ten-author collaboration. To say it was a logistical challenge would be an understatement. Spanning ten months and several continents, The Black Fang Betrayal is a tale of mystery and suspense like The Sopranos but with warlocks. The story reinforces the old adage, “the sum is greater than the parts.” Every writer brought a unique style and voice, and yet a single, cohesive story emerged.

There are two key points worth considering before discussing specifics. This project proved to me that there is too much emphasis placed on “the meeting” and its significance in the collaborative process. Being an introvert, I prefer written communication. Because I was the project manager for The Black Fang Betrayal, I decided we were not going to “meet” while working on the project. Everything we accomplished from the original concept to the marketing plan for the book launch was done through email and a private Facebook group. We did not use conference calls, webinars, Hangouts or any other method of synchronous communication. This type of collaboration is more about management than writing and as you will see, organization is essential for this type of project.

I believe that if a novel can be written this way, just about any collaboration can be successful using the best practices of project management.

1 – It will take longer than you think.

There will be issues and setbacks. People will leave the project while others will join the group. Technology will fail. Someone will get angry. Someone will ignore your emails. All of this means it’s essential to allow plenty of time and make the deadlines artificially short. You will likely incur costs up front and if you can, it’s best to have the funds saved and set aside rather than asking the participants for money. You can reimburse yourself from royalties later. Notice that there is a bit of a risk in that you may not ultimately earn enough to recoup your initial costs, so never use funds you’re not willing or able to lose completely.

2 – Keep moving forward.

A delicate balance exists between planning for obstacles and enforcing deadlines. You have to do both. However, it’s important that all participants feel as though the project is constantly moving forward. This pace may eventually force one or more members to drop out but you’ll be able to find others who are comfortable with the momentum. Deadlines force a sense of urgency and also hold everyone accountable. Early on in the project, you will get a sense of which participants will meet the deadlines and which ones will not. Be kind and gracious and remember that we all need a little space. Be firm with the deadlines and be persistent in asking for what you need, but do it with a light touch.

3 – Expect rejection.

Your invitation, proposal or pitch will be rejected more times than it is accepted. In fact, some of your invitations will be ignored completely. You may have to ask five to ten times more people just to reach the minimum you need to make the project happen. This is natural and is by no means a reflection on you. People are extremely busy and highly skeptical, especially if the project you’re proposing is unique or different. If someone declines, be respectful and move on. If your invitation is not answered in 48 hours, move on. The initial communication with a prospective collaborator is important because it provides insight on their work habits. Early email responders tend to be early with deadlines and meet all expectations as well. It is not a judgment but merely an observation on human behavior in the workplace. As long as the return communication reaches you within what you consider to be a reasonable response window, accept that person into your collaboration. When you are pitching or asking for participation, make saying “yes” as easy as possible. Provide all of the relevant information upfront and keep it up to date. Rather than include the information in a single correspondence, post it in the Cloud or on a private web page for prospective participants to view easily. This ensures you can always keep the information current for everyone. Don’t make people fill out unnecessary forms or ask them for answers to open-ended questions. Your goal in the pitch is to get a “yes,” so make it simple. Once a participant agrees to be part of your collaboration, give him or her an out as late as possible in the process. Someone might be initially excited about the project but then less so as it veers away from his or her initial understanding. Allow for a graceful exit. At some point in the process it should be made clear (in a written contract) that participants cannot leave the collaboration after a certain date or timeframe, but also understand that people can and will need to opt out due to special circumstances. Make sure to clearly state the minimum level of involvement required by each participant to be a part of the collaboration (such as the minimum word count in the case of The Black Fang Betrayal) but also encourage motivated participants to do more. Prospective collaborators should have only two major deadlines: signing on to your project and submitting a final draft. You will need other items from them along the way, but it helps to frame the scope for collaborators while making it easy for them to participate.

4 – You must lead.

As the project manager or the idea generator, you should be passionate about your project. Other people will be excited about it, too. However, it’s natural for the person running the project to be the most invested in its success. At times, you will have to rely on your own passion and motivation to carry the project forward. In order to excite others, you need to be clear in your vision and in how you communicate that vision with the group. For The Black Fang Betrayal, I structured the collaboration and told each prospective author what would be required of him, providing information on character, setting, genre and plot. Remember, you are asking them to join your collaboration, to follow your lead. If they say “yes” it means they want to be led and are willing to follow you. Take that responsibility seriously but also be aware that decisions by committee can often lead to a mediocre result as everyone tries to find a safe middle ground. Not everyone will agree with every decision you make, but if you are clear in your vision and lead with confidence, they will trust and support you. I hope to improve my leadership skills on my next collaboration. In this one, I neglected to specify the time of the year when the story took place and I didn’t require the final drafts to be formatted in any particular fashion which meant I had to spend extra time fixing those inconsistencies prior to publication.

5 – You must listen.

This element of project management is the most difficult to articulate because it comes down to feel. Although your vision must be clear and you should lead with confidence, there will be times when you must solicit feedback from the team. Input is invaluable and ignoring it can be catastrophic. It is not necessary to sit and speak to someone face-to-face to solicit feedback. Meetings, in the traditional sense, are not necessary. Clear and timely communication is essential. When possible, try to structure your questions. For example, rather than asking for open-ended ideas on a particular aspect of the collaboration, give your team two or three choices. Do this in a group setting (such as through a private Facebook group or closed bulletin board) so you can get a sense of the group dynamic. Email is not beneficial in a collaboration of this type because it puts the conversation in silos. You should use email only to deliver important information to the participants and expect that communication to be mostly one-way. Because the group communication requires a different kind of effort than a traditional face-to-face meeting, participants are more likely to be on task and can contribute when they’re most attentive rather than trying to force interest on a specified day and time.

6 – You must be organized.

It is impossible to lead a collaboration of any type without being organized. Repeat. It is impossible to lead a collaboration of any type without being organized. Although technical issues will always arise, today’s technology allows greater and more seamless organization than ever before. Through Cloud-based solutions and shared documents, you can keep the project organized from just about anywhere, from any device. Technological tools aside, it is essential to have solid personal organization. If you are not naturally inclined toward organization, you may not be ready to manage a collaboration. However, organization is a learned skill and there is no shortage of resources available for a person who wants to become more efficient and organized. Being organized means utilizing systems (such as iCloud, Google Drive, DropBox, Trello, etc.) in addition to maintaining accurate records. You should keep a spreadsheet of deadlines, save all emails and messages sent to participants, develop a launch plan and more. Save everything you create in a logical folder system and make sure that folder system is in the Cloud or backed up (nightly) to another location. In today’s computing environment, there is no excuse for losing files in a computer crash and nothing will kill your project faster. If that happens, your participants will be frustrated and lose confidence in you and may be less likely to help you pick up the pieces. Avoid the use of paper because it makes it hard on participants. For example, rather than using a fax machine to have participants sign a contract, use a free online document signing site like Docracy. With a free, registered account, contracts are signed through a web browser without the need to print and physically return the document. Remember, you are the project manager and the one most passionate about your project so you should burden most of the responsibility. Your goal should be to make the process as easy as possible for your collaborators.

7 – Enforce structure but do it gently.

No matter how passionate, clear, organized and decisive you are as a project manager, there will always be issues that threaten to derail the collaboration. Obstacles will appear that you never anticipated. Frustrations will mount and you will be tempted to give up. This is a natural part of the process. If you’re utilizing the systems you have in place and if you’re motivated to continue, you can keep things on schedule. There will be missed deadlines and misinterpretations. Use a gentle hand to recalibrate and remember that you are dealing with humans. We are all complex, emotional and sometimes irrational creatures. Keep it all in perspective and keep it moving forward. In the end, you’ll be glad you did.

I’m thrilled with The Black Fang Betrayal and I wish you success on your own collaboration.

Over the next six to eight weeks, I will be featuring guest posts by some of my collaborators from The Black Fang Betrayal. I’ve asked them to share their perspective on the project.


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Introducing The Black Fang Betrayal

I’m proud to introduce The Black Fang Betrayal. It’s like The Sopranos but with warlocks instead of the mafia. As you’re about to discover, the storytelling is as unique as the tale. I fought through my introversion and asked nine incredible authors to join me in this project. The result is a collaborative novel like nothing you’ve ever read.

I plan on writing a more extensive blog post about the process that will be published later this month. Working on The Black Fang Betrayal this past year has been an amazing and revealing experience. We took an idea and turned it into a novel without ever meeting or speaking with each other.

Today is the official launch day and that means you can buy the novel for just $0.99 on all major platforms. Grab it today as it will be going to full price next week. In addition, we’re running a HUGE Rafflecopter contest. Try to guess who wrote each chapter by clicking on the link below. Winners will be randomly drawn from all of the correct responses and we’re giving away over 20 prizes including signed tarot cards, signed paperbacks, free audio books and even a holster for your 9mm.

Click here to read more about The Black Fang Betrayal, purchase a copy available on all major platforms and enter the Rafflecopter.

About the Project:

The Black Fang Betrayal features today’s best horror, dark fantasy and thriller writers collaborating on a unique and fascinating novel. Armed with nothing but a prompt and a character name, each author became a warlock of The Black Fang and wrote a first-person account as a member of the coven. Using themes and sequences woven throughout the complete narrative, a cohesive page-turner emerges.

About the Story:

Levi Phillips is a warlock living in the woods of rural Ohio. With his apprentice, Matthew, Levi operates one of the most ferocious covens in the world, known as The Black Fang. Managing the coven like an international corporation, Levi controls its enormous wealth while running a moonshine operation as a front. But when a plot to assassinate Levi is exposed, the warlock decides it’s time to destroy The Black Fang and the destruction could create a new beginning.

Written by TW Brown, Michaelbrent Collings, Mainak Dhar, J.C. Eggleton, Glynn James, Stephen Knight, David J. Moody, T.W. Piperbrook, J.R. Rain, J. Thorn.


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Time to let the myth of the rugged individualist die.

Americans take pride in being rugged individualists, leveraging personal gain in order to survive. In nature it’s the “survival of the fittest” and business must “crush the competition.” Those are old ideas and they’re dying a horrific, violent, slow death.

While it may seem as though events occurring at a distance have no direct impact on us (Fukushima), we’ve also seen that the entire globe is connected and those events happening to “other people” do in fact affect us (Fukushima). This connection is more profound and mysterious than the overused “Butterfly Effect,” where a bug’s wings in South America supposedly triggers a hurricane on the East Coast. However, we live in a closed environment and everything we do effects everybody else. Entire books have been written about the cooperative versus competitive nature of the universe and I’m oversimplifying the concept to introduce one example of it: Selling books.

Several authors made the headlines a few months back for using sock puppets (fake accounts) to write terrible reviews of other author’s books. They believed that discouraging sales of titles (using poor reviews) in the same genre would result in more sales of their title. Readers spend about 2.3 seconds deciding whether or not to purchase a book and most of that has to do with (1) cover and (2) title. To be clear, reviews matter. Not in relation to other titles, but mostly in relation to the reader’s own internal belief system about what constitutes quality.

A wise Greek once said, “In union there is strength.” I don’t think Aesop meant strength in a multi-author box set, but he would have if he had access to Amazon when he was trying to peddle those stupid fables.

I’ve declared 2014 my Year of Collaboration. I’m reaching out, up, and down to find authors that also believe a sale of one novel is a sale for all novelists. I’m not interested in competing against my fellow authors because working with them is much more effective. Whether it’s with collections (warning: soft sales pitch below) or co-writing, I’m open to what others can bring and what I can share with them.

My most recent collection contains Preta’s Realm: The Haunting (Book 1 of The Hidden Evil Trilogy) along with seven other phenomenal books. We’re selling the ENTIRE collection for only $0.99. Some of the best horror writers in the world are part of this anthology including Scott Nicholson, Kealan Patrick Burke, Glynn James, Mainak Dhar, Michaelbrent Collings, TW Brown and Brian James Freeman. The collection will be available only for a limited time.

Offer your services, knowledge or muscle and the universe will return it to you. Our collective spirit will always outshine the individual one.

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