Interview with Taran Matharu (The Summoner series)


You may or may not have heard of Taran Matharu, but if you read YA Fantasy or use Wattpad at all, you’ve probably heard his story or about his stories. He found an audience via the social networking/writing website and used it as a platform to become a NY Times and Publisher’s Weekly Bestseller! I thought he would be a great voice to hear from on this blog since he started with such independent, obscure roots and rose up to write a bestseller.

Continue reading Interview with Taran Matharu (The Summoner series)


Christians, Fantasy/SF, and a Culture of Fear

christian fantasy

Halloween is coming and so I thought it would be appropriate to post my Stranger Things themed article. I know that I usually post articles on Wednesday that deal with writing advice… but if you write or read Christian SF/F/H then this article will be relevant.

In 1982, High Fantasy=Satanism… in 2016, Christians embraced themes from Stranger Things: did we escaped the Upside Down or dive in fully? Continue reading Christians, Fantasy/SF, and a Culture of Fear

New Reason to Lose Book Reviews at Amazon


Amazon has reportedly begun a new wave of review take-downs, from what I’ve been told.

Firstly, in an effort to kill off phony reviewers, anyone posting a review to a book used to abuse the KU rules and “skim the till” at Amazon (see my older article when scammers started doing this) are getting shut down. Amazon isn’t just deleting the review on that book in question… they are deleting every review that person ever posted. Hack and slash baby, Amazon isn’t messing around.

The second reason is more insidious. It may be just a rumor, but reviewers must spend at least $50 per year for the privilege of reviewing a product. I’ve been told that spend-deficient Amazon accounts are first notified of the policy, “and then [Amazon] deletes review privileges along with every review posted by that person.”

I’ve previously lamented that focusing book sales so heavily within Amazon is a little like making a deal with the devil. I guess that sometimes, the devil comes to take his toll.

Television Again


I just got word about the Great American Read project that PBS is pushing. My local area PBS has a news program called Compass and they are choosing to broadcast an interview I did with them a little while back about my Indie Author’s Bible (a resource for writers who want to publish their book). The episode “fits nicely with the national effort to promote reading,” their general manager said in an email.

The segment is part of the Compass program that will be broadcast on Thursday, June 28 at 9 p.m. It will be repeated the following Sunday at 12:30 p.m. After that, the interview will be available online. If you’re in the SW part of MN, tune in and check it out!

I was also on their program last season as well. Click here to see that interview.

Super Spiffy New Interview

Hiiiii Kevin…

I got my ego all polished up recently and did an author interview! It’s been something of a banner month for me. Things are crazy busy and I’ve kept a lot of plates spinning in my personal and author life. Lately I’ve spent more time on the business side of writing, though, now that the convention circuit has really kicked off. (In fact, right now, I’m sitting next to super-famous SF writer Timothy Zahn at a Minnesota Science Fiction Convention called Manticon!)

Firstly, You should totally check out my interview over at H. Kates’ website. Number 2, you might even do her a solid (I’m sure I’m saying that wrong) and click to follow her.

The Kakos Realm 3: Death Upon the Fields of Splendor is finally available!

tkr FB adset b.jpg

If you’ve read any of my Monday Sate of Writing reports then you have likely seen me mention TKR3, or The Kakos Realm. The first book (Grinden Proselyte) was the first novel I ever published and it is what started me on this path, over a decade ago. I originally wrote the first two books and half of the third one… book three is finally completed and ready! The first trilogy is done and available wherever you get your books. I have plans for the next four books which will complete the series.

I’ve promised some of my long-time readers that this world is not safe, and the title reflects the high stakes… The Kakos Realm 3: Death Upon the Fields of Splendor. (Paperback readers can also get the entire trilogy as one compilation… it’s the largest possible  paperback you can get printed under Amazon’s roof.)

Also, for a limited time, all of The Kakos Realm ebooks will be discounted to 0.99, and I’m also offering a coupon to get the first book in the series completely free. Just sign up for my mailing list and the system will send you a free coupon code and link!

TKR3 WIP front

The mysterious Watcher finally arrives as a harbinger of terrible news. He sends Rashnir and Zeh-Ahbe’ on a suicide mission in order to save their friends. Despite the Luciferian Deathsquads, bounty hunters, and a secretly excavated monolith unearthed by Lilth’s Wendigo, the ranger and lycan charge headlong into the mouth of danger: the arch-mage’s home at the Temple of Light.

Before they can succeed, the Watcher shows his true colors and trades secret information in exchange for an item locked away in a demon overlord’s stronghold. They must retrieve a simple silver key that resides in the Dark Lord’s throne room.

Getting into the castle is doable—but getting out alive may be another matter entirely!

Article about me in a MN Newspaper


I recently gave a presentation at a library in New Ulm, MN. One of gentlemen who came was a reporter for a local paper; he had some interesting questions about fiction readership in general and where reading as a pastime is heading.

Check out the article by clicking here.

If you are really curious, the entire presentation was filmed by their local cable access station. You can watch the video below (and ignore the hair… I have no idea what was going on.)

The struggle is real. Author’s, don’t ask for honest feedback unless you really want it.


I have the privilege of offering support and feedback to many authors who query me through my site or through other avenues. Some of you  have probably even acted as beta readers, proof reviewers, or been asked for honest (even brutal) feedback. I appreciate it all–which is why I’m so ready to offer assistance to others.

The blogs that come out over at the CSPA often mirror many of my feelings. A recent blog chronicles the struggle of a new comer to the industry who asked for feedback, but really just wanted to hear “this is the best new thing since sliced milk!”

The author insisted that he did not want to change the font he chose for his title—that he liked it. He stated that he liked the interior layout because he had envisioned such a layout for a larger landscape book (however, this book was a traditional smaller portrait paperback). He kept insisting that he liked what he had done.

I suggested that if he had just published the book for himself and his family, that liking what he had chosen was perfectly acceptable and sufficient. However, if he wanted to sell this book beyond his small circle, as he had indicated to me, then he needed to make the book industry standard.

full article:

I’ve written about this before, but are you a writer or an author? I don’t feel they are necessarily always synonyms. Know your writing goals: ask the tough questions before you pick your publishing path, and even then, revisit the questions regularly along the way. Are you writing to be read by other people (author) or are only producing a book for your own pleasure (writer)?

Refusing to take quality advice (or try to see through the lens that seasoned professionals look through) typically means you are writing for your own enjoyment. There’s nothing wrong with that, but lets not kid anybody, you don’t have some secret idea as an undiscovered writer that will demolish a hundred years of publishing standards (for example, I recently turned down a book review request that was center formatted. I don’t know that it was intentional, but to be taken serious in this industry you are only allowed to color outside of the lines a little bit… use that freedom to engage in creative writing, not being clever with fonts, formats, graphics, or layouts.

Readers have certain expectations. Failing to meet those means you’ve failed to be a real author. You can do it, just put in a little more effort. It will be worth it at the end–I promise!

The Highly Unlikely Way I Acquired a Literary Agent by David Oppegaard @DavidOppegaard

I met David Oppegaard at the MN Writers Workshop where he shared a super interesting story about how he landed his literary agent several years back. I thought it would be a good, encouraging piece to share for those who feel like giving up. He’s a pretty cool guy with stuff to say, plus Stan Lee endorsed one of his books.

Okay, I always begin this story with a cautionary note-this is indeed how I came to acquire my literary agent, and it’s an interesting story, but nobody should ever take this as direct advice on how to go about acquiring an agent of their own. This story is more of a publishing curio than anything directly instructional.

So. Back around 2003, I started sending out query letters—they were mostly still letters back then, not website forms or emails—to a slew of literary agents, seeking representation for a novel called Knocking Over the Fishbowl. I did some research, wrote a short but sweet query letter, and sent out forty queries in one massive mailing barrage. Then I sat back and watched the “no thank you” form letters roll in, one after the other, until (I thought) I’d gotten all forty of them back.

But then…I received an email one day via my Hotmail account. It was from an agent named Jonathan Lyons at Curtis Brown, Ltd., in New York City. I’d sent a query letter to his predecessor, apparently, who was no longer with Curtis Brown, but Jonathan had read it and was actually interested in reading a sample of the novel (yes, I’d been picked off a query letter slush pile, amazing piece of good luck #1 in this story). Overjoyed, I quickly sent of a three chapter sample to Jonathan.

A few months later, Jonathan contacted me again and said he wanted to read the whole novel. So I sent him the novel, all a-tingle with expectation as I worked at my day job and went to grad school at night. A few additional months later, Jonathan wrote to say he really liked the book, but wasn’t totally in love with it, and couldn’t represent a work he wasn’t totally passionate about. Crushed, I said thank you for your consideration and soldiered on, querying a new batch of agents.

Cut to the following summer, where I attended a week-long writing workshop through my MFA program and received some very helpful editing notes on Fishbowl from the program’s director, Mary Rockcastle, who read my book as a personal side favor (amazing piece of good luck #2). I took her notes to heart and rewrote the novel entirely, improving it a good deal.

Eventually I got close to signing with a different agent, who pulled out at the last second for reasons I didn’t understand. Crushed anew, I thought back to Jonathan at Curtis Brown and how kind his notes on the book had been. Still a naïve publishing newbie, and more than a little desperate, I wrote him a new email stating that I’d rewritten Fishbowl with help from professional writers and asked if he’d be willing to read it again. Jonathan, to my amazement, said yes.

Let that sink in a moment.

A busy literary agent agreed to reread a novel he’d already turned down (amazing piece of good luck #3). This is not the kind of event that happens every day, if ever. This is the sort of luck you want on your side if you’re out walking in a lightning storm, or headed to the casino.

And, on top of this stunning luck, Jonathan loved the rewrite (!) and agreed to take me on as a client. That was back in 2004 and we’ve worked together ever since, even though Fishbowl never sold (our first sale wasn’t until my fifth novel, The Suicide Collectors, which itself made the rounds of some fifty some editors over the course of a year before finally selling to St. Martin’s Press).

Like I said earlier, this story is more of a curio than advice I’d give to anyone seeking representation in 2018. Jonathan’s generosity toward me really was beyond any reasonable expectation. If there’s any tangible takeaways from my story, I’d point out that I remained professional throughout our prolonged email conversation, kept writing and rewriting while I waited for the various replies, and showed a little gumption. You really never do know what will happen if you keep putting yourself out there, again and again.