Culture

Book Plug Friday! Meet C J Carella

[This was going to be Book Plug Friday on Friday this time, honest! We had it ready but just missed the blog going down for the server migration. Next week for sure! — Charlie]

PJM: So, you’re one of the new independent writer/publishers, making it out there, in the new world of selling stories directly to the public. Tell us a little about yourself.

My name is C.J. Carella. For a couple decades I wrote roleplaying game sourcebooks like Rifts Mercenaries and the Buffy the Vampire Slayer RPG. More recently, I started writing indie novels, starting in 2013 with Armageddon Girl. I tried military science fiction in 2016, and the ensuing Warp Marine Corps series took off rather well. Eleven novels later in three different genres, I’m making a decent living writing fiction.

I still did it, mind you, but mostly as a hobby.

PJM: Tell us how you came to publish indie? Was it a choice? Did you ever do it traditionally? Do you also traditionally publish?

When I started writing Armageddon Girl, the possibility of indie publishing was firmly in the back of my mind. Before, the idea of writing a book followed by years if not decades of trying to find a publisher always killed my enthusiasm for writing fiction (especially since I knew I could write a tabletop RPG book and get paid). I still did it, mind you, but mostly as a hobby.

When I realized I could publish the book myself if I couldn’t find an agent or publisher, I felt motivated to write. My original plan was to do it the traditional way first, and if that didn’t pan out I’d go indie. I finished the novel, submitted it to one publisher, and by the time I got a rejection slip, I’d learned enough about independent publishing to abandon the traditional way. I launched a Kickstarter, raised $5,000 and used the money to do the editing and art for the book. Within two years, I’d made more money from that one book (not counting the three sequels that followed) than any likely advance from a publishing house.

If I’d kept submitting to agents or traditional publishers, chances are I’d still be waiting to hear from one of them; at best, I’d have maybe gotten the first book published. I think I made the right choice.

PJM: Tell us about your latest book?

I’m currently putting the finishing touches on a fantasy novel, Outlands Justice, which is a weird mish-mash of Old West adventure, traditional fantasy tropes, and alternate history. It’s an ambitious project in that I’m trying a new genre, and there is a chance my current fan base (mostly mil-sf) won’t follow me there, but after that I’ll be writing the first book of a new Warp Marine series, so hopefully they’ll stick with me.

If I’d kept submitting to agents or traditional publishers, chances are I’d still be waiting to hear from one of them; at best, I’d have maybe gotten the first book published. I think I made the right choice.

PJM: How did you start writing? What did you envision as your career in writing (if you did)?

I wrote my first story at age seven (an international team hunts for Nessie in the year 2066). I have been writing more or less continuously since then. I had an unexpected bout with success writing roleplaying games, so I put fiction in the back burner for over a decade, but it was always my first love. I always hoped I’d earn my living by making stuff up and writing it down; after some strange turns, I’m finally here.

PJM: What are the good and bad points of being an indie author? Would you like to be traditionally published someday, or do you have absolutely no interest in doing it?

The good: you’re your own boss, and you decide what goes and what doesn’t. You don’t have to answer to editors chasing the latest fad and telling you what’s marketable (among other reasons, because they’re likely to be wrong about that). The bad is part and parcel of the good: The buck stops at your desk. All the bucks. If the cover is lousy, is because you picked it and paid for it, so it’s your fault. Is the editing is terrible, ditto. You have to wear a lot of hats, which means spending some time on things you might not have any interest in, like marketing. And without a publisher backing you, you have to pay for all the other services you need to launch a book successfully – either in actual cash or time (doing things yourself).

At this point, it’d be highly unlikely to go to a traditional publisher. The lone exception would be Baen Books (I like their stuff, and I think we’d be a good fit), but even then the knowledge I’d have to wait for many months (or over year from what I hear) for a response gives me pause; at this point I have a good idea what even a mildly successful novel can earn me as an indie in one year, so a submission would essentially cost me money right away for a chance to maybe make a little more (even that is arguable) later.

PJM: A lot of people point to things like getting editing, covers and such things that the houses used to do. Is this very difficult for you?

I’ve been lucky so far; my books have sold well even though I only spend a few hours a week on actual promotion or marketing. After trying to do my own covers (with horrible results), I now either commission them or pick premade covers from assorted websites. I remain primarily a writer who runs a small business, rather than businessman who writes on the side. Proofreading I usually farm out and pay for it, because I’ve discovered I’m terrible at proofreading my own stuff. Story editing I do myself.

Two things to note about publishing in 2018: there are a lot more work-for-hire publishing services than ever before (to the point that some publishers are also using them) and that trad publishers have been cutting those services. I keep hearing that the responsibility to promote books keeps being shifted onto writers’ shoulders, and that in many cases all you’re getting in the way of promotion is a line or two on the publishing schedule or the publishers’ catalog. That doesn’t seem like a lot of value in return of 75-80% of gross book sales you end up paying a publisher.

PJM: Where do you want to go with your career. Pie in the sky – where would you like to be in your writing career in ten years.

Used to be, I wanted to be the next Stephen King. Now, I want to be the next Hugh Howey. He might not be worth as much as King (although my guess is that gap is closing rather fast), but he’s done his own thing and now he can navigate the world aboard his yacht. I’m not that fond of the sea, but I’d like to have the opportunity.

Check out C. J. Carella’s work here at his Amazon page. You can find more information about former and current projects at www.cjcarella.com or www.Facebook.com/CJCarella


FROM E. N. MCMAHON: Fly By Night

A must for all fans of vampire/exploitation cinema/17th-century French drama crossover novels!

It’s 1930s Hollywood, and Nick de Blegny is a vampire on a mission. This town just doesn’t get it. Jean Racine, now he really knew how to tell a story. What the movies need is more Phèdre.

So what if the studios are giving Nick the bum’s rush? He has his minion; he has his genius – and exploitation movies are crying out for a creative type who knows how to save a buck or three. Who needs actors, when this burg is chockful of stock footage, just waiting to be snapped up and put to good use?

The only good thing about actors is their celebrity – and Nicky D, the man who invented celebrity culture back when he was still warm – knows how to turn a pretty profit: by selling extra-special blood to the more discerning vampires. Everything’s coming up roses – so long as he can stay ahead of gangsters – both warm-blooded and vampiric – and keep from being once again rudely interrupted by the local gendarmes…

Meet Nick de Blegny: self-styled genius; acknowledged father of PR; and the greatest physician, adventurer, huckster, and vampire that 17th-century France ever produced. As he’ll be the first to tell you.


FROM CELIA HAYES AND JEANNE HAYDEN: One Half Dozen of Luna City (The Chronicles of Luna City Book 6).

Welcome to Luna City, Karnes County, Texas … Population 2,456, give or take … Business at the Luna Café & Coffee is looking up for fugitive former celebrity chef Richard Astor-Hall. The owners – elderly schoolteacher Miss Letty, and the irascible Doc Wyler have approved hiring another cook and expanding hours at the Café. Joe Vaughn, chief of the tiny Luna City Police Department, is coping with the demands of parenthood … and both he and local ace reporter Kate Heisel are deep into untangling the mystery of a very old skeleton unearthed in construction of a brand-new facility at Mills Farm, the upscale resort just down the road.

 


FROM WENDY S. DELMATER: Confessions of a Female Safety Engineer.

Accidental feminist Wendy S. Delmater takes you through more than twenty years of the highs and lows of NYC construction work with an eye for the ridiculous and the adventures of being a woman in in one of the last bastions of all-male environments. From being in NYC during the terrorist attacks of 9/11 to trying to explain why refilling a fire extinguisher with pure oxygen was a bad idea (it goes boom) every day brings new experiences for a woman whose passion for worker safety was equaled by her trying to protect her clients, and herself.

 


BY KEVIN W. BATES:  Crossing The Border

Peter Gillen is fleeing his past. Rose Horne is seeking her future. Private BT O’Connell is serving his country and trying to forget a lost love. They are all headed to the Lost Land.

In an alternate universe, religious refugees who were fleeing persecution in the U.S. established a home in Mexican territory—the Great Basin of the western North American continent. In this land purchased from Mexico and never integrated into the United States, the refugees flourished. Their state, widely known in the U.S. as the Lost Land, has survived three U.S. invasion attempts. Now, the U.S. threatens the Lost Land once again with open probing actions and a secret plan for its destruction. While international tensions mount and violence in the U.S. escalates, the Lost Land summons its people home and the U.S. closes the border. Amid this swirling chaos and hunted by human predators, Peter, Rose and BT embark on a harrowing journey in the wilderness to cross the border and save the Lost Land from annihilation.


FROM COLIN GLASSEY: The Burning Tower.

An epic fantasy. For 300 years, the path lay untouched and forgotten. But a chance discovery of an old map will change the course of history. Danger and adventure await for those brave enough to cross 2,000 miles of mountains. When they reach the other side, what then? Mysteries and wonders. A mighty civilization torn apart. An empire consumed by civil war. Join a small group of heroes as they risk everything on a journey into the unknown.