Steven A. Roman: Behind the Scenes at StarWarp Concepts

SRoman_PhotoLast Tuesday, I told you about a 2015 interview that I did with Steve Williams of the site Write a Revolution…which, I recently discovered, has disappeared from the ’Net—along with WaR’s website. So, for those of you who might have missed it the first time, I’ve been serializing that interview here at Zwieback Central for your reading pleasure. Part 1 was posted on Tuesday; Part 2 appeared Wednesday; and Part 3 was published on Thursday. Now here’s the conclusion…

WaR: How did you design your cover and/or any illustrations?

SR: When dealing with artists, usually I’ll start off by doing a rough sketch of the composition I’m looking for, and providing them with any reference material they might need. For designers, I’ll sometimes do a rough design of the cover in my Mac’s Pages application, just to give them a starting point they can riff on. Or if I have something particular in mind I’ll say, “No, I want it exactly like this, but with a professional finish to it.” The cover for Lorelei Presents: House Macabre was meant to emulate 1970s and ’80s DC comics; if you look closely, you can see an “Approved by the Monsters Code Authority” seal in the upper right-hand corner.

I try not to waste artists’ or designers’ time with a game of “I’ll know it when I see it”—that approach just winds up annoying everyone. Doing it the way I do seems to work out just fine; a few of the artists have even told me I’m one of the best art directors they’ve ever worked with.

WaR: Did you format your own eBook or outsource?

Blood-Reign-FinalCvrSR: For the PDF versions of StarWarp’s books, comics, and graphic novels that are sold through the company website, I have my designers deliver a lower-res version of the print files, with the covers combined with the interiors. Higher-res versions of those files are provided to places like Comixology to meet their distribution requirements.

However, the Pandora Zwieback novels get mass distribution and require separate file formats for Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords (who distribute to iTunes, Kobo, and Oyster Books), so I outsource them to an e-book conversion company called 52Novels. All I have to provide them with, other than a Word doc file of the manuscript, is the design material I want to carry over from the print versions—front cover, title page, house ads—and they put it all together. I was really happy with the work they did on Blood Feud, and they’re great people to work with, so I went back to them with Blood Reign and in all likelihood will continue to use them.

WaR: Did you find the overall process of publishing a book an easy one or especially difficult?

SR: It was difficult starting out because I had to learn the process on the fly, but strangely enough that tends to be the method I’m most comfortable with: just jumping right in and figuring it out as I go. It was the same way I got started in comics publishing, back in ’93, except for the book market I was able to rely on books like Dan Poynter’s Self-Publishing Manual and Self-Publishing for Dummies for guidance. And I had some familiarity with the ins and outs of the industry, having been an editor for ten years at a New York publishing house called ibooks, inc. (no relation to Apple’s iBooks).

What made the process of reinventing StarWarp as a book publisher a bit easier was in hiring the designers I worked with at ibooks, inc., so I’d be working with people I knew, and who were familiar with my methods. The rest of the business stuff, though, was up to me.

BklynFest2015-01WaR: Let us know a marketing or promotional tip or piece of advice that has worked well for you.

SR: One of my friends in publishing suggested exhibiting at book festivals. With my background up to that point mainly being in comics, I wasn’t sure how that would work out. But considering the responses StarWarp Concepts has gotten at the Brooklyn Book Festival and BookCon over the years, I’d have to say that was pretty good advice!

WaR: What are you working on next?

SR: Blood & Iron is the third Pandora Zwieback novel, and it wraps up the “vampire war” storyline that runs in Blood Feud and Blood Reign. I’m also looking at putting together Lorelei Presents: Return to House Macabre, another one-off anthology comic for Lorelei to host; I’ve already got two stories in-house.

And that’s the end of the interview. Thanks go out to Steve Williams and the folks at Write a Revolution for running it last year—as publisher of and main writer for StarWarp Concepts, I’m always appreciative of sites who show a little love toward our endeavors. Who knows where the next interview will appear…?

A Book Bundle for a Worthy Cause

RAINN-buttonA few weeks ago, I got this message from e-book distributor DriveThru Fiction, which sells digital editions of the Pandora Zwieback novels, as well as other StarWarp Concepts titles:

April is Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, and once again, we’re going to be putting together some exciting digital Bundles on DriveThruRPG, DriveThruComics, and DriveThruFiction to help raise funds for a great cause. RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti–sexual violence organization and was named one of “America’s 100 Best Charities” by Worth magazine. Last year’s RAINN Bundle was a huge success and we’d like to try to reach even more donations and spread the word about this cause even further in 2016.

blood_feudI’ve known about RAINN for a while—its biggest promoter is World Wrestling Entertainment’s legendary Mick Foley (aka Mankind and Cactus Jack)—so I immediately offered Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1 as a title to be included in the bundle. And now that bundle is on sale!

If you head on over to the RAINN 2016 Fiction Bundle page at DriveThru Fiction, you’ll find Pan’s first adventure is just one of more than a dozen titles you can purchase, all at once—an $80 bundle for just $15! Do it, and help support a worthy cause.

And for more information about Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month, visit the RAINN website.

Steven A. Roman: On Promoting StarWarp Concepts’ Titles

On Tuesday, I told you about a 2015 interview that I did with Steve Williams of the site Write a Revolution…which, I recently discovered, has disappeared from the ’Net—along with WaR’s website. So, for those of you who might have missed it the first time, I’m serializing that interview here at Zwieback Central for your reading pleasure. Part 1 was posted on Tuesday; Part 2 appeared yesterday. Now here’s Part 3…

Pan0-finalcvrWaR: Have you tried giving anything away for free or include special offers to try and entice readers? E.g. free chapters, promotional items, limited day price reductions.

SR: Absolutely. At the StarWarp Concepts website, we offer free sample chapters from the Pandora Zwieback novels Blood Feud and Blood Reign, and there’s The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0, a free, downloadable 16-page comic book that acts as an introduction to Pan’s book series. That one originally started out as a print comic that I handed out as a promotional item at comic book conventions and book festivals. And depending on budgetary limitations, I’ll have either brochures or catalogs printed up to hand out at shows. It’s important that people know that StarWarp has a growing backlist of titles.

WaR: Are there any promotional ideas that really did not work out or “bombed”? Things that you definitely will not be trying again?!

SR: Ooh, where to begin…? (laughs) Well, I’ve stopped exhibiting at New York Comic Con, for one thing. The last one I attended was in 2013—I had the best location I’d ever had at that show, and wound up with a larger space than expected because the show runners had misjudged the borders of the booth layouts, but at the end of four days I’d spent $1,500 for the location and taken in…let’s just say nowhere close to that in sales.

Pan-LarkinCardFor the 2011 New York Comic Con, I used the show’s database to contact people who’d listed the StarWarp booth as one of their planned visiting points, and e-mailed them certificates for exclusive Pandora Zwieback sketch cards that the novels’ cover painter, Bob Larkin (who used to work for publishers like Marvel and Bantam), had done for me. Only one guy showed up to claim a card—and even he didn’t really want it. He’d come to the booth to find out what was going on with Lorelei! (laughs)

In 2014, I tried a similar promotion at the first-ever BookCon, only this time I was offering prints of Bob’s cover painting for Blood Feud. Again, of all the people I contacted, only one person showed up to get their print.

There were others, but I’ve depressed myself already, remembering just these. (laughs)

WaR: Have you ever come across any book promotion ideas that were maybe a little unorthodox?

SR: I’ve considered other ideas—I wouldn’t really call them “unorthodox,” but stuff like hiring a Pan spokesmodel to try and attract more women and teenaged girls to the booth so they can learn about the book series. It’s a car show/comic con kind of approach—you don’t see it used all that often at book festivals, so I guess that might be considered unorthodox. We’ll see what happens if I ever get around to hiring one.

WaR: Do you mostly stick to online promotions or do you do much offline networking as well?

BklynFest2015-01SR: I attend some conventions and book festivals during the year, which tends to work better for sales than the online promotions, because I’m able to tell attendees about the books, on a one-on-one basis. The big show for me is the Brooklyn Book Festival, which is held in September, because I’ve started building a fanbase there that will seek out the StarWarp Concepts booth so they can check out the latest releases.

WaR: What have you struggled with the most during your adventures in writing and publishing?

SR: Getting recognition for the company and our titles. It’s a cliché that the Internet is just a big void you’re shouting into, hoping to get attention, but it’s true.

WaR: Do you network with fellow writers or self-published authors?

SR: I have friends who are writers and self-publishers, and we’re all in the same boat, to varying degrees, all trying to get the word out on our projects. We compare notes on our approaches, and share convention war stories and stuff like that. A mutual commiseration society! (laughs)

Coming Monday: The conclusion of this four-part interview, focusing on the more technical aspects of getting StarWarp Concepts titles ready for the masses. See you then!

Steven A. Roman: Talking About StarWarp Concepts

Yesterday, I told you about a 2015 interview that I did with Steve Williams of the site Write a Revolution…which, I recently discovered, has disappeared from the ’Net—along with WaR’s website. So, for those of you who might have missed it the first time, I’m serializing that interview here at Zwieback Central for your reading pleasure. Part 1 was posted yesterday. Now here’s Part 2…

WaR: Tell us a bit more about StarWarp Concepts—what services you provide, and where it differs from the many other publishing companies that have been around since the Indie Pub boom.

SR: Well, like I said [in Part 1] we originally started out publishing the Lorelei comic, but since 2010 we’ve expanded into graphic novels and straight books—young adult novels, illustrated classic reprints, an artist sketchbook, and an upcoming writing guide for fantasy authors. Occasionally we still do comics—we published a tie-in to the young adult novel series, The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, and [in 2015] we released the horror anthology Lorelei Presents: House Macabre. I guess that would mean we’re somewhat in a gray area between being a book publisher and a comic publisher, which probably makes us different from most indie houses. I’m okay with that—it gives us two types of audiences to appeal to.

SWC_Lorelei-SectsWaR: What level or research and planning goes into each project you undertake at StarWarp?

SR: I’m not really the kind who does market research to see if there’s an audience for what we publish, because more often than not our titles tend to be counter to whatever is considered hot or trendy at any given time. When the first Pan novel, Blood Feud, came out, Twilight was still popular—but there’s nothing romantic or “sparkly” about the vampires I write; in fact, some reviewers went out of their way to point out how much Blood Feud is a polar opposite to Meyer’s books, in terms of depth of characterization and the violent nature of the vampires.

The Lorelei projects are completely at odds with today’s comic market, given the sexual nature of the character and her appearance—the blown-out hair, the unbuttoned blouse, and the stiletto-heel boots. But then again, I’m not going after people who only read mainstream or alt-press comics. Like I said [in Part 1], Lori is a throwback to old horror comics—if you’re not into those, then Lorelei probably won’t appeal to you. And yet the Sects and the City graphic novel is our most popular title overall, especially with horror fans.

SWC_SnowWhiteThe Illustrated Classics line we have—which right now consists of the vampire novella Carmilla, Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars, and the Brothers Grimm’s Snow White—are chosen for various reasons: they’re well-written books I enjoy; there’s some movie or event I can tie them to; or I know they’ll appeal to dark fantasy fans. Carmilla involves vampires, so that was a no-brainer—vampires will never go out of style. A Princess of Mars was published to take advantage of Disney’s John Carter movie, since the movie’s based on that novel. Snow White came about because I found a children’s storybook published in the late 1800s, with pristine, full-color illustrations; since the book was in the public domain, we scanned the art and released it as an e-book. And the original spot illustrations for Carmilla and Princess—all done by Eliseu Gouveia—are a major selling point for those books, especially at conventions.

WaR: Let’s talk about book publicity and book marketing ideas. Which social media sites are you registered with and post on? Which do you find most effective for engagement?

SR: I have Facebook pages for StarWarp Concepts and the Saga of Pandora Zwieback book series, and author pages at Amazon.com and Goodreads. I also review comics for a site called Comics for Sinners, whose owner links back to the StarWarp site. I’m not a Twitter or Tumblr type, so I don’t bother with those. The most effective site for getting the word out on projects seems to be StarWarp’s Facebook page, especially if I post a graphic—covers, sample pages, etc.

WaR: There is plenty of advice out there telling you how to sell your book but what book marketing strategies or methods have you found work effectively for new authors or even more established indie names?

SR: The ones that seem to work the best usually involve crowdfunding—Kickstarter and IndieGoGo and sites like that—because you’re directly marketing to people who become interested in investing in your project; the rewards offered at different donation levels have a lot to do with that. It’s not a method I’ve been interested in trying, but I know other small publishers it’s worked for.

WaR: Do you try to build to a launch or release the book and then promote afterwards?

SR: I did a major push for Blood Feud, the first Pandora Zwieback novel, by first purchasing booth space at the New York Comic Con one year just to announce the coming of the book the following year.

Then, as the release date got closer, I ran a feature called “The 13 Days of Pan-demonium”—a sort of countdown in which I hired twelve artists (plus me) to draw their interpretations of Pan, with the cover of Blood Feud appearing somewhere in each piece. I posted one illustration each day, leading up to the book’s release.

Coming tomorrow: Discussing book promotions—what works and what doesn’t.

Steven A. Roman: A Revolutionary Interview Recovered

SRoman_PhotoIt was close to a year ago that I contacted Steve Williams, the power behind Write a Revolution—a website dedicated, as you might expect, to promoting writers—about the possibility of WaR interviewing me to promote StarWarp Concepts and its titles. After reading Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1 and the horror anthology comic Lorelei Presents: House Macabre, Steve enthusiastically agreed to set up an interview, which ran in August 2015.

Fast-forward to this past weekend, when I was doing one of my occasional checks on the Pan website to confirm that links we’ve set up still work—and much to my surprise, I discovered that Write a Revolution is gone! Don’t have a clue why that happened, but with the site, and my interview, now lost in the depths of the Internet, I thought you folks might want to read it, just in case you missed it the first time around.

So here for your reading pleasure, is Part 1 of that “disappeared” interview…

WaR: I believe your company, StarWarp Concepts, has been on the scene for a while now.

SR: Since 1993. But back then it started out as a comic book company that I set up so I could publish a series I’d created called Lorelei, about a woman who winds up getting caught in a supernatural situation and gets turned into a succubus. It was a pretty character-driven comic—no superhero fistfights or explosions or the like—and sold well enough in the nineties for a black-and-white series, but the market dried up when there was a major collapse of comic book distributors late in the decade, leaving only Diamond Comic Distributors. To this day, they’re really the only game in town for comic publishers, but Diamond’s focus is on the major companies—Marvel, DC, Image—with not a great deal of interest in the small presses.

When I rebooted the company in 2010, I moved away from comics and concentrated on publishing, for the most part, dark fantasy and horror books and graphic novels.

WaR: Lorelei Presents: House Macabre has a great grindhouse feel to it, almost reminiscent of some of Quentin Tarantino’s early work or the Rob Zombie movies. Do certain movies or film genres influence your work at all?

SR: Oh, sure. In the case of House Macabre, the influence comes from horror anthology movies like Trick ’r Treat, Trilogy of Terror, and Creepshow, but it also comes from comics like EC’s Tales From the Crypt, DC’s House of Mystery, and magazines like the original Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella—short stories with a little twist at the end. Like most of the projects I come up with, it’s a nod to the kind of stuff I grew up reading.

I’d say there’s more of a grindhouse feel to the Lorelei graphic novel that preceded House Macabre: Lorelei: Sects and the City, in which she battles a cult of Elder God worshippers. Unlike House Macabre, Sects is aimed at an adult audience, with sex and nudity and a whole lot of F-bombs. It’s basically a love letter to 1970s horror comics and movies; a few reviewers commented that it’s the sort of story that might have interested Hammer Studios, back in their heyday, which I consider a great compliment.

WaR: Who are the talented artists behind the drawings and where does the inspiration for characters come from?

SR: In Lorelei Presents: House Macabre, we’ve got cover artist Louis Small Jr., who made a name for himself in the 1990s as a supreme “bad girl” artist, drawing characters like Vampirella, Lady Death, and a bunch of others. The four-page introduction (written by me) that starts the comic, in which Lorelei greets the readers, was penciled by Uriel Caton—who once drew a Justice Society of America annual for DC Comics, and now is a top designer for Diamond Select Toys—and inked by “Chainsaw” Chuck Majewski. “All in Color for a Crime” (also written by me) was drawn by Lou Manna, who worked on DC’s superhero comics Young All-Stars and T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. “The Basilisk” (again, written by me) was drawn by John Pierard, who’s mainly a book illustrator. And “Requiem for Bravo 6” was written by Dwight Jon Zimmerman—a New York Times bestselling author, and a former writer of Marvel titles like Iron Man and Web of Spider-Man—and drawn by Juan Carlos Abraldes Rendo.

Lorelei: Sects and the City [a Mature Readers graphic novel] was written by me and has a cover by Esteban Maroto, who’s a comic-art legend with credits like the original Vampirella and Creepy, and a ton of DC Comics titles. The interior art is by Eliseu Gouveia, who’s drawn comics like The Phantom and Vengeance of the Mummy; Steve Geiger, a former Marvel art director who drew Web of Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk; and Neil Vokes, who drew comic series like Fright Night and his own current one, Flesh and Blood. The book has a vibe that’s sort of a combination of classic movies like The Devil Rides Out and 1980s Lovecraftian horror flicks like Re-Animator.

Lorelei herself was inspired by Vampirella, Marvel’s Satana, the Devil’s Daughter—who’s a succubus—and 1980s exploitation movies like Abel Ferrara’s Ms. 45, and even the TV show The Equalizer, because New York in the ’80s was a pretty dangerous place to live. When I created her in the late ’80s, I set out to create a sexy action heroine in that sort of grungy, urban setting, but didn’t want to make her a vampire, since that always seems to be the lazy, default setting for any female horror character. Back then, there weren’t too many comic-book succubi who went around seducing men and stealing their souls—I don’t think there are all that many, even today—so that’s what Lorelei became.

blood_feudWaR: In the young adult novels Blood Feud and Blood Reign, you introduce Pandora Zwieback. Who is Pandora and what’s her story?

SR: Pan is a sixteen-year-old Goth who spent the last decade being diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic because she can see monsters. But after she meets an immortal monster hunter named Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin, she learns that she doesn’t suffer from a mental illness—she has the power to see through the human disguises worn by the monsters that actually exist in the world. How she wound up with that power is a complete mystery to her and her parents, but before they ever get a chance to start figuring it out, they get swept up in a war involving vampire clans looking for what they think is an ultimate weapon. And it just so happens that it was delivered to the horror-themed museum owned by Pan’s dad.

Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1 introduces Pan and her cast of characters, and sets up the vampire war. Blood Reign continues the story, adding more details on Pan and the relationship Annie had with the fallen angel who’s leading the vampires against humanity. They’re both extremely character-driven novels, because I love writing for Pan and getting her take on this whole potential end-of-the-world scenario she’s found herself in.

Blood-Reign-FinalCvrWaR: How do you get into the minds of your characters and make them tick? What I mean is, when you’re writing about women for example or characters that experience things that you have no personal knowledge of, how do you keep it realistic?

SR: That’s a good question—I’m still trying to figure out how I’ve managed to get inside Pan’s head! I mean, obviously, I’ve got no experience in being a sixteen-year-old girl, but I do remember being something of a socially awkward nerd in high school, so I have that to draw on, to some degree. I’ve taken the old axiom about writers writing what they know and applied that to her, so she’s a horror fan and Mets baseball fan and comic book lover, and then I add more facets to her character as I go along. So far, it’s been working—my favorite convention story involves me telling a woman about Blood Feud and explaining Pan’s character in some detail, and her response was, “That sounds fascinating. Is the woman who wrote the book here?” When I pointed out that I was the author, she said, “That’s incredible! But how could you know what it’s like to be a sixteen-year-old girl?”

I think a lot of getting into the mental processes of the characters comes by playing certain kinds of music to set a mood. If I want to write a sad scene—say, like the discussion between Pan and her mom in Blood Feud, about the effect her parents’ divorce has had on her—I’ll play something that’ll intentionally make me feel melancholy, and put it on a loop. If I get a little misty-eyed when I read the scene over, then I know I’ve gotten inside Pan’s head and nailed down her emotions. For action scenes, I usually play movie sound tracks, like Hans Zimmer’s scores for the Batman trilogy and Man of Steel, or David Arnold’s for the John Singleton movie Four Brothers.

Coming tomorrow: A behind-the-scenes look at StarWarp Concepts—the thinking behind certain projects, promotions, and book-marketing strategies.

Some Bad News for International Panatics

blood_feudHeads up, residents of the United Kingdom and the European Continent: Barnes & Noble just sent us some bad news for you e-book fans who purchase titles from their Nook Store—news that affects publishing house StarWarp Concepts, as well!

On March 15, all Nook titles—which, in StarWarp Concepts’ case, means my Pandora Zwieback novels Blood Feud and Blood Reign—will become U.S. exclusives, as Barnes & Noble closes its UK Nook Store and discontinues its Nook Reading app for Android. UK readers will have access to their Nook purchases up to May 31, at which point those readers will have to go to Sainsbury’s Entertainment on Demand to access them.

I know; it sucks. But don’t worry, European Panatics: If you haven’t purchased SWC’s Nook-friendly ePub titles from B&N, you can still buy them directly from the StarWarp Concepts webstore. Just follow the links below:

As you no doubt are aware by now, Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1 is the critically acclaimed novel that starts Pan’s story, explaining how she, her parents and friends, and the monster-hunting immortal Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin are drawn into a conflict among warring vampire clans searching for the key to an ultimate weapon (or so the legend goes)—a key that just so happens to have been delivered to the horror-themed museum owned by Pan’s father. It’s a character-driven action-fest that leads immediately into the second novel:

Blood-Reign-FinalCvrBlood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2, in which Pan and her friends and family face even greater challenges as the vampire clans draw up plans to go to war with humanity. Leading the charge is a fallen angel named Zaqiel, whose previous attempt at subjugating the world was stopped by Annie—who, back in the day, was Zaqiel’s lover!

Blood Feud and Blood Reign are $2.99 U.S. each. Sales are made via Paypal, and the books are available for immediate download.

Place your orders today!

Are You a Librarian Looking for Quality E-books?

nyplibraryAn interesting topic came up last week, while I was talking with Richard C. White, author of StarWarp Concepts’ supernatural graphic novel Troubleshooters, Incorporated: Night Stalkings, pirate-fantasy digital comic The Chronicles of the Sea Dragon Special, and the popular how-to book for writers, Terra Incognito: A Guide to Building the Worlds of Your Imagination. Rich had been a guest at a recent MystiCon fantasy convention and had a conversation with some school librarians who were interested in adding his writers reference book, Terra Incognito: A Guide to Building the Worlds of Your Imagination, to their lists of e-book titles. But how, they asked, would they be able to obtain it? As librarians, they’re required to order books from distributors, not from publishers; that applies to e-books as well.

 Well, it just so happens that one of StarWarp Concepts’ digital distributors, Smashwords, makes SWC’s titles—including my Pandora Zwieback novels—available to libraries through Baker & Taylor’s Axis360 and OverDrive e-book programs. To quote from Smashword’s arrangement with the programs:

“Library patrons are able to check out only one copy at a time. The books are wrapped in DRM so they time out after a specific period of time. The library can purchase multiple copies if they decide demand warrants multiple simultaneous checkouts. Otherwise, the library purchases a single copy and allows only one copy at a time to be lent out. If a library patron wishes to obtain a book that’s already checked out, the patron is sometimes given the option to purchase a copy through a retailer.”

In the case of OverDrive, If a library patron wishes to obtain a book that’s already checked out, the patron is sometimes given the option to purchase a copy direct through OverDrive (for libraries that utilize OverDrive’s ‘Buy it Now’ feature).”

Via Smashwords, the following titles can be ordered through Axis360 and OverDrive:

terraTerra Incognito: A Guide to Building the Worlds of Your Imagination is a how-to book for writers and gamers in which bestselling fantasy author Richard C. White (Gauntlet: Dark Legacy: Paths of Evil, The Chronicles of the Sea Dragon Special, Troubleshooters, Incorporated: Night Stalkings) takes you through the step-by-step process of constructing a world for your characters, from societies and governments to currency and religion. Included is an interview with New York Times bestselling author Tracy Hickman (Dragonlance) that discusses his methods of world building, as well as his creative experiences during his time as a designer for gaming company TSR, the original home of Dungeons & Dragons.

And like I mentioned above, you can also obtain my Saga of Pandora Zwieback young adult novels, Blood Feud and Blood Reign. You know how popular young adult books are these days, don’t you? Well, here’s another series your patrons might be interested in!

blood_feudPan is a 16-year-old Goth girl who’s spent the last decade being treated for mental health problems because she can see monsters. It’s only after she meets an immortal monster hunter named Annie that Pan discovers she’s never been ill—her so-called “monstervision” is actually a supernatural gift that allows her to see into Gothopolis, the not-so-mythical shadow world that exists right alongside the human world. You’ll find Pan battling her own brand of evil dead in the following titles:

Blood Feud: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 1: This critically acclaimed novel is the beginning of Pan’s story, explaining how she, her parents and friends, and Annie are drawn into a conflict among warring vampire clans searching for the key to an ultimate weapon (or so the legend goes)—a key that just so happens to have been delivered to the horror-themed museum owned by Pan’s father. It’s a character-driven action-fest that leads immediately into the second novel:

Blood-Reign-FinalCvrBlood Reign: The Saga of Pandora Zwieback, Book 2: Pan and Annie face even greater challenges as the vampire clans draw up plans to go to war with humanity. Leading the charge is a fallen angel named Zaqiel, whose previous attempt at subjugating the world was stopped by Annie—who, back in the day, was Zaqiel’s lover!

So if you’re a librarian interested in adding those three titles to your digital bookshelves, head over to Axis360 or OverDrive and place your order today!

Welcome, Big Apple Con 2016 Attendees!

Thanks for stopping by the StarWarp Concepts table today, and for your interest in my Goth adventuress, Pandora Zwieback. If you’re here because you spoke with me, then click on the cover you see to the right and download the Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0 digital comic that I showed you. Not only is it an introduction to Pan and her world, hosted by Pan herself, but it contains two sample chapters from her first novel, Blood Feud. Give it a read.

blood_feudThe Saga of Pandora Zwieback is the young adult, dark-urban-fantasy novel series that I write. It’s the story of a 16-year-old Goth girl who’s spent the last decade being treated for mental health problems because she can see monsters. It’s only after she meets a shape-shifting monster hunter named Sebastienne “Annie” Mazarin, in the first critically acclaimed novel, Blood Feud, that Pan discovers she’s never been ill—her so-called “monstervision” is actually a supernatural gift that allows her to see into Gothopolis, the not-so-mythical shadow world that exists right alongside the human world. But before Pan can learn more about what she can do, she and her parents are drawn into a conflict between warring vampire clans that are searching for the key to an ultimate weapon (or so the legend goes)—a key that just so happens to have been delivered to the horror-themed museum owned by Pan’s father.

Blood Feud is far and away one of the best young adult supernatural fantasy novels released in the last few years. Pan is exactly the kind of teen heroine that readers should be standing up and cheering for.”—Melissa Voelker, HorrorNews.net

“One of those fabulous books that manages to straddle the young adult/adult fiction divide, catering equally for teens and more, ahem, ‘mature’ readers alike with a light touch that makes it a joy to read.”—Kell Smurthwaite, BCF Book Reviews

Blood-Reign-FinalCvrPan’s debut adventure continues in the second novel, Blood Reign, in which she and Annie face challenges from not just vampires but legions of monsters led by a fallen angel—who happens to be one of Annie’s ex-lovers! Blood Feud ended on such a shocking cliffhanger that Blood Reign picks up right where the previous novel left off and hits the ground running, in a story filled with danger, high-speed car chases, vampire hit squads, and a generous helping of romance—all while Pan tries to make sense of her increasingly weird life. Pan fans (I call them “Panatics”) can’t seem to get enough of StarWarp Concepts’ resident Goth girl, so feel free to join their growing ranks—we love adding new members to Zwieback Nation.

“If Blood Feud, the first volume, took some deliberate pacing steps to build Pandora’s character, Blood Reign eschews that as it thunders along at breakneck speed, barely pausing for breath at any given time (and, I must say, the volume was devoured at speed as well)… I thoroughly enjoyed this volume.”—Andrew Boylan, Taliesin Meets the Vampires

“If you thought the first book, Blood Feud, was high powered, you’ll love this book! To paraphrase movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn’s quote: Blood Reign starts with an earthquake and builds to a climax…. This was one fun read!”Dwight Jon Zimmerman, New York Times bestselling coauthor of Lincoln’s Last Days

pan_annualAlong with Blood Feud and Blood Reign, on sale right now is The Saga of Pandora Zwieback Annual #1, which features two brand-new adventures (written by me) of Pan and her friends that are separate from the novels: a full-color comic story drawn by Eliseu Gouveia (The Saga of Pandora Zwieback #0), in which Pan and her boyfriend, Javier, run into one of his ex-girlfriends…whom Pan can see is really a mythological siren that can enrapture men with her voice; and a short story that pits Pan, Annie, and Javier against a trio of Elegant Gothic Lolita vampires—in a shopping mall! An additional backup tale, “After Hours,” is provided by DC Comics writer Sholly Fisch (Scooby-Doo! Team-Up, Action Comics, Batman: The Brave and the Bold) and drawn by comic-art legend Ernie Colon (Amethyst, Princess of Gemworld).

Give the site a look-over—we’ve got plenty of free stuff you can download, and a gallery called “The 13 Days of Pan-demonium”: 13 unique drawings of Pan and Annie by a host of talented artists. And when you’re done, don’t forget to Like Pan’s Facebook page, so you can keep up-to-date with all the latest news.

A special shout-out to teen readers and Pandora Zwieback fans who are budding authors, but who may think their work isn’t all that good and worth continuing: Check out “Again, He Who Stalks”—a science-fiction story I wrote for my high school’s literary magazine when I was 16. Take a look at that and tell me you can’t do better! 😀

And speaking of short stories, there’s “Pandora Zwieback and the Bloggy Thing,” in which Pan is asked by a horror site to write a guest post for their blog, to promote her book series. I originally wrote it as a real-life guest post for a site called Writing Belle, and Panatics enjoyed the meta aspect of it.

And please keep in mind that Pan’s publisher, StarWarp Concepts, is not just a YA fiction house. It also publishes illustrated classics (including J. Sheridan’s Le Fanu’s vampire romance Carmilla and Edgar Rice Burroughs’s A Princess of Mars); graphic novels for superhero fans and adult horror aficionados; digital and print comic books; artist sketchbooks; and writing guides. Give them a visit and check out all they have to offer.