Jak Phoenix eBook Giveaway at Brave Luck Books

tracy falbe rys chronicles ebook paperback ipad ibooksThe amazing Tracy Falbe has chosen Jak Phoenix, the space adventure novel by Matt D. Williams, as her monthly ebook giveaway in March 2011. All you have to do is sign up for her reader list and you’re automatically entered for the draw.

So drop by this link: http://www.falbepublishing.com/braveluck/monthly-giveaway-details.html

While you’re there, download her free ebook, Union of Renegades: The Rys Chronicles Book I and check out her other work!

Good luck in the draw.

Thanks Tracy!

An Interview with Fantasy Author Tracy Falbe

tracy falbe rys chronicles ebook paperback ipad ibooksI put Jak Phoenix 2 aside today for the opportunity to speak with Tracy Falbe, an outstanding independent fantasy author. Her work is exceptional and her presentation of everything from book to website is very professional. If you’re a fantasy fan, I urge you to try one of her novels on for size.

Here is the interview…

MW: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

TF: I grew up in rural Michigan which exposed me to nothing exciting. I can’t remember a time when I did not entertain myself with adventuresome daydreams. I was always a princess leading the rebels while dangling over lava pits when I was a little girl. And I always knew that I wanted to write novels when I grew up. When I was in grade school I would draw pictures, write stories on the pictures and then staple them together. I’m a natural born publisher.

After growing up in Michigan I spent most of my adult life in Nevada and Northern California. I earned a journalism degree from California State University, Chico. It’s a good degree for someone who wants to be a writer. Then in 2009 I moved back to Michigan. Living in the Midwest is weird after being out West for so long. I call it rustbelt living. The traffic is light and you can always get a parking space. I sometimes feel like I’m in the witness protection program.

Today I appear to live an ordinary life. I have a husband, kids, dog, and cat. When I’m not writing, I enjoy growing food, bicycling, swimming, boating, and watching depressing documentaries. I read a lot of nonfiction, especially history, economics, spirituality, current affairs, and environmental subjects. Unlike most people I meet, I write novels and sell them on the internet, and I love doing it.

Could you give us a rundown on The Rys Chronicles?

I’m the type of reader and writer who likes characters that are not purely good. Character flaws are interesting. The world is a hard place that is constantly pushing people to do bad things. From this perspective I try to summon characters who have room to improve and then use fantasy adventure to push them into moral dilemmas, like a rebellion needs to be started to defeat evil but many people will die in the bloody conflict.
The two main heroes in The Rys Chronicles are the human warrior Dreibrand Veta and the rys Shan. Rys are the magical race in the novels. The most powerful among them are capable of remote viewing, mind reading, levitation, and even seizing the souls of the dead. The series covers about seven years of the characters’ lives. Dreibrand is a violent man with mighty ambitions but he gradually develops past his pride and greed and tries to accomplish the greater good. Shan ascends to supreme power and is corrupted by it, but eventually grasps redemption.
I try to have each novel in the series tell a story and deliver reader satisfaction while propelling the overall epic. I’ve created a large fantasy world of two east and west cultures that have long been divided by an empty wilderness protected by the enslaved souls of the rys Queen. The Rys Chronicles tells the story of the breaching of this geographical barrier and the resulting conflicts.

The Rys Chronicles is medieval style fantasy, but my primary historical inspirations come from my American heritage. Empire, colonialism, racial tension, slavery, frontier, and freedom all percolated through my imagination as I created the fantasy series.

I make it easy for fantasy readers to sample my fiction and decide if it’s their style of entertainment. The first novel Union of Renegades is always free at www.braveluck.com.


What draws you to the fantasy genre?

I like the escapism. Fantasy worlds aren’t the lame one I live in. There’s magic and I like the ancient or medieval feel of fantasy. In fantasy, the characters get to really confront their problems. They fight the monsters, kill the bad guys, save the villagers. They can take bold action, unlike the real world where your mistakes go on your credit report and you get laid off and just have to suck it all up. I also very much enjoy how fantasy can provide illuminating commentary on real world social ills like slavery, religion, patriarchy, war, tyranny, etc. The characters deal with these burdens and their struggles are heroic.


What type of readers will enjoy your novels? Are they geared toward seasoned fantasy readers or will someone curious about the genre find enjoyment as well?

I think that someone curious about the fantasy genre might enjoy my fiction if he or she was willing to go along with typical fantasy conventions like the world is not historically real and there is a magical race. I believe most of my readers are seasoned fantasy fans, but that’s the audience I market to. What I know of my reader demographics, I can estimate that men and women almost equally read my work. I might skew a little toward the male, but I wrote with both audiences in mind.


What films or books inspired you on a creative level?

When I was a teenager I started reading the Dune books by Frank Herbert. The grand scale of his novels with the multiple characters, multiple settings, and intricate societies impressed me. I emulate his style a little by writing from multiple points of view and weaving together action from various locations. Of course, like most people, J.R.R. Tolkien ignited my love of the fantasy genre, but the Conan stories by Robert E. Howard probably inspired me more because I liked their willingness to be violent and sexy.

I also like the novels by George R.R. Martin although I finished writing The Rys Chronicles before I read his work. I like his gritty style. There’s no sugar coating.

What lasting impression would you like to leave on your readers?

My foremost goal when writing is to create a story that has action and characters people can care about. I want to entertain, and beyond that I hope that people might ponder some of the themes I work with, like lust for power, the temptation to do bad things to achieve good ends, and breaking free of oppression.

How would you describe your experience so far as an independent author? Do you have any desire to make contact with a traditional publisher?

I started publishing The Rys Chronicles at the end of 2005, and it’s been a bumpy road mostly because I did not know what I was doing, but I’ve learned a few things and feel much more confident about my business now. Even in the beginning, I always had sales trickle in and the occasional nice email from a reader. To think that out of all the hundreds of thousands of novels out there that someone chose my work and liked it is just so amazing.

Life as an independent author has become much easier and rewarding over the last couple years because I can now be included at major online retailers. A few years ago, self publishers were not allowed. Now the ebook retailers are willing to let readers decide what they want to buy instead of limiting their online catalogs to only what traditional publishers think is good. 

I make no efforts to contact publishing companies. If some big company were to come at me with a proposal, I would certainly look at it. A publisher who could put my books in bookstores might be worth doing business with.

Where do you see the publishing business in the next few years?

I’m not an industry expert, but it looks like in the future publishers will have to get a little more active about finding talent and rewarding it. Authors don’t have to wait around for rejection anymore and humbly place their manuscripts in a closet. Authors can take their works directly to the market and make money if readers find them worth reading. But traditional publishers still have massive market share, so I hardly lay awake worrying about them. Publishers still have broad access to offline retail outlets for print books, so that’s a strength for them. Except for that, it seems inevitable that publishing will shrink a little as an industry as authors weed out middlemen.

Are you able to tell us a little bit about what you have in the works?

I am writing another four-part fantasy series. It is a prequel to The Rys Chronicles set 2,200 years earlier. There are significant historical events I refer to in the first series, so I’m delving into that past. I have three of the novels written and will soon start writing the fourth and final part. When they are all completed to my satisfaction, I will publish the series and then have 8 novels for readers.

My latest update about this fantasy work in progress is at this page:


Where can people keep up to date on your work?

My blog Her Ladyship’s Quest www.herladyshipsquest.com is the place where I’ll announce news about future novels. Until then, I write book and movie reviews, interview authors, feature books old and new, write articles, host blog tours, and try to publish content that readers will enjoy or find useful.

Another option for following me is to join my readers’ list at http://www.falbepublishing.com/braveluck/free_ebook.html. You get to enter a monthly ebook drawing and download Union of Renegades for free too. I won’t send you many emails, but you will someday get an announcement about my new novels. 

Thank you so much for agreeing to answer these questions. Do you have anything else to add?

Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my work, and I wish you much success with Jak Phoenix.

Fantasy readers can sample the first novel Union of Renegades by downloading a free copy from her website www.braveluck.com. Paperbacks available too.

All my fantasy novels are also widely available at major online retailers.

Smashwords http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/939  

Amazon Kindle http://www.amazon.com/Union-Renegades-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B003UES7U8/ 

Barnes & Noble Nook http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Union-of-Renegades/Tracy-Falbe/e/2940000720509/  

Google Ebooks http://books.google.com/ebooks?id=ifNnT44l-KIC&dq 

Apple iBooks http://itunes.apple.com/en/book/union-renegades-the-rys-chronicles/id365801314?mt=11


An Interview with Brian S. Pratt

Matt Williams, author of Jak Phoenix, had a chance to speak with independent author Brian S. Pratt, who was kind enough to answer a few questions. For those of you who don’t know him, he is probably the most successful independent author ever, with thousands upon thousands of books sold without the help of a major publisher. If you’re an author or a fantasy reader, enjoy the interview below!


MW: Tell us a little bit about yourself:

BSP: I’m just a regular guy whose imagination tends to run amuck now and again. I am a veteran (Air Force), drove taxi, managed a Pizza Hut and even taught teens to drive for a couple years. Nothing in my history would indicate here’s a guy who is going to write a bunch of books. Of course, anyone who knew me from when I was 12 until now would know that a book is never far from my hand. I read all the time, less so now that I’m writing.  I live in the country and prefer peace and quiet.
Could you give us a quick overview of the Morcyth Saga?

It’s seven books long, never been edited, written in the present tense, and has sold well over 50,000 copies. A rather unbelievable achievement given that I hadn’t a clue what I was doing when I started. Had I known then what I know now, I never would have written it in present tense. Some people just can’t get over that.

The Morcyth Saga is about a teen who is into role playing and likes to read fantasy novels. He goes for a job, ends up in another world where magic works, and then discovers that his experiences from role playing and reading are going to come in rather handy. The way I figured it, if someone is going to pull someone from our world into another where they want him to do something, become a magic user or the like, then wouldn’t it stand to reason you would want a candidate who was already inclined toward those respects? Make them more likely to believe it’s real and take to it quicker. Thus, James was born.
How about a quick overview of the Broken Key series?

The Broken Key Trilogy is like a role playing adventure. Dungeon delving, treasure hunting, traps, scrolls, potions, etc. It’s filled with excitement and humor. The main characters are-Riyan, who is the shepherd and daydreams about being an adventurer; Chad, who is a miller’s son and hates the family business; Bart, the resident ne’er do well who’s past has given him skills honest citizens shouldn’t possess; and Kevik, a magic user apprentice barely on the path of magic. Lots of action.
Where did your inspiration come from when you began writing?

Mainstream writers were letting me down. Books taking forever to come out. When they did, they were boring. Wheel of Time is a prime example. First several books were some of the finest fantasy every written. Then it bogged down with a myriad of sub-plots, characters, and finally reached a point where a scorecard was necessary in order to keep track of it all. The main characters were hardly seen, maybe 20 pages in a 700 page novel. At some point I wouldn’t be surprised if the phrase”braid pulling” won’t be used to describe such novels.

I figured I could do better. So I set out to write a story in which you followed the main characters almost exclusively, trimmed the descriptives down to a minimum, and had action or something interesting in every chapter. From the response I’ve had, it seems there are many who like those kinds of stories.
What is your main goal when writing?

Be consistent, keep the story moving briskly with exciting things happening all the time. I like the “Rule of Three.” Have three plots going on at any one time. Most times, only the main one is visible while others are going on behind the scenes, encroaching upon the action every now and then. Then at the end, you pull it all together. Sometimes, there’s a “Oh yeah, that makes sense now” kind of feeling.

I also like to throw in random stuff too that are what I call “plot seeds.” Plot seeds are actions or occurrences that I can draw on later when I need to figure out how something came to be. Doing so also makes you as the writer appear clever, when in fact you don’t know what you’re doing half the time.
How in god’s name do you write so much?

Just write. I can write 1600 words an hour, but tend to do more around 1000. If you write 1,000 words a day, that’s 365,000 words a year and my books range around 120,000 words. So that is 3 books a year on just an hour a day. If writing is a priority, then write. The nemeses of any writer are the excuses we come up with as to why we can’t write. And let me tell you, it’s a battle daily to overcome them.
Do you ever look back and wish you could change anything about your earlier work?

Not really. I am doing well now, and to go back and change anything would altar the path I took to get here. Pull one string and it may all come unraveled. It was a struggle, still is for the most part, but I am content.
What is the best piece of advice you have for new authors?

Write. Write some more. Then write a little bit more. Set a goal and stick to it. If you are happy with what you are producing, do not allow the naysayers to tarnish your joy with poison. I say poison because bad reviews are just like that to a writer’s confidence. You begin doubting yourself, second-guessing what you are doing, and when you sit at the computer to type, and fail to do so. I went through this more times than I care to recall. If you want to know what kind of reviews might be in your future, check out The Unsuspecting Mage on Amazon, both US and UK. You are unlikely to ever get worse reviews than what has been posted there. Yet, my books sell, and sell well despite reviews. I don’t put much stock in them anymore. If you’re a writer, then write. When one book is out, start the next. Don’t wait to see if you are a success before starting another. Either you enjoy what you are doing, or you don’t. If not, find something else to do.
What do you think has made you one of the most successful independent authors?

Perseverance. An unwillingness to give in to the chorus (and at times thundering chorus) of those saying my books are horrible, that I’m a hack, that I will never make it. Plus, I kept on writing. I knew that at some point, my books would catch on. When they did, I wanted to have a bunch ready to sell. And I did…now I do.
Are you writing full time now?

Yep. Don’t have any other job. Though writing full time is a bit misleading. I don’t write nearly as much as I used to. It’s difficult sometimes to find the time. After all, there are a lot of demands on my time in regards to my past work, this interview is a good example of that. I love it though and wouldn’t give it up even if I could get additional books out. (don’t tell my readers though, they’re clamoring for me to get on with the next one, he says whispering while his eye dart to and fro to see if he was overheard). I do find time to write daily, if not thousands of words. Then there is editing, reader emails, checking sales, and a hundred other things. Plus, I live alone so along with all this, I cook, clean, play with the dog and of course video games. Love empire building ones.
What are you enjoying best about being independent versus writing for a “traditional” publisher?

No schedules, no demands, and the sense of pride that it was all due to me and me alone. However, I do have a Hollywood Producer shopping The Morcyth Saga around to traditional publishers. He says that if we had the backing of one of them, it would be easier to sell it to a studio. Not sure about that. I’ll be scrutinizing any deal closely before I sign. I like doing it myself.
Where do you see the publishing industry in the next few years?

The Indies are here to stay. Check any online (eBook/Kindle) bestselling list and you’ll see that Indies are up there with the powerhouse authors of traditional publishers. If publishers want to compete, they are going to have to rework their model.

I believe in the near future, traditional publishers will have a whole new way of handling new authors. The best way to test the profitability of new authors is with eBooks. Instead of trying to get new authors into bookstores (which costs hundreds of thousands of dollars), they should instead distribute them as eBooks (start up costs for this would be negligible compared to the return) for a year or two. Then, if their market value proves itself, proceed to books. If not, release them and take on another. Publishers will only be out only the cost of editing. Back in 2005 when I began the less than satisfying and downright hope-destroying “submitting/query letter” process, I would have jumped at that.

When an Indie can write a story, have it formatted for Kindle through Amazon.com, and then all other eBook formats at Smashwords.com for nothing, and then have it available to the world, what do they need with a publisher? Publish your book on those two sites and the first sale is profit. Then like in my above example, if they do well at eBooks, publish their work on LSI (Lightningsource.com) for $87, and have paperbacks available worldwide.
Tell us about your latest work:

There are several in progress, actually. I have about 5 books in different stages of completion. My next book to be completed will be book 2 of Travail of The Dark Mage which is the follow-up series to The Morcyth Saga. After that, probably do another in the Adventurer Guild series. I also have ideas for several other series’ that I have yet to start. But if I publish the first book of another series before I get Travail of The Dark Mage completed, some of my readers have vowed to tar and feather me. J
What is next for you?

Movie deal for The Morcyth Saga. Not sure when, or even if, but one Hollywood producer has a fire in the belly to see it happen. Actually, this is the first place I’ve ever mentioned this outside of a few fan emails. So your readers are getting an exclusive as it were. The Morcyth Saga is being translated into Icelandic. Not a big market for sure, but a second language is going to be cool. And who knows where that might lead. I may have it translated into Spanish next, but that probably won’t start until 2012 at the absolute earliest.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A bit of advice, take it as you will. – If you want to make it big, rely less on the self-publishing companies like iUniverse, Lulu, Publish America, and the others. They are in it to sell the unsuspecting author a bunch of packages they don’t need. They set the price of their books too high, and lay all the work promoting the book (and the cost) to the author. 95% of my sales are eBooks. If I didn’t have paperbacks, my pocketbook wouldn’t even notice.

Do it yourself. I’m always here to offer help and advice as best I can. Feel free to email me with questions: bp47474@aol.com

About email… Get one that readers can use to contact you. Post it everywhere your book is listed, if it is allowed. At the very least have it at the beginning of every eBook and on the back of every paperback. I have many steadfast, loyal readers who spread the word because I replied back in a friendly, personable manner. Also, turn off spam filters for that email address. Yes, you get a lot of junk mail, but that is a small price to pay to not miss a reader email. A year after I published my first book, I happened to check my spam folder and found a reader email. Angry is a mild understatement to describe how I felt. It was a month old and days away from being deleted. How many others had sent me emails only to have been ignored? For that is what they will feel if you don’t respond. Now it’s set to off and I get a couple a day. Answering them is the highlight of my day.
My website has lots of information for Indies www.briansprattbooks.com.
My above responses contain about 2000 words and only took me an hour and a half (going back and editing took another half hour). Like I said, writing isn’t hard, it’s just finding the time and inclination to do it. Best of luck to you all and remember, we Indies are all in this together!


A very special thanks goes out to Brian!

Brian’s book are also available on Smashwords!