Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Man Of Many Talents—C.L. Stegall

I’m going to go ahead and steal CL’s bio straight from his website, as I couldn’t put it any better.

C.L. Stegall, co-founder of Dark Red Press, is the author of the Progeny series of novels and shorts – the first of which, The Weight Of Night, was published in January 2011. The second in that series, Hearts In Aether, is scheduled for 2013. His next work, Valence of Infinity, is scheduled for late 2012. He spends his time writing, herding the cats of DRP and making his Wife, Mona, laugh. He lives in the Dallas area with Mona and two dogs who think they run the joint.

Welcome CL, and thanks for being a guest here at Romance In Flight. Thanks so much for having me!

 I need to ask this first, what inspired you to start your own publishing company? Well, my circle of friends includes quite a few fellow authors, and the one thing that had frustrated several of us for quite some time was the lottery that is traditional publishing. Early last year (2011) I published my first novel, The Weight Of Night, and I did pretty much everything: cover design, interior and exterior formatting, publishing, etc.  The only thing I did not do on my own was the editing. That is a big no-no, in my book. You truly cannot edit yourself, no matter what you might think. That second (or third or fourth) set of eyes on your work can only improve it!
Over the course of the year, I began to have conversations with a few other authors, each of whom had a wealth of experience in various areas of the writing world. It came down to us deciding that if we banded together, concerted all of our efforts, we might stand a better chance of lifting each other to the levels we expected of ourselves. Thus was born the concept and principles behind Dark Red Press!

Are you open for submissions at DRP? If so, what are your submission guidelines? At this time we are not open to any submissions; however, we take great pride in answering any new and/or independent authors’ questions. We do not charge for advice, of course, and we are all too willing to dole out our own experiences so that others can avoid any of the same pitfalls. That is a tenet of DRP: always help our own.

Let’s talk about you. You’re currently on a blog tour for The Weight Of Night. Can you tell us about the book? The story is a paranormal adventure with some romance undertones thrown in for fun and drama! It truth, The Weight Of Night is a very exciting, fast read about a girl about to graduate high school who suddenly faces great tragedy and learns that her entire life has been based upon a lie. She finds that she is actually the daughter of an ancient Greek goddess. Without any warning at all, she is thrown into a plot to locate a dangerous and powerful artifact for a pious and conniving god. Along the way, she meets others of her kind, The Progeny of the Greek pantheon, only to find that most of them are insane, dangerous or a bit of both. Alexis, the protagonist, has to find her way in this new existence, learn who she really is and what she might actually be capable of.

The Special Edition version contains two additional short stories of The Progeny.

Special Edition Purchase LINKS:
Createspace (less expensive paperback):

Original Edition Purchase LINKS:

What’s next for CL Stegall—the author? I’m in the stages of writing two new novels, the follow-up to The Weight of Night, the second in the Progeny series, Hearts In Aether; as well, the first in a new series of urban fantasy thriller novels, the Valence Of Infinity series, called The Blood Of Others. That one is definitely not for the kiddies, folks!

What’s next for CL Stegall—the CEO and co-founder of Dark Red Press? We have a new release or two scheduled for later this year and we are working on a multimedia project that I think a lot of folks will be pretty interested in that will see all four of the DRP authors thrown together in close quarters for a road trip of terrible proportions! More info on that soon to come.

Thank you again for being a guest here at Romance In Flight, it was a pleasure. Thank you!

For more about CL Stegall, please click one of the links below.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Talking about PR with the crew from Ralph’s Design & Deli (We’re not talking about meat here)

Back in July, as you read in last week’s post, I had the privilege of meeting some very interesting people. Among them were the two women responsible for creating Ralph’s Design and Deli. Andi Reis and Renee Groskreutz.
These talented ladies set up their table, and stayed throughout the conference, answering questions about their services and giving demos, (not to mention taking this lucky author on a scenic drive around town on our way to lunch.) For authors just starting out, or those wanting to concentrate on their writing and not on promotions, Ralph’s Design & Deli is the place to go.
I’m going to let Andi and Renee tell you all about their company and what they’re serving up at the Deli.

 Hi, Jeanne! Thanks for welcoming us here. Nice blog. Mind if we put our feet up?

Not at all, make yourselves at home. And while you’re at it, why don’t you tell our dear readers how you came up with the idea for Ralph’s.
Andi: We want the vintage, delicatessen style of old-fashioned customer service to come through in our communication and work ethic, as well as in our brand look and feel. The “Deli” is because we offer a smorgasbord of a la carte options, but also packages.
Renee: We love a good sandwich, good food in general, really, and it’s hard to forget a name that juxtaposes two mostly unrelated subjects. Like a bakery that also does guitar repair. We get asked occasionally what our best sandwich is, and so far we say “It’s called the Book Trailer Deluxe.’ We get a lot of strange looks.
On an average, how much time is spent creating websites?
Andi:  We own a sister company called FunCitySocialMedia that handles the website and blog builds, as well as the social media platforms. So for Ralph’s we don’t generally do websites but we do sometimes build blogs.
Renee: However, just to note, website builds generally range anywhere from 3 weeks to 12 weeks depending upon the complexity, time needed for the client to review between rounds and content. An author’s website is generally not as extensive as someone with a full product photo gallery so it generally takes about 3 weeks to build an author’s website.
What benefits would an author (or business owner) have using your services instead of putting in the time themselves?
Andi: We’re smart, funny, kind of cute, and we love dogs. We have a lot of marketing experience, Renee is a powerhouse of social media genius and is always willing to share it; I am a really good editor but I do it only for large, special projects because we are focusing on other parts of the business; We are still building our portfolio, but we are confident and growing. We are great at taking constructive criticism, we work tirelessly on behalf of those who put their trust in us, and in general…
Renee: Did she just say we’re kind of cute? Ok fine, that too. Using our services allows the writer to focus on their writing and developing and maintaining their personal brand, while we handle promotions, marketing and cohesion for all of their design elements that inevitably become part of a solid brand positioning. You are the story expert, we are the graphic design and digital marketing experts. We tell authors to keep writing and we will keep promoting on their behalf.
One of the services you offer is manuscript editing. On an average (because I know some manuscripts are longer than others) what is the turnaround, from start to finish?
Andi: In a nutshell, I will tell you that an editor takes all the time he or she is given. Most editors will tell you they will find SOMEthing to change every time they pick up a manuscript, even if it’s just a suggestion for flow or clarity. “Start to finish” really works in rounds of edits: if I’m given a deadline of one month for developmental and line editing, I will work a week at a time, turn edits back to the author for stets, corrections and questions; they have it for a week, then I get it back and start proofreading, making suggestions, etc. Ideally, I’m handed off a Word doc in the beginning and when we are almost at deadline so that I can track changes, and then get a galley proof to do a final edit for glaring typos (as I whisper quietly to myself that I hope for none). Galley proofs aren’t as typical in the age of eBooks, so whatever I can do to help get that final version looking good is important. Ebooks can be real stinkers with spacing.
I have a background in advertising and marketing, so I understand how unforgiving printer or promotion deadlines can be. If someone says I MUST HAVE THIS BACK IN FIVE DAYS, I will mark up everything I can possibly find in two days, send it back and on the fourth day check for corrections and glaring typos and be done. It’s what I call a Fire Drill Edit – it’s not ideal and can leave huge gaps – it’s a high-level proofread for the most part, but I also know that sometimes any edit is better than none. I’m also terrible at editing my own writing.
Another service you offer is the book trailer. How important is it to an author to have one and is the trend on the rise?
Andi: Video is king. It is better to have five one-minute videos than the other way around. Book trailers are part of an author’s whole marketing package and are good to have at every stage of the publishing process. YouTube is the second highest searched platform out there. You don’t need a 5-minute video – you want your book trailer to set a mood with a very short story.  The trend is to slap a long video together – but people have short attention spans for online content. Tell your story as quickly as possible with a music bed and relevant images, a voiceover if necessary, and a call to action. The more  you have online, the more credible and validated your work will appear. Marketing is about appearances after all. Don’t you want to be on TV, too? J One of our clients, Henry Bodden, does a lot of speaking engagements and decided to take a tv/player with him so that the video would run before, during and after his lecture on WW2.
You have your own book out there, 15 Twitter Tips for Authors & Other Grownups. Speaking of Twitter, why is this such an important tool for an author?

Renee: Twitter is the heart of social media. There is no tool out there better to push out and share links to your book, blog, video and other promotional materials than twitter. It is also far easier to grow a twitter platform quickly than any other platform. For example with twitter an author can send out a tweet with a hashtag such as #thriller or #ibook and people who are not following them but do have a search set up on those hashtags will see your tweet. Twitter forces you to keep the message short and to the point and they make it easy for you to find and connect with new people easily. If an author could only choose one social media platform to focus on, without a doubt I would recommend twitter.

Thank you both again for being guests on my blog, but before you go, do you have any parting pearls of wisdom to pass on to the readers?
Andi: Oh, gosh. So many things. We’ve started a blog so we can cover in depth how the right collateral, marketing and strategy can help authors. Plan marketing; set mini-goals; don’t be afraid to market to niches; brainstorm with other creative people; networking OFFLINE is still one of your best tools; your consistent and pervasive personal brand is as important as what you write when it comes to a broader potential audience; stay engaged in your social media; being interested makes you interesting; you won’t please everyone and that’s ok; don’t be afraid to shamelessly plug your book – if you don’t believe in it, why should we?
- Index your website like crazy. Indexing your website means that you make sure that all of the search engines that it exists. You do not want to wait the months and months or years for the spiders to find you. Go forth and tell them that you exist. Email Renee’ to get more details.
- Make sure that your cover design truly looks as professional as it deserves. You as an author spent countless hours writing the book so now it is up to the cover to make sure that people pick it up. People buy covers and fall in love with words.

Put your beautiful cover design everywhere.
                Twitter Background and profile image
                Facebook cover photo
                Google +
                Deviant Art
                As you can see the list is long.

- Blog…blog…blog. Next to video there is no better Social Media tool.
                Make sure that each blog post has an image and no, it can’t be your book cover every time. J
                Make sure that your image has meta tags.
                Name your image after your book. For example image name: 15TwitterTipsforAuthorsbyRalphsDesignandDeliimageaboutSEO.jpg
                This may seem long and crazy but it matters.

For more about Ralph’s Design and Deli, visit their website at,
To purchase their book, 15 Twitter Tips for Authors & Other Grownups, click on the link below.
Thanks again, Jeanne! You’ve been a great host.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

LexiCon and its Creator--Mitch Haynes

Welcome, Mitch, to Romance in Flight, and thank you for being a guest on my blog. Thank you. It’s my pleasure to be here.

The Man Himself, Mitch Haynes
It was my extreme pleasure to meet Mitch at the very first LexiCon Writers Conference and knew I just had to introduce him to the world. Let me give you a little bio on Mitch taken from his own web site
Mitch Haynes is a writer and a general contractor. Haynes is a former independent contractor for the Department of Homeland Security and has studied several disciplines of martial arts, boxing, fencing, archery, and combat handgun techniques.  He is an avid outdoorsman with extensive wilderness survival training and enjoys backpacking, camping, hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing.  He is also a certified scuba diver. 
Always intrigued by adventure, Haynes has been on expeditions looking for confederate gold in Texas and Oklahoma; he has searched for Bigfoot in the Kiamichi Mountains; he has looked for ghosts in "haunted" houses; and he has researched and investigated the Jack the Ripper murders in London.  Mr. Haynes is currently finishing up the sequel to Hollywood Agent Provocateur and working on another contemporary espionage thriller. He graduated from the University of North Texas in 1986 with a BA in political science and English.  He lives in Denton, Texas.
Mitch Haynes is the founder and president of the LexiCon Writers Conference.  Please check out the very latest information about this conference at

First off, I wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed the LexiCon. I made some amazing contacts and a few lasting friendships, so thank you, Mitch
Now on with the interview, what was going through your head when you came up with the idea of LexiCon, and why the name? Money. Lots and lots of money.  I hoped to have hundreds, possibly thousands of people attend at $75 a pop and I could retire from being a contractor. Seriously? I guess before I answer this question you have to know that I am an iconoclast. I do not believe something is better simply because it is traditional.  I’ve read some really crappy traditionally published books by well-established writers and some excellent books from Indie or small press writers. I’ve attended writers conferences for over twenty years and they’re all the same – a writer attends with the hope of inspiration and guidance only to find a literary agent or publisher treat them like something that got stuck to the bottom of their shoes. Writers’ conferences are not set up to employ networking. I’ve been to a lot of different conferences for home remodeling, contracting, disaster survival training, etc. and they’re all about networking.  So, I wanted a conference where the egos were left at the door and everyone could feel comfortable. The second difference is that I wanted people to go around and ask others about their works, etc., instead of only talking about themselves. And the third and possibly biggest difference is that I wanted people to make connections and become each other’s sales team. I hope it worked out that way. As for the name LexiCon? I have always been fascinated by the phenomenon known as ComiCon. I want my conference to become the ComiCon of writing and somehow “LexiCon” just popped into my head. It fit perfectly.
I had the pleasure of meeting your wife (and I’ll be interviewing her at a later date when I blog about spouses) How much of an impact has she had on your writing carrier? What was her reaction when you came up with the idea of LexiCon? Spouses of writers are a rare and special breed. My wife had the most difficult time learning that when I’m “In the Zone” – you know, that place where you’re inside your head and you can see the world you’re writing about – she had the hardest time learning not to disturb me. When you’re that deep in concentration and it’s disturbed, it’s very difficult to regain that concentration. It’s like someone waking you from a dream – you can’t go back and pick up the dream where you left it. We had some great arguments over that. She’d scream, “Seriously? You can’t take a minute, blah, blah, blah.” We both had to learn some tolerance for each other’s needs. Consequently, she is a character in everything I write…whether it’s the wicked witch of the north or the hot babe who seduces the protagonist. Fortunately, my wife is incredibly supportive. She has believed in me when no one else did. That’s incredibly special.
     As for her reaction to the idea of LexiCon, she wondered when I would find the time to put it together, but she liked the idea behind it because she’d heard about and even attended some of the conferences I described above. She has seen how networking has worked with my business and she was as amazed and I was that it wasn’t used more prevalently at writers’ conferences.

What was the most challenging aspect of the conference, and the most rewarding? The most challenging aspect was dealing with the people – writers, agents, publishers, and editors. Why do all of these people have such freaking egos? Don’t they realize that’s very off-putting in business? A great plumber or mechanic is rarer than a writer, but they don’t operate with huge egos. Too many writers think they’re the next J.K. Rawlings and don’t have the talent to back it up. As for agents, I understand why they are the way they are, having to deal with writers’ over-inflated egos all the time, but then they turn around and do the same thing and belittle people because they’re “The gatekeepers” to getting published. And yet, the stories of them turning down great books are legion and legendary. This outdated business model has to change. It’s kicking and screaming, fighting for all it’s worth, but the publishing industry is undergoing a revolution right now and it has to adapt or it will collapse.
     The most rewarding aspect was the reaction I’ve received since the conference – all of the kind words and great reviews. It’s very difficult sometimes to keep my own ego in check. After all, I AM the most interesting man in the world.

I know there’s talk going around about LexiCon—The Sequel, what, if anything, will you do different? That’s still under development. One of the changes I’m considering is a different venue. The Hilton Garden Inn (Shameless Plug) did a fantastic job hosting us. They were very accommodating and the food for the Meet and Greet dinner was fantastic. I have no complaints and I would gladly return next year. However, I want LexiCon 2013 to be so big that it won’t fit in the Hilton. Another difference is that I will allow an hour and a half for lunch. And, probably the biggest difference will be the price. It’s going to go up. It has to, unfortunately, but it will still be competitively priced. The first LexiCon had an introductory price because I didn’t have a track record. As a consequence, I never had the money to do everything I wanted to do at the last conference, like dancing bears in tutus or a zombie flash mob.  
Aside from being the mastermind behind LexiCon, you are a published author. Tell us a little about your current WIP. It’s finished. It’s about 800 pages. (Actually, it’s about 550 pages) It’s about the Mexican Drug Cartels in Texas. It has a very unique protagonist that I hope to write about again. And after the first of the year, after I’ve done a final polish and had it professionally edited, I will try the traditional publishing route again. If it’s not picked up I guess I’ll Indie publish again. I’ve also written the sequel to my first novel, HOLLYWOOD AGENT PROVOCATEUR and it’s called HOLLYWOOD GANGSTAR, but I’m not pushing to get it published yet. I want more sales for the first one before I release the second one. I’ve also started the research and outline for my next book but it’s really nebulous at the moment.
Available now, “Hollywood, 1938  – a time and place where secrets are bargaining chips and scandals ruin careers. An exclusive and secret nightclub for the Hollywood Elite has opened and Thomas Moseley is the guardian of those secrets and the fixer of scandal - that is - until murder intrudes. Who’s responsible?  Is it gangsters muscling in on the club’s action; or Nazi spies blackmailing movie stars into performing acts of espionage for the Third Reich? It’s up to Moseley to find out.” Based on true facts.

For more about Mitch Haynes, visit his web site
(And yes, there will be another LexiCon! I'm so excited.)