Interview with Tony Ruggiero

MICHAEL A. VENTRELLA: Tony Ruggiero writes science fiction and fantasy with an edgy realism designed to make people wonder: could it actually be true and could it be happening right now? His eye opening approach within the genre has run the gauntlet of responses from laughter to having people look over their shoulder more often. Either way, Tony is a very happy man. His published novels include OPERATION IMMORTAL SERVITUDE, ALIEN DECEPTION, and SATANIC CREATURES WANTED: HUMANS NEED NOT APPLY. His books are published by Dragon Moon Press (who will also be publishing a short story of mine soon as well). His web page is and his email is

TONY RUGGIERO: Hi Michael — I would like to thank you for this opportunity to talk with you as well as your readers.

VENTRELLA: One of the more difficult tasks authors have is convincing potential readers to try someone new. Tony, what do you say to readers to get them to check out your books?

RUGGIERO: If discussing my vampire series, I suggest that if they want to read something different in a vampire novel then they will want to look at the “Team of Darkness Chronicle” Series which begins with OPERATION IMMORTAL SERVITUDE. In this day of vampire stories that show a more “friendlier” vampire, I believe that my series (which has been described as “What If Anne Rice and Tom Clancy had a baby?”) has maintained the traditional lore of vampirism, yet added an approach that not only includes a military aspect, but also a point of view where the vampires see themselves as a creature of God and have a purpose in life to fulfill.

For my science fiction work, if you are a fan of space opera type stories, you will like my ALIEN DECEPTION and ALIEN REVELATION books. These are written in the classic space opera tone that has always been a favorite of mine, but I have added a bit of a twist by setting it in a current and real life scenario that involves Earth politics but also reveals that it doesn’t matter if it is alien or human politics, the same problems exist. It also begins as a light hearted story, but becomes precarious for our two protagonists, Greg and Sarah.

VENTRELLA: Do you think that your web page helps or do people generally already know you by the time they visit it?

RUGGIERO: I think it is a combination of both. We live in an age where information on the internet is a main way of communication especially for writers, so I think this is a good way to have people see their work. But I think it is also important to meet as many people as possible in person and that is where the life blood of science fiction conventions comes into play.

VENTRELLA: You are currently posting a work in progress on your web page, chapter by chapter. Tell me a bit about that story.

RUGGIERO: I was posting some chapters for a new novel called COVEN, which is a thriller-type novel that deals with witches in a modern day setting.

VENTRELLA: Have you completed the entire book and are just serializing it, or are you posting the chapters as you write them?

RUGGIERO: I stopped posting chapters because the book went into editing and my editor and I thought it was best to stop until we are done and then relook at it at that point.

VENTRELLA: What are the copyright considerations? Won’t your publisher consider it an “already published” work?

RUGGIERO: I plan to hopefully publish COVEN soon. If I do it with Dragon Moon Press, I have a very good relationship with the publisher and this will be a non-issue. The publisher realizes that as a small press, you have to work harder than a traditional press and find innovative ways to garner reader’s interest and if this means posting a good part of it on the web for free — then that’s what we need to do.

VENTRELLA: Have you had any formal writing training? Do you think that is necessary?

RUGGIERO: No formal training. I do have a master’s in English, but I believe that most of the writing skills are developed through practice. Three words of encouragement — write — write — write! I am a firm believer in learning through practice. If you have the desire to get formal training, then I am sure that it can’t hurt, but is it a prerequisite? I don’t believe so.

VENTRELLA: How did you end up with your current publisher? Do you have other long term goals to grab a more “mainstream” publisher?

RUGGIERO: Sure, I am always looking for that mainstream publisher. In terms of small press publishers, I have been with several over the past 10-12 years. I remember selling my first story for $5.00. My current relationship with Dragon Moon Press has been by far the best and I look forward to continue working with them in the future.

VENTRELLA: What’s your opinion on self-publishing?

RUGGIERO: It’s another option. If it fits your needs then you should do it. My only thought is that it should not be your first choice. Self publishing involves a cost to you and I think you should avoid that if you can. The distribution issue can also be another reason why you should look elsewhere first.

VENTRELLA: What’s next? What are you working on now?

RUGGIERO: I have two novels in the editing process: COVEN and a new science fiction novel called LAST CHANCE, which includes vampires and werewolves. I have sporadically been working on the next and last vampire novel called OPERATION END GAME. I have been teaching a full load so I am a little behind on the vampire novel which I hope to catch up with for a 2010 release.

VENTRELLA: What is your writing style? Do you tend to rely on outlines first or do you just plow right in?

RUGGIERO: Both and neither. I really don’t have a set pattern. Sometimes I just start writing and then develop an outline later. I also have a large dry marker board where I cram all those ideas on and then try to sort them out.

VENTRELLA: People say authors should “write what they know”. How has your military background influenced your writing?

RUGGIERO: It has certainly helped especially in the way that the vampires interact with the military. But it also helps with writing about diverse cultures and developing relationships. The fact that in the military also helps me to develop a good approach to the writing process by scheduling and setting time aside to accomplish writing has also been a big help.

VENTRELLA: What was your biggest mistake so far in trying to make it as an author?

RUGGIERO: Thinking that the writing was the hard part. It’s really all about selling your work to publishers and readers. Unless you’re a “name,” you have to constantly sell yourself and try and not come off as being too pushy. I think a lot of writers fail at this and they come on too strong and they alienate the reader.

VENTRELLA: Do you have any specific advice you would give a writer trying to make it in the publishing business that they may not have heard before?

RUGGIERO: Have hope and use common sense. Sure, always set your sights on that big contract, but don’t let disappointment make you file it away forever where no one will ever see it. I think it’s better to please 100 readers then to please none. If you do not make that big New York contact, then spend time in the small press realm. Dragon Moon Press has seen its share of writers that have made the transition from small press to big press so it is possible.

Me and Tony

Interview with Jon F. Merz

MICHAEL A. VENTRELLA: I’m pleased to be interviewing Jon Merz. Jon has published over a dozen novels including four Lawson Vampire adventures (2002-2003), the Jake Thunder mystery/thriller DANGER-CLOSE (2004), and eight installments in the internationally bestselling adventure series Rogue Angel (2006-present). His latest thriller PARALLAX debuted in March 2009 as an exclusive ebook. His short fiction story “Prisoner 392” (appeared alongside Stephen King in FROM THE BORDERLANDS, 2004, Warner Books) earned him an Honorable Mention in 2004’s Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror edited by Ellen Datlow. As a producer, Jon has formed New Ronin Productions with longtime friend Jaime Hassett to create television and feature film projects in the New England area. Their first project is THE FIXER, a new supernatural action series based on Jon’s Lawson Vampire novels. That’s Jon there, seated, next to actor Brandon S. Stumpf.merz

Jon, what happened to your website? When I follow the link from Wikipedia, it leads to one of those spam sites.

JON F. MERZ: was basically hijacked and turned into some European gambling site for some bizarre reason. I’ll need to file a grievance and pay about $1500 in order to get it back, so I just decided to let it go and use instead. My website is currently being designed and should be done by the end of the month.

VENTRELLA: How important do you believe a website and blog are to a writer?

MERZ: Vital. Seriously. If you don’t have a blog, a website, and a presence in social media (meaning at the bare minimum Facebook and Twitter) you are killing your career before you even get started. It amazes me to no end that bestselling authors are on twitter, have thousands of followers, but only follow a few people back themselves. They totally miss the idea of social media – that being to develop relationships with your audience.

Facebook has definitely replaced Myspace (thank god) as being the go-to place for a presence. And with Facebook Fan Pages, you can have both a personal profile and a Fan presence out there. Synchronized with Twitter feeds, these sites serve to reinforce your position in the market, help build an actual audience for your work, and even help you secure publishing deals if you can develop a large enough fan base. I’ve seen some writers pull out of social media and say they only want to do one of them, but that’s truly stupid. In order to reap maximum benefits from social media, you need to integrate them so they work together like gears in a cog. One drives audiences to the other and so on and so on. If one piece is missing, the machine falls apart. And quite frankly, in the 21st century, if you are a writer, you must positively be engaged in social media and actually understand it. It’s not enough to hide away in a room tapping away on a keyboard in anonymity. Readers want to know their authors and develop relationships with them. If you aren’t out there, you lose ’em.fixer

VENTRELLA: Your vampire novel THE FIXER is being made into a TV series, and, from what I understand, you are one of the main producers. How did this come about?

MERZ: I’ve been flirting with Hollywood for years. I’ve been lucky to have some great friends in the industry, but each time I got close to making a deal, the numbers simply weren’t good enough to make me sign away rights. So a few years back, a buddy of mine and I talked about doing it ourselves: we’d form a production company, raise private equity, and do the thing ourselves. And that’s just what we’ve done. Backed by private investors, THE FIXER will be produced with the same (or better) production quality that Hollywood delivers in its television shows. We’re shooting the pilot later this month and from there, an additional twelve episodes for season one. It’s tremendously exciting.

VENTRELLA: What inside scoops can you share with us? Do you have a distribution deal yet?

MERZ: Unfortunately, we can’t release details on this just yet. But soon, I promise!

VENTRELLA: How does writing TV scripts differ from writing novels? Which do you prefer?

MERZ: I’ve always enjoyed challenges, so when it came time to learn how to write scripts, I studied the form for a long time and then started working on my own. Screenwriting or teleplays are obviously a lot more visual given the medium, but I tend to write pretty visually anyway, so the difficulty wasn’t too great. As for which I prefer, it actually depends on the story itself and what medium it’s best suited to. I don’t have a favorite anymore, which I think is probably a relief to both my literary agent and my manager in Hollywood since they both want me writing books and screenplays.

VENTRELLA: As I am now working on my own vampire novel, I keep getting told that the “trend is over”. Do you agree? Or do you think we’ll always have a love for a good vampire story?vicarious

MERZ: A love of vampires will always be with us. It’s just a question of what can you do to your spin that makes it new, or at least offers a different perspective. I get exhausted hearing about “new” vampire stories or series that are coming out. But they never explore anything different. It’s always the same old thing: undead, sleep during the daytime, feed at night, woe-is-me I’m immortal. I wish writers would challenge themselves to really explore something new. Something fresh. Vampirism is in itself very primal, but that doesn’t mean the storylines have to be primitive.

VENTRELLA: What trends in the industry are you tired of? What about the publishing industry really ticks you off?

MERZ: Publishing as an industry is broken. It annoys me when people in New York City claiming that it’s not. It is. They’re using an antiquated business model that simply does not work any longer. So change it! What’s the definition of insanity again? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result? Please. With all the many forms of content delivery these days, people aren’t just reading a printed book anymore. Publishers need to remember that they aren’t in the book business any longer – they publish content. So figure out how to embrace new delivery technology and build a business around that. Don’t get me wrong: I love books and always will, but printed books are just one faction of how people get their written entertainment these days.

VENTRELLA: Of which book (or series) are you most proud? What would you like to be remembered for?

MERZ: My Lawson Vampire series is dearest to my heart. I’m very proud of the universe I’ve created and THE FIXER TV series will be an extension of that. I’m proudest also (so far) of my short story “Prisoner 392,” which appeared in a great anthology edited by Tom and Elizabeth Monteleone. They’re fantastic editors and it was an honor to appear in Borderlands 5. But I’m also very proud of the work I have yet to release. It keeps me constantly excited.

As for what I’d like to be remembered for…well, perhaps that I was just focused on giving people an escape from their everyday lives. That’s all I’ve ever set out to do as a writer. But as someone who has been around in the industry for a while now, I’d like folks to remember me as someone who threw away the rulebook and the box that everyone else (well except for one or two folks) seems imprisoned by. My mantra has always been pretty simple: why would I muck about in the mud puddle when there’s a huge ocean out there I can swim in?

VENTRELLA: Here’s the question I’ve asked everyone so far: What’s the biggest mistake you have made?

MERZ: The assumption that having an agent would be the gateway to riches. It’s not. I’ve had three agents. The first one sold four books for me but only wanted me writing vampire stories, so I fired her. The second one only sold projects that I’d done all the legwork on – basically bringing the deals already done to him – but I made the mistake of staying in that purgatory for six long years. Finally, on the 3rd try, I got the right agent. He’s fantastic. I’ve heard it said before that a bad agent is worse than no agent, and it’s true. Don’t settle because you think you have to. Look for the right person to represent your work. They need to care about it as much as you do. Make them earn that 15% – they work for you. If you find yourself cringing because you need to write them an email to check up on things and you’re worried about how sarcastic or snarky their response is going to be, don’t be like me and wait six years hoping they’ll get better. Fire them fast and find someone else.

VENTRELLA: And what is the best piece of advice you could give a starting writer (other than “write good books”)?
rogue angel

MERZ: I’ve seen scores of writers try to dissuade people from getting into this business because it’s hard. Yeah, it is. But I wouldn’t dream of discouraging anyone from a challenge. Hell, that’s the problem with our country today – people want it easy, they want it fast, and they want it with no work or effort. But it doesn’t happen that way. I wold always encourage people to dig deep and find the resolve and spirit to soldier on, keep working on their craft and find a way to become successful in this business. We need more people who conquer their challenges and serve as an inspiration to others – show them they can do the same if they’re willing to invest time and effort into something they believe in.

The last thing this country needs is someone else telling people “It’s too hard. Just go work a 9-5 cubicle job.” In this age, where we’re rapidly being out-classed by countries whose citizens struggle and succeed. We need more people in the US who understand that striving to accomplish something isn’t a bad thing – it’s what made us great in the first place. So put away the fear and tell the Negative Nancies to piss off – you’ve got mountains to climb.

VENTRELLA: And finally, isn’t Boston a great place to live? I lived there from 81 to 93 and miss it quite a bit…

MERZ: I think so! Boston’s a great city and the restaurants here are fantastic. Just had a great lunch at my favorite Chinese restaurant yesterday and I’m craving the hot-and-sour soup all over again today!

Interview with Author Peter Prellwitz

MICHAEL A. VENTRELLA: I’m pleased to be interviewing Peter Prellwitz, one of the most successful writers at my publishing house, Double Dragon. His web page is . Peter, what made you sign up with Double Dragon, and do you regret going with a smaller press?

PETER PRELLWITZ: Double Dragon Publishing (DDP) was pointed out to me by a friend who was looking to start up his own publishing company. He’d read my novel Shards back when it first appeared in serial form on the CompuServe Writers Forum and became a supporter to see it published. (I’d originally written the novel just for my own enjoyment, with no intention of publishing it.) At the time, Double Dragon was conducting its first – and sadly, only – Draco Writing Contest, so I entered four of my finished novels, Horizons, Promise Tide, The Science of Magic, and The Angel of St. Thomas. I didn’t enter Shards because the four books making up the novel totalled three hundred thousand words and I knew better than to submit something of that size, having never been published. All four books fared well in the judging, with Horizons selected by finalist judge Mike Resnick as the Winner for Best Science Fiction.

I have never regretted going with a smaller press, primarily because that smaller press was Double Dragon Publishing. I have always been treated cheerfully, professionally and politely. This can be tempting to think, “Sure, they treat me that way because my sales are pretty good.” But the undisputed truth is the company treats all its contributors that way.

VENTRELLA: Given the cutbacks at the big publishing houses, would you advise other starting writers to “build a portfolio” by having success with a small publisher or is it better to keep holding off for that big potential deal?

PRELLWITZ: Having just crowed over the joy of being with Double Dragon doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges and downsides to being signed by an ebook publisher. One of the biggest is the “stigma” that comes with it. The sad truth is that there are a LOT of ebook/small publishing houses out there that have poor business practices, very low standards for accepting materials, and are about as real as faster-than-light travel. The mainstream publishers and associated agents, editors and such have maintained for years that ebook/small press publishing was no better than vanity press, and not to be taken seriously. Sadly, more often than not, they’re absolutely right. There’s an overabundance of – forgive me – poor quality writing that is being published by ebook/small press publishers that has little or no merit to it and is seeing print only because of their publishers’ inexperience, vanity or outright greed. That means that real publishers like DDP, who have high submission standards, a winnowing process, and sustainable business/publishing models, are unfairly lumped into the same group as so-called publishers. Because of this, while the idea of “building a portfolio” with a small publisher sounds good, it can actually hurt you in the respect of building a reputation among the larger, more conventional publishing companies. And literary agents won’t even look at work you’ve published with ebook/small press publishers.

But there a many positives to going with the right small publisher. One is the self-realization that you’re a serious writer; you’ve tried to get your work published. Another is that your chances of getting read and signed are greater with an ebook or small publisher. Just be sure you go with a reputable publisher. I do believe the time is coming when there will be a blending of some elements in the ebook publishing and mainstream publishers. The ebook and small publishing companies are far more efficient; not wasting paper but rather using print on demand (POD) or electrons to put out books, as opposed to the tried and true but increasingly expensive and wasteful mass publishing model that the larger houses use. Being a known, respected author with a known, respected publishing house, be it ebook, POD or mass, is a good thing.

VENTRELLA: What’s your writing process? Do you use extensive outlines? And do you plan out the series or just work one book at a time?

PRELLWITZ: I’m afraid I’m a nightmare of an example when it comes to the writing process. I’m what you would call a “seat of the pants” writer. I no idea how a novel is going to end, nor even what’s going to happen in the next chapter or even the next page. Oh, I’ve tried to do the outlines, plot summaries, character direction, and etc. For ten novels now, though, it hasn’t worked. I introduce my characters to the initial conflict that needs to be resolved, then just write down what happens. If I ever try to step in and direct things, they either smack me down for meddling in their lives or they stand around and go on strike like a bunch of prima donna actors. In one novel, TAU (which stands for Those Above Us), I set up one character to be the penultimate bad guy; then traitor everybody wants dead. I built this massive case of evidence against him and then, one chapter before the end of the book, he dies a noble death. He’s NOT the villain I was certain he was. Which left me completely in the dark as to who WAS the traitor. Took me a couple weeks to figure it out, and when I did, I couldn’t believe it. But when I read through the novel, there it was. I’d laid out – rather, recorded what I saw – everything that was needed to prove the guilt of the traitor and I’d missed it all.

As for planning out series, I do and I don’t. Oftentimes when I’m working on one novel I’ll write a reference to an event or person that has only tangent relevence at that moment but promises to have a good story on its own. Several novels and a couple dozen short stories have come about that way. I will start and work on more than one book at a time, however. Generally, I don’t recommend it. In my opinion, it’s far better to focus on one novel. Right now I’m writing a Shards Universe novel and a Martian Western novel and a fantasy novel. They’re all moving forward, but slowly. They’ll probably all be finished about the same time, which will be cool because I’ll have three completed novels. But until they’re finished, I don’t have anything to offer my readers. That’s okay before you get published, but once you establish a fan base, you owe them more than vague progress updates.

VENTRELLA: What’s your writing background? Did you begin with fiction?
PRELLWITZ: I did. My first “published” work was a Thanksgiving play I wrote in 4th grade. My teacher was so impressed that I’d written completely on my own (it wasn’t an assignment or anything), that she produced it and it played to the entire school. It was an awful play. Elements of Gilligan’s Isle and F-Troop, poor dialogue, no logical progression to plot, and a cookie-cutter ending. My mom saved me a copy of the play, so I was able to refresh my memory about it. Yep, it was awful. But it was produced and it was my creation.

I was hooked.

I wrote another, much better Thanksgiving play in fifth grade, which was also produced, this time by my fifth grade teacher. After that I started writing short stories and started about six different novels that I never took more than a hundred pages. I co-wrote a melodrama in my senior year that was produced and played in nine libraries around Orange and Los Angeles counties in 1978. We got our fist official reviews from that; two thumbs up from both the Orange County Register and The Los Angeles Times. I continued writing fiction and non-fiction through the years, my break coming in 2003 with Horizons.

VENTRELLA: Is a web page important for a starting writer?


Hmm… let me rephrase that:


One trap an author can fall into is that his or her “job” is to write and only write. Indeed, in the past – say, the 19th Century – a well-known author need only send his completed manuscript to his publisher, then sit back while other people did the rest of the work. Marketing, publicity, etc. The author had only to keep writing and occasionally show up at lecture.

Not only are those days gone, I wonder how much they really ever existed. If you look at Samuel Clemons’ life, you’ll see it was nothing like that. Today, however, the author must also be the main source of publicity. Also, simply writing a novel isn’t the only option. There are so many opportunities to add to the novel’s audience and reach, that NOT taking advantage – especially when so many other authors are using the chances – that an author is really short-changing the novel’s life.

Web sites are a critical opportunity that should not be passed up. And I don’t mean a typical “Buy My Book!” vanity web site. Having a living, breathing web site that you update regularily, store plenty of free stuff on, and just generally increase a readers involvement in your writing, can be the difference between your book just sitting on the shelf and your book gaining a following.

For the starting writer, I would recommend having a web site up and running at the same time you’re writing your first novel. When I was writing Shards back in 1996, I started the site mostly for myself. I kept my research, connecting short stories, maps, and everything else there. I didn’t let anyone really know about it. When I’d finished Horizons in 1998, I did more of the same. It wasn’t until 2003, when Horizons was first published, that I began pushing my web site. By then, however, it was a wealth of information on my universe, with a free library of short stories, novel excerpts, research, and current news on conventions and the like. Since the majority of my novels occur in the same universe, the web site helped tie everything together.

A tip… I put up my first web site all by meself. I wish I hadn’t. Even though I’m a professional IT person, I’ve never been big on web design. If you have a couple hundred bucks, PAY a professional to set up your site if you’re seriously going into the writing world. I’m doing that now, but it’s an ugly, slow process since I have a lot of content to move over.

VENTRELLA: How does writing for comics differ from writing standard fiction?

PRELLWITZ: As you know, I’m currently working with Steve Bennett, the anime artist, in turning my young adult novel, The Angel of St. Thomas, into a web comic of the same name. It’s been challenging. Since the medium is so very different, illustrated as opposed to written, rewriting is an absolute must. Where I could use the reader’s imagination to help me tell the story in the novel, as a web comic I’m more compelled to provide visual story-telling. While this forces me to provide more detail in the form of instruction to the artist, the result is a universal representation of what I’d envisioned when I first wrote the story, as opposed to my letting the readers’ imagination fill in the blanks.

Pacing is also a huge challenge. The novel can be read in two or three hours. The web comic, which only posts one page twice a week, will need three years to tell the same story. Because of that, action scenes need to be enhanced while exposition and transition sequences need to be condensed. Taking three paragraphs of exposition in a novel is a one minute read, filled with useful information. But drawing three paragraphs of information might take four or five pages, which is two weeks worth of web comics in which nothing is happening. So adjustments are needed. Sometimes major adjustments. For instance, one chapter has the main character telling the origin of the “Angels” to another character over dinner. In the web comic, we’ll be having her showing the story; the reader will go back and watch things as they occurred from three centuries earlier.

The other primary difference is also the most exciting and, yes, at times challenging difference. The story is mine. The characters are mine. But the art is Steve’s, and he’s as much a creator of the web comic as I am. What I try to convey in a script isn’t necessarily what he’s going to draw. Not one single page has been exactly as I thought it would be. But at the same time, every page, while different, has been better. He’s the artist, after all. What he doodles in two minutes I couldn’t draw in two weeks; Steve is that good. So we always have an exciting and sometimes energetic exchange of ideas. That’s forced me to better see things as an artist does, which has helped me become a better writer when it comes to scripts. And being able to write scripts is always a useful skill.

VENTRELLA: You make regular appearances at science fiction conventions as a guest author; do you find these to be a useful process to promote yourself?

PRELLWITZ: Yes, and I think your question touched on the often overlooked main point. Conventions are a great place to promote MYSELF. Almost all other means of promotions, youtube, web sites, even book signings, are to promote the book. And my books are certainly the reason some people want to meet me. So when I’m at a convention, I’ll have a table in the Dealers Room and talk about/sell my books. But this is primarily the way my readers – and potential readers – get to meet the person behind the stories. To hear my opinions and my life experiences, as well as witness my reactions to and interactions with events as they occur at the convention.

Of course, it’s a two-way street. I also get to observe, interact, and learn from readers; those who’ve already read my novels as well as those who have not. Of all the genres that exist in fictional writing, science fiction is the fastest moving target. All other genres are limited by time, be it past or present. Even fantasy – which occurs in universes significantly different from ours – can’t go into the future, since it’s the future of a universe different from ours. But science fiction has no such limits. It can – and does – cover past, present and future. And it can cover multiple realities. And anyone who reads and enjoys science fiction is going to have a mind that has been stretched and exercised by a scope of endless possibilities. Those are people I want to know and with whom I want to interact

VENTRELLA: Here’s the question I’ve asked everyone so far: What’s the biggest mistake you have made?

PRELLWITZ: : In all honesty, I don’t think I’ve made it yet. I’ve had a very fortunate career as a writer to date. I continue to write, though not as much as I should, which is a common Biggest Mistake for authors. Though I do wish I hadn’t started playing World of Warcraft. That’s eaten up hundreds of hours I could have spent adding to my universe.

A lot of my readers often ask, “Why aren’t you in all the bookstores?” which is to say, “Why aren’t you with a mainstream publisher?” But I never for one moment think of my loyalty to Double Dragon as a mistake. Yes, I might have been able to get published with a big publishing house. But I DID get published with DDP. And now that I’ve proven myself to me and to a growing number of readers, I am trying to go mainstream with my next novel, Redeeming The Plumb. And I have DDP’s blessing and support. And if I have my way, DDP will always have my ebook contracts.

So, this is the only question I guess I’m dodging, because I really haven’t made my biggest mistake.


VENTRELLA: What is the best piece of advice you could give a starting writer?

PRELLWITZ: My advice is three-fold.

1.) Buy, read and KNOW “The Elements of Style” by William Strunk and E.B. White. This slim book is a must for any writer.

2.) Constantly improve your skill with your tools; namely grammar, vocabulary and style (see above). If you have the greatest novel up in your head, but cannot communicate it, the story has value only to you. Don’t cripple your imagination because of poor writing skills. Mark Twain said it best: “Use the right word, not its second cousin.”

3.) Write crap. If the aspiring writer accepts that he or she will be a better writer in ten years, then the writer must also accept they are a POORER writer now. Don’t wait until the perfect inspiration comes along. Flowers can grow alone and by themselves, but a truly beautiful flower requires fertilizer to grow from, as well as less beautiful flowers nearby with which to be compared. The same is true for writing. Start writing and keep at it. You will write junk. But you’ll learn. And you’ll get better.

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