Wednesday, October 1, 2014

An Interview with Robert Pruneda

Jack: There’s no doubt that the Indie Publishing world is hard work. Some of the hardest working people I've ever met are Indie Authors. But finding the ones that pen incredible, nightmare inducing, cop drama, horror stories, and are willing to pal around with the likes of me on Facebook is hard to do. Really, it was so hard that once I accomplished this feat I retired from my day job and embraced my superhero nightlife with no worries of leaving any life goals unaccomplished....

Actually, I wouldn't be able to fully embrace my cape crusading without proving that he is actually willing to spend five minutes in my presence without hiding, and in a very public setting. So without further adieu, I’d like to give a nice welcome to my good friend, Robert Pruneda. I understand Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions, which is the second book in your best selling awesomeness, will be available later this month?

Robert: That’s right, Jack. Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions is currently available for pre-order and is scheduled for a worldwide release on Tuesday, October 14. I don’t have a set date for the print version yet, but it will also be available before Halloween. For those who haven’t had the opportunity to read the first book, it’s a steal at only a buck for the Kindle version.

Jack: No argument there. I can personally say that Devil’s Nightmare gave me the chills several times when I read it. I’m not even a horror fan, but I made it through the whole book. This is saying something since I won't finish a friend's book if it doesn't hold my attention....

Not only did I finish it, but I am looking forward to the next book. Now, I am trying to figure out how to word this to not give anything away for readers, so I am going to be vague. Read the book--the end will have you hooked!

That was vague, right?

Robert: Vague enough for me . . . and thanks for not sharing any spoilers. I’d hate to have to write you into an upcoming horror novel. And if you thought Devil’s Nightmare gave you some chills, I’ve got more surprises in store for you in the second book. Some scenes even made me cringe. One of my beta readers told me that she had to stop reading for a bit because she was starting to have nightmares. Mwhahahaha! Mission accomplished. :-)

Jack: That's high praise for any horror author! And thanks for not killing me off in your next book--I like to keep all of my body parts attached.

Robert: That guy named Jack in Chapter Six--the scene where he loses his fingers in a blender--is purely coincidental.

Jack: Hey, part of my living is made with my fingers, don’t  mess with them. Besides, I fancy myself a chef and so does many of my friends.... Leave the fingers out of this!

Robert: You’re right. We’ll go for the toes instead. Anyway, let’s move along, shall we? :-)

Jack: Now, I hear you're having a pumpkin carving contest to celebrate the release of Devil's Nightmare: Premonitions? How does one get involved?

Robert: The pumpkin carving contest was Patty Allread’s idea. It’s not confirmed, but she may be hosting this fun little event over at My Cooking Life By Patty. It’s a cooking blog, so if everything works out as planned my visit there as a horror author should be interesting and a lot of fun. If not, I’ll be hosting the contest on my site at, and of course give Patty the credit for this creative idea. I know you are quite the foodie yourself, so if you think you have what it takes, grab yourself a pumpkin, sharpen those knives, and start carving. You can make me a pumpkin pie with the guts afterwards.

Jack: I’m not so sure my carving skills are up to that. Besides, if I made a cool looking monster I would have to honor its last request before I made food out of it.... Pumpkins have large families--have you ever seen the size of those fields? I’ll stick to making brisket for dozens of people.

Robert: You certainly don’t want to get on The Great Pumpkin’s bad side . . . and be sure to save a plate of brisket for me.

Jack: If my last BBQ is any indication, you may want to show up early to get some brisket..... No leftovers at all! I won’t vouch for being able to save you a plate. But, what should we expect to read in Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions? Can you give us any hints?

Robert: I’m terrible when it comes to answering that question. What I can say is that if you enjoyed the first book, you’re in for quite a ride in Book 2. There’s plenty of creepiness, a bit of gore, and a couple of scenes that will make your stomach turn. One of my beta readers even told me that she almost couldn’t read one scene. It’s not a bloody gore fest, but I sprinkle in just enough to get the bile moving. Don’t worry, though, Friday the 13th senseless gore fest this is not. It has all the elements that fans of Devil’s Nightmare have enjoyed, with a few surprises thrown in. Here’s a blurb from my product page:

Sequel to the Amazon bestselling horror Devil's Nightmare, Robert Pruneda brings fans of the first novel another horrific thriller full of twists, chills, and a shocking conclusion. Two years have passed since Aaron Sanders retired from the Austin Police Department after what the media has called The Saint Hedwig Massacre. He moves his family out of the capital city to start a new life as a small town cop in Lost Maples, Texas, where the population count is updated more often than the murder rate. That bit of reputation is about to change when Aaron is once again caught in the middle of a mysterious investigation that has an eerie familiarity. This time, however, he is certain what is responsible for the violent deaths . . . Or is he? Evil knows no boundaries, and it is up to Aaron to figure out how to protect the residents of his community, and his family, from becoming its next victims.

Jack: You could have just told us to expect  more awesome. I love the blurb but I’ve already read it so this is no surprise to me. I was hoping for a bit more, but sometimes authors have to say no so the book still holds some surprises. Sadly I guess I’ll have to wait like the rest of the world. I just assumed that our Facebook hangout would earn me some special insight, but I understand even though I’ll be pouting later...

But, since my blog has been taking a turn toward the food side I would like to ask you a couple more questions to close this out, if you don’t mind.... Do you prefer to eat out, or make your own food?

Robert: [Hands Jack a tissue] Let’s just put it this way: My cooking could be a horror work in itself.

Jack: Good enough. Then if you had the choice to learn how to cook your favorite dish taught by a world famous chef, who would teach you and what dish would you learn to cook?

Robert: It’s hard to narrow it down to one specific dish, but I’d probably choose Robert Irvine to teach me how to cook the perfect lasagna. I love Italian food, but when it comes to lasagna I’m pretty picky with the taste. I have found very few restaurants that make a lasagna that really makes me want to lick the sauce off the plate. Oh, and add a stuffed chicken breast in there too. The best stuffed chicken breast I’ve eaten is at a restaurant called Antonio’s when I lived in Austin, Texas. Sadly, I believe that restaurant is now closed for business.

Jack: Well I can sure appreciate both of those dishes, as well as Robert Irvine’s talent. I’ve stolen a few of the recipes he gave us on Restaurant Impossible, over the years. I can honestly tell you that they taste as good as they look on the television. A stuffed chicken breast would be so much fun to try, I’ll have to look up some recipes and give it a shot!

Well folks, Robert Pruneda is one of the greatest personalities you can ever meet on social network, and it has been a blast chatting with him about Devil’s Nightmare: Premonitions. If the second book is anything like the first one you can expect to see some great storytelling, shocking revelations, unexpected developments, mysterious happenings, cruel twists, and a fantastic conclusion. No doubt, you will be as riveted as the rest of his readers.

For those who haven’t read the first book in the series, you can find Devil’s Nightmare here. But don’t forget that he is one of the most giving, funny, and active men you will ever follow on Twitter and Facebook so follow him there, too.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

A Passionate Detour

Let’s take a break from rehashing the publishing debate and talk about something more interesting.
Passions are what rule the human race. We have been known to reason, plead, protest, argue, fight, and even kill for things we are passionate about. Kings have killed women’s husbands for lust. Nations have gone to war over religion. Soldiers have given their lives for their nations, and farmers have given their lives in defense of their crops, and animals.
Though there are still many examples of passionate acts in our world today, and some are still forced to give their lives for them, our world is a much more civil place than it used to be. Look anywhere on the web and you can see people sharing their passions, and today I am going to do the same.
Food is something that has been a highlight for me for as far back as I can remember.
When I was young, I was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. It was a shock for my family, but it brought a great deal of answers, along with treatment options, that made life semi-normal to live. Since I was so young, these habits and routines were easy to pick up with some gentle insistence from a great set of parents. And those habits have become what I would consider ‘normal living’.
Let me stop here for a second with a bit of a caveat.
I am not a poster child for healthy living with diabetes. I have been known to eat and drink things that diabetics should avoid, but I have always done so with my testing supplies (test your blood sugars often and get exercise!) and my insulin close by. You may see me discuss things that are high in fat and possibly even alcohol. I do not encourage anyone to risk their health or well-being, but food is one of my indulgences, so let’s continue.
The moment that put me on the path to culinary exploration happened in the hospital shortly after I had been diagnosed. I remember it vividly thirty one years later.
Due to the nature of the disease, I was scrawny and almost malnourished, but not from the lack of trying on my parents’ part, mind you. My mother loved to cook for me because I would eat, and eat, and eat, and eat, without gaining any weight. In fact, I would actually lose weight due to the fact that my body was unable to metabolize the sugar in my blood. It was then that they decided, with help of my kindergarten teacher, to take me to the doctor and ask about diabetes.
It was almost mandatory in that day to spend some time in the hospital while they explained the disease and helped you establish a routine that would work with diabetes. Well, mandatory for a child that had nearly wasted away because of poor diagnostics from the family doctor. I spent a month in the hospital with my father sleeping on a cot next to me.
But I had spent months hungry at all hours of the day while my body grew smaller and smaller. I was used to eating a lot by this time, and I would eat almost anything put in front of me, and anything left of the plates of those gathered around me, and then lick the plates clean. So, when the nurse brought me a piece of toast on a plate for my snack that day it disappeared in record time. I was so impatient waiting for the nurse to return that I ate the lettuce garnish happily. It was only hours since I was admitted and I had already learned one very interesting thing: the nurses would bring me diet soda or water happily whenever I asked! I wondered if I could get more food, too. But it did take them quite some time to get back to my room, and I was engrossed in cartoons since I didn't have to go to school.
When the nurse returned to check on me, reaching to take away the plate that had formerly held my solitary piece of toast, my stomach and brain reminded me to ask for a diet soda and another piece of toast.
Sadly the nurse had to inform me that we had to watch how many calories I ate now. I didn't even know what calories were, but from the way she talked I thought she was telling me they were in the bread and not the lettuce which was mostly made of water. All I knew was that lettuce felt good in my stomach and didn't taste too bad. So, expecting another long explanation why I couldn't, I timidly asked if I could have some more lettuce.
I was as thrilled as could be when she brought me a dozen lettuce leafs neatly pealed, washed, and stacked on yet another tiny plate and another diet soda!
That was the moment that I realized that if I watched what I chose to eat, I could still eat until I was full. Since then, I have explored culinary creations at every type of restaurant. My condition drove me to eat a lot of food all at once, and though I have learned to temper my appetite and am happy with single plate portions these days, I still thrive on exploring different tastes and combinations.
I no longer eat twenty one tacos for a meal (yes, I did that at five years old), but I still love them. I no longer cry if it’s two hours away from dinner time and I feel like I am starving, but I do eagerly ask what is on the menu. Food is still what’s on my mind most of the day as I contemplate what I want to make next, and I have become fairly adept in my skills of cooking over the years.

That’s what this blog is all about, and I think I am going to be bringing more of my food love to anyone interested. I never thought to do this before. My co-workers thoroughly enjoy my food, as well as our conversations about what is on my upcoming menus at home, so maybe a few of you will as well. But, if I am going to make this a habit, I will need pictures and maybe a recipe or two to go along with it. Just as prep time is needed in the kitchen, so it is needed in blogging. Today was all about passion. Food is my passion. What is yours?

Originally posted on our website here

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Family, and the Importance Thereof

So, apparently the news is out. I have been avoiding saying something on social media out of respect for the family, and my uncles wishes, but many of my family have already broached the subject already, so her it goes.

My uncle, Steve Albrecht (KitSteve Albrecht) has been diagnosed with liver cancer.

First, let me tell the family that he is in great spirits every-time I have the pleasure of seeing him, which is often because we share the same address so I don't think we need to worry all that much. Being in the medical field I can say that most of the battle is won with that alone.

But there is still the worry and uncertainty that comes with a diagnosis of this kind. So, I would ask that anyone who prays keep this matter pressed firmly to their lips as he means the world to too many of us to tag (I will miss some of you because I am tired and not in my best form) in a single post.

There are too many unknowns to name at this time, and emotions are running high in my household, so please be respectful in the coming days.

There are still tests to be done before a coarse of action can be plotted, but there is no doubt the Albrecht family will be victorious in the end. We are a stubborn lot that refuses to yield, but I hurt for the pain that uncertainty brings my family.

Lastly, to the readers of my novels: I hope you will respect that I may not get as much writing done in the next few weeks, or months, as I would normally, but I will get back to it as soon as we kick cancer's ass. That is all.

Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Bullies with Too Much Money

This sunday, a small group of authors are buying a $104,000 full page ad in the NY Times, protesting’s side in the Hachette dispute. They are mad that Amazon is dragging them into the dispute, and endangering their livelihood....

First, let’s be clear about what is happening here.

Hachette is refusing to sign a new contract with Amazon because they don’t like the money that they will make from the deal, and their contract ended months ago. It’s that simple.

Now Hachette is quick to point out that Amazon is being a bully and delaying delivery of some of the books they sell on the site, as well as taking away the pre-order button from their titles. This sounds horrific, unjust, and just plain mean of Amazon, doesn’t it?

If you want to continue to swallow the rhetoric of the top 1%, it does. Amazon is hurting authors by insisting that Hachette sign a contract that they don’t want to sign! Let’s all stand up and protest the big, bad website! How can they call themselves the worlds most customer service oriented company while keeping the reader from buying my books three months before they are available?!

Now consider the fact that, currently, there is no way for the Indie published author to even get a pre-order button on Amazon without some major connections on the inside. Also consider that if we failed to sign the contract, our books would not be for sale at all on the Amazon website!

If you ask any self published author how he or she would feel in the position of these angry authors, you would hear an overwhelming and resounding cheer! You mean I could refuse to sign a contract with Amazon and still get paid? Sign me up!

Don’t let them fool you -- they are still getting paid.... a lot!

Now, I’m going to do the math here....

If I team up with my bestselling author buddies Ashley Delay and Robert Pruneda, and each of us found two other bestselling authors to pitch in, and each of them found two more, and each of them found two more, we may be able to scrape together a couple hundred bucks to post a help wanted ad in the same paper--and only if it was a week with no bills to pay and I had enough insulin to get me to payday!

All Amazon did was bring the playing field a bit closer to level for all authors, and these authors are crying? I’m not much for swearing, but that level of complaining has caused a great myriad of livid vocalizations to fly from my mouth today.

Plus, Amazon isn’t the one who dragged them into the fight; that was their publisher. Amazon isn’t refusing to sign the contract that would allow them to sell their books on the site. If their publisher wants to sell their books on the website, all they need to do is sign the contract that is offered. It’s not that complicated, folks!

In case Hachette may have missed it, the publishing world has changed in recent years. If they don’t find a way to evolve with it, and possibly take less money for themselves to keep their authors happy, their authors are going to start to see through the disguised, overcomplicated idiocy and get the hell out of Dodge.

There is a solution that would satisfy all. I have the solution that will end the argument, and this is it:

Amazon, stop selling any books by Hachette or any of their multi-conglomerate companies. Just take them off the site completely. Eliminate them altogether. Why? Let’s just say it’s for slander, violating terms of a contract (or not having a contract at all), and conduct unbecoming. Let’s see how Hachette handles setting up their own website, delivery company, sales page, self publishing platform, and developing their own e-reader overnight. Maybe they could have a couple of the authors who paid $104,000 to buy a full page ad in the NY Times help them with the logistics?

Here’s another idea. I suggest we get 104,000 indie authors to pay a dollar to take out our own ad. I’m serious, too! Indies, pass this around and let’s see how big of an ad we can take out! No joke, let’s have our voices heard! What better site than the one that has our name in the title to bring us all together?

Do you suppose we could get anyone to listen to us if 104,000 authors spoke with one voice and told our side of the story? Pitch in your Indie Published dollar here. That is a link to the actual fundraiser on to show the real bullies in this debate that we won’t be intimidated by the size of their bank accounts!

Edit: It appears that I can be intimidated by the size of their bank accounts because I can't afford the tax burden that 104,000 would lend. But I would be happy to donate if someone else has the ability to shoulder that burden....

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Hachette to the Head

A lot of folks like to jump on big companies and thrash them for being good at what they do.

Alas, these are the days for that sort of behavior and a lot of vocal individuals are saying some very angry things about the way Amazon does its business. I am not one of those people.

The way that innovation is made out to be villainous is pathetic. I haven’t witnessed a more irritating display of stubbornness since I was eight years old and my neighbor’s mom made her son fight another kid on her front lawn, and she kept jumping in to tell the other child he couldn't hit her son like that anymore because it wasn't fair.

The hardest part of this, for me, is that Amazon started with nothing. Mailing books out from a garage sounds scary, doesn't it? Yeah, they were the bully on the block alright. They got to be big because they offered consumers what they wanted: cheap books!

Hachette was around for a long time before amazon started doing their thing, and in all that time they did nothing to revolutionize their product. They were happy charging so much for their product that people began to see reading as a more expensive habit than going to the movies every night, or paying $250 a month for cable.  

Then along comes Amazon….

In a scant number of years they have changed it all and are literally putting their competition out of business. For $9.99 you can read as much as you want every month: this is book heaven!

Yes, the company that started out mailing books from of a garage has made a major difference in the culture of our world. More of us are reading than ever before, and we are enjoying it. More authors are writing now than ever before, too. Amazon changed it all slowly, bit by bit, and in plane view of the world.

Fast forward to 2014 were we get to this fight that has everyone shouting vulgarities at each other….

Hachette was there when Amazon began, and they took no notice except for the fact that they were making more money selling books. 

Now, we are expected to believe that the company who ignored the requests of hundreds of (now) best-selling Authors to be published has Authors’ best interest in mind? I know we have all heard the story of an author submitting request after request to publishers, only to see rejections come flying at them faster than an under-cooked filet in a Gordon Ramsay restaurant. We are to believe that they have authors’ best interests at heart because they published (No offense intended, I seriously worship your writing!) J.K. Rowling?

No joke, everyone from Joe Konrath to, well, me, is talking about this fight. Though you won’t find as many, nor as novel-like lengthy (is that at word?) blog posts on my little corner of the internet, I happen to think Joe says it (just check out the last gazillion posts and you'll see) right. But for me it really all boils down to a few simple paragraphs.

You shouldn't sit on top for decades, squashing the competition that attempts to rise up. If you do, then you shouldn't sit by and watch someone build, piece by painstaking piece, over years and years, something that is innovative and promises to take your place, and do nothing about it. If you've already made these pitiful mistakes and can no longer compete in the market the way it is, you probably shouldn't start whining about how the big bad Amazon isn't fair to you because you’re not making enough money in a small investment business. You should have seen it coming and did something about it. I mean really, your business is books, right?

If you actually cared for the authors, and readers, you would have been the first to offer innovation. How hard would it have been to let authors publish under your imprint by letting us upload books, pay your editors to edit, pay your cover designers to design our cover, and when we are happy we hit the publish button and keep 35% of the profit? As it is, Self-published authors have to learn the hard way how to find  good editors and cover designers, often having to pay several times (we've paid for editing twice on all of our books, and may still do it again!) for a service we already thought was done correctly. I don’t think it is too late to do just that, either. Joe Konrath seems to think the Authors Guild should be responsible for that, but as a Self-Published, Award-Winning, Best-Selling author all I can say is: Authors Guild who?

A lot of people would pay good money to have Hachette edit their book, design their cover, and be listed as their publisher! Hachette could eliminate the need for authors to learn the hard way by only having to pay once for a service and have it handled by industry experts! Hachette would have to do nothing but let them use the name, and let’s face it there are a lot of crumby books that already have the Hachette name on them so they wouldn't lose any traction or respect from readers—we already know that books can’t be judged by their covers, or publisher. But does Hachette want to help authors and themselves, or just themselves?

If someone innovates your field, offer more innovation and keep the blame-thrower stowed neatly in the closet. Whining only earns the my disdain, not sympathy. I know Amazon would welcome innovation from you. Competition is good for business, and none of you are offering the reader, or the writer, anything of value that isn't already better on Amazon. Maybe you could offer the editing services before amazon starts doing it? I wouldn't put it passed them because they have a vested interest in the quality on their site. This is economics 101 folks.

Compete or die—it's that simple.