Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Look Inside Cobblestone Press, Liquid Silver Books and Samhain Publishing

They say a thin, but vast, veil separates the two realms.

The veil I’m talking about separates the unpublished from the published author.
Ever wonder what’s on the other side? Want to peel back the veil for a peek? Or to actually speak to someone who has crossed over?

Now you can. I’ve lined up talented friends to talk about their experiences in getting stories published.

My first authoress extraordinaire is Ella Drake. Her publishers are Samhain Publishing, Liquid Silver Books and Cobblestone Press. Whether she’s writing about ancient cursed castles or rowdy space bars, her stories have a compelling magic that will capture your imagination and hold you on the edge of your seat.
Ella has agreed to answer my publishing questions which, I’m hoping, are yours, too.

1.How did you get started as a writer? I’m one of those people who thought about writing a novel “one day”. I love to read and had been taking literature classes at night. Then, one day after I had my second baby, I started daydreaming and before I knew it, had thought up a great idea for a space opera. After managing to turn off my internal editor long enough to write more than the first sentence, I was able to keep going and not look back. It was basically a lightbulb type of moment.

2.Getting The Call is the moment many unpublished authors fantasize about. It’s that moment when authors hear that a publisher wants her work. Can you describe your experience?
After writing a few manuscripts, I realized that not only were most of them too short for a traditional print market, but I also enjoyed reading ebooks, so I targeted several ebook publishers. I sent a short story to Cobblestone Press, and when I got the email that they wanted to sign it, I stared at it. I grinned at it. Then I kept opening and re-reading to make sure I read it correctly in the first place. It was a weird mixture of happiness, terror, and the inability to believe it. The first thing I did was call my husband!

3.How long was it from the initial publisher’s request to see your manuscript until it reached published form?
My first published story was “Wolf-Bitten”, a story about a woman who fled to avoid marriage with a werewolf, and the alpha were who tracked her down. The story was in submission for about five months, but once I signed, things went quickly. It was released within six weeks. This does seem a bit short, but epubs can make that kind of quick turnaround. Most of the timing depends on the publisher and their schedule. My last release, “Firestorm on E’Terra”, a novella in the Hearts Afire: December anthology from Liquid Silver, took six months because I was slotted for a December release.

4.What steps were involved to elevate your manuscript from a submission to a published novel?In all three publishers, the steps were similar. I signed the contract and sent it in. The contracts were all easy to understand. As a new author with a publisher, I then received different directions on how to learn about the company, was given access to author forums, or email lists. All three of these companies have a good infrastructure for asking questions and getting answers.
Liquid Silver and Cobblestone then assigned me an editor. Both houses rotate editors and you’re assigned to the next available. In the case of Samhain Publishing, the editors acquire the manuscripts, so I had my editor from the beginning. All of these publishers go through a round of three edits using change control in Word, which was a relief for me since I was well versed in using it. After edits, or during, I worked on blurbs and made cover art requests. Part of the reason I choose these three publishers is because of their wonderful covers. The last step was getting final digital copies, which was like a little present in the inbox. I just received a galley for The Forbidden Chamber, from Samhain. I have to proof the final form before it goes into print, which I’m definitely looking forward to. Of the three publishers I’m with, Samhain is the only one that has print books.

5.What surprised you most about being published?How the insecurities don’t really go away, they just change. Instead of wondering if I’ll catch the eye of one acquiring editor or agent, I’m worried about how readers will like it. And there’s more pressure to get the next one finished.

6.What advice would you give other unpublished authors who hope to interest your publishing house in their manuscript?
Read. Understand what kind of stories they’re acquiring and what their readers like. I think this is the best thing anyone can do if they’re targeting a publisher.

7.What reasons would you give an unpublished author for sending his or her manuscript to Samhain Publishing, Liquid Silver Books or Cobblestone Press? In other words, what do you particularly like about your publishers?
I love being able to write what I want, even if it’s out of the box, because epublishers and small press can take a chance on something out of the ordinary. I also really like the short turnaround time and the responsiveness of all of the people involved with these publishers.

8.How has your life changed since being published?(see number 5 above) Ha! For the most part what’s changed is that I have different stressors. But I love it! Wouldn’t change a moment of it.

9.Typically, how long does it take you to write a book? What’s your writing schedule?This varies widely for me depending on what time of the year it is. School schedules play havoc on my writing time. This year, I have a few hours every school day to write. Before now, I had to take the moments when I could grab them. It took me seven months to write The Forbidden Chamber (category novel length) and two months to write “Firestorm on E’Terra” (novella). My short story, “Scent of Cin” took a little over a month. Still, I have a full novel-length I’ve been working on for three years, so the time it takes varies widely.

10.How do you generate ideas for your stories? They come from everywhere. Little ideas that pop in my head and sit back there and grow. “Scent of Cin” came from a weird flash of a woman wearing a red teddy. (No, it’s not usual for me to daydream about women in teddies). I’ve also sat down to purposely brainstorm around an idea that came from reading a magazine article.

11.What excites you about your current work in progress?It’s unusual. The type of characters I’m putting together, I’ve never seen before. I’m really enjoying it, and I’m doing something different, I’m trying to write a series of connected, stand-alone novellas.

12.Could you share an excerpt from your books?
This is a short snippet from The Forbidden Chamber, a gothic/historical paranormal available from Samhain Publishing (link). Rukh cannot marry because his family’s curse leads to the death of his wives, but he wants Isabel for his own. This scene is a turning point in his denial:

Isabel did not see him when he slipped into the ballroom. Her back to him, she stood behind her mother who faced the dancers and chatted with her other daughters. Isabel studied a framed canvas of a windswept moor’s leafless trees filled with Ravens standing guard over a swaddled babe lost in the woods. The dreary scene had been a favorite of his as a child. The graceful curve of Isabel’s neck begged to be kissed when she cocked her head to the side and leaned forward for a closer view. That damned crescent birthmark made his mouth water.
Her intent posture captivated him. With her lush curves tempting his fingers to explore, he had at first overlooked her intelligence. He moved to the side to bypass the guests trying to garner his time and attention. Able to see her profile after agonizing minutes cutting through the crowded room, he smiled at her earnest expression and the critical slant to her lips.
What would she say if he told her the painting was by his father? And that the babe was him?
He started forward to ask but stopped in his tracks several feet away when a hand cupped beneath her elbow.
Rukh growled at the offending grip on Isabel and startled a nearby missus. The portly woman’s skirts nearly tangled her legs in her haste to move away.
A young man spoke in Isabel’s ear. She half turned and smiled at the boy.
Directed at another, her smile played havoc on Rukh. His hands clenched. The young couple moved to join the music starting anew. She danced with a Hayle, a nephew, Christopher. Of the same age, they fit together in a way he could never hope to achieve. He choked on a surge of red haze. A primal instinct to claim her and pull her from the boy bubbled from within. Perhaps for a taste of her, he could demand her sacrifice on his doomed altar of marriage.
Curse be damned.

13.Where can readers find you on the Web? (Twitter, blog, Facebook, Website)? Ella Drake is a Dark Paranormal and Science Fiction Romance author published with Cobblestone Press, Liquid Silver Books, and Samhain Publishing. Sometimes she dabbles in Weird SF stories (free read on her website). To learn more about Ella, visit her on her webpage at Ella can also be found on facebook and twitter.

We hope you’ve found Ella’s interview interesting. We appreciate your questions or comments.
-- Brenda Nelson-Davis.


  1. This was a great post! I bookmarked it. I love to write, but I'm still at question number 1, the person who dreams about writing a book "one day." Maybe someday, I will actually do it. I also love your tips for how to generate ideas since one of the things I teach is writing. Thanks!

  2. Forgetfulone,
    I didn't know you teach writing. I hope you'll pen the book you dream of one day. Thanks for coming by.

  3. I loved your post. Very good! :)

    Happy Thursday!

  4. Very interesting and informative. I didn't know e-publishers worked like regular ones. Do you have to read the books online?

  5. Fascinating post. Thank you so much for the effort. I, too, did not realise the process or, even, that e-publishers were so prolific.

    Do you buy the right to a link, to a download, or a Kindle. How does that part work?

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  7. ery interesting and informative post. Thank you so much.

    After many years, I finally decided to take a story out of my head and onto my blog. The first installment of Convictions was posted last Saturday and a new one will follow this weekend. I'd love to have you check it out.

  8. Wow, what an informative TT! Loved this!

  9. Thank you for having me, Brenda!
    And thanks everyone for their wonderful comments.
    @Forgetfulone, Good luck! I think that any day can be that "one day." Maybe today?

    @Julie, contracts can be different with rights, depending on the online store, format, and user agreement. For the most part, you're purchasing a license to read the content. Most stores have help pages to outline what an ebook is and what you're buying from them.

  10. This was a wonderful post! Thanks for sharing the insights of what it's like on the "other" side.

  11. MommyBa,
    Ah, thanks. I appreciate your visit.

    I am learning about epublishers too because several of my favorite authors publish that way. I believe you can read the e-book on your computer or you can use an e-book reader.

  12. This was a great post and I enjoyed it. Thanks for sgaring yourself with us today Ella!

  13. Hi Julie,
    Thanks for coming by. I see Ella answered your question. I'm learning about epublishers along with you.

    How exciting. I hope to visit your site soon.

  14. This was very interesting and helpful! God I love stories of cursed ancient castles. If I weren't nostril-deep in postgrad preparations, I'd get started with Forbidden Chamber right away. One day, one day I will have this luxury. Thanks a lot, Brenda for sharing Ella Drake's insight into the world of publishing, writing, and pleasurable reading.

  15. Country Dew and Sasha,
    Thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed Ella's interview. She's a super writer. I bet you'd enjoy her books too.

  16. Ella,
    It is truly my pleasure to have you. Thank you!

  17. Missy Lyons,
    I agree. We're lucky to have Ella with us. Happy TT!

    Forbidden Chamber is coming to print soon. Then copies will be at libraries, on amazon and pretty much all over I hope.

  18. i have read it now and i will re read it. this is really helpful :)

    One Word Only

  19. Americanising Desi,
    Thanks. I'm learning right along with you. Happy TT!

  20. Hi Brenda & Ella :)
    Thanks for the informative interview.
    Thank you to Ella for sharing her experiences, insight & writing advice. I really enjoyed learning more about Ella's publishing journey.
    All the best,

  21. Unfortunately I don't know this lady at all. It's quite hard to find English books here.

  22. RKCharron,
    Thanks. Ella's journey has been both interesting and exciting. I feel fortunate to have her share that journey.

  23. Great interview!


    My TT is at

  24. Gattina,
    I hope Ella's books will make it over to you. Thanks for stopping by.

  25. Awesome! I miss the old days of T13, when we'd all run around and talk about our books more. I know it turned the non-readers off, but I sure made a lot of writer friends.

    And I think it's important to get the names of our writer friends out there, beyond the usual circles. I hope you'll do more interviews like this, Brenda!

  26. Great excerpt, Ella and great interview ladies!

    You perfectly captured what reading that acceptance email feels like.

    I wish you much success, Ella.


  27. Informative post, Ella.

    That's a lot of info.

  28. Paige Tyler,
    I think Ella did a great job too. Thanks for stopping by.

    Thanks for the suggestion. Actually, I do have some other authors I'd like to interview and I'd love to include you.;)

  29. Lynne,
    Thanks. I wish Ella success too.

    Inez and Elise,
    I feel like I learned from Ella's post too. We both appreciate your kind words.

  30. Thanks! I have a friend who is published, and she recently had to remind me that there is more than one type of book to write. Like, for example, non-fiction.

    Options are always good to be aware of.

  31. That was very fast. Mine was six months, and I count myself lucky.

  32. Celticlibrarian,
    Cool. You're so right about options. Thanks.

  33. Alice Audrey,
    I'd like to know more about your books and your publishing experience. Maybe I'll come visit you.

  34. i really enjoyed this. i don't know much about ebooks or epublishing. i found this to be very informative and interesting.

  35. jehara,
    Thanks. We aim to please. I'm glad you enjoyed Ella's writing.

  36. Thank you everyone, for your wonderful comments, and thank you, Brenda for having me here.

  37. Wonderful interview and Thursday Thirteen! I like your description of your recurring flashed images of women in teddies, Ella.

  38. Good stuff, ladies. A very thought provoking post.

    I wish you continued success.

    Happy T13!

  39. Ella Drake,
    Thanks so much! As you can tell from the comments, we really enjoyed your interview!

  40. Julia,
    Yeah, I think Ella is very creative too. You should read her books. Grin. Thanks for commenting.

  41. Adelle,
    Thanks. That means a lot to me because I know you're in the book writing business too.