Fun with Fiction 26: On Creative Writing Classes

I’m back!  Even though I don’t really have time to be.

See, I’m teaching.  And I’m going to grad school.  And I’m still trying to read, write, and publish as much as I can.  So podcasting has not been a priority for me recently, and probably won’t be at the top of the list in the near future.

That said, when I have something to say, I’ll say it.  Especially when I need a break from all the non-stop work this life entails.

So here I am to tell you about Creative Writing classes – the ones I’m taking (at the graduate level) and the one I’m teaching (at the high school level).  It’s a fascinating subject, if I do say so myself.

Are creative writing classes for you?  Click on some of the pics below for the books we’re using, and decide for yourself!



FwF 24 – Dark Optimism: An Interview with J. Thorn


Dark greetings, Fictioneers!

First off, I apologize for taking so long to get this episode out.  I actually did this interview a while ago, but since then I’ve been in the midst of a move from Chicago to Phoenix, and I only just got my internet hooked up in my new location, so…

Here it is!  [I know, I know, I already broke my New Year’s resolution to publish one episode a week.  (But aren’t such resolutions made to be broken?)  They’ll get more regular from here on out, I promise!]

A few weeks back I had the honor of speaking with J. Thorn.  J. is a best-selling horror author whose name has graced the top of the charts alongside the likes of Stephen King and Dean Koontz.  How epic is that?


What has rocketed J. to a permanent place in the list of the top 100 (and occasionally the top 5) horror authors on Amazon?

In part, it’s how great his books are.  Just look at how readers and critics rave about the Portal Arcane Series and the Hidden Evil Trilogy.


And check out my review of J.’s children’s/YA novel, The Monroeville Monster.  It’s a great read for kids of all ages.  Definitely worth the buy!

In addition to the quality of his work, though, it helps J.’s sales that he is incredibly prolific.  I count over 20 separate (non-overlapping) titles on his Amazon page – many of which are full-length novels.  Not bad for a career that only started in 2011!  J. also has a great head for book marketing, and, being a friendly and cooperative soul, he has joined with other great horror and dark fantasy authors to create bargain book bundles, each of which costs only $0.99, and each of which features 7 or more funtabulously frightening novels.  (Click the pics below for those great bargain buys.)

Last year J. got even more ambitious in his collaborations, and became one of the authors (as well as the compiler/editor) of a 10-author collaborative novel, The Black Fang Betrayal.  It’s a fascinating dark fantasy, blending the imaginations of some great modern authors into a single cohesive story.  (I compare it to George R.R. Martin & friends’ Wild Cards series.)  Grab that one now.  It’s seriously cool.

Speaking of collaborations, if you want to be a good person, why don’t you drop $0.99 to join J. and other great horror-makers as they Scare Cancer to Death?

Now, if you haven’t already, listen in as Mr. Thorn and I discuss the business aspects of being an independent author, the good feelings even the tiniest bit of success can give us, our favorite horror/dark fantasy books and movies, and many other weird topics.

J. lives in Cleveland, where apparently no one but him rocks anymore.   But the man has spent large parts of his life performing heavy metal – so, of course, we talk about our favorite metal bands, and how they may or may not inform our literary tastes.

Along with everything else he’s done, J. was the co-host (with Richard Brown) of the Horror Writers’ Podcast.  That ‘cast is sadly no longer going – and of course I give J. a hard time about that – but I encourage any fiction writers out there to listen to the back episodes!  It certainly informed and inspired me in its brief run, and I someday hope to hear J. once more sharing his wisdom in the podcastsphere.

As I said, J.’s a good dude, and he proves it by looking out for his fellow indie authors.  Check out his thoughts here:


So what is the dark Mr. Thorn doing these days?

I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did!  J.’s a fantastic author, a hell of a businessman, and an all-around cool guy.

Comment below or shoot me an email at and let me know what you thought of this episode!  And while you’re here, don’t forget to sign up for the Fun with Fiction Newsletter – your way to keep abreast of all the awesome stuff going on in the made-up world.

‘Til next time, keep on reading!

– Luke

FwF 19 – Fighting and Fantasy: An Interview with Orlando Sanchez (part 2)


Hola, Fictioneers!  Here is part deux of my fantastic interview with fantasy author and all-around badass Orlando Sanchez.

In case you missed it last time, these are Orlando’s books:


And his magnum opus, The Spiritual Warriors (Book 1 of The Warriors of the Way), is being re-edited and re-released in January, with the next two books in the series to follow shortly thereafter.  Can’t wait for that!

As you can probably tell, Orlando likes to incorporate martial arts philosophy into his fiction (whereas I tend to keep them separate).  We discuss how he accomplishes this, making his books read like mystical kung fu films for the modern age.  (Think Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon meets The Matrix.)

We also praise some of our favorite fiction and talk about how it inspires us.  Names like Douglas Adams, Jim Butcher, and Bob Kane get dropped shamelessly.


Returning to the writer’s perspective, we talk about how horrible it is to get a great story idea while you’re in the middle of writing another story (I’m sure our fellow writers can relate).  What can you do?  Keep on pushing through, no matter how much your ADHD and self-doubt scream at you to change course.  Remember, though it is art, you must treat it like a job.  And sometimes, jobs just suck.

And the rough draft (a la NaNoWriMo) is just the beginning.

Then comes the editing, and the wretched pain of murdering your darlings (meaning your words, not your children).  As Bruce Lee put it: hack away the inessentials, and let the beautiful tree within flourish.  And in a rough draft, there are a lot of inessentials.  Only once a book has been thoroughly edited and revised is it ready to show to the world.

But you also can’t show it to the world without a great cover.  Sure people say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover… but everyone still does it.  Since the great book cover designer and book publishing/marketing master Derek Murphy introduced us, it’s only fair to give him a shout-out here, as well.  (Derek designed the new cover for The Spiritual Warriors.  Take a look at it in this post’s featured image!)

Yes, all of this is a lot of work.  But hey – no one said writing was easy.  (Well, actually, a lot of people say that – but they’re not writers.)

As stated in the last episode, don’t forget to…

Read Orlando’s blog.

Follow him on Twitter.

Like him on Facebook.

Fan him on Goodreads.

Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Do it.  Do it now.  …  What are you waiting for?  🙂

 Thanks again for listening!  Please email me at if you’d like to be on the Fun with Fiction podcast.  If you’re an author, an avid reader, or just someone with an interesting take on storytelling, I’d love to talk to you.

Peace out and read on,

– Luke

[P.S. – I know I say this EVERY time, but I’m going to keep doing it ’til everyone signs up:  If you want some great FREE books, other give-aways, and to hear all the latest stuff going on in the Fun with Fiction world, CLICK HERE.  Thanks!]

FwF 18 – Fighting and Fantasy: An Interview with Orlando Sanchez (part 1)


Today I had the great pleasure of talking to Sensei Orlando Sanchez – a fellow independent fantasy author and martial artist with a lot of insight on what makes fiction fun.

Orlando Sanchez

Seriously, we talked for over two hours, and I (devout professional that I am) decided to simply hit the record button in the middle of our conversation – so the “interview” begins with Sensei Orlando in the middle of a sentence about the need for an editor.  Our talk moves on to a whole range of topics, from our favorite authors (including J.R.R. Tolkien and Jim Butcher) to the horrific despair we writers feel when we’re 30,000 words into a manuscript and we positively HATE our novel.  (I blogged about that just yesterday here.)

I’ve had to split this interview into two pieces due to system constraints – but both halves are well worth the listen!  Entertaining and useful information for readers and writers alike.

If you want to try Orlando’s writing out, click on the pics below to pick up these short stories for $0.99 each.  They’re tons of fun.


If you’re ready to dive into the novels (I know I am!), grab these:


And keep an eye out for the newly-edited 2nd addition of The Spiritual Warriors – coming in early January 2015.  (See his Facebook post about it below)

Read Orlando’s blog.

Follow him on Twitter.

Like him on Facebook.

Fan him on Goodreads.

Connect with him on LinkedIn.

Hope you enjoyed this interview!  Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for part 2, where we dig deeper into Orlando’s own work.

– Luke

[P.S. – If you want some great free books, other give-aways, and to hear all the latest stuff going on in the Fun with Fiction world, CLICK HERE.]

FwF 15 – Nanowrimo (and Resources for Authors)

NaNoWriMo has begun!!!

For those who don’t know, Nanowrimo is an acronym for National Novel Writing Month – a time of the year when thousands of writers and would-be writers worldwide accept the challenge to complete a 50,000 word novel rough draft in 30 days.

That’s 1667 words per day.  Every day.  Throughout November.  Cool, huh?

The secret is: Give yourself permission to suck.

Don’t edit as you write.  Don’t censor yourself.  This is a rough draft, which means that no one needs to see it.  EVER.  If you want to make a finished product out of it, that’s what editing, revising, and rewriting are for – and you have the other eleven months of the year to worry about that.

For now – write!

If you’re an author, or want to be one, some super-successful indie authors have gotten together and created a package of three of the best books on the subject for only $0.99.  The books are Write. Publish. Repeat. by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant; Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran; and How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn.  These three books together would normally cost you $16.97.  Get all three now for less than a buck – a 94% discount!

It’s worth it, believe me.  If you want to publish fiction or non-fiction, these are the folks to go to.  They know what they’re talking about.  You won’t find a better deal than this, and it’s only available for a little while.  Grab The Indie Author Power Pack: How To Write, Publish, & Market Your Book now.

And if you want a book of fun fiction for free, don’t forget to sign up for my email list.  No spam, only occasional emails with top-quality material and news for those who love to read or write fiction.

If you do try Nanowrimo, good luck!  Here are a few more resources you may find helpful:


Also check out:

I’ve gotta back to work, myself.  I’m write there in the trenches with you.  😉

– Luke

P.S.  If you’d like free copies of any of my books – including an advanced copy of the novel I’m working on right now (when it’s ready) – send me an email at, let me know which book you’d like, and I’ll send it to you!   All I ask is that you leave the book a review on Amazon.  Once you do that, email me the link to your review, and I’ll send you another free book.  It’s an easy way to get all of my books for nothing but a few sentences.

Thanks for listening, for reading, and for being you!

Fun with Fiction 10 – Writing Resources for My Fellow Authors



This one’s for the writers out there!  I’ve gathered some of the best tips and resources I know to help you in writing, publishing, and marketing your work, and I share them here with you, in the hopes that you’ll be able to glean something of value from them as I have.  As this is all about me recommending other people & things to you, I’m posting my show notes raw again, since all you really want are the links anyway.

Thank you all for listening and showing your support!  I can’t wait to see where this podcast might go in the next few years.  Maybe some day soon you and I will be mentioned as a formative influence by another up-and-comer in the fiction world.  🙂

Big news plug for authors:

Great web resources:

  • Networking:

o   Author groups on Linked-In

o   Author profile & networking on Goodreads (Don’t be a douchebag about this; don’t ‘friend’ people just to recommend your own book to them)

Other podcasts:

  • Informative/inspiring author interviews:

o   The Creative Penn – Fiction/non-fiction author Joanna Penn

o   The Rocking Self-Publishing Podcast – Audiobook reader Simon Whistler

  • Marketing:

o   The Sell More Books Show – Jim Kukral (Author Marketing Club) & Bryan Cohen (

  • Insights on writing process and self-publishing:

o   The Story-Telling Podcast – Authors Garrett Robinson, ZC Bolger, & Crissy Moss

o   The Self-Publishing Podcast – authors Johnny B. Truant, Sean Platt, & David Wright


  • On Process:

o   On Writing by Stephen King

o   2,000 to 10,000 (as in words per day) by Rachel Aaron

o   Story Structure by William Bernhardt

  • On Marketing & Sales:

o   Write, Publish, Repeat by Sean Platt & Johnny B. Truant (who wrote 1.5 million words and published something like two dozen books last year alone!)

o   Your First 1000 Copies by Tim Grahl

o   How to Sell Fiction on Kindle by Michael Alvear

o   Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran

  • Tips and Inspiration:

o   The War of Art by Stephen Pressfield

o   Make Good Art by Neil Gaiman

o   Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury

Look into these resources, incorporate what works, discard what doesn’t, and add what is uniquely your own.  (Yes, that’s a Bruce Lee reference.)  And if you do get something of value from this episode/post – or if it gives you nothing at all, and you wish I would talk about something else – please email me at and tell me about it!  I love feedback of all kinds.

‘Til next time, good luck with your writing, and keep them stories coming!