Sunday, January 29, 2012


Friends -
Of late, The Void and legal work and a mysterious new project have formed an Axis of Exhaustion that has left me too wiped out to write witty blog posts. Since it's an open question how witty I am on a normal day, this means that if I tried to write one in my current (very tired, practically falling over) state, you might be subjected to true drivel!

To spare you that horrible fate, I thought I'd use this post to earn some good will in the writer community.

Fellow author Jodi Meadows has been a friend to me and to On The Bird. Her debut novel, Incarnate, is set to launch on TUESDAY!! It looks like it should be an excellent book and will be particularly interesting to those of you who are looking for a new and unique take on reincarnation. I'm planning to pick it up on Tuesday, myself, and read it as my celebration for finishing principal writing work on The Void.

So this post, though not at all witty, will let me do my good deed for the day, possibly introduce some of you to what is sure to be a great book, and earn some brownie points with Jodi. (Though I confess, I'm mostly helping her because I have a soft spot for her ferrets.)

So, without further ado, I give you a link to Jodi's page about Incarnate!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Genre mixing

Another storytelling talent that I picked up from my (de)mentor, Joss Whedon, is genre-mixing. For instance, Buffy is a high school story and a paranormal story (though lately, those are starting to feel like the same genre), Firefly is space sci-fi and a Western (a combination that every viewer now wishes they'd thought of), and Dollhouse ... well, Dollhouse is all sorts of things. (I'd call it a delicious mix of modern-day science fiction, spy story, and romance story.)

Aaaaand I'm already using way too many parentheses. Whee!

Anyway. Mixing genres is like mixing drinks -- it expands your pallete (both the writer's and the reader's). It allows you to experiment with previously-untried combinations, and can give your story a richer,  more pleasing taste. Of course, just like mixing drinks, sometimes the experiments end really badly, and you end up at the sink, desperately spitting and washing your mouth out. But we won't talk about that.

I've heard some suggestions that mixing genres can be dangerous, especially for a new author. The theory goes that the way to sell books is to appeal to familiar, well-worn market niches. People like what they recognize. They gravitate to what they understand. Make your story safe, or watch  it sit on the shelves. I've particularly heard that traditional publishing houses tend to reject proposals  that don't fit such niches.

Well, here's my humble opinion: it's time to give our readers more credit. Yes, the familiar is comfortable, but, at the same time, the whole reason that people read fantasy books is out of a longing for the unfamiliar. If readers want routine, there are plenty of places for them to get it (like the day job). Formula can be fun, but I choose to believe that people who read my books are ready for excitement and adventure.

And so, for instance, when I wrote Atticus for the Undead, I decided to do something I'd never seen before:  combine urban fantasy and legal procedurals. After all, I like both Law & Order and Buffy, surely I'm not the only one, right? I had friends who could enjoy both genres. I'd had teachers and even law school classmates who liked both (I knew I would fit in at law school when I met the student who did cosplay in her spare time). And the rumors I'd heard said that many law professors loved Battlestar Galactica because of the novel ways it presented real-world legal and constitutional issues. Well, if Ron Moore can do it, why can't I? (Other than the fact that he's about 1,098349181 X better as a storyteller than I am.)

Similarly, The Weaver Saga combines paranormal/urban fantasy elements with cop/detective fiction. Granted, that's a combo that has been tried before (see X-Files and its progeny), but it still provided me a broader range of storytelling tricks than I'd have had in either genre alone. And I took the combo one step further by adding in Young Adult elements.

I'm still very much starting out as an author, but if mixed books are like mixed drinks, my readers so far seem to feel that I'm a pretty good bartender. And that's enough for me.

So, in summary, Whedon was right again. (Duh.) People come to fantasy so it will spark their imaginations. And one great way to stir the imagination is by shaking up genre conventions.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Another review rolls in!

This one from Book Briefs!

Atticus for the undead is a totally different book than I am used to reading, so I didn't really know what to expect out of it. I was intrigued because I wanted to see how the paranormal elements would blend with the law elements. The result was pretty cool! I thought it was really interesting to read about legal concepts and things that I'm learning in school, and it still has zombies and witches and other cool creatures. (I wouldn't dare call them supernaturals after reading the book) Sign me up please!

I thought Atticus for the Undead is a really cool concept. It's about a lawyer that represents vampires, zombies and witches to name a few. The characters were all well developed and likable. Hunter, the main character, is representing a Zombie and naturally most people are not comfortable with zombies walking around. So Hunter has his work cut out for him. It doesn't help that the charge was murder by brain-eating, I'm sure. I loved him! He was funny, and so relatable. That might have been what made the ending such a blow for me.

I breezed through this book really quickly. It just flies along, and it kept my interest for every page! I was so absorbed in the book that I didn't even realize the end was coming up. Then the ending exploded and I was shocked! It made me so sad- really sad! It was fitting for the book, but it just wasn't what I wanted to happen or what I was expecting at all. Even so, Atticus for the Undead is a really interesting, and funny read. I enjoyed it a lot.

Let me know what you think of it!

Enter the world of arcane defense law!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

A Treat For The Fans

All right, folks, this is a little treat for those of you who already like and enjoy my books. As I've mentioned, The Void, Book 2 in The Weaver Saga is currently in production, and sitting at around 11k words. It doesn't go live until April, but I'm betting some of you out there are chomping at the bit to know what happens. As such, we're going to have a little giveaway contest -- with Chapter 1 of the book as the prize.

Here's how it works: my most recent book is Atticus for the Undead, Book 1 of The Legal Fiction Series. It's selling reasonably well, but I'd like to help it do even better. So here's how we can both get what we want.

Starting now (Midnight 1/18/2012), you have 72 hours to convince 2 friends to pick up Atticus (or, if you haven't already gotten a copy, pick it up yourself and convince one friend). Once you have done so, leave a comment on this post. Anyone who succeeds in this task will receive Chapter 1 of The Void, by e-mail, for free. We're on the honor system, here, so please don't cheat.

The contest ends at the stroke of midnight on January 21, 2012.

Everybody ready? On your marks ... get set ...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Monday, January 9, 2012

Book Bloggers

This is an entry in two parts.

First, I wanted to update everyone on what's going on with The Void, Book 2 in The Weaver Saga. I had hoped to have the manuscript finished by the end of this month, in preparation for a March release. However, this has proven to be an extraordinarily difficult book to write, and it has become clear to me that that's just not going to happen. (The only way I could have made it happen was by breaking my Indie Writer's Pledge of Quality, which I refuse to do.) So, my goal now is to have the manuscript finished by the end of next month, with a release anticipated in either April (hopefully) or May (worst case).

I am sorry for this delay, but as always, I would rather put out a good book late than a bad book early.

And now, part two, from which this entry draws its title!

I have a question about book bloggers. First of all, I'm sorry to tell you that this entry will have nothing to say on the recent author/blogger drama that's apparently been running around the intertubes. Rather, I have a question, and here it is:

Should I give review bloggers an acknowledgment in my books?

I struggled mightily with this during the writing of Atticus. On the one hand, the bloggers are investing hours of their life in reading my books and writing reviews about those books, a task for which they receive no compensation. Since On The Bird has limited funding, their reviews are generally my primary means of spreading the word about my books, so they're helping me in that respect, too. And in the case of Atticus specifically, a number of blogs (Ricochet ReviewsCandy's RavesMoonlit Dreams and Whimsy Writing) agreed to bump my book and its review up their schedule to accomodate my planned release date.

To say I feel a debt of gratitude for all these things is to greatly understate the case.

The problem is that I don't want it to look in any way like there was a quid pro quo. I don't want there to be even a chance that anyone might think that the reviews were based on anything but the bloggers' honest feelings about my books. This could be very damaging both to my fledgling reputation as an author, and to their integrity as bloggers. So, thus far, I have avoided listing them in the acknowledgments section.

So now I'm asking you guys to be the Indie Author Ethics Committee. What do you think? Acknowledgments okay, or would it look improper?

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

"Locked In" Blog Tour!

Today, we are proud to welcome Thea Gregory, author of the Zombie Bedtime Stories series, to our blog. Ms. Gregory is our first visiting author and she is here promoting Locked In, the first book in the series.

She has come to entertain us with a guest post that is entertaining while managing to use far fewer parentheses than my posts normally do. Good times all around!

Thea, take it away:

The Anatomy of a Zombie Story

Writing a zombie story is a highly scientific process that has been passed down through the ages. Well, I made that last part up, but it’s still very scientific-like. Zombie horror involves mastering the time-honored traditions of suspension of disbelief, characterization, description, plot and gore.

Suspension of Disbelief and Plot:
Yes, these are zombies we’re talking about. Those tend not to be an everyday occurrence, hopefully at least not for the foreseeable future. Thus, things need to be somewhat believable. There needs to be consistent rules for zombie behavior, regardless of whether they’re members of the flesh or BRAINS subspecies. For example, if your zombies are initially of the slow-moving variety, it’s probably not the best of ideas to have them suddenly mutate into flying radioactive zombies. Consistent rules are important, even with our fictional creatively-animated friends.

A good story that entertains and moves along is also very important. It needs a definite beginning, middle and end, even if it’s part of a longer series.

With my zombies, I created a set of rules and stuck with them. I call them my “Laws of Zombification,” and like the laws of physics, I refuse to break them. Objects do not fall up, you can’t divide by zero, and zombies do not talk, fall in love or do anything other than look for their next delicious meal.

A zombie story needs a strong protagonist. Whether said hero is the survivor or the ultimate zombie food variety, they need to have reasons for what they say, do and feel during the harrowing events surrounding a zombie apocalypse. There needs to be a buy-in, regardless of if you want the reader to rejoice at the character’s slaughter or to feel their adrenaline surge as their beloved hero fights off a legion of undead with a hoe.

Characters can be all shapes and sizes, and it’s great to deviate from the norm and try new things. Your protagonist can even be a zombie. It’s not easy, but it can be done. Remember not to break any “Laws of Zombification,” even if it’s your darling protagonist.

Description and Gore:
A strong sense of scene creation is essential to a zombie story. So far, you have some ground rules and good characters. However, you must now create the universe. The gloom of a post-apocalyptic world can permeate the action and lend a cinematic quality to the story.

I found that a good way of achieving a proper balance of important details versus minutiae is to treat your scene like a panel in a graphic novel, and describe the pertinent details as you move through dialogue or important events. Rather than drawing each panel, I illustrate it with words. This is helpful, because I can’t draw well.

Now, for the gore! It’s very important. More than anything else, the gore needs to feel real, visceral and conjure up images from the most disturbing nightmares. You want your readers to get on twitter and tell you how shocked and delighted they are at the level of realism in your gore. Write the goriest stuff imaginable, and then further revise it with little details that may have been missed. Tease the audience, but make sure you stay in complete control of the experience. Be demented, but make sure it serves the story and not the other way around. Remember, Laws of Zombification, believability, and make sure every scene has a purpose.

In short, that’s the blood and guts of the science of creating a zombie story. Make sure to wear gloves, and practice good hygiene while working with the undead.

Be sure to pick up Locked In today!

Also, follow Thea!
On her blog
On Twitter: @TheaIsis

Monday, January 2, 2012

On The Bird Is On The March!


2012 is going to be our year.

Things are looking up every day for On The Bird Publishing. Our sales are increasing. More and more review bloggers are raving about our work. And our readership increases by the day as readers, bloggers, and published authors come to understand that we are serious about changing the image of self-publishers and indie writers.

We currently have two books and a short story available for purchase, and this year should see the completion of at least 2 more books (the second volumes in the Weaver Saga and Legal Fiction Series, respectively). We've come a long way in a very short time -- but we have a very long way still to go. And to get there, we need your help.

Here's What You Can Do!
-Tell people about us! Do a Facebook post, blog post, Tweet, G+ post -- we're not picky!
-Become a member using the "Join This Site" widget to the right.
-Read the samples of our work. If you like them, send the links to your friends.
-If you run a blog, John would love to guest-post / interview / have you review one of his books! We're actively seeking out bloggers to help us spread the word, but you're welcome to come to us, too! (He's scheduled to appear at Gypsy Shadow Publishing on the 9th, by the way.)
-Buy a book! Atticus and The Antlerbury Tales are 99 cents each, and Weaver is currently FREE on Smashwords with coupon code BY83E.
-If you've already read one of John's books, please leave a review -- particularly on This is very important even if you don't run a review blog.

We are a scrappy, from-the-ground-up organization! If we're going to succeed, it will be at the grassroots. Join us, and let's write the next great indie success story.

Happy New Year,

John Abramowitz