An Interview With Kate MacLeod – Short Flights Bundle Author

Our next Short Flights interview author is Kate MacLeod (whom I already love because I think we’re kindred spirits–half of her answers could have been written by me!). Kate lives in Minnesota and keeps a website at, where you can find her social media information and sign up for her newsletter.

 SDR: Kate, tell us a little about the story you have in the Short Flights bundle.

KM: “Unsafe, Unsound” is a western weird tale of a family on the edge of civilization who catch a glimpse of the other layers beyond this world. It’s told in multiple points of view because each character has an entirely different experience. For a long time it was the darkest thing I ever wrote.

SDR: I love hearing about where other writers write, so could you describe your current writing workspace?

KM: I have a treadmill desk set in a bay window so it’s almost like walking outside while I type or dictate. I need lots of sun and fresh air when I make the words.

SDR: Do you remember what sparked the idea for “Unsafe, Unsound”? What was it?

KM: This was actually the rare instance where I used something from a dream. I had recently moved from a heavily populated neighborhood to one at the edge of the suburbs, surrounded by corn fields and dairy farms. In my dream I had the image of a man walking up my dirt road in the light of the full moon and I just knew that there was something wrong with him. I couldn’t get the image out of my head and had to know what his story was.

SDR: I’m always surprised when some people say they don’t enjoy short stories, so I’m asking writers, why do you write short fiction? Love, necessity, marketability, or something else?

KM: I love short fiction! My reading time is half fiction magazines and anthologies and half novels. As a writer I get story ideas that work best at some specific length and I don’t try to wrestle with that, I just let it be the length it is.

SDR: What’s the most perfect short story you’ve ever read?

KM: It’s either “The Dead” by James Joyce or “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner. Don’t make me choose between the two!

SDR: All right, we’ll change the subject. :) Have you written any series characters? What’s their appeal for you?

KM: I’m writing my first series character now. I wrote her first book as a standalone but loved her character so much I had to go back and continue her story. The Scout Shannon books are young adult science fiction and I loved the idea of slowly expanding her awareness of her world, planetary system, and galaxy around her as she grows into it. Plus she has two dogs, who are thinly fictionalized versions of my dogs, and I love writing about them!

SDR: Do you prefer music, silence, or some other noise in the background when you write? If music, what kind?

KM: I like music but I get easily distracted by lyrics so when I’m writing it’s all instrumentals, and generally movie soundtracks. The last novel I wrote I had the soundtrack to “King Arthur” on repeat. Currently it’s “Blade Runner 2049”.

SDR: I also love movie soundtracks for writing music–and also video game soundtracks! You should give some of those a try, too (Assassin’s Creed 2 and Halo are great).

Now, to finish up, tell us about your other works, projects, publications, and what’s on the horizon next. This is the shameless self-promotion portion of the interview.  :)

KM: I’m currently halfway through a young adult science fiction series called The Travels of Scout Shannon. Book 3 of 6, Among Treacherous Stars, just came out on Tuesday. In April I have short stories that will appear in both Analog and Mythic Delirium, which is huge for me!

SDR: Thanks for stopping by and chatting with us, Kate!

The Short Flights bundle from BundleRabbit is available now across many online platforms. Along with Kate’s story, you’ll find nine more single stories and five full collections in the bundle, enough short fiction to keep you reading for a while! At just $4.99, it’s a real steal, so don’t miss it.

We have more interviews coming soon, so stay tuned!

An Interview with Harvey Stanbrough – Short Flights Bundle Author

I’ve asked some of the authors included in the Short Flights (of the Imagination) Bundle to drop by and answer a few questions. I enjoy hearing about how other writers work and think, don’t you? I sent along twenty-odd questions to each writer and asked them to answer a handful they liked.

So first up is multi-genre author Harvey Stanbrough, who keeps a website at Harvey is no stranger to bundling, and his collection, S, F & H is part of Short Flights…but here, I’ll let him tell you about it…

SDR: Tell us a little about the story you have in the Short Flights bundle.

HS: It’s actually a 10-story collection. This collection of ten short stories spans science fiction and science fantasy with a dash of horror tossed in for good luck. Firefighters are trapped in a burning house, an alien crashes a teen party, and other aliens visit a café in a small town. There’s a robot on a robot horse, a game show called Suicide Watch, and a viral outbreak that wipes out much of humanity. Four other stories round out the ten with more aliens, humor and horror.

SDR: So you’ve got lots of characters to choose from for this next question. Imagine you’ve been kidnapped or trapped by a natural disaster. Which of your own characters (from any work) would you want to rescue you? Why?

HS: Wes Crowley (from my 10-novel Wes Crowley series) because he’s honest, hard, and relentless.

SDR: Describe your current writing workspace(s).

HS: Actually, I write on a dedicated writing computer (no Internet) in The Adobe Hovel, a shed about 200 feet from my house.

SDR: What are you currently working on out in your shed? How do you feel about it right this minute?

HS: A new novel in a pulp-noir detective series. Stern Talbot, P.I.—The Early Years: The Case of the Slashed-Up Secretary. I feel good about it. It’s rolling right along. I usually get around 3000 to 4000 words done on it per day.

SDR: Why do you write short fiction? Love, necessity, marketability, or something else?

HS: I like the challenge of the short form. I have over 180 short stories in around 25 collections. But I enjoy writing novels more.

SDR: What’s the most perfect short story you’ve ever read?

HS: “There Will Come Soft Rains” by Ray Bradbury.

SDR: I agree, that’s a fabulous story. Do you belong to any writer’s groups or communities? Do you think these types of social interactions are important for writers?

HS: No, because most of them are more social groups than working groups. The members tend to talk a lot about writing, but they do very little actual writing.

SDR: You’ve published a lot of titles. Have you had to deal with bad reviews? How do you manage them?

HS: I don’t pay attention to reviews, good or bad. What some like, some don’t. No worries.

SDR: Are you a planner/outliner/architect or a pantser/gardener/discovery writer?

HS: This is very important. I’m just a writer. Like the guy who paints houses is a painter, or the person who works on car engines is a mechanic. That’s all. I adhere firmly to Heinlein’s Rules and I trust my characters to tell the story. After all, they’re the ones who are actually living it. I’m just kind of the recorder.

SDR: I try to follow Heinlein’s Rules myself, although I have the most trouble with #2 (finishing things!).

Do you prefer music, silence, or some other noise in the background when you write? If music, what kind?

HS: I’m down in the story, running through it with the characters, trying to write everything they say and do. That’s much more entertaining for me than any other thing.

SDR: Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Harvey!

The Short Flights bundle from BundleRabbit is available now across many online platforms. Along with Harvey’s collection, you’ll find ten more single stories and four more collections in the bundle, enough short fiction to keep you reading for a while! At just $4.99, it’s a real steal, so don’t miss it.

We’ll have another author interview soon, so stay tuned!

Talking About Bundles

I’ve been pretty active with bundles lately, and a good writing friend asked if I could talk about them a little here. So I’m happy to dish the low-down on bundles as I’ve experienced them.

To start with, book bundles are primarily a marketing tool to draw in readers with a good value deal on multiple books, and from the participating authors’ perspective, introduce one’s works to a new audience. Bundles generally originate with publishers, author collectives, or through bundling sites or platforms. They may also be known as “box sets,” which are essentially the same thing.

One of my first introductions to being included in a box set or bundle was one my publisher, Tyche Books, put together a few years back. It was a space opera box set called Rogues, and (from my perspective anyway) sold well. It included the first book in my Nearspace series, One’s Aspect to the Sun, so would serve as an introduction to this series for new readers, some of whom might go on to buy others in the series. Just the other day I happened upon a review of Rogues I hadn’t seen before, and the reviewer said,  “There were a few great stories (I really liked One’s Aspect to the Sun, for example)” so that kind of made my day! This reader might not have seen my book if it hadn’t been in the set, but they enjoyed it and who knows? They might buy Dark Beneath the Moon and Beyond the Sentinel Stars.

While I’m thinking of it, One’s Aspect to the Sun is currently in a new box set from Tyche, called Shadows and Light; it’s a “first in a series” set, again meant to introduce new readers to a series. And it looks beautiful!

A large part of the thinking behind bundles or box sets is cross-pollination–someone might initially buy this set because of one of the other authors included, but then read my book because it’s there, and become introduced to me as a writer in that way. And hopefully go looking for other things I’ve written.

I’ve also worked with a bundling platform called BundleRabbit. BundleRabbit is the brainchild of Chuck Heintzelman, and provides authors with a place to list works they’re willing to have included in bundles. Authors participating in a bundle share in the revenues generated from that bundle. I curated one of the first BundleRabbit bundles, and have just done a second one, the Short Flights of the Imagination bundle. I love short fiction and I’ve wanted to do a bundle featuring short stories for a while now, and it has finally come together. So the curator decides on a vision for a bundle and searches through available titles to find pieces to include. Authors are invited and may accept or decline. Then when the bundle is finalized, hopefully all the authors will participate in sharing and promoting the bundle out to their social networks; this is where more cross-pollination comes into play as readers learn about other authors from one they already know. BundleRabbit does all the heavy lifting of setting up and distributing the files and downloads, participates in promotion, and collects revenue and pays out royalties.

Of course, to list your work on a site like BundleRabbit, you must have the rights to do so; I wouldn’t list my traditionally published titles there because my publishers look after that marketing and have the right to set prices and oversee distribution. However, for my independent titles, I’m free to do as I wish. And of course I mention my other trad-pub works in the ebook files I use for bundles, so it’s roundabout promotion for those, as well.

I’ve been invited to several bundles, some of which are current right now: Immortals, Weird Fantastic Detective Stories, Gumshoes Redux, and Short Flights, which is on pre-sale now and will release in full on March 15th. It’s good to have a variety of titles available if you’re going to get into bundling, and of course, as with all independent titles, they should be of high quality, with professional covers and blurbs, so that curators can include your work with confidence.

More questions about bundles? Ask in the comments and I’ll do my best to answer. Now if you’re looking for some new material for your ereader, be sure to click some of these links… ;)

Online Course: Rights and Contracts in the Digital Age

I’ve decided to offer a workshop I’ve presented in the past, this time as an online course that you’ll be able to take right here on my site. I believe very strongly that writers should be fully informed about how rights and copyright work, and be able to read a publishing contract and have a idea what it all means. Particularly when there are red flags the writer should see. Our work is important to us, and ownership and control of our work should be equally important. The best way to protect your investment in your work is to be informed.

Enter this course. I’ve offered it twice before; the full version as a full-day in-person workshop, and an abridged version as an evening seminar for the Writer’s Federation of Nova Scotia. Now I’m turning it into an online presentation, that I’ll administer through a private forum here on my website. Feedback on both previous sessions was very positive, so I feel good about the content.

Why am I qualified to teach this course? Well, I did practice law in the crazy days of my youth, and I’ve made sure to stay informed on contract matters as they affect me both as an author and a publisher. To be clear, I am NOT offering legal advice in this course–I’m sharing information I think you need.

The course will break down into nine or ten lessons. I’ll put up a lesson on Mondays and Thursdays, and each lesson will have a dedicated discussion thread for participants to interact, ask questions and talk about the lesson. There will be some downloadable materials, including sample contracts.

I know, by now you’re wondering how much is this going to cost?

Because I think all writers need this information, I’m keeping the registration cost low, at just $30 (CAD). If you need to break this down into a couple of payments, we can do that.

I’m also going to cap the number of registrants at a number I think will allow for good discussion in the forum. I haven’t quite decided what that number will be, yet. But I want to make sure that everyone has a voice.

How to Register

1. You can register using one of the PayPal buttons below. Just be sure to add your name and email address in the “Notes to Seller” section when you see it, or send me a message through this site’s contact form and include your PayPal transaction ID to let me know you’ve registered. If you need to break the payment up into two segments but want to reserve your space, use the $15 button. Just be sure to send the balance before the course actually starts (make sure you remind me who you are when you send the second payment!). Once you’ve clicked an Add button, your shopping cart purchase will appear in the right sidebar and you can proceed from there.

2. If you don’t like/use PayPal, you can send me an e-transfer. Message me through the site’s contact form and I’ll provide you with the details.

$30 CAD

$15 CAD

(Pay in two installments)

Once you’re registered, I’ll add you to the student’s user group and send you all the information you need to log in to the course area.

Questions about the course? Anything I’ve forgotten? Send me a message and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

I hope you’ll consider joining me for this course!

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a…Brand?

So. I’m taking a publishing and marketing course this month, and a recent lesson was about building a brand. I haven’t given branding a whole lot of attention in the past, preferring to think of myself as my “brand” and that it’s fairly evident what that means if you read my work or follow me here or on social media. However, some advice in the course was to consider how “branding” can help convey information about one’s work in a quick and concise way, which can be useful to potential readers. Discussion included logos and slogans or tag lines as part of a brand, among other things.

I was a little surprised to discover that many participants in the course already had logos and tag lines in place.

Hmm. That seemed to put me behind the curve. But I felt a little stumped. I write science fiction, fantasy, urban fantasy, steampunk…I could go on, but you get the idea. I write a broad range of stories under the speculative fiction umbrella. Encapsulating that seemed a daunting task. Thinking thematically didn’t help me out much, either; I don’t know if there are particular themes that run through all or most of my work. So this was me most of the weekend:


But…I think I did it. I’m going to take a day or two to let it cool and do some tweaking, and then I’ll share it here.