Friday, January 25, 2019

Straight from the Mouth of Author Dwaine Rieves


The snark, as the author of Alice in Wonderland painted the nonsensical creature in his epic poem, “The Hunting of the Snark," is a hunter’s joy.  The animal is murderous and cunning, insatiable and coy, a proud beast tromping about the bottomless valley of human imagination.  In the poem, a determined crew journeys to find this supposedly tasty animal, every crewmember eager to discover whether the talk of the delectable meat was true.  The poem closes with a crewmember’s disappearance, the hunter apparently gobbled up by the snark, the human consumption unwittnessed but all evidence indicating that the snark was of the Boojum species, a particularly vicious kind of snark, the kind that stalks the brains of story-writers, which, because you’re reading this, means you.  I, for one, am delighted to have you among our gobbled-up crew. 

Lewis Carroll claimed that his epic snark-hunting poem began with intra-cerebral eruptions of the poem’s closing line—“For the snark was a Boojum, you see.”  From this single declaration of a specific and special animal, the journey’s crewmembers and their tragic tale emerged.  The magic within the closing line is, of course, the addictive, sing-song “you see” at the end of the sentence.  What is a Boojum?  And, you see? Who is you?  And a snark, for God’s sake—could it be true?  Alas, Carroll had one line of a poem, a song stuck in his brain—actually an animal within him so dangerous, so questioning, he grabbed a pen to put it down.

To put it down—isn’t that the essence of why any story is written?  In writing our tales, we literally put the vicious but enticing “it” down, the “it” to stink up a page even as we see ourselves within the black mirroring of the “its” animal eyes.  Writing it down as relief, a sharing, a confession, a warning, prayer or celebration—a way of letting that awful snark go. We put the story down to analyze its power, to corner its fury and stroke its distinctive, aubergine fur. 

What story-teller hasn’t, when asked why she writes, answered with some version of “because I have to”—a truth that doesn’t mean very much until we realize that what she’s really trying to say, without sounding too outrageous, is that there is a snark lurking within her brain, the animal patrolling her every thought.  It’s a horrendous creature, the snark is, its wildness never to be tamed, and certainly not ignored.  And still, within the basement of a brain capable of directing a pen to page, that beastly snark sings.  What’s a possessed writer to do—but put it down?

*the link is from the Poetry Foundation’s website, which is:

About the Author

 Dwaine Rieves was born and raised in Monroe County, Mississippi.  During a career as a research pharmaceutical scientist and critical care physician, he began writing poetry and creative prose.  His poetry has won the Tupelo Press Prize for Poetry and the River Styx International Poetry Prize.  His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Georgia Review and other publications. 


Title: Shirtless Men Drink Free
Genre: Literary Fiction
Author: Dwaine Rieves
Publisher:  Leapfolio/Tupelo Press

 In Shirtless Men Drink Free, Doctor Jane Beekman has seen her dying mother’s soul, a vision above the bed—a soul struggling with a decision, some undone task, something in this world too noble to leave.  The question that lingers—why?—prompts a shift in the doctor’s priorities.  In this election year, Jane must do what her mother, an aspiring social activist, would have done. Soon, Jane is embroiled in the world of Georgia politics, working to make sure her dynamic younger brother-in-law Jackson Beekman is selected the next governor, regardless of what the soul of the candidate’s dead father or that of his living brother—Jane’s husband—might want done. 

Indeed, it is a mother’s persistence and a father’s legacy that will ultimately turn one Beekman brother against the other, launching a struggle with moral consequences that may extend far beyond Georgia. Set amidst 2004’s polarizing election fears—immigrants and job take-overs, terrorists in waiting, homosexuals and outsider agendas—Shirtless Men Drink Free makes vivid the human soul’s struggle in a world bedeviled by desire and the fears that leave us all asking—Why?

Engaging, beautifully written and resplendent with realism, Shirtless Men Drink Free is a standout debut destined to stay with readers long after the final page is turned.  A meticulously crafted tale that showcases an outstanding new voice in Southern fiction, Shirtless Men Drink Free has garnered high advance praise:

“This is brilliant and rare work, as attentive to an absorbing plot as it is to a poetic, chiseled cadence."—Paul Lisicky, award-winning author of The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship

“These characters are all too real. Rieves, as Faulkner, McMurtry and Larry Brown, writes people and story that will worm, burrow into you.  Change you even.” —Adam Van Winkle, Founder and Editor, Cowboy Jamboree

“Vividly sensuous, this novel is full of textures, sounds and smells.  Rieves tells a terrific story with the sensitivity of a poet.” —Margaret Meyers, author of Swimming in the Congo

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Straight From the Mouth of Adventure Thriller Author Mark H. Jackson

Wattpad, Inkitt, Critiquecircle and Unbound –
Navigating Writing Websites for the Uninitiated

By Mark H. Jackson

There are number of outlets for publishing your work on the internet and some are better than others. Over the years I have used four platforms to have my work both critiqued and read –,,, Authonomy (now deceased) and finally published by

The biggest of the sites and perhaps the most famous is Wattpad. Boasting an audience of 45 million and over 300 million uploaded books Wattpad felt like the place to start if I were to build a following for my work. I uploaded my novel, The Atlantis Deception (then known as Atlantis Reborn) chapter by chapter over the course of two or three months and set up residence on the club forums, offering advice and help in return for some small promotion of the novel. It was a tough introduction into social media but one I needed and the experience has held me in good stead for what was to come. I still remember feeling so proud when the novel hit 100 reads!

As with most things in life, you get out what you put in. I (perhaps misguidedly) joined Wattpad after hearing if a novel does well, there is a good chance of it being picked up by a publisher. Although the chances of being plucked from obscurity to achieve international acclaim is unlikely, even if your work does moderately well, Wattpad notoriety is at least something tangible to include in submission letters (should the traditional publication route be your goal). On that point, I should make you aware that if you choose to post a novel online, it will lose its first publication rights. This is looked upon unfavourably by many of the big publishing houses. Ironically the same publishers that insist you prove your work can attract an audience – Catch 22!

After realising this last point a little too late, I decided to use The Atlantis Deception as an advert for my second novel and treated Wattpad for what it is – a platform to build an audience.

There are two distinct groups on the site; the writers and the readers and a huge number of readers reside in the under 18 category, which is great if you write in the YA genre. However, given the size of Wattpad’s subscription pool, there are millions outside of this group, certainly enough for any author to find readers, whatever their genre.

As I see it, the job of any aspiring writer is to promote his or her work until it becomes both visible and viable. Wattpad is a great introduction to the world of publication and in a contained and safe(ish) arena. If you are successful on Wattpad (promoting, reviewing, blogging, tweeting, joining in with forum debates etc.), the skills you develop will furnish you with the confidence to apply them within the big bad world of paid publishing. In fact, if you do well enough, Wattpad itself will often give their author’s something back for all their hard work. From my point of view, I was promoted as a featured author and my book even appeared at San-Diego Comi-con a couple of years ago, associated with the TV series ‘The Dig’. The site is also constantly running various writing competitions throughout the year which again can only look good on a CV if you are lucky enough to win one.

The second of the sites I posted on was Inkitt, which is essentially Wattpad on a smaller scale. The biggest difference being their readership analytics. They claim that if you can attract a significant number of readers to your novel, they will offer you a publishing deal. This possibility initially drew me in, but after a few months the standard and genre of books winning prizes did not inspire me with a huge amount of confidence and eventually I removed my work from the site. I have since been told their publishing terms require a 15-year association with their label which seems excessive, especially if the book doesn’t sell. The terms may have changed since so I may be doing Inkitt a disservice. On a positive note, the reviews I received from the site were amazing and in some cases very detailed. It may be worth signing up just to interact with their community! is a website I would recommend to anyone involved in writing and interested in improving their craft. The site is free (although there is a paid version) and revolves around reciprocal critiquing. For every chapter you read and review you will receive a credit. Credits can them be cashed in by submitting your own work for an open critique by their community. You need a thick skin as some of the critics can be very tough, some of it warranted but sometimes not. It does hurt, especially at first, but it is all part of the learning process. My advice would be to try not to be precious about anything you post. Take on board any advice you agree with and dismiss what you don’t. That said, if a few people pick up on the same point, it might be wise to take some notice!

My final port of call is the crowdfunding publisher, They are a relatively new publishing house and one that has recently taken me under their wing. They may be young, but already they can count established names such as Kate Mosse, Terry Jones, Tony Hawks, Andy Hamilton and Katy Brand amongst their clientele.

All crowdfunded monies go directly into supporting the associated book. It covers editing, proofing, cover design, typesetting and eventually marketing. The Unbound community has pledged over £3 million to a variety of projects, ranging from an anthology on race and identity in contemporary Britain to my own novel, The Atlantis Deception.

Over one hundred thousand people from every corner of the globe have supported an Unbound project and helped make that idea a reality. To date, over two hundred books have been published in this manner and many have been bestsellers and received critical acclaim (included being long listed for the Man Booker Prize). I am proud to have been given the opportunity to bolster that number with my own work.

If you haven’t heard of Unbound, I would suggest visiting their website. In my opinion they represent the seed of change for the publishing industry, an industry that needs to wake it up and end its reliance on the so called super-authors such as King, Rowling and Brown.

Thank you so much for giving me this opportunity to interact with my readers and potential readers. I am always available and willing to discuss my work or wider questions in general. Please do not hesitate to get in touch via the following mediums and thank you again for taking an interest in my work.

About the Author

Mark is a qualified solicitor who splits his time between protecting the rights of academics, writing thriller fiction and raising five mostly lovely children. He studied Archaeology and Ancient History at the University of Birmingham with a nod towards alternative theory, focusing on the relationship of the Giza complex to the stars; portolan maps; and the origins of civilisation and religion. It was within this flame the plots for his future novels were born.

Mark’s writing career extends back over a decade and his diverse portfolio includes three novels, a number of short stories and even a six-part sitcom. Long listed for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, he is currently a featured author on the popular writing website, Wattpad, with over 6,000 followers from all around the world and well over one million reads of his first novel. Aside from Wattpad, Mark is an active member on a number of other writing websites, spending his spare time offering editorial and structural advice to fellow authors. Up to now Mark has considered writing as a creative outlet for the myriad of characters and ideas roaming about his head. The time has come to tease them out of hiding and breathe a little life into their lungs.

His latest book is the adventure/thriller The Atlantis Deception.

About the Book:

Author: Mark H. Jackson
Publisher: Unbound Digital
Pages: 288
Genre: Adventure/Thriller

A German property developer, Hans Hoffmann, revels in the belief he has discovered the key to unleashing the weapon responsible for sinking Atlantis. Hoffmann requests the help of Cambridge archaeologist, Dr John Hunter to validate his mysterious find. Hunter's acceptance leads the maverick academic on a journey from the headquarters of a clandestine organisation in England, to a lost city in the heart of the Brazilian Rainforest, and climaxes inside a chamber hidden deep beneath Egyptian Heliopolis. Pioneering theory is spliced by epic battles, daring escapes, and elaborate schemes aimed at unravelling a secret history hidden from humanity for the past twelve thousand years.

Atlantis is a very visual word. A word evoking mystery, forgotten realms, underwater palaces… the list goes on. I find this Plato inspired concept of Atlantis fascinating and read anything and everything I can lay my hands on. The theories are diverse and range from the feasible to the outlandish, but certain concepts keep reoccurring. The Atlantis Deception takes the ideas of accepted and alternative theory, weaving them together to create a believable universe where our past still dictates our future.

The novel follows the trials and tribulations of a fictional Cambridge academic, Dr John Hunter. The focus is not on Atlantis itself, but rather on what happened to its people it the wake of the loss of their homeland. The Atlantis Deception is a classic action adventure tale with heroes, villains, shadowy organisations and self-serving plots, each underpinned by progressive archaeological theory. The novel is written with the aim of both exciting and making readers think in equal measure. Although imagined, many of the conclusions the characters reach are cutting edge and described in such a way so as to blur the line between fact and fiction.