Living as A Writer: A Note to my Friends (Reblogged with Comments)


The following blog from author Ken Kuhlken sums up my feelings exactly. Can’t remember how many books I’ve given out to friends, family, and people who seemed genuinely interested in reading and reviewing our accomplishment, a hard won one with the level of competition for the limited slots available with a traditional publisher. We did not draft something in the span of lunar cycle, edit it over the weekend, and then click publish on Amazon. We poured time, energy, effort, and a lot of emotion into our novel. In no other industry, would so much be put into a product with so many expecting to enjoy it for free.

How many actual sales did we make? How many actual reviews did we have posted to Goodreads and Amazon? Well, in the year since the publication of The Cycle of Ages Saga: Finders Keepers, not many. Not nearly as many as we’d like. No where near enough to reach that Holy Grail of profitability. We thank those who have supported us, rather than making excuses for not doing so or actively working against us in our efforts. You have our hearts and minds, for they are on each and every page of each and every creative endeavor we produce. You’re the ones who keep us going. With all our love, we say thanks!

In the parlance of Stan Lee, those of you who are true believers should stay tuned because The Cycle of Saga continues to expand in its second year…details to follow in August. Now onto the original blog that prompted my response.

Novelist Ken Kuhlken's Blogs

A week ago, I mentioned to my friend Annie that my latest novel would be out soon. She asked if I meant to give her a copy. Now, it’s not the first time I’ve been asked that question. Not hardly. But this time, my patience faltered.

I said, “Come on, I have to spend a couple years writing the book, deal with the publisher and all, and spend countless hours marketing, and then I’m supposed to give the book away?”

She said, “Well . . . ”

Had I felt slightly ornerier, I would’ve asked, “Should I read it for you too?”

After she left, I wondered, if I were rich, would I give copies to all my friends? Maybe not. I mean, when author friends of mine have new books, I prefer to buy them, in honor of their accomplishment.

Then, yesterday, an email arrived: “Congratulations on your new…

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Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Interview: Talking Nerdy with the Sizzling Sparkletini

Just in time for arguably the largest annual event in geekdom, San Diego Comic Con, I bring you my interview with the nerdy, comical emcee for the Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company. I’ve had the privilege to know the brainy, beautiful lady behind the performer for a couple of years now. It was nerd-love-at-first-sight when our first conversation turned to Klingons, Vulcans, and the glories of Star Trek, so it was my pleasure to sit down and interview for my blog. Without further adieu, I bring you the smart, the sexy, the sizzling Sparkletini.


Names, most cultures believe, have power and meaning. So I always like to start these interviews by finding out why each dancer chose her particular stage name. Why Sparkletini? What does it mean to you?

Well, the term comes from what the other girls referred to my personality as effervescent and “sparkling”, and everybody loves a good martini! What could be better than a “sparkletini?”


Who talked you into joining Cherry Sparkle? And why did you want to join?

The owner of the company, the lovely Miss Cherry Sparkle has a wonderful man in her life AKA Killa Gorilla…lol…that has been a friend of mine for many years, and due to “life” in general we lost touch. Until a year ago, when we made contact again; and he informed me about the wonderful woman in his life and their beautiful children, and introduced us. She then asked me if I would come to a show. I was more than happy to do so…and so it began. I told her I would love to audition. I was so very entertained and in awe of this new thing happening in Annison, Alabama, and I wanted so bad to be a part. Also…believe it or not…prior to Eric contacting me, I had a dream about being in a burlesque group…maybe a little ESP. But in real life, I am a critical care nurse who works in a local ICU. This for me is a outlet and relief from the horrible things I see in a day’s work. It reminds me that there is life, grace, humor, and beauty still out there in this world.


Had you performed as a burlesque dancer before you joined the company?

Actually no… but in my dream I did!

Did you have a prior background in dancing, theater, or performance art?

Back when I was in college I had a career in radio, I also started doing stand-up comedy for benefits shows, which led to me start doing stand-up in bars and other venues. I also have been in several plays growing up and throughout my life and was once the Wicked Witch of the West in “The Wizard of Oz”.


How did you evolve into your role as emcee (MC) for the company?

I started in the company to provide skits and comic relief to give more variety to the show and after the very first show the owner asked if I would MC because she liked that way I used improv and involved audience in my performance. She thought I could keep a good “flow” to the show . Needless to say, I was shocked and honored!


What is your favorite part of performing?

Seeing the audience laugh and having a good time! I love to laugh and the endorphins give me a natural high like no other! I like to provide that to the audience as well as ask them questions and “put them on the spot”. Incorporating the audience makes them feel a part of the show and shows that we appreciate them! Besides if it weren’t for them we wouldn’t be here using our talents!

What are the least desirable parts of a performance for you?

I don’t like it when I have a “stiff” audience … For once something being “stiff” is a bad thing…LOL! I like my audience to “play” with me! People need to learn to relax, let loose and enjoy this thing called life! Also, I don’t like it when people yell out rude comments and boo the male performers! We all work so hard and it isn’t easy performing in front of people, especially almost naked! To the hecklers, I say, “Let’s see you get up on stage and see if you can do better!”


From our previous conversations, I know that you’re a proud nerd, an avid role-player, and fan of science fiction and fantasy, particularly Star Trek. If you had your choice, which Star Trek character would you cosplay for a stage performance? Why?

I guess most would expect the very beautiful, sultry, openly sexual, Betazoid Diana Troy. But I identify most with a mixture of Jadzia Dax, Captain Kathryn Janeway, and Seven of Nine. Jadzia Dax is a most interesting character because she is beautiful, strong, intelligent, and most of all “chosen”. The symbiotic life form that resides within her, Dax, gives her an edge by giving her a multitude of life experiences and a wealth of knowledge from both a male and female perspective over many lifetimes. I also feel I am like Captain Janeway because I am passionate about the people I care about and often sacrifice my own happiness to help them. And I am the Seven of Nine of the group since I am new to this “sexiness” and new way of life. But I would love nothing more than to just be a Vulcan science officer with sunglasses, a cigarette, and a beer, completely illogical! And maybe get down to some Star Trek emblem pasties!!


If you could do a burlesque version of a fantasy character, who would it be? Why?

Oh, without a doubt, Daenerys Stormborn Targaryen from the Game of Thrones series – no explanation needed for the hot Mother of Dragons!! With some Targaryen sigil pasties and dragon wing fans and FIRE! Sorry got a little carried away. I am currently working in a Final Fantasy VII skit involving the unspoken tension between Aeris and Tiffa and who actually hooked up with Cloud!

So, when will we see you on stage again with Cherry Sparkle?

This Saturday night at Black Market Bar & Grille, located in Five Points, in Birmingham, Alabama at 10 PM!

black market bar & grill show

Thanks for agreeing to be interviewed, Miss Sparkletini. It was well worth the wait. And stimulating as always. Have fun at the show and always remember to leave them laughing. I know I try.

Be sure to check her out at the show this weekend in Birmingham. And follow/like her and Cherry Sparkle Burlesque at the links below:

To find out more about Sparkletini, like her page on Facebook @

To find out more about Cherry Sparkle Burlesque Company, check them out on Facebook @

cherry sparkle logo-thumbnail

Digging up Dirt on Author Paul Stansfield

When I’m not writing or procrastinating, I am an archaeologist by trade. I’ve worked for a number of companies all over the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic region; most recently, I’ve been employed by Louis Berger, a major infrastructure company with offices in dozens of countries around the world. This job brought me into contact with another archaeologist who spends his nights turning his fevered thoughts into fiction. This gentleman with the mad muttonchops, Paul Stansfield, is a veteran field archaeologist, a serious sports enthusiast, a top-notch beer pong partner, and a good friend.


This Rutgers graduate and diehard fan is also a talented horror writer. In fact, the first story he told me about features overzealous camper kids who mistake the actors in a low budget zombie film for real undead. When I heard that pitch on the slow, sleepy ride to work in the Ocoee River Basin of Tennessee, I knew I’d have to read it. And maybe one day, I could talk Paul into letting me turn it into a screenplay. For now, I’ll settle for an interview with this new face in horror fiction.

How long have you been writing fiction? And what genre(s) do you prefer?

Somewhere I still have an incomplete science fiction-ish story based on my Legos that I wrote when I was about 10. I completed my first stories at about age 14 or 15. But I really started writing in earnest, and submitting, in my mid 20’s, so it’s been about 20 years total. Horror is my strong genre preference. Some of my stories are hybrids, say action/horror, fantasy/horror, or scifi/horror, but they’re usually at least horror-related in some form.

When writing fiction, do you prefer short stories, novellas, or novels? Why?

I don’t have a preference here. I come up with the story idea, and take it as far as it goes. My output has been mostly short stories, but I have written a few novellas, and three novels that I’m still shopping around.


What writer(s) has/have influenced your writing the most?

Probably Stephen King, Dean Koontz, Robert McCammon, and H.P. Lovecraft. And readers have compared stories I’ve written to Edward Lee and Joseph Heller.

Is there a work of fiction that you keep coming back to, one that you can read over and over again? If so, why?

Yes, many. Basically if I really like a novel (or nonfiction book), I’ll almost always reread it, occasionally many times. Obviously I don’t usually forget the major plot points, but I do forget some minor ones, so it’s still entertaining and thought-provoking the second, third, etc. time around. Some examples would be King’s “The Shining,” Scott Smith’s “A Simple Plan,” Thomas Berger’s “Little Big Man,” Frank Herbert’s “Dune,” and William Peter Blatty’s “The Exorcist.”


As a writer, are there common themes or topics that you like to explore?

I don’t intentionally set out to do so—I usually just come up with the story idea and start writing. But looking back, I do see some common themes and topics. Obsession, frustration, guilt (and I’m not even Catholic!), greed, revenge, and finding one’s self, to name a few. Also a fair bit of “body horror” explorations.

Where do you find inspiration for your writing, especially your newest release?

From many things. From movies (“Pink Flamingos,” “Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom”), books (the folklore encyclopedias called “Man, Myth, and Magic”), real life events (the Winchester House, Genghis Khan, various serial killers, seeing calves’ brains for sale in an Iowa supermarket), and even an educational filmstrip called “Hemo the Magnificent.” For my latest, “Unholy Spirit,” the inspiration was Dalton Trumbo’s great anti-war novel, “Johnny Got His Gun.”


I don’t want to get us in trouble with our bosses here, but during your day job as an archaeologist, do you find yourself creating plotlines in your head or working out story problems as you survey an area or excavate a test unit?

No, not really. Most often, solutions to story problems occur to me while I’m driving, taking a long walk, in the shower, or when I’m falling asleep. Maybe at work I’m too distracted by the ticks, poison ivy, venomous snakes, and even the rare rabid fox!


What can you tell us about your newest release? And where can we find it?

I wrote “Unholy Spirit” right after finishing a novel length manuscript in which the main character was good, and stricken with terrible guilt. So it was a nice change of pace, and quite fun, to write about an unrepentantly evil character like Keisha Cartwright. It was also a cool compliment to hear from a prior magazine editor that this story had freaked out his staff! This story is out in the current issue (July, Volume 2, No. 10) of “Under the Bed” Magazine. The site address is: And more information on the story is included below.

Undead Living cover

Finally, where can we find out more about you and your other works of fiction?

My blog address is: , where I talk about writing, sports, underrated movies and books, random thoughts, and mostly, weird and gross foods I’ve eaten. My two ebooks (“Dead Reckoning” and “Kaishaku”) can be found at Musa Publishing ( I also have a story (“Responsibility”) in Sunbury Press’s “Undead Living” anthology, which can be found at:

Me at New Comiskey

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions and tell the readers here more about your work. I look forward to reading all of it. Keep on disturbing publishers and editors and hopefully one day you’ll be scaring the hell out of millions of readers around the world.