Wednesday, April 27, 2011


When I started this journey as an indie author, I went reluctantly.  I even avoided the subject, hoping no one would out me.  Why?  After all it was my choice.  I'd turned down a book deal to go indie.  Here's why.  Remember when indie publishing was called self-publishing?  I do.  As recently as a couple of years ago, announcing yourself as a self-published writer was the equivalent of going to a singles bar, walking up to a pretty girl and saying, "Hi, I have leprosy.  What's your name?"

Why is that?  And what's changed?  Well, it began in the music industry when bands like Death Cab for Cutie and Modest Mouse decided to get their music to the public directly, via their website.  Cut out the middle man and let their listeners decide if they liked the music.  It worked.  Many other bands have tried it since without as much success.  Why?  Because they weren't as polished.  It didn't resonate, so it didn't become popular.   

Then, once iTunes came into play, bands with record contracts like Radiohead and Nine Inch Nails decided they'd put out their music directly as well, without the record company's meddling input.  They were lauded for their creativity and innovation.  Radiohead went as far as to allow the listener to choose what price to pay for the download. 

The same thing is happening now in the publishing world. Writers like Blake Crouch, J.A. Konrath and David Morrell who were well established authors within the literary world have decided to forego the traditional route for the indie path.  Is this safe?  Probably not.  Is it working?  You bet.  Their sales are enormous.  Especially with eBooks.

Which brings me to my point.  When the Sunday New York Times lists the top eBook sales for the week they completely ignore any indie writers, even though they are clearly outselling traditional writers with publishing contracts.  This week for example, Michael Connelly's "The Fifth Witness," was rated the #1 bestseller for eBooks, yet when you go to Amazon and look at the top 100 eBook bestsellers, "The Fifth Witness," isn't even in the top ten.  It's being outsold by at least two indie authors.  Don't get me wrong, I like Michael Connelly.  A lot.  This has nothing to do with established authors with established writing contracts.  This has everything to do with an old system which needs revamping.  

So why is the print industry afraid to acknowledge the success of these fine indie writers and their growing number of fans?  I think you know already, don't you.  They see the future and that's not a pinhole of light at the end of the tunnel, it's a train.  And it's coming fast. 

So let's all agree there are indie authors who don't exactly have polished material.  They lack certain editing skills and literary muscles to create a good book.  But that doesn't mean we should ignore the writers who are out there publishing fantastic work on their own, via Amazon or B&N.  And as far as the New York Times goes, you might want to step aside before that train gets there.  Or at the very least send a journalist to report the damn thing.

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Okay, so I got involved with this whole Blog Tour de Force thing without really knowing too much about it, but the people running it are great and very supportive.  I ask a stupid question and they make it sound like I'm a genius for thinking up such a wonderful query.

So here's what I know for sure:

1- Every time you leave a comment on this post you automatically receive a free eBook copy of my Award-Winning novel, "A Touch of Deceit."  Just leave your email within the comment.

2-Every time you leave a comment you're automatically in the drawing for a free Kindle with the 12 Tour de Force books pre-loaded.

3- Check out my sponsors who have actually left a review of my novel on their blog.  They're all good reviews because I'm holding their dogs hostage until the tour is over.

A Tale of Many Reviews

Tiffany's Bookshelf

Bob Moats Murder Novels

4- Author who receives the most comments gets a professional book trailer made.  Guess who has a sequel coming out next month and needs a book trailer?

5- Like my Facebook fan Page:!/pages/Author-Ponzo/120694977955559


"A Touch of Deceit," by Gary Ponzo vs "Nearly Departed," by Ann Charles:

Here's how I have this handicapped.  A Touch of Deceit is clearly the front-runner.  A Sicilian FBI agent recruits his Mafia cousin to track down a terrorist. C'mon, that right there is enough to win this match.  But the competition is tough.  Ann Charles has also written an Award-Winning novel, "Nearly Departed," where love, mystery and paranormal all come together under one roof.  Okay, that's good.  Throw in a couple of Zombies and I might vote for the damn book myself.

So, comment, comment, comment and see who will win this match.

Friday, April 15, 2011


Linda Sands is the founder and editor of scratch, her award-winning short stories and essays can be found in Skirt! Magazine, Atlanta Journal-Constitution and too many more to count.  For those who don't know her she's . . well . . . fun.  Better yet, here's a direct quote from Sands herself,  "People who write fiction for a living are basically insane. They tell lies that you will believe, create worlds you'll get lost in, steal your time and stories. They can majorly mess with your head. It's a powerful gift.  I'm a writer." 

See what I mean?  Anyway, she's an extremely talented writer who's recently received a flood of terrific reviews for her new Ebook titled, "Simple Intent."  She was kind enough to take a few minutes out of her busy schedule to play 5 questions with me.

1- Which form of writing were you drawn to first, the short story or the novel?

I began this crazy journey by writing children's picture books- which to me are really graphic novels told in a very, very short story format. So, I guess I have always been doing both, and in reverse, if you ask my friends they will tell you I can turn a two minute story into a thirty minute one if you'll stand still long enough.

2- How does a novel begin for you, with a character or a storyline?

Hmm. Good one. It's the storyline, I think. Because I can sit here and say a girl goes into a bar, asks for a job and ends up dead, and see the whole novel, including the who, why, where, when and how. But if I say there's a girl who's blonde with blue eyes who used to live in the mountains of Kentucky... it just dies. Who cares about the character, if the character isn't doing something interesting?

3- Tell us about your affiliation with Write by the Water?

I have this thing about water. Being near it fuels my creative spirit. (A fact confirmed by a local psychic.)

Tired of paying a lot of money to travel to "retreats" that were really more of a conference/ meeting/ bar gathering with newbie writers and jaded teachers, I began making my own writing retreats- escaping to lakes, rivers, and oceans. Writing pals would say, "Hey, that sounds great. Call me the next time you go." One of those pals and I decided if we felt that strongly about needing an escape, we could bet at least ten other writers felt the same way, and if the retreat was a learning experience with an author in residence, included a Skype call to a NY agent, well, hey, we'd have a program unlike any other. Write By the Water was born. We' had one fantastic event on the Emerald Coast of Florida and are currently tweaking the program, putting all our efforts toward a large event this Fall.

4- You’re an extremely prolific writer with deep roots in print publications, what made you decide to go digital with “Simple Intent?”

I love technology. I have to have the best, newest thing and I jumped onboard the Kindle wagon as soon as I could. Going digital made sense- MAKES sense. I figured electronic publishing would be part of the package in a traditional NY publishing house deal- something my agent and I have been striving for, with two novels being shopped. So, when I was approached by an international publisher who had read my shorter work, and asked me for something longer- ebook sized- I declined, saying they were all promised to the agent, all being read in NY. And then, I remembered that manuscript in my file cabinet...

I will be distributing a series of my short stories for e- readers in a summer debut, as soon as I finish the WIP, a mystery featuring the unstoppable female trucker, Jojo Boudreaux.

5- With the popularity of digital technology exploding, what do you think the publishing world will look like in  5 years?

There will be more readers of all ages, and more books. Books everywhere! Americans are slow to catch on, but I can see the electronic book becoming the new cool. The stories will be shorter, more visual, and book trailers-a must. To be able to choose what type of book you want to read today, not just by which popular author will be great. To take the market share away from the top thirty authors who suck up the best seller lists, and open the field to independents (authors who don't need $100 million contracts for 17 books they aren't even writing. Hello James Patterson. Authors who turn down $500k contracts with traditional publishers to go electronic on their own. Hello Barry Eisler.) would be an amazing, liberating, empowering movement.

The new industry will not be brick and mortar stores selling paper products that were written, edited, rewritten, published, pushed back, promoted, shipped, stocked, and then remaindered- a process taking YEARS. The new industry will be instant gratification, will less judgmental control from "powers that be." Which, could be dangerous, and could leave us with a lot of crappy writing to sift through, but hey, if Dan Brown could sell... I'm just saying.

With more than 50 e-readers out there, plus smart phones, laptops, netbooks and tablets, we can take our books- and I do mean more than one- anywhere. Only problem I have is the flight attendant telling me to turn off my Kindle, when I'm in a good part of the book. Does she seriously think Michael Connelly will crash the plane?

Friday, April 8, 2011


Some writers can tell a great story, other writers are the great story.  When you have both, you have Stuart Ross McCallum.  I met Stuart on Twitter and found him to be genuinely engaging. There was something personal about his tweets which stood out among the, "I think I'll have cheesecake for dinner," posts.  When I looked into his background I discovered a fantastic story lurking under all of that persona.  I'll let him tell you a little about it and his book, "Beyond my Control, One Man's Struggle with Epilepsy, Seizure, Surgery and Beyond." I think you'll agree, his story is remarkable.  

Thank you Gary, for the opportunity to share with your readers the reason why I wrote, Beyond my Control, One Man’s Struggle with Epilepsy, Seizure Surgery and Beyond.

I believed there was a need to write a story about epilepsy that was not necessarily geared exclusively towards the medical community. The many books I had read on the subject were overly clinical and difficult to fully grasp. I hoped to write a story, which would make epilepsy real and not some abstract medical disorder. The feedback from readers with and without epilepsy has exceeded anything I could have ever hoped for.

My story begins when I was a 17-year-old and started to experience déjà vu sensations followed by severe headaches. I set out in search of a diagnosis which proved to be an arduous undertaking. I received many wrong diagnoses. An example is when a psychiatrist (of sorts) declared that I was suffering psychological episodes and given mind-numbing doses of antidepressant medication. Eventually leading to (incorrectly) being placed in a sanatorium for my mental health. My mystery condition (finally) revealed itself when I had a full-blown convulsion at the side of the road.

Beyond my Control spans over a 20-year period. During this time epilepsy caused a significant, often frightful, impact on my life and the lives of everyone close to me. For 15 turbulent years, I operated my own business, managed staff with ever increasing seizure frequency. This created an unstable and at times, highly dangerous working environment. The magnitude of my condition escalated, resulting with a post seizure response of a menacing and sinister nature, prone to violent outbreaks.

One of the early episodes occurred in my stained glass studio. The moment I shouted, "I'm having an aura (a warning sign that many sufferers of epilepsy experience)," our seizure plan was immediately activated, and I was locked inside my studio. The seizure passed, and I entered my postictal state (lose touch with reality). In a trance-like condition, I began aimlessly walking around the showroom, glaring at the display of fragile glass and lighting. After a few minutes, I clenched my hand into a fist and randomly lashed out, striking the glass panels. With my fist bleeding, I focused on the doors, kicking them over. As my postictal state was beginning to end, I calmly walked into the manufacturing area and lay down laughing and smiling. Once I finished laughing, I sat down staring and wondering why my hand was bleeding. I heard Rhonda unlocking the back door. She went straight to the first aid box and attended to my hand. Fortunately, my hand wasn't too bad and Rhonda kindly cleaned the cut, and dressed my wound. Ashamed and hesitant I asked, "What have I done this time?" Rhonda explained the ludicrous rampage, walking around my showroom, breaking glass.....I felt extremely gutted. As always, I had no recollection of the episode once the seizure had passed.

Whenever a frightening situation occurred not only was I in danger, my staff, and often customers were as well. Individuals perception and understanding of epilepsy clearly showed, which had surprising results. My socially unacceptable behaviour ultimately influenced me to undergo two major brain operations, in the hope of gaining seizure freedom.

My story provides an honest, emotional, and (sometimes) humorous look into living with the world’s most misunderstood serious brain condition. Thankfully, since successful surgery I am now free from (the invisible enemy) and no longer fear when or where the next seizure may strike.

Here's a link to Stuart's Web Page

Sunday, April 3, 2011


Back in January, John Locke played 5 questions with me here at Strong Scenes.  He's the author of the wildy successful Donovan Creed series of novels.  Back then he'd only had 3 Kindle  novels published at .99 cents each.  His latest at the time, "Saving Rachel," was #15 on the Kindle bestseller list.  Pretty amazing for a guy without a major publishing house or publicity campaign to support him.

Fast forward 3 months.  The guy is blowing up.  He currently has 4 novels in the top 20 of Kindle's bestseller list, hitting the top spot with regularity.  Even though he could easily price his books at a higher price, he maintains the .99 cents price and readers all over the world are discovering his talent for writing exciting thrillers with witty dialogue.  Now his seventh Donovan Creed novel, "Vegas Moon," has just come to market and already the buzz is deafening. 

Why is this important to writers and readers alike?  Because major publishing companies have been ignoring the John Locke's of the world for far too long.  Instead of discovering new talent, New York publishers have decided to stick their marketing money behind brand name authors and forget anything novel.  And when I say brand name authors I mean brand name period.  Because even though supermodel Tyra Banks is not exactly know for her literary skills, she's received a large chunk of money for a 3-book deal with Random House.  Really?  Tara Banks?  It's the same reason Hollywood is releasing no less than 27 sequels this summer. 

Does this mean big name authors aren't worth the money?  Of course not.  I just spent 17 bucks on Nelson Demille's latest novel, "The Lion," and it's worth every penny.  It's just that now I have more choices, that's all.

So where will readers find new talent?  Bingo!  The Kindles and Nooks of the world are gamechangers.  Big name authors can't afford to sell their books at .99 cents because they have agents and publishers and publicists and who knows who else with their hands out, they can't make a living at that price point.  So here comes John Locke with his ability to create fantastic thrillers with pitch-perfect dialogue.  Without Locke, readers might fall prey to lesser skilled indie authors and get a sour taste in their mouth.  They might not give other talented authors a chance and resort to paying 10 bucks for an author with a brand name--like Tyra Banks.  See what I mean?  John Locke, and Amanda Hocking, and J.A. Konrath are quite possibly the most important writers in the country right now.

Without them, we'd be forced to read the latest Sci-Fi thriller by first-time novelist, Charlie Sheen.  See?