That sounds good.
As I write this, I'm also writing and preparing a video that my author requested about TRP's publishing time-line. Okay, she didn't ask me for a video, but I thought, wouldn't it be fun to take the time-line request and make a video? Yeah! ...and I have 2k words into explaining the time-line process.
Wait... Stephanie... you're a publisher too?
Oh, right... I'm what I call a micro publisher...
At the time I had about five authors under the TRP wing (Troll River Publications). I am Rin-Tin-Tin up there climbing away, carrying my trusty author pups with me. Even way back when, I knew I was almost to the plateau of better times and wanted to commemorate the hard work, the struggles and that awesome feeling between teetering between success and certain death (of the company). Though it felt that way I knew I would keep going no matter what. I was pulling just enough money to keep going, keep producing and keep publishing.
Though I'm now walking the straight and easy path I know there will be another climb ahead of me. But this time, I will have a choice. The sheer cliff or the winding road.
Seeing this artwork reminds me that I should commission the artist once more to include all ten of my author pups with me out on the green grass of glory. Some of the pups have grown. Some pups have just started. I love watching them run, chasing their tails and jubilant with imaginings of what they don't know what's coming. The older pups are guiding them along the way and I'm proud to see these new authors exited--not wary--of the possibilities.
Part of my approach is being accessible, being here to talk, and picking up the phone when an author calls. One thing we do is descend upon author Patricia A. Knight's lovely house once a year in June for a writer's vacation. It's the most amazing place and it's one where you don't have to pay for anything but getting there and special food or drink you want. Otherwise, it's ten authors in a gorgeous house with their own bedrooms/bathroom combo, complete with pool, cabana sprawling chairs and each others company. A week long pow-wow with all my writers. Or a least those that can break away for a week.
But on this retreat I was interviewed by the wonderful Carol McKibben, who will have the 4th book of her Snow Blood series out, and Elizabeth SaFleur, who, by-the-way, has a new book out called Perfect. It's book 3 of the Elite Doms of Washington Series. Really good!
Isabella Santos fled Washington and its bruising memories after her husband’s sudden death. Now, a year later she returns to tie up loose ends. The largest loose end was Mark, her brother-in-law, the man she’d always secretly longed to call Master.
Mark has never forgiven his late brother’s neglect of Isabella, the woman he’s loved from afar for ten years. Now, retired from his black ops career he grabs their second chance for love. Neither counted on her family and demons from her dead husband’s past having different ideas.
What can I say...I'm a publisher and I love all my author's books. Anyway...I was interviewed by Elizabeth SaFleur and I have below the transcript of said interview. One day, I might be able to paste her voice recording of her interviewing me, but until she retires from her hoity-toity job I can't release it. I'm too afraid people will recognize her voice. Yeah, she's kinna known around D.C. so...no giving away. Yes, Elizabeth SaFleur is a pen name. Without further adieu, see the interview transcript below.
June 8th, 2016
Interviewer: Elizabeth SaFleur
Interviewer 2: Carol McKibben
Interviewee: Stephanie McKibben
Interviewer: So Stephanie, right out of the gate tell the story of how you came up with the name Troll River.
Stephanie McKibben: Okay. So it's quite a long story actually.
Interviewer: That's all right.
Stephanie McKibben: There was a time when I was going to be self published. I was trying to figure out whether I wanted to go traditional or self published. It was during the time when there was scathing accounts on either side. So publishers were calling traditional publishers trolls, a bunch of meanies, a bunch of nasty names, things like that. The traditional publishers were calling self published people amateurs, not worth the salt that they were grown out of, all that nasty stuff. So I took note of this. So I decided that what I would do is I would create a publishing company. I would get an EIN, and make it a real business, and set up a checking account, and set up a savings account, all that good stuff, and and set it up as that, because I wanted to become basically legitimate. I wanted to do this as a business.
Interviewer 2: But you had a little different take on it also. You weren't interested in being the final word. You were more interested in being something which really didn't exist back then. You were more interested an author advocate.
Stephanie McKibben: Yes.
Interviewer: Yes. You bill yourself as an author advocate.
Interviewer 2: Rather than a publisher, what one would traditionally think of as a publisher. You were more like let me help you get your work out in front of people. I'm not going to filter the content...
Interviewer: And make you rewrite something.
Interviewer 2: You're not going to have to do some of the other traditional publishing houses where a chapter has to be this many words, you have to have this many chapters in a book. Your protagonist has to have sex with the heroine by page 35. There wasn't any of that.
Stephanie McKibben: Yes. But it was just during a time where everybody was being mean to each other. So when I decided to become a publisher...Because if I named myself an author's advocate I was afraid that nobody would understand what that meant. So I just said I'll just be publications, because everyone understands what a publisher is, and what a...But I will change the concept of what a publisher does. So when I was thinking about it I basically had a dream of a troll who was under a bridge reading a book, and all of these authors were dancing over the bridge going yay the bridge of publication is open because the troll is reading a great book under the bridge...And it happens to be a self published book so...
Interviewer: And he's too busy to collect his tolls.
Stephanie McKibben: He is too busy reading to collect his tolls. So I go oh, Troll River Publications, and that's how I got the name. Also because I was like well if I'm going to be a publisher, and people are going to call me a troll then I'm going to embrace that.
Interviewer: I love it. How long have you been Troll River Publications?
Stephanie McKibben: So far three years.
Interviewer: Three years.
Stephanie McKibben: Yes.
Interviewer: Great. So, but you're also a writer.
Stephanie McKibben: Yes.
Interviewer: You've been around the publishing world for a long time.
Stephanie McKibben: Yes.
Interviewer: Tell us about your writing side as an author.
Stephanie McKibben: Writing side. Well in the very beginning I was publishing my own works under the TRP wing. Because I got so busy with publishing I actually haven't published much in the past two years. But it is because I decided to put all of my efforts into publishing. I feel that once I get the publishing side rolling that I will have more time to write and publish my own works.
Interviewer 2: But Stephanie, what, titles have you've written today,...
Interviewer: You have a number of books.
Interviewer 2: ...because you have a lot of shorts that...
Stephanie McKibben: There are short stories, yes.
Interviewer 2: But people would be interested. What are the ones that you would like people to take note of?
Stephanie McKibben: Actually there's only one. The one that I'm most proud of is called Dr. Vampire. However the title is not appropriate. I've actually been thinking of changing the name to 13 spoons. It is not a paranormal, it is a contemporary romance with light BDSM elements, and maybe one scene of that.
Interviewer: But it's about a disease isn't it?
Interviewer 2: It's about a college professor who is dealing with a lifelong case of lupus.
Stephanie McKibben: Right.
Interviewer 2: The 13 spoons refers to the amount of energy that he starts the day with. He usually starts the day with 13 spoons of energy. Every morning he tests the number of spoons of energy he has. That's how he measures how he...
Interviewer: Lives his life.
Interviewer 2: ...lives his life.
Stephanie McKibben: Yes. He does, he measures his life with spoons.
Interviewer 2: ...this many spoons of energy.
Interviewer: I did not know Dr. Vampire was a contemporary, I thought it was paranormal.
Interviewer 2: The reason that Dr. Vampire, which I think is a fitting title, got into the story is because one of his friends takes him to a goth disco where they actually serve human blood for those that are into the fetish of vampirism. It was suggested to him by his friend who is a paramedic that perhaps because lupus is an autoimmune disease that the blood somehow will strengthen him, and give him more spoons of energy to deal with.
Stephanie McKibben: Thimble full of blood.
Interviewer 2: Not bags, a thimble full.
Stephanie McKibben: It does help him.
Interviewer 2: He feels like it's rather morbid, and he resists as long as he can. But he does recognize that there is a beneficial side effect to the ingestion of a small amount of human blood.
Interviewer: Interesting. Great. So how many books do you have out though? You have others.
Stephanie McKibben: Let's see I have Lady Alene and the Widower, But For You, Yes...
Interviewer 2: Which is fabulous.
Interviewer: Yes. I loved it.
Stephanie McKibben: Cougar Bait in the Coffee Shop.
Interviewer 2: Which is also fabulous.
Interviewer: I love Cougar Bait. I love that one.
Stephanie McKibben: One I will not name.
Interviewer 2: Yes. One she hates.
Stephanie McKibben: I get embarrassed by that one.
Interviewer: So we won't mention it.
Interviewer 2: Actually I kind of liked it.
Stephanie McKibben: I just, oh god.
Interviewer: So you're critical of your own work too.
Stephanie McKibben: Oh, very much so.
Interviewer 2: Very.
Interviewer: As a publisher.
Stephanie McKibben: Oh, very much so.
Interviewer 2: You have, tell us about your authors in your stable of, in your publishing stable. Tell us how many you have, and what some of their works are, and a little bit about each author. Just what you think of them, and that type of thing.
Stephanie McKibben: I have a few, if you count me I have 11 authors in the stable. When I think of them I actually think of them as a whole. They are, for me they are a magnificent group of people that can get along, and help each other, and they're very supportive of each other. They are beta readers, they are critique partners. They are marketers, they help each other cross promote each other. They revel in each other's success. They're just, I really can't say enough good things about each and every one of them. They all have their marvelous quirks, and humor, and I just, I love each and every single one of them.
Interviewer: Tell us about them. So start with Patricia.
Stephanie McKibben: So Patricia is, she's the resident editor.
Interviewer 2: What's her full name?
Stephanie McKibben: Patricia A. Knight is our resident editor to make sure that we're all on the right path of writing stories. But she has her own Verdantia series. She is co-writing another series with Kris Michaels. Kris Michaels writes military romance. They got together. So imagine magic and police procedural getting together to make this wonderful story with very commanding characters.
Interviewer: I think they called it Dirty Harry meets Gandelf.
Stephanie McKibben: Dirty Harry meets Gandalf, yes.
Interviewer: And they argued about that as well.
Stephanie McKibben: Let's see, we have Elizabeth SaFleur who writes contemporary romance with BDSM elements. Her stories are very sophisticated, they're deep. I really enjoy the flow of them. We have Carol McKibben who has the Snow Blood series, which is a break from her earlier words which is Luke's Tale, and Riding Through It. Luke's Tale and Riding Through It are very, I would say, heavy novels that really, they'll make you laugh, but they'll make you cry. They're good release stories where you read them, and a whole bunch of emotion is released. But the Snow Blood series is much lighter. It's intended for a much younger audience. They are very, I should say, easy reads. They are entertaining. They are about a vampire dog. She follows the story through, the main character is the vampire dog. So you see her story through the eyes of a dog, so that's where she comes from. Then I have Rachel De Lune who has very fascinating concepts. She writes contemporary romance that is, her characters have a lot of angst. But the concepts are just really phenomenal.
Interviewer: For any woman who has desired more.
Stephanie McKibben: Yes. For a woman who desires more.
Interviewer 2: For every woman who has ever wanted more. Her books are all based on wanting more than what they have right?
Stephanie McKibben: Yes they are. Wanting more than...
Interviewer 2: Sexually, and otherwise.
Stephanie McKibben: And emotionally. Yes. We have Conner and Monica Moore, which is C.M. Moore. Which can be mistaken as one person, but it's actually a wife and husband team that work on an apocalyptic dystopian world in that series they're working on and will come out soon. Marilyn Lakewood.
Interviewer: Small town.
Stephanie McKibben: Yes. She is really into the contemporary romance, small town romances that are very sweet. She is interesting because she writes sweet, and then she also writes hardcore. I love her hardcore stuff. And her sweet stuff is very romantic. She's a contemporary romance writer that writes about the small town romances, but they're billionaires that come to small towns. So it has got that very billionaire concept, only with a small town mentality. Let me see I have a really off break from all of it is John Daly, who has a lot of my respect. He writes about etiquette.
Interviewer 2: He is a non-fiction.
Stephanie McKibben: Yes. He is a non-fiction writer. He just goes into more of the things that...
Interviewer 2: Business etiquette.
Stephanie McKibben: Yes. Business etiquette, behavioral etiquette, things that really are not taught in schools today, but you really should know to get along with people.
Interviewer: But he's teaching...
Interviewer 2: They're the kinds of things that your life coach would tell you.
Stephanie McKibben: Yes, they are. You can buy that book instead of buying a life coach, and save yourself some money. Then there's me. We just signed Nara Malone.
Interviewer 2: And Madeline Iva.
Stephanie McKibben: And Madeline Iva, who don't have books out by TRP yet. Soon to come.
Interviewer 2: That's awesome.
Interviewer: That is quite an interesting stable.
Interviewer 2: We've got the woman who does the inspirational...
Stephanie McKibben: No. Actually Ulrike, we both agreed that she should do her own thing. Because this was... I put her in with me very early on when I wasn't sure about my identity...
Interviewer 2: The direction you wanted to take.
Stephanie McKibben: Yes. Romance authors I was having more success with, and I could get the word out on them. So if it had to deal with a romance author...But we separated very amicably, and she published her own, she's going to publish her own stuff. I still have one of her books that is under the TRP, but it's not really promoted by me, it's just available. So she had the inspiration stuff, and I do highly recommend her.
Interviewer 2: It's interesting that you, what you've done is you...Because I know that you say on your website that you love your authors, and I think that that's reflected in who you select. Because it fits into what you want to read, and what you're interested in. So your authors really reflect your own interests, would you say that's true?
Stephanie McKibben: They do. Yes they do.
Interviewer: They're all different. So you've got Patricia who has got sci-fi, fantasy. An epic tale with different characters, but they appear in other books too. A really fascinating, epic is the word I always think of when I think of her books. Then you've got Marilyn with small town, which is a complete tiny microcosm...
Interviewer 2: Marilyn writes the wide gamut...
Stephanie McKibben: She does.
Interviewer 2: She writes contemporary, she also writes fantasy.
Interviewer: That's true.
Stephanie McKibben: She writes everything.
Interviewer 2: I know she's got in the background she has a time travel one.
Interviewer: I don't want to put words in your mouth, but...Well let me ask you this question. Is there a common thread that runs through all your authors?
Stephanie McKibben: Yes. It has to do with romance. I would say love, love of something. Love for something, love of something. So it has to do with...
Interviewer 2: It's sex.
Stephanie McKibben: Oh yes...
Interviewer: There's a lot of sex, yes.
Stephanie McKibben: There's a lot of sex, yes. A lot of erotic romance, yes.
Interviewer 2: With a couple of exceptions.
Interviewer: Is there any common theme among your authors as people?
Stephanie McKibben: They're good people.
Interviewer: Okay. What is your publishing philosophy? You have three tenets.
Stephanie McKibben: I do. Okay, here we go. Well the first one is, okay, I've got two of those. One is write, publish, repeat. The second one is make money, have fun, avoid assholes.
Interviewer 2: You stole that last one.
Stephanie McKibben: With permission from my father. Mr. McKibben. I know where that one comes from. I had his permission. I asked.
Interviewer: That is McKibben communication. Your father. Mr. McKibben. Those assholes aren't worth your time. So avoid assholes.
Stephanie McKibben: Yes.
Interviewer: I think it might say asshats.
Stephanie McKibben: Asshats would be perfect.
Interviewer: I think that's what it actually says.
Stephanie McKibben: I might have changed it, because I remember maybe someone saying assholes might be a little strong.
Interviewer: Because asshats is less strong.
Stephanie McKibben: Okay. I approve, it should be asshats.
Interviewer: Okay. I think that's great. Is there anything you would really like the world to know about either Troll River, writing in general, yourself?
Stephanie McKibben: The world to know? The whole world.
Interviewer 2: The public.
Interviewer: The internet.
Stephanie McKibben: The internet webs.
Interviewer 2: If you wanted people in general to take away one impression about you and Troll River what would it be?
Stephanie McKibben: Don't be a dick.
Interviewer 2: Be nice to each other.
Stephanie McKibben: Yes.
Interviewer: Be nice to...well maybe not asshats.
Interviewer 2: Play nice with each other.
Stephanie McKibben: Yes Play nice with each other.
Interviewer: Play nice, and everybody is better for it.
Stephanie McKibben: Yes I do. You know what I think really there is this whole scarcity mentality that there is only one pie, and if you take a piece of the pie you're taking away from my pie. That's simply not the truth. The more success you find, and the more people you bring up with you...They say that it's lonely at the top. I say only if you don't bring people with you.
Interviewer 2: Yes. There seems to be this idea that if you're a bestselling author somehow or another you're depriving everyone else who publishes a book....
Interviewer: Yes. Just not true.
Interviewer 2: ...of their opportunity for success. Which is absolutely bullshit, because readers can only read one book at a time. They will read one book, and then they will go in search of another.
Interviewer: Yes. They're not going to read just one book in their lifetime.
Interviewer 2: Yes. Your best deal is to foster and promote the dissemination of good books, and that can't do anything but help you.
Stephanie McKibben: In my opinion they are good books, so there.
Interviewer: Yes. You have some bestselling authors in your house.
Stephanie McKibben: Yes I do. Kris Michaels, Patricia Knight. Nara Malone is a bestseller, but that wasn't from TRP, but she is a bestseller.
Interviewer: The rest of them are on their way.
Stephanie McKibben: The rest of them, yes, are really on their way, yes.
Interviewer: That's great.