Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Michael Pogach. He is the Author of the dystopian thriller THE SPIDER IN THE LAUREL. Michael writes Thrillers and Science Fiction novels. He is included in the CAM Horror and Science Fiction Charity Anthology.
Literature & Fiction, Thriller, Science Fiction
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Michael Pogach is the author of the dystopian thriller Rafael Ward series, starting with THE SPIDER IN THE LAUREL.
He has also authored the "dirty and intense" chapbook Zero to Sixty, as well as stories in journals such as New Plains Review, Third Wednesday, and Workers Write.
His fame beyond the written word extends to a duel with a rodeo bull, surviving a taste test of Loch Ness, and adding whiskey to everything he cooks.
Michael lives with his family, his motorcycle, and his delusions of grandeur in Pennsylvania.
Michael is an author and English professor. He began writing stories in grade school. He doesn't remember these early masterpieces, but his parents tell him everyone in them died. He's gained some humanity since then, even allowing characters to survive once in a while. He is a graduate of Penn State and Arcadia University.
SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author
What do you have on the drawing board next? Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called The Long Oblivion. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?
The Long Oblivion is the sequel to The Spider in the Laurel, the second book in the Rafael Ward series. It will be coming out in March, from Ragnarok Publications. It picks up about two years after the end of Book One, and finds Ward in hiding in the dangerous Western Districts of the Republic. When his presence puts an innocent girl's life in danger, he finds himself in a race through the ruins of Mexico's ancient pyramids to the mysterious remnant of the mythological Tartessos in Spain, never knowing if he's the one chasing or being chased.
The other project I'm working on is a thriller, kind of a mix of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl on the Train. I'm about to enter final revisions on that novel and I hope to begin shopping it around by the end of the year.
You have a good following on twitter. How important have your social media relationships been? How did you build your following in your niche? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?
Social media has definitely helped. I've met some great people, opened up dozens of doors, and learned a lot about the publishing business and marketing through social media. I was a bit of a late-comer to Twitter and to making a dedicated author page on Facebook. And the one thing I learned that might be most important for newer authors is that social media is a great resource, but it's not a giant collection of readers salivating to buy your book. It can help, but you can't just put up some posts and sit back and wait to become a best-seller. That said, I've been able to foster some wonderful relationships with fans I wouldn't otherwise have been able to do.
You do personal appearances. When and where is the next place where readers can see you? Where can we keep up with your personal contacts online?
Anyone can keep up with me on my Twitter and Facebook, and on my website where I list all my appearances, as well interviews I do and and blogs/articles that I write. I don't have any public appearances scheduled at the moment, as I'm focused mainly on prepping The Long Oblivion for publication, and working on my next thriller. But if an interesting appearance presents itself, I will definitely consider it. As of now, however, my next big event will be the book launch for The Long Oblivion in March or early April.
You have converted Spider in the Laurel into an audio book. What has been the impact on your regular sales? Has the audio books gained a new audience for you?
Having The Spider in the Laurel published as an audiobook has been one of the coolest experiences of this who authoring thing. I found my narrator, the great Terry F. Self, on ACX, which is Audible's portal for authors and narrators looking to make audiobooks. There's no doubt the audiobook has introduced my work to a whole new fan base, and so far the reviews have been quite good. Terry's narration is incredible, and I'm going to do my best to make sure he narrates the rest of the Rafael Ward series. My only regret about putting out the audiobook is that I didn't do it sooner.
You have written several short stories. Can you tell us if they had an impact on the sales of your novels? Are shorty’s one of your styles of writing or are they created to give readers a sample of your work?
Most of my short stories were published before my first novel came out. I was almost exclusively a short story writer before I decided to dedicate my time to my first novel (which took four years to write). So, the impact hasn't been so much of the stories on the my novels, but the other way around. The one exception is my scifi story "They Thought the Brain Would be the Hardest Part," which was published in June in the CAM Horror and Science Fiction Charity Anthology. While I don't have any hard evidence to prove anything, it seemed like was a bump in novel sales when that anthology came out, introducing my brand of scifi to other fans of the genre, and horror fans as well.
I like the idea of Author bundles. You are a part of the CAM Horror and Science Fiction Charity Anthology. What was the impact on your other sales? What was the main objective of bundling your works with other SciFi authors? How did you put something like that together?
(What a great group of authors.
Featured on HBS Author’s Spotlight)
It's tough to track sales in relation to specific dates or events. The best most authors can do is try to extrapolate from Amazon's cryptic rankings. I think the anthology has added a few sales for me, and it's definitely helped me make more contacts in publishing with the other authors in the collection and their fans too. Better yet, the anthology itself was such a great seller that for about a week I (and the rest of the authors in the anthology with me) were boosted into the top 50 selling authors on Amazon. Seeing that was amazing. I never thought my author pic would be on a page like with Stephen King and George RR Martin and the like.
With your busy schedule, how do you have time to keep up with your followers? Between your writing, teaching, marketing, family and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do you sort of play it by ear?
Writing, family, an almost three-year-old, and I'm an English professor, so time and scheduling are haphazard at best. If I'm lucky I end up with an hour or so a do to devote to the business of writing, which could be answering emails or managing social media or figuring out a marketing plan. And then I try to make sure I two to three hours of writing a day two or three days a week during the fall and spring semesters. Over summer and winter breaks I do a good deal more writing, but it's never enough. I'm always itching to get back on the laptop and finish that chapter or revise that paragraph.
The one thing that has helped is setting goals. I do my best to complete a chapter a week when writing, and two chapters a week when revising. It's not a fast pace but so far it's working for me. And Starbucks and Barnes and Noble help immensely. Even with a home office, it's difficult to concentrate with a toddler smashing about the house. but a couple hours at Starbucks, with the help of a white mocha, I can produce twice as much material as at home in the same time frame.
What is your primary genre? What has been your best marketing approach to this group?
My short stories have primarily been literary fiction, while my novels tend towards scifi and thrillers. I love dystopias too, and plan to revisit that genre when the Rafael Ward series is complete by creating another near-future world gone wrong. No spoilers yet, but it has some Richard Matheson-ness to it and will lead more towards a post-apocalyptic dystopia than the kind of Orwellian dystopia I created for The Spider in the Laurel.
How do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?
I keep it pretty basic. Microsoft Word, a note taking app on my phone, and an actual full-of-real-paper notebook and pencil. My process tends to begin with outlining. Then writing a few chapters. Then revising the outline based on how those few chapters skewed things off plan, usually because the characters decided that my original plan was crap. By the time I'm done my first draft, I've probably gone through close to twenty outlines. And the whole time I'm filling pages in my notebook with characters, backgrounds, maps, flow charts, and anything else I need to keep track of what's going on. Then I'll do it all again for each revision I thought, which is at least three. One on the computer, one on hard copy, then at least one more on the computer. Throughout this whole process I workshop select chapters with my writes group and consult them regularly on my overall vision and outline.
Do you maintain a reader list? What are the methods you use to find your readers and create the list and the relationship? Do you use social media, forums, newsletters and/or support groups to build your list?
So, I have an email list that I've cultivated mostly at appearances, but I haven't actually put together any emails for it yet. One of those things that never seems to be at the top of the list when I sit down for my one hour of author-business each night. But I swear I will have a way to sign up to my email list directly on my website, and will send out my first mailing list email, in advance of the release of The Long Oblivion. How? When? What will be in that first email? I have no idea. Hopefully we'll all find out together in the next few months.
Author's Book List
CAM Horror and Science Fiction Book 1
- The C.A.M. Charity Anthology
All of the CAM Charity Anthologies are made up of donated short fiction stories. Some of these tales are written by well-known authors, others by ordinary people who just want to try and make a difference. 100% of the profits from these collections will go to charity as explained below.
Michael Robb Mathias Jr. aka M. R. Mathias, owner of Mathias Publishing, is producing the C.A.M anthologies in honor of his mother, Carol Ann Mathias, who passed away in 2017 after a grueling five year battle with cancer. The profits of these collections will be divided equally, each year, between three of her favorite charities.
(Each of these three organizations has an A or A+ rating with
a "watch dog" group that rates these non-profits based on several criteria, the most important being percentage of donations that reach the intended ones in need.)
A collection of Fantasy stories is also available and we hope there are more volumes to come.
This Kindle download is: Horror & Science Fiction, Vol. 1
Featuring (In Order of Appearance)
Gary W. Olson
With Interior Artwork by Gideon Deschain
Cover art by Jack Hoyle. See more of his fantastic artwork at
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The Spider in the Laurel
- Rafael Ward series
In Tomorrow's America, Belief is the New Enemy.
Even a Silent Prayer can get you Black-Bagged.
In the Citizens' Republic of America, religion is outlawed. Historian Rafael Ward is a good citizen, teaching students the government approved narrative of the nation's history. But when he is tasked by Relic Enforcement Command with destroying the artifacts he cherishes, he begins to question the regime's motives and soon finds himself caught up in a secret revolution. It will take the uncompromising faith of an outlaw Believer as an ally, and the acceptance of his guilt for his mother's death, to help Ward break free of the government's yoke. If he's lucky, he might also prevent an apocalyptic future for which his secular world is completely unprepared.
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