Thursday, November 9, 2017

Jeremy Hicks - An Author Interview in the HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Jeremy Hicks. He writes Fantasy, Horror, and Steampunk novels and short stories. Jeremy is the author of The Cycle of Ages Saga. Also, he is a screenwriter and film producer.

Author: Jeremy Hicks

Author Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Steampunk

Twitter: @Jeremy_Hicks
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
Facebook: Check Out Facebook

Amazon Author Profile

Author Description:
After nearly dying at birth, Jeremy Hicks gave up his ghost during the sorrowful autumn of his twelfth year. The outsider that occupied his body at that point did the best it could to imitate him. However, this being’s bizarre sense of humor and inability to fully mimic human emotions kept it an outsider. After many unhappy years of trying to assimilate to this plane of existence and its daily doldrums, he turned to the cadre of demons in his life for other options. He teamed up with one of them inhabiting a ginger known as Barry Hayes and together they turned their nightmares into fiction.

The writing team of Hicks & Hayes created an original horror-fantasy environment (Faltyr™), wrote a screenplay (The Cycle of Ages Saga: Finders Keepers) to introduce it, and then adapted it into a novelization of the same name. As a result, their first novel was published by Dark Oak Press in August 2013; the second was published in September 2015.

Jeremy co-owns Broke Guys Productions and served as Associate Producer on the independent horror film, “Curse of the Rougarou.” He is also a poet and short story writer. Two of his short stories are available in Dark Oak anthologies (Capes & Clockwork; Luna's Children). Another is available through Pro Se Press.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Congratulations on your book: Delve Deep. What do you have on the drawing board next? Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Thanks, James! Delve Deep was quite the labor of love, being longer than the first two books in the Cycle of Ages Saga combined. It is also my first novel as a solo writer, since I normally work with the saga's co-creator, Barry Hayes. As a result, it was a relief when Richard Fierce asked me to write two stories for his upcoming shared world fantasy anthology set on the world of Mirstone, a place of his creation that will be fleshed out by writers in the anthology. The assignment involved each writer submitting two stories, each told from a different perspective, one from an elf's and the other from a dwarf's. These races have been at war on and off for the last two centuries, so the theme of the anthology is hope and redemption despite the conflict and enmity between these peoples. I chose to do a two-part storyline, with the first being the dwarf's tale and the second featuring the elf from the first story. This assignment turned out to be a great writing exercise and quite a bit of fun to boot. The collection is entitled Chronicles of Mirstone, and it is on pre-order now from Amazon. You can find it here:

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?

Frankly, I am better at promoting other writers than me or my own works I was raised where this type of behavior was a negative trait, not a career requirement. For me, modern social media feels like high school never ended and turned into a world-wide nightmare, especially for me, as I tend to be inflammatory, opinionated, and not shy about telling someone off who is rude to me or others online. These traits have not won me many fans sadly, so I wonder if most of the people haunting my social media pages are mainly there to eat popcorn and watch the comments fly back and forth. As far as selling books online, I am an utter failure at it. All my marketing efforts seem to turn to ash and do not recuperate what I spend on them. I was going to hire a professional PR person to handle it for me, but unfortunately, my finances have drained away this past year between medical issues, marketing, fandom conventions, and a new baby.

You do a lot of book signings, interviews, speaking and personal appearances. When and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

Unfortunately, due to deteriorating health and financial situations, I will be doing less of these in the immediate future. However, I will have a table at Huntsville Comic & Pop Culture Expo in February 2018. You can find more information about this fun convention here:

For those trying to keep track of my convention schedule and other public appearances, I have two blogs: and, which both include pages for public appearances. There are also a page on each that includes all of our current works available and links to where to find them.

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

We've worked up to that point over the years. Frankly, when we first started out with Dark Oak Press, the covers were awful. One writer said our books looked wrapped in newspaper. Fortunately, we went on a rather expensive and winding journey with different editions of our books until we found the right artist to brand the entire saga. Enggar Adirasa is the current cover artist for the Cycle of Ages Saga. We found him thanks to Rick with Redcoat PR, and we are so excited by the new series of covers. They really are mind-blowing. Enggar allowed me to pitch him concepts for each cover, and then he decided on the best one from him to use from an artist's perspective. In my opinion, as a person with several tattoos, always trust the artist. In this case, we ended up with three masterpieces from him. Alan Lewis, another writer and graphic artist, used Enggar's art and turned them into fabulous covers. In the end, it was a team effort by them that produced what you see now. My only criticisms are my blurbs written for the back of the books. I think those still need some fine-tuning. As far as the readers, their input on the old covers helped push us towards investing in these new ones. In fact, our second edition cover for Finders Keepers was a fan cover. It was produced by Kevin "Fritz" Fotovich after he read the book and wanted a better cover for it. I still love his art and that cover, but we needed to find a uniform theme and style for the entire series. I would recommend any of these three individuals for cover work in the future.

I like the idea of Author bundles. You are a part of several anthologies called Capes and Clockwork. What was the impact on your other sales? What was the main objective of bundling your works with other authors? How did you put something like that together?

Alan Lewis actually pulled together the Capes and Clockwork series for Dark Oak Press. They were his brain child and a labor of love for him. He actually asked me to contribute to the first one, and I had not written anything Steampunk-related at that point. I listened to Admiral Kirk's advice about the Kobayashi Maru, so I changed the parameters to suit my writing style. And thanks to the Beatles I found great inspiration. Long story short..."We all live on a yellow submarine" became "We all live on a dwarven submarine" in my head, and that bit of inspiration produced a wild tale set on a submarine deep inside an abyssal sea locked within our saga's planet, known as Faltyr to most of its inhabitants. It is more of a magical and chemical Steampunk story with a dash of Teslapunk, all told from the perspective of Yax'Kaqix (Blue Macaw), the elf portrayed on the cover of Delve Deep. In the end, the story became a 200-year-old prequel for Delve Deep itself. My story in the second C&C is my first "real" Steampunk story, a Frankenstein-style story involving my family dog as a circus poodle in a traveling technological expo, circus, and freak show.

As far as these collections impacting the sale of my other books, I have not noticed a significant increase in sales as a result. But these are small press releases that are not featured in major bookstores, so most of them are actually sold by the authors and publishers at conventions around the Southeast. If they had a wider release or the publisher had any sort of real marketing plan for online sales, we might see an actual uptick in sales of our individual works, since the idea was that a dozen or more authors should be able to combine forces to push all of our works more using these collections.

You are one of the authors who contributed to M.R. Mathias’ The C.A.M. Charity Anthologies published recently. (100% of the profits from these anthologies go to charity) What a group of outstanding people. What is the main thing that you get out of this association? Why was the collection so successful, besides having outstanding authors? CAM Horror and Science Fiction Book 1 The C.A.M. Charity Anthology (CAM Fantasy Book 1) The C.A.M. Charity Anthology (CAM Horror and Science Fiction Book 1)

To be frank and a bit crass here, I hate cancer. (Feel free to edit that a bit if needed) It has taken too many people I love from me, and I have watched too many others suffer during their fights to survive these horrible corruptions of their bodies, no thanks to a medical establishment profiting from their treatments and deaths rather than seeking actual cures. When MR asked me to contribute to this anthology in the wake of his mother's death, I took it as a sign that this is how I can help with my limited resources. Hopefully, my story will contribute to making money for organizations actually working to help others, especially cancer victims and their families.

What has been your experience in giving your books away free? Have you been involved in any other type of giveaways and how did that work out? What was your main goal in doing this? Did you run into any obstacles?

Likely as not, I have given away as many books as I've sold in person, usually in exchange for reviews or as donations to charity auctions. Sometimes we trade with other authors, too. As far as services, I have used Goodreads and Amazon giveaways in the past. I have raised more money for charity than I have garnered reviews, though. The biggest obstacle is actually having someone sit down and take the time to review a book. The process is akin to pulling teeth by remote, which is tragic and bloody (the author is just losing money rather than blood). Reviews are invaluable to every writer, so please reviews works that you enjoy. Online book reviews are modern word-of-mouth advertising and much needed by most small and mid-list authors.

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?

I use MailChimp to maintain an email subscription list of interested and/or recurrent readers of my books. I tend to find people at conventions more often than not. Every social media page has a link to join the subscription list. We even give away a free electronic copy of our first novel if someone subscribes, but it is difficult to have people provide email addresses nowadays. So many companies have betrayed consumers and sold their data that I find it increasingly difficult to have someone provide an email online. As far as using MailChimp, I limit what I send out to notices about new releases, stellar reviews, public appearances, giveaways, and the like. I try not to send out too much. Don't want to end up in the dreaded spam folder or have someone unsubscribe entirely.

I have tried writers forums and readers forums and fantasy forums, but I tend to run into a problem with them. Most want you to interact online dozens of times before ever allowing you to plug a book, which is difficult for me because I am rural and have poor internet access. Also, you run into a lot of wannabe writers who want to troll or tear down anyone who manages to actually publish their works, either traditionally or independently. I have actually had people go so far as to create fake accounts on Goodreads to leave 1-star reviews, simply based off a disagreement in a forum over an unrelated subject. Again, I think I would do better with a professional PR person. I don't handle trolls or bullies well., whether online or in public. Once the verbal diarrhea starts flying, my bullish anti-bully tendencies emerge (or worse, my inner berserker), so I tend to play the bigger asshole game to win. But there are no winners there. I may shut down one bad apple, but manage to alienate a dozen or hundred of possible readers in the process.

You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and helping other writers gain exposure with your Brief Book Reviews posts. What is your primary goal? And where in the world do you find the time to create great novels, take care of the social media and maintain your blog?

Thanks! I need to be more active with my blog, but I don't want to generate Listverse articles or other clickbait like too many writers nowadays. Also, I tend to avoid "writing advice" posts, mainly because I still consider myself a new writer, professionally speaking. In addition, I've noticed a lot of the advice authors tend to give is nitpicky or counterproductive or simply copy/pasted from other writers. If not, it is usually a rehash of something that may or may not work depending on the story someone is writing. What works for one writer may or may not work for another. As a result, the blog is mainly a vehicle for announcements or for promoting the works of other creatives. I would like to find more content for my blog that will draw in readers, but I have yet to discover the right combination of content to keep me interested in writing and posting it. As you mention, time is a major factor. With my deteriorating health issues, many of which affect my ability to focus for long periods of time or keep my body in a position to write effectively and efficiently, I have to budget my actual writing time, because it is limited more and more recently. This means that the blog falls by the wayside mostly, as does the marketing, which is counterproductive in the long run. It seems that those vehicles sell more books than writing more books, but if I am working on a project, I try to keep up momentum on it until it is finished. Then I can take more time for those other activities during the editing and proofing phases for my completed drafts.

You have co-authored the Cycle of Ages Saga series with Barry Hayes. With both of you writing in separate locations, how do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your story going? How did you handle the communications? Do you use any software to keep track of your book?

Even at the best of times, dealing with a co-writer is taxing, unless you can be in the same room with each other. It is even more difficult when you are trying to maintain a friendship alongside a professional relationship. We used to be able to sit down together, plot and outline, and even do some writing together. Nowadays, it's all fallen on me, which resulted in me taking the barebones for Delve Deep, expanding the outline significantly, and writing the whole novel. But I am able to keep in touch with him using the phone, social media, or harassing him at his workplace. That way I could keep him in the loop about the plot, any changes, and make sure he is okay with some of the curveballs in the plotting and character development along the way. Which worked out well for him, but has left me shouldering the writing, editing, marketing, and financing.

Hopefully, we'll be back together for the fourth novel, but Barry should be working on a novella in the meantime, which is designed to provide some backstory to an important plot point in the Cycle of Ages Saga without intruding into the flow of the main novels. We were going to try and work it into the fourth book, but it's really too much without condensing that information considerably. We think it will work much better as a novella, so that we do not have to rush through what will be a lighter, funnier tale with a tie-in to Earth itself. I hope we can sit down again soon to finalize its outline and then work on the outline for Never'Moor, the fourth novel in the Cycle of Ages Saga. Originally, we were going to try and do five novels in this saga, but we will likely try to wrap it up in four now. Mainly, so we can finish this long-running project and move onto other ideas we both have brewing in our imagination stations.

As far as software goes, we outline and write in Microsoft Word or Open Office, which means we use doc files mostly. I keep track of chapters and their subsections with Microsoft Excel, which makes it convenient to see how many words are in each section, total them all with the auto-sum function, and make changes as needed while we write and edit. It is also ideal for keeping track of who wrote which chapters or subsections in each book, so we can keep track of our contributions to the overall project.

Author's Book List
Delve Deep - Cycle of Ages Saga
The Master-of-Disaster and Finders Keepers return in the epic third installment of the Cycle of Ages Saga.

Kaladimus Dor finally makes contact with his master across the Veil, only to be tasked with a new mission, to reach the mysterious Spire. There he will be able to aid Braigen in returning hope to Faltyr.

Meanwhile, plots and intrigues abound in Grysmburg, targeting Lady Shy’elle and her infant son in distant Fraustmauth. So the queen-in-exile and Finders Keepers depart on a roundabout voyage to fulfill Dor’s mission and take the fight to the heart of the enemy.

What dangers lie in wait for them when they seek their ship-of-legend’s enchanted Anchor? Who will pay the ultimate price to salvage it, so they can access a shortcut through the Underworld? And what will the survivors find lurking between them and their subterranean port of call, the Free Dwarf city known as Delve Deep?

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

Finders Keepers - Cycle of Ages Saga
On the faraway world of Faltyr, a calamitous Mage of Moor’dru must do whatever it takes to get the secretive contents of a magic chest back home to his master. But when his disastrous nature shipwrecks him on an accursed island, Kaladimus Dor must cooperate with a motley crew of survivors, including mercenaries from an adventuring guild known as Finders Keepers, to secure their only means of escape, a powerful ship of legend.

Can the contentious group of survivors find this Hallowed Vessel before they are consumed, figuratively by their own inner strife or literally by the island’s ravenous inhabitants? And what will happen if the survivors discover Dor is the one responsible for shipwrecking them there in the first place? Will they forgive him or will his actions be their ultimate undoing?

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble
KOBO Store

Sands of Sorrow - Cycle of Ages Saga
The Master-of-Disaster is back in this exciting, no-holds-barred sequel to the Cycle of Ages Saga: Finders Keepers! With his primary mission on hold for now, Kaladimus Dor continues his association with the mercenary guild known as Finders Keepers as they search for the first missing piece to the Hallowed Vessel, its original figurehead. However, his companion, Yax’Kaqix, makes a fateful decision to honor a promise to a dead man that will set them on a path to change the fates of thousands and set them on a course for adventure across the Sands of Sorrow, a haunted, unnatural desert created at the cataclysmic end of the previous cycle of ages. What will this dramatic detour cost them in the end? What will it cost Dor…and possibly all of Faltyr?

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble
KOBO Store

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)
Brian Barr
Ani Fox
Michael Robb
J.T. Arralle
Jeremy Hicks
Gary W. Olson
Michael Ender
Michael Pogach
Ed Faunce
Matt Broadway

With Interior Artwork by Gideon Deschain
Cover art by Jack Hoyle. See more of his fantastic artwork at

Order the Book From:

Some Kinda Way Outta Here
Ba and Lien are happy-go-lucky lovers in Qui Nhon City, Vietnam, until the war comes and they are pulled into the thick of it. During the fateful Tet Offensive, their raid on the city's radio station sets in motion an explosive chain of events that leads their squad of Vietcong fighters from rancid sewers to hoary old temples in the hills surrounding the city. When fear, paranoia, and an otherworldly encounter divide their squad, the conflict threatens to consume them all.

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Savior of Istara
What would you do to save your homeland from foreign invaders? Would you risk your fortune, your family, and even your life to cast them back into the sea? To earn the moniker, The Savior of Istara, Tameri jeopardized all of this and more. This daughter of Breuxias risked her immortal soul.

Order the Book From:
Barnes and Noble

Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the following blogs:
HBS Author's Spotlight
eBook Author’s Corner
Top Shelf Author Advice
Mystery Reader’s Circle

Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.


  1. Thanks, Pam! Happy to be spotlighted on this wonderful platform for authors.