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Friday Night Interviews: AR DeClerk

Author AR DeClerk swung by to chat to us about writing and all things punk.Find out how she was able to publish seven books in quick succession, what her writing process is like and the pros and cons of being a multi-genre author.

And no, we didn’t forget about the punk stuff. Keep reading to find out which punk genre was her first love and which genre she’d like to live in.

Author AR DeClerk

 

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

My name is Amy R. DeClerck. I am an author, wife and mother of two daughters. I grew up the oldest child of six, in the mountains of Western North Carolina. I currently live in Northwestern Illinois along the Mighty Mississippi.

When did your life as a writer begin?

I began seriously writing in the sixth grade, and I spent a lot of time writing poetry. It wasn’t until I was thirty that I began to work on a 3-novel Sci-Fi series (that was terrible!) and later wrote Between, the first of my novels to be picked up by Nevermore Press.

Have you always been interested in punk fiction or is this a recent development in your life?

Steampunk is a recent discovery for me. I have always had a penchant for scifi and romance novels, and I spent my teen years reading westerns, hard Sci-fi and mysteries. I read The Parasol Protectorate series by Gail Carriger and the London Steam series by Bec McMaster and fell in love with steampunk romance!

How did you end up getting involved with the Writerpunk group and Writerpunk Press?

I joined Writerpunk when a friend of mine suggested I look into the group to learn more about the punk genres, because it has become a passion to write.

What anthology are you helping with or hoping to help with? What inspired you to work on this specific project?

I wrote a steampunk version of Mellonta Tauta by EA Poe for the Poe anthology called “Things of the Future”, and I am excited to work on a cyberpunk version of The Picture of Dorian Gray for the English class anthology.

What it is about the punk genre that inspires you as a creative?

I love the idea that history is malleable. That we, as authors, have the power to tweak time and create alternate versions of our own world. Alternate versions, by the way, that encompass all the things we love about the punk genres!

Of all the various *punk genres and subgenres, which one would you like to live?

I adore the Victorian Era, but wouldn’t want to give up my present-day comforts, so I’d have to say steampunk for certain!

collage of books by AR DeClerk
Books by AR DeClerk

Between 2014 and 2015, you published seven books. How do you keep up with such a demanding schedule? Any tips for writers who might be juggling several projects at once?

Actually, I don’t write on more than one project at a time. I just happen to be a “fast” writer. When I have the time outside my normal work schedule I make sure to put aside two or three hours at night after dinner to write on my current project. Most often I can get an average of 3-5,000 words in one session. That word count quickly adds up. I don’t plot or outline, and scenes play out in my head like movies, which I then put on paper. I always write from start to finish and I don’t skip around.

My advice would be- do what works for you. Find a way to tell your story that feels natural, and don’t let anyone else discourage you because they don’t agree with “your” way. It’s YOUR way!

Forged in Fire book cover

Its probably difficult to choose just one, but do you have a favorite leading man or leading lady from your novels? It’s a tie, for me. Icarus Kane is near and dear to my heart. He is a hero with a heart of tarnished gold. He feels unworthy of love and peace, and his Lady proves him wrong! His ego is monumental, and it made him a wonderful character for a laugh! The other favorite is Gin Draven from Forged in Fire. He is a wounded man, with scars inside and out. But Gin’s character arc is one of the most satisfying I’ve ever written.

A quick glance at your published titles shows a variety of genres. What are the benefits of a being multi-genre author? Drawbacks?

The benefits of multi-genre is that I get to play in ALL the sandboxes. I know a lot of authors in a lot of areas, and I have readers in many different groups. The drawbacks are that it is HARD to promote multiple genres, and equally difficult to pull readers across genres to sample something new.

Do you have a favorite genre to read/write?

I read and write romance. Any time, any kind, any where. I don’t do erotica, though it has its place. I LOVE the feeling you get when you follow characters on their journey toward falling in love.

Can you tell us a bit about some of the people that influence you the most?

My mother created a love of books in me that has never departed. She always has a book close at hand. My best friend is my faithful beta reader, and even if she dislikes the genre she reads my work. My close group of friends, Ann and Myra, keep me up when I feel like being down. They push me to keep writing when I feel overwhelmed. Madeline L’Engle for writing my favorite book A Swiftly Tilting Planet. It changed my life and made me open my eyes and heart to a world I’d never imagined existed in literature. Stephen King for writing The Dark Tower series, because it was the first sweeping epic fantasy that really made me want to touch readers LIKE THAT.

What is your life like when you aren’t writing?

I work as a dialysis technician, helping people with kidney disease live long lives. I have a husband, two daughters, two dogs and a cat who keep me busy cleaning and cooking and doing homework and playing taxi. I watch all my favorite shows on TV, listen to music and love watching movies.

What you have taken away from working with Writerpunk Press and the Writerpunk Facebook group?

A group of like-minded people can bring a new genre great life. With support and dedication we can propel the punk genre to great heights, working as a team!

AR DeClerck: Author. Dialysis Technician. Book Ninja. Food Assassin. Self-professed nerd. How DOES she have time for it all?  Catch up with her on Facebook, Twitter, her blog, or on Amazon and find out.

Don’t forget! Merely This and Nothing More is out on May 31st. Grab a copy and read AR DeClerck’s “Things of the Future”.

Poe 3d Piano and Petals

 

 

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Friday Night Interviews: Elizabeth Hamm drops by for a visit

Tonight we have vivacious and exuberant Elizabeth Hamm with is in Writerpunk Press basement.   This writer, designer and all around creative type has helped with both Shakespeare Goes Punk anthologies. Stay awhile and listen as Elizabeth regales us with tales of daring do and design prowess! 

(Decidedly Overt Plug: Once More Unto The Breach: Shakespeare Goes Punk 2 comes out December 1.)  

elizabeth-hamm

Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?

My name is Elizabeth Hamm. I’m 23 years old and finishing up two degrees this fall: one in Broadcasting with Marketing, Graphic Design, and Honors concentrations; and a Multimedia Studies degree. I currently work as a manager for the college radio station as well as working part time as a copywriter and videographer for a local ad agency. I’ve been lucky so far to get a lot of opportunities to expand what I love to do, including helping with the cover designs for the Shakespeare Punk Anthologies.

Have you always been interested in Punk Fiction or is this a recent development in your life?

I’ve been interested in it off and on. I think my love for historical fiction, and science fiction sort of fueled my love for Punk Fiction. I love when you can take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. Punk Fiction just adds another twist to any story, makes things interesting. I mean, who doesn’t want to read about zeppelins, automatons, and cybernetic limbs? It fuels the imagination.

What road did you walk to become a writer and a designer?

I’ve loved story telling all my life—be it with the written word, video, or graphic design. So I wanted to be a part of that. Originally I wanted to be a writer. Then I found out that you don’t have to be just one thing. My parents fueled my creative spark. I started making videos to go along with what I wrote. I started drawing pictures and designing covers. I still am learning what I can do to tell a story and I’ll continue to explore different ways to tell a story for as long as I can.

How did you end up getting involved with the Punkwriters group and WriterPunk Press?

I originally found a Facebook NaNoWriMo group about two years back and joined them. I found the group didn’t fit my personality after a bit and was invited over to the Punkwriters group about a year or so ago by a fellow member. I wasn’t currently writing anything Punk related, but I did love the genres involved. The group fit me well. Everyone was nice, even when you got too busy to ever post (which is usually my issue in any group). And when Shakespeare Goes Punk first popped up I volunteered my services as a cover designer because I didn’t think I could make Shakespeare’s work justice in word. There’s always an opportunity for creative people if you put your mind to it.

What anthology are you helping with or hoping to help with?

I have helped out with the first Shakespeare Anthology and am helping again with the second. I hope if there is another Shakespeare Goes Punk in the future, I can tackle another cover. Until then I’m waiting to see what future anthology sparks my interest to actually write a punk inspired piece. I might want to take a crack at that.

Shakespeare Goes Punk 2

What it is about the punk genre that inspires you as a creative?

I was first inspired by the Victorian mash up with clockpunk and steampunk. I found the idea of an alternative timeline of zeppelins and steam powered apparatuses so mesmerizing. I wanted to write fantastic female leads. I wanted to make a thousand things with gears and cogs and steam puzzles. It was exciting. No matter what style of punk, there is always a sense of an adventurous excitement. I just eat that up.

Of all the various *punk genres and subgenres, which one would you like to live?

Oh. That’s tough. I feel I would love to live in cyberpunk. I’m hugely into video games. I have a video game news YouTube Channel called Probably Gaming. So if I could be in a world where technology is so advanced I could just flip a switch and instantly play a video game like virtual reality that would be fantastic. Also I’m a fan of just anything cybernetic. People getting limbs! People living better lives! I just love all that cyberpunk has to offer.

What is your favorite genre to read/write?

I love to read a lot of different genres of Punk. Every time someone mentions a new Punk to me I’m like “oh is there something I can read?” because they are all just fantastic stories no matter the type of Punk. But I started with steampunk (writing and reading) and that will always have a special place in my heart.

What inspired you to work on this specific project?

I felt it a great opportunity for me to expand my skill set, talk to great people who knew WAY more than me, and to help out with a fantastic project. It was a win, win, win. I’m glad we were able to raise funds for the PAWS shelter this last time. I hope we raise even more money this time, and for every anthology after.

Can you tell us a bit about some of the people that influence you the most?

My inspirations come frequently from those I know and have interacted with in the art and written community. My artist friends, Anna and Joanna, who are both fantastic artists in their own right both in very different ways. My writing friends, Laura, Heidi, and Letticiae, all inspire me to write better and support me with what I write. It’s amazing.

Do you have anything shown/published outside of Writerpunk Press? 

I have my current portfolio of student work and cover art at ElizabethHamm.info. I also have my video game news Youtube channel which you can visit at ProbablyGaming.com. I’m constantly working on expanding both sites and if anyone would like to contact me for commissions or editing questions they can contact me at either website.

Do you have a set routine when you work?

Between working as a manager on campus, going to school, and going to work at the ad agency, I really don’t have a set routine—I really can’t. But when I get to work on anything I always have a playlist or YouTube videos to play in the background. At home, I make sure I’m comfortable and focused and no matter what I set aside some time each day to be creative for myself.

What is your life like when you aren’t being one of those weird creative types?

Really boring to be honest. My degrees include doing something creative. My job includes doing something creative. If I have nothing to do, I’m bored. I’ll read books. I’ll write. I’ll play video games. Anything with a creative element. Anything that can spark inspiration.

Can you tell use what you have taken away from working with Writerpunk Press and the Punkwriters Facebook group?

The group is welcoming. I’ve learned so much with working with the group as an author and as an artist. I’m glad for the opportunities they have given me and I hope I don’t disappoint with the work I give back.

Do you have anything else you want to tell our adoring public or add to this interview in any way?

I would just like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to talk about my work with Writerpunk and about my work. I would also like to thank Writerpunk for letting me help with their books. It’s been a fantastic time all around and I hope to continue to contribute to the group and learn from everyone in it.

You are welcome! I’m glad you were able to make it down to the Writerpunk Basement for a chat.   I know it’s a small space but it is mine! Mind the cyber eyes and gears on the way out…

Remember! If you want to learn more about Elizabeth and follow her online, check out her portfolio at Elizabethhamm.info and YouTube centered game news page at ProbablyGaming.com

 

 

Friday Night Interviews: Jenny Blenk

This week we showcase fabulous and darkly honest Jenny Blenk.  She has a story that will be published in an upcoming Writerpunk Press anthology. Instead of telling you which one, I’ll let Jenny tell us in her own words.  Keep an eye out for a surprise cameo from a cute and fuzzy bunny.

Jenny-Blenk
Tell us a little about yourself and your background?

My name is Jenny. I’m a Washingtonian native who recently transplanted to Portland, OR to start a Master’s program in English literature. I grew up on the Olympic Peninsula, playing in the woods and reading too many sci-fi and fantasy novels, and started writing my first novel in the 5th grade. That one never went beyond the first draft, but I was hooked nonetheless. Creative writing became my favorite pastime. After high school, I moved to Bellingham to do my undergraduate work at Western Washington University. I earned a BA there in English Literature and Spanish, and decided to go back to school for an MA after working for a few years in the book industry. Ideally I’ll end up writing, teaching, and doing publicity for a literary foundation or publisher.
Have you always been interested in Punk Fiction or is this a recent development in your life?

I first discovered Goth my sophomore year of high school and have identified as such ever since. This has led to forays into multiple punk genres and I love the freedom that they all embody, to become someone else or to twist time and culture past, present and future! That sense of adventure and struggle in all the punk genres is what really draws me to them, as both a reader and a writer. Probably the first novel I read to get me looking into punk genres was Jules Verne’s “A Journey To The Center Of The Earth.” This was when I was in about 6th grade.
What road did you travel to become a writer?

I’ve always been a writer, mostly of novels but of short stories too. Most recently I’ve been working on short stories since they’re easier to focus on and complete while I’m doing school assignments too. My dad was an English major in college, and both of my amazing parents supported my semi-addictive reading habit growing up. I suppose that reading great stories is what made me want to create them, and my parents are the ones who encouraged the idea that I could do it if I worked at it.
How did you end up getting involved with the Punkwriters group and Writerpunk Press?

I had the pleasure of working with Steampunk author Jeffrey Cook at a book-signing event while I was still working in the book industry. He mentioned Punkwriters in passing and I had to ask about it. The thought of a group of people all dedicated to representing and exploring punk genres together was so exciting! I knew I had to get involved. And everyone is so enthusiastic and supportive in the group, it’s impossible to feel unwelcome.
What anthology are you helping with or hoping to help with?

The upcoming Poe anthology, “Merely This And Nothing More,” will feature my adaptation of “The Fall of the House of Usher.” It’s a nanopunk version of the iconic Poe story, full of advanced tech and questions about sentience. It was so much fun to put my own twist on a work that I love, and the project was the perfect excuse to revisit one of my favorite authors.
What it is about the punk genre that inspires you as a writer?

As I mentioned before, I love the freedom and adventure that the wide variety of subject matter can provide for both the writer (creatively) and the reader (so many possibilities!). This can mean creating an ideal personal world that you would love to be in, or figuring out a way for your protagonists to escape (or be defeated by?) a crushing futuristic society. There are so many lives that I want to live, and all of them seem to fit into punk genres. Since those were the worlds I wanted to see, they were the ones I started to create in my writing.
Of all the various *punk genres and subgenres, which one would you like to live?

Aw, I have to pick just one? I really like the idea of growing up to be a pirate queen, so maybe I’d choose Steampunk for that scenario. But being a cybernetic assassin/special ops soldier (á la “Ghost in the Shell”) also sounds interesting, so I’d probably choose Cyberpunk for that.
What is your favorite genre to read/write?

I’m going to cheat on this question and use the umbrella term “Speculative Fiction,” which encompasses punk genres, sci-fi, fantasy, alternate history, and cross-genre books within those themes. I like everything from high fantasy (like Robert Jordan or Brandon Sanderson) to pure sci-fi (Robert A. Heinlein or Ursula K. LeGuin). Looking at my favorite aspects of great writers’ works and trying to adapt them into my own writing keeps me heading back to the bookshelves for more inspiration.
What inspired you to work on this specific project?

I’m a Goth. I love Poe. And any excuse to geek out on literature with other Poe and punk fans is a good one in my book.
Can you tell us a bit about some of the writers that influence you the most?

The incredible sense of atmospheric dread and horror that Poe and H.P. Lovecraft can produce always makes me swoon (and sometimes curl up in the fetal position), but I also love the darkly beautiful stories spun by Neil Gaiman and Patrick Rothfuss. I also read Kristen Britain’s Green Rider series purely for the interesting story line, and Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwaters Trilogy is a perennial favorite. My “guilty pleasure” is Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel trilogy.
Do you have anything shown/published outside of Writerpunk Press? 

I’ve had bits and pieces of poetry published over the years, but this is the first time that I’ve been organized enough to actually see a project through to its completion. I’m hoping to focus more on submitting my store of completed work over the next two years since my academic writing will take up most of my time and producing new work will be more of a challenge.
Do you have a set routine when you work?

I find that I’m most productive when I leave the house to work. Usually I end up hunkering down in a coffee shop or at the library. I think it’s because there aren’t as many distractions when I bring what I need in order to write, and that’s it.
What is your life like when you aren’t being one of those weird creative types?

I’m always a reclusive little creäture at heart. But when I’m not reading or writing, I enjoy hiking, gardening, knitting, and world travel. I’m passionate about good beer and delicious coffee, and my best friend is a little black rabbit named Bernadette.

Every Interview Needs a Bunny
Bernadette the Bunny

Because honestly, who doesn’t love rabbits?
Can you tell us what you have taken away from working with Writerpunk Press and the Punkwriters Facebook group?

So far the takeaway has really been that community is key. We all contribute something, through writing or organizing or publicity, and most of us wear at least a couple of different hats. Community means encouragement, support and responsibility, and since everyone involved is there because they want to be, we all actively contribute what we can. It’s so much easier to stick with a difficult project, meet your writing goal, or submit something for editing or publication when you have other people there on the same journey who want you to be successful.
Do you have anything else you want to tell our adoring public or add to this interview in any way?

Support your local writers! Especially if you’re one of them! And if you’re looking for speculative fiction book recommendations feel free to check out my blog: jennyblenk.blogspot.com. I don’t post on it as much as I used to, since school prevents me from doing much extracurricular reading, but there’s a backlog of good specific suggestions.

Thanks for the Interview, Jenny! W look forward to reading your story in the upcoming Poe Goes Punk Anthology.  To learn more about Jenny Blenk and read her thoughts on a variety of things, visit her blog by clicking here. (As mentioned above by Jenny herself, but doubling down never hurts.)

Friday Night Interviews: Jeffrey Cook and PAWS

Tonight I’m starting a new feature which I’ve tentatively dubbed “Friday Night Interviews.”  The name is short and to the point since these are  interviews with various authors and staff associated with the Writerpunk press series of anthologies.  These interviews will also be posted Friday night.  Clever, eh?

We are honored to have one of the driving forces behind Writer Punk Press and the Punk anthologies as the first entry into this new and ever oh-so-shiny feature.  He is known as Jeffrey Cook and was vital to the publication of Sound and Fury: Shakespeare goes Punk (Vol 1). Jeffrey is currently  continuing to push hard for our upcoming anthology, Once More Unto the Breach: Shakespeare Goes Punk (Vol II.)  Jeffrey recently visited the PAWS center to give our donation culled from the Sound and Fury proceeds. What is PAWS and who, exactly, is Jeffrey Cook? Read on to find out!

 

Kay01
Jeffrey Cook presenting our donation to PAWS

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a full-time independent author living near Seattle, WA. I’m 41 years old, have been married for 16 years, and I’m ‘Dad’ to 3 large rescue dogs. I have 6 books out, with #7 coming soon. They range from steampunk to urban fantasy to YA scifi/mystery. I’ve published both traditionally, and through self-publishing. I also do some tech writing here and there to help pay the bills, and some work for Deep7 games out of Seattle.

How did you get involved with these Punk Anthology?

I was one of the original crop of people that John Wesley Hawthorne invited to the group. Like everyone on that list, I was one of the people who regularly contributed to discussions of ‘punk’ scifi on the Nanowrimo facebook group. (cyberpunk, steampunk, etc.)

What does PAWS Stand for and what is their website address?

PAWS stands for Progressive Animal Welfare society. Their website is http://www.paws.org/

What led you to suggest PAWS as the primary charity for these books?

There’s two answers to this.

The first and most obvious is that I’ve always owned dogs – usually rescue dogs or pound rescuees. All of my current ‘children’ are rescues. I’m passionate about helping them where I can. My wife is of a similar mind. She volunteered for PAWS on weekends for 3 years, before we moved too far away from their center to get there consistently.

As a writer – our second rescue dog from PAWS, not long after we’d finally moved into a house where we could keep dogs, was distinctly ‘my’ dog, as compared to our first, who firmly adopted my wife. After I was laid off from my job in the insurance industry, and decided to make a serious go at finally writing my first book, Khaya used to rest most of the day at my feet. When her brothers would try and interrupt my writing time, she’d ward them off, and go back to sleeping until it was break time/play time. She distinctly earned the dedication in my first novel – which was published a few months after we lost her to brain cancer. So part of what I’m doing is in her memory.

Cosmo03

The second was simply that Writerpunk is a very diverse group. When we originally discussed the charity, it was agreed we needed to find a cause with no political or religious agenda or sponsorship. Animal charities are relatively easy to agree on that way, and after I suggested it, and volunteered to act as liaison, it ended up winning the vote of the group.

Will PAWS stay the charity throughout the future volumes?

For the foreseeable future, PAWS will remain the charity of choice for the anthologies. It still fits the bill, and the organization was overwhelmed by our generosity, and were happy to give us some time at the shelter, a chance to talk to volunteers and visit with the dogs, and otherwise let us see exactly what the money is benefiting.

Are you more of a cat or a dog person?

I’m an animal lover, but I’ve owned large dogs most of my life. I deal with cats quite well, and we’ll probably eventually help out the cat rescue too, but I get along best with big dogs.

Kennels

What, exactly, are the funds gathered from the first anthology used for with PAWS?

PAWS allowed us to pick precisely what our money would go towards, rather than placing it into a general fund. The entire amount will go to sponsor one big dog kennel, providing shelter, food, basic medical services, toys and supervision. While that kennel may be used for multiple dogs over the year if some get adopted, it basically means they can house one more rescue dog at a time than they would have been able to without our donation.

How did your trip to PAWS go? Tell us a bit about it.

I love that place. I’ve been there before, and always enjoy going back. We ran into a couple of the dog walkers outside first and foremost, taking the dogs around the trail. These were more sedate, but I know some of their higher energy dogs also go out running with local joggers.

Kay and John met us inside, and showed us to the offices, and told us a little about their mission, and let our photographer (The wonderful Chelo Felice) take pictures of the office, and Kay’s dog – an older Labrador retriever who carried his purple blanket around everywhere when moving, so he always had a comfortable place to lie down.
They then showed us the cat shelter, the kennels, and the meeting areas next. I’ll touch on some of the 4-legged folks we met there in another question.

We finished there, went back to the office, donated a signed copy of the book to them, and handed over the check, along with getting some pictures with Kay and John accepting it on behalf of PAWS. Our memorial plaque will go up on the kennel door, saying that the kennel was donated by Writerpunk Press, in the next two weeks.

Check01

Were the staff surprised at the Writerpunk Press donation?

I’d been in communication with John for a while, so they knew we were coming, and had a good idea how much we were donating. What did surprise them was that this wasn’t a one time donation, but that we intended to continue writing, and continue supporting them, and that we hoped that this check was just the beginning. After the reaction to that, I don’t think we’ll have any problems with getting future tours, bringing people up to meet the dogs, etc.

Did you meet any cool and/or adorable animals while you were there?

They introduced us to some of the staff, and showed us the cat shelter first – where we got to meet a few rescues, but spent the most time with Molly the Dove Cat – who purred easily and often, and sounded like a dove cooing when she did so. Molly is one of their standard ‘greeters’, because, thanks to the extensive testing, screening, and behavior testing and notes they make with all their animals, they know she does great with new people, and doesn’t get scared of groups.

Molly02

We got a tour of the dog kennels next. While the dogs are kept in fenced kennels, they have a fair amount of space, each gets a personal blanket and a towel, and they get to keep 1 or 2 toys that they show an affinity for in their kennels full time. Hunter, in particular, wanted to greet us very noisily, while they made sure we gave some of the newer or shyer dogs some space.

Kennels03

They took us to the meeting area, and introduced us directly to three of the dogs – Walter the bull terrier was very happy to meet us, and to show everyone that he had an orange ball that he was very attached to. They made sure we were okay with being jumped on and licked before introducing us to Rex, a fairly new addition, who, true to warning, wanted to bounce around and kiss people. Finally, we met 8 week old Cosmo, who wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but was very sure it was exciting, going by all the wag.

Rex01

Do you have anything else you’d like to tell us?

We have a second volume coming soon: Once More Unto the Breach: Shakespeare Goes Punk vol. II, and Merely This and Nothing More: Poe Goes Punk coming next March. We’re hoping to keep growing the list of indie authors, editors, artists, etc. that we’ve been able to help promote, as well as building up the charity brand – and, of course, hope we can do significantly more to help out a great cause soon, both in terms of the money donated, but hopefully also increasing the visibility of PAWS and the work they do.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions, Jeffrey! I can’t wait to see future trips to PAWS via Writerpunk Press.  If you want to learn more about Jeffrey Cook and his writings, head on over to his website, www.authorjeffreycook.com. and take a look.