The Man in the Cinder Clouds Author Interview & Giveaway

As part of my series on editing, to include marketing in today’s environment, I’m interviewing author Rick J. Daley who wrote The Man in the Cinder Clouds and published as an indie author. His book is more than a great fairy tale about the origins of Santa Clause–it’s one of very few indie books that passed my “good editing” test. So I asked Rick if he’d answer some questions to help other indie authors. You’re in for a treat. He agreed!
Since Rick has a few copies on hand, one lucky entrant of the Fairy Tale blog hop will get to see why I’m excited about interviewing Rick. You can win a signed copy of his book if you have a valid shipping address, US or international.  Whoever wins, I hope you will leave a review on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and your blog if you have one.

Here’s the blurb: A young boy and his scientist father make an incredible discovery at the North Pole—an ancient book embedded deep within an ice core. Even more incredible is the story the book tells: the long-lost history of Santa Claus you never knew…and will never forget. This origins-of-Santa story is a great holiday read for the whole family. Its mix of action, humor, and Christmas spirit keeps younger readers turning the pages, but The Man in the Cinder Clouds is not just a kids’ Christmas book. This story-within-a-story reveals the origins of our most familiar Christmas traditions: from Christmas trees, stockings, and lumps of coal to jingle bells, the North Pole, and flying reindeer. Highly original and thoroughly entertaining, The Man in the Cinder Clouds will show you how Kris Kringle came to be known as Santa Claus. It wasn’t easy.

Unless you’re Scrooge, you’ll love The Man in the Cinder Clouds, no matter what your age or the season. Please read my review here. I give very few books 5 stars like I did Rick’s.

The Fairy Tale Hop specifies 2-5 interview questions, so today I’m asking about editing, and my next post will focus on marketing. Now for the questions, which I put in plain type, with Rick’s answers in icy blue. First, I’d like to know how long the editing process took.
It took me about 6 weeks to write the first draft of the book.  After that, editing and revisions took close to a year.  Keep in mind that a year of editing involves vast spans of time thinking about the story and the characters, but not actually re-writing or revising.  There’s also time spent waiting for feedback from critique partners, which ranged from 48 hours to 8 weeks.  I didn’t touch the manuscript until all the feedback was in.
If you used a professional editor, who did you use and how did you find that person? (Your book is the best edited indie book I’ve read so far.)
I didn’t use a professional editor.  I had five primary critique partners, and several beta readers.  The critique partners were writers, and they ranged from YA and romance authors to Very Sophisticated Literary authors.  My beta readers were friends and family, ranging in age from 5th grade to septuagenarians.
My critique partners did catch several typos, mostly misused words (e.g. ice flow changed to ice floe, an uncomfortable yolk changed to yoke…things like that); however, most of the feedback I received was in regard to characterization and the story.  I’ve always had a pretty good grasp on grammar and syntax.
I did the final line edits and interior design myself.  I have re-read it and have about 7 typos marked to fix in a future edition, the most common one being a missing line break, resulting in two paragraphs bleeding together, and the word “stange” instead of “strange.”  It’s amazing how these mistakes can survive the multiple rounds of critiques!
If you readers and writers think you can do without a professional editor because Rick did, think again. He’s been writing professionally for over 15 years. His experience includes marketing copy for print and web, press releases, business proposals, training and technical manuals, and whitepapers. His essays, ranging from family life during the holidays to his first skydiving experience, have been featured in The Columbus Dispatch. In other words, he’s a pro, so I’ll give you the warning you’ve heard on TV, “Don’t try this at home,” meaning “Don’t skip out on hiring a professional editor. If you’re not Rick, you need one.”
Now back to my questions. Rick, I’d like to know the same details for your cover artist/illustrator if you’re happy with the person.
I published through CreateSpace, and used their cover design services.  I gave them two ideas for a cover concept, and pointed them to about a dozen iStockphoto images that I thought represented my ideas.  They did a great job coming up with something unique that was clearly inspired by my direction.  I’ve received compliments on the cover from teachers, librarians, and (most importantly) kids, and I’m very happy with the work they did and my decision to invest in a professional cover (I spent about $900 on the cover).
That’s a good example of “You get what you pay for.” With that in mind, I hope the readers who read my review are anxious to buy your book. The kindle edition is only $1.99, well worth the money, so where can readers purchase The Man in the Cinder Clouds?

“The Man in the Cinder Clouds” is available through and, and it can also be purchased from many other online book retailers, such as AbeBooks and EBSCO.  I haven’t uploaded it to Smashwords or the Apple iBook store; I avoided Smashwords because I don’t like the quality of their EPUB conversion tool, and I tried to upload to iBooks but their special iTunes software for uploading only works on Macs, and I don’t have a Mac.

Thanks, Rick! Here are the first two links to purchase The Man in the Cinder Clouds: (print and Kindle) (print and Nook)

If you ask him nicely, Rick can arrange to autograph your book, even the kindle version! 
An experienced public speaker with a background in music and theater, Rick has also authored and delivered numerous training seminars and workshops. He lives in Lewis Center, Ohio with his wife and two sons (and a neurotic schnauzer). Here’s where you can find him to ask about that autograph.

Twitter: @rjdaley101071

Now it’s your turn to enter the contest for The Man in the Cinder Clouds and find out why an elf’s journal was found miles below the surface at The North Pole! You don’t have to be my follower to enter this contest, but you do to win.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Before you go, you can win a separate $10 Amazon book prize by helping me choose which of five book hooks to use in my own book by commenting on my last post. If you don’t see it below this post, click here. My 600 follower box of books and chocolate contest is on the same post, with my ARC of Julie Kagawa’s The Immortal Rules included.

All done? Then it’s time to check out all the other fairy tale giveaways on this blog hop hosted by Hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer & vvb32reads. Enjoy!

Share A Heart

Indie author-friendly freelance editor, children's book blogger for picture books through YA, kid lit, SF/fantasy lover with special fondness for middle grade, pun-loving SCBWI member, meter-maid for poetry and rhyming picture books.


  1. I would love to win this book because it sounds original and interesting! I’m curious to read about Santa’s long lost history 🙂

  2. Hi Suz! Good luck, if you don’t end up with the winning copy, I hope you’ll still pick one up, I think it will satisfy your curiosity in a good way…

  3. I’m always looking out for something new, especially something as different as this one sounds!

  4. Hi Shauna- I hope you get a chance to read it, the muse touched me and helped me find a unique angle for a familiar character…It’s the Santa you never knew but always loved.

  5. It sounds like a heart warming story that I can read with my kids!! Thanks for the great giveaway!!!

  6. Thanks Bridget, good luck!

  7. Sounds like a great book that both my teen and I would enjoy reading… maybe a good book to read together (after we finish our current one)! Sounds intriguing and I’m interested on how Kris Kringle began that isn’t from the tv cartoons!

  8. books4me- Thanks, I hope you and your teen check it out. It’s a fun read for anyone who has ever believed in Santa. It has some action and excitement, it steps Kris up a notch from the cartoons!

  9. Thanks so much for the chance. I follow on GFC and Id love to read this because Im intrigued with it. Is a new to me author and Id definitely check out his books.

  10. Also Im INT, Im in Ireland 🙂

  11. Hi Nat, thanks! I’m glad you stopped by, good luck in the give-away 😉

  12. I’m from the US, AZ specifically. I learned the truth about Santa Claus when I picked up a book at my elementary school library that told the history of SC and St. Nicholas. It allowed me to keep the spirit of SC in my heart while accepting reality. Reading adaptations brings those childhood feelings back to life. I am excited to read Man in Cinder Clouds! Even if I don’t win, I’ll add the book to my must-buy list.

  13. I’m from Italy. The book sounds interesting and I may give it a try even if I don’t win 🙂

  14. Kris- I think you’ll enjoy this story. I tried to make it feel real, but kept the magic intact. This is a the Kris Kringle / Santa Claus I want to believe in.

    Reading Mind- Good luck, I hope you do read the story, either through the Giveaway or otherwise.

  15. I am INT. This book sounds interesting and i hear this book have something different. It make me want read this book. Is a new author for me, but always like to discovery a new author.

  16. Hi! I’d love to read this book because I never believe in Santa. Yes, I know is something rare, but as a kid I never believed in him and I always feel sorry for that. Everytime I read or watch in movies the feelings that kids experienced in Christmas waiting for Santa, I really feel sad. That’s why I’d love to read about him, I believe that trough reading, we can experience all those feelings that sometimes we couldn’t in real life.
    BTW, I’m from Uruguay!

  17. I’d like to win the book because it’s interesting! I just love fairytales. If I don’t win, I’d try to look for this book soon on bookstores–but I’m not sure if we’d have a copy here in our country so I’m hoping to win.

    Follower ID: Michelle Sedeño

  18. Filia- I like new readers, too 😉

    Ruty- I hope you get the chance to read this, it’s never too late to catch the spirit of Christmas!

    Michelle- It may not make it to a physical bookstore, but it is available at internationally (although English only).

  19. I love Santa Claus, so an origin story sounds very intriguing to me! I will definitely check it out even if I don’t win. Thanks!

    Also, I’m from the US.

  20. Sounds like a fun story and an interesting mix between reality and fantasy (like Enchanted). You did a great job on both interviews, very interesting. I don’t usually buy books, but I’ll certainly see if my library has it (I’m in NC) and if not possibly request it through ILL.

  21. The book sounds interesting and original. I would like to read the book. I live in Indonesia. Even if I didn’t win, I would check it out.

  22. My daughter is right on the verge of not believing anymore. I would love to get this book and maybe give her some facts about Santa. Thanks somuch for the giveaway!

  23. Thanks to all who participated in the giveaway. I hope that the winner enjoys the story, and for those who are interested in it but don’t win (unfortunately there can be only one) I hope you pick up a copy online…it really is a good story!

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    All content is copyrighted and may not be used in any form without proper credit and links. For purposes other than charity or education, printed materials require prior written consent. Disclaimer: Most books were provided free in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.