Coming Soon (Lockdown Edition)

Coming Soon

LockdownWelcome to the Lockdown edition of my irregularly scheduled Coming Soon feature.

I’ve been a little preoccupied lately, as I’m sure everybody else has, too. Like millions of other people, I’m in lockdown thanks to the Coronavirus Pandemic. And especially careful because my wife is one of those “at risk” people. I’m at least lucky enough that my Day Job is considered critical, and is thus continuing uninterrupted. Even better, the Day Job is in IT, so I’m fortunate enough to be able to work at home without any significant problems.

Here in Virginia, the governor just issued a stay-at-home order through June 11th at least. So, to the best of my ability, I’m going to use this time to finish, or at least make significant progress on, a bunch of my writing and publishing projects.

Without further ado, here are the main projects I’ve got going on right now:

  • Clash by Night: This novella was originally published in an anthology called The Curator. It’s a relatively near future SF military heist. So, another one of my mashups. I commissioned a nice action cover from Luca Oleastri. I just need to finalize the Extras that I put in my solo publications, finish formatting the ebook, and publish. This was supposed to happen in March, but it looks like it’s gonna be April.

  • Finders Keepers: I’m in the process of finishing this novella, a cyberpunk-ish crime story. It’s targeted for an anthology called Black Markets, which should be published in early summer. Set in the same universe as my story Clash by Night, and includes a relative of one of the mercenaries from that story.

  • Fantastic Defenders (Hardcover): This one’s been hanging around in my queue for way too long. I’m publishing a hardcover edition of Fantastic Defenders, a fantasy anthology that I co-edited with Donna Royston. That should be published sometime in April, if I can get through the logistics.

  • The Forever Inn: This is an anthology of stories taking place in a shared setting, an inn that can appear anywhere in the multiverse. Currently working with Donna Royston on editing received stories, and expect to publish this later on this year.

  • Death Comes to Town: This is a fantasy novella that was originally published in an anthology called The Outsiders. It’s another mashup (crime, fantasy, and horror) set in my Thousand Kingdoms universe. I’d like to publish it solo in July, as an ebook and a trade paperback. I just need to find a good cover for it.

  • Capclave 2020 Workshops: For the second year in a row, I’m the Workshop Coordinator for Capclave. I need to have a solid slate of 10 – 12 hours worth of workshop content by mid-July, for a convention I’m not completely sure will be happening, since the CDC is expecting a Coronavirus resurgence in the fall.

  • Pivot Point: I’ve dusted off this novella after letting the first draft percolate for over a year. It’s a mashup of steampunk and military SF. Now that I’ve got some distance, I’m working on the second draft edits. It’s targeted as an anchor story for a military steampunk anthology that I’d like to publish sometime next year.

  • The Long Road to Tomorrow: I’m actively looking for a new cover for this novelette, formerly published as The Good Book. Frankly, it’s hard to figure out what sucked more…the original title or the cover. I’ll re-launch this with the new title as soon as I find the right cover illustration.

  • Road Trip: I’m actively looking for a new cover for this novelette, originally published in the anthology Reliquary, on the theme of relics. Print edition and ebook are ready; all I need is a cover.

Posted in About My Books | Leave a comment

Inspiration: Absent Night Hawks

Absent Night Hawks

Inspired by Edward Hopper’s famous painting, Nigh Hawks, here’s the coronavirus-inspired version of the same painting.

Posted in A Little Inspiration | Leave a comment

Inspiration: Alien Migration

The Great Migration, by Piotrdura

I think this is a great illustration that captures the majesty and sheer awe of the migration of some large wildlife on a far-off alien planet.

Posted in A Little Inspiration | Tagged | Leave a comment

Dublin 2019 Souvenir Book

Dublin 2019 Souvenir Book An interesting thing happened today. I received the Dublin 2019 Souvenir Book in the mail, the official commemorative book celebrating the 77th World Science Fiction, which was held last summer in Dublin, Ireland.

I was supposed to get it when I showed up for the convention…but they’d run out by the time I got there. The good T-shirts had run out, too, so I never bought any wearable swag. This was a theme for the convention, because the con runners ended up getting far more attendees than they expected. My personal guess is that they got about twice what the main venue could actually handle.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I had a splendid time in Ireland, and a great time at the convention. And the con runners clearly did their absolute best to accommodate the crowd of almost 7000 attendees, including closing membership sales down (there were no at-the-event membership sales), adding more space in a (relatively) nearby movie theater complex, and practicing strict crowd control measures to regulate access to any programming sessions.

Mostly, I’m tickled pink to finally get my souvenir book for the Worldcon…six months after the event. I read through most of it tonight, and had a great time refreshing my memory about so many of the cool things associated with the convention, from learning more about the guests to seeing who’s bidding to host Worldcon in the future.

Thanks, Dublin.

Posted in Conferences | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Badge of Honor: I’ve Been Pirated

Hourlings Anthologies

Well, I guess that the Hourlings, my writing group, and by extension, myself, have achieved a new badge of honor in the world of publishing. We’ve been pirated.

And, no, I’m not going to say where, or provide the URL. I refuse to give bad actors any free advertising.

Anyway, the Hourlings publishes a new anthology just about every year. The first three anthologies in the image above were found on a pirate site, where they could be downloaded for free. The books have since been taken down after a DMCA complaint was filed.

You know you’ve arrived when pirates find it worthwhile to steal your work.

Posted in Science Fiction | Tagged | Leave a comment

Fantastic Defenders: Hardcover Preview

Fantastic Defenders, Hardcover Cover

There’s a hardcover of my anthology, Fantastic Defenders, coming out in March. The anthology was edited by myself and Donna Royston, and was published in mid-2017 in the trade paperback and ebook formats. It’s sold well enough that Tannhauser Press is coming out with a hardcover edition.

So, above, you’ll see a preview of the full wraparound cover, including flaps, for the hardcover edition of the book.

Posted in About My Books, Projects | Tagged | Leave a comment

Forever Is Not Enough, or How to Lose a Great Title

Pub Interior, by Leonard Defrance, 18th CenturyWell, I have some…er…interesting news. Apparently great minds think alike.

Some of you know that I’ve been working on the background for a themed anthology called The Forever House since early 2016. The concept is a shared setting, a sort of pan-dimensional tavern that can appear anywhere, and any time, in the multiverse. An artifact of high magic, created by the Ancients, a mysterious race long lost in the depths of time. A tavern/inn that draws in travelers and adventurers, either directly or sometimes in their dreams.

In fact, here’s a vignette I published way back in 2016 that was set in the Forever House.

Oh, yes, I know. There are other magical bars in the SF/Fantasy field. But this one, well, I went all-out on the details. How the magic works. Who works at the establishment. How guests can arrive either in person, or sometimes in a dream. Imagine a magical bar with the details worked out to the level a role-playing game supplement. Picture a bar outside of normal space and time where Sauron and Gandalf could have a conversation…

Sadly, my title, The Forever House, has been totally STOMPED on by Mike Mignola, the creator of Hellboy, who is developing an anthology TV series called…you got it…The Forever House.

Now picture how annoyed I am at the situation.

I’m actually about three months away from publishing an anthology featuring this magical inn…

Now, I don’t blame Mike Mignola. He had no knowledge of my project; he’s done nothing wrong. It’s just a coincidence. But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

I’ve researched his project, and it’s nothing like my Forever House project. In Mike’s background, the Forever House is a mansion where lots of magical artifacts are stored. It’s intended to be the basis of an anthology TV show, with each episode featuring a different artifact. He just latched onto a cool name.

Before me.

Given that there’s an entertainment company involved, there are already trademarks involving the Forever House name. In fact, based on a commercial search, a trademark has existed since 2013, which obviously predates my project.

I could still probably use the title, but why would I? I wouldn’t want to be drowned out by a more widely advertised and popular project. And an entertainment company can swing a lot more marketing dollars than I can.

Sigh. It quickly became clear that a name change was in order. I consulted with my friends and fellow writers in my writing group, the Hourlings, and finally selected a new title.

So, the new working title for my anthology is “The Forever Inn: The House of Many Worlds.”

Not much of a change. But just enough.

Posted in Projects, World Building | Tagged | Leave a comment

Crawl: Action-Packed Horror


I got the Blue-Ray of Crawl for Christmas, so I had some people over to watch it in the Keener Home Theater, included my 16-year-old niece. For those who may have missed it, the movie came out this past July. It’s about a college student and her Dad, who get trapped in a house in Florida during a Category 5 hurricane. Unfortunately for them, rising waters bring alligators.

Hungry alligators.

From the reviews I’d read, I expected (and got) a solid, action-packed B-movie, in the same vein as 47 Meters Down. Apparently, this movie did much better. It cost 14 million to make but brought home around 91 million worldwide. Since my niece’s favorite movie is Jaws, I figured this would be right up her alley.

Bottom Line: A well-done horror film that makes the most of its modest budget. Good performances by the two leads (and the dog). And, from a writing perspective, a lean, visceral screenplay that piles the challenges on top of the protagonists in a surprisingly believable way. If you like B-movies, this is well worth seeing.

Posted in Film | Tagged | Leave a comment

The Whispering Voice

The Whispering Voice My new book, The Whispering Voice has just been published. It’s available on Amazon in both ebook and paperback formats. The ebook is selling at the introductory price of just $0.99, while the paperback sells for $7.99.

Here’s the blurb for my new book:

Rob a Bank, or Else…

Anna would never rob a bank…but now she has two hours or her family dies. Even the police can’t help her. When she stops at a bar for a shot of liquid courage and a little time to think through her options, she gets far more than she bargained for…

Because this isn’t just any bar.

It’s the Ur-Bar, a mysterious establishment that has appeared in different locations throughout history. A place where the walls between reality and fantasy are thinner than a scream.

And if there’s magic left in the world, this is where Anna will find it…

Posted in About My Books | Tagged | Leave a comment

Critical Awareness

Tsunami of CrapNANOWRIMO is here, otherwise known as National Novel Writing Month. It is an endeavor in which folks attempt to complete 50K words of writing (a short novel) in the month of November. I applaud the initiative. Writers write. To be bluntly obvious, that’s what makes us writers.

If you have aspirations of being a professional author, the best way to find out if you have what it takes is…wait for it…by writing.

And, in my humble opinion, the best way to learn is not just to write, but to actually finish something.

Sadly, NANOWRIMO is typically followed by the December Deluge, also affectionately known as the Tsunami of Crap, in which large numbers of people publish the content that they’ve written in November. Completing something does not mean it’s ready to be published.

And, if you’re new to the craft, let’s face it, do you really think that your very first effort is professional quality? Really? I mean, my first stories were dreck. Quite frankly, they’ll never see the light of day. Nor should they. Other writers, such as Stephen King in his book, On Writing, have said the same thing.

Which brings me to the topic of Critical Awareness, which I define as the ability to evaluate the quality of your own story as a saleable product. Unsurprisingly, this is a learned skill, just like anything else. It’s also something that writers, on the whole, are notoriously bad at. After all, it’s hard to be objective about something that you’re so close to, that you’ve spent so much time sweating over.

It turns out that Critical Awareness is a skill. Like any other skill, you have to work to develop it. Here are some techniques to help you develop the capability to evaluate your own work:

  1. Time: Let the story sit for a month or two, while you get involved with a new project. Come back and read the story again when you’ve acquired enough distance from it to be suitably objective. This is one of my key tactics; I’m never in a hurry to publish my stories.

  2. Regular Critiques: Let others critique the work while you’re developing it. Writing groups are great for this. Most groups provide opportunities to review chapters in ongoing works. A good group can help you gain insights into your story, such as inconsistencies, worldbuilding gotchas, characterization problems, etc.

  3. Beta Readers: Beta readers can read a finished work and point out flaws in the work. Unlike critique groups, which typically review individual chapters on a periodic basis, beta readers review the entire story. This can help provide insight into structural problems, plotting problems, pacing issues, etc.

A note on the people who do critiques or Beta reads… You need people with some writing background who are willing to tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear. Your mother is probably not a good choice. Just sayin’.

Writing is creative, but publishing is a business. Finishing a story is good, but deciding to publish should be based on a clear evaluation of a work’s prospects in the marketplace. Will it sell? Will it enhance, or detract from, the author brand you’re trying to establish? Critical Awareness is a crucial skill for success in the business.

Posted in Writing Tips | Tagged , , | Leave a comment
« Older