It’s Time for a “Second Round”

Second Round: A Return to the Ur-Bar

My latest short story, “The Whispering Voice,” is being published in Second Round: A Return to the Ur-Bar, edited by Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray. It’s about a mother, a deadly problem and a forgotten god (I was trying to channel a little bit of Neil Gaiman).

The new anthology is currently available for pre-order and will start shipping on June 15th. It’s the second in a series, about a magic bar that appears in different times and places (the first volume was called After Hours).

Here’s the official description of the new anthology:

For thousands of years the immortal Gilgamesh has presided over the legendary Ur-Bar, witnessing history unfold from within its walls. Some days it is a rural tavern, others a fashionable wine shop. It may appear as a hidden speakeasy or take on the form of your neighborhood local. For most patrons it is simply a place to quench their thirst, but for a rare few the Ur-Bar is where they will meet their destiny.

Join David Keener, R.K. Nickel, Rachel Atwood, Kari Sperring, Jean Marie Ward, Gini Koch, Jacey Bedford, William Leisner, Garth Nix, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Mike Marcus, Kristine Smith, Aaron M. Roth, and Juliet E. McKenna as they recount all new tales from the Ur-Bar. From humor to horror, from the Roman Empire to Martian Colonies, there’s something to please everyone. Just remember to beware when the mysterious bartender offers you the house special…

Here are the relevant links for purchasing the book and related items:

   Trade Paperback
   Kindle
   Nook
   Kickstarter Edition (Limited)
   Cover Art Print (very nice, BTW, check it out)

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Non-Superhero Comics: What’s Worth Reading?

Non-Superhero Comics

Every time you turn around, there’s another superhero movie playing at the local multiplex: Back Panther, Avengers, Thor, Deadpool, Justice League, etc. They’re all based on comic books. More specifically, superhero comic books.

But…what if you’re not into superheroes? Or what if you like them just fine, but you’d like to try a different ice cream flavor (so to speak)? Are there non-superhero comics that are worth reading?

Yes. Yes, there are. I moderated a panel at Balticon this past weekend called “Non-Superhero Comics” that addressed that very question. With, of course, the fine advice of fellow panelists Andrew Fox, Devin Jackson Randall and Michael R. Underwood.

For the panel, I’d compiled a handout of some of the most entertaining comics I could find, based on my long-time interest in non-traditional comics. I’ve since added all the additional recommendations mentioned during the panel itself. I also thought it would be fun to post the handout in PDF on my web site. There’s a lot of good reading on the list, so get to it!.

Download the PDF right now!

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Post-Apocalyptic Stories: What Comes After the End?

After the Apocalypse

Everybody loves a good apocalypse. And there are lots of post-apocalyptic stories that are worth your attention. For the “Post-Apocalpytic Fiction” panel at Balticon, I compiled a list of some of the most memorable books, and a few movies, that deal with the topic.

I gave the list away as a handout to all of the attendees. I also thought it would be fun to post it on my web site. There’s a lot of good reading on the list, featuring all sorts of apocalyptic disasters.

Download the PDF right now! You won’t be sorry.

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New Time Travel Story

The Witness Paradox I’m working on a story for a new time travel anthology called The Witness Paradox. It’s edited by Martin Wilsey and will be published by Tannhauser Press.

My story features a teenager named Alex Nelson who is caught in a temporal vortex when a physics experiment at the nearby collider facility goes terribly wrong. It’s a story of narrow escapes, disaster, time travel and dinosaurs.

What more could you want?

Did I mention that it’s got dinosaurs?

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George G. Moore Signing

Music of Mars by George G. Moore My friend George Moore is having a signing for his new book, The Music of Mars on Saturday, April 21, from 11 AM to 2 PM. It’s being held at Comic Logic Books and Artwork, located at: 44031 Ashburn Shopping Plz, # 281, Ashburn, Virginia 20147.

Come check out the event and help give one of our local authors a boost!

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What Is Dave Working On?

Coming Soon

One of the most common questions writers get is:

What are you working on?

For most writers, that’s an easy question to answer. They just start talking about their current Work-In-Progress, or WIP.

From my day job in the Information Technology world, I’m used to multi-tasking. Due to years of on-the-job training, I find that I multi-task the same way as a writer, which most of my fellow authors in my writing group find bizarre. Or maybe it’s a peculiar form of ADHD. I dunno.

I work on a pipeline of stories at the same time, with different stories in stages like Concept, Outline, First Draft, Second Draft or Beta. Movement of a story from one stage to the next is usually driven by factors like deadlines, anthology schedules, marketing considerations, or, sometimes, I just need to work on this story right now.

I’ve sometimes confused my blog readers by mentioning stories further down in the pipeline before they’re even close to publication-ready. To add some transparency to my (unorthodox) process, I’ve now got a Coming Soon page that shows my entire pipeline and what’s in each stage.

You’ll see that I’m starting to roll some SF into the mix, as well as some Steampunk. There are also sequels to some of my existing stories on the way.

And no, I didn’t compile all this information just special for this new page. As a software developer, I use agile sprint management software to track all of my writing activities (it’s OK if you don’t know what that means). So I had all of that information already. I hope you find it interesting.

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Second Round: Cover Art Reveal

Second Round: Cover Art

This is the cover art for the upcoming anthology, Second Round: A Return to the Ur-Bar. This fabulous picture was created by Justin Adams of Varia Studios.

The anthology features stories set in a mystical bar that appears at different times and places throughout history, with Gilgamesh cursed to be its eternal bartender. My story, “The Whispering Voice,” will appear in this book, since editors Joshua Palmatier and Patricia Bray were kind enough to accept my story.

The anthology will be published in August by Zombies Need Brains. Preorders can be purchased here.

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Inspiration: Godzilla

Godzilla, In Perspective

This is a shot from the movie Godzilla, directed by Gareth Edwards. I think this is a stunning scene that contrasts the human scale with the “monster scale” typically embodied in monster flicks. It emphasizes how dangerous the monster is, both from its respective size as well as the fact that nobody is even thinking about making any sort of move against the behemoth. The inclusion of the crew members in the helicopter is vital, because in this scene they serve as a surrogate for the audience.

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Novelette Series: Entertaining, Fast and Just Enough Plot

I’ve written about this before, about how I’ve always liked novelettes and, sometimes, their slightly longer cousin, the novella. The annual Hugo Awards for SF classify novelettes as stories between 7501 – 17,500 words (roughly 30 to 70 pages in a mass market paperback). Novellas run from 17,501 to 40,000 words (71 – 160 pages).

A lot of famous stories fall into these ranges. Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is a novella. So is Jack London’s Call of the Wild (one of my absolute favorite stories). Robert Silverberg is famous for his award-winning novelettes and novellas, such as Enter a Soldier. Later, Enter Another, Hawksbill Station and Sailing to Byzantium.

Even more interesting, some writers wrote frequently at these lengths and produced a body of such works in the form of series. Poul Anderson created his Technic Civilization Saga, now reprinted in seven largish volumes, as a mix of short stories, novelettes, novellas and novels. The Sherlock Holmes series by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was likewise a mix of short stories, novelettes and one novella (A Study in Scarlet).

OK, so it’s obvious that I like novelettes and novellas. Thus, it’s probably not surprising that I’m written a bunch of them, and am in the process of writing more. In fact, I’ve started organizing my work into a number of distinct series.

Science Fiction

While the bulk of my work has been in the fantasy field, I’ve still got several SF series in progress.

  • After the Fall: After spreading throughout the entire solar system and achieving a high level of technology, civilization has been demolished in a vicious war between humans, AIs and post-Singularity humans. This is a series of stories about the pockets of humanity surviving in pockets throughout the system, from the burning wastes of Mercury, a war-ravaged but terraformed Mars, the devastated Earth and other places.

          — Hell-Cats of the Burning Sands

  • Belters: In the 24th century, Jonas Kastle is a troubleshooter for the Outer Planets League (OPL) in the run-up to what may become the first interplanetary war.

          — The Deep Dive

  • Monumentalists: In the early 23rd century, Emily Dunkirk works for the Monumentalists, an organization dedicated to finding stolen artwork and returning it to its rightful owners. She specializes in retrieval, usually from people and organizations who don’t want to give up their stolen property.

          — Clash by Night

Fantasy

I have several series that are best classified as fantasy…

  • Forever House: Adventures involving the Forever House, a mystical tavern that appears in different times and places throughout the multiverse.

          — Rocco Fitch, on Fighting Evil
          — Hunting Expedition

  • Roadwerks Limited: Rocco Fitch, a wounded veteran of the war in Afghanistan, inadvertently buys a magic road…and gets far more than he bargained for.

          — Road Trip
          — Paying the Toll

The Thousand Kingdoms

The Thousand Kingdoms is a balkanized nation of anarchic kingdoms controlled by the Tars Arcana, a ruling organization of powerful mages. It’s a post-feudal setting where the existence of magic has stunted the development of science. Series existing in this setting include:

  • Big Sky Country: Brant Halvar is a skyracer on the dangerous skyracing circuit. He and his crew overcome adversity as he advances through the ranks in his effort to be accepted into the elite Big Sky League.

          — The Mad Diver of Mistveil

  • Keeper’s Guild: Demetrius is a member of the Keeper’s Guild, an organization in the anarchic city of Mozanya that preserves the integrity of the city’s for-profit legal system by ensuring the safety of plaintiffs and key witnesses.

          — The Most Dangerous Thing

  • Pageeda and Scuffee: Pageeda, a young homeless girl living in the gritty port city of Mozanya, struggles to find out what happened to her older sister. She is befriended by Scuffee, a strangely intelligent, oversized cat who has escaped from the local Arena.

          — Bitter Days
          — The Threefold Revenge

  • The Royal Protectors: Lydio Malik is the Royal Bodyguard for Princess Analisa, the heir to the throne of Salasia. He and a team of others, including the princess’s maid and the Royal Mage, defend her from powerful forces trying to topple the ruling dynasty.

          — The Rooftop Game
          — Last Day on the Job
          — Unleashed

  • The Silent Knight: Ser Kedric Hawkthorn has been betrayed by his own liege lord, the so-called Boy King. Taking refuge in a rebellious province, the disfigured knight finds himself leading troops against his former king…and his mysterious backers.

          — The Silent Knight
          — An Unexpected Journey

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Profile: Guerra

Guerra is the wildcard in my upcoming novella, “Rise or Die.” He’s a seventeen-year-old warlord in conflict-ravaged Brazil, forged in the crucible of deadly asymmetric warfare since he was four years old. He’s got more bonafide combat hours than most soldiers ever see in a lifetime. Now there’s two separate groups chasing each other through the territory he controls, a band of art thieves and the Brazilian military units chasing them. Aren’t they going to be surprised when they meet Guerra?

By the way, Guerra means “War” in Portuguese.

As an exercise, I often start off by writing a profile for each major character in a story. Here’s the profile for Guerra, a dangerous, homegrown warlord. He’s 17 years old, 5’6″ and 125 pounds.


Guerra

Profile: GuerraI don’t remember my parents. I was maybe four when a war band killed my village. What I remember most was the heat and the tears and the screams and the smell of cooking meat. They burned everything and then they took me and some of the other children, maybe ten or twelve of us, with them into the jungle. I did what I was told to do, because that was how you survived.

None of the others from my village lived more than a year. They weren’t tough enough. Me, I took my first life before I was five. Turns out, I was good at killing. Really good.

Knives. Guns. It didn’t matter. If I could lift it, I could kill with it.

But it was like I saw things different from everyone else. Enemies don’t just walk in front of your gun, especially if they got guns, too. You got to arrange for them to be where you want them. I was good at that, too. Really good.

I’m not a child no more. I’m too dangerous. I’m a threat to the ones above me. In the jungle, you kill threats. I want to live, but I got to become something else to do it. I got people depending on me now.

I’ll paint the jungle red with blood if I have to.

It’s rise or die.

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