Zombie Anthology

Whispers of the ApocI’ve been invited to participate in a new zombie anthology called Whispers of the Apoc, edited by Martin Wilsey. I’m even consulting on the bible for the anthology, because one of Marty’s goals is for the anthology to share a common, consistent background.

For more details on the anthology, check out the notice on Marty’s blog. The book is being published through Tannhauser Press.

For me, well, that short-circuited my (crazy) plan to publish a zombie story in installments on my web site (see Manhattan Zombies, which I’m renaming as SkyriZe). Getting paid trumps free installments on my blog. Um, sorry.

So, bring on the zombie apocalypse!

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Coming Soon: Tranquility and Other Myths

Tranquility and Other Myths, Full Cover

My (very) short story, “Winter Roses,” will be appearing in the upcoming anthology, Tranquility and Other Myths.” The anthology will be published in April, 2017. Here’s hoping you get a kick out of the full cover above, which was put together by John Dwight (including the back cover verbiage).

Seventeen stories of light, night and the writhing shadows. Indeed.

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The Shortest Fight

This is easily the shortest fight scene I’ve ever written in one of my stories. It’s from “The Rooftop Game,” a 16K word novelette of mine that will be appearing in May in the anthology, “Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders.”

The basic premise is “Die Hard, on the roof of a castle tower.” While the King is away, the castle the royal family is staying in is overrun. Unable to escape, Lydio Malik, the Royal Bodyguard for the infant Princess Analisa, takes refuge on the roof of a tower where his enemies will have trouble getting to him.

This is the scene:

   The Kashmal fighter heaved himself over the edge of the roof, lunged to a standing position, drew his sword and took a step towards Malik.
   The fighter’s forward boot slipped on the wet tile where Malik had urinated only a few moments before. He fell forward, audibly cracking his chin as he landed face first on the orange roof tiles. Stunned, he dropped his sword, which slid off the roof, followed almost immediately by the screaming rebel warrior.
   A few seconds later, there was a thud and clatter as the fighter hit the ground below.
   Malik couldn’t help grinning. All of his fights should be that easy.

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Writing Tips: Anthology Roles

Creating a quality anthology is a complex project, especially an indie-published anthology. Through painful experience, I’ve learned that it is most effectively accomplished by a dedicated team. I thought it would be useful to others if I defined the roles that I think are necessary for the production of a successful indie-published anthology.

It’s worth noting that, in addition to these roles, other people may provide services for a project, such as a cover artist, a photographer for author biography photos, an illustrator, etc. In practice, I’ve also found that participants may swap some tasks around a bit. Still, the roles are generally as I’ve outlined.

Project Manager: Manages the anthology as a project, starting with the creation of a project plan that defines the activities necessary to create the anthology and a realistic timeline for those activities. Ensures that all necessary roles are filled on the project. Responsible for ensuring that content contracts are signed and rights are properly secured, by contract or by usage agreement, for other elements such as graphics, photos, illustrations and the cover. Often referred to as the “Chief Cat Herder.” Sometimes functions as the “Bad Cop.”

  • Contracts
  • Timeline
  • Project Management

Editor: Responsible for the content of the anthology, including story selection and editorial input on stories. Also writes the “Call for Stories,” which publicizes the anthology theme, payment plan and submission guidelines. Writes the “Introduction” for the anthology. Responsible for nagging contributors to get their stories or edits “done by the due date or they’ll face the wrath of the Project Manager.” Sometimes referred to as the “Good Cop.”

  • Call for Stories
  • Provides an “Introduction” for the anthology
  • Provides Editorial Input on all stories

Copy Editor: Does an exhaustive scan of the anthology content for typos, text problems, grammar mistakes and other issues that would detract from the content. Also responsible for copyediting related content, including back cover text, blurbs, advertisements and author biographies. Often referred to as “Donna Royston.”

  • Edits content for typos and grammatical issues

Book Designer, Print: Professional-caliber books are designed, especially indie-published books that need to stand out from competitors. The book designer lays out the copyedited content in a pleasing and effective design, which can be painstaking work.

  • Designs the print edition, including layout, fonts, graphic elements, illustrations, photos, etc.
  • Orders proofs from Amazon as needed to verify print quality.

Book Designer, Ebook: The ebook designer lays out the copyedited content in a pleasing and effective design, emulating the print design as much as is feasible due to the limitations of the Kindle’s mobi format.

  • Designs the Kindle ebook edition.
  • Tests the design in HTML, in the Kindle Previewer, the Kindle Reader and any
    Kindle devices that are accessible to the designer.

Marketing: Creates any necessary marketing materials for the anthology, including the back cover blurb, the Amazon blurb, etc. Sets the pricing strategy for the anthology, including pricing for the various editions as well as any pricing for marketing campaigns.

  • Back Cover Blurb
  • Amazon Blurb
  • Pricing, for all editions including ebook, print and audio (if any)
  • Marketing Activities
  • Initial Wholesale Order

Author: There is no anthology without content. Authors provide the content, as well as edits to that content and approval/rejection of copyedit changes. Authors are expected to deliver their stories in a timely manner and respond to editorial input and copyedit changes in a timely manner.

  • Provides a Story
  • Provides an Author Biography
  • Provides an Author Photo (or allows one to be taken)
  • Signs a contract for any content provided
  • Responds to Editorial Changes
  • Responds to Copyedit Changes
  • Assists in promotional activities for the anthology when published
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New Release: Reliquary

Reliquary I have a novelette in an anthology called Reliquary, which was published on Amazon today. The anthology features twelve stories by new writers on the theme of relics.

My story is called Road Trip:

Rocco Fitch, a wounded veteran of the war in Afghanistan, doesn’t have much left to live for. He’s disabled, unemployed and his wife has left him, taking their daughter with her. Then a beggar, a war veteran like himself, offers to sell him a road.

Go. Buy. Now. 😎

(And we’d all love a fair and honest Amazon review, if you have the time)

Oh, and for anybody who’d like a bit of a preview of the story, here’s an interview with Rocco Fitch, the main character of my story.

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D-Day for Worlds Enough Anthology

Worlds Enough Anthology Today is Deadline Day, or D-Day, for submissions for the anthology that I’m putting together: “Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders.” Technically, I guess this makes me an Editor, since I’m one of the editors of the book. And an Anthologist, too, since I’m the one driving the project. Exciting stuff.

It’s an anthology of novelettes/novellas in the range of 10-20K words each, with a total of five slots. As a “mostly” curated anthology, four of the writers were pre-selected, and I have three of their stories in hand. The fourth writer is in the final stages of finishing up his story, which I expect to have in about a week. The stories are:

“The Mists of Lu-Shan” by Donna Royston
“Once Damned” by Martin Wilsey
“The Rooftop Game” by David Keener
“The Iron Garden” by Jeff Patterson

We opened up the fifth slot for competition. I’ve also received three submissions thus far for the last slot. I’ve heard that there may be a few more on the way.

All in all, it’s pretty exciting, though it’s a bit like herding cats. Of course, now the real work starts….

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Top Secret Anthology Project

Well, OK, it’s not really a Top Secret anthology project, although I am keeping some of the details under wraps for now. The origin of the project stems from how I tend to think about things:

You can wait for good things to happen or you can make them happen.

Now, I’ve been involved in the creation of several “friends & family” anthologies through my primary writing group. They’re fun projects, and several of us have managed to build our book production skills up to a professional level doing them. But…well…the content is a little more problematic—anybody in the group who submits a story gets in, regardless of their skill level. And that doesn’t really make for a marketable anthology, at least not at the level that starts paying bills.

If that sounds like I’m coming down on those group anthology projects, I’m not. They’re excellent projects, teaching folks to write to a deadline, sign a real contract (at least for the next one), produce a professional-calber project, etc. But writing is a business, and business requires the capability to evaluate activities in a practical and critical manner…these projects aren’t going to make me money (although the gaining of new skills has definitely been a benefit).

My thought process went like this…

What if I put together my own anthology? If I could get good stories, then I’d have an anthology that might really be marketable. Well, I didn’t have a private relationship with lots of good authors, but I did know a few that were reliable. OK, so let’s make it an anthology of longer stories, maybe 10K – 20K words. So, five stories would make a solid anthology.

I picked four writers immediately (three other authors plus myself), and they were all amenable to the project when I laid out for them exactly how it was going to be run. That left me with one slot to fill, for which I put out a moderately open Call for Stories on the theme of Fantastic Defenders:

Looking for novelettes or short novellas in a fantasy setting featuring heroes defending against the forces of evil. Examples range from a royal bodyguard defending an infant princess against a well-organized assassination attempt to an aged bureaucrat defending an empire using only his wits. No elfie-welfie fiction.

The target publication date for the anthology is May 5, 2017, just in time for Balticon. The anthology will be available in ebook, trade paperback and audio. It will be published by Tannhauser Press.

I’ll post more details as the project continues…

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Reliquary: Coming Soon

Reliquary - An Anthology of Stories about RelicsSigh. I have a story called “Road Trip” in the upcoming anthology, Reliquary. The anthology publication has been delayed until November; it had originally been targeted for May. The anthology is edited by S. C. Megale and is being produced by my primary writing group, the Loudoun Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers. Unsurprisingly, I’m also involved in the production end of things (mostly the ebook production).

I chalk most of the delays up to: 1) the cat herding necessary to get all of the stories in, 2) the complexity of the work (100K words with full wraparound cover, fancy typography, sophisticated interior design, illustrations, etc.), 3) the learning curve the production team had to climb for both the print and ebook editions, 4) two, yes, two rounds of copyedits, and 5) learning the hard way why contracts are necessary.

On the other hand, the proofs look absolutely stunning.

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Publishing Schedule for 2017 and Early 2018

Reliquary: An SF AnthologyIt looks like 2017 is the year that I’m really going to embark on indie publishing. I’ve been working on stories for a while now, mostly at the novelette to novella length. I’ve finally reached the point where a number of them have successfully emerged from my production pipeline, gone through their respective review processes and are ready to face the wide, wide world.

It’s a little daunting, actually. This is indie publishing, so it’s all on me: the quality of the story, the third-party editing, the cover, the product design, the interior layout, the marketing, etc.

Nevertheless, it’s time to push the little birdies out of the nest. So, without further ado, here’s my publishing schedule for 2017 and early 2018. All stories will be published as both print editions and Kindle ebooks.

Date Story Type WC Pages
Jan, 2017 Road Trip (in an anthology)
Rocco Fitch, a wounded veteran of the war in Afghanistan, doesn’t have much left to live for. He’s disabled, unemployed and his wife has left him, taking their daughter with her. Then a beggar, a war veteran like himself, offers to sell him a road.

    — A Story of the Changed World
    — Roadwerks Limited #1
    — Published in the anthology, Reliquary

Urban Fantasy / Military / Crime 13.8K 56
Apr, 2017 The Good Book
Malcolm Jameson is planning to throw himself off a bridge when a passing bicyclist stops and hands him a magic book. Unsurprisingly, the book has a considerably different plan for Malcolm. And a bad attitude.
 
Magic Realism 10.4K 42
Apr, 2017 Winter Roses (in an anthology)
The young heir to the mountainous Cragenrath Kingdom thought he’d met the love of his life. Instead, he got a lesson in crime, betrayal, magic and revenge.

    — A Story of the Thousand Kingdoms
    — Published in the anthology, Tranquility and Other Myths

Fantasy 1K 5
May, 2017 The Rooftop Game (in an anthology)
Even though Lydio Malik is the Royal Bodyguard for the infant Princess Analisa of Salasia, he’s ridiculed by his fellow bodyguards for his foreign heritage and his almost obsessive attention to detail. But when disaster looms, the kingdom’s enemies will discover that when he says, “Over my dead body!” — he means it.

    — A Story of the Thousand Kingdoms
    — A Royal Bodyguard Story
    — Published in Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders

Fantasy 16K 64
Jun, 2017 Road Trip
Rocco Fitch, a wounded veteran of the war in Afghanistan, doesn’t have much left to live for. He’s disabled, unemployed and his wife has left him, taking their daughter with her. Then a beggar, a war veteran like himself, offers to sell him a road. Published as a standalone novelette.

    — A Story of the Changed World
    — Roadwerks Limited #1

Urban Fantasy / Military / Crime 13.8K 56
Jul, 2017 Death Comes to Town
Blacksmith Tavish Kraigdhu was enjoying a well-deserved retirement from the Salasian Third Legion in the foothills of the Cragenrath Mountains when…death came to town. And nothing would ever be the same for the battle-hardened warrior.

    — A Story of the Thousand Kingdoms

Fantasy 10K 40
Aug, 2017 Bitter Days
Pageeda is a young, homeless orphan girl in the gritty port city of Mozanya. When she loses the older sister who raised her to some ruthless kidnappers, she’ll do anything to get her sister back — even become a hero.

    — A Story of the Thousand Kingdoms
    — Pageeda #1

Fantasy 18.5K 74
Sep, 2017 The Forever House
The Forever House is a tavern that appears in different times and realities. No one knows who built it or why it was built, but it has an effect on all who visit it. This is not a story, but a setting that is being made available for use by any who want to take advantage of it.
 
Fantasy/SF 18K 70
Oct, 2017 Catalyst (in an anthology)
It’s 2217 and a traveling exhibition of priceless artworks has gone missing in the war-ravaged territory that used to be modern Brazil. Emily Dunkirk and her band of art historians and mercenaries are going to rescue the works. The obstacles to their success are fierce, and they’ll find more than they ever bargained for. They’ll also learn that, sometimes, the greatest works of art are painted in blood.

    — Published in The Curator

SF 20K 78
Nov, 2017 The Rooftop Game
Even though Lydio Malik is the Royal Bodyguard for the infant Princess Analisa of Salasia, he’s ridiculed by his fellow bodyguards for his foreign heritage and his almost obsessive attention to detail. But when disaster looms, the kingdom’s enemies will discover that when he says, “Over my dead body!” — he means it.

    — A Story of the Thousand Kingdoms
    — A Royal Bodyguard Story

Fantasy 16K 64
Dec, 2017 SkyriZe (in an anthology)
Jack Johnson’s a computer nerd. He never expected to survive the zombie apocalypse, but he did. And in the worst place possible: the 88th floor of a skyrise in Manhattan, the most zombie-infested city in the country, maybe even the world. He’s got to escape the deadly tower he’s trapped in, plan how to survive long-term and, oh yeah, maybe eventually figure out how to reboot civilization.

    — Published in Whispers of the Apoc

SF 20K 78
Jan, 2018 Last Day on the Job
Lydio Malik is accustomed to danger. He’s been the royal bodyguard for eight-year-old Princess Analisa, the sole heir to the throne of Salasia, for almost her entire life. But now he’s leaving for a new and less stressful life outside the royal palace. It’s his last day on the job. What could possibly go wrong?

    — A Story of the Thousand Kingdoms
    — A Royal Bodyguard Story

Fantasy 8K 32
Feb, 2018 The Threefold Revenge
Piker’s a City Guardsman in the fantastical port city of Mozanya with a bad attitude and a deep-seated prejudice against Neferian refugees. Pageeda’s a young, homeless Neferian refugee who doesn’t take abuse from anyone. They’re like oil and water, except oil burns.

    — A Story of the Thousand Kingdoms
    — Pageeda #2

Fantasy 35K 140
Mar, 2018 The Dragon Problem
Lady Wendilla, the young daughter of the Baron of Moravia, is unhappy. What she wants is True Love. What she’s getting, thanks to her father, is a Contest to find a husband for her. All the contestants have to do is rid Moravia of its pesky little dragon problem. And face down a very upset noble lady with a mind of her own.

    — A Slightly Bent Fairy Tale

Fantasy 10K 40
Apr, 2018 Catalyst
It’s 2217 and a traveling exhibition of priceless artworks has gone missing in the war-ravaged territory that used to be modern Brazil. Emily Dunkirk and her band of art historians and mercenaries are going to rescue the works. The obstacles to their success are fierce, and they’ll find more than they ever bargained for. They’ll also learn that, sometimes, the greatest works of art are painted in blood.
 
SF 20K 78
Jun, 2018 SkyriZe
Jack Johnson’s a computer nerd. He never expected to survive the zombie apocalypse, but he did. And in the worst place possible: the 88th floor of a skyrise in Manhattan, the most zombie-infested city in the country, maybe even the world. He’s got to escape the deadly tower he’s trapped in, plan how to survive long-term and, oh yeah, maybe eventually figure out how to reboot civilization.
 
SF 20K 78

More tentatively, here’s a very rough (and likely to change) list of other stories that may appear in 2018:

     The Deep Dive (SF)
     Unleashed (Fantasy, Thousand Kingdoms)
     The Mad Diver of Mistveil (Fantasy, Thousand Kingdoms)
     [Unnamed Space Opera] (SF)

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Head Shot, or “Hey, He Looks Like an Author”…

David Keener, Author at Large I thought I’d share the head shot that’s going to accompany my bio in the upcoming anthology, “Reliquary.” The portrait photo is by Asher Roth, a friend and fellow author, and was taken at one of our weekly writing group sessions.

And, yes, it’s going to be a little smaller when it’s included in the anthology.

Anyway, the anthology should be coming out around the end of May.

Editorial Note: (July 2, 2016) The anthology is still in progress. All of the stories have been submitted, including my story: “Road Trip,” which is an urban fantasy mash-up with military and police procedural overtones. Personally, I’m betting on the end of August as an actual release date.

Editorial Note: (August 20, 2016) Well, nope, not gonna be the end of August. On the other hand, all of the stories have been copyedited and turned over to the production crew, so the target publication date is now September 30, 2016. Marty Wilsey will be doing print book production, while I’ll be doing the Kindle ebook production.

Editorial Note: (October 25, 2016) Sigh. It will now be published in November. I chalk most of the delays up to: 1) the cat herding necessary to get all of the stories in, 2) the complexity of the work (100K words with full wraparound cover, fancy typography, illustrations, etc.), 3) the learning curve the production team had to climb for both the print and ebook editions, 4) two, yes, two rounds of copyedits, and 5) learning the hard way why contracts are necessary (resulting in a story being pulled and all bio photos having to be redone, including the one to my left). On the other hand, the proofs look stunning.

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