Hourlings at Work: A Dynamic Writing Group

Hourlings At WorkIn 2014, I became a charter member of the Loudoun Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers, a spin-off from a more general-focused writing group. With weekly meetings every Sunday morning, the group has been like bootcamp for the SF/Fantasy writers associated with the group, including myself.

Participating on Meetup as the Loudoun Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers, the group is more informally known as “The Hourlings.” This is the name under which the organization has published two anthologies, with a third on the way. The name is a bit of a takeoff on the “Inklings,” a legendary writing group in England that included J.R.R Tolkien, C. S. Lewis and others.

To demonstrate how the group has progressed, I’ve compiled a list of all the publications that the members have made available for sale on Amazon since 2013. I’m pleased to add that I am amongst that writers who have begun releasing work to the public.

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Three Hoarsemen Interview

The Three Hoarsemen Podcast Donna Royston, Martin Wilsey and I were interviewed a week ago for Episode 44 of the Three Hoarsemen podcast. We got to discuss our anthology, Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders, in our various roles as editors or, in Marty’s case, as the publisher (Tannhauser Press) of the volume.

Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders We had a lot of fun being interviewed. We got to talk about the anthology, our other works, Tannhauser Press and a few other subjects. The podcast is an hour and forty-two minutes long. If you want to skip forward to our interview, we’re at the 1:07:48 mark.

I especially liked their name for the episode. Since they also discussed the movie, Guardians of the Galaxy, earlier in the podcast, the title they chose was: “Fantastic Defenders of the Guardians of the Galaxy.”

I think that has a nice ring to it.

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Selected as Ebook Deal by SF Signal

SF Signal: Ebook Deal Hey, this is awesome! My new anthology, Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders, has been selected and publicized as an SF Signal Ebook Deal. How cool is that?

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Fantastic Defenders Released

Worlds Enough: Fantastic Defenders Fantastic Defenders is the first volume of a new SF/Fantasy anthology called Worlds Enough, co-edited by myself and Donna Royston. The book was released today, just in time for next week’s planned launch at Balticon.

Here’s the back cover blurb for the anthology…

Across astounding and magical worlds, five heroes step forward to defend against magical threats:

  • A sorceress in a besieged city faces a malignant force even more dangerous than the city’s would-be conquerors.

  • An unassuming bureaucrat stumbles upon a threat to a vast empire and deals with it in his own inimitable fashion.

  • A resourceful bodyguard for an infant princess, trapped and surrounded by merciless assassins, finds a unique way to hold them at bay.

  • A mage press-ganged into the Royal Navy finds himself volunteered for a dangerous secret mission on foreign soil.

  • A disgraced royal guardian who failed in protecting his king hunts down those who cost him his honor.

These are the…FANTASTIC DEFENDERS!

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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.

Note: (4/30/17) This just came out. Available on Amazon in print-only.

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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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