Reader Question Time

I’ve been asked what music do I listen to when I’m writing?

Any one of three Himekami albums – Moonwater, Snowgoddess and Journey to Zipangu – some amazing Japanese new age music I discovered back in the late 1980s.

If you haven’t MI0001501399heard of them before, there’s a neat little widget on this site that allows a music playlist to be posted. Look to your right on your screen and you will see the songs from Moonwater, the first album I discovered.

My personal favorite is No. 8 “Into Blue Snows”.

 

Check out more about this Japanese New Age Music group here.

Coming Soon…#PulpRev Overdrive

If you’ve been a regular follower of mine here on the blog, or on my other social media hangouts, you probably know I am a big proponent of #PulpRev, or the pulp revolution. PulpRev adheres to the philosophy that a writer should be generating new content for their readers on a very regular basis.

Now, some writers like to wail, rend their garments and gnash their teeth online about matters they have no control over (though, one might argue that if they spent less time online doing said wailing, rending and gnashing they might be able to write more than 500 words a day and produce more than one book every two years). Or if certain writers would spend more time writing entertaining stories and less time trying to insert political manifestos into every single thing they say or write. Or if certain writers/bloggers would spend more time creating the content readers are craving and less time trying to get others fired from their jobs or banned from conventions or professional organizations, imagine the kind of stories we could all enjoy.

EI_DRAGON_COVER BADGELast year I released two novels, Escaping Infinity and Endgames, and had a short story published in a Sherlock Holmes anthology. And just for fun I wrote a very tongue-in-cheek holiday novella. Not bad. Four very-well received works in one calendar year.

This year will be even better.

This month alone will see two new releases with my name on them. The first will be the western novel, The Last Lonely Trail, that I co-wrote with Jim Christina and which should be out in about two weeks. At roughly the same time an anthology by Silver Empire Publishing, Secret Stairs, should be out and I have a story in it too, Nothing Ever Happens Here.

And that is just the beginning. As the spring begins I am hoping another anthology will be released, My Peculiar Family, Vol. 2, which will include my story, Spinster’s Manor. Gibson Michaels’ fourth book, Eerie, should be out and I mention it here only because I spent a few months last year finishing it for him after he passed away in September.

By then the floodgates should be open. I have a story in Superversive Press’ Manthology, The Last Hunt, and up to six and possibly seven stories as part of Superversive’s 11-volume, Planetary Anthology series. Earth, Luna, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Pluto (with Neptune a possibility depending on if I can find enough time to finish it) are books that I am either confirmed in or have submitted stories to.

In September a solo full-length novel, When The Gods Fell, should be released with an outside shot at a December release for another full-length novel, Cursed Firstborn, to close out the year.

That is two solo novels, one co-written novel, one assisted novel and up to ten short stories in ten separate anthologies. In one calendar year.

That is PulpRev, baby!

Just To Clarify

There appears to be something of a misunderstanding out there – and by misunderstanding, I actually mean a deliberate misrepresentation by people who are losing their collective minds over what this Guild means for their stranglehold on SF/F   – of what the term “Check your politics at the door” means regarding the Science Fiction & Fantasy Creators Guild. Let me set the record straight.

If you want to make political statements, religious statements or statements on social issues, feel free to do so. If you wish to insert into the stories you write any political manifestos, religious proselytizing or preaching the gospel of Social Justice, feel free to do so. No one is stopping you from being a member of the SFFC Guild and still exercising your right to speak your mind and write your stories your way – outside of the Guild.

But you may not be a member of the SFFC Guild and bring real-world political, religious and social topics into the official members-only forums or into official Guild events. There is no place for them in the Guild itself.

No passing out flyers in support of President “X”, no sermons on why Religion “Y” is better than all of the others – or will lead you to eternal damnation – and no demonstrations regarding your stance on Social Issue “Z” at any time during a Guild-organized function or when presenting oneself in public as a Guild member.

This Guild is an organization of professionals whose sole concern while at Guild-related activities is promoting science fiction and fantasy only. All of its members – from its Founder to just a regular member – are expected to conduct themselves as grown-up professionals and stick to the Guild’s stated mission.

So if you cannot conduct yourself as a professional, if you cannot conduct yourself as an adult, if you cannot possibly function in a public setting without being a tantrum-throwing social justice warrior or cannot check your (politics/religion/social issues) at the door – and this goes for left, right or center – then this is probably not an organization for you. You are to be commended for your zeal for these issues but there is no place for that zeal here.

If however, you can act like a professional when you are expected to, then this is definitely a place for you.

As I have said many times, this organization is open to all who meet the qualifications for membership. Go read them. You will not find any political, religious, societal, racial or any other kind of purity test that you will need to pass to join.

Just have a love for creating incredible works of science fiction and fantasy and you will find yourself most welcome indeed.

 

A New Guild And What Lies Ahead

It was recently announced that I am the founder of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Creators Guild – http://www.sffcguild.com – and there has been an incredibly high amount of positive response to the new organization. (Yes, there’s been the expected negative response from the usual suspects but who really cares about them anyway?)

Logo-transparent-textWe are not yet ready to open the doors and start accepting applications but that should be happening very soon. But I have been asked by several people just exactly what the SFFC Guild’s goals are and what the membership money will go toward. So I thought I would share a little of this here to give everyone a little more information to work with until we are ready to accept applications for membership.

The first is to bring our official website and members-only forum (The Helicon) fully online and eventually provide a stipend for our officers, committee members and IT people.

(2) We will be filing for not-for-profit status (501(c)3) with the IRS. This is a legal process that does cost money along with taking a lot of time and effort to complete.

(3) We will establish a regularly produced newsletter, The Hippocrene, to help update members with Guild news, releases and other matters connected to science fiction and fantasy as well as feature articles on creators and industry news. One such article I’d like to see would address the Goodreads website, owned by Amazon, that allows trolls to post 1-star ratings and reviews that have nothing to do with the book but rather is a personal attack upon the author.

(4) Establish a weekly radio show on LA Talk Radio where Guild members will be on as guests to discuss their works and also to discuss issues directly related to sci-fi/fantasy and promote news and new releases related to Guild members. This network has dozens of daily shows that draw hundreds of thousands of listeners and is a proven vehicle to drive sales for creators.

(5) Promote science fiction and fantasy and the artists that create within these genres across multiple media outlets. Promote an environment where Guild members can collaborate with one another to create new projects.

(6) Establish a relationship with an IP attorney to help members with basic legal questions.

(7) Help serve as a large, unified organization to tackle industry-related issues with a strong and loud voice, that will benefit all of its member creators.

(8) Offer workshops, webinars, mentoring and other services to aid creators new and old in their chosen craft.

(9) Establish an annual adjudicated award. I see this as happening early in the year and to also act as a suggested reading/playing list for the premier award in SF/F, the Dragon Awards, which run in the fall.

(10) Establish an annual convention.

(11) Establish an official Hall of Fame to honor past creators for their contributions to science fiction and fantasy. This will not be a physical building but will be an online entity.

(12) Establish a fund to assist members in times of dire need/emergency.

As we continue forward, this list will be added to as we identify new areas of need. And regular reports will be made by the Treasurer accounting for every dollar taken in and paid out. If you see something you think the Guild should look at adding, drop us a line at contact@sffcguild.com and let us know. If we have the funding available and it is something that would be of great benefit to our membership we will definitely want to do it.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for the announcement that we’re accepting membership applications and watch us as we grow into a great home for creators of science fiction and fantasy.

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Anthology Man!

What a strange year 2017 became for my writing schedule. When I released Escaping Infinity last year – almost to the day as a matter of fact – I would not have believed what I was going to wind up writing.

I knew I was going to finish the Jack Del Rio series, which I did when I released Endgames on Oct. 30th but I figured my next project after that release would be my next sci-fi/fantasy novel – When The Gods Fell. Well as the year progressed those plans went right out the window.

10485847_279263655595834_8271865721917039142_nI wound up writing a third Sherlock Holmes pastiche – The Misplaced Mystery Writer – for this anthology, Sherlock Holmes Adventures in the Realms of H.G. Wells by Belanger Books, which was released in December. This was followed by Spinster’s Manor which was accepted for My Peculiar Family Vol. 2 (Belanger Books) which soon be released soon.

Then it got really crazy. The passing of my friend, Gibson Michaels, led me to taking on the project of finishing his fourth book, Eerie. This I only recently finished and it is in final editing with a release date in the spring.

Then there was taking on editing one of the 11-book series (the nine planets, the Sun and the Moon) of Superversive Press’ Planetary Anthologies, Pluto, while writing six short stories (I finishing the last one up this week) that have either been accepted or are still being considered for the series. Another Superversive anthology, Manthology, will also have a story written by me, The Last Hunt.

And lest I forget, somewhere during all of that I also managed to write a short story, entitled Nothing Ever Happens Here, for Silver Empire’s soon-to-be-released Secret Stairs anthology.

And because I apparently have no life beyond my keyboard, I also co-wrote a western novel, The Last Lonely Trail, with acclaimed western novelist Jim Christina as well as a satirical parody of Charles Dickens’ classic, A Zombie Christmas Carol.

For those of you trying to keep score, that’s a two co-written novels, a standalone Excellentnovella and ten short stories for anthologies that were not on my radar until about midway through 2017. So just call me Anthology Man – well, at least for this year.

This rundown of 2017 is what we mean by the hashtag #PulpRev. Keep writing, keep generating stories and keep giving readers new content on a regular basis.

And as for certain authors who have been lamenting their inability to write a single word because of who occupies the White House for nearly the last two decades all I can say is this: When you refuse to incorporate politics, religion and social justice into every facet of your daily life it is amazing what you can accomplish.

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REVIEW: This Is Not Your Father’s Mummy

When I first read Anne Rice’s The Mummy, or Ramses The Damned (1989) I liked it so much I went about tracking down a hardcover copy of the first print, first edition from the U.K. And this is coming from someone who didn’t much care for her vampire series of books.

So when I finally had time to sit down and read the recently released sequel, Ramses The Damned:  The Passion of Cleopatra, co-written by Rice and her son Christopher, I did so with more anticipation I’ve felt for any book in a very long time. When I opened it up to its very first page I wanted to give it all of the 5-stars I gave the original. But when I had finished I found myself disappointed, almost cheated and trying to decide if the book rated closer to three stars rather than four.

34400370._UY1200_SS1200_The entire gang from the original is back – save the now mummified Henry Stratford of course – and new characters have been included into the mix. Without giving away too much, the inclusion of the origins of the elixir that grants immortality to those that consume it and who created it was a nice touch.

The way the original ended I had expected the sequel to focus on Lord Elliott’s wanderings as a revitalized immortal, tales of Julie and Ramses journeys as she introduced the former Pharoh and Mummy, to the wonders of the 20th Century and the plotting of Cleopatra against her enemies both new and old.

Yet what the sequel gives the reader are almost pale specters of the characters we’d met in the original. Gone was the detailed description of the emotions, the depth of feeling, each character felt as they grappled with the mysteries they were confronted with.

The characters themselves seemed lesser, not larger, than life as they had in the original. Some were barely present. Samir, the faithful servant of first Lawrence Stratford and then Ramses, barely registered. Lord Rutherford – instead of wandering and exploring the earth as he had set out to do at the end of the original – is now the European version of the Riverboat Gambler of the Old West. Moving from casino to casino before his never-ending winning streak makes him persona non grata.

The worst is the introduction of an American novelist who has some strange metaphysical connection to Cleopatra and appears to be siphoning away those memories of Cleopatra’s former life to the point of driving Cleopatra mad. This character and plot line could have been dropped entirely as a legitimate cause and cure for Cleopatra’s mental state is laid out within the story without the presence of this new and unneeded character.

One good plot line, in addition to the elixir origins, was how Alex Savarell failed to ever get over the loss of Cleopatra at the end of the original which worked nicely at the end of this sequel.

Had this been a standalone story without any connection to the original, it would have been an easier sell to give it four stars. But for its failure to live up to the promise of the ending to the original, I have to give it just three stars. It was good, just not good enough.

For the generation introduced to Rice’s The Mummy, we learned that this was not our father’s Mummy (Karloff). It was much better. Sadly, this generation will have to accept that this sequel was not The Mummy of their fathers’ generation either. Only this time, it was worse.

 

A_ZOMBIE_XMAS_CAROL copy

If you are looking for a little horror, with a heavy dose of satire and parody as only I could write it, give “A Zombie Christmas Carol” a try on Amazon for just $0.99 – free on Kindle Unlimited.

A Zombie Christmas Carol

2018: A New Year’s Resolution

As I mentioned here earlier, 2017 was a very good year for me overall. And the new year holds the promise of an even better year.

But there is one last bit of business left to tend to before I close the books on 2017 and with about an hour left I figure I’d better get to it. Recently, I mentioned a problem Goodreads has with online trolls.

Back on Christmas Day, of all days, a friend of mine on Twitter was being insulted and attacked by a young woman from Alabama. This friend is a Navy veteran who served his country and is deserving of nothing but respect – even during times of disagreement. This Alabaman was doing anything but, in my opinion, and I became involved in the exchange because I am just old-school enough to stand with my friends when they are under assault and punch back hard. Which is what I did in this case.

So our young lady from Alabama decided, after I had blocked her, to do the troll thing and attack me on Goodreads. Soon after a troll account – JOHNNY WALKER – was created and every single book associated with me received a 1-star rating. It isn’t the first troll attack I’ve put up with and, sadly, it likely won’t be the last.

Like any author, I was not happy to see this happen. But I am blessed with a solid group of fellow author-friends and one of them raised a very valid point after looking over this young woman’s Goodreads profile. She’s in her mid-30s and apparently very alone and she is also wanting to become a writer but can’t seem to find the time to write her book (one could say if she spent less time attacking people she disagrees with politically and calling them names online, she’d have more writing time).

So after going back and looking at her profile again, I have realized that I am not angry with her at all. Actually, I feel nothing for her except pity. I was 33 once (yes, it was way back in the before time) and wondering if my career path was going to take me where I wanted to go. Fortunately, it has.

But it seems that maybe it hasn’t been the same for her and that must be both devastating and frustrating for one so young. But the good news is that she has plenty of time to get back on track and I am willing to help her do just that.

As you know, I am a business partner with another author. Our company, Tuscany Bay Books, specializes in helping first-time authors get published (and we pay 60% royalties, not the miserly 15% the traditional house parcel out) and learn how to become Independent authors.

So, if Ms. Janet is reading this, and if she is serious about becoming an author, I am inviting her to finish her book and send it to us. We’ll take a serious look at it and see if it is a project we can help land on a bookshelf at Janet’s local bookstore. There’s even a bookstore we work with in Southern California that sells only Indie Published books that we can set you up with to get your book in their store.

I’m offering you an olive branch, because I truly want to see everyone who wants to be an author succeed in making their dream come true, even Janet.

And, if you’d rather not have anything to do with us, I’d still encourage you to spend more time writing on and finishing your book and less time publicly boycotting authors like myself, Anne Rice, Brad Thor and the many others you’ve placed on your GR author-boycott shelf. I think you’ll find yourself a much happier person.

As for my new year’s resolution, here it goes: For 2018 I will no longer engage the obvious trolls on any Social Media, nor will I pay them the slightest attention on Goodreads or Amazon.

Because, at the end of the day, these trolls are just sad pitiful creatures and life is just too precious and too short to waste any time on them. They’re the ones the block and mute buttons were created for.

 

The Eclectic Scribe