Thursday, October 30, 2014

V Wars

So the third V-Wars book has been announced. V-Wars: Night Terrors. It's gonna get bloody!

Dig this cover!

V-Wars: Blood & Fire just came out.

And the first book, V-Wars, is still available.

You should buy these. Mind you, I have a bias.

Keeping Up With The Joneses

So, yeah, I'm a Luddite.

And I thought it might be a kick to try something different, like, you know, maybe linking my multiple sites.

Just for grins, if you'd like to see it, here's a link to my Amazon profile.

And because I like the way it turned out, here's a picture of me with James R. Tuck, where were are properly framing Delilah S. Dawson.

Who knows, maybe next I'll try this whole fan page think on Facebook...

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

V-Wars: Blood & Fire hits comic stores today.

You should be able to go to any of your finer comic book stores and pick up a copy of this today.

It'll hit regular book stores in two weeks and it'll even be out on audio book in the near future.

And some time soon it'll even be out as an ebook.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

JordanCon Meets The Seven Forges

Robert Jordan was one of those guys, you know, a writer with a massive following.

The folks who honor him every year with JordanCon have asked me to be a guest next year. I said "Yes."

So if you follow the hypertext link you can see a bit more of what they convention is all about. I'll give you a hint, it involves Robert Jordan and the staggering WHEEL OF TIME series among other things.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Ebola and you

So, here we go.

Recently the first confirmed cases of Ebola have shown themselves in the US and Europe. (Well, confirmed this time around. One person I know says there have been others before, and he's a sharp dude, so I'll have to consider that possibility.)

And that sucks.

And in the case of the US, apparently the problem was the gentleman in question lied about his symptoms. To be fair he might not have known. Once again we're in that gray area where the devil rests in the details and I am simply too busy/lazy to actively research the heck out of the subject because I have two novels to finish by year's end and a few short stories besides. Oh, and a day job.

So that is that. No research from me.

What I've heard is that he might well have infected the entire plane he flew in on. And of course multiple people at the airport. And his family when he arrived (Some of whom have been quarantined). Over 100 people all told are now being carefully watched over to see if symptoms show up.

In the case of the first US victim, he passed away. Heartfelt condolences. There are worries that he might have infected as many as a hundred through either blatant lies or possibly simple ignorance. Apparently at least one person has been infected by being in contact with the area where he was found. I understand he had no direct contact with the first victim, which likely means he came in contact with an infected surface.

I hope for a speedy recovery.

And now for the feedback and outrage part of our post.

Once upon a time we were known to quarantine houses and people who were deathly ill and a risk of contagion.

I think it's time to start that procedure again.

21 days, I think it is? Three weeks before a person who MIGHT be infected is supposed to show symptoms. I propose that anyone coming into the US from areas with a known Ebola outbreak be quarantined for three weeks. I think they should be warned in advance and settled into decent housing that is set aside for this purpose. I bet we can find a few dozen military bases gathering dust that would work just fine as quarantine zones.

I will further propose that any billing actions that have to take place for this be paid at cost by the people in quarantine. No profit margins. At cost. Food provided can be MRE's (Meals Ready To Eat). They aren't all that tasty but they remove a lot of risk of contamination.


Because until a proper vaccine is available for the public at a reasonable price, this is the best way to avoid the possibility of a truly devastating disease overwhelming this country. I am very much a proponent of civil rights. I absolutely believe that we should have borders as open as is reasonable. I do not believe that delaying entry into this county and making someone who feels the absolute need to come here wait to ensure the safety of the millions already living here is a bad thing.

because I don;t have any kids of my own, but I know that if I did, I'd want to government to make sure they are protected from unfortunate negligence and the occasional lies. And I personally should rather avoid the Ebola virus, like, well, like the plague.

That's my two cents.

Anyone want to chime in? I'm always up for a lively discussion.

Friday, October 3, 2014

DEAD HARVEST coming soon!

So I had a post up before, but apparently the publisher and the artist-type are having a falling out.

So, new cover coming soon!

Book coming soon (November, I believe.)

Here's the table of contents:

Nice cast of contributors...

Scarlet Galleon Publications Presents An Exciting New Horror Anthology:
DEAD HARVEST – A Collection of Dark Tales


Tim Lebbon – Into the Trees
Benjamin Kane Ethridge – Villianwood
E.G. Smith – Autumn Lamb
James A. Moore – Dear Diary
Lori R. Lopez – Cornstalker
Aaron Gudmunson – The Guest
Angeline Trevena – Husks
Jeremy Peterson – The Truth
Christine Sutton – Peter, Peter
Jaime Johnesee – The Last Harvest
Gregor Cole – The Old Cider Press
Lori Safranek – Katy and the Green Boy
Martin Reaves – Reaping a Quiet Lunacy
M.L. Roos – Ablation
C.L. Hernandez – Marissa
Nick Nafpliotis – The Artifact
Marie Robinson – The Hawthorne
Mark Patrick Lynch – A Knowing Noah
Jeffrey Kosh – Revenant
Lorraine Versini – Ravenous
Greg F. Gifune – The Raincatchers
Sara Brooke – The Field
Chad P. Brown – The Reaping
Andrew Bell – Extreme Times, Extreme Measures
Dana Wright – Retribution
Stuart Keane – Hodmedod
Jeff Strand – Nails
Bryan Clark – Putting the Ground to Sleep
Amy Grech – Crosshairs
Jonathan Templar – Red Fuel
Matthew Pedersen – What Lurks Within the Darkest Wealds
Bear Weiter – Reunion
Jason Andrew – A Sacrifice for the Soil
Wayland Smith – Bad Salvage
Patrick Lacey – Mrs. Alto’s Garden
Michael McGlade – The Mad Doctor’s Bones
Todd Keisling – House of Nettle and Thorn
Jordan Phelps – Beyond the Trees
Kyle Yadlosky – The Flower Dies
Tim Waggoner – Weeper
Richard Thomas – Bringing in the Sheaves
John Grover – The Longing
Greg Norris – Uncle Sharlevoix’s Epidermis
Jon Michael Kelley – The Tended Field of Eido Yamata
Tim Jeffreys – The Orange Grove
Ahimsa Kerp – On the Quest for the Crow King
C.M. Saunders – Harberry Close
Brian Kirk – Seeds of Change
Billy Chizmar – The End
Richard Chizmar – The Man with the X-ray Eyes
Mark Parker – Hell’s Half Acre

And here's the new cover!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Faster than the Speed of Success!

Here's another of my older posts from STORYTELLER'S UNPLUGGED. A few notes have been added, but only a few.

So, a friend of mine is in the process of getting divorced. It’s not been a pretty situation. There have been angry accusations, and every possible sort of recrimination cast to the wind, names and anger thrown like stones and shards of glass, all of which leads up to a court date within the next month or so.
  I asked my friend how everything was going. The answer I got speaks volumes: “After all of this, I just want to know how everything is coming down. Win or lose, I want to know the answers and then I want it done with.” 
I can understand that. Anyone who has ever submitted a manuscript, or a short story, or even a proposal for a short story and anticipated being published at some point in their futures can understand the feeling. 
 It’s the knot of anxiety that settles into your stomach and twists the flesh it finds into new and uncomfortable shapes. It’s the little voice in the back of your head, the one that starts whispering about all of your shortcomings when earlier it was telling you about how someday people will recognize your brilliance.  Self-doubt comes lumbering up and sits on your chest, making it hard to breathe, hard to think about anything at all except the story you sent off, the one that could make or break everything you’ve been dreaming about for as long as you can remember. And yes, you know it probably WON’T change your career, but that other little voice keeps telling you it could, maybe, this time, be the one.
  It’s inevitable. There’s a line they use a lot in the military, which sums it all up: Hurry Up and Wait. Get the stories written, submit the stories and then…
 And wait some more.
  That’s the way these things work. That’s the way they’ve basically always worked. At least when you’re starting out. After a while, if you’re very lucky, it changes and things speed up a bit.
  I could mention names. I won’t. I know at least three different authors who have called or written publishers and said “This is taking too long. I am hereby withdrawing my submission to your house.”
Not necessarily in those exact words, but that is what they have done.  They lost their patience. They forgot what every writer needs to never forget. We are not the only writers in existence. We are not the only writer that any editor has to deal with.
  You met an editor at a convention? Cool.
  The conversation went well, and the editor said yes, please send me an outline, the first three chapters and a self addressed, stamped envelope? AWESOME!
 You sent off the manuscript following the guidelines as presented in various magazines, online at your favorite sites for checking guidelines and as your friendly neighborhood editor gave them to you? BRILLIANT!!!! 
But after waiting for the length of time the guidelines mentioned, you haven’t heard back? Welcome to the club.
My advice? Kick back and wait some more, because it won’t get any faster. Not for a while at least. Maybe not ever.  Oh, sure, send a query. If you were lucky enough to get an e-mail address, you can check every few months. Don’t expect an immediate response.
 Editors are busy. From time to time they’ll spend a few hours answering emails, but there are so many other things they have to do, like looking over the mountain of manuscripts sitting on their desk, on the floor next to their desk and spilling over the sides of the slush pile they have in the back corner of their office.
 Trust me: None of the editors who had manuscripts pulled by the writers ever lost sleep over the opportunities they’ve squandered. At worst, they felt a quick flash of guilt, but even that is probably less painful that having to turn down yet another attempt by a name they recognize from previous submissions. In the words of one editor: “Every time someone tells me they want their manuscript back, I send it to them. It’s just one less I have to look at.”
 It’s not an attempt to be a big meanie. It’s just the nature of the beast. Now one of the things I wanted to point out with this little essay is that patience is a virtue. It’s a minor virtue, granted, but still a necessary one.
 You send off a short story to your favorite magazine’s fiction editor and wait two days before you start bombarding that editor with queries, e-mails, or phone calls, and the likelihood of you ever selling said short story to said editor is a big fat no chance in hell. It sucks, but that’s the way these things work.  
Ah, but Jim, there are other ways, aren’t there? 
Sure. Go ahead, bring up the self-publishing thing again. You know good and damned well that I’ll shoot it down. But what the hell, we’ll entertain that for a moment. On one of the boards I haunt from time to time a discussion about freelance editors came up today. Here’s the notion as it usually works in the industry (or more accurately, the peripheries of the industry): You write a manuscript, spend a few weeks/months/years of your life on the thing, and then you send it to a book doctor. Hey, look in most of the magazines for fledgling writers and you’ll find a plethora of ads from people with “25 years of experience!” or even up to 100 years worth of experience if you combine all of the editors together.
  Here’s a new twist on that old notion about self-publishing: To avoid the pitfalls of so many typos sneaking past, one of the people on the board suggested hiring an editor to look over the manuscript and then self-publishing. Then you’re avoiding all of that hideous waiting and honing skills stuff and getting right to the satisfaction, right?
  I’m going to sidebar here for a moment, because there’s an anecdote about this that I feel a need to bring up. Not all that long ago, a couple of gentlemen who were with the same writers group invited me to lunch. I was under the impression it was a social meeting and so I brought along my wife and enough cash to cover the meal. The pleasant aside was that they actually picked up the cost of our lunches, because what they wanted to do was pick my brain and possibly get an endorsement from me. Okay, I’m game. I listened to their pitch as we dined.  
What they wanted to do was offer a book editing service.  “What can you put on the table for new authors?” I asked.
  “We have over thirty years of experience as writers,” was the answer I received. You could see their chests swell with pride as they said the words.
 “Really? How do you figure?” I looked from one would-be book doctor to the other with genuine curiosity, and paused to chomp away on my lunch as I waited for an answer. See, that puzzled them, because I was apparently having trouble with their math.  
“Well, I’ve been writing for seventeen years, and he’s been writing for fourteen. That’s thirty-one. That’s over thirty years of experience.” Ah. Now I understood their reasoning.
 I nodded, took a sip of my iced tea, and asked a simple question that knocked the foundations of their logic to the side.  “What have you had published? No, wait, what have you been paid for?” 
The two freelance editors looked at each other and then at me. I in turn tapped the page they had shown me that listed the rates they would charge for their editing fees. “You want to charge a lot of money to help out other writers (and in their defense, they believed they could help younger, newer authors with their manuscripts. I will concede that much.). Let’s look at this logically, shall we? I’ve been down the publishing road a few times, and I’ve seen a few contracts, looked them over, signed them. Judging by your rates, if I wanted a complete and detailed edit of my manuscript, it would cost me something like two thousand dollars, maybe as much as four thousand, because I’m a wordy bastard and you’re charging by the double spaced manuscript page.” I took a moment to breathe, because I could feel my blood pressure wanting to rise and the volume of my voice wanting to join the mad rush to the top of the scales.  
“Guys, I didn’t get paid that much for my first novel. Hell, I didn’t get paid that much for my second novel.”  Yeah, that sort of took the wind from their sales. Despite the very generous offer to give me a finder’s fee for every single writer who came to them with my recommendation, I had to turn down their business proposal. I wouldn’t have been able to sleep with myself.  
Again and with feeling, their hearts were in the right place. I genuinely believe that. But seriously, that’s the sort of stuff that screws up everyone involved.  The gents in question had been published several times in markets that did not pay more than an occasional copy. They had also been published in the annual book put out by their writers group. They had never been paid professional rates. How could I then, in good conscience, endorse them as the people to make the careers of younger, less experienced writers who had also never been published in a professional medium? 
And folks, I suspect that MOST of the self-proclaimed book doctors out there have around the same level of experience as the gentlemen who bought me and my wife lunch that day. Yes, there are exceptions. They are probably as rare as truly successful self-published authors.
 There are legitimate methods of learning the business that have absolutely nothing to do with going to college. You can apprentice. There are seminars, there are weekend long sessions that can be eye opening and enlightening. There are panels at conventions where you can learn from some of the best in the industry (okay and some of the not -so-best, too) There’s the tried and true method of submitting, getting rejected, doing rewrites and then submitting again and again and again as you hone your skills and refine your style. There’s building a series of connections, networking, and, after a while, building a reputation as a professional.
 Or you can self-publish. Hey, listen, go to and look under the writing section and there are at least a dozen different hyperlinks to different sites that will help you publish your own book and get it a place of honor with and maybe even a few book distributors. You can even get a really cool clip art cover. You go right ahead if you want to. I assure you, I will not be one of the seven people who actually buys your novel, but far be it from me to step on anyone’s dreams.
(Update: Okay, so the world is changing. Go to and check in on what the man has to say. He’s making a very nice living as a self-published author and he has a lot of sound advice.)
 Or, hey, you can be a professional.
 Okay, that ends our sidebar. Back to the subject at hand. No one likes to wait. No one ever wants to wait for half a year or more to get a rejection, either. It sucks.
  Know how I sold my first novel? I had been doing freelance work writing role playing game supplements and one of the guys working for the company was starting up his own publishing house. For a change of pace, he actually had some chops and a bit of business savvy (read: he had experience in the field, cash flow, artists for book covers and distribution deals already in place. Oh, and cash flow. He was paying me.). He asked me if I had anything he might be interested in. He had clarified very carefully that he didn’t want the standard genre tropes, but something that was different. I told him in turn that I had a novel that had been turned down by Stellar Books (Not the real name of the major publisher) for being “too complex.” That part in quotations is a direct quote from the rejection letter.
  He took the manuscript and he read it. Later, a few months after the taking, he made me an offer and I accepted it. It was a low offer, and some of the stipulations in the contract would NEVER make it into one of my contracts today, but we all take risks when we’re starting out. Sometimes they pay off and sometimes they blow up in our faces, (more on that another time) but we all take chances.  
 There’s always a right way and a wrong way. Actually there are multiples of both. You are the only person who can decide the right direction for you, but along the way, try to remember that if writing were easy, everyone would have novel contracts. It ain’t rocket science (barring science fiction, or course) but as with everything else in life, it takes time to get it right.
  And it takes that minor virtue I mentioned a while back, patience.  There are no miracles out there to guarantee you a sale. John Skipp covered that a few days ago and if you missed it, you need to go read his last essay, because, damn, he nailed it on the head. No one can take your manuscript and turn it into gold without having spent a good deal of time looking it over first and even then, no matter what they might be promising you, they can’t sell it to the publishing houses for you or guarantee that once it is sold, it will become a best seller.
 There is no set way to speed up the process of writing a novel. There are no quick fixes. Pay attention to the biography of your favorite writer/actor/singer/artist and the one thing you’re likely to hear from most of them is that their “overnight success” took years, not days.
Yeah, yeah, I know, there are exceptions to every rule. Don’t walk out there expecting to be one of them.  You have to work for it. You have to have the patience of a saint and you have to continue with that patience, even after you’ve succeeded in selling a dozen or so novels. 
So, Jim, how long do I wait? 

Ah, that’s another story for another time. But as a starting point, check out the submission guidelines and assume that whatever they say the waiting period is, it’s really at least twice that long.  The waiting game sucks, boys and girls, but it’s also the only game in town that’s worth playing.