Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Covers and Contests and Beers, Oh My!


Things are moving full-speed ahead over at Diversion Books. The cover artwork for Dreamwielder has been finalized, I’ve approved all the line edits, the e-book files are formatted, and boom!—the book is already available for pre-ordering on iTunes. It should be available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble soon, and it’ll be available through Kobo and other retailers once we get closer to the March 5 release date. If you write reviews for a magazine or blog and want an ARC, hit me up.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Steampunk Interview: James P. Blaylock

I first met James P. Blaylock in the Fall of 1999 when I took one of his classes at Chapman University for my MFA degree. Sadly, I had never heard of Blaylock before. I was an avid reader of genre fiction already, but I read mostly the classics—Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Burroughs, Bradbury, Poe—and the stuff I read from contemporary authors was limited to embarrassingly few authors. I quickly remedied that problem, gobbling up Blaylock’s The Last Coin and then going on to read a ton of his short fiction. I found his writing to be unlike any other writer’s. It is a fantastic cross of sci-fi, fantasy, and literary fiction; quirky and funny, but at the same time, it explores very tangible problems that cut to the core of the human condition. I took as many Blaylock classes as I could, absorbing the wisdom he had to offer, and through him I even got a chance to meet Tim Powers, whose work I’d already discovered by sheer coincidence.

After graduating, my literary knowledge expanded and I discovered that Blaylock, along with Powers and K.W. Jeter, were the three progenitors of Steampunk. The term, which was jokingly coined by K.W. Jeter in a letter to Locus in 1987, was used to label the weird brand of Victoriana sci-fi/fantasy the three of them were all writing during the 80’s and into the 90’s. Seminal works of the genre include Homonculus and Lord Kelvin’s Machine by Blaylock, The Anubis Gates, On Stranger Tides, and The Stress of Her Regard by Powers, and Morlock Night and Infernal Devices by Jeter. Since then, the genre has drastically evolved at the hands of a slew of other writers, film makers, video game developers, and counter-culture do-it-yourselfers. So much so, in fact, that many fans of the genre hardly recognize the seminal works as Steampunk.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Read Free of Die (Part 2)

(Update: My website has undergone several reincarnations since this post and these ebooks are no longer available there. Instead, you can find new versions of these ebook singles on Amazon, here.)

The Knight’s Dog
Download for free!
Promo Code: KNIGHT (Nook, iPad, Android) or KNIGHT2 (Kindle)

The first complete novel I ever wrote was a high fantasy novel called Praxis of the Gods. It was the thesis project for my MFA degree and it took me a little over two years to write. After getting gobs of critiques and feedback from my thesis committee, I spent the next year or so after graduating completely rewriting the novel. By that point, I was sick of looking at the book and I was a bit burned out on writing fantasy. So, while I started sending off query letters to agents and publishers about the novel, I turned to writing other genres, primarily horror and literary fiction. I wrote my novella, The Shadow, which ended up comprising half of Umbral Visions, and then a dozen or so literary short stories. A few years later I got on a sci-fi kick, going back and reading a bunch of Asimov, Heinlein, Arthur C. Clarke, and Phil Dick, and writing my own sci-fi pieces, including “The Tracer Pilot” and “The Lunar Resort.”

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Read Free or Die!!!! (or you could always just pay the 99¢—I mean death is a bit extreme for an e-book, but yeah, you get the idea…)

(Update: My website has undergone several reincarnations since this post and these ebooks are no longer available there. Instead, you can find new versions of these ebook singles on Amazon, here.)

As I mentioned in my previous post, my e-book singles store is up and running on my website, Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be highlighting each of the e-books, to give readers a little insight into the inspiration, origins, and the story behind the story, so to speak. First up is one of the two stories I’m giving away for free.

The Sway of the Dead

Promo Code: ZOMBIES (Nook, iPad, Android), or ZOMBIES2 (Kindle)

After the infamous Night of the Bear, this story is the raciest and most offensive of my stories. It started with a pen and paper on a plane ride back in 2007, and the first line just came to me:

Ferric Smith found little joy in xxxxxxx zombie girls, but he was too full of life to not be copulating with someone or something, and in a concrete and steel girder city full of zombies, that meant zombie girls.

I’m not sure where my head was at the time, not sure I want to know, but that’s how it started, with a dude boning down on zombies. If I remember correctly, I wanted to a write a story for a specific (and now defunct) magazine that was looking for gritty, urban horror, so yeah, that’s my excuse. Anyhow, it was one of those rare stories that was written more or less in one sitting and came about very organically. After getting feedback from my writing group, The Inklings 2, I made some revisions and sent it out. It got rejected from the magazine I’d specifically written it for, then went on to collect dozens of other rejection letters over the next three years. Getting a ton of rejections is hardly unique in this business, but the nature of the rejection letters I was getting for this story was rather astounding.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Embracing the E-book Revolution

(Update: My website has undergone several reincarnations since this post and these ebooks are no longer available there. Instead, you can find new versions of these ebook singles on Amazon, here.)

Free e-book singles!

The Sway of the Dead – Use promo code ZOMBIES (or ZOMBIES2 if you have a Kindle)

The Knight’s Dog – Use promo code KNIGHT (or KNIGHT2 if you have a Kindle)

For a guy who’s fairly savvy with technology, I’ve been dragging my feet on the whole e-book thing the last couple of years. I just prefer reading books the old fashioned way. I’m no fool, though, and as both an author and an avid reader, I definitely see the benefit of e-books and e-book readers. Hell, as I mentioned in my previous post, I even signed a contract with an e-book publisher last month for my newest novel, Dreamwielder; and as of Christmas, I’m a proud new owner of a Kindle Fire. One of the coolest aspects of the new generation of e-readers and tablets is that, not only are they portable, they’re great for short diversions—whether it be checking your e-mail, playing Words with Friends, updating your FB status, or dare I say, even reading short stories!?