Monday, December 29, 2014

Misty Massey and the Weird West Anthology

I'm very pleased to welcome a guest post from Misty Massey. You might recall, I interviewed Massey a few years ago to talk about her pirate fantasy novel, Mad Kestrel. She's stopped by today to talk about her newest project—this time in the role of editor.


Hey y'all! I'm delighted to be Garrett's guest today! My name is Misty Massey, and until last summer, I was a mere writer of fantastic fiction and author of Mad Kestrel (pirates and magic and adventure...oh my!). I say 'until last summer' because that was when things became slightly more crazy and exciting in my world and I agreed to be an editor. I was a guest at Congregate, and I had just finished a rousing session of Live Action Slush. I was in the hallway chatting with my co-conspirators Emily Leverett and Margaret McGraw when the subject of publishing an anthology of weird western stories came up. We all thought it sounded like great fun, so we started approaching authors we believed would add to the thrill of such a project. Nearly all of them said "Yes!" (okay, a couple were squealing with excitement, but I'm not going to try to spell that sound for you!), so we started querying publishers. Danielle Ackley-McPhail of eSpec Books snapped us up, and before we knew it, we were running a Kickstarter to fund the project.

What is weird west? It's fantasy or science fiction set in the world (or the aesthetic) of the American western frontier. Movies like

Monday, December 15, 2014

I'm Back!

Yes, I am still alive, although you wouldn’t know it judging by my inactivity in the online world the last several months. What can I say? It’s been a momentous time in the real world for me. I got married, moved, somehow kept up with the five writing classes I’m teaching, and still managed to finish writing The Faceless Enemy, the sequel to Dreamwielder. Something had to give (in addition to sleep), and that something was blogging and curating my social media sites. Things are quieting down now, though, so I’m back! Here’s what’s going on in my writing world.

Not the real cover!
-The Faceless Enemy is done! The sequel to Dreamwielder is even more high-action and fast-paced than the first book, and it’s a good deal darker, too—sort of my Empire Strikes Back part of the saga for Makarria, Caile, Natarios Rhodas, and a batch of new characters. Beta readers are going through the manuscript now, and it looks like I’m on track for a Spring 2015 release from Diversion Books. In the meantime, you can take a sneak peek of the pre-published version of Chapter 1, “Enter Darkness,” on Wattpad.

-I’m preparing a self-released ebook title called Page Fault. It’s a novella length story that’s part cyber-punk, part fantasy, and part post-apocalyptic fiction. The novella came about as part of a shared world project in the George R.R. Martin author study course I taught a few years ago at the Orange County School of Arts. Once I have the cover art procured, I’ll announce the official release date.

-My literary story “Choose Your Own Romance” is included in the newest issue (#116) of Confrontation, a prestigious journal that’s published the likes of Joyce Carol Oates, John Steinbeck, T.C. Boyle, and Arthur Miller over the years.

-My good friend and frequent collaborator Ahimsa Kerp recently released his debut novel, Empire of the Undead (Permuted Press). It’s a great novel, mashing up zombies and the Roman Empire—think The Walking Dead meets 300. I interviewed Ahimsa over at the Prose & Cons earlier this week, and he had some great things to say about geek culture, tattoos, and more.

That’s all for now. Happy holidays to everyone!

-Garrett Calcaterra

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Feast or Famine

June was a productive month for me. I wrote three successful blog posts over at Prose & Cons, which is where you’ll find my more Internet-friendly writing from this point forward (whereas The Machine Stops will be geared more towards writing updates and reflective meanderings like this one). My Prose & Cons posts include "Fantasy Rocks: 8 Songs Inspired by Fantasy Novels"; "On the Origins of Zombies: 7 Must-See Zombie Films"; and to prove I’m not just a list-making one-trick-pony, "Amazing Author, Horrible Person." All three posts have topped Prose & Cons in site visits, thanks largely to some lively discussions over at Reddit.

In addition to my blogging, I made great headway on the Dreamwielder sequel, The Faceless Enemy, cranking out almost 40k words this last month (a good number for me). I’m down to the last two climatic chapters and am chomping at the bit finish, but unfortunately I’ve been stymied by a glut of summer teaching work the last two weeks. That’s the one downside to being a writer—I’m beholden to work when the work is there. For the majority of June I was productive as hell writing, but equally poor, and those bills started to stack up. When the opportunity for summer teaching work presented itself, I simply couldn’t turn it down. So now, and for at least the next couple of weeks, I’m working at three different schools/tutoring-centers, seven days a week. In the mornings, I tell myself I’ll write at least thousand words on The Faceless Enemy when I get home, but come 8:30pm when I finally stroll in, all I want to do is crack open a beer and relax. But I’m not complaining. I’m happy for the work, just frustrated I’m not finished with the book. It will happen soon, though, and I’ll be looking for a couple of beta readers if anyone is interested.

Until then, I best quit blogging and use what little spare time I have working on The Faceless Enemy. Cheers!

-Garrett Calcaterra

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Whims of the Interwebs

So, over the weekend I wrote a fun blog post over at Prose & Cons called "Fantasy Rocks: 8 Rock Songs Inspired by Fantasy Albums." It includes eight video clips of rockin' nerdy songs with a quick blurb for each song. Simple. Straightforward. Fun. But not anything I figured would make a big splash. Then Reddit/r/fantasy got a hold of it yesterday, though, and now the blog post is trending like crazy. SF Signal included it in their daily links this morning, and then, even bigger, included it in their daily roundup. I guess Reddit really is the front page of the Internet!

Head on over to Prose & Cons to see my original post, and if you're at work, make sure to put some headphones on, because the songs are meant to be cranked up to 11.

Rock on,

-Garrett Calcaterra

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Code Brown

Because sometimes you just need a good laugh.

Whether you accidentally splotched your underwear right before a big board meeting, got the trots while on a twelve-hour plane ride, or ran into the opposite sex’s restroom at a fancy restaurant because you had to crap so bad you couldn’t see straight, these are the stories we tell when in good company and in need of a hearty laugh.

Code Brown: 13 Humorous True-Life Tales About Poop (Yes, Poop).

"If you’re like me, you love a great story. Code Brown is full of them... all are extremely well written, humorous..." -Read Tom Lucas 5/5 stars!

Available in paperback and e-book formats.

Get your copy now:
Barnes & Noble

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Climate Change Craziness!

Ground zero of BP Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico, 2010
Just a quick update on my recent shenanigans regarding climate change. I had a big, serious (and fairly depressing) article called "Can SciFi Save the World From Climate Change?" get published in Black Gate last week. It's caused a good bit of buzz online, including over at Project Hieroglyph, where I just weighed in. I also wrote a companion piece over at Prose&Cons, a new multi-author blog I'm part of. Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts here, or at any of the above-linked locations.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Life and Stuff

So, I've continued my abysmal blogging performance through the Spring of 2014, but it's actually a good thing (or at least that's what I'm telling myself). I've been making a concerted effort to cut back on the time I spend (i.e. waste) on social media, and instead have been focusing on writing and, you know, trying to maintain a personal life. In fact, after almost five years of dating, I finally proposed to my girlfriend, Mandy Burke. We're engaged and looking at getting married soon. Pretty crazy! Six years ago, I was relegated to being single for life, and was perfectly content being so. I was happy enough with myself, with reading, writing, hiking, drinking beer, etc. You can imagine my surprise when I met a woman who actually liked me! Even more shocking was the discovery that life is actually better with a good partner.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

FOGcon, Cli-Fi, and Wattpad

FOGcon has come and gone, and along with it my first appearance on a panel at a SF/F convention. Yay, I’m no longer a virgin! The convention itself was fantastic. It was great to catch up with Tim Powers, one of the guests of honor, and I learned a lot from attending the panels I wasn’t involved in. One panel in particular, “Manic Pixie Angel,” really opened my eyes to the inadvertent sexism and prejudice common in fiction. Seanan McGuire, the other guest of honor, was hilarious and insightful in the discussion. Afterward, I gave a lot of thought to my female characters in Dreamwielder, and was relieved to come away knowing they all stood up as strong characters, independent of the male characters in the story.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Why I Suck at Blogging So Far in 2014

Keeping a consistent posting schedule is the trademark of a good blogger, so if there was any doubt before, it’s decided—I’m definitely not a good blogger. But that’s okay. I’m a spec-fiction author first and foremost, and if I’m not spending time here at The Machine Stops, it’s because I’m busy with other aspects of my writing career, and that has been the case so far in the year 2014.

Let’s start with the biggie. Dreamwielder is now available in print! Available in trade paperback format to be precise. I’m pretty stoked, and would like to thank the great people at Diversion Books and my agent Liz Kracht for making it happen, and I’d especially like to thank everyone who purchased, reviewed, and helped spread the word about the e-book and audiobook versions of the novel over the past year—without your support, the print version never would have come to be. To help spread the word, I'm raffling off a great prize package of four signed books, a Wheel House CD, and an empty Cthulhu mint tin I stole from Tim Powers! Simply head over to my FB page and share my book link to be entered into the random drawing.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Guest Posts, Interviews, and Retreats

2014 has gotten off to a busy start for me. The new edition of The Roads to Baldairn Motte was officially released in e-book format on January 1, and co-authors Craig Comer, Ahimsa Kerp and I have been busily at work writing guest posts and doing interviews to help get the word out.

Our first guest piece to come out is an article at the very cool SF Signal, called "Mosaic Novels and Eschewing Traditional Narrative."

The second piece came out today—a fun interview at Dab of Darkness, where the three of us chat about influential fantasy books, the best movie adaptations, why tattoos are cooler than cos-play, and lusty pirates. Arrr!

And speaking of interviews, I had the great opportunity to interview spec-fiction author Bruce McAllister this week. He's a fascinating man and I highly recommend both Dream Baby and his newest novel, The Village Sang to the Sea. My interview should hopefully be coming out soon at Black Gate. (Update 1/26/14: interview is live here.)

The only other exciting new for me is that I went on a great weekend writing retreat with my writing group, the Biscuits. I built up a good head of steam on the Dreamwielder sequel, which has once again become untitled (I had a name, but was told by my writing group that it made them think of masturbation, which isn't what I'm going for, not with this book at least...).

-Garrett Calcaterra

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dispelling the 2013 Seattle Seahawks Narrative

I’m busting out of character and making a bit of confessional today. Yes, I’m a fantasy and sci-fi nerd. Yes, I hid in the locker room during lunch break in high school to finish the newest David Eddings book. Yes, I read scientific journals and pontificate on things like thermodynamics. But here’s the guilty admission:

While I’m very concerned about the environment, I grew up riding motorcycles and fixing up cars—I still get a hard-on for the growl of a naturally-aspirated V-8. If you need to win me over, get me a ’69 Camaro SS and I will be putty in your hands. I also like doing outdoor things: raising animals, chopping wood, growing garden crops, building contraptions, etc. And most on-point for this particular blog post, I like sports. Manly sports! Namely, basketball and football. I like to think I’m as passionate about the Sacramento Kings and San Francisco 49ers as any drunken soccer hooligan anywhere in the world (likely not, but I like to think it). And if you think I’m not qualified to write about sports being a spec-fiction author an all, then I’ll point to the precedence George R.R. Martin has established—that guy bitches about the lousy New York Giants and Jets all the time, and I still love him, so here I go, even if I'm not  a millionth as successful as him….

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2013: A Year of Books and—what!?—Non-fiction?

I’m not much for resolutions, but it is nice to reflect upon the past year in order to recalibrate your goals going forward, so here’s my 2013 year in review. It was a big year for me, one in which I’ve hit a few stumbling blocks and learned a lot about the business of being a writer.


The publication of my debut, standalone fantasy novel was the big story for me in 2013(and a huge step forward in my career). After much deliberation with my agent about the wisdom of signing with an e-book first publisher, we inked a deal with Diversion Books at the end of 2012, and it paid off. The first couple of months in 2013 were devoted to working with my editor at Diversion to get the book ready for publication. The book was released in e-book format on March 5 and was promptly picked up as a Nook First selection at In May, the audiobook version was released by To date, while not setting the fantasy world on fire, the book has sold well and garnered positive reviews, including these two here and here, although I did get this puzzlingly mediocre review in Tales of the Talisman. If I continue to post improving sales numbers, we’ll hopefully be able to offer the book in print.