Saturday, December 12, 2015

A Big Thanks to Wendy Wagner and Bruce McAllister

Souldrifter doesn't have an acknowledgement section, but if it did, Wendy Wagner and Bruce McAllister would be two of the people right at the top of the list. Both were gracious enough to read a pre-published version of the manuscript and then grace the cover of the book with wonderful endorsements. Bruce, who is a great mentor and teacher in addition to a great writer, even took the time to provide some suggestions for improving the book before I sent the final version to my publisher. I'm thankful to both Wendy and Bruce for their time and kindness. Here's a little background on each, in case you want to check their work out (and you should!).

Wendy Wagner is highly involved in the speculative fiction world on multiple fronts. As an author, she's had short stories published in some of the best SF/F magazines, and she's also author of Skinwalkers, a Pathfinder Tales novel. On top of that, she's the Managing/Associate Editor of Lightspeed and Nightmare magazines, guest editor of the anthology Queers Destroy Horror!  and nonfiction editor of the anthologies Women Destroy Science Fiction! and Women Destroy Fantasy! Whew, that's a lot of hats to wear.

Wendy and I actually went to college together at Pacific University, and I feel quite fortunate to have friends in high places. For a flashback, here's an interview I did with Wendy back in 2013, prior to the release of Skinwalkers.

Bruce McAllister has been an acclaimed author for more years than I've been alive, which is sort of mind-boggling. He's probably most widely known for his short stories, which you can find collected in The Girl Who Loved Animals and Other Stories, but he also writes novels. His newest novel, The Village Sang to the Sea, is a fantasy based in large part on his early life growing up in Italy. He is also author of Dream Baby, one of the best books I've read in recent memory.

Before moving to the Bay Area this summer, I lived near Bruce and had the pleasure of getting to know him. He's a fascinating person and a great teacher of the craft of storytelling. You can read the in-depth interview I did with him last year over at Black Gate magazine.

Here's a heartfelt thank you to both Bruce and Wendy.

-Garrett Calcaterra

Monday, November 30, 2015


Well, I came into the month of November—National Novel Writing Month—hopeful that I would get back on track with my work in progress, a Cli-Fi novel called Remember the Future. I even updated my NaNoWriMo profile, but alas, I never touched the damn manuscript.

I did do a bit of non-fiction writing of my own, and a lot of freelance writing work, but I couldn't seem to carve out the time to work on Remember the Future. I can't help but wonder if part of the problem is that I've lost the initial enthusiasm I had when starting the project. A lot has happened in my life since I last worked on it, and I'm finding that there are other projects I'd much rather be working on. I'm not officially shelving Remember the Future, but I'm close to doing so. I'll give you my final decision in my next post.

In the meantime, the word has slowly been getting out about Souldrifter and reviews are starting to trickle in. I have a few more interviews and guest posts that will be coming out soon, but here's what's dropped so far.

-Garrett Calcaterra

Monday, November 9, 2015

A Year Gone Write

It's been a year of big changes for me, and for the first time in my life, I'm making a living solely off of my writing. Not off royalties from book or short story sales, mind you, but off of my writing, nonetheless.

The New Home Office (AKA Where the magic happens.)

For the previous dozen or so years, the vast majority of my income has come from teaching writing at Chapman University and the Orange County School of Arts, as well as at a few other institutions. I supplemented my part-time, adjunct teaching income with freelance writing/editing work and various odd jobs.

Royalties from my novel and short story sales have been, and continue to be, negligible. I'm happy when royalty checks come in, but they're more of a surprise bonus than a reliable or financially meaningful source of income.

Enjoying a growler from Drake's Brewery
on our 1-year Anniversary

One year ago, October, I got married. My wife and I  had already been together for numerous years, and our marriage was a symbol of our next phase of life together in more ways than one. We took a hard look at where we were with our careers and realized we were stuck. Yes, I had a new novel coming out, in Souldrifter, but I was in no better position financially to be able to devote more time to writing novels than I was when we first met six years prior. My wife, a musician and music teacher, was in the same boat. The life of an adjunct instructor means no guarantee of work, no medical or financial benefits, and pay rates that are laughable compared to most any other career.

We decided a change of venue was in order, to get us out of our comfort zones, both professionally and creatively. That started with a move from Southern California to the Bay Area. I took on a temporary contract position with GuideSpark as a content writer, and from July through October, I worked in Silicon Valley, cranking out workplace communication videos with a great group of creative folks, including writers, motion graphic designers, and QC specialists. The work itself wasn't particularly creative, and the hours were grueling, but I made a lot of friends and the job made the transition possible for my wife and I.

It's been a tough transition, and I've not been able to devote much time to sharing news with readers about The Dreamwielder Chronicles, but as of two weeks ago, I'm officially working from home as a freelancer, doing everything from developmental editing on books and ghost writing, to voice-driven content for corporate clients. It's both liberating and terrifying. Every day I'm learning about something new with my client work, and my writing and editing skills are staying well-exercised. But as anyone who runs their own business can tell you, it's daunting knowing that you not only have to go out and find your own clients, but deliver top quality work if you have any hope of paying rent next month.

The end goal is to find better balance between client work and my own writing. That means you'll hopefully see new fiction from me more frequently, and maybe even more regular updates here on my blog. I'll also hopefully have more flexibility for attending conferences and conventions, and also teaching the occasional writing workshops.

In the meantime, if you haven't heard, the new edition of Dreamwielder is out, and so too is book 2 in the series, Souldrifter. Pick up copies if haven't already. You can also read a free excerpt from Souldrifter over at Black Gate magazine. And if you have freelance writing or editing work you need done, I'm always looking for good clients to work with!

More news soon. I promise!

-Garrett Calcaterra

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Release Day!

Souldrifter is here! You can also pick up the new edition of Dreamwielder. I have my copies. Click the pic for links to get yours.

Packed with sorcerers, spies, and high-stakes intrigue, Souldrifter is a real page-turner, and Makarria is a teenage heroine who does more than just kick butt: she's smart, powerful, and surprisingly believable for a fourteen-year-old queen. A good read!
—Wendy Wagner, author of Skinwalkers

I’ve been waiting for Book 2 in Garrett Calcaterra’s Dreamwielder Chronicles since happily finishing Book 1—and the wait has more than paid off. Souldrifter meets the promise of its predecessor with royal trumpets. Fine writing, magic, epic intrigue, a great cast, and a central character (Makarria) who mesmerizes—what more does a reader need to be happy?
—Bruce McAllister, author of The Village Sang to the Sea

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Souldrifter Giveaway on Goodreads!

Sign up for the Souldrifter book giveaway on Goodreads. My publisher is giving away 5 print copies. Deadline to enter is September 29th, the day the book officially releases. It's coming soon!

 Sign-up on Goodreads!

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Souldrifter Available for Pre-order!

We're getting close—a little over two weeks until release date! But why wait, when you can pre-order now and help make release date a splash?

Pre-order Souldrifter on Amazon
Pre-order Souldrifter on B&
Pre-order Souldrifter from Powell's

Here's a sneak peek of the full spread for the paperback. I'd like to give a big thank you to both Bruce McAllister and Wendy Wagner for their amazing endorsements. The book officially releases on September 29, 2015.

-Garrett Calcaterra

Saturday, August 29, 2015


Here it is, the cover to Book 2 in The Dreamwielder Chronicles, Souldrifter. I just now finished the last line edits to the manuscript, so it should be available for pre-order soon. Official release date is September 29, 2015.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The Short, Short Version

It's been a whirlwind couple of weeks for me, and there's no respite in the near future, so here's a quick update on everything Dreamwielder related.

  • Congratulations to Marlene from Texas! She won the Dream, Steam, and Scream Book Giveaway. Thanks to everyone who entered the contest by signing up for my mailing list.
  • The Dreamwielder Book Club is on its way over at Wattpad. So far, the first nine chapters are up to read and discuss for free, with another three new chapters coming every Friday, leading right up to the release of Souldrifter on September 29.
  • The new edition of Dreamwielder should be available a month or so before that. I'm going through the last round of revisions (hopefully!) of Souldrifter, and once I have those finished, we can stick chapter 1 of Souldrifter at the end of Dreamwielder as a teaser, and then both books will be ready for production.
  • My publisher, Diversion Books, should be having a cover reveal for Souldrifter within the next month or so. After seeing the new cover for Dreamwielder, I can't wait to see what the cover designers at Diversion come up with for Souldrifter.
  • I've started a new day job as a writer for a tech company in Silicone Valley, and my wife and I are in the process of moving up from Southern California. It's been a crazy time, stressful and exhilarating at the same time! Once we get settled in and I'm no longer living out of a suitcase, I'll be sure to write up a more thorough recap of what's going on. 
-Garrett Calcaterra

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Dreamwielder Cover Reveal (Part Deux!)

Here it is, the new cover for Dreamwielder!

While I very much liked the original cover for Dreamwielder, I'm excited to have Makarria on the front of the new edition, and it's fitting to have a new cover at this time since the first book is expanding into a series. I should have a cover reveal for Book Two, Souldrifter, in the coming month, and Souldrifter itself will be released in late September. I'm not certain yet when the new edition of Dreamwielder will be hitting retailers, but I'll be sure to add an update below as soon as I know for certain.

In the meantime, I'm very excited to be hosting a book club reading of Dreamwielder on Wattpad, beginning this Friday (September 10). If you don't have one already, sign up for a free Wattpad account and you can read the entirety of Dreamwielder for free and discuss it with other fans.

-Garrett Calcaterra

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Dream, Steam, and Scream Book Giveaway!

With the impending release of the second book in my Dreamwielder Chronicles, Souldrifter, on top of a new edition of book one, Dreamwielder, I say it’s high time for an old-fashioned book giveaway. All you have to do is sign-up for the mailing list on my website and you’ll be automatically entered. Simple as that (and I promise not to spam you or sell your email addy for nefarious purposes).

One entrant will win a grand prize package that includes paperback copies of Dreamwielder and my back titles, Umbral Visions and The Roads to Baldairn Motte, as well as an advanced reading copy of Souldrifter in e-book format (just as soon as I have it in my hands). In addition, two runner-up winners will win e-book copies of Dreamwielder and my novellas The Knight’s Dog and Page Fault. All winners will be selected randomly—no shenanigans, I swear!

Entry deadline is Friday, July 24, 2015.

Enter now at

-Garrett Calcaterra

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Suspended Animation

Since writing my last post on leaving teaching, it has been a weird period for me, a time of limbo where I’ve been busy as hell but don’t have much to show for it. The majority of my time has been sapped up job hunting: sending out resumes, waiting… doing interviews, waiting… doing follow-up interviews, and, of course, more waiting. I’ve passed on one untenable offer already, and am waiting on at least one more offer in the next week, hopefully one that I can live with. As a teacher, I’ve always had to scrape up lousy temporary work for the summers, and as much as that sucked, trying to find a new permanent job is even more grueling and discouraging, mostly because of the waiting and the uncertainty the future holds.

Hot Investment Tip: buy copies
of the original edition while you can
so you can sell them on Ebay in ten
years when they're collector's editions!

It is also a little exciting, though, particularly with the writing projects I have in the hopper, first and foremost being what’s going on with my Dreamwielder series. Souldrifter, the second book in the series, was originally slated to come out this summer, but my publisher, Diversion Books, has decided to release a new edition of Dreamwielder first, with brand new cover art. As much as I love the original cover, I’m excited to have a cover with Makarria on the front. Stay tuned for a cover reveal soon! The re-release of Dreamwielder will push the release of Souldrifter back until the fall, in order to give us more time to get advanced copies to reviewers and do some giveaways, which is all good. The new book is even better than the first and I think readers are going to love it, but they have to know about it first.

In addition to working with my publisher and agent doing all the behind-the-scenes editing and marketing business on the Dreamwielder novels, I’m outlining the third book in the series and back to working on my unrelated cli-fi novel, Remember the Future. My goal is to have a first draft of Remember the Future done by summer’s end and then get to writing the third Dreamwielder book before Souldrifter is released, but no guarantees! That’s the one thing I’ve been reminded of during this period of suspended animation: nothing works out quite the way I expect it to.

-Garrett Calcaterra

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Goodbye to Teaching

I'm used to saying goodbye to students come late May every year, but last week was different. I wasn't just saying goodbye to students for the summer, but to teaching altogether. The decision didn't come easily.

My first year teaching, 2002. Songwriting
students and me in the lower right hand corner.
I love teaching, and teaching writing itself forced me to grow into a better writer, a better reader, and an all around better person. On top of that, the colleagues and students I've had over the years are some of my favorite people ever. "Why leave then?" you're probably wondering. Partly, it's because my wife and I are moving, but, sadly, the answer has mostly to do with money. Simply put, I can't afford to be a writing teacher anymore. There are a lot of reasons for this, many of them having to do with systematic problems in the administration of higher education, but I don't have any solutions to offer, so I'm not going to complain. What it came down to for me was that after twelve years in the classroom, I've reached my zenith career-wise in academia. I have no PhD and my professional writing credits are in the speculative fiction field, which adds up to being permanently stuck as an adjunct (part-time) instructor, particularly with the trend in higher education of relying even more heavily on adjuncts in recent years.

A going away gift from the Creative Writing
Conservatory at OCSA, 2015.
At times I've felt like a mercenary writing instructor, teaching up to seven classes a term at three different institutions, each considered a part-time job with no benefits, but combined adding up to ludicrous hours not only in the classroom, but also prepping for lectures and grading. Mostly, though, I've enjoyed my time teaching and helping young people find their voices as writers, and if I could keep doing it and create a secure future for my wife and I, I would. Teaching for the Creative Writing Conservatory at the Orange County School of Arts (OCSA), particularly, has been a great experience. Jim Blaylock brought me on in 2002 to teach a songwriting course, which then expanded into teaching a slew of other creative writing courses, including classes on spec-fiction, novel writing, zombies, and comic-book writing. And it was at OCSA that I got to know Tim Powers and met lifelong friends, both in the faculty and among the students. Similarly, although to a lesser extent, teaching at Chapman University has been highly rewarding. The students have always been respectful to me and receptive to my techniques, despite whatever misgivings they might have had about writing coming in. The faculty within the English Department have been great as well.

So what does this mean for me moving forward? It means taking on a full-time day job as a copywriter, which, believe it or not, will be less work than what I've been doing. Granted, it won't be as personally rewarding, but it will open up a lot of time for reading and writing, which I am very excited about. I haven't had much time for pleasure reading the last ten years, so I'm looking forward to getting caught up on current work in the spec-fiction field. Most importantly, with the change I'll be writing like a fiend from now on.

Souldrifter is slated to come out this summer from Diversion Books, and then I'll be working on the third installment in the Dreamwielder Chronicles as well as my standalone cli-fi novel, Remember the Future. After that, who can say? I have a lot of crazy ideas percolating in my brain—it's time to start getting them out!

-Garrett Calcaterra

(Addendum: 5/28/15 5:55PM PST - Several people have asked me offline to comment more on the problems I've experienced as an adjunct. I don't want to single out any of the schools I've worked for, but here are a couple of recent articles from the NY Times that I've found to be pretty spot on: 1) The Real Reason College Tuition Costs So Much, 2), What's the Point of a Professor.)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

WonderCon 2015 Wrap-up

It was good to get back to a convention finally. I didn't get to spend as much time at WonderCon as I would have liked, but still got check out a few panels on Friday and Saturday. Here's a quick recap.

Friday wasn't too crowded. I walked the main exhibit hall with my wife and we met up with spec-fic author Craig Comer to check out a panel on trans-marketing creative projects. The highlight of the day for my wife was catching close-up glimpses of Lou Ferrigno and Margot Kidder. For me, it was just fun to see everyone dressed up and the spectacle of it all.

Drill Sergeant Preacher
doesn't approve of Cthulhu
Saturday I went solo. It was much more crowded and security was amped up, partly, I assume, because of the militant Christian evangelists there. One guy, whom I dubbed Drill Sergeant Preacher, took exception to my Cthulhu fish t-shirt and screamed at me, "I SEE THAT YOU LOVE YOUR FALSE PROPHETS MORE THAN YOU LOVE JESUS!!!" I just smiled and snapped a photo. I'm not sure what exactly he was hoping to accomplish. Do fire and brimstone sermons still work in the 21st Century?

Inside the convention center, I caught the panel on Fantasy Fiction, moderated by Maryelizabeth Hart from Mysterious Galaxy and featuring Arwen Elys Dayton, Todd McCaffrey, Naomi Novik, and Greg Van Eekhout. The conversation got started with the panelists responding to

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Find me at Wondercon 2015

WonderCon 2014 was the last convention I attended. :(
Between getting engaged, getting married, moving, and writing Souldrifter all in the last twelve months, I haven't gotten a chance to attend any conventions or conferences in quite a while, so I'm excited to attend this year's WonderCon as a professional attendee. Here's the panels I'm hoping to catch. If you'll be attending too, follow me on Twitter for live updates throughout the weekend and make sure to introduce yourself and say hi..Despite my grizzly-bearded visage, I promise I won't bite!

WonderCon 2015. Anaheim, California. April 3-5.


12:30-1:30 Comic Arts Conference Session 1: Supeheroes before Superman. Room 210. I didn't even know there were superheroes before Superman and the Golden Age of comics, so this should be

Friday, March 20, 2015

A Name Change and a Change of Heart

Last month I submitted the manuscript for the Dreamwielder sequel to my publisher, Diversion Books, and after a bit of discussion we decided to change the title from The Faceless Enemy to something more in line with the title of the first book. The title we came up with is... wait for it... Souldrifter. It's got a nice ring to it, and hopefully it'll be something that captures readers' imaginations.

The tentative release date for Souldrifter is late summer 2015, and the Diversion team, my agent, and I are busily at work on all the little production and promotional aspects that happen before the release of a book. One of those aspects is wrangling up book jacket blurbs, and I'm happy to announce that the first of them is in, from none other than Wendy Wagner. Wendy is author of the Pathfinder Tales novel Skinwalkers, and also an editor extraordinaire with Lightspeed magazine who played a huge role in putting together Women Destroy Fantasy last year. Needless to say, I'm honored and proud Wendy agreed to say something nice about the book. Here's what she had to say:

"Packed with sorcerers, spies, and high-stakes intrigue, Souldrifter is a real page-turner, and Makarria is a teenage heroine who does more than just kick butt: she's smart, powerful, and surprisingly believable for a fourteen-year-old queen. A good read!"

The next bit of news for the book will likely be the cover art. As soon as I get it, I'll be sure to share it.

In other news, I've been doing a good bit of research for other writing projects and the classes I'm teaching, which more often than not tend to overlap. A case in point is the new short story I'm working on, partly inspired by a class I'm teaching—Innovation Inspiration in Speculative Fiction—and partly inspired by

Monday, February 9, 2015

The Faceless Enemy by the Numbers

The  sequel to Dreamwielder has 
more action, more airships, and 
more of Makarria kicking ass!
(Dreamwielder art 
courtesy of Patrick Williams)
(Update: After a bit of debate, my publisher, agent, and I decided to change the name of The Faceless Enemy to Souldrifter, so as to better tie-in to the first novel, Dreamwielder. 3/23/15)

My new fantasy novel, The Faceless Enemy, is done and sent off to my publisher! As you might expect, it feels good to be done, and I'm excited for the book to get into the hands of readers. In the interim, though, here's some details on how the book came about for those of you who are interested in the writing process or just like to break things down by the numbers.

15 MONTHS. From start to finish—planning, writing, and revising—the book took me fifteen months to complete. I started the book during NaNoWriMo in November of 2013 and sent the final draft to my editors at Diversion Books here in February 2015. Considering it took me thirty-nine months to get through the same process with the first book in the series, Dreamwielder, fifteen months is pretty good. Considering also that I got engaged, married, and moved during 2014, and fifteen months really ain't bad!

97,200 WORDS. The final draft I sent to my publisher weighs in at a respectable 97K words, which is 4K words longer than Dreamwielder. The first draft of The Faceless Enemy was only 92K words, but was light on setting description, background exposition, and secondary character viewpoint. Fleshing those aspects out during the revision process accounted for the 5K boost.

4 PARTS. With Dreamwielder, I closely followed the 3 Act, 8 Sequence structure used for film scripts, but with The Faceless Enemy I instead loosely followed the 4 part structure Michael Moorcock prescribed in

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Story Behind Page Fault

I am very excited to announce the release of my novella, Page Faulta high-concept mash-up of cyberpunk, fantasy, post-apocalyptic, and noir fiction. I can't take sole credit for the high-concept idea, though.

Two years ago, I taught a George R.R. Martin author study course at the Orange County School of Arts. As you might expect, the class was great fun. We read Martin's early horror and sci-fi, read one of his Dunk and Egg novellas, watched a few episodes of Beauty and the Beast from his television writing days, and even got a visit from the man himself for a private lecture.

Seeing as how the class was for the Creative Writing conservatory, though, I also wanted to include a writing component to the course. So one day the students and I round-tabled to come up with a shared world in which we could all write stories, a shared world inspired by Martin's writing across the genre spectrum. The result of our collective imaginations was Soteria—a computer generated world that harbored the majority of Earth's population in a post-pandemic future. The students were great, and by the end of the day we had an entire codex written for our shared world.

Page Fault was my contribution to the subsequent short story collection the class wrote; it started off as an introductory vignette for the collection, but there was something about the vignette that called for more, so I revisited it and expanded it once the course was over. The resultant story is the three part novella you have before you now. It's a story I'm very proud of, and one I couldn't have written without the rich imaginations of all my students. So here's a big shout-out and thank you to all the students from that author study course. Cheers!

-Garrett Calcaterra