The Fountain Has been Shortlisted

Evil Alter Ego Press is pleased to announce, Suzy Vadori’s debut Young Adult Novel, The Fountain, has been shortlisted for the 2016 Prix Aurora Award. A short blurb about the book: Ava Marshall, dr…

Source: The Fountain Has been Shortlisted

Trailer for Scout Of the Apocalypse

Today, I would like to bring you something I am extremely proud of. This is the trailer for a book that, while I didn’t write it, I had a hand in making sure that it got published.

This is a great middle grade novel, with just the right amount of “scare” to make it a proper zombie story, while keeping it about the scouts and not the zombies which makes it just that much better.

If you know me personally, you might recognize the scouts and zombies.

If you enjoy the trailer please consider getting a copy of the book. You can find it here.

-Jeff

The REAL Reason I Failed to Properly Edit my First Novel – Guest Post

Today please welcome Carrie Bailey AKA PeevishPenman, to talk about her experiences in publishing her first novel. She an author and fellow Star Trek fan so she will fit right in here.

The REAL Reason I Failed to Properly Edit my First Novel

Eron_Smashwords_CoverI’m going to share my experience publishing my first novel without hiring an editor, but first, a confession. Star Trek. I love it.

I bet in the Star Trek universe computers proofread novels in less than five minutes and since they don’t use money anymore, people write for the sake of art, entertainment and self-expression alone. It’s a world where I would love to be an author. I remember watching how, in the later series, major characters became journalists and holonovel writers. They didn’t consider indie versus traditional publishing. They just wrote. Gave it to the right person. And then dealt with the legal or emotional aspects of being successful career writers.

Maybe I was watching too much Netflix when I finished my first science fiction novel, but I jumped to warp speed to get it published, blasting through the final stages of its development. At the time, I thought I had good reasons.

Just after keying “the end,” metaphorically speaking, I asked around on Twitter for beta readers and emailed 8 copies to the 4 women and 4 men who responded. I made the cover while I waited. Then, when I got feedback on the cover, I waited some more for the beta readers. By the end of the month, five of the beta readers sent me their feedback, which was both positive and encouraging. So, I did a quick pass over the manuscript to correct the spelling and started formatting the ebook.

Bracing myself mentally to cope with possibility of humiliating failure, I uploaded it to Smashwords and Amazon within a week. It’s true. I spent five years creating the world for the novel and its characters and their cultures. Pages of notes outline their histories, their laws and their traditions. Why did I not invest in an editor?

1381895I have excuses. My older sister had always proofread my work, but we had falling out some months before I finished my book and part of me didn’t want anyone else to take on that role in the writing process. And I couldn’t do it myself. And I couldn’t afford to pay someone else. And no one would really mind, right?

Readers mind bad proofreading, even beta readers.

Two of the beta readers came to me after I published the book afraid I might end our friendship when I heard what they had to say. I’d given them copies with no edits and explained so at the time, but for them, the spelling errors had been so distracting, they couldn’t get very far. While the final copy of the book has less of those issues, I’ve had other people comment to me that it felt like reading an excellent draft.

The most common reviews are a similar combination of delight and disappointment. They loved the book. They want to read more in the series, but they want to know why didn’t I take the time to get it edited properly when everything else was done so well. After some time and a lot of consideration, I know the real answer.

I wanted something to blame if readers didn’t like it.

Print_CoverI’m often mystified by writers who publish their books with poor cover art, but in my own way, I am guilty of sabotaging myself in much the same way as someone who slaps text on grainy photo of a distant sunset. Of course, as an artist, I found it easy to make a passable cover for my own book. So, I’m not in that camp of sad writers. But, I’ve never been a perfectionist and spelling, specifically, is one of my weaknesses. I’m in that camp. Also, I like to start sentences with conjunctions just to rebel against our arbitrary conventions. But, there is a HUGE difference between consistent style choices and errors in the text.

In not collaborating with a second and more professional set of eyes, I produced a good novel with some faults that detract from the reader’s enjoyment. And I did it, because I wanted to safeguard myself from the harsh criticism that professionals endure. I didn’t want to look too professional. I wanted to look amateur so that more of my shortcomings might be overlooked. People can be very generous with amateurs in a way they won’t be with professionals. I was a being a coward.

Although in the world of Star Trek, writers can follow a straight line from inspiration to finished product, real writers confront less glamorous, more personal barriers to being successful. I believe at some point during our development every writer will engage in some random self-sabotaging behavior and make pitiful excuses for doing so that only they will believe.

And when we find ourselves in that position and recognize the problem for what it is, we need the courage to seek help or advice. We need beta readers. We need editors. We need cover artists. We need people who can do print and digital formatting well. Some of us may dabble in a little of everything, but most of us will have to collaborate with other people, because they have skills we lack. Even when money is an issue, we can still usually find someone willing to trade a service we do better for a service they do better.

Readers always deserve the best possible experience we can offer them as writers without exception and without excuses.

Carrie Bailey @PeevishPenman is the author of The Ishim Underground, a New Zealand post-apocalyptic adventure. She is an active coffee drinker and conversationalist who enjoys painting, staging one woman invasions of random countries and writing her author bio in third person.

Dimensional Abscesses Giveaway Contest

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If you have been living under a rock, like have for the last month, you might have missed that Michell Plested and I have released a new book. Dimensional Abscesses is a collection of short stories about places you don’t want to go. The stories range from time travel, to other planets, to hell and back, and of course down on the farm.

I am very excited about this book. Not only is it really a great book, but Michell and I have worked very hard on it, and it is the first book that we are releasing in our new imprint, Evil Alter Ego Press. For these reasons and many more, I want to get it into as many people’s hands as possible. So without further delay…

I am giving away 5 Ebook copies of Dimensional Abscesses: Portals to Places You Don’t Want To Go.

What do you have to win?

Simple. Leave a comment below before June 5th, with a place (real or fictional) you would not want to go and I will pick my 5 favorites.

And of course sharing the contest with your friends will make it more fun. So please, Tweet, Post and Plus it to your heart’s desire.

BLOG HOP – TAG – Doc Coleman

As I said in my bloghop post I would be tagging two other authors in the blog hop thing.

The second of those two authors is my friend and voice actor extraordinaire, Doc Coleman. (See the Questions for Zachary Ricks)

Doc has this to say about himself:
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Doc has been working with computer technology for over twenty years. He started working with mainframe computer systems and has transitioned to client based systems using Windows based PCs, and then to platform independent web-based infrastructures. Through all this time, Doc has been the go-to guy when any of his co-workers have had problems because of his ability to discuss complex technological problems in simple, easy to understand language.

In February 2010, Doc took his skills online and created The Nifty Tech Blog in an attempt to share his enthusiasm for technology with those who can best benefit with letting the technology do the work. Since that time he has discovered a love for writing and new media and has embarked upon a number of different projects.

In July 2010, Doc turned from writing technology articles and started writing fiction as a contributing writer for the Every Photo Tells… podcast. Three of his short stories were nominated for the 2011 Parsec Awards, but he was shut out of the Finalists list by fierce competition in the Best Speculative Fiction Story (Short Form) category. Doc continues to write short stories, and has also written an article on writing that appeared in the February 2011 issue of Flagship Magazine from Flying Island Press.

Doc ventured into the podcasting world in the summer of 2010, going on microphone with Tee Morris in a six episode crossover series between The Nifty Tech Blog and Tee’s Bird House Rules podcast. Sadly, a dispute with Tee’s publisher has prevented the last episode of the crossover from going live.

Doc returned to the world of podcasting as a guest on Flying Island Press’ podcast Galley Table in September 2010. The Galley Table crew invited Doc to come back any time. And he did. After several guest appearances, Doc was made a part of the Galley Table crew as the Galley Table Stowaway.

Doc also started his own podcast in December of 2010 with The Shrinking Man Project, a journal of philosophy and personal change. He shares his experiences and observations in the hopes that others will be able to discover their own solutions to dealing with their weight by talking about their issues with others making the same journey.

And Here are my questions for him:

1. You seem to be a very regimented person. I might be wrong about that, but how does that translate into your writing process? Where do you fall on the seat of your pants / outlining scale?

2. A lot of writers get the question, where does your inspiration come from, which is a pretty meaningless question if you ask me. But on the other side of the coin is the question what inspires you to write? For example, do you hear the stories in your head, and feel the need to get them out.

3. When do you find time to write, and when you are writing what does it look like? Do you have a certain time and place you have to be, are their any other requirements for when you are writing, quiet, music, special pen, pre-writing warm-ups?

4. Have you had a mentor in your writing process? And if so, how has he or she influenced your writing? If not, can you point to something in your life that has most influenced your writing, and can you share that with us?

5. You have written short stories and novels, you have done voice work and produced podcasts on your own. from all of that, what would you say was the greatest take away for your creative process?

6. Do you have any other things about your writing process that you would like to share with us?

Your post is due on Monday May 12th 2014

Blog Hop – TAG – Zachary Ricks

As I said in my last post I would be tagging two other authors in the blog hop thing.

The first of those two authors is my friend and co-founder of Flying Island Press, Zachary Ricks.  (See the Questions for Doc Coleman)

Zachary has this to say about himself:

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I am a blogger/writer (here), editor/publisher (Flying Island Press), and attorney originally from Southeast Idaho. I attended BYU for my undergraduate degree, and Lewis and Clark Law School in Portland OR for my law degree. It was at Lewis and Clark that I caught the blogging and podcasting bugs. And also was inducted into the school’s Cornelius Honor Society for service to the school. I now reside in beautiful Austin, TX with my wife and daughter.

This website is where you’ll find my own short stories (as I write them) and longer works (as they’re written and I edit them into a releasable state), as well as my personal views on everything from political philosophy and education to video games and cool stuff I’ve found on the internet. In other words, this is the place where I practice all kinds of writing.

Random bytes of writing. Enjoy.

And since he is a writer, I have some questions for him about this writing process.

1. When you sit down to write, what does your process look like? Do you have certain hours each day that you write? Do you need to be in a certain room, with the music just right and your lucky socks on? Do you do anything like writing warm ups, prayer, reading, even singing first? Are you an out-liner or seat of your pants kind of writer?

2. How has your life, your career choice, you religion and faith, your early childhood, influenced what you write? Can you point to one thing that changed the way you think about your stories? Do any one of these things effect your writing process?

3. We are all very busy people, you have your job, and your now teen-aged daughter, church and professional classes, your family life, how do you balance all of those things and still find time to write and produce podcasts?

4. We can all look at the same thing and all see it differently. With that in mind, what piece of writing advice have you gotten that has effected you the most, and what did it mean to you? How did your process or writing change after that advice?

5. Research – Do you research, and how do you go about doing it? Are you like some people who book learning is enough, or do you have to actually go out and do things before you can write about them.

5. Do you have any other thoughts on your writing process that you would like to share with us?

Your post is due on Monday May 12th

What’s in a Name? The Power that a Name can Hold

297755main_GPN-2001-000009_fullRecently my wife and I have started watching Bones. I missed this when it first came out. Ok, I miss most things when they first come out. Truth is I don’t watch much broadcast TV, at least not as broadcast TV. But that is not what I want to talk about.

As I said, we were watching Bones the other night, and they found someone dead. Surprise! This person worked for “The Agency.” It was said that the Agency, would protect its own. That the agency would protect their interests. It was even hinted that the agency might have killed this person to protect their image and keep certain secrets. At one point, FBI agent Booth says, “… I don’t care what you say, our government does not kill people,” to which Bones replies “You were a sniper…” This suggested two things, first that yes, our government does kill people, and second that it would not be such a stretch to believe that, “The Agency” would also kill people to keep their secrets.

Probably none of this is surprising. It should also not surprise you that a show about how wonderful science is, and that routinely takes jabs at religion and belief systems, government agencies, and what a lot of people feel is pretty normal stuff, would take a jab at another government agency. What is surprising about this is what “Agency” they were talking about, NASA!

I don’t think that any one would be really surprised, in this day and age, that every government agency has a bit of a dark side. But, NASA is one of those that is held up as a shining beacon of progress, of hope for the future of not only our government, but of the human race in the form of colonization of other worlds. NASA is one that we, well at least I, hope has not been touched by this.

Let me make it very clear. This was a fiction. I believe it to be a fiction, and I am only talking about it because I want to show the power of names.

Throughout the episode, they called it “The Agency,” only occasionally referring to it as NASA. Only hinting at the work that they do obliquely. By calling it the agency, and focusing on the actions of a few, they were able to cast it in a dark light. They were able to make it look like any other part of what is routinely portrayed on this show and others as a completely corrupt government that was capable of doing incredibly bad things. That is the power of a name. That is the power of suggestion that a name has. I think that if they had called it NASA all the way through the episode no one would have taken the episode seriously. It would have been laughed at. If they had shown even one rocket lifting off, or some pictures of space, it would have completely ruined the mood they were going for. As it was, the closest they got was one very cropped shot of two people in space suits and a few seconds aboard the “vomit comet.” Even the picking of that and using that name likely was intended to give a negative feel to it. No one likes to vomit.

I want to be clear about this. I don’t think NASA or really any part of the government is bad intrinsically. In fact, I think that most government agencies really try to do good, even the ones that we typically think of as being “bad.” I think NASA really is a beacon of hope for scientific progress, and the future of man kind. But, I do think, that there is incredible power in names.

As a fiction writer, I think this is important to keep in mind as we name our organizations, and groups, locations and star ships. Those names will determine how our readers perceive them. And how are works will be seen by others.

A Mid Summer Night’s Dream

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A few years ago I got it in my head that I wanted to direct and produce an all audio, full cast version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. At the time I worked for Flying Island Press, and I had my own little “island” called Pirate’s Cove.

Now Flying Island Press is no more and the Island is all but sunk. I didn’t want the hard work of all the actors, so with permission of Editors of Flying Island Press I have moved the work to a permanent home here.

Click on the links below to hear the production:

Act 1 Scene 1
Act 1 Scene 2
Act 2 Scene 1
Act 2 Scene 2
Act 3 Scene 1
Act 3 Scene 2
Act 4 Scene 1
Act 4 Scene 2
Act 5 Scene 1
The Actors: (Not in any order)

Brand Gamblin
Veronica Giguere
Allison Gamblin
Indiana Jim
David Sobkowiak
Mark Kalita
Mildred Cady
Arlene Radasky
R. Taylor
Elaine Barrett
Laura Nicole
Philippa Ballantine
Scott Roche
Philip Carroll
Peter Katt
Ayoub Khote
Doc Coleman
Valina Cutler
Scott Roche
Richard Asplund 

You can find it on my other projects page.

Thank you to everyone who was involved, I had a great time producing it, and hope that I get a chance work with you all again.

Reason Number 5 that I Love Speculative Fiction

Picture 35Fair warning here. I just picked a number out of my hat. I am sure there are lots of reasons to love speculative fiction, but #5 seemed to be about the right number.
I am going to start off by saying that one of my favorite podcasts has done it again. They have not only wonderfully produced an entertaining piece of speculative fiction, that have picked one that really made you think. (More on that in a minute.) Not only have they done this, they managed to pull it off two weeks in a row.

The Drabble Cast is as I said one of my favorite podcasts. There have been a number of their stories that I have talked about in the past, and they always do a great job with production, and bringing, as their tagline says “Strange stories from strange authors to strange listeners like you.”

If this is the first time you have heard about The Drabble Cast I need to say up front that they don’t shy away from adult language or situations. Their stories from time to time can be down right twisted. So if you are easily offended, this might not be the podcast for you. But if you like a good story, and can handle the odd language and situation then you are likely in the right spot.

drabblecast-302-philip-pomphrey-250x250So back to my point. This week and last week The Drabble Cast had two great stories. first we will talk about Episode 302 The Next Logical Step By Ben Bova. This is a great speculative fiction piece. It is obviously and older piece because of the way that the talk about computers taking up and entire building, but it stands the test of time well, and gives you a lot to think about. What if you got to play the entire game to the end, all the way to the end. Would you ever be able to make that first move?

drabblecast-301-brent-holmes-250x250Episode 301 Everything Ravaged Everything Burned This story was rather incredible. The story line was pretty straight forward. Vikings on a pillaging raid, they end up at the wrong place, but decide to stay and pillage anyway. At least some of them do.

As any great piece of speculative fiction should this one makes you think. While this piece is pretty straight forward at the outset, and might not even seem like Sci/Fi or even Fantasy, it is something much much more. There is a great line near the end of the story that just makes you think. And I will just leave you with this thought.

You wish you hated those people, your wife and children, because you know the things the world will do to them, because you have done some of those things yourself. It’s crazy-making, yet you cling to them with everything and close your eyes against the rest of it. But still you wake up late at night and lie there listening for the creak and splash of oars, the clank of steel, the sounds of men rowing toward your home.

This line is how the story end and is the perfect example what Speculative fiction should do. It should leave you with the feeling that maybe you have not thought the whole thing out. That maybe there is more to the situation than you first thought. And that maybe just maybe there is a bigger question to be asked.

Epub Conversion Tool

One of the things that I am constantly on the look out for is tools to help me create a distribute epubs. This is a great little tool if you have a book or story and need it in another format. No automated coverter is prefect but this one really does a very nice job.

Online Convert

It also does conversion for audio, video and images as well as different document types.