Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Moving Along

Here's just a quick note for those of you who follow the blog, or run across it in the near future.  I'm having some technical difficulties with Facebook.  For some reason, they block all links to this blog, classifying it as "spam" and as a lot of networking happens on FB that is a major hindrance for me and for Martinus Publishing.  Repeated requests to fix this have been completely ignored, and nobody will even address this issue.

Therefore, as there is no way for me to share links to this blog on one of the biggest networking sites, I'm afraid there is no option but to move.  I will be setting up a new blog shortly, one that Facebook will hopefully not block as "spam."  I will share a link as soon as I have one, though it may be a few days or weeks before I find the right location.  In the meantime, all the old posts will remain here, for those of you who want to sample my wit and wisdom of the past.

Modern day censorship is a growing problem, and I am wary of Facebook's new algorithms, where innocuous content can be summarily blocked for undisclosed reasons.  I assume that some troll(s) decided to flag my blog as spam in complaints at some point, and that somebody at Facebook chose to simply block all links to it rather than investigate.  Though, nobody will actually respond to me, so I have no idea why they're blocking, other than I sometimes get a message saying my link is blocked because it is "spam."  Half the time, they just say it "violates their community guidelines," with no explanation how, other than a link to their "no spam, no porn, no hate-speech" page, which doesn't address any specifics, but just lays out their basic rules, none of which my blog violates.  That is, unless they want to say I can't tell people about Martinus Publishing books and where to buy them.  If that makes my blog spam, than the entire internet is nothing but spam!

Yes, I am a little angry about this, but I'll just have to move along, and hope they don't throw another roadblock in front of me too soon.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Have I Given Up Writing?


I have a few spare minutes, so I felt compelled to write a blog post, the first in a long while.  It used to be a daily thing, and topics would be so plentiful that I had to pick and choose which I would write first.  Now I have fallen out of the habit so badly.  It is rare that I have the time to tackle any serious writing, and it leaves me wondering if I truly have given up.



It has been years since I wrote prolifically.  To be fair, I can no longer call this a slump, but full blown abstinence.  Life took me for a ride, and drove me out of the art of storytelling.  I am now left wondering if I will ever find my way back.



Time is something I don't have anymore.  At least, not the quantity and quality that I require to produce worthy material.  I'm not in the right state of mind to craft stories.  Writing is something that should be enjoyable.  Yet, for me, it has become a source of stress, a grim specter of my past.  What was once a recreational exercise has devolved into a bitter reminder of failure and disappointment.  I can't say my divorce 4 years ago was the ultimate impetus, but it was certainly an overbearing weight.  I wouldn't call it the last nail in the coffin of my writing career, but possibly one of the first.  The shock and heartbreak accelerated and amplified my apathy toward writing, and the lack of time that occurred as I suddenly had four children to raise without a wife assured that I couldn't continue at that time, even if I'd wanted to.



Today, I'm in a much better place than I was in 2015.  I am happily remarried, my children are growing up little by little, and I am hopeful that I may actually have more free time again someday.  It is still very difficult to write.  I have so much work to do that isn't literary in nature, and I tend to wonder if I'll ever get caught up.  My father started building our house before I was born, and now that he has grown old I am taking on the task of completing it.  It is no exaggeration to say I have enough work ahead of me to keep five men busy for a year, but there is only one of me and I have no money to spend on additional laborers.  The winters that I used to "have off" to write are now an endless line of home projects.



So, the question remains, have I given up writing?  Answer:  I'm not sure.



The stories that used to burn in my soul are still there.  I think of all those tales that remain unfinished, the characters and universes that want to be explored.  I think of Zachary McCain and John Rage, and the half-written sequel to The Rogue Investigations.  I think of my West of the Warlock series, and the unpublished fourth book in the series, and its incomplete fifth volume conclusion.  I think of the unreleased fourth volume in the Virtual Saga that explores Morgan Asher's life after the catastrophic events in The Guns of Mars, and where I could take him beyond that.  I think of new characters and new series that I have not even penned yet!  Yes, I still think of it all the time, but with everything else going on in my life, it seems less important.



Whenever I think of getting back into writing, I look at everything I have going on, and I end up having to set it to the back burner.  Priorities are a bitch, but they're necessary.  I can't waste time writing books that nobody wants to read when I have firewood to cut and split, or my daughter needs a bedroom designed, or my son needs bookshelves, or my wife and I need an expanded bedroom… not to mention when I have to make money once the weather finally warms up again.



So while I can't say that I have definitively given up my writing, life itself has imprisoned my writing muse, you might say.  I lack the necessary elements to create great works of fiction.  Just a couple of things could spur me back into the habit, but right now it's not happening.  My dreams must sleep, while reality keeps me in a depressing grip of personal responsibility.  I can't say it's a hard life; at least not as hard as it could be.



I just thought one or two of you might actually like to read about this… one or two…




Friday, December 14, 2018

Forbidden Delays and a New Alt History Anthology!


It has been way too long since I threw together a blog post.  Living life really can take up your time!  Things are good for me, though, so I will not complain.  I hope to have more time to devote to writing and editing in the coming year, but work just keeps piling up.  It's better to be busy than not, I suppose.



First off, I have to apologize to everyone involved with the Forbidden anthology about the further delay in publication.  It is just taking a little longer to put things together for this collection, but it is 100% definitely going to be released in 2019!  I promise.  Once the final proofing and a couple of author rewrites are complete, we will be ready to set the final, concrete release date.  I don't want to throw out another date range yet, because I would hate to miss it again.  But be assured sometime during the first half of 2019.  Unless something disastrous happens, the book will hit the presses before next summer, possibly much earlier.  As soon as we get a firm release date, I will start posting the author interviews here on this blog to promote the book, as has become usual.



So, what else will be coming from Martinus Publishing in 2019?  I have a couple of projects planned, so long as I can allocate the appropriate time.  One thing will be a new short collection from one of my favorite contributing authors (more details once we finish planning things out a bit further).  And after a long wait, I will be setting up another new anthology, something in the Alternate History field again, though this time with a twist.  Without further ado, I hereby announce the next Martinus Publishing anthology:



This Never Happened!

~Alternate History Farce and Fantasy~



A new anthology devoted to the humorous side of alternative history fiction.  This collection will hold stories that are funny and outrageous, set in worlds where history differs from what happened in our own reality, with ridiculous consequences.  Tales that could not possibly have happened, or maybe they could have but would have just been absolutely hilarious if they did.  This Never Happened will explore what could have been, and what absolutely could not have been as well.  Make me laugh, and screw up history like never before for this wacky story collection!



You can find submissions details on the Martinus Publishing website here!

Let's see what happens in the new year!

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Getting Back to It

Well, let's start this off with a look at the final cover version for the forthcoming anthology, Forbidden!

I am pleased to announce that editing and proofing has officially commenced.  I don't have a publication date yet, but it will be coming shortly.  I am hoping for a late summer release.

In my last blog post, I was feeling down, and seeking to reevaluate things in my life.  It is still an ongoing process, but things are moving forward.  This winter, I hope to set up a new anthology, at the very least.  get ready for more information about that as the year goes on.

In the coming weeks, we will begin to run author interviews for the Forbidden anthology.  Many contributors have agreed to the interviews, so you can all get a peek into the minds of these writers.

So very much to do, so little time...

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Knowing When to Rest


The last month has thrown quite a few nasty surprises my way.  First off, I had my desktop computer die, and being lazy and careless, I failed to have some of my more recent files backed up.  Thankfully, I was able to retrieve those files from the hard drive yesterday, but it ended up costing me about a hundred dollars in hardware and software.  Now that the files are recovered, I will finally be able to resume work on the Forbidden Anthology, though there are other issues that make me reluctant to proceed.

This past week threw something even more troubling my way. I received a notice from Amazon, saying that they had received a communication from a Kenneth Romine of the "Veterans of Foreign Wars" organization, saying that the Martinus Publishing book “VFW: Veterans of the Future Wars” violated their "trademark" in some way.  Amazon instantly removed the title, stating that they do not involve themselves in "third party disputes.”

That alone was a shock, but a few hours later I received yet another notice from Amazon, saying that Martinus Publishing had published a "pornographic work," (which title they did not identify) and then they immediately suspended my entire KDP account.

I was quick to fire off a response to Amazon on both matters.  Shortly after writing them, I received a letter from Amazon saying they had "accidentally" accused me of publishing porn, and that my account was no longer suspended.  However, the VFW issue was apparently no mistake, and they doubled down saying they wouldn't get involved in the "third party dispute" and wouldn’t let the title back online until I provide documentation proving I have the legal rights to publish the work as is (what documentation they have refused to specify), or until Mr. Romine rescinds his complaint.

The only thing I can consider being a problem is the cover lettering.  If the Veterans of Foreign Wars owns the "VFW" letters as a trademark, I can understand the legal issues, though I had always assumed that the title of this book was protected as fair use.  I offered to alter the cover to remove the VFW lettering on the book's cover, but Amazon refused to consider it.  They now say the title will remain blocked until the “dispute is resolved by all parties concerned,” which could entail a costly legal battle with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, which I have no money to fight.  It’s kind of ridiculous that an anthology written to honor veterans, many of the stories having been written by actual veterans, would be shut down by an organization set up to also help veterans.  It doesn’t make any sense.

I have been going over everything in my head for the last few days, trying to decide what the best course of action would be.  VFW: Veterans of the Future Wars hasn’t sold anything in the last six months, and in its entire run it only just about broke even, so there’s no real profit to be made at this point in keeping the title in-print.  Though, I find it upsetting that it has to end this way.

To be honest, I’ve felt like giving up this publishing business altogether.  It’s been hard the last couple of years, and this latest nonsense is just leaving a sour taste in my mouth.  I don’t want to stop, but so often it feels like I’m trapped, tied down by the weight of being an editor.  I don’t have the time to write my own material anymore, and I don’t seem to be helping the writers I care about.  Most of the collections I release don’t sell enough to make back their publishing cost, so how does that help anyone?

I still feel obligated to release Forbidden, though I am not sure where I’ll be going from there.  Part of me wants to gear up for another Alternate History anthology, as those are the only things that seem to make Martinus Publishing money, yet that isn’t where my heart is.  It would be just another job, which takes the fun out of it all.  I want to be a writer again.  I don’t know if I can truly do that if I am busy editing other people’s stuff.

At the very least, I think I’ll need a break.  I need a reset on my writing life.  I don’t want to shut down Martinus Publishing, though it may be some time before I’m ready to release another multi-author anthology.  I have stories of my own that need to be told, characters I’ve missed for too many years.  It's time I revisited them, and maybe made some new ones.

Recovered!


Last month, I woke up to a minor nightmare.  My desktop computer died.  It wouldn’t have been such a big problem, but I had been lazy and not backed up my latest work documents, in months!  All of the files for the latest anthology I’m working on (Forbidden!) were lost, along with the digital copies of my latest IRS Tax Return, the royalty reports from January for Martinus Publishing, and pretty much anything that happened in 2018.  On top of that, I don’t know where any of my photo back-ups are (it’s like they fell into a black hole or something).  So I seemingly lost almost every single family photo from the past 8 years, as well as the digital scans of many old pictures I’ve painstakingly archived over the years.  Needless to say, I was upset.

I will admit that I am no tech guru.  I muddle through with technology, being clever enough to figure out what I need to learn to make it work.  Yet, when it comes to the finer points of computer sciences, I am not an IT professional.  Unfortunately, I am rather poor, and lack the financial means to pay a real tech guy to fix my problems, hence the muddling through part of my existence.

So, I began by going on ebay and getting a used desktop.  I wasn’t in the position to buy a new one at the time, but I found a refurbished tower that was the same model as the one that had died on me.  It even had a fresh Windows 10 install.  After ordering that, and going over a few tutorials on how to slave a hard drive, I purchased an adapter to do just that.  Then, I waited.

The desktop arrived first, so I got that set up and added what files I had backed up, giving me head start.  Finally, today, the adapter came, and I was finally able to try it out.  Initial connection seemed good, but try as I might, I could not get into my files.  Sure, I could access some of the Windows operating system files, but my pictures and writing were all hidden.  The computer couldn’t detect any of my important files, no matter what I tried.  I was fearful that I had failed, and my laziness may have cost me so many irreplaceable files.

Then I did a little more research, and ran across a software retrieval program at easyus.com.  I downloaded the trial software and gave it a shot.  Lo and behold, my files appeared, waiting to be retrieved.  The only catch was I had to buy the full version of the software.  $73 dollars later, I finally had the program I needed to get my lost files off the corrupted hard drive and onto my new system.

Overall, this was a harrowing experience, one that should never have happened.  I know better than to go any amount of time without backing up my data, as soon as the rest of the files get transferred to my new computer (they are still downloading as I write this), I will be putting everything onto fresh SD cards.  I have a Kingston 128gig card that should fit most of the content, though the pictures will suck up most of it.  I’ll grab a few more once I have the money, and keep several copies of everything, just like I used to.  Really, after all I’ve been through in the past few years, I am finally learning to get back into the habits that I had been accustomed to for so long.  Sometimes, you need a wakeup call to remind you of why you should do certain things.  I’m really glad I was able to retrieve all that I might have lost.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Forbidden News!



It has been far too long since I posted to the blog.  Life is busier than ever, but it is getting better.  The past month, I have been courting the true love of my life, and it may seem a bit hasty, but on Thanksgiving day we got engaged.  There will be more time to discuss that later, but rest assured I have finally found happiness.  So, please bear with me if I don’t have as much time for writing at the moment (I also still have 4 children to raise, as well as many work projects to take up my time).

Now, the news many of you came looking for.  The Forbidden! anthology is still being put together.  I am pleased to say that I’ve accepted a few stories for the collection, but the vast majority remain under consideration, and they will until January, when I will make the final cuts and acceptances.  We have a lot of good stories waiting, and to make sure I have room for the best of the best, I might as well wait until the last subs come in this month.  I’m sorry for those of you who have been waiting since July-August.  I expect it’ll be worth the wait.

As we wait for the final submissions and the forthcoming acceptances, here is the final cover art for the anthology, illustrated by the very talented Christine Leonardi:



If I don’t get back to you beforehand, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  Keep reading, and check out Martinus Publishing books for great gift ideas!

Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Worlds of Bruno Lombardi (and Other Stuff)


Wow, the summer just flew right by.  This has been another hectic year for me, and for Martinus Publishing.  Altered Europa has done well, and without giving away too much at this time, I’m in the early planning stages for a new Alternate History anthology (expect to read more about that toward the end of the year).



Yesterday, The Worlds of Bruno Lombardi was released.  You can get your copy here right now!  Of all the writers I’ve encountered during my tenure as an editor, Bruno is by far one of the most imaginative and entertaining.  He’s one of those little known talents that should get more exposure, so I encourage everyone to grab a copy of this short story collection.  It’s only $2.99, and it contains several of his best pieces, including 3 never before published stories!  Really, go check it out right now.  Don’t worry, I’ll wait...




Okay, moving on with the blog, I’m currently in the middle of putting together “Forbidden,” a collection of stories about things that are banned or denied, generally by society or government, but some stories will also focus on forbidden acts that are merely against the rules of certain individuals or dieties.  Yet again, I preface this by saying this is not a collection of “sexual taboos” or anything like that.  It seems that any time you ask for submissions about something that’s “forbidden” the first thing that people think about is sex.  No, I will not publish your rape or incest fantasies.  Yuck!  But those of you who want to write about something that isn’t X-Rated, here is the submission page: MartinusPublishing Submission Guidelines.



I apologize to those of you who have not heard back from me yet about your “forbidden” submission.  I have a pile of stories for this one, and picking the best from them is proving difficult.  Plus, I still haven’t read half of them, because of my busy schedule.  When I’m not working my regular contractor job, I’m taking care of four kids and trying to do a million home improvement projects before winter strikes (and people wonder why I don’t have time to go out on a date).



So, that’s about it for right now.  Submit your stories, read Bruno’s stories, and come back to this blog to keep updated.


Monday, July 3, 2017

News and Nostalgia



Here we are, coming up on America’s Independence Day, and I’m taking a little time to get some Editing work done.  There are two upcoming projects I’d like to mention, for readers and writers alike.

First off, for the first time in over two years, Martinus Publishing is open to submissions for an anthology.  Forbidden!  will be taking subs from now until the end of December, focusing on stories that revolve around something that is “Forbidden.”  I’m hoping to see a good mix of stories for this one, and stories that explore the theme less traditionally.  I’d like to see some stories that focus on fairly innocuous or commonplace things being forbidden or banned in the past or future, and avoid a lot of clich├ęd rehashes of drug or sex stories.   Imagine a world where sugar is illegal, or a time in the past where someone rebelled by wearing purple (when only royalty were allowed to).  Think outside the box a little, and let your fingers do the talking on your keyboard!  For more guidelines, check out the MP submissions page here.

The other project in the works is the third installment in our “Author Spotlight” series, which gives selected solo writers the chance to showcase their best (and some of my favorite) stories.  This time, the honor goes to Bruno Lombardi, and his 8-story collection is currently being formatted.  This series is planned as an ebook special, so get your Kindles fired up for this!  We’ll have a dedicated post for this collection when we get closer to the release date.  Look for this one toward the beginning of August.

So, as I have been settling into my Editor’s life again, I have taken a few brief moments to glance over some of my old projects, and recall the fire that propelled me into this life I’m living.  As I looked back at several of the previously published anthologies that I’ve worked on over the years, I came across what is possibly my fondest and most disappointing release; Quests, Curses, and Vengeance.  This fat collection of stories came out when Martinus Publishing was in its early stages, and I am eternally saddened that it did not spark much interest from the reading community.  It was by far the largest book MP has released to date, and it was by far one of my favorites.  This was the product of a writing shootout, with stories derived from a single contest.  I had the most fun reading and editing these stories, more than I’ve ever had before or since.  I had the pleasure of working with some of the best writers I’ve ever known.

In my bit of nostalgia, I looked over the list of stories and authors, and I realize how much I miss the feeling I had back then.  It was all so new, and refreshing.  So many of those writers I haven’t heard from in years, and some aren’t even with us anymore (RIP Nye).  I wish this book had gotten greater attention, but as is the case with most of the things I like the most, few others appreciate them.

There are times I miss those days, but only certain parts.  The stories and the writers who crafted them were truly a highlight of those years, which are not so far behind.  I hope the future will bring me back to that feeling, and beyond.

Monday, April 17, 2017

In Your Closet and In Your Head



So, I haven’t talked a lot about this project, but it’s high time I let you know.  Last winter, I was approached by my old writing friend Aaron (A.C.) Hall about an anthology he was putting together with Steve Beaulieu and an "all star team" of indie writers.  They were assembling an anthology of “monster” stories, and I was invited to be a part of it.  It was something I couldn’t pass up, as I continue to get back in the writing game after a few years of limited creation.

So, with invitation in hand, I went to work, creating my first serious piece of fiction in years.  I’ve done monster stories before, of course, though I knew I had to try something a little different.  I wanted to make something special for the anthology, other than your run of the mill monster tale, while returning to my sci-fi roots.  A concept popped into my head rather quickly, and I spent a couple of weeks fleshing it out.  The end result was an alien invasion story with a twist called "Monsters In our Midst."

I had a great experience creating this story, and working with Steve Beaulieu on the editing.  He gave me editorial insight that polished the short to perfection.  It was an important step which I needed after years of growing rusty.  You can edit other people’s work all day, but sometimes fail to see the flaws in your own stuff.

This collection of stories is really amazing, and I haven’t even gotten through all of them (blast this hectic life of mine).  You have some fairly well-known contributors in this anthology, and a wide array of topics.  For a monster anthology, it is very diverse.

This collection hasn’t been out long, and it already has six 5-star reviews on Amazon.  For a multi-author anthology, that’s a really good sign.  I am honored and excited to see the praise these stories are getting, including my own.  It’s a good first step back into the writing field for me.  Being an editor has its ups and downs, but nothing beats creating your own fiction and having people enjoy it. 



Sunday, April 16, 2017

Altered Europa Interview: Sam Kepfield



Hello, and welcome to our latest series of author interviews.  The long anticipated anthology "Altered Europa" was released on April 2, 2017 (ORDER IT HERE), and as we continue to promote the collection we are still running interviews of various contributors.

Today I'm interviewing Sam Kepfield, who contributed Foundation and Evil Empire.

MTI:  For those of our readers who aren’t familiar with you, how about we start off with you telling them a little bit about yourself.

SAM KEPFIELD:  I’m not good at talking about myself.  I am 53, and a practicing attorney.  I keep my sanity by spinning tales about other times and other worlds. 

MTI:  Your story, Foundation and Evil Empire., appears in Altered Europa, an anthology devoted to alternate history and altered reality.  Tell us a little bit more about this contribution, particularly, how does it deviate from known history?

SK:  Isaac Asimov, the Grand Master science fiction author, was born in the Soviet Union in 1920.  His family moved to America shortly thereafter.  I’ve wondered what would have happened to Dr. Asimov had he not moved to America.  With his personality and inquisitiveness and inability to suffer fools gladly, it would have been fascinating to see him function and challenge the Soviet system.  I envisioned him still be a writer, but a sci-fi version of Alexander Solzhenitsyn, revealing truths about the system in his work. 

MTI:  If you could go back to any point in time and change any historical event to create an "altered" world, what would you choose to change?

SK:  Only one? 

I’ve always wanted to go back to 1916 and make sure Roger Casement got his 900 Mauser rifles to the Irish rebels and make the Easter Rising succeed.  Lately, though, there have been thoughts of sending a robot back in time to deal with a certain real estate developer…..

MTI:  For further pondering, if a wormhole leading to an alternate reality suddenly appeared in front of you, would you dare to take the plunge and discover what awaits on the other side?

SK:  I would.

MTI:  Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?

SK:  I am working on an alternate-history/political thriller/hard sf novel.  The basic premise is that the USSR did not collapse in 1991, and that it is still alive and well in 2017 and in a race with the United States to reach Mars first.

MTI:  Other than your work appearing in Altered Europa, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?

SK:  I don’t have anything definite, but I have works in submission and in progress.

MTI:  On a lighter note, have you watched any good tv lately?

SK:  I don’t watch television.  I’m too busy reading.

MTI:  How about music?

SK:  My musical tastes are stuck in the 1980s.   Hall & Oates, Journey, Genesis, Steve Winwood, ELO, Level 42, Bananarama, Swing Out Sister, Scandal, Thomas Dolby, you name it.

MTI:  Can you name three movies that you’ve enjoyed watching during the past year?

SK:  I haven’t been to a first-run movie (other than a Pixar show with the kids) since 2006, when Peter Jackson’s crummy King Kong remake made me swear off movies.  The news that someone is actually trying to remake 2001:  A Spacey Odyssey has convinced that the terrorists are right, that our culture is decadent and decaying. 

MTI:  Interesting answers.  Thank you for a great interview, Sam.  I hope everyone picks up a copy of Altered Europa, for a taste of your excellent writing!


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Altered Europa Initial Success

Taking a brief moment to review Altered Europa's first week on sale, I note that we are doing well.  At the time of this writing, we're at 15,268 on Amazon Kindle (Altered Europa Kindle version here), and #27 in the "Alternate History" category.  Our initial boost came from the pre-orders, but we've seen a steady flow of sales on Kindle each day since the release.  We aren't seeing the numbers we had with Altered America just yet, but things are going well.  We received our first 5-star review this week!  So far, detractors have yet to appear.

Anything could happen at this point.  The anthology could take off and sell huge, or the sales flow could slow.  We are teetering on the balance at the moment.

Keep spreading the word, and let's make Altered Europa the best-selling Martinus Publishing title yet!
http://www.martinus.us/books.html#ae

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Altered Europa Interview: Bruno Lombardi



Hello, and welcome to our latest series of author interviews.  The long anticipated anthology "Altered Europa" will be coming out on April 2, 2017 (ORDER IT HERE)!  In preparation for this grand release we'll be running interviews of various contributors.

Today I'm interviewing Bruno Lombardi, who contributed The Battle of Tim Hortons (co written with Ben Prewitt), and also co-wrote N'oublions Jamais with Tom Anderson. 

MTI:  We've done a few interviews over the years, but believe it or not there are still people who don't know who you are.  Why not tell our new readers a little bit about yourself?

BL:  I work as a civil servant for the Canadian government by day and am a writer by night. While I’ve been writing fictional short stories for seemingly forever and regaling friends and family with my many misadventures that often sounds comically fictional, it’s only been the last five or six years or so that I’ve actually become published. My writing career seems to have taken off quite a bit since then, with one published novel and over a dozen published short stories since then.

MTI:  Now for Altered Europa, you co-authored two stories.  The first one that appears is N'oublions Jamais,. which you wrote with Tom Anderson.  Tell us a little bit more about this contribution, particularly, how does it deviate from known history?

BL:  Not to give too much away from the plot, as some of the joy of the story is the realization of just how and why everything deviated, the basic idea is a World War One with wildly different and surprising alliances.

MTI:  Tell us a little bit about your other contribution, The Battle of Tim Hortons.  What's the story behind it?

BL:  It’s the late 1980’s, the Soviets have finally decided to take a roll of the dice and start a land invasion of Western Europe and we follow the (mis)adventures of a group of Canadian soldiers in a mechanized infantry unit.

Yes, Ben and I somehow managed to make a comedy out of a WWIII scenario…

MTI:  How much fun is it  to co-write with fellow authors?  How did your collaborations with Ben Prewitt and Tom Anderson come about?

BL:  The backstory of how The Battle of Tim Hortons got written, first off, had a truly hilarious genesis to it. I know Ben from various discussion boards and he knew I was a budding writer. So one day, pretty much out of the blue about 8 years ago or so, he threw me a small snippet of the story.

I laughed my butt off! Ben’s ex-military, so one definitely gets the impression that some of the stuff is, if not based on actual real events and people, is certainly both plausible and familiar to those in the service.  I asked him for more of the story and was annoyed he didn’t have more, so together we fleshed it out into a full length story.

As for Tom, we’ve been collaborating on various projects for years, so when he asked me if I wanted to be co-writer on his story, I jumped at the chance. The fun part of the story was that it was written ‘round-robin’ style, which each of us writing several hundred words, then e-mailing it to the other to do the same and then back again. I think we managed to write the entire story in just under a week.

MTI:  If you could go back to any point in time and change any historical event to create an "altered" world, what would you choose to change?

BL: I’ve read – and written! – enough stories like this to worry about the ramifications of the butterfly effect but if I had to pick one event, it’s be the events leading up to WW1. There were so many ‘Almost WW1’ events and crises that, nevertheless, had cooler heads prevail in the end that one can argue that 1914 could have been avoided as well.

MTI:  For further pondering, if a wormhole leading to an alternate reality suddenly appeared in front of you, would you dare to take the plunge and discover what awaits on the other side?

BL:  Oh tempting! Very tempting! Do I get to come back or is this strictly one way? If I can get back, I’ll only hesitate long enough to pack a lunch. Otherwise, I’ll think I’ll take a pass on it.

MTI:  Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?

BL:  A few projects here and there that I hope to submit to various anthologies in the next six months. One is dieselpunk version of the Rapunzel fairy tale, a second is the adventures of a New York Subway technician having to deal with a most unusual problem and a third deals with a perennial favorite topic of mine – time travel.

MTI:  Other than your work appearing in Altered Europa, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?

BL:  By the time this interview sees print, a short story of mine – ‘Devil in the City of Lights’ – will be published in Occult Defective Quarterly #2.

MTI:  On a lighter note, have you watched any good tv lately?

BL:  I’ve become absolutely enamored with the show Legends of Tomorrow. It’s an absolutely bonkers show that not only has fully embraced its silly premise but has decided to just drive off into the sunset with it as well.

MTI:  How about music?

BL:  Always have been and always will be a fan of blues and jazz and I’ve been enjoying tracking down all kinds of independent labels showcasing different takes on the genre, including multicultural versions.

MTI:  Can you name 3 good movies you've seen in the past year?

BL:  Rogue One, like for many people, made me feel like a kid again. Alas, I haven’t seen much lately that I enjoyed but hope springs eternal this summer.

MTI:  Readers love samples.  Do you happen to have a story excerpt you'd like to share with us today? 

BL:  This is a snippet from that dieselpunk story I was mentioning earlier:

She runs across cobblestones stained by a century of smoke and sewage and sediment, the moonlight reflected on scum-encrusted puddles of fluids best not looked at carefully.

There is, however, no danger of that happening at the moment, as more pertinent thoughts are foremost on her mind.

The main one being, quite simply, survival.

For the sixth – or perhaps seventh? – time in as many minutes, Valeria looks around the dark streets looking for a sign – any sign – of help or assistance or succor. And for the sixth – or perhaps seventh? – time, she is disappointed.

The streets are empty of human life at this time of night and now the domain of cats, dogs and rodents. The streetlights – those few and far between that are still functional – are haloed by the ever-present haze of smoke and fog that hangs as a shroud over the city.

For a moment – for a brief moment – she snickers. For a City That Never Sleeps, it certainly seems to be napping very hard at the moment.

And then her mind snaps back into the here and now. She takes another long breath and ignores the burning sensation of her overtaxed lungs being forced to go beyond their limits once more. Her leather boots – thankfully chosen for functionality rather than fashion – pound against the ground. She catches a glimpse of her shadow on a brick wall and a small part of her mind notes – with bemused satisfaction incongruous with her present situation – that her flapping overcoat brings forth the image of a giant bat flying through an ancient canyon.

A silhouette appears in the haze a street ahead, an ogre of old carrying a giant crossbow. The haze clears somewhat and the image resolves itself into that of a large man instead. The crossbow weapon resolves into an angry looking large revolver with an equally large rotating machine-gun-like cylinder attached to it.

Even now, Valeria finds her scientific mind analyzing the gun as the man – a gold tooth glinting in the darkness – advances forth.

A Manville Gas Gun? 37 mm, if I’m not mistaken. Twelve rounds. Designed to carry flare, smoke, sleep or tear gas canisters. Rather poor design – kept jamming up on troops during the Battle of Lake Superior last year. 

Valeria twists to her left and down a hidden alleyway, her passage leaving twisting vortexes in the fog in her wake. She had grown up in this part of New York City a lifetime ago and knows these half-formed and unmapped alleys the same way she knew a Coffman engine starter; like the back of her hand.

She has just dodged around a cumbersome pile of crates and was just about to leap over a fence when the man with the Manville Gas Gun appears out of the shadows.

“I grew up in this neighbourhood too,” says the man.

And then he fires the gun.

MTI:  A tempting tidbit!  Thanks for another great interview, Bruno.  Those who wish to read his alternate history stories can pick up Altered Europa.