Sunday, July 27, 2014

Deadlines and Decisions

I've had a busy couple of weeks with Martinus Publishing.

Cover art by Yelyzaveta Trygubova
First off, the final story selections have been made for "To Hell with Dante," and I hope to announce the official list of stories soon.  I'm still waiting to hear back from one author, and waiting for a rewrite from another, but overall the collection is locked in.  This set of cynical afterlife stories will be making its way to market in early October, just in time for Halloween shoppers.

Next, I am pleased to set a deadline for "Yarr, A SpacePirate Anthology."  The submissions have been slow but steady to this collection, and there is still plenty of room, but there are enough qualified stories now accepted and contracted that I am confident that we can set a date for closing submissions.  So, if you've got a story you think may be a good fit for this collection (or want to write one to fit it), get the story to me no later than November 30, 2014.

The slush pile is shrinking now, as I get through a backlog of stories that have been building up.  I still have quite a few to read through for both Altered Europa and We WereHeroes.  With any luck, we'll soon have deadlines for those anthologies as well.

The Temporal Element II is now accepting submissions, and cover art has been commissioned.  Expect to see the grand unveiling for the new art sometime in the next couple of months.

As you can see, a lot is going on for the small press, and there are still other things in the works that will be coming to light soon.  Stay tuned.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Depreciation of Dreams (Poem/Song)

I've been feeling rather moody lately, and while that isn't good for writing concrete fiction it is rather good for throwing down poetry and song lyrics.  I'll have more to say about my musical dreams in another post (when I can collect my thoughts more coherently).  In the meantime, enjoy this bonus poem/song, which speaks of the struggle to find something more than this mundane existence proffers.

There comes a time when dreams betray you
and fantasies fail you;
yes, I've known for so long.
When you wake up
and find that you're shaken;
the reality's bringing you down.

No matter how hard
you try to cling,
that goddamn truth
is gonna do you in.
There's no getting out
of this sinister place
the world of facts can't be denied.

Another fallen dream
never to be realized,
never to be seen;
all a forgotten scheme,
the kind we feel should be real—
if only it could be,
then we would be free

Tell me it's better
to live all our lives
slogging away in real time.
Show me it's best
to live like the rest
never knowing what else we could find.
If this is so great
why does it reek
of sorrow and boredom and hate?
Are we truly meant to live only once
without ever challenging fate?

Dare we venture
beyond these gates,
endeavor to dream again,
whatever the stakes?
It takes but one flight of fancy
and we're back in the race.

But then it comes 'round again.
They tell you no, no, no!
You run into a brick wall.
Failure makes you feel small
and your faith in your fantasy's gone.
It's a fleeting dream
condemned to nevermore.

For the dreams betray you
and fantasies fail you;
we've all seen them disappear now.
Seen tomorrow's promise
vanish in to dust
never again to be found.
But at the end of the night
dare we make it a fight
or throw up our hands and resign;
surrender again and say goodbye
to our promised fantastical sight?

Will it be all right
to give up on what might?

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Unrequited–A Poem of Secret Torment

In the next few weeks, I plan to start posting more to the blog, which means finding different things to share that will hopefully be of interest to you, my appreciated readers.  Here's one writing-related feature that I'm trying to bring back; sharing my poetry and song lyrics.  Let's see if anyone is interested...

Many of you know that I have written poetry for almost as long as I've been writing fiction.  I even had a few poems published in my early 20's, though the stack of rejection letters rivals that for my fiction marketing.  Poetry is an outlet for emotion, and sometimes telling a story.  At least, that's how I write it.

Today I share with you a deeply personal poem, something that was written for someone who will never read it... unless by some strange twist of fate they discover this blog... but even then I doubt they'd ever consider this to be written for them...  Er, I don't know if they'd laugh, scream, or cry if they ever did realize... Oh, crap, I've said too much.  Let's just get on with it already!

I have kissed you in the dream
your skin so pure
and lips demure,
yet when the dawn came
crashing upon my eyes
I swear I saw your face
before the fleeting shadows
of the never night
assured you were not there.

I seek your passion,
the forbidden love
that never will be known,
for this man is a dreaming darkness
and you are the light in the night,
the light I can see within
the eyes that'll never know me.

Your alien world
holds many pains and pleasures
the secrets you'll never share
of your darkest despair.
It has nothing to do with me
for my love, unfulfilled
it shall ever be,
so I can never cause you pain

The dream that never dies
but never knows truth
is the saving grace
of this sleeping man
who toils in solitude
and of the unrequited loved
who will never know
the touch of my tender soul.

Forever it shall be
the agony of the impure
this heart of tarnished gold
loving chaste from afar
and ever praying
that you'll never be the whore.

In closing, I hope you appreciate the artistry of the piece, above all.  If you enjoy my poetry, let me know, so I'll know there's a reason to share more of it.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Life of the Dead, Released!

Everything has finally come together for "Life of the Dead," and I am pleased to announce its official release.  It is currently available for the kindle, and the print version should be on Amazon soon.  Also, you can always buy copies from Martinus Publishing for $12, which is 95 cents off the regular retail price.  As for ebooks, this volume will be exclusive to the kindle, as a kdp select version.

There are some really great stories in this collection, and it's not just a bunch of typical horror zombie stories.  These stories are very character driven, with elements of sci-fi that make them quite fun to read.  Speaking as someone who isn't the biggest fan of the "zombie" genre, these stories are really good.

Want to read a sample?  Check out Joseph Conat's contribution, Tickity-Tock, a different kind of detective story!

Don't let the cover fool you; this isn't just zombie stories.  A lot of the tales deal with death in other ways.  Check out the tableof contents for an added feel for the storylines.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Man Who Shot Thomas Edison... at last!

Fans of "West of the Warlock" have been patient with me to bring out the third installment in this fantasy western series, and at long last that patience will be rewarded.  Coming in August, readers will finally be able to buy "The Man Who Shot Thomas Edison" in paperback or for the kindle!  The final formatting is complete for the book, and I should have the proof copy to review later this week.  Therefore, the book is now available for pre-order here.

This book was completed way back in 2012, and was part of the original trilogy contracted by Hall Brothers Entertainment for publication.  I was hoping to get this book into print sooner, but with all the responsibilities of running Martinus Publishing, it had to wait.

Now, for your viewing pleasure, here is the front cover artwork by Paul Milligan:

It's great to have the same artist on all 3 West of the Warlock book covers, and I'm glad that we were able to maintain the similar "pattern" to the three pieces.

This book will bring back the same characters you've come to enjoy (Sheriff Doliber, Ron Grimes, Joella Talus, Solen Lucca, just to name a few), and we'll get to meet some new ones who add new flavor to the wild west the way it wasn't.  I guarantee you, it won't be the last, as the fourth book is already written, and a fifth is also in the works.  The release date of these sequels will be contingent on sales of The Man Who Shot Thomas Edison.  If it sells well (breaks even), I'll be more inclined to get the next book out, so be sure to spread the word!

Unlike the first two books in the series, this one will be missing the editing talents of A.C. Hall.  I hope he's still finding time to write, and that I'll get to see some more of it one of these days.

So, who's fired up to read The Man Who Shot Thomas Edison?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

A Question Of Pronunciation

As Martinus Publishing grows and gains more popularity, a question keeps getting posed to me.  Namely, how do you pronounce Martinus?  It wasn't something I ever considered difficult, it was basically my first name with "us" tagged onto the end.  It actually originated as a joke ages ago regarding a "gladiator" name, but that's beside the point.

For those who might be in doubt, it is "Mar-tin-us."  Some people have mistakenly translated it as "Martinez" and a few times I've heard it as Martin U.S., with the last two letters spelled out.  Ironic, that I've had such trouble getting people to say my last name properly over the years, now I have an entire company that can trip them up!  It's only fitting, I suppose.

So, if anyone asks, make sure they know it's us, not is.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Life of the Dead Stories and Pre-Order Offer

The final formatting for Life of the Dead is now complete, so the book is available for pre-order.  It's only $12, so reserve your copy today here.

Of course, I'm sure you'd like to learn a little more about the contents, so here's the story list, along with brief descriptions:

1:  Living Ever After –by Emily Swaim
When the plague of death infects humanity, Evelyn Lifor fights for a cure, but not everyone wants to be cured.

2:  Last Request –by Edmund Wells
An undead comedian runs afoul of angry country folk, and has one last shot at the spotlight.

3:  Stiffed –by Ken MacGregor and Kerry G.S. Lipp
Jason wakes up dead, but for how long?

4:  Death Insurance –by L. Rigdon
After a fatal accident, Samuel Hinkley finds that his death insurance premium has been misplaced by computer error, forcing him to wade through a sea of bureaucracy to claim his rightful rest.

5:  The Future –by Mark Olivares
Amidst the zombie apocalypse, there lurks a new sort of hunter.

6:  Tickity-Tock –by Joseph Conat
Detectives are on the hunt for a criminal intent on utilizing zombies as a deadly weapon.

7:  Girls Gone Dead –by James S. Dorr
Undead models make a modest profit for this professional photographer.

8:  And Then There Were None –by Karl G. Rich
Years beyond the zombie wars, a top-secret research group hunts for answers amidst the Siberian permafrost.

9:  Cure –by Jay Wilburn
To defeat the zombie menace, great sacrifices must be made, and the cure could be a deadly one!

10:  The Miracle of Death –by Edmund Wells
When an eccentric old doctor promises the story of a lifetime, one ambitious young reporter seeks to make a name for herself.

11:  Zombie Zoo –by Tim Mucci
On a distant colony world, the remnants of the great zombie plague remain as a fading attraction to space-faring tourists.

12:  The Shombie Apocalypse –by Neal Wooten
Questions and controversy plague a society where only women are affected by the zombie affliction.

13:  Dead Thoughts –by Ross Baxter
A legendary crime boss hires a college student to perform a controversial experiment on his zombified daughter—to unlock her dead thoughts!

14:  Z1 –by JL Mo
The Sauntess race came to Earth with the promise of peace, only to infect mankind with a deadly virus, one they are desperate to cure.

15:  Just Another Friday Night –by David Greske
A macabre ensemble gathers for drinks and poker at the local cemetery.

16:  The Quantum Dead –by Larry Hinkle
Theoretical physics play a role in explaining the lives and motivations of the undead.

17:  Dread Man Walking –by Barry Rosenberg
Cursed with a horrible disease, one scientist develops a lethal cure for himself.

18:  Beau –by Lauren A. Forry
What happens to man's best friend when the zombie apocalypse strikes?

19:  Soul Tracker –by Dan Gainor
A science-fiction epic of alien worlds, conjoined souls, and one man's quest to become the ultimate warrior.

There you have it in a nutshell.  When you're ready to buy, head over to the book's description page and click the handy paypal link.  Shipping is free for delivery in the USA.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Life of the Dead Update & Contents

It has been far too long since I posted to the blog, as work and life's many activities keep me busy.  Much is happening, and time seems to get away from me at this time of year.

The final formatting for the Life of the Dead anthology is nearing completion, and I can safely say that the collection of stories will be published in July.  I’m sorry to say it will be 1 story shorter than I had planned, as someone who promised me a story ended up bailing on me.  Even without that final addition, we’re still looking at over 90,000 words, as a couple of these selections are lengthy.

So, here is the final table of contents:

1:  Living Ever After –by Emily Swaim
2:  Last Request –by Edmund Wells
3:  Stiffed –by Ken MacGregor and Kerry G.S. Lipp
4:  Death Insurance –by L. Rigdon
5:  The Future –by Mark Olivares
6:  Tickity-Tock –by Joseph Conat
7:  Girls Gone Dead –by James S. Dorr
8:  And Then There Were None –by Karl G. Rich
9:  Cure –by Jay Wilburn
10:  The Miracle of Death –by Edmund Wells
11:  Zombie Zoo –by Tim Mucci
12:  The Shombie Apocalypse –by Neal Wooten
13:  Dead Thoughts –by Ross Baxter
14:  Z1 –by JL Mo
15:  Just Another Friday Night –by David Greske
16:  The Quantum Dead –by Larry Hinkle
17:  Dread Man Walking –by Barry Rosenberg
18:  Beau –by Lauren A. Forry
19:  Soul Tracker –by Dan Gainor

I plan to have some tag lines for each story to describe their content in the next week or two.  As intended, most of these stories have a science-fictional element, and aren’t your typical zombie gore-fest (though there are still elements of horror and the horrific, obviously).

Pre-orders for Life of the Dead will open up toward the end of June.

Cover art by Tito Miranda

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

My Attitude When Reading Slush

Well, I’m still going over the last few submissions to Life of the Dead, and it is a really hard thing to do.  Why, do you ask?  It’s because there are so many qualified stories in this batch that could easily find their way into print, but there is only so much room left.  The last selections will be made in the next week or two, as I reflect on the entire situation.

This brings me to an interesting topic that I thought I’d discuss briefly.  That is, the attitude I adopt when reading through the slush pile.  I suppose you could say it is different for everyone, but when I take on the task, I go into with the attitude that I want to like the story.  I want to enjoy this and accept it.  Later, as I read into the story, it will either prove me right and get accepted, or it will change my mind.

I have heard that some editors do the exact opposite.  They read their slush piles with the attitude that they hate every story, and wait for the stories to prove them wrong before getting accepted.  I simply can’t buy into this negative approach.  Others still claim to have a true neutral position, but that is a hard code to follow.  Depending on your mood or the time of day, or what’s going on in you personal life, you’re going to start reading with a particular bias.  I suppose it’s easier to be negative for some folks, which is where the concept of “hate everything until proven wrong” comes into play.

This is why I sometimes have a backlog of stories to read.  When I am feeling negative or preoccupied, I cannot read slush with the positive attitude that I require to find those stories I truly like.  I don’t want to run the risk of passing on a story that I could enjoy, simply because I’m in a bad mood that makes it impossible for me to appreciate what I’m reading.  Also, I don’t want to start accepting stories that I’m not enjoying, thinking I’ll like them later.  First impressions are often lasting, and the memory of not enjoying something can put a permanent stain on it.

Some people will call my publishing philosophy unprofessional, but it is the entire impetus behind Martinus Publishing.  I went into this to publish stories that I wanted to read, stories that may not otherwise see the light of day.  I continue to adhere to that business model, feeling that people will either appreciate the stuff I publish, or they won’t.  I cling to the hope that there are other readers out there who are thirsting for the kind of entertainment that I myself appreciate.  Therefore, I will continue to publish to entertain, above and beyond anything else.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Praise and Criticism

Altered America has begun to cool down a little, though we have been getting a few reviews on Amazon.  It’s a pretty mixed lot, with 5 positives and 3 negatives, and by those numbers it’s currently less than 1 in 100 readers who have posted a review.  I can’t say if this is a clear sample of reader opinion, so I hope more people eventually get around to posting.  (Check it out on—buy it and post your review)

The positive reviews have been encouraging, and the few negatives seem to be more a matter of personal tastes than anything.  Overall, people who don’t like the collection seem to have the attitude that it isn’t what they want it to be.  One apparent complaint is that it doesn’t read like a novel.  This is like someone buying a Mercedes and complaining that it isn’t a Learjet.  Altered America is an anthology of short stories, which is a totally different creature than a single author novel.  An anthology is more like a pulp magazine, where the subject matter of stories can vary considerably.  Apparently, there are those who don’t understand what it is they’re buying.

The only other serious criticisms have been the aforementioned disputes over what “Alternate History” really is.  It seems some people don’t think Alt. History should contain any Fantasy or Sci-Fi, and even a minority of stories containing such elements then ruins the majority that don’t contain any of those aspects.  There is also the lingering question of what “validity fiction” is, though that was posted in a positive review, so it can’t be that bad.

They say you can’t please everybody, and that is never more true than when you’re dealing with fiction.  Personal preference is something you can never account for, nor can you change it.  I only hope more people who enjoy the book feel motivated to express themselves, so other readers will be inclined to check it out, and decide for themselves.

Oh, and Sergio Leone is brilliant, thank you very much.

Friday, April 25, 2014

"Real" Alternate History

You knew it had to happen.  Alternate America finally got a negative review, though it was actually quite entertaining.  Some people say you shouldn’t respond to bad press or negative criticism, and that is true in many cases.  However, it can be fun to play with it, so long as you don’t take yourself too seriously and don’t go after reviewers with a steak knife.  I’ve often made fun of criticism, as can be evidenced by my own “mock” review of The Guns of Mars excerpt displayed during the 2009 ABNA contest.

So, the review in question today is a 2-star review on Amazon which gives the reviewer’s opinion that Altered America is “Not Really Alternate History,” which is pretty funny in itself.  Of course, there are various types of Alternate History, though as this review explains “real” Alt. History has to focus on a specific historical event and change it to create a different future (and there can’t be any magic, time travel, or other such nonsense involved).  So, that’s his personal preference and he’s welcome to it.

When I put this collection together, I decided to include a varied assortment of stories, to span the full spectrum of the Alternate History genre (which, contrary to one person’s opinion, can be quite diverse).  There are a few stories in Altered America that include Fantasy elements, a one that includes Sci-Fi elements, but a majority of them are still straight up Alternate material.

For the sake of argument, let’s take a quick assessment of each story, and see what comprises it.  Anyone who wants to see some brief tag-line descriptions for these stories can go to its Martinus Publishing listing.

Rio Grande by Jackson Kuhl:  Straight Alternate History in the 19th Century, where parts of Texas formed a separate nation.
We the People –by Dan Gainor:  Alt History +Sci-Fi (cloning the founding fathers).
A Single Decision –by Bruno Lombardi:  Straight Alternate History about 9/11.
What if... The Louisiana Purchase Never Happened –by Edmund Wells:  Straight Alt. History.  During the early 1960’s, alternate political divides exist in America during JFK’s Administration.
The Orthogonian –by Sam Kepfield: Straight Alt History, early 1970’s, Nixon as an FBI agent.
Revolution 1865 –by Brad Hafford: Straight Alt. History, British still rule America.
Ship of Souls –by Erik Bundy:  Alt. History +Fantasy.  Vikings settle North America, and there are some ghosts and supernatural elements mixed in.
End of the Rainbow –by Dusty Wallace:  Alt. History +Fantasy.  Elves and Leprechauns in modern times, plus historical back story.
The Loyalist Washington –by Owen Morgan:  Straight Alt. History.  Washington stayed loyal to England.
Guns of the Green Mountains –by Ryan McCallStraight Alt. History.  American independence fails, Vermonters fight against England in 1802.
The Shining Path –by Jason Sharp:  Straight Alt. History.  America invades Quebec in the 1970’s, clearly defined historical explanation included.
The Union Forever –by Sean Menken:  Straight Alt. History.  Years after the Confederacy wins the Civil War, Maryland votes to join them.
Goodbye, Norma Jean –by William R. D. Wood:  Straight Alt. History.  Nuclear war during the early 1960’s, featuring Marilyn Monroe.
Wild Blue –by Jeff Provine:  Alt. History +Steampunk.  Balloon travel abounds in the Wild West (a plausible historical change is explained to justify it).
Avoid Seeing A Mouse –by James S. Dorr:  Alt. History +Fantasy.  Egyptian mythology and curses play a role during Y2K.
Thomas Edison Visits Selwood –by Martin T. Ingham:  Alt. History +Fantasy.  Magic competes with technology for supremacy in the 1880’s.
Divided States of America –by Lauren A. Forry:   Straight Alt. History.  America is balkanized by a dispute over the Constitution, and the various nations are at war during modern times.
A Girl’s Best Friend –by Cyrus P. Underwood:  Straight Alt. History. Marilyn Monroe didn’t die in 1962, and changed history because of it.
The Lights on Broadway –by Charles Wilcox:  Alt. History +Steampunk.  An alternate form of power is discovered at the dawn of the 20th Century.
The Black Blizzard –by Philip Overby:  Alt. History +Fantasy.  Elves, Minotaurs, and Magic exist during the Great Depression.
The Road Was Lit with Moon and Star –by Bruno Lombardi:  Straight Alt. History.  Apollo 11 crashes, and Apollo 12 (with an alternate commander) must land on the moon first.

So, let’s do the math.  That’s 13 “real” Alternate History, 1 +sci-fi, 2 +Steampunk, and 5 +Fantasy.  For a book that isn’t “really Alternate History,” it certainly has a lot of Alternate History in it—just in case anyone was wondering.

The reviewer’s other big complaint was that 3 stories involved either Marilyn Monroe or JFK.  They were all completely different and unique, but there’s no accounting for taste.  It is clear that the reviewer has no problem with the writing, as he has no complaint other than that the stories aren't his cup of tea.  Two of his three other Amazon reviews make a point of deriding poor writing, so, in this case, omission is a compliment!  Good writing and good editing must have earned us that second star!

So, in summary, if you hate Fantasy, Sci-Fi, or JFK/Marilyn Monroe stories, then you might not like half the stories in Altered America.  Though, if you enjoy a little speculative fiction, as well as solid, “real” Alternate History, then this collection is just the thing for you.  Pick it up and see for yourself.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Altered America Ranked #1

For those of you who aren’t yet following the Martinus News on the main page of the website, I’d like to share this brief accomplishment with you.  Late Monday night, Altered America hit the #1 Bestseller rank in Amazon Kindle’s “Alternative History” listing!  It maintained this position through Tuesday and into the early part of Wednesday before finally dropping back to #2, where it currently sits.  This is a great accomplishment, and it is my hope that it isn’t the last time we’ll see such success.

The next step toward winning more readers is to get some more reviews posted.  Out of the 600+ buyers of Altered America, we haven’t seen that many speaking up yet.  This is probably because a lot of them haven’t had the time to read the whole anthology yet, though I would again encourage anyone who has read it to post a review.  Multi-author collections have a hard time getting reviewed, even when they are popular.  It would be nice to see another batch of reviews, that could be highlighted on the blog in future weeks.

Don’t forget to buy your copy today, and help us get back to #1!  (Amazon Link)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Closing Early

This is something that an editor never likes to do.  I'm sorry to say that I must call an early end...

I'll give you all a minute to take a deep breath.

Feeling better?  Okay, as I was saying, I'm afraid I must call an early end to the submissions period for Life of the Dead.

This is actually a good thing.  There have been so many qualified submissions for this anthology that I could have put together 2 books!  As good as it is to have a wide variety to choose from, it is also a bit sad in the fact that I have to say no to so many worthy authors.

The last month has been crazy, with submissions flowing in left and right.  At this point, I have pretty much all of the material that I need, and it would be unfair to ask people to keep sending in submissions, knowing that I really can't use any more.  There are a couple of slots left that aren't "locked down," but there are several stories vying for those slots, and unless something incredible comes in soon, I'll have to make the final selections.

The new submissions deadline for Life of the Dead is April 30, 2014.  If you happen to have something exceptional, send it along, but keep in mind the competition is fierce.  Some hard sci-fi would have the best chance of winning out at this point, just FYI.

The date of publication is now set for early July 2014.