Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas Update

Ice Storm Chronicles, day four...

It’s Christmas day and the electricity is still out.  Additionally, the phone has gone out, so nobody can call.  My mother-in-law was due to phone in as the kids opened their presents, but can’t.  Nor can the few others who generally call to say hello on this special day.  So much for that.

Still, we are much better off than a lot of folks this Christmas.  Without power, a lot of people run into real trouble.  So many houses have been switched over to automated heating systems that require electricity to operate.  No power, no heat, and it’s about fifteen degrees Fahrenheit for the high today.  How many have had to flee their homes, and will return to broken water pipes at best when the power is restored?  It is a sad thing that so many people have become helpless in the face of a minor disaster.  While I’m not shaking the value of modern conveniences, it is best that everyone possible be prepared, and have a backup in place to provide the essentials in case of such an outage.

I suppose I’m fortunate to be in a position where loss of power is merely an annoyance, rather than life and death.  A generator gives power for a few hours here and there (no sense wasting fuel or burning the thing out), and heat is all still wood supplied by hand.  Everyone here is warm and well-fed, while we wait for the crews to get the lines cleared.

Now for updates.

With the generator running, I finally got the chance to watch Enemy of the World on Christmas eve.  I was so hyped to see it that I was worried that it might not live up to my expectations.  Many other fans seem to have had the opposite reaction, as the story was held in low regard in general.  The surviving audio and telesnaps hadn’t done it justice, or so goes the consensus amongst fandom.  I, on the other hand, have always liked the story, and after seeing the actual episodes I must say it lived up to my expectations for the most part.  Still, I don’t know if my father will ever appreciate it.  He’s never liked Patrick Troughton’s portrayal of the Doctor for whatever reason.  Oh, well, you can’t please everybody.

This morning (Christmas morning) I went outside and took a few pictures of the ice.  I’ll be sharing those in the next few days when I get around to uploading them to my computer and formatting them for the blog.

With the amount of ice damage, there’s no telling when they’ll have power restored to my house.  It’s slowly coming on here and there, though it will take some time for them to get down every side road.  On that note, I’d like to take a moment to thank all of the crews who are braving the elements to fix the lines and remove the trees.  I’m sorry that many of them will be missing out on Christmas for the sake of our electrical infrastructure.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Enemy and the Ice Storm

Merry Christmas, and Humbug too!

It has been far too long since I posted to this blog, and in the new year I will endeavor to do so with more regularity.  Perhaps once a week, I will seek to share something, though it may be longer depending on family commitments and the various jobs I have to handle.  The work of an editor is never done.

Anyway, as the ice subsides and clear skies reign again—though for how long, no one can tell—I would like to impart a quaint little tale, regarding the storm, myself, and Doctor Who.

This all started back in October, with the exciting announcement that nine previously-missing episodes of Doctor Who had been recovered.  For those of you who may  be scratching your head right about now, back in the sixties and seventies, the BBC had this short-sighted habit of “junking” their old programs, in many cases destroying the only known copies of broadcast material.  All episodes of Doctor Who from the 1960’s were lost in this manner, though thankfully many still exist today thanks to copies that returned from foreign broadcasters and private collectors.  Following the latest 9-episode discovery (in Nigeria of all places), there are currently 97 episodes of Doctor Who still missing.

The recovered episodes recovered were the 6-episodes of Enemy of the World (1 of which had previously existed prior to the recovery) and 5 of the six episodes of Web of Fear (1 of which had previously existed, 1 part still missing).  Being a big fan of the old Black and White Doctor Who stories, I was really thrilled by this news, and eager to see the material for myself.  There is where this story truly begins.

After the announcement of the recovery, the episodes were put on itunes, but I can’t use their player because of the nature of my 7-year old computer system (trying to load the itunes player nearly blew my CPU).  So, I had to patiently wait for the DVD release.  The UK (Region 2) and Australian (R4) versions of Enemy of the World came in November, but as of this writing there is still no word on a US release.  This was very frustrating, as I have been waiting many years to see this lost story!  An alternative could have been to buy a Region-2 compatible disc player and to then import the British version, but that would have been costly and I’m pretty strapped for cash right now.  It seemed I would have to suffer for untold months.

Then, a curious development arose.  It seems there was a limited release of Enemy of the World Region-1 discs in several Canadian stores.  This presented a possible opportunity!  There had to be a way to acquire one of those Canuck DVD’s!  Hanging out on Gallifrey Base (the web’s pan-ultimate hang-out for “Whovians”), I was fortunate enough to encounter someone offering to pick up copies of the DVD for fellow US fans for a very reasonable price.  I jumped at the chance, and all went well.  Friday afternoon, he had the DVD in the mail to me.  I hardly expected it to arrive by Monday, yet there it was, delivered so quickly!

Here is where the story gets “interesting.”  On Sunday, and into Monday, Maine experienced a major ice storm, knocking out electricity and making it slick and dangerous on Monday afternoon as I headed out.  A thick coating of ice covered everything.  Trees were bent over and breaking.  My half-mile driveway was blocked by obstructions and more slippery than a skating rink, yet I braved the elements on foot, to examine the disaster and to discover what may await at the post office.  During my journey, I encountered electric company workers cutting trees off of the power lines, yet it was only the beginning for them.

Reaching the post-office, I had no idea what to expect, and after checking my box I saw the little yellow slip.  Retrieving my package from the window, a jolt of joy flowed over me, as I knew what I was holding.  The Enemy of the World, at last!

I made my way home with the loot, eager to finally see this story.  Yet, coming home, I found the power to still be out.  With all the devastation of the storm, it was doubtful it would be back soon, but Enemy had been missing for forty-five years, so it could wait a little longer for my eyes and ears.  Then, as the hours ticked by, the cosmic joke sank in.  After the lengths I’d gone to in order to retrieve the DVD, I now had no power to watch it!  Some might say, I could have used The Power of the Daleks.  A generator would suffice, though would have to be set up in the morning.

This DVD was a Christmas present to myself, and there I sat, waiting, writing these words by the light of a kerosene lamp.  By the time I transcribe this onto my computer and then onto the blog, I expect I will have finally seen the episodes.  I cannot wait!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

QCV Kindle Smoldering

Quests, Curses, & Vengeance has been out for 2 months now, and sales have been well below expectations.  This massive collection of Fantasy and Sci-Fi stories had an initial sales price a bit higher than other Martinus Publishing releases, though considering it is about 150,000 words the price wasn't unreasonable.  The $3.99 Kindle version has thus far done horribly, which is a real shame considering the quality of the stories and the talent of the authors involved.  This volume deserves greater exposure.

Kindle Edition
To help facilitate a larger market share, the price of this anthology will be cut down.  At $3.25, perhaps more people will be willing to give it a try.  This will mean lower profits per copy sold, but hopefully that will be offset by the increased sales.  I have also enrolled this book in the "Kindle Matchbook" program, giving anyone who purchases the print version off of Amazon a free copy of the Kindle version.  That should appeal to buyers, as well.

Thus far, Martinus Publishing has not performed all that well, though I wasn't expecting a massive profit margin to begin with.  That's why a lot of small presses don't last; their editors go into it thinking they'll make money hand over fist, when in reality it is a very uncertain industry.  Most of the small publishers these days have to understand that it is largely about the art of writing, and doing your best to bring new pieces of fiction to light as best you can.  In time, it will either pay off, or not, but the quest is the thing!

I assure you, Martinus Publishing is here to stay.  Money may not be forthcoming at the moment, but if things get tight we'll just slow down, not give up.  I will always make sure that there is enough in the bank to cover basic publishing expenses, but if an anthology has to wait for publication because money isn't available, that's just the way it is.  On the bright side, we now have paid cover art for all of our currently announced anthologies (one of the biggest expenses), so there should be no interruption in the release of any of them.  We just might have to hold off on announcing some new anthologies until I can divert more of my personal funds into the coffers.

Of course, this could all turn around tomorrow.  Bookstore X might call up and order 100 copies of MP titles, thus bringing some much needed capital into the company.  Well, at least it would be a good story.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Wrath of Carthage

National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) takes place in November, and after failing to write anything of substance all year I'm finally going to sit down and commit myself to putting down another 50,000 words on a novel.  I've done it the last 3 years in a row (successfully), and I'm trying for a four-time win.

This year's novel is tentatively entitled "The Wrath of Carthage," and it is a continuation of my "West of the Warlock" series, and a direct sequel to last year's "Unforsaken," which is finished in a rough-draft cliffhanger fashion.  In fact, the story of "Unforsaken" leaves so many loose ends and unfinished threads lying around that I may end up merging these two books into one volume when it's all over, but for the moment I'm writing this as a second "novel."

So, what's this one going to be about?  Well, I don't want to give away too much, as it also continues some unresolved issues that are revealed in "The Man Who Shot Thomas Edison," the 3rd West of the Warlock novel that has yet to be released (details about its prospective 2014 release will be revealed in the Martinus Publishing Newsletter in November; to sign up, go to and click the "Newsletter Sign-Up" button on the left side of the page).

Here's a quick blurb for The Wrath of Carthage:

The "West of the Warlock" saga continues into the roaring 20's. An ancient relic is uncovered, the key to unleashing an untold evil upon history. The mystic allies of fallen Carthage lay trapped in the past, and the unwitting meddling of elven mobsters could change the fate of the world. Earth's only chance lies in the hands Joella Talus, Boron Grimes, their ragtag band of allies, and some old foes. Failure means slavery and slaughter, yet to assure success, it could mean the demise of one of their own.  Dare they make the ultimate sacrifice to assure their future's survival, or will love condemn their world to oblivion?

This two-book set (Unforsaken/Wrath of Carthage) is not so much a departure from the "Fantasy Western" format as a continuation.  We get to see some old favorites like Joella Talus and Ron Grimes in old age, and see what the last 46 years have done for our heroes.  It's fun to explore what magic in the twenties would be like, and—as you might expect from a West of the Warlock novel—we'll have appearances from some famed historical figures (including J. Edgar Hoover and Presidential candidate Al Smith).

So, November's going to be a busy month for me.  I plan to have the backlog of Martinus Publishing anthology submissions read and decided upon by the end of October, so my calendar will be clear.  Sometimes I miss the days when I could just focus on my writing, and extraneous distractions didn't stand in the way.  Oh well, at least I'll get something done next month.  See you in the trenches.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Big Blue '54

It's been a little over a year since a 1954 Chevy Bel-Air rolled into my yard.  Of course, back then it was a derelict, little more than a junkyard special.  It wasn't running, half the glass was broken, and the interior was dreadful.  It was mostly complete, and it had spent its entire life in Arizona, so rust wasn't a big issue.  For the preliminary work on this beast, you can check out last year's post about it.

"Big Blue"
My initial intent was to have this thing road ready for the spring of 2013.  As these sort of things go, that didn't happen, but I am pretty sure that I can have it on the road in 2014.  There are still quite a few things to do to it, but things are progressing, as you will now see.

Due to various other commitments, I didn't really do much to the car this spring.  Later in the summer, I began picking away at it again, finished giving it a first coat all around, stripped much of the dash and painted that, as well as the entire interior floor.  I reupholstered the seats, put together new door panels, and recovered the door post molding.  I then installed new windlace, which is the round bead that rings the interior of the doors, just in case you're wondering.

Rear seat floorboards, cleaned and freshly painted.
Laying the carpet took me half the day, and part of getting that down was trying to cut holes for the pedals.  Of course, to do one of these perfectly, you would want to have the pedals totally removed, and then carve neat little holes to feed the metal rods through.  If I ever get to do a frame-off restoration on one of these, that'll be the way to do it; get the carpet down before anything's in the way.  The other nasty thing I had to do was cut a big hole for the master cylinder access.  Unlike every car made today (or since 1955), the 1954 and earlier Chevrolets had the brake master cylinder under the driver's side floor.  If you want to be able to check your brake fluid, you need to tear up the carpet, or have an access hole.  I ended up carving one out.  Again, in retrospect, I could have been neater about it, and perhaps glued a hunk of carpet onto the access plug to hide it.

Back seat, reinstalled.
With the carpet in, I reinstalled the seats.  That left one major interior project left: the headliner.

Of course, getting to the headliner would have to wait, as it turns out I got quite sick directly after installing the carpet.  When I first started feeling ill, I thought it might be a reaction to the spray adhesive I was using, but it wasn't.  I ended up having 2 different viruses, and one left me unable to do much of anything for over a week.  I'm finally feeling better, so this morning I decided to tackle that headliner.

It was damp when I went out at 8:30AM, and there was the threat of showers all morning.  I took down the old metal bows that are used to hold the headliner into place, and I cleaned them off with a small wire brush.  Bits of the old headliner were still glued to the metal rods, and a little surface rust was present.  I made sure to number the bows with tape, as each one is unique in its placement, even though they look nearly identical.  Once they were removed and cleaned, it started to rain, so I went inside and fed them through their appropriate sleeves in the new headliner.  By the time I had that done, the shower had passed, and I proceeded to set the bows back into place.  It's a time-consuming process to set the cloth just right, and tack it along the windshields (of course, I had the foresight to glue new tack strips above the windshields beforehand, as the original strips had rotted away long ago).  I eventually got the thing into place, and then got around to reinstalling the metal trim that rings the inside of both windshields, and helps to hold the cloth in place.  Then it was a matter of attaching things like the dome light assembly and the sun visor brackets.  By the time it was all over with, it was 4PM, and I hadn't stopped for anything, not even lunch.  But it was done!  Mind you, I could have gotten it smoother, but it didn't turn out too bad.

That clock actually runs!
The interior work has been made easy thanks to my purchase of a complete interior last fall from National Chevy Association.  They've supplied most of the parts for my restoration, and I recommend them for anyone with a 1949-54 Chevy car.  Most of their prices are as cheap as you'll find anywhere, and since they're specialists in these cars you know you'll get the right part.  Of course, a lot of the stuff for these cars hasn't been made in 50 years, so there are times where you have to work with an "almost" right part.  There is a certain amount of fitting and figuring that goes into this, but that's all part of the process.

One minor thing that wasn't part of the "complete interior" kit was a pair of triangular panels that sit on either side of the back seat.  The original cardboard panels were rotted out of my car, so I had to fabricate new ones.  To do it right, I ordered some waterproof cardboard, and covered them with the same vinyl material that came with the interior.  I have enough left over cardboard to make a few new door panels, so I may try my hand at making those from scratch sometime.

There are still quite a few things to tackle.  I still have to put the heater back into the car, and then install the new glove box.  I have new kick panels (the little cardboard triangles that go by your feet under the dash), and I have an original radio to put in it, though I don't know if it works (not that you can get much on AM around here).  There are still a few minor mechanical things to do, but for the most part it is good to go.  The only two things it needs that I don't have right now are a front windshield (there is a small crack at the bottom center which is spreading), and an exhaust.  That will all have to wait, as money is an object at this point.

A question of seat-belts:  This is something I'm still pondering.  In 1954, there were no seat belts.  Zero Chevrolet cars came with seat belts in 1954, though some were refitted years later with aftermarket belts.  While it wouldn't look bad with belts, and I personally prefer to have one buckled whenever I'm driving, it wouldn't be truly original if I installed them in this car.  The other thing to consider is that Maine is an original equipment State, meaning if your car didn't originally come equipped with some part, then you do not need to add it.  Even though Maine law requires you to buckle your belt, if you own an antique car that doesn't have them, then you don't have to wear what isn't there.  It may be appealing to some people to have a car that they could legally drive without the restriction of a seat belt, though I'm just not sure if that's for me.  I know I wouldn't be driving the kids around without belts, so this won't be a "family car" if I choose to go the no-belt route.  It would probably stay cleaner that way.

I mentioned last year that I may want to sell this thing when I'm done with it, but that'll all depend.  I don't need to sell it.  That is, I may let it go for the right price, but I won't be chiseled, and if nobody wants to give me what I've actually got in it, I'll just keep it and use it myself.  The only reason I'd want to sell it is because I could then restore another one.  Right now, my "restoration budget" is tied up in this 1954.  If somebody wants a decent driver with a ton of new parts and a complete, new interior, this is the car.  If they want a spotless show car they'd only take out once or twice a year, it isn't.

So, there you have it.  This car has acquired the name of Big Blue—at least, that's what my oldest daughter dubbed it (it's actually teal, but close enough).  It seems like a decent enough name.  It's better than "rust colored piece of crap," which was its name before I got it.  With any luck, Big Blue will be rolling down the road sometime in 2014.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fevered Musings and Altered America

I've been sick on and off the past week, and right now I have a moderate fever and half the muscles in my body are burning with knots.  Don't worry, I'll survive, and if not there's nothing your worrying can do to stop it.  Seriously, though, I've had worse, and I hope to be back on my feet in a day or two.

Now, while I'm trapped at my desk and unable to do much else, I'm reading through the latest batch of submissions for Altered America.  A lot have been pouring in over the past week, and that was a welcoming sign, as I've been facing a shortage of submissions to this collection.  However, as I pick through story after story, I find a lot of stories that simply aren't want I'm looking for.

I hate to reject otherwise good stories, but the vast majority of the newest batch are not right for this collection.  It seems a lot of writers have overlooked or ignored the entire premise of the anthology:  "Tales of Alternate History and Forgotten Possibilities."  Apparently, they skim over the "Alternate History" section and focus on "Possibilities," and have submitted a lot of interesting stories that just don't fit what I'm trying to create here.  In a few cases, writers put together stories that may qualify as "Alternate," but they don't explain the history sufficiently to make it work.

Maybe this is my fault, for not being more explicit in saying that I'm after "Alternate History," for this collection.  I thought saying it was a collection of "Tales of Alternate History..." would have been plain enough, though apparently a lot of people don't understand what that means.

Is Alternate History a genre that is so hard to write?  I have to wonder.  Perhaps those who write it are simply above my pay grade?  I'm sorry I can't afford to pay you professional rates and spend millions of dollars promoting authors like I wish I could. I'm not working for a big New York firm.  I'm just trying to produce fiction that is worth reading, based on specific themes that create some uniformity and hopefully market appeal.  The fact that I'm deep in the Red right now isn't the point, but I'd hope that people would refrain from sending me nasty letters, mocking me for trying.  Yes, I've gotten a few unsolicited notes over the past year, condescending comments complaining that I'm "trying to rip people off" because I'm not offering 6 cents a word, and deriding me for "not helping to advance their careers."  As if I'm raking in a living off of this!  It is pretty pathetic for someone to waste their time to attack a small publisher like this.  I'm glad it is infrequent, but it should be never.

Okay, enough ranting.  I have a lot to consider.  So many good stories that just don't fit; it's a damn shame, but I can't compromise the contents of the anthology too much.  It wouldn't be fair to the consumers who will buy this expecting to get "Alternate History."

Monday, October 7, 2013

Editor's Notes & Rejection Letters

A wise editor once advised me to "never give out detailed rejection letters," and after more than a year of serving as an editor I understand and appreciate their advice more than ever. Mind you, I knew enough to avoid giving out lengthy rejections from the start, so I didn't run into a lot of the problems that other editors have noted over the years.

I'd like to take a moment to assure every Martinus Publishing submitter, both accepted and rejected, that your entire story was read before any decision was made (in some cases, they're read twice or three times).  Yet, some people may feel that they are being ignored or that their writing wasn't really given consideration, as I do not generally go into detail about why I reject a story.  That isn't the case, and I'll explain why.

There's one big issue you run into when writing up extensive rejection letters, and that involves the emotional reaction from the writer in question.  In some cases, a writer will get very nasty and upset over things that you pick apart from their story, and most editors do not have the time or interest in arguing with a writer about why a story was rejected. 

These days, if a writer wants feedback about a story, they can find any number of online critique groups or utilize their friends and acquaintances to improve their story.  It isn't an editor's job to be a "beta-reader."  It is our job to find stories suitable for our publication(s), and we generally need to devote ourselves to that, above and beyond giving out explanations for why we don't want to accept a particular story.

It is very time consuming to point out what I like or dislike about every story, so I reserve that for stories that are what I'd call "borderline," ones that could fit with a little work/adjustment.  Once in a while, I do find a story that is almost right, but needs something different to make it work.  If it is a minor revision, I sometimes do that, myself, but if it has a major creative impact on the overall story I want to leave it up to the writer.  This is when I will point out a change I'd like to be made; when I would like a writer to make a change and resubmit.

Altered America needs more exciting
 alternate history stories.
Deadline is December 31st 2013!
In a lot of cases, I will let a story go due to my personal preference (it didn't grab my attention, the theme wasn't what I was looking for, etc...), so there is nothing technically "wrong" with it.  In these cases, a detailed rejection wouldn't work, since it's all subjective.  Another editor might love a story that I found uninteresting.  Either way, most writers aren't looking to totally rework a story to satisfy a small-press editor's taste.  If so, they're probably better off writing a totally new story and submitting that.

It's a hard job searching through slush, but somebody's got to do it.  Right now, I'm hoping to see some more submissions for VFW & Altered America.  The deadline has been pushed to the end of the year, so hopefully we'll see some more thrilling adventures submitted.

Friday, September 27, 2013's Political Action Committee

I received a very curious email this morning from Amazon Associates.  For those who don't know, the Amazon Associates program is basically a referral system, where Associates get a small percentage of sales made from links they post.  Examples can be found on my websites.  All of the Amazon ads on and are part of the associates program.  I don't make a lot of money from these referrals, but some people rake in some serious cash from the program—a few people even make their living this way.

As I said, I got a "curious" email.  It seems is summarily canceling all Associates accounts from people living in Maine.  Here is what they have to say:

Greetings from the Amazon Associates Program.

We're writing from the Amazon Associates Program to notify you that your Associates account will be closed and your Amazon Services LLC Associates Program Operating Agreement will be terminated effective October 6, 2013. This is a direct result of the unconstitutional Maine state tax collection legislation passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor LePage on June 5, 2013, with an effective date of October 9, 2013. As a result, we will no longer pay any advertising fees for customers referred to an Amazon Site after October 6, nor will we accept new applications for the Associates Program from Maine residents.

Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned prior to October 7, 2013, will be processed and paid in full in accordance with your regular advertising fee schedule.  Based on your account closure date of October 6, 2013, any final payments will be paid by December 31, 2013.

While we oppose this unconstitutional state legislation, we strongly support the federal Marketplace Fairness Act now pending before Congress. Congressional legislation is the only way to create a simplified, constitutional framework to resolve interstate sales tax issues and it would allow us to re-open our Associates program to Maine residents.

We thank you for being part of the Amazon Associates Program, and look forward to re-opening our program when Congress passes the Marketplace Fairness Act.


The Amazon Associates Team

When I asked Amazon about this issue, they were unable to cite the "unconstitutional" legislation in question, but I assume they are referring to LD346, which mandates that online retailers collect sales tax for any sale they make in Maine, even if said retailer is outside of Maine. Yes, this is in violation of the interstate commerce clause of the Constitution, so Amazon is correct to call it unconstitutional.  What they don't tell you is that this legislation does exactly what the Marketplace Fairness Act would do for every single State!  The MFA would mandate that every seller collect sales tax for interstate sales; a logistical nightmare for small sellers (like Martinus Publishing).

It is no secret that is a huge supporter of this so-called "Marketplace Fairness Act," as it will empower mega-businesses like them and place serious burdens on small retailers.  Its constitutionality is questionable, and it paves the way for a National Sales Tax, which is what some government officials have been salivating over for years.  It's more big-government BS in my opinion, and we don't need it.

I find it offensive that Amazon is attempting to terrorize Maine Associates into becoming lobbyists for their cause.  Their objective over this action is obvious to anyone who stops to think about it.  They want Maine-based Associates to now write politicians (like Senator Susan Collins) and beg them to support the MFA, aka the "Increase Amazon's Marketshare Act."

This is just the start.  If this political lobbying works with Maine-based Associates, it'll set a dangerous precedent, and Amazon will try it elsewhere.  It's disheartening when big business tries to bully the consumer this way, and we shouldn't support it.  As a retail business, Amazon should spend their resources trying to serve customers and sell products, not advance Federal legislation.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Write What You Like

I'd like to thank Ellie Garratt for inspiring me to write this particular commentary.  Her recent post debating the merits of writing what you love versus writing to sell reminded me of my own experiences with that very question, and now prompts me to share a little advice on the subject.

Of course, everyone who writes wants to make money doing it.  We all have dreams of being the next Stephen King, JK Rowling, or Robert A. Heinlein.  However, there just isn't a big enough marketplace to make us all rich and famous, so most of us will not be hitting the big-time.  In fact, most fiction writers will never be able to quit their day jobs and live entirely on their storytelling.  But don't let that grim reality discourage you.  The odds are always against us, no matter what we do (hell, your very existence is the result of a million to one genetic convergence, so never say a dream's not worth pursuing).

One question many fiction writers struggle with is "what should I write?"  This question naturally arises: what can you write that will increase your odds of success?  Well, when it comes to fiction, (and Sci-Fi & Fantasy in particular), there is no easy answer.  It's tempting to think that we can boost our sales if we write something based on what's popular today, but from my own experience, that doesn't necessarily work.

There are a few reasons that I would advise writers to not go after the pop-theme story.  One is the fact that there are a million other writers out there with the same idea; as in, they're going to write what's hip and cool today.  So, you'll find your pop story in amidst a sea of similar slush, and it will be increasingly hard to get it to stand out.  The second problem is timeframe.  Often, by the time a particular theme is hot in the marketplace, the publishing community is already growing cold on it.  It's been done before, and they've had enough of your teenage vampires and cookie-cutter zombies.  They aren't interested in what is hot; they're looking for what will be hot next.  Therefore, you're liable to miss the boat if you're playing catch-up and emulating yesterday's fashion trends.

As a writer, I've dabbled in trying to write stories "for today's market" before in the past, and it did not bring me any success.  In fact, it sucked the life out of my writing, and defeated the purpose of fiction, which is to entertain.  If the writer isn't enjoying the story, then the reader probably won't, either.  That's fictioneering 101.  Therefore, you need to like what you write, and write what you like.

As an editor, I've found that some of the best stories are those from writers who follow that entertainment model. They write something that they enjoy, in the genres they enjoy, and by doing so they create stories that have caught my attention and kept it.  Some of the stories I've had to reject over the past year have been clear examples of "pop" culture; stories that are nothing new and clearly designed to emulate preexisting story models.  I suspect these were written under the "business model" format, with an eye on marketing over creativity.  That isn't to say that every rejected story was created this way, or that I haven't accepted a few stories written by authors with the marketing in mind, but I'm saying that most good stories written these days are created by people who are looking to entertain, not those seeking a fast buck.

When it comes to making money and writing, fiction isn't the clear choice.  If you want to make a living with the written word, you might want to pursue a career in journalism, or write non-fiction books.  Those are the "day jobs" that pay.  Fiction is an art, and like most art forms it doesn't always pay.  For the aspiring, unknown author, the best course of action is to write what you like.  Only when you are better known and already making money can you increase your market share by selling out and writing what's popular.

With that said, there's no reason you can't find a magazine or anthology and write a short story based on their desired theme or prompt.  The whole point of that is to make the theme your own, creating your unique take on an idea.  And therein lies the comfortable middle ground between marketing and creativity.  If you can write something that is marketable, all the better, but don't go into it thinking about the bottom line.  The creation must be a purpose unto itself, or your passion will become a burden, and your chances for success may actually decrease.  Like it, or leave it; that's my writing philosophy.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Star Trek: Into Darkness (Review)

Okay, this is old news, and everyone else has already had their two cents worth about this movie release, but now I'd like to put it to bed with my own three cents worth overview.

First off, I'm an unashamed Trekkie, who grew up watching reruns of The Original Series, and saw the new episodes of TNG, DS9, and Voyager as they aired.  In 1998, however, the crappy Canadian broadcast station that aired DS9 and Voyager dropped them, so it wasn't until almost a decade later that I finally had the chance to see the last season of Deep Space Nine and the last three seasons of Voyager (when they came out on DVD), as well as the four existent seasons of Enterprise.  As a teenager, I also read a lot of Trek books, including those by William Shatner, himself.  Okay, Trekkie credentials established.

When they did the first "reboot" with the unimaginatively entitled "Star Trek," I had my doubts.  After watching the movie in 2009, I found it entertaining, but it definitely wasn't the Trek I had grown up with.  To be fair, it was more like Battlestartrek Galactica—a dark and gritty action adventure, which Gene Roddenberry would probably have found distasteful.  Mind you, DS9 was pretty dark at times, but it was flowers and roses compared to this thing that J.J. Abrams directed.

Now, jumping ahead to "Into Darkness," here we have a continuation of that dark and dreary "alternate" universe of Trek, with some familiar villains and a lot more bloodshed.  It was a wild, vicious ride, with a limited storyline that doesn't require a lot of thought from the viewer.  In other words, it's just your typical Hollywood shoot-em-up sci-fi flick. To be blunt, if it weren't branded "Star Trek," this film would be suited to little more than being a cheap made for tv movie they would air on SyFy on Saturday night.  I'm sorry if that comes off as harsh, but it's how I feel after watching this thing in its DVD release.  Of all the Star Trek movies, it had the weakest storyline, bar none.

Spoiler Paragraph:  Amidst that weak story are some pretty lame "revisions" to the franchise.  Since when is Khan's blood a magic healing elixir?  Didn't see that in TOS or Star Trek II.  A Klingon with piercings all along his ridges? A really ugly pop-culture homage mistake there!  Peter Weller as a psychotic, heartless Admiral?  I mean, he's a great actor, but this was a really poor role—his schemes came off as shallow and almost cartoonish.  He should have had a mustache to twirl as he bragged about planning to kill Kirk's entire crew all along.  And this new version of Spock is way too emotional.

Star Trek: Into Darkness is mildly amusing, but it really isn't Star Trek.  I dream of a day they actually bring back a real Star Trek television series; something that has substance, intelligent writing, and a future vision that isn't trying to look like some dark, gritty Star Wars/ BSG clone.  I want the old universe back so bad!  Hopefully, we'll get something going with Star Trek: Renegades!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Fantasy Anthology Seeking Stories

Today I'd like to mention a story anthology that is seeking submissions.  It's being put together by Robert MacAnthony, a contributor to The Temporal Element.  While this project is not a Martinus Publishing anthology, he asked that I pass the word along, and I wish him the best of luck with it.  It's also a good opportunity for writers who would like to get more exposure and collect a few dollars in the process.

Shadows of a Fading World
-A Sword & Sorcery Anthology-

Shadows of a Fading World  is a classic sword-and-sorcery style fantasy e-Book anthology in the dying earth subgenre. Submissions should pay homage to the roots of the genre - adventure, romance, dark sorceries, mysterious locales, and the grit and grime of common life all have a role to play.

The "dying earth" aspect of the stories form a commonality for the anthology. This element should be present in all submissions. Authors may make this an integral part of the story, or simply use it to provide background and flavor.

We are looking for original stories, set in a world of the author's own creation. Stories should invoke visions of the classic tales of Robert E. Howard, Fritz Leiber, Jack Vance, Michael Moorcock, and others., but authors should not feel bound by any particular style.

For more information, and to submit your story, visit the publisher's website here.

Of course, Martinus Publishing anthologies are also open at this time, and two more will be opening in December (Visit Martinus Publishing's Submissions Page for details).  Get your stories ready and submitted!

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Best of Martinus Publishing 2013

September is already upon us.  Summer blew by so quickly, and before you know it, winter will be rearing its snowy head.  As always, the wheels are turning.

Now, for an announcement of some importance.

From the works Martinus Publishing has released in 2013 comes an eclectic collection of entertaining stories. Sample some of the best sci-fi & fantasy of the year for a bargain basement price:

Table of Contents:
1:  A Thursday Night at Doctor What's Time & Relative Dimensional Space Bar & Grill  –by Bruno Lombardi
2:  Quest through the Ages –by JL Mo
3:  Poetic Justice –by Edmund Wells
4:  Wipeout –by A.C. Hall
5:  Hooked on Questing –by Gerald Costlow
6:  Abducted –by Shawn Cook
7:  The Long View –by William R.D. Wood
8:  Into the Thick of It –by Martin T. Ingham
9:  The Vendetta Ride –by Martin T. Ingham
10:  Doing Time –by Barbara Austin
11:  Life or Death –by Stacey Jaine McIntosh
12:  Curse of the Bottle –by Nye Joell Hardy
13:  I'll Come Back for You –by A. C. Hall
14:  There's an App for That –by Chris Allinotte
15:  Odin's Spear –by Susan A. Royal
16:  AMR-17 –by Edmund Wells
17:  Burn It Up, Burn It Down –by Philip Overby
18:  But I Know We'll Meet Again Some Sunny Day –by Lauren A. Forry

This collection is designed  to entice new readers to check out Martinus Publishing.  The print price on the Martinus website will be $7.95, though I'm not sure what "minimum" price Amazon will want to sell it for.  As for the Kindle version, that will be priced at 99 cents.  This collection may also be available for the NOOK, but I can't be certain yet (I'm still looking into that, and weighing the pros and cons).

The official release date for this collection is December 1, 2013.  Pre-orders will be available in the next few weeks.

And to complete this official announcement, here is the exclusive cover artwork, illustrated by the highly talented Jessica Hale:

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Books Are In

On Saturday morning, a large box arrived at the post office for me.  This heavy, brown beast turned out to be the first shipment of "Quests, Curses, & Vengeance," hot off the presses.  This gargantuan collection of 32 short stories, totaling nearly 150,000 words, is an impressive sight to see in-print.  They're real beauties.

With the arrival of this first lot of books, I'll be able to fulfill the pre-orders, so those of you who decided to place an early order can rest easy in knowing that your books will be in the mail on Monday.  This is also the case for our contest winners (assuming they get back to me, eh, Mr. Sims?).  Anyone who is expecting a book from me will be getting it as quickly as the post office wants to deliver it, which really isn't that long these days.

For those who aren't keen on spending money on old-fashioned paperbacks, the Kindle version has all the great stories that are in the print edition, and it's only $3.95.  If you have a Kindle e-reader, get a copy of this collection.  You will not regret it.

I make no exaggeration when I say that these stories are on par with the stuff being released by the major markets like Asimov's Science Fiction.  Hell, I'll even say some of these stories are better than mass-market stuff that's being released these days. Why some of the writers in this collection aren't rich and famous yet is beyond me.  I'm just glad to publish their works now, while I can still afford them.

Really, pick up this collection in whatever format pleases you most, and remember, every writer in this collection gets a royalty on each copy sold.  Support these talented people, and assure that we get more of their entertaining stories!

To order a copy from Martinus Publishing, go to the QCV listing and click the button.  A book purchased directly from the publisher earns each writer a larger cut of the profits. The links to Amazon are there also, so get the Kindle version that way!

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Two for Tuesday #7 and Book Winners!

We're only 2 days away from the official release of "Quests, Curses, & Vengeance."  As part of promoting this anthology, two lucky people on the Martinus Publishing newsletter email list have been selected (completely at random) to receive a free print copy.  And the winners are (cue drum-roll):

Jeffery Scott Sims
Raelene Purtill

Congratulations to our winners!  This is only the first giveaway of its kind, and I'm hoping to offer other such freebies to newsletter subscribers.  To get on the mailing list, go to the Martinus Publishing homepage and click the black bar on the left side of the page.  Put in your name and email address, and you're all set.  You'll receive the newsletter once a month, and be automatically entered into future drawing.

Now, onto the final "Two for Tuesday" paragraphs.  First off, we have the opening to "Curses May Not Be Returned, Refunded, or Exchanged," by Lauren A. Forry:

            It’s totally weird when you step into a room and literally everyone stops what they’re doing and starts clapping for you. Especially when a moment ago you were driving your car down Honeysuckle Street, the “room” is actually a cave engulfed in flames, and most of the people clapping look like extras from a community theater production of The Crucible.

            An old woman who could be my Grandma’s roommate in hospice hobbles over and shakes my hand with these crusty yellow fingernails.

And lastly, we have the first two paragraphs of "Revenge, Inc." by Nye Joell Hardy:

            Ed Wong had never intended to be in the business of revenge.  But what had started as a high school website of gag advice to deter bullies had unwittingly tapped a hidden treasure and was now, thirty years later, a multinational corporation.

            “Revenge,” Ed said to the client sitting in front of his Brazilian rosewood desk, “is a natural, basic human reflex.  If you think about it, bunnies don’t plot revenge against foxes—they just avoid them.  But our big human brains always want to make sure that the potential for future threats is nullified.”

There you have some excellent intros.  Now, get yourself a copy of "Quests,Curses, & Vengeance."   

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Two for Tuesday #6

Next Thursday, Quests Curses, & Vengeance will be officially released.  We still have a couple of Two For Tuesday posts, and here are our paragraphs for this week:

This first one is the start of "Abducted" by Shawn Cook:

            David Ellis was positive he was in Hell. Perhaps during the drive into the mountains he’d suffered a heart-attack and careened headlong into a tree. Maybe, while he had been setting up his tent or preparing the campfire, an aneurysm had struck with godlike speed and shut his brain off like a light switch. Maybe.

            Maybe this was all real and he’d won the prize for being the unluckiest man in the world. Or, had he just been in the wrong place at the wrong time? It didn’t matter to David at that exact moment. His eyes were fixed upon the whirring machine that nestled above his captive body; his eyes remained fixed upon the glistening blades and tubes that pumped bright green fluid.

Secondly, we have the start of "Be Careful What You Wish For..." by Mel Obedoza:

            Seth Jones could only stare at the ethereal woman standing before the pond of crystalline waters. For long moments, her lavender eyes had him enthralled. She was tall and slim, her pale skin and simple white robes accentuated only by a mass of red curls that tumbled down past her waist. She possessed no jewelry, save for a long, crystal staff that she held in her right hand.

            “The Crystal Waters have made their presence known to you because you have a wish in your heart.” She moved then, breaking his trance. She laid the tip of the staff against the waters. “Your wish can be granted, if you but ask. Take heed, though. For every boon, an equal curse is delivered, for the tenuous balance of this Earth should never be disrupted. Will you still make your wish, knowing this?”

Come back next Tuesday for our final set of previews before the official release of this voluminous collection!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Author Interview: JL Mo

When we have new contributing authors for Martinus Publishing anthologies, I always like to do a basic introductory interview.  Today, I'm interviewing JL Mo, the talented author who contributed the short story Quest through the Ages to "Quests, Curses, & Vengeance."  Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, JL.

JL:  Thank you, Martin.

MTI:  Starting off, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

JL:  I’m a fifty-two year old fourth-generation Floridian mother of two grown sons.

MTI:  Getting down to business; what first compelled you to weave fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?

JL:  I know this sounds cliché, but I was cursed with an overly active imagination since early childhood. It got me in a lot of trouble. Writing became my release. My favorite genre would be mystery.

MTI:  Tell me, if you had to pick just one author who has influenced or inspired you, who would it be?

JL:  That would be a draw between Robert E. Howard and Robert Jordan. Funny thing is, neither are mystery writers.

MTI:  Your story, Quest through the Ages, appears in Quests, Curses, & Vengeance, an eclectic collection of stories ranging from high fantasy to imaginative sci-fi adventures and even supernatural horror.  Your story, in particular, was very deep, and it has a very emotional undertone that can make you feel both good and sad.  Where ever did you get the inspiration for this insightful little piece?

JL:  The story reaches back to the time of cave men and ends in 2013. The vignettes included reflect the struggles everyone faces. When my ninety-year-old father-in-law lived with us, he told me tales of his days in Cuba, before Fidel. A familiar thread ran through them. One I could relate to, even set in such a different time. Finding love, seeking a home, losing love to another. Having children and be willing to die for them. These are things we all experience, if we’re so lucky to live so long.

MTI:  You had the opportunity to read many of the other stories that appear in Quests, Curses, & Vengeance in their original, rough draft form.  If you could, point out a few of your favorites.

JL:  My favorite, hands down, was Burn it Up, Burn it Down, by Philip Overby.  I’ve not had a chance to read them all, but I do look forward to the opportunity.

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

JL:  I’m working on “Mini-Mysteries for the Short Attention Span” which is a series featuring Sam McShane. It’s written for adults who have little time to delve into deep lit. Kind of like fast food mysteries.

MTI:  Of everything you’ve written thus far, do you happen to have a “favorite” piece of fiction?

JL:  That would be my novel, Tierra Tree. It’s a unique fantasy set in a Native American-type world.

MTI:  Other than Quest through the Ages, appearing in Quests, Curses, & Vengeance, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?

JL:  I’m shopping Tierra Tree now. My Mini-Mysteries should be available on Kindle by October.

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

JL:  Ha! My sons recommend TV programs to me. They’re so frustrated that I don’t subscribe to pay channels, so I’m not up on Game of Thrones. But they swear I would love that one. But, Suits is one of my current faves.

MTI:  What sort of music do you like? 

JL:  What sort of music do you have?

MTI:  Anything goes, eh?  Not to put you on the spot or anything, but can you name three movies that you could watch over and over again and not be bored with?

JL:  On the spot? Are you kidding me? I love this question! Princess Bride is number one. I could quote the damn script. Number two is the new Star Trek with Chris Pine. The last, but certainly not least, is Big Fish. I still get choked up at the end.

MTI:  You’ve got the attention of potential readers.  Is there anything you’d like to say to them, perhaps something to pique their interest in your work?

JL:  The characters that populate my worlds are people you can relate to, people you would recognize. Whether fantasy, sci-fi, or mystery. My characters will draw you in, and you won’t want to leave.

MTI:  As we wrap up this interview, do you happen to have a short sample for our readers?  Nothing too long, but maybe a few fresh paragraphs?

JL: Thanks for asking. This is a snippet from my Mini-Mysteries, due out by October.

His soft voice taunted me. “You knew something was wrong. You looked right at her and you knew. It tickled the back of your mind, didn’t it? The outer recess of thought tried calling to you. You chose to ignore her.” He chuckled. “And now, what? You feel ‘guilty’? You feel ‘sorry’? Do you feel ‘bad’? Too late for her, though, isn’t it?”

I had walked right into this trap. The bastard had me face down on the floor with my hands tied behind my back, the rope so tight the knot cut into the flesh of my wrists. Sticky blood wet the back of my shirt. He sat in a metal folding chair using my ass as his footrest, a pistol at my neck. Holding me in this hallway at the threshold of the room he’d freshly varnished this afternoon, his taunts continued. His voice sounded so soft and smooth. I understood why she would be drawn to him. The thought that this pig of a man even touched her sent a shiver through me.

JL:  Thanks again, Martin. This was my first interview and it was fun!

MTI:  It was my pleasure.  For those who want to read JL's contribution to Quests, Curses, & Vengeance, check out Martinus Publishing's Hit of the Month archive for July 2013 (Read it here).  For those who want more thrilling Fantasy & Science Fiction stories, Quests, Curses,& Vengeance awaits.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

More Car Repairs

I had the chance to do some car repairs today, so here's how it went.

There have been a few things wrong with my 1956 Ford Fairlane for a while now.  The first issue was a dying speedometer, which has been flipping out since early spring.  Sometimes, when driving, it would start squealing and the needle would spin all the way to the bottom.  The bearings were shot.

Finding a replacement speedometer was quite an undertaking, as these aren't common.  Ford only used this type of speedometer one year (to my knowledge).  In 1955, they had the large, half-moon speedometers, and in 1957 they returned to that style.  Most Fords of the 50's and 60's have that familiar design, but the 56 was different, with the round dial.  The only other compatible gauge was in the '57 Thunderbird, but that went to 140, whereas the standard '56 ford meter only goes to 120.  I looked around for a while and finally found a used 1956 speedometer on ebay, which I was able to get for $35 delivered.  As rare as these are, there is little demand for them, so I lucked out.

Now came the "fun" part.  Extracting the old speedometer.

The camera angle makes it look really spacious,
but just try to get your hand back there!
When I say it was one of the hardest things I've ever done, it is no exaggeration.  It's right behind installing the electric wiper motor last year, which takes the prize as toughest job ever.  Sure, the book says you can extract the speedometer without removing the instrument panel, but it sure isn't easy.  Of course, the thing was designed by engineers who could hide behind their pencils and never had to actually work under the dash themselves.  There is barely any room under there, and there's a support strut that sits right behind a couple of the screws you have to get out.  It was several hours of agony and irritation to get four stupid screws out and to yank the old speedometer free.  Then I got to do it all over again, only in reverse with the new-used part.

 Okay, to be fair, this would have been a lot harder if I hadn't had the help of my 7 year old son, Wyatt.  That impossible to reach screw behind the dashboard support was something he finally got out for me.  After I'd struggled with it, he was able to go in there and finish the last piece.  It really helps to have a small helper.

Old, rusty master cylinder.
So, while I was getting the old speedometer out and the new one in, I found the answer to yet another problem.  Jamming under the dash, my shoulder couldn't help but depress the brake pedal, and that's how I spotted the fluid dripping from the master cylinder.  The brakes had been fading for months, even after I replaced all of the wheel cylinders (which had been leaking), and replaced half the brake lines, and replaced the brake hoses.  My father had suggested the master cylinder, so I'd ordered a new one some time ago.  I just hadn't gotten around to putting it in, and as I replaced other parts, the problem seemed to go away, only to return shortly after each repair.  So, it was finally time to fix it for good.

New master cylinder installed.
With the speedometer replaced, I turned my attention to the master cylinder.  It was a very quick and easy job, taking about half an hour to swap out the part.  Wyatt helped me to bleed the cylinder, and we took it for a test drive.  It's really nice to know how fast you're going and be able to stop quickly.  The brakes weren't so bad beforehand, but now they are 100%.

One other adjustment I made was to the carburetor.  Ever since I replaced the vacuum lines, the car hasn't seemed to have as much power, and just recently it has been hard starting.  Turns out it was flooding.  I fiddled with the mixture and leaned it out.  Now the car has all the power it should.  The great thing about old cars; it's always something simple.  Try adjusting anything on one of those computerized monstrosities they call cars these days.

Well, now that I've gotten the major issues straightened out on the Fairlane, maybe I'll be able to get back to restoring the 1954 Bel Air...

Friday, August 2, 2013

Author Interview: Nye Joell Hardy

When we have new contributing authors for Martinus Publishing anthologies, I always like to do a basic introductory interview.  Today, I'm interviewing  Nye Joell Hardy, an excellent author who contributed two short stories to "Quests, Curses, & Vengeance."  Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, Nye.

MTI:  Starting off, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

NYE:  Thank you, Martin.  Given that I consider myself a writer, I find it very hard to sum myself up well in words.  Let me pick through the current list. (Russian-Scotch-Irish extraction, 48-year old redhead, Bokononist, Biologist, Central Californian, married in Wales, great affection for things that almost weren’t or weren’t really, job in agriculture but loathes sunlight and has terrible Spanish, working for monstrous corporation…) 

Hmmm.  Too messy.  Let’s go with writing credits.

I have been selling stories since 1996, and my first sold story, “Praxitales” in Absolute Magnitude was a runner-up for the Sturgeon Award that year.  Since then I have SLOWLY been selling short stories and poems to very nice magazines like Nature and Black Gate.  My YA fantasy novel The Crows of Bedu was published by Pill Hill Press in 2010.

MTI:  Getting down to business; what first compelled you to weave fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?

NYE:  Like many writers, it is just something I must do or I will explode like the Death Star. Writing stories began in pre-school, before I could spell.  (This did not keep me from writing.) I love making stories that have many interweaving pieces that come together to tell their own story… like a stained glass window or a quilt.

MTI:  Tell me, if you had to pick just one author who has influenced or inspired you, who would it be?

NYE:  Roger Zelazny

MTI:  Your stories, "Curse of the Bottle" and "Revenge, Inc." both appear in Quests, Curses, & Vengeance, an anthology of eclectic stories from high fantasy to imaginative sci-fi adventures and even supernatural horror.  You had the opportunity to read many of these stories in their original, rough draft form.  If you could, point out a few of your favorites.

These original stories were part of your Spring writing competition, so I’ve only read a third of them.  But of those, I really enjoyed the “quest” story “More Precious than Rubies” by Chris Allinotte: truly entertaining and enjoyable from start to finish, and this is from someone who is Definitely Not a Quest Person. 

“The Long Night” by Shawn Cook, a “curse” story also pleased me greatly because it gave a nod to mythologies that have not been hacked to death (and this is from someone who is a Mythology Hacking Person). And “But I Know We’ll Meet Again Some Sunny Day,” by Lauren A. Forry, is beautiful and vengeful in a poetic Twilight Zone sort of way, which I think I especially bonded with because I am a Twilight Zone Inhabitant.

I think the most appealing things about these stories is that given the wide interpretation of the themes, it really allowed me to step out of my reading comfort zone and have a wonderful time.

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

NYE:  Sorrow and despondency.  Because my life is squeezing me for time (time to work, time to exercise, time to read, time to be with my husband, time to play with my pets, time to visit friends, time to do chores, time to sit quietly with my thoughts, time time time), I’ve decided that for the next year, I am putting my big writing projects on hold. To keep the creative embers burning until I can dedicate more time to writing, I am writing a poem a day.

Since there are only
Nineteen words in a Haiku
It gives me relief

MTI:  Of everything you’ve written thus far, do you happen to have a “favorite” piece of fiction?

NYE:  My stories are like my kids: it pains me to pick a favorite, even though some of them are obviously high achievers (The Crows of Bedu, “Press ‘1’ to Begin”) and some of them really do need to be held back a grade (“Blind Lion).  However, I felt something special within “Revenge, Inc.”  I want to expand that one into a novel… perhaps in the next few years.

MTI:  Your novel, "The Crows of Bedu," was published by Pill Hill Press a few years ago.  Do you have any plans to release a second printing of this work (either with a new press or self-publishing) now that PHP is closing down and reverting book publishing rights back to their respective authors?

NYE:  That is a marvelous idea.  I just need time…

MTI:  Other than the two stories appearing in Quests, Curses, & Vengeance, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?

NYE:  I did just submit a poem…

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

NYE:  I am in love with a couple of shows that are Really Not Well Done (low budget, not great acting), but the story lines are satisfying.  “Stephen King’s Inside the Dome” and “Being Human” (the British version).

MTI:  I've heard a lot of good things about the British version of Being Human.  I tried to watch "Inside the Dome," but for whatever reason it just didn't click with me.  Maybe I'll give it another try sometime.

How about music?

NYE:  Abney Park!  Captain Robert’s voice just sends chills through me every time.  And the steampunk music scene is really fun. 

MTI:  And if you would, name three movies that you could watch over and over again and not be bored?

NYE:  Okay.  This is starting to feel like a psychology exam.  This is not going to say good things about my psyche, but…

Point Break
Point of No Return
The Fifth Element

MTI:  Ah, yes, The Fifth Element is a cult classic.  Bruce Willis in a Sci-Fi film that makes fun of itself.  Good stuff.

You’ve got the attention of potential readers.  Is there anything you’d like to say to them, perhaps something to pique their interest in your work?

NYE:  I know where you live!

Okay. That’s not really true. 

It is my personal quest to always write “tattered books,” fantasy and science fiction that you read over and over again until they are in tattered pieces because they mean so much to you. 

You know who you are.

MTI:  As we wrap up this interview, do you happen to have a short sample for our readers?  Nothing too long, but maybe a few fresh paragraphs?

NYE:  You know what?  I take it back.  I DO have a favorite story: Leader, Protector, Master.  Here is a piece.

Sentias were essentially living nerve-like nets that grew into plants, and up the sides of buildings if there was ivy to hide in, and especially on the cathedral spires that, in the darkness, seemed to pop up everywhere like glowing stalagmites. Like the earliest settlers of Athabasca, Ramsey as a little girl had thought their glittering meant they talked to one another, but they were not sentient, as their name implied.

Just pretty, and no help at all.  Ramsey felt the bearded man watching her. She refused to look at him, or at her wrist, which throbbed with her pulse. Who is he?  What does that uniform mean?  She had believed him when he had said he wasn’t Politeness of Kings because he’d seemed insulted by the idea. However, she knew his uniform signified something – something more important than the local law enforcement or court systems.

Moreover, there was the limousine itself.  Private vehicles were rare in Athabasca – oddly enough because of the sentias, who needed to be protected from any strong electrical fields thrown off by engines and electronics.  A private vehicle meant special engineering and a vast amount of wealth.  Only a few guilds and associations could afford such things, and Ramsey thought she knew all the uniforms and insignias. 

And did the Thieves Guild wear uniforms?  She thought not. 

NYE:  Martin, thank you again for interviewing me.  It was fun!

MTI:  And thank you for the excellent answers.  For those who want to check out a couple of Nye's recent stories, pick up a copy of Quests, Curses, & Vengeance.