Monday, April 14, 2014

Alternate History 101

All of us wonder what our lives would be like if we'd made one decision instead of another. If we'd asked Jenny to the prom instead of Christine. If we'd chosen Army instead of Navy. College instead of North Sea gunrunning. Steak instead of chicken.

Running what-ifs through through an imaginative mind can change your whole world, literally. And those are just the changes on the level of a few lives. Suppose large-scale historical events played out a little differently. Suppose they played out very differently. Now, those changes could blossom out and change your hometown, your home state, your whole country. Even the world. Hell, maybe all of human history. Doesn't that sound like fun?

A lot of authors sure think so, this one included. Few are the wordsmiths that don't dabble along alternate timelines in one form or another. Countless movies, novels and short stories have explored this theme and there are some great examples of each. Fatherland and Cast a Deadly Spell come to mind for cinema, the latter tossing magic into the mix.

In the prose world, Harry Turtledove is just about untouchable. His Worldwar series is one of my favorites.

I played on that playground once or twice myself. Most recently in the Altered America anthology from Martinus Press, released in late March. Editor Martin T. Ingham included my story, "Goodbye, Norma Jean," along with twenty others - full Table of Contents below.

Gotta go. Phone's ringing. Caller ID says its that guy from North Sea Importers again. Why does he keep calling me?

Rio Grande by Jackson Kuhl
We the People by Dan Gainor
A Single Decision by Bruno Lombardi
What If... The Louisiana Purchase Never Happened by Edmund Wells
The Orthogonian by Sam Kepfield
Revolution 1865 by Brad Hafford
Ship of Souls by Erik Bundy
End of the Rainbow by Dusty Wallace
The Loyalist Washington by Owen Morgan
Guns of the Green Mountains by Ryan McCall
The Shining Path by Jason Sharp
The Union Forever by Sean Menken
Goodbye, Norma Jean by William R.D. Wood
Wild Blue by Jeff Provine
Avoid Seeing a Mouse by James S. Dorr
Thomas Edison Visits Selwood by Martin T. Ingham
Divided States of America by Lauren A. Forry
A Girl’s Best Friend by Cyrus P. Underwood
The Lights on Broadway by Charles Wilcox
The Black Blizzard by Philip Overby
The Road Was Lit With Moon and Star by Bruno Lombardi

Monday, April 7, 2014

Coming Soon to an Apocalypse Near You!

Vignettes from the End of the World.

58 tales soon to be released from their restraints by Jacob Haddon of Apokrupha. Warning: these tales are not to be trifled with. They're a little ticked off and they mean business. If you have any doubts about whether you're ready for them...okay, who am I kidding here?

Check this book out as soon as possible.

It might be your only chance at survival. Forewarned is forearmed.

And, as listed on the cover, you can find the darkest imaginings of:

Adrian Ludens
Arno Hurter
Bryce Hughes
Cameron Shifflet
Cameron Suey
Christine Morgan
D.J. Tyler
Damir Salkovic
Darcie Little Badger
Darryl Dawson
David Turnbull
Doug Murano
Dusty Wallace
E. Catherine Tobler
E. E. King
Erik B. Scott
Eryk Pruitt
Essel Pratt
George Cotronis
Glenn Rolfe
J. A. Martin
J. P. Freeman
Jamie Lackey
Jason Sharp
Jessica McHugh
Joana Eca de Queiroz
Josh Strnad
K. Z. Morano
Kallirroe Agelopoulou
Kelda Crich
Ken MacGregor
Kristopher Kelly
L. C. Mortimer
Leslianne Wilder
Lex T. Lindsay
Lincoln Crisler
Mandy DeGeit
Marie DesJardin
Matilda Finkelbunker
Michael H. Antonio
Michael Haynes
Michael Penkas
Pedro Iniguez
Rebecca Barbee
Rebecca J. Allred
Richard Thomas
Rose Blackthorn
S. R. Mastrantone
Steve Calvert
Sylvia Spruck Wrigley
T. Joseph Dunham
Terry M. West
Victoria Dalpe

Friday, March 28, 2014

Emerald City Comicon

There are about a hundred reasons to wish I were at Emerald City Comicon this year. Okay, that's not true. Make it a thousand.

Still, the one reason that's nearest and dearest to my heart this year is the debut of the Book of the Emissaries.

Kevin J. Anderson, David Farland, Cat Rambo, and Nick Mamatas will even be on a panel discussing that very book. Hopefully someone legally and lawfully records that event and posts it for those of us unable to attend. I'd surely love to hear that discussion.

The description from the site (a bit redundant) reads:

"Award-winning authors Kevin J. Anderson (Jedi Academy), David Farland (The Mummy Chronicles), Cat Rambo (A Seed Upon the Wind) and Nick Mamatas (Haunted Legends) talk about writing a world-building anthology for aboriginal fantasy TV series: Animism."

After a quick peek at the guest list, it's probably for the best I'm not going. In addition to these fine folks there are a ton of celebrity types I'd spend all weekend (and all bank account) in line to see.

A few irresistible highlights for me personally would have been:

Richard Dean Anderson, Michael Biehn, John de Lancie, Michael Dorn, Eliza Dushku, Karen Gillan, Nichelle Nichols, Ron Perlman, Dwight Schultz, and Peter Steigerwald. Hmm. Looks like that list is just a tad Trek heavy. Weird.

Sooner or later I'm going to have to make it to a con.

Friday, March 21, 2014

It's Zulu Time

Zulu Time is alive and kicking, it's gnarled fingers straining to reach you and drag you in. Twelve chapters and going strong. Check it out at JukePop Serials.

Excerpt from Chapter Twelve

Figures—at least three—digitally camouflaged—lurched into view in the deeper darkness of the room. An icy chill spread along Nash's skin and he involuntarily stepped back from the doorway. Eerie greenness shone up from the deck casting an unnatural light over the features of the advancing trio. With the light source positioned below them, their shadows were as unnatural as they were, inverted, and he couldn't say which parts of their exposed flesh were uninjured and which might be mangled. He took another step back, ready to slam the watertight door home, lost his footing, and fell unceremoniously on his ass.

Calloway grunted what might have been a laugh, not having seen the three sailors in the room.

A skinny arm thrust over the lower edge of the door frame, homing in on Nash's ankle like one of the old Tomahawks that Mortimer still carried in her arsenal.

Shit shit shit.

A face followed the arm, then a shoulder. Her lips were gone, as was a swath of her frizzy hair. This ship was crawling with women—dead women. The remaining tuft of hair on the other side of her head made her skull seem broken and uneven. Her grip was strong as hell, her fingers wrapped steel-like around his ankle, pulling him back toward the door. Her mouth gaped, wider than it should have been able to, teeth glinting in the green glow. Nash fought for purchase with his hands but they scraped ineffectually against the rubbery nonskid surface of the deck. Lashing out with his free foot, he slammed into the wall beside the door. He locked his knee. She was stronger than she had any right to be. She couldn't pull him any closer, but using him as an anchor, she heaved herself up and across the raised threshold of the door. Her teeth an inch from his ankle, snagging the leather of his boot as she wrenched her head back and forth, an animal tearing into a fresh kill. This might be his only chance.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Authors Supporting Our Troops

Below you'll find a reblog of a post made by Armand Rosamilia. The post itself was two months ago already so time is running out to be a part of this project.

Authors Supporting Our Troops is a great cause and one I'm proud to be involved with. I served eight years in the Navy myself and my oldest son is recently returned from a tour in Afghanistan. If you can be a part, please do.

It makes a world of difference when you're half a world from home.

Authors Supporting Our Troops

When you meet your idols sometimes they don’t live up to the hype. Sometimes they are grumpy and ornery and couldn’t care less about you. Such is definitely not the case when it comes to Joe McKinney. I met the man at World Horror Convention in New Orleans last year and he was even better in person than in my mind. Yes, I did the Fanboy thing at first but he ended up being a great guy with a genuine love of what he was doing and everything around him. 
Why am I telling you this? Because when he asked me (and many other authors) to help him as he collected books from us to ship overseas to some of our troops, I jumped at the chance. And so did so many others. He was able to put quite a few books into the hands of our military overseas. I never forgot about it, and decided to do my own event this year, especially when I found out from Joe he didn’t have the same contact overseas. 
But I did. 
My girlfriend Shelly (Special Gal to those in the know) had a great contact she’s known for years, someone she considers her family. I’ve been lucky enough to meet him and he is quite impressive. He’ll be coming back to the States in late March and then shipping overseas, at which point he’ll be my contact for this book drive. But let Shelly give you more detail about him:
Shelly: “I met James about 8 years ago when he was 17, while working in a youth department of the church I was attending.  He was a quiet young man living in a rough situation. I starting getting to know him and over the years he has become like a son to me. We got him through high school and he started working and then he started thinking about the military. I support him 110% and he has turned into a wonderful young man who celebrated his 25th birthday this past December. He refers to me as his godmom and I couldn’t be prouder of him if he were mine.”
He is currently a Private First Class serving at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany but will deploy to Kuwait in April.

Here is the main idea behind everything…
I’ll be collecting fellow author’s books to send to our troops stationed in Kuwait in April. Interested in donating some of your books? The men and women of the Armed Forces love receiving signed books from authors to read and pass around while they’re over there! If you’re an author and want to help, join this Facebook page and then get in touch with Armand for the address to send your copies. Let’s do something positive for someone else! 
I want to thank everyone who’ve already committed to helping with the event and are sending me packages so i can gather the books and box them for the troops. 
Quite a few non-authors have asked how they can help… get in touch with me, I will gladly collect donations to offset the shipping costs from me as well as purchase more books from authors I know at cost so there will be more books in the boxes to ship. 
At this time I am only interested in author-signed books to ship overseas. I think the troops will love the read and also knowing the actual author sent the books or the actual publisher. I’m not looking for your used books to donate or perishables or anything other than print books. This is not an eBook event, and not a forum for your political statements. It is simply to help those in the trenches who might want to read a book they can’t get their hands on right now. 
Come and help out as an author or as a supporter!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Animism: The Book of the Emissaries

And he's back!

First post of the New Year. No, not 2014. My own personal new year since today is my birthday and all. Yeah, it's all about me.

Only it isn't!

I'm excited about the upcoming release of The Book of the Emissaries: An Animism Short Fiction Anthology. This book is a companion volume to the Animism: The God's Lake project. If you're in the Seattle area you can catch the official launch of the book at Emerald City Comicon on March 28th-30th. Zeroes 2 Heroes Media is planning a big even where they'll be debuting the anthology, a game, a graphic novel and even discussing the next season of the animated series. I'm honored to be a part of this project and wish I could be there for the launch myself.

And check out the cover of the anthology. Emily C. Skaftun is collecting some names that are brands unto themselves.

Kevin J. Anderson
Jordan Ellinger
David Farland
James Alan Gardner
Nick Mamatas
Cat Rambo
Steven Savile
M.H. Toner

Inside you'll be finding stories from up and coming authors as well. I don't have a complete list but those names include: Megan Grey Walker, Gama Martinez, Ken Hoover, and some guy named William R.D. Wood, whoever he is.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The White Dot

In the spirit of last year's Quiet Time post, WriteBrane will be still and silent for the next few weeks as I sharpen my blades and clean my guns. Come February 28th, my next blog post will usher in a rollicking, rip-roaring 2014!

In the meantime, there's lot's to peruse in the archives, explore in the links, and offer a comment on.

Please stand by.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Winter Solstice Ramblings

2013 has been a great year.

I hadn't planned on this blog post being a writing year retrospective but it should be quick and painless for all involved, and even quicker and painless-er for those who aren’t.

Big news of the year was placing as a finalist in the 4th Quarter Writers of the Future Contest. Sadly, the news came by phone last Monday that I had not placed in the top three of the eight finalists. Even so, making it to those final eight places was an honor. Knowing that my story was read by the final four judges, celebrated authors I've read myself, is both humbling and a little scary. (Now you know what scares a horror author!) Overall, a very validating experience that my writing continues to improve. My hearty and heartfelt congratulations to the three winners this quarter, Megan E. O'Keefe, Oleg Kazantsev, and C. Stuart Hardwick. And good luck in the final round against the winners from the previous three quarters, Megan! Knock 'em dead!

This year saw one of my favorite stories, "Beginning of Days," reprinted in the Apocalypse Special Edition of Morpheus Tales.

Martinus Publishing printed my time travel story, "The Long View," in their anthology, The Temporal Element.

"House Hunters" found a home in Use Enough Gun from the Monster Hunter series of anthologies unleashed by Miles Boothe and EmbyPress.

Karen Henderson kindly printed "The Dew of Heaven, Like Ashes" in her Tomorrow anthology from Kayelle Press.

And the year would not have been complete without some steampunk zombie goodness like you'll find in "Calcaneus Bishop and the Legend of the Sraavanya Sutra," which Ron Leming included in the Confederacy of Steam vs. Zombies anthology which he edited for Marion Margaret Press.

Several other stories sold as well but announcements for those will have to wait until 2014. A slow year for writing in some ways but a busy one in other ways just the same. Zulu Time, my zombiesque serial at JukePop Serials is nine chapters strong and on target to wrap up toward the end of next year. Pop over and check it out. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

So that's my retrospective on 2013 as a writing year. Solid. I'm very pleased. 

Before I go, I'd like to direct you fine folks back to Christmas 2012. If you're dying for some Christmas horror you might want to take a peek at "Jolly and Old" at the Kazka Press website and also "Of Faith and Fallow" at the Lovecraft eZine.  

As always, I'd love to hear from you. 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Dusting of Words

I always love the first snow of the season. Last weekend's ice pellets and freezing rain notwithstanding, I'm marking this as Waynesboro's official winter preview. A nice dusting from Mother Nature to ease us into winter.

Not even a week ago I was bummed that 2013 had been such a slow writing year. Other demands on my time. If you have  a family, a job, a home, or any combination thereof, you know what I mean. I don't track my total word count for any given period of time, but I had no doubt 2013 had set no records. Still, the real hope is that the caliber of the wordsmithing is improving. Quality not quantity, right? And then the call comes in from Joni Labaqui from the Writers of the Future Contest and I receive that much coveted validation.

So my advice to my fellow writers is this. Next time you're bummed over word count, take a close look at those words and share them with friends, family, contests and editors. Take a chance. That dust might be made of gold.


4th Quarter Finalists in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest
The final round of the contest's 30th year.

Kate Hall of Minnesota
C. Stuart Hardwick of Texas
Oleg Kazantsev of Chicago
Joel G. Kempff of Montana
Stephanie Loree of Ohio
Fi Mitchell of New South Wales, Australia
Megan E. O'Keefe of California
William R.D. Wood of Virginia

Yes, ladies and gentlemen. I am in good company.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Writers of the Future 4th Quarter Finalist

Tuesday night:

It's late and I'm shutting down lights and headed upstairs. You know, the usual end-of-day Daddy stuff. Everyone else is fast asleep having gone to bed hours before. Locating my wayward phone, I notice two things. A critically low battery and a voice message. Nothing major. The battery is always seems low - damned smartphone. The message? Probably just the automated school alert system telling me Augusta County Schools would be enjoying a two-hour delay come morning. This would cap off the last two days the kids just spent at home from school due to almost inclement weather. Call it a nice gentle return to the academics and athletics provided by our local schoolers.

In the message, Ms. Joni Labaqui, Writers & Illustrators of the Future Contests Director, apologized for the lateness of the hour but figuring, wisely and correctly, I wouldn't mind, considering the subject of the call. She wasn't calling to tell me about my local schools at all. The news was about my entry into the writers side of the contest. You know the one. L. Ron Hubbard's Writers of the Future Contest. Yeah, that's the one.

When I woke at the bottom of the stairs (Note: Falling down the stairs is a metaphor. No VA-based finalists were actually injured as a result of this voice message) I continued on to bed where, rumor has it, I was able to sleep. But you can't always trust rumors, which is why they get a bad rap.

A half-day later when time zones caught up to us again, Ms. Labaqui informed me that I was a finalist in this quarter's contest!

I've entered the contest before. Several times. A couple of my stories received no response. A couple of others, honorable mentions. If my sources are correct, about 10% of entries get honorable mentions. Those are great encouragement too. The knowledge that you're moving in the right direction sure gets you through those lonely hours at the keyboard.

She said eight stories, one of them mine, went to the four final judges who will pick the three winners. And (holy crap) looking down the roster those judges are selected from is enough to give butterflies to any stomach. (Note: This is not a metaphor. Looking down that list is literally enough to materialize fully-formed Lepidopterans from the quantum foam directly into your digestive system.) (Additional note: Do not include references to the digestive system in future posts. It's kinda gross.)

Ms. Labaqui expected to have results to us in the next few days and its already Thursday.

Today eight finalists are wondering who will be selected for those three spots.

And I'm one of them. Pretty damned cool.

Fingers crossed and best of luck to my fellow finalists.

Art by the amazing Frankie Forzoni