Rambling On

Anthony R. Cardno's Fiction and Commentary

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A couple of folks have asked, so I’m finally putting together my wrap-up post for 2016: what I wrote, what was published, and what I read.

 

WRITING

Not much to report on this front. 2016 was not my most consistent year for creating new content. I didn’t blog much, and I didn’t really track how much writing I was doing, other than knowing that there were a majority of months where I didn’t write or edit at all. I finished a couple of stories, including “Chasing May” which sold to the anthology Kepler’s Cowboys from Hadrosaur Productions. I sent out a few attempts at getting reprints sold, as well, but not much came of that. (Admittedly, I didn’t make the strongest effort I could possibly have made.)

 

PUBLISHING

2016 saw the release of three anthologies with my work included:

  • “Threshold” appeared in One Thousand Words For War from CBAY Books
  • “Stress Cracks” appeared in Galactic Games from Baen (My first professional-rate story sale!)
  • “Yeti” appeared in Robbed of Sleep, Volume 4 from Troy Blackford.

I also sold one story, the aforementioned “Chasing May,” which releases in just a few weeks from this writing.

 

READING

I set myself a variety of reading challenges in 2016. I managed to complete a few of them.

On Goodreads, I challenged myself to read 100 books. I read 105.

Here’s the breakdown of what I read:

  • Fiction: 97 books
    • 4 anthologies
      • 1 noir
      • 2 horror
      • 1 fantasy
    • 1 single-author collection (1 urban fantasy)
    • 17 graphic novels
      • 11 super-hero
      • 4 YA adventure
      • 1 YA comedy
      • 1 comic strip collection
    • 12 magazines (all issues of Lightspeed magazine)
    • 43 novels
      • 1 crime
      • 1 mystery
      • 1 noir
      • 1  Fantasy
      • 1 historical fiction
      • 1  historical fantasy
      • 2  historical romance
      • 3  historical urban fantasy
      • 3  alternate history
      • 3 horror
      • 1 literary
      • 4  pulp adventure
      • 2 science fiction
      • 13 urban fantasy
      • 1 YA urban fantasy
      • 1 YA science fiction
    • 8 novellas
      • 2 horror
      • 3 fantasy
      • 1 science fiction
      • 1 urban fantasy
      • 1 mystery
    • 1 picture book
    • 1 playscript
    • 10 short stories published as stand-alone ebooks
      • 4 urban fantasy
      • 3 mystery
      • 1 modern romance
      • 1 thriller
      • 1 historical fantasy
  • Non-Fiction: 8 books
    • 5 Memoir/biography
    • 2 History
    • 1 Writing Advice

Other Book Stats:

# of Authors/Editors: 86 (including graphic novel artists); 34 of these were female authors. (I didn’t do a good job of tracking other sub-group metrics, such as writers of color, queer writers, etc. I’m going to make a better effort this year.)

Shortest Book Read: 20 pages (Forbid the Sea by Seanan McGuire)

Longest Book Read: 496 (Feedback by Mira Grant)

(Interesting that the shortest and longest read were by the same author, albeit one under a pen-name.)

Total # of pages read: 24064

Average # of pages per book: 229

Format Summary:

  • 4 audiobooks
  • 28 ebooks (5 Nook, 23 Kindle)
  • 73 print
    • 17 hardcovers
    • 56 softcovers

 

On my Livejournal, I challenged myself to read 365 short stories (1 per day, basically), but I only managed 198 this year. I did not read as many anthologies or single-author collections cover-to-cover as I have in previous years.

Those 198 stories appeared in:

  • 5 Magazines
    • Asimov’s
    • Cemetary Dance
    • Daily Science Fiction
    • Disturbed Digest
    • Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction
    • Lightspeed Magazine
    • One Story
    • One Teen Story
    • The Dark
    • The Strand
    • Three Slices
    • Unbound
  • 10 Anthologies
    • Candle in the Attic
    • Clockwork Phoenix 5
    • Christmas at the Mysterious Bookshop
    • Dark and Dangerous Things III
    • Ghost in the Cogs
    • In Sunlight or in Shadow (Stories based on the paintings of Edward Hopper)
    • Robbed of Sleep Vol 4
    • Shattered Shields
  • 1 Single-Author Collection
    • Two Tales of the Iron Druid by Kevin Hearne
  • 8 Stand-alone (self-pubbed or publisher-pubbed in e-format)
    • Seanan McGuire (mostly from her website)
    • Jordan L. Hawk (email newsletter)
    • Lawrence Block (purchased in e-format via Amazon)

Those 198 stories were written by 166 different authors. 82 of those were women (again, didn’t do a good job of tracking any other author-identifying metrics). The work was published by 26 different editors, roughly (there were a few for whom I’m not sure who the editor was / who to credit).

 

So there you have it: my writing, publishing and reading, by the numbers, for 2016. (I was going to include other media consumed, like music, movies, and television, but I didn’t do as good of a job compiling those numbers in 2016. Oh well!)

 

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Yeah, I did. Another cover video.

This time, it’s to fulfill a promise I made to the good folks at Crossed Genres (Kay Holt and Bart Leib) for their Kickstarter for the LONG HIDDEN anthology to be edited by Rose Fox and Daniel Jose Older.  They had reached their initial funding goal, but were really trying to reach a stretch goal that would enable them to include artwork for every story in the anthology. To motivate people to contribute, Bart promised to die his long dark locks all the colors of the rainbow, and I promised that if they hit the stretch goal, I’d record another cover video, of an artist of their choice. Of course, they chose Britney Spears.

So this weekend it was back to DisGraceLand studio, home of The Dalliance with producer Darrell Long, a.k.a. Floopjack, to record and film. This one was tougher than the Bieber. The song as written (and when you’re using karaoke tracks for the instruments and backing vocals, you have to sing it as written) doesn’t really sit comfortably in my range, but I muddled through and near the end even give my full falsetto a work-out.  There are some awkward notes, but as Darrell pointed out: a) it’s all for fun, so let the warts show through and b) it proves that it’s all me.

So, whether you donated to the Long Hidden Kickstarter or not, here it is: my cover of Britney’s “Ooops, I Did It Again,” minus the awkward skit interlude about the diamond necklace…

 

 

 

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This blog post is part of the NEXT BIG THING meme. No, not Radio Disney’s Next Big Thing — I know a number of former contestants on that (Hollywood Ending, Kicking Daisies, Matt Johnson, Palaye Royale (back when they were “Kropp Circle”)), but that’s a music competition, and this NBT is about writing. The idea here is to talk about a book you’re working on, to generate interest in it and perhaps jumpstart your creativity a bit. I was tagged to be a part of this by my friend Shay Darrach, who in turn was tagged by our friend Sabrina Vourvoulias, and our friend Kay Holt has taken part as well. Our other friend Day al Mohamed was also tagged by Shay, and when she posts her installment, I’ll add the link to this.  They are all wonderful writers who regularly blow my mind, so check their blogs out for what they’re working on.  And then scroll down the bottom to see who I’m going to tag (and if/when they post their responses, I’ll link to those from here as well).

But first, my responses to the 10 questions asked of every Next Big Thing participant:

 

1.What is the working title of your next book?

THE MANY TORTURES OF ANTHONY CARDNO

2.Where did the idea come from for the book?

Last year, Brian White ran Kickstarters for each individual issue of FIRESIDE magazine. Among the “perks” for backing was the chance to be tuckerized into an author’s story as one of the main characters – not just a one line mention, but an actual part of the story. I chose this option for all three issues, and ended up in stories by Christie Yant, Damien Walters Grintalis and Mary Robinette Kowal. In the fall of 2012, Brian was teasing me and said that if I backed enough projects, we could put together a whole anthology of such stories. I thought the idea was so good that I asked a bunch of other authors if they’d be willing to play along and donate their stories so that the proceeds from the book could be donated to the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life, in honor of author Jay Lake. This was before Jay officially got his terminal diagnosis, of course.

3.What genre does your book fall under?

Short Stories. Haha. That may seem like a cop-out answer, but the stories in the book are covering almost every genre – time-travel, horror, crime, hard sf, fantasy, even “literary fiction.”

4.What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Oh man. That would depend on the story.

In my own contribution, “I’m” a teenager, and I’d have to choose Austin MacDonald, whose most recent credit is as a teen serial killer on the episode of HANNIBAL that NBC famously pulled in the wake of the Boston bombings, as “me” and Brandon Tyler Russell (from the movie SMITTY) as the other main character.  In other stories? I see John Krasinski as the “me” in Damien Walters’ Grintalis’ story (as a husband who is largely clueless about what his wife is going through), and Neil Patrick Harris as the “me” in Christie Yant’s (a drunk in a “dry” town in the California of the late 1800s). I think Mary Robinette Kowal’s story would call for someone a bit more pompous, John Laroquette, maybe (an egotistical actor partaking in an “extreme dining” adventure), while Sabrina Vourvoulias’ version of me conjures up images of Robert Carlyle (a US government operative in Central America who has seen things one shouldn’t see). In Jay Lake’s story of a young man drawn back to the ocean he was forced to leave as a child, I picture Freddie Highmore. In Joseph Pittman’s latest Todd Gleason crime story, Stephen Fry would be perfect. I could go on.

5.What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

To paraphrase Parke Godwin: “Who you are depends on who’s telling your tale, and boy do these authors have tales to tell about me.”

6.Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

Self-published in e-book format only so that we can get the largest number of stories into the book. I’d love to be able to do a run in print, but that’s going to be expensive (unless some lovely publisher reading this would like to donate a small print run as a collector’s item…). I currently have folks donating their time to do the e-book formatting and such to help me out.

7.How long did/will it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Technically, it’s been over a year since Christie’s story appeared in Fireside #1, but really the idea came into focus in November of 2012 and I anticipate offering the book for sale in September of 2013, so about a year.

8.What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

I’m not really sure.  There’s been a push lately, with anthologies like Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrontonio’s STORIES and magazines like Fireside, to move away from “genre” boundaries and just publish good stories across the spectrum. This anthology falls in line with that goal.

9.Who or what inspired you to write this book?

If I was going to do this, it wasn’t going to be a self-aggrandizing attempt to make money for myself. I knew immediately the proceeds would go to cancer research, in honor of not only Jay Lake, but so many other friends and relatives who are battling or have been lost to cancer: my friends Karen Jenkins, Kristin Meyer, and M. Denise Barnoski, all taken too soon. My cousins Chrissy and Jimmy Hajkowski and my almost-sister Michelle Moklebust, amazing fighters. And of course my parents and maternal grandparents, all lost to one form of cancer or another. Folks like Jay and my cousins inspire me with their willingness to share the details of their fight, even the bad times, and how they do their damnedest to not let cancer rule them.

10.What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Hopefully, it’s the variety of authors involved that will bring people in, as well as the good cause. Jay Lake, Mary Robinette Kowal, Christie Yant, Damien Walters Grintalis, David Lee Summers, Sabrina Vourvoulias, Joseph Pittman and Kaaron Warren are the most well-known among the authors who have already sent stories, as well as songwriters Barry Mangione (of The Dalliance and Apply The Graft) and Frank Dixon. It occurs to me that with Kaaron and Frank in the mix, we’ve got authors from two different continents involved, another nice selling point.

 

I don’t typically do the “I tagged you, so you HAVE to play” thing. However, there are a few authors I hope will play along. I’m not giving them specific dates to post, either.

1. Dennis Miller, author of  ONE WOMAN’S VENGEANCE, a wonderful Western with a female protagonist who, yes, starts out as a victim but who does not allow the label of “victim” to become her identity. Dennis’ book is brutal and beautiful at the same time.

2. Sidney Bristol, author of UNDER HIS SKIN and other erotica. Sidney is one of the “Crazy Writer Ladies of DFW” who I adore, and her work is so completely different from mine and Dennis’ that I cannot resist tagging her.

3. Bryan Thomas Schmidt, author of THE DAVI RHII SAGA, a great space opera based on the story of Moses. Again, someone completely different in style and tone from the preceeding two authors.

I hope all three authors will play along!

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WHO AM I ANYWAY? AM I MY RESUME?

Yes, I know there’s a biography and bibliography page on this site that you could toggle over to if you want to know more about me. But I thought, as I haven’t posted any new material to the site for several weeks and don’t have any completed interviews in house, that it might be time to do a more in-depth profile of myself. The last time I did this, I had my nieces and nephews send me questions. This time, I’m just going to ramble. That is the name of the website, after all: Rambling On…

 

WHAT DO I STAND FOR? MOST NIGHTS I DON’T KNOW ANY MORE.

Not really true. I do know what I stand for.

I’m a subscriber to Wheaton’s Law: Don’t Be A Dick. I try to be the best person I can be. I also try to convince everyone I’m not a nice person. Apparently, I fail in this endeavor, but I’m still trying.

I believe in not arguing politics or religion in any forum in which I cannot see the other person’s face and/or hear their voice, because the written word is fraught with potential for misunderstanding. When asked, I’ll admit to being a somewhat central-leaning liberal as well as a Recovering Catholic, but neither of those topics is really open for debate on this site.

I’m a big supporter of the work done by the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (in honor of my cousins Frank and Frank John); Ronald McDonald House (my friend Sam’s favorite cause), MDA, Soles4Souls  (Billy Gilman’s charity), AIDS Research, Blessings in a Backpack (my friend Austin’s favorite cause), and the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation, to name a few – but if a cause is important enough to someone I care about, I’ll lend what support I can. And the American Cancer Society Relay For Life in Mahopac NY is always my top fundraising priority.

 

I’M NOT CRAZY, I’M JUST A LITTLE UNWELL

I’m a colon cancer survivor, diagnosed in September of 2005. Surgery took 1/3rd of my colon (and gave me one of my two favorite catch-phrases: “After surgery, I became a semi-colon.”) and a whole load of lymph nodes, and then there was chemo.  It has not returned since, and I know how lucky I am and what the odds are that it will come back in some form eventually.

I’ve lost both parents, both maternal grand-parents, cousins and friends to various forms of cancer. I know more people battling cancer right now than seems logistically possible, even given my large circle of family, friends and acquaintances.

 

THAT’S MY PHILOSOPHY, DEFYING GRAVITY

My other favorite catch-phrase (which I keep working into the stories I write and keep cutting because it never quite fits): “Gravity doesn’t care who you fall for, and neither do I.”

I’m friends with a wide variety of people. I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, bi, trans; Caucasian, Asian, Anglo, Indian, African; rich, middle class or poor; Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Pagan, Wiccan, Atheist. If we bond over some common interest, that’s what matters to me. I don’t write anyone off on the basis of a belief; I write you off based on your behavior towards me and others. I try to do unto others as I would have done unto me, and that includes recognizing that others have the right to believe differently than I do.

For those to whom it matters: yes, I’m openly gay. You can’t read my Twitter, website, Livejournal or Facebook page without quickly becoming aware of this fact. I’m also brown-haired, hazel-eyed, right-handed (except when throwing a Frisbee, for some odd reason), an avowed omnivore (except for my “no fish, no fungus” rule), and not incredibly athletic but only slightly overweight. If any of these things is a deal-breaker for you … thanks for visiting, go your way in peace.

I’m also a huge fan of the arts, and will support any creative person whose work I find interesting and enjoyable, regardless of the type of art they are creating: fiction, theatre, movies and television, music, dance, painting, sculpture of all kinds are fair game.

 

WHERE’S MY HOLLYWOOD ENDING?

I didn’t get one of my own, so I support others.

That’s not as tragic as it sounds.  In high school, I wanted to be an actor. I spent one semester at SUNY New Paltz in the fall of 1984, bombed out miserably, and spent the next five years working a day job, directing high school plays and participating in community theater. For part of that time, I worked with NYC acting coach Peter Sklar (who also worked with Rick Schroder, Lori Laughlin, Alison Smith, Ricki Lake, Brian Bloom and others) and went on auditions, but quickly discovered that I didn’t have the right mind-set to be an out-of-work actor in NYC. So I went back to college and got my teaching degree.

I spend a lot of time interviewing and promoting young actors like Sam Lant, Brandon Tyler Russell, Austin MacDonald, Garrett Palmer, Alivia Jae Latimer, Sarah DesJardins, and Taylor Hay because they remind me of me when I was that age and dreaming of a life on stage and screen … with one important difference: these kids are also passionate advocates for charities ranging from Ronald McDonald House to pet shelters, from Blessings in a Backpack to anti-bullying programs. They’re doing a lot more to change the world before they’ve graduated high school than I’ve managed through most of my life, and they’ve inspired me to do more.

In the past few years especially, I’ve become a more vocal support of the arts. Different day-job than two decades ago, but still a huge fan of artists of all types. I’ll support any creative person whose work I find interesting and enjoyable, whether that support is through crowd-funding or simply signal-boosting through social media.

 

Me with Dan Geraghty of Hollywood Ending

I KINDA LIKE IT

Lately, I find I am particularly passionate about unsigned musical acts. Indie artists. It doesn’t matter whether they are old friends like my pals in The Dalliance and singer-songwriters Casey Stratton and Christina Lenway; the children of old friends, like singers Anthony Gargiula and Gabe Price;  or new friends like Hollywood Ending and Reverse Order.  It doesn’t matter if they’re Canadian (The Brothers Dube),  Australian (Frank Dixon) or American (Kicking Daisies); country (Matt Johnson), rock (The New Royalty),  pop (Anson Li) or alternative (Paradise Fears). Music of all kinds motivates me and inspires me, from classical to rap, perhaps because I never really learned to play an instrument and any musical theory I learned in high school has been long forgotten.

Of course, I don’t just listen to unsigned acts. To list everyone I love would take forever, but these days you’re likely to hear a mix of Matchbox Twenty, Sister Hazel, Brendan James, Alanis Morrisette, Rosanne Cash, Dvorak, Alan Parsons, Eminem and Broadway cast albums streaming from the nearest speakers. And STYX. Always STYX.

 

“I’m Sailing A-waaaayyyy”

WELCOME TO THE GRAND ILLUSION

At various points in my life, I’ve been able to carry a tune outside of a paper bag. My voice isn’t as strong or as trained as it was in college, but I think I do pretty decently. (Witness my recent Justin Bieber cover video.)  But it all started with STYX, on the stage of Mahopac High School in 1984 as one of the eight vocalists for the high school rock ensemble ILLUSION. We opened the show with “Grand Illusion” and ended with me singing lead on “Come Sail Away.” A defining moment of my life (and one I swear I will post the video of as soon as I can figure out how).  Thirty years later, that school-sponsored rock group is still going strong. I’ve met recent cast-members and they have the same love for the group that we did when it started. Arts education matters.

 

SAVE A SEAT FOR ME ON THE LAST PLANE OUT

The reason most of the posts on this site in the past two years have been interviews is a combination of paying back the support I’ve been given and paying it forward to help others. But a common misconception is that interviewing is my full-time job.

It’s not. Everything I do on this site, I do for fun. I conduct most of my interviews via e-mail at night and on weekends, at the same time I’m working on my next short story. Because writing, as much as I love it, isn’t my full-time job, either.

My friend Leigh Geraghty joked that I’m an “international man of mystery” because I rarely give details of my day-job online. I prefer to keep work and home life separate. I’m still putting that teaching degree to use, even though I’m not in a standard classroom and I don’t teach kids. I’m an instructor for a small training company and my work sends me around the country throughout the year, so I do actually get to meet a lot of my fellow writers as well as many of the folks I’ve been privileged to interview.

 

THE PRINCE OF HUMBUG

I tell stories. It’s part of my day-job (in fact, a part of just about every full-time job I’ve ever held but one), it’s part of my interviewing, and it’s the one creative act I feel confident I can pull off on a regular basis.

Some of the stories I tell are true (for instance, for my day-job), some are cut from whole cloth. Some are an odd mix. The story “Canopus” on this site is a good example of that. I’ll let you decide how much is truth and not.

My published material is all listed elsewhere on the site, so I’m not going to rehash it all here.

But I’ve been writing fiction, telling stories, for as long as I can remember. Super-hero fan-fiction in grade and middle school. Plays in high school and college. I wrote a space opera novel in 10th grade that was equal parts Ray Bradbury and John Jakes. I joined the Super-Team Amateur Press Alliance (S-TAPA) in 1983 and have been a member in good standing for 30 years (even if my fiction input has not been consistent).  I’m as like to tell a story at a campfire as I am to sing a silly off-key group participatory song.

The fact that I’m now somewhat consistently selling the stories I’m writing, well … it’s a dream come true, even if that whole acting thing didn’t work out.

 

CAN YOU BE COMPLETELY INCOMPLETE?

There’s a lot more I could say about myself, about my life history. It’s all great fodder for the stories I write, and some of it is even part of the stories I tell if you corner me at an event and I’m in a talking kind of mood: where all my various nicknames (Stormy, Thanny, Anton, “the other guy”) come from; the eight hour drive from Roanoke to New Jersey that once took 36 hours; community theater in an old train station where we’d have to freeze in place while the Amtrak zoomed past outside; the camping trip on the Delaware River with the Russian kid who said “I got my ass kicked by the river … I got my ass kicked by the rainstorm. How embarrassing is that?”

And then there are stories I keep to myself. We all have those, too.

I want to talk about the great connections I’ve made with fellow authors (a number of whom I’ve interviewed here), but that’s a full-on post of its own.

But I have to end this post somewhere, and this seems like the appropriate spot.

 

THAT IS, IF YOU WANT TO WIN

If you’ve stuck with me this long, I’d like to reward you with a little contest.  Each bolded segment heading of this post is a song title or lyric.  So here’s the contest:

  1. In a comment below, identify as many/all of the original artists as you can. (Give me the title/lyric and then the author so I can be sure you’re putting the right names together.)
  2. Yes, it’s okay to use iTunes, Facebook, Twitter or any other online search you want. My goal is to get you to check out some of these artists. You might like what you hear.
  3. Every so often, I’ll check the comments and choose a winner from those who have made the most correct identifications. The choice of winner will be completely random.
  4. Prize is a free copy of my book THE FIRFLAKE: A Christmas Story. You can find more information about the book elsewhere on this site.
  5. Leave some sort of contact info (even if it’s just a Twitter handle) so I can get in touch for mailing information if you win.
  6. All comments are set to be moderated (to cut down on spam stuff), so if you don’t see your comment right away, give me a few hours. Day-jobbery often delays my opportunity to approve comments.

 

And just for giggles, here’s that cover video of Justin Bieber’s “Beauty and a Beat” again. And I lost another Kickstarter bet, so there will be a Britney Spears cover coming in a few weeks (we’re recording it over the holiday weekend). This vid’s just about to break 300 views! Go me!

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I meant to post this a few days ago. In case you might have missed it, I did a cover of Justin Bieber’s “Beauty and A Beat.” Why? Because I promised that if Bryan Thomas Schmidt’s Kickstarter for the RAYGUN CHRONICLES sf anthology he wanted to edit hit full funding in the final 24 hours of the project (which it was looking like wouldn’t happen), that I would record myself singing a Justin Bieber song. And “Beauty and A Beat” is the only one I can claim more than a passing familiarity with, since my pals Hollywood Ending covered it a while back (and put their own spin on it).

I was originally going to just download the karaoke track and play it on my laptop while I sang into the camera on the laptop, but then my friend Darrell Long got involved, which pulled our friend Barry Mangione in, and the result was four hours in DisGraceLand Studio in Brewster, recording my vocals and Darrell’s rap (we call him Dicki Minaj now) and Barry’s backing vocals, then mimicking the effects on the original, then shooting the video, and then spending another hour getting it uploaded to Youtube. The result is here:

 

And just for comparsion, here’s Hollywood Ending’s acoustic cover. How many dance moves did I steal? Count ’em all!

 

Over the weekend, I made another promise: that if the Kickstarter for the LONG HIDDEN anthology hit $30,000 (enough to include brand new artwork for each story in the anthology), I would record myself singing a Britney Spears song. (The LONG HIDDEN folks chose the artist this time.) So be watching for that sometime in the next month or so. (I’ll be on the road for two weeks for work starting Sunday, so recording will have to wait til I get back.)

Now I’ve also committed to two other videos.

1) If Barry Mangione’s APPLY THE GRAFT project manages to raise almost $10,000 in the next few days, Darrell and I will create a Bieber/Britney/Buble mash-up.  Here’s the link to donate to that project if you’d like. And here’s a link to my interview with Barry about the project.

2) My young actor friend Sam Lant is doing his annual fundraiser for Ronald McDonald House in Pasadena. He’s about $1,500 short of the goal he set for himself. So I promised that if he hits his goal, I’ll do a cover video of whatever song he chooses (So far, it’s a toss-up between Sir Mix-A-Lot’s “Baby Got Back” and Lady GaGa’s “Bad Romance.”) If you’d like to donate to that worthy cause, here’s the link to Sam’s Donation Page.

Interestingly, no one has asked me to cover One Direction. I wonder why.

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For those wondering, YES, the usual interviews will be resuming soon. I’ve got one in queue waiting on me to send some follow-up questions, and I sent another 2 sets of questions out today. They’re coming, promise!

But first, some personal news I need to share:

Beyond The Sun conceptual cover art

So as usual for a Wednesday, #sffwrtcht started at 9pm tonight on Twitter. #sffwrtcht is a weekly thing, with a rotating series of science fiction, fantasy and horror authors as guests. This week’s guest was my friend Damien Walters Grintalis, whose novel INK, about a tattoo job gone wrong in a horrific way, just came out. Damien tuckerized me into her story “Scarred” for Fireside magazine last year, too. A few minutes into the chat stream, moderator and friend Bryan Thomas Schmidt shoots me a private message on Facebook. “Damien and I both have big announcements to make at the end of chat, so stick around.” Because he knows I sometimes get distracted by 19 other things going on and forget to check back to the chat.  I figured he was going to announce he’d pitched another anthology idea, or something like that.

Near the end of chat, he slips this in: “I’d like to announce that #sffwrtcht regulars @talekyn & @jaleta_clegg have sold stories to #BeyondTheSun anthology.”

Well, THAT took me by surprise.

I knew Bryan liked my story “Chasing Satellites” enough to ask me to do a rewrite and hone it before the final submission deadline rather than reject it outright. But I honestly thought, with the deadline just passed, that it would be a week or so before he made any final decisions.

This is my first semi-pro sale, at the four-cents-a-word rate Bryan quoted when he funded the book through Kickstarter in the fall. Bryan gave me my first book anthology unpaid sale in 2012, with “A Battle For Parantwer” in SPACE BATTLES. Before “Chasing Satellites,” every story I’ve published has been recompensed with copies of the book or magazine.  A semi-pro sale apparently isn’t enough to earn me credits towards membership in the Science Fiction Writers Association, but it is a large step in the right direction, and of course a HUGE boost to my writer’s ego.

A number of you reading this donated to Brian’s Kickstarter for BEYOND THE SUN because you knew if the project was funded and IF my story was accepted (and there was never any guarantee it would be), it would mean a lot to me on a personal level. I explained why in this post. And so now that my story has been accepted … I cannot thank those of you who backed the project enough. If the project hadn’t funded, all of this would be moot.

BEYOND THE SUN will be out from Fairwood Press in mid-July 2013.  I’ll be appearing beside my hero Robert Silverberg, as well as greats like Mike Resnick, Nancy Kress, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Jennifer Brozek, Jason Sanford, Autumn Rachel Dryden, and my friends Jaleta Clegg and Maurice Broaddus, in a book edited by my friend and mentor Bryan Thomas Schmidt. I’m honored to be alongside all of them…

…. but dude, I’m gonna be in a book with ROBERT FREAKIN’ SILVERBERG.

 

Oh, and I owe a shout-out to singer-songwriter Thomas Fiss, as well. I promised him I’d write a short story based on the title track of his latest EP, and this is it! Thanks for the inspiration, Thomas!

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For the past two years, I’ve taken part in RoofBeam Reader’s “TBR Challenge.”

For 2011, I posted the list of titles I intended to read here on LJ. Of the 12 (plus 2 alternates), I managed to finish 4.
For 2012, I posted the list of titles I intended to read on my website. Of the 12 (plus 2 alternates), I managed to finish two.

For 2013, I’m attempting to participate again. You’ll see some of the same titles from previous years making it onto this list, but I also tried to pick some new titles. Maybe the third year is the charm, yes? I’m once again listing the rules and titles here and will mirror this post onto my livejournal.

In Adam’s own words:

The Goal To finally read 12 books from your “to be read” pile (within 12 months).

Specifics:

1. Each of these 12 books must have been on your bookshelf or “To Be Read” list fo AT LEAST one full year. This means the book cannot have a publication date of 1/1/2012 or later (any book published in the year 2011 or earlier qualifies, as long as it has been on your TBR pile – I WILL be checking publication dates) Caveat: two (2) alternates are allowed, just in case one or two of the books end up in the “can’t get through” pile.

My choices this year are:

1. The Valley of Fear, a Sherlock Holmes novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
2. Call For The Dead, the first Smiley novel by John LeCarre
3. Grifter’s Game by Lawrence Block
4. Blind Fall by Christopher Rice
5. Shockaholic by Carrie Fisher
6. Without You by Anthony Rapp
7. Poisoning For Profit: The Mafia and Toxic Waste in America by Alan A. Block and Frank R. Scarpitti
8. In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
9. Spider-Man: The Darkest Hours by Jim Butcher Completed January 7, 2013
10. Hounded, the first Atticus O’Sullivan book, by Kevin Hearne
11. Second Thoughts by Steve Berman
12. Storm of Swords, the 3rd “Song of Ice and Fire” book by George RR Martin

and the two alternates:

13. Main Street by Sinclair Lewis
14. The Mark of Zorro by Johnston McCullers

Of course, I am under no requirement to read them in this precise order.  I’ll keep coming back and updating the list as I read the books, crossing them out and changing the color of the text. Four of these books will also help me with my on-going challenge to read more non-fiction.

This is the only official reading challenge I’m giving myself this year, seeing that I want to concentrate more on my own writing and also be a better contributor to my office book club. And of course, I’m proofreading the ebook editions of each issue of LIGHTSPEED magazine, which takes up some reading time each month.

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Through This Together

Every year, my friends in The Dalliance (Gerg Gilroy, Barry Mangione and Darrell Long) use their vaunted musical prowess to create a song and then donate all proceeds to a worthy charity. Last year, the beneficiary was the Association For Suicide Prevention.

Every Tuesday night at 9pm EST, Barry hosts a web-show called BARRY ON THE SPOT. The concept is that Barry and the participating audience have a half-hour to co-write a song about that week’s topic, and then Barry records the song and posts it to bandcamp. It’s a fun half-hour. Sometimes the songs are serious, sometimes they’re irreverent, sometimes they’re downright inappropriate for younger audiences. But it’s always a fun gathering.

This year, Barry and The Dalliance decided to use the BOTS format to write their annual charity song. Because The Dalliance members and a good portion of the participating audience live in the NY-NJ-CT area, it was decided that all proceeds from the sale of the song will go directly to help rebuilding efforts in Breezy Point, NY, one of the areas hit the hardest by Sandy.

The song, to which I contributed the chorus lyrics, is THROUGH THIS TOGETHER. You can buy it on bandcamp and download it immediately. And you can donate whatever you like — $1, $10, $20 …. it’s all up to you.

I’m hoping the people who have supported this web-page over the past year of interviews will pitch in. Even $1 from every person I’ve interviewed and every person whose read an interview here, will go a long way towards helping those still struggling with the aftermath of Sandy.

Thank you in advance for anything you feel you can contribute!

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I tweeted earlier today “So which is it? #frankenstorm or #snoreastercane? Or maybe “frankenstormsnoreastercaneapocalpytigeddon?” And then my friend and coworker Regan pointed out how well that fit with “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious,” and a parody was born. Note: I will not be recording this — but if someone else wants to, just give us proper credit!

 

Frankenstormsnoreastercaneapocalyptigeddon.

Could this be the perfect storm that everyone is fretting

Or will it be a big ol’ bust that we’ll all be regretting?

Frankenstormsnoreastercaneapocalyptigeddon

 

Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle aye

Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle aye

Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle aye

Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle aye

 

Because we were afraid of storms
Disasters by the score,
Forecasters gave our fears a form
and kept us feeling sore
And then one day we heard a word
to sum up all our woes,
The biggest word you ever heard
and this is how it goes… Oh!

 

Frankenstormsnoreastercaneapocalyptigeddon.

Could this be the perfect storm that everyone is fretting

Or will it be a big ol’ bust that we’ll all be regretting?

Frankenstormsnoreastercaneapocalyptigeddon

 

Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle aye

Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle aye

Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle aye

Um diddle diddle diddle um diddle aye

 

 

I travel all around the world
And everywhere I go
I dress for weather of all types
For earthquake and tornado.
When forecasters try to pass
the time of day with me
I say my special word and then
they ask me out to tea. Oh!

 

Frankenstormsnoreastercaneapocalyptigeddon.

Could this be the perfect storm that everyone is fretting

Or will it be a big ol’ bust that we’ll all be regretting?

Frankenstormsnoreastercaneapocalyptigeddon

 

(Spoken): Of course you can say it backwards, which is

“gedd-apocalypti-cane-snoreaster-storm-nekfran”

But that’s going a bit far, don’t you think?

 

So when the forecast has got you down
There’s no need to dismay
Just summon up this word and
Laugh at every word they say.
Let’s just hope they’ve got it wrong

And Sandy will blow past
Cause when they get it right on us
We’ve never moved so fast. Oh!

 

Frankenstormsnoreastercaneapocalyptigeddon.

Could this be the perfect storm that everyone is fretting

Or will it be a big ol’ bust that we’ll all be regretting?

Frankenstormsnoreastercaneapocalyptigeddon

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To Open The Sky by Robert Silverberg

The answer is: To Open The Sky.

The question: What was the first book about colonizing outer space you remember reading?

Robert Silverberg’s To Open The Sky is not anywhere near as well-known as space colonization novels by Ray Bradbury ( The Martian Chronicles, the second colonization book I ever read), Arthur C. Clarke, Gene Wolfe, and countless others. It’s also not as well-known as other Silverberg works (The Chronicles of Majipoor, for example) and in fact is long out of print.  Regardless of all of that, it holds a special place in my heart. I reread it every few years and feel the excitement I felt the first time I read it, as I realize what religious founder Noel Vorst’s long-term master plan is, played out over a century or more, for getting humanity beyond our own system and out to the stars. We never get to see the actual colonies that are founded, but Silverberg’s future Earth and colonial Mars and Venus tell us enough.

I’m not the only science fiction fan fascinated with the concept of humanity’s colonization of other planets.  Bryan Thomas Schmidt is inspired and fascinated by colonization stories, even moreso than I am. With the essential end of NASA’s space shuttle program and the slow beginning of the commercial space program (with SpaceX’s Dragon rocket launching just this week), Bryan sees a need now more than ever for readers to look to the stars and regain the excitement that sf of the ’40s and ’50s, and the real events of the ’60s to the present, gave us.

So Bryan, a writer and editor of science fiction (his own first sf novel, The Worker Prince, was an Honorable Mention on the Barnes and Noble Notable SF List and he recently edited Space Battles for Flying Pen Press), has decided to put together an anthology of mostly-new colonization stories. The book will be called Beyond The Sun. Bryan’s invited twenty-something authors to submit stories to be considered for approximately sixteen slots in the book, joining four headliners: Mike Resnick. Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Nancy Kress. And …. Robert Silverberg.

Now, the Silverberg story will be one of the book’s few reprints but it’s a story I’ve never seen before. This is one of the two main reasons I want to see Beyond The Sun published, to readily access a Robert Silverberg story about space colonization that isn’t part of the universe he gave me in To Open The Sky, but which will be vibrant and exciting nonetheless.

Draft cover art for Beyond The Sun

But the book won’t be published if Bryan can’t raise the funds to pay the authors (the headliners and the mid-list and the newbies he’s invited).  He’s got just a few hours over 5 days to hit the funding goal of $5,000, and with Kickstarter (unlike IndieGoGo), it’s all or nothing. If we get to the deadline and Bryan’s not at $5,000 … no Beyond The Sun. Which is a shame considering how passionate Bryan is about this project, and considering how wonderful the contents are bound to be regardless of which sixteen authors get chosen to join the headliners.

And here’s the other reason I want to see this project fully funded, and it’s a very selfish one: I’m one of the twenty or so authors Bryan invited to submit a story for consideration. If Beyond The Sun gets funded, and Bryan chooses my story to be included … my colonization story would be in the same book with Robert Silverberg, one of the men who excited my own interest in SF more than thirty years ago. And that is just too cool an opportunity to pass up.

So that’s why I’ve backed the BTS Kickstarter at the highest level I can afford — not for the perks I’ll get for pledging at that level, but to increase the chances that the book will see print. It’s a book I’ll want to read whether I’m in it or not (and there’s no guarantee I will be, until I finish the story and Bryan accepts it).

Why should you back it?  Well, if you love good science fiction, especially good sf about colonization, consider it like pre-ordering a book through BN or Amazon, without the risk. If you pledge and the book doesn’t get fully-funded, you’re not out a cent. If you pledge and it does get funded, you’re guaranteed a first printing of a great anthology, and you’ll get whatever other perks are attached to your pledge level (which include things like personalized, autographed copies; having yourself Tuckerized into a story; or a critique by a well-known sf editor, among others).

Why else should you back it? Because (especially if you’re a friend of mine, sf fan or not) you’ll possibly be helping me achieve a dream: being included in the same anthology with Robert Silverberg.

So click the link, watch Bryan’s video explaining why this book is so important to him, read the bios of the headliners. If you choose to back, there are some story excerpts on the Updates page and links to where you can find other excerpts. And even if you can’t back the project financially … please spread the word. Hit the “Like” button and the Tweet button. Get the word out there. We’ve got 5 days to raise over $3,000 dollars. More has been raised in short time periods on Kickstarter, with the right word of mouth.

And thank you in advance to all of you who do help Bryan make his dream, his book, a reality, and thus possibly help mine as well.

BEYOND THE SUN KICKSTARTER PAGE

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