Category Archives: pimpage

Creative Copy Challenge

Shane, Sean, and David post ten words and you creative types bang out a little “cohesive, creative short story tying all the words together”. The creative copy challenge is an excellent idea and one that I hope you will all take up!

Here’s my … stab.

Adrenaline flowed through Jake’s system. It was a feeling that he both relished and feared. It meant that he was in just the kind of situation he had longed to be done with. A man like him didn’t really retire though, that just wasn’t in the cards.

He tightened his grip on the Kraton covered knife handle, feeling more than hearing his knuckles pop. He had gotten used to the adrenal high, but never the bloodshed that was so often required. Killing men, women and children for a living meant that he had to at least learn to shove the self loathing down into his gut….

Click here to read the rest and see what the rest of the crew did!

A Charity Anthology

Some friends of mine are selling an anthology of stories to benefit the Office of Letters and Light, a charity affiliated with NaNoWriMo. It’s called From the Dark Side and you can find a number of excerpts and all the info you could possibly want to know about it here.

They’re selling an electronic version at the moment and eventually hope to put out a paper version down the road. All proceeds go to the aforementioned charity and you get twenty stories and poems in a variety of electronic formats on and for $4.99. That strikes me as a good deal. I know a few of the writers represented and their shouldn’t be a bad story in the bunch.

I know I’ll be buying mine very soon. In fact they’re trying to break one hundred sales by Sunday, July 11 at 11:59 p.m. ET and I want to be counted in that number. They’re about a third of the way there as of my writing this. So go get yours! (As a side note I think they get a better cut if you get it through Smashwords.)

Celebrating Freedom

I hope you guys had an awesome 4th of July. You all had one, contrary to what some may believe. Only Americans celebrate the anniversary of their independence on this day. 😉

I know it’s been a LONG time since my last post. I’ve been a busy little bee and not much in a blogger mode. I did want to share something special with you though. As some of you may know I’ve been working on an electronic magazine called Flagship for a new publishing company called Flying Island Press I’ve helped launch alongside Zach Ricks, Jeff Hite, Philip Carroll, and J-P Losier. We had our launch date yesterday and it was AWESOME.

I know there are some of you out there that might not want to buy something sight unseen and I respect that. As a result, we’re giving away one story in both audio and e-pub format. If you buy the magazine, you’ll get this story and five more for $1.99 for just the audio or text versions or $2.99 for both. I think that’s an outstanding deal.

The story we chose was “Inciting Incident” by Blake M. Petit. Choosing was hard, but we felt his story was indicative of the tone and quality we were shooting for. We at Flying Island Press hope you enjoy them!

E-pub Version
Audio Version

Balticon Recap

I had the privilege of attending Balticon 44, a science fiction/fantasy writer’s convention in Baltimore, MD, on Memorial Day weekend. This was my second outing and I’ll continue to attend annually as scheduling and finances allow. Why’s that?

Well it seems to be the place to go for writers who also podcast. The first year I went I got to meet very nearly all of the podcasting authors whose works I appreciate. There are a number of excellent panels every year on everything from sound production to writing and the sheer number of live readings and live shows scheduled is staggering. There just isn’t enough time over the weekend to do everything.

That’s not the main reason I go though. It has become something of a family reunion for me. Now don’t mistake me, I don’t know a tenth of the people I see as well as I’d like and I don’t want to cheapen the notion of friendship or family, but really that’s the way it feels to me. Whether meeting someone in person for the first time or reconnecting with someone I saw last year, there was an instant bond. Part of that is assisted by mutual passions and of course most of us keep in touch through the magic of Twitter. So it’s “instant” only in the same sense that folks like Scott Sigler are an “overnight” success.

In any event, sociology aside, the people are the major reason I go. Sadly I have yet to spend any real time talking to Chris Lester either year. I also missed some excellent panels and readings. Rather than focusing on missed opportunities though, I’d rather touch on the highlights.

I got to meet and share drinks with some awesome producers and fans (in some case the same folks). Sharing mojitos with Paul Cooley, Laura Frechette, Dave Sobkowiak, and Kate Sherrod was EPIC!

I had taken a wingman with me in the form and shape of co-producer Shawn Murphy aka SidFaiwu, but when he was off doing his own thing I had the good fortune of meeting Mike Plested in person and spending a lot of time talking to him. Mike’s a great guy. He put up with my digs at Canada and took a number of the pics you’ll see on Flickr of the event. He also interviewed Zach Ricks and I about Flying Island Press and our launch of Flagship.

I took some of my homebrew and shared it with Thomas Gideon and John Williams. They’re PASSIONATE home brewers in their own rights and we hope to have a home brew panel at next year’s Balticon.

I also met, hugged, and exchanged a word or two with Dan Sawyer. He and I have traded plenty of emails and blog comments. I’m also a big fan of his writing style and appreciate the wealth of knowledge he has on audio and a number of other topics. If you’re a new media person then you should REALLY check out the ANMAP Foundation that he’s set up with some other creatives.

There were plenty of larger form geek social gatherings (not an oxymoron) like the Geek Prom (with awesome food thanks to Viv!), room parties galore, and a concert or three. I got to see Book launches by Patrick McLean, PG Holyfield, and Nathan Lowell. I got to buy Tumbler, a most excellent YA sci-fi novel by Brand Gamblin. Jared Axelrod launched Fables of the Flying City (unaffiliated with the Flying Island).

There was just too much going on to get it all in or even to mention it all in one blog post. At least not without boring you to tears. I wasn’t on any panels this year (though if you listen to Mur Lafferty’s live I Should Be Writing, I think you’ll hear me towards the end). Perhaps next year I’ll be on one or two. In any case I hope that if you haven’t been to one and any of this sounds cool to you that you’ll go next year and good Lord willing I’ll be there!

Interview with Jenny Hudock

This interview is a stop on the blog tour Jenny Hudock is doing to promote her short story collection Dark Journeys.

We also talk about podcasting criticism per this discussion on Twitter.

Links to sites mentioned in the show –
The Inner Bean – Jenny’s official website
The Creative Alliance
Jenny’s Smashwords Page

I, Gatekeeper

For years (not nearly enough years) I’ve been writing fiction, well aware that my early attempts would suck (and well should those attempts suck). I knew that there would come a time when I was happy enough with my mad skillz to attempt to get by the “gatekeepers”. Those are the editors and publishers that work to ensure that their magazines and other products contained only that which they though was of sufficient caliber to be published under their name. Little did I know that there would come a time when I would be a gate keeper myself.

That’s right, for those that don’t know, I am part of a crack commando unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit team of writers and podcasters (*) who have set forth to make our own publishing company. Flying Island Press is our baby and it’s first foray into the e-zine world is called Flagship. There’s more to Flagship than just an e-zine though. We’re also going to be podcasting the content that we purchase. Yes, that’s right, purchase.

Flagship is a paying market and it’s also going to be For Sale. I know, I know, I’ve talked about the power of free on this blog before and I think there’s a place for it, but there’s also a place for paid publications and for you the audience to pay for quality content.

Since you, the reader, will be asked to pay for this mag, we at Flying Island Press will make you a promise. We’re not just taking any stories that cross our desk. There will be an editorial process. I will be one of the slush reader for the ‘zine and I will be hard on everyone that comes my way. So, in essence, I will be a gatekeeper.

This is an interesting place to be in, let me tell you. I’ll have to say no. It’s hard to hear no. I’ve been in a position to say no and I can tell you that’s hard too. Hopefully seeing all the prose that gets sent our way will test and teach me as a writer and as an editor. I anticipate that we’ll get plenty of awesome stuff and some of that just won’t be what we’re looking for. Let’s face it though, we’re also going to get plenty of poorly written stuff. And I’ll get to see it all.

I hope that as time allows I can do for some what some have done for me. Sure I’ll have to use the “Sorry, but this just isn’t what we’re looking for right now.” But I also hope that I can spare a few words of encouragement and tips for improving the work of the people I see. Only time will tell as to how much of that I’ll be able to do.

Of course that’s all assuming you guys get off you duffs and get writing!!!

So go to Flying Island Press, check out our submission guidelines (a little loose at the moment but we’re working on tightening them), and get your stories in.

(*) Crack team consists of –

Jeffrey “Dark Lord” Hite
Zach “Mad Poet” Ricks
Philip “Norval Joe” Carroll
Jean-Philip “J-P” Losier (I’m gonna call J-P the Ragin’ Cajun even though I don’t think he rages or he’s from LA)
Scott “In Search of a Nickname” Roche (I’d link to myself but I think that’s illegal in NC.)

May You Live in Interesting Times

Ordinarily this is called the “Chinese Curse” and is looked on as a bad thing. As artists we do indeed live in interesting times and I suppose it can be good or bad. Let me ‘splain.

No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

On the writing side of the house royalties are going down as are advances. Slush piles are going up, up, up. It can be difficult to cut through all the noise and make yourself heard. I can only assume based on what I’m hearing that the same is true in the other disciplines. So it may be tempting to say that it’s more difficult to “make it”, all of course depending on what you mean by that.

However, interesting times such as these often separate the adults from the children (to update the adage). I can point to a few people in my sphere that are coming down squarely on the former side of the knife.

Ed Talbot – He had joined the growing number of folks using Smashwords to publish some of his content. To that end he had a “Mayday” promotion (that I missed participating in) to launch two collections of short stories. While using Smashwords isn’t particularly new, he’s the first author I’m aware of to promote publishing there in the way he did. I’ve read a few of those stories and can highly recommend dropping at least $.99 on one or the other if not both.

Jennifer Hudock – Jenny is another author I’m aware of using Smashwords to get her stuff out there. She’s building a short story collection there called Dark Journeys. She’s also putting together an anthology called The Dark Side, releasing a podcast novel called Goblin Market and she and future hubby James Melzer (no stranger to self publishing and soon to be published by Simon and Schuster) have put together The Creative Alliance.

Zach Ricks – The Mad Poet himself has self published his Mad Poet Files short stories through the Amazon Kindle store. This collection is certainly one for you to buy. It’s got great science fiction and fantasy stories and while I haven’t read them all, I can say that “Blood Red Sand” is my favorite Martian short since Bradbury’s Chronicles and that plus a fantasy story where the main characters are inspired by the A-Team earns my seal of approval. He and a few other forward thinkers are also jawing about a new way of delivering content that, if it all works out, will blow your doors off.

Seth Harwood – While I haven’t waxed poetic about him here, Seth’s crime novel Young Junius is coming to print very soon. Taking an idea from the FDO himself, Seth is releasing the novel in a beautiful, limited edition print, which he and his publisher will then use to kick off a standard full scale print run in the Fall.

Phil Rossi – On the music side of the house, author and musician Phil Rossi is in the midst of pre-selling an EP called Radio Silence. I’ve pre-ordered it and I think you should too.

Brand Gamblin – A vidcaster, podcaster, and author, Brand has done just about everything with his young adult, science fiction novel Tumbler that I can think of. He’s used CreateSpace to put it in print. He podcast it. He’s got it in a variety of e-book formats. You can get it now on Amazon, but if you love him you’ll get it here. Or if you’re gonna be at Balticon in two weeks (W00T!!!!!!!) you can buy a signed copy there.

And just in case you missed it, there are two authors whose work I respect and admire that have used social media/podcasting to get their books published and they will be available in the near future.

Honorary Admiral (in my mind and that of many others) Nathan Lowell is getting published by Ridan Publishing. Apparently they, unlike many publishers, work very well and very closely with their authors to find the most mutually beneficial path and according to Nathan cooperating with them has been beautiful.

P.G. Holyfield, whom I consider to be a good friend, will be launching Murder at Avedon Hill THIS WEEKEND!!! It’s being published by podcaster friendly Dragon Moon Press and all I can say is it’s about time!!

So these are just a FEW people who have used, are using, and I hope will continue to use the interesting times afoot to really break the boundaries of traditional publishing and are redefining what it means to “make it”. Sure, self publishing is nothing new, but all things considered I believe that it is gaining a certain amount of ground and losing the stigma long attached to it by many. I hope this is a launch pad to great things for them all and I hope that I’ve dropped some new names on your plate and that you will check them all out.

Podcast Survey

Alan Middleton, podcast fan (and better yet Archangel fan) and associate professor at Ohio University wants us to fill out this podcast survey. It’s not over long as these things go and asks some good questions. It will be available for five weeks and he hopes to have the results available in a few months. He’ll be putting them in a paper and providing them to the community at large to help us learn a thing or two about our listeners’ habits. This is everything from how they listen to the kinds of ads they like/don’t like.

Help a brother (and our community) out by taking a few minutes and filling it out!

Podcast Pimpage

Wherein I show some love to podcasts I’ve been listening to lately.

Bird House RulesI’m on Twitter A LOT and have been quite some time. It would be easy for me to consider myself some kind of “expert” on the social media app. Far from it though. Tee Morris literally wrote the book on the subject (among others). So if you’re a Twitter user and want to know how to do it up right, listen to this.

Cybrosis – I had the pleasure of meeting P.C. Haring at Balticon last year. You might meet a nicer chap, but not by much. This is P.C.’s first foray into podcast novelship and he has hit the ground running. While I think there are a few things that could stand to improve (and I’ve shared those things with him), as a whole it’s a great ride. If you’re into cyberpunk this is the place to go. The action is top notch as is the production. This is a full voice case and he’s got some serious talent along for the ride. Cybrosis is in progress, but so far his release schedule has been reliable.

Decoder Ring Theater – I love me some quirky humor and I have a serious thing for noir and radio dramas. This podcast puts all that into the blender and hits frappe stirring it up into a frothing tasty concoction of awesomeness. At the moment it consists of two main stories, The Red Panda Adventures and Black Jack Justice. The first is a pulp superhero tale and the latter a take on the hard boiled detective. Neither one takes itself seriously at all and the humor is decidedly Canadian. if that sounds lovely to you then go get you some! Each episode is self contained, but I think it helped me to go back a little ways and trust me, you’ll kick yourself if you don’t.

Down From TenJ. Daniel Sawyer is one of those writers that gets me all in a froth of jealousy. (See also Nathan Lowell) He makes the whole thing look effortless. This particular podcast outing was written as a screenplay for TV is memory serves and unfortunately for everyone NOT listening to podcast fiction it didn’t make it. Thankfully we get it in all its unadulterated glory. It’s basically a country house mystery and Dan has this to say “The book is a mix of Agatha Christie, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, E.A. Poe, Salman Rushdie, and Robert A. Heinlein. It is a story solidly oriented towards adults, and will not be suitable for children in any fashion.” The latter half of that quote is very true. It may not even be suitable for some adults. There is some sexual content and violence that some won’t find suitable. The story is absolutely compelling though and while it’s hit some production snags recently, he says that it will be done within the next week or so.

Mad Poet FilesZach Ricks is no stranger to podcasting. He has the Gut Check Cast, an effort to help us geeks to get fit, and the Geek Survival Guide, in which he gives us hints and tips on how to survive scenarios found in some of our favorite books and movies. Recently, in an effort to sharpen his writing skills, he decided to start releasing a short story every other week. The thing I really like about this, other than the stories, is that he talks about his writing process. The stories themselves aren’t always top notch (though so far I’ve enjoyed all of them), but the transparency is admirable. He’s also trying to make some coin from them by selling the stories themselves in polished form. He does a straight read of each story and I think that’s a great way to sharpen your narration skills. I like this idea so much I’ll be doing it soon!

Closet TreatsPaul E. Cooley is a writer I’ve become aware of only recently thanks to the magic of Twitter. This story is a relatively new podcast and I’d put it firmly in the psychological horror category. The main character, Trey Leger, is no stranger to seeing things, but something new has been added to the mix. A local ice cream trucks seems to be inhabited by an evil force or is it just that Trey is slipping deeper into madness? I love stories with a well written protagonist that may or may not be reliable. It’s a tough balance to strike and Paul is doing a fantastic job. Tackling characters with a mental illness is also a challenge and so far so good. Paul’s doing this as a straight read, which leads to him doing some female voices (a la Sigler, though better). I think he may be using some digital effects for some of the voices, but its not jarring (if he is). In any event it doesn’t take me out of the story. He qualifies this novel as a “slow burn” and promises big fireworks at the end. Closet Treats is a work in progress, but he feels confident that he’ll be finished with it by the time Balticon rolls around.

I hope you enjoy any of these that you might choose to listen to!

Bitter Release – A Short Story

Well in an effort to see if my stuff is worth buying I have published a version of my short story “Bitter Release” through Smashwords. Smashwords is a website that allows authors to take their work and convert it into a wide variety of electronic formats and sell it. Smashwords gets a cut as does Paypal, but considering the service they provide I think it’s worth it.

So go have a look. It’s available in just about every format they have. You can read the first half for free and see if you think it’s worth the price. A few people have bought it at this point. You can also review it and rate it over there and that would be a big help to me. I’ll be putting up a short story a month at least over there so you can always bookmark my author page and check back periodically.

I should add that the cover art was done by Dan Absalonson and I thank him for that.

Finally, I’m curious to know from anyone reading this who might not buy the short story as to why? I need to know if price or payment is a barrier or if it’s the story itself or the fact that you don’t want to read it off a screen. Any and all feedback welcome.