A Bleak New World has Arrived!

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.

~Robert Frost

Just in time for Halloween, A BLEAK NEW WORLD anthology has hit shelves–are you ready to take the road to dystopia with a few maladjusted (yet intrepid) authors like myself?

www.amazon.com/Bleak-New-World-Dystopian-Anthology-ebook/dp/B017C60E46/

Bleak

Background for A BLEAK NEW WORLD

BleakCan you feel it in the air? The changing of the scenery, the dying of the light, the taste of damp and snow…no, I’m not talking Autumn. Naturally, I’m talking about the release of the anthology A BLEAK NEW WORLD tomorrow! You haven’t forgotten, have you?

I was thrilled to be a part of this collection with my sci-fi short, “Clinging,” and I hope some of that comes across during an interview the rest of the writers and myself participated in as part of the anthology’s promotion today. Hosted on fellow writer Gregory Norris’s blog, the interview talks about the launch, how the project came together, as well as the inspirations and backstory to the individual writers’ pieces.

Here’s a preview:

Like the majority of the stories written during that marvelous spell — a western, a SF tale, several horror efforts — I later edited the draft of “Third World” for submission to publishers and sent it out the door. This particular tale went to the fine folks at Raven International Publishing, who were reading for a dystopian-themed anthology, A Bleak New World, where it was soon accepted. This week, the anthology debuts, offering dark glimpses into possible futures best avoided apart from visits to within the covers of this wonderful reading experience. Bleak is the brainchild of RIP head honcho Clark Chamberlain. As any familiar with Clark’s fiction writing work, daily podcasts, or his stellar The Book Editor Show, Bleak‘s subject matter is a fair departure for the publisher’s normally upbeat vibe. So why did he go the dystopian route for RIP’s first multi-author anthology?

“I choose to be upbeat and positive. I have slogged through a lot of life, death of children, divorce, crises of faith, and then there was Iraq,” says Clark, a former and still part-time soldier. “What I did there and what I was willing to do there really made me look at myself in a negative light. When I got home I was drifting, had thoughts about killing myself or at least going back to the war. Some of my persona is a mask to hide that darkness, or at least keep it down. I want peace so badly in this life because I’ve seen the darkness. I feel that we need to confront those emotions and feelings and really look hard at ourselves. Through story we have that opportunity. And on the business side, my then partner and I thought the sci-fi community would be a good place to dive in.”

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World was the inspiration behind Bleak.

“I read that and thought this isn’t much of a dystopia,” Clark adds. “Being satisfied with your lot in life, that sounds pretty great. I’d much rather live there than 1984. So I wanted to see what others could come up with and I was pleasantly surprised.”

Read the rest of the interview, along with my own backstory, at Gregory’s blog, here.

And celebrate Halloween with a dark new anthology of fiction–the first by Raven International Publishing! Don’t miss out. You never know when that apocalypse might finally come around.

Coming to a Patreon near you

As Feathers Fall eBook CoverIt has been quite the ride we have had–which is not, I might add, a prelude to its ending. Merely the need for change.

I have been writing since I was four years old. The first book I ever wrote was a 10 page, colored monstrosity for my first grade class about the Winter King conquering a kingdom and celebrating by dancing madly atop a castle. This shows you two things: that I am undeniably from Michigan, as I knew that winter would win, and that I may have in fact known that winter was coming as long as George R.R. Martin. It was also my first taste of censorship, as my parents advised me it was better to have the Winter King out think the bad guys than to simply beat them up.

C’est la vie.

Since then, I have released three books–the Haunted Shadows series, NOT the adventures of the Winter King, mind you–but I am no closer to making writing my day job. What’s more, my actual day job works to actively undermine my creativity and there are nights I come home bled dry. Journalism and freelance editing fill the off hours, but they are more supplementary income than beating the creativity wolves back from the door. The world has changed, but in the entertainment industry? Not for the better. Times are hard, and despite everything I beat myself up over, tell myself not to do, I’ve decided to do something radical…

I’m turning to you readers out there for help.

Believe me, it’s not easy. I’ve talked myself up to it and down time and time again. I hate the notion of begging. Of being seen to be asking for a handout. Then I realized…

It’s a fear of being seen as weak, having to ask for help in a world obsessed with pronouncing those who haven’t found their footing yet D.O.A.

Today I am announcing my own Patreon. Patreon is a site that allows you to support artists in creating what they love, and what you love; call it a mini-Kickstarter, if you will. Therein, you can pledge for stories written, poems woven, videos crafted, to your heart’s content. You don’t have to pay perpetually, you can back out anytime, and you pay only what you think the creator deserves, or what you can afford to give for the creations you enjoy.

Personally? It brings me one step closer to actually making writing a career, and that…that’s the stuff of dreams. I want to keep writing. I never want to stop, nor let the world take that away from me. I hope you can help with that. No strings attached, no arms twisted, no hounds released–all I ask if that you check out my page, and if you like what you see, both there and here, donate, so you can help me to create more.

Thank you, gentle readers. You’re one of the many reasons artists create.

It’s LAUNCH DAY! “As Feathers Fall” is here!

The Emperor is dead. Long live the Emperor…

As Feathers Fall eBook CoverAs fall the feathers of their signet bird, so too fall the great and mighty of Idasia. One after another, members of the Imperial family have been slain, through convictions forged in steel and vengeance fueled by dark sorceries.

The Cullick family stands in the ascendant, poised to snatch a crown long denied them, but they are beset on all sides by the chaos they themselves have sown. Winter saw the horrors of war, spring the sparks of rebellion, but as friend and foe alike surrender to unspeakable crimes, summer may yet bring the soul of a nation to boil.

And if Rurik Matair and his broken band of sellswords can cling to life a little longer, salvation may not be the prize, but they might find a way to balance the scales of their mad quest and put to rest the loss and bitter memories which have consumed all that they have known.

Get it here!

Unveiling As Feathers Fall

As Feathers Fall eBook CoverThat is one gorgeous cover, no? And before you ask this, like all its predecessors, was crafted by the skilled hands of one Matthew Watts.

On Friday, March 20, the first day of spring will herald the beginning of the end of this chapter in the fantasy genre, finishing out The Haunted Shadows trilogy. It will be available via Amazon and its retailers in all associated countries, with print and e-book versions (theoretically, knock on wood, or faux-wood as this desk’s case might be) launching on the same day. PRE-ORDERS ARE ALREADY AVAILABLE.

Kick off the spring with a journey to a new world—because, let’s be honest, if your state looks anything like the Midwest, there’s still going to be plenty of snow when it rolls around. Thank you for all your support along this journey and I look forward to kicking off greener days with you—albeit with my heat being brought in the form of war, treachery, and the occasional bout of magical flame.

No drakkons were hurt in the making of this post. Or in the book.

…full disclosure: a few gryphons were, though.

AS FEATHERS FALL to launch this month

That’s right, gentle readers, there’s no illusion or misdirection in that title.

It has been a bumpy ride this past year, and I’m sure after the forced delay at the end of last year, some of you probably thought AS FEATHERS FALL was going to be a non-starter. Well, I always finish what I start, and chaos or no chaos, the metaphorical ducks have been gotten into a row and soundly chastised until they met my terms. Essentially: I had a series to conclude, and I had done my part; I wasn’t about to let the world’s mayhem step in the way.

Alright, that probably didn’t make much sense, but you know what does? RELEASE DATES.

AS FEATHERS FALL will be kicking off Spring this year on March 20 in both print and e-book, finishing off The Haunted Shadows trilogy for some and hopefully introducing new readers to the series as well. In the end, it actually clocked in a bit shorter than its predecessors, but I assure you it’s no less epic in its fantasy scope for that.

Given the nature of this season, of course, there will probably still be snow on the ground come that springtide kickoff, so you can probably read your way through between longing glances out the window, waiting for the sun to return.

I don’t think I need to tell you that I love stories. I devour them when I’m not crafting them. The journey that has led to this point has seen a lot of love, but also its share of hardships, and I don’t think I’ll shock and appall anyone in saying it didn’t all go as planned. I have always wanted the double life—the day job and the literary nights—and I think I have managed that in what I’m going to call success.

Since college, I’ve written three books, dozens of short stories, and hundreds of poems. Some have been published. Some are still in the process. Some lurk in the shadows, waiting for their chance. My point? The Haunted Shadows series has been a hell of a journey for me, and I doubt it will be my last foray into the world of Lecura (For Flying Spaghetti Monster’s sake, I still have to put out the Company of the Eagles short stories too!). It’s just the beginning of my literary expedition, though.

It’s my pleasure to bring AS FEATHERS FALL to you, and I hope you enjoy it, and if you do, are kind enough to share your thoughts with me, or at the very least, cast them into the great wilds of the wily Internet. Brings what the fandom folks call, “The Feels,” you know?

AS FEATHERS FALL will be available March 20 in both print and e-book form.

One Studio’s Blockbuster; One Author’s Horror Story

I have a horror story for you.

For our protagonist, we have a scrappy physicist turned novelist, who developed what can only be described as one of the most massive blockbusters of recent years. I know, so far out there, right—how could someone possibly relate? Well for starters, let me drop another name on you:

GRAVITY

The Gravity Poster.

Do you remember Gravity? Flailing cameras? Spinning stars? Shrapnel? Sandra Bullock dancing through Earth’s atmosphere? Yes, that Gravity. Well, did you happen to know that Tess Gerritsen is also the person that birthed that particular entity, originally in novel form? I thought not. Yet it plays quite heavily into the why of this horror tale.

Now suppose you take this character and kindly tell them that they don’t need to be paid for their job…and certainly not for the work that came of it. No doubt that’s quirked a few eyebrows. Well, that’s precisely what has happened to Tess Gerritsen. You see, Gerritsen is presently involved in a very nasty little lawsuit over the theft of her property—the aforementioned Gravity—by a little company named Warner.

From “The Gravity of Hollywood: When It’s Okay for a Studio to Steal Your Story” by Matt Wallace:

It seems author Tess Gerritsen sold the rights to her novel GRAVITY to New Line in 1999. In exchange she would receive credit, a production bonus, and net profit points if the movie were made (not only is that never a given, it’s rare).

In 2008 New Line was “acquired” by Warner, who then went on to make the movie GRAVITY from Cuarón’s supposedly original screenplay concerning a medical doctor/astronaut left adrift in space after satellite debris kills the rest of her crew.

The novel GRAVITY is about a female medical doctor/astronaut trapped on the International Space Station after the crew is killed in a series of accidents. Later, as they developed the film, Ms. Gerritsen wrote scenes in which satellite debris broke apart the station and her protagonist was left adrift in her EVA suit.

Sound familiar?

The facts had at this point intrigued me on the level of juicy gossip.

Again, I admit this shamefully. I’ve lived and worked in Los Angeles for almost five years. It jades.

That’s when my lady (who, incidentally, is a brilliant attorney) dropped the ATOM BOMB OF HORROR RADIATING AT THE HEART OF THIS STORY.

Nikki went on to explain to me that author Tess Gerritsen was NOT suing Warner Bros. over copyright infringement or intellectual property theft.

Ms. Gerritsen admits openly and freely that Warner had every right to make the movie GRAVITY, utilizing her story as they saw fit.

She sued them because they brazenly screwed her out of the credit, payment, and profit she was guaranteed from the movie clearly (at least to me) drawn from her work.

The court doesn’t seem to dispute any of that.

This is the horror bomb part.

What both the court and Warner Bros. argue is Warner is under no obligation to honor the contract New Line made with her.

See, the problem was, Warner hadn’t bought the rights to the book. Rather, they bought out the company that had—New Line. Fairly standard fare in the business world, actually; same thing goes for patents. It’s one of the reasons companies do so like to gobble others up, in fact—so they can get access to their hoards. Unfortunately, Warner has argued that while buying up said company has entitled them to its prizes, it has not bound them by the same contracts that enabled those prizes in the first place.

A Publicity shot of Tess Gerritsen.

Thus, they have refused to credit Ms. Gerritsen (who has not in any way debated Warner’s right to publish the movie—merely their refusal to pay her for it), or even pay her. Anything. Which really just seems like the latest par for the course round of writers getting shafted for their hard work. What’s more, as writers and readers continue to rumble and rage about the present state of the publishing industry, about the state of writing, and what creators do or don’t deserve for the trouble, this incident leads to a particularly troubling entry into the debate: that of the legal.

Unfortunately, with studio versus author, we find ourselves at a legal crossroads. Whatever happens here (and the court has currently ruled to dismiss Tess’s case, in Warner’s favor), we’re going to find ourselves with immediate precedent for future cases—and thusly, for the industry at large. Don’t see the big deal? Say the court rules in favor of Warner. To Warner, it’s a solid chunk of change in the immediate, and for Tess Gerritsen, merely no gains on something she’s already not being paid for. That’s the immediate case, though.

In the future, other courts and judges can point to that ruling when they inform authors that studios need not pay on an optioned story—merely because that studio purchases another that had ACTUALLY negotiated the contract under which it was optioned. Essentially, there would be a massive loophole in the rights of authors when it comes to their own creative property—and studios would be able to operate with a lot looser restrictions on how they run their businesses. At least, when it comes to capitalizing off other people’s work.

Right now it’s comics that studios seem to be making huge profits off of, but they have always made a good chunk of their change from the literary scene as a whole. I doubt many moviegoers even realize how many films have that lovely little, “Based on…” disclaimer contained somewhere therein. Adapting books is a huge business, and I think fellow writer Emmie Mears said it best: “The least they can do is ensure those who thought up the stories are compensated accordingly.”

And if you haven’t read the article by Matt Wallace yet, which goes much more in-depth into the issue, and hits things far more eloquently than I, do so. Especially if you’re an author. In the same vein, you can get the story straight from the author’s own mouth, here: “Gravity Lawsuit Affects Every Writer.”