Book Release – BLINK (and Free Stuff!)

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OK…so if you came here just for the free and discounted books, scroll to the bottom. If you’d rather read about my journey to get to this book’s release, read on.


the partyWow. Today’s the day, huh?

Blink is finally out there. Live, on people’s Kindles and being read. Makes me excited, but more than a little nervous as well.

Of course, I can’t claim all the emotion for this book — half belongs to my brother, Paul, and if he chooses to share them, this blog will be the first place they’ll go. But for today, here is a peek behind the scenes with me.

Last January was…a weird time. I was still less than six months out from going with my wife to get our son, and adjusting to life as an adoptive father. I really hadn’t written much in a long time. The Powers That Be and The Alien Chronicles had both released in early January with stories I’d written, but most of those words had been penned months earlier. I was in the doldrums. For sure.

Then over the course of a few weeks, I stumbled into a daily Facebook status serial of sorts. It was small at first, just a sentence or two, but over time it grew to 500 to 1,000 words — the kind of output I wanted as a writer. I decided one way or another, I’d take what I had and I’d throw it up on Amazon at some point. Probably a 10-20,000 word short story or novella. Kinda fun, but nothing major.

Then Paul messaged me. Turns out one of my secondary characters had sparked something. He went off and wrote a complete backstory and side story for Agent Smith. When he sent it my way, I gladly turned over my status updates to him for a while. It’s natural to feel like your own writing is trash and other people are better, but his storyline with Smith was a game-changer. It had something I didn’t have with my own story — my interest. My own storyline was fascinating, but Agent Smith had so many possibilities and he was such a realized character by the time out storylines converged, I knew we had to do something. Something important.

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We had to make Agent Smith the focus of the novel. Ultimately it meant tweaking a few things in the back half of the book, but it also meant a complete reworking of the beginning. We had to flip back and forth on chapters and provide a intro for Smith that would help establish him and his team in this world.

Ironically, the summer was the worst time for us. Both of us are teachers so it would seem as though we would have more time to focus on the book when we aren’t in the classroom, but more time at home meant more time with our kids and writing and editing Blink proved to be a difficult thing indeed. Once school was back in session, both of us were committed to finishing this and thankfully we did in October.

And with the completion of Blink, we believe we have the beginnings of a potentially long-running series. Like Clive Cussler with his Dirk Pitt (and now NUMA Files, Kurt Austin, and more) series or Lee Child with Jack Reacher. Agent Smith is tough, hard-nosed, bright, and resilient. He’s going to continue to be in stories, as soon as we figure out what those stories will be. (And in case you missed it, Paul and I wrote a one-off holiday short story with our favorite government employee — Agent Smith and the Naughty Elf, which is FREE for one more day.)

Paul and I write really well together. Like…REALLY well. For brothers born eight years apart and who actually didn’t really have much in common until we both got to adulthood, it’s kinda crazy how well our writing meshes. There was a little here and there that I had to smooth out of mine or his to transition, but I would say that I didn’t even touch 95% of his stuff in Blink. When he proposed adding to my story, I was all for it cuz it would save me time. Little did I know that would push us into a novel, and a fairly sizeable one as well. Less work? HA!

Over the past 12 months, this was a huge focus, along with my stories for The Z Chronicles, The Immortality Chronicles, Alt.History 102 and the forthcoming Illustrated Robot Chronicles. Those helped pace the novel in a strange way, giving me times to step away and refocus at regular intervals.

Now that Alt 102 and Blink are both out there and the edits for Illustrated Robot are still on their way, I need to plan my year. First and foremost — Dead Search, the third novel of my Dead Sleep series that I put off a year and a half ago. I need to re-immerse myself in that world and hopefully I’ll have something for readers sometime this summer.

A few last things before we get to the free and cheap stuff…

I have a heartfelt thank you for Samuel Peralta. His commissioning of short stories in The Future Chronicles kept me writing in so many ways. The work on this book wasn’t just done by me and Paul; Ellen Campbell killed it on the editing, Adam Hall put out a fantastic cover, and Therin Knite put up with a lot from me on the formatting. Thank you to each of you.


BUT…with the release of Blink at just 99 cents for a limited time, I’ve decided to have a sale on my books and short stories. Everything I have control over has been priced down to 99 cents or even Free for the next few days. All the links below are Free/Discounted titles for the next few days.

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Thanks for reading! Enjoy the freebies and cheap reads!

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Meet The Alt.Historians — Adam Venezia

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Alt.History 102 is up in the Top 10 of the Sci-fi Anthology charts and is getting some fantastic reviews, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t done meeting some Alt.Historians! Here is a few words from Adam Venezia. Who is he? I’ll leave that to him to answer…

Give us a brief introduction to you. Who are you? What else have you written? What brings you to Alt.History 102?

A few years ago, I walked away from a PhD program in Structural Engineering to pursue a career in writing. Seven years of studying engineering taught me that science fiction is more fun than science. Alt.History 102 is my first time publishing. Most everything before it has been practicing the craft.

What’s your story about? What gave you the idea for your story?

“The Black Network” is about what would happen if we didn’t have all this lovely access to the internet and computing. But, it’s not about a time before computers were invented. They exist, and are just as powerful as we think of them now. But access is limited, controlled by the wealthy, prohibitively expensive for just about everyone.

If you could pick a previous Chronicles anthology that you could alter history to go back and be included in, which one would it be and why?

Time Travel Chronicles. I actually got into the Chronicles by writing a story just for Sam – a sort of audition piece. Time Travel Chronicles was on the verge of coming out at that time, and I just barely missed my chance to be in that collection. A shame, because time travel is easily my favorite subject within science fiction.

Anything else you’d like to plug?

I recently started a blog. I’ve spent the past few years teaching myself to write, and put up the blog as a way of organizing and sharing what I know so far. That’s at adamvenezia.wordpress.com

Meet The Alt.Historians — Artie Cabrera

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Yesterday was the official launch day for Alt.History 102, but that doesn’t mean the fun has to stop. Alt.Historian Artie Cabrera got in touch with me with his answers to my questions, and in an another reality, he would have met the deadline, so we were just in the wrong continuum…and that’s okay.

Artie has a unique voice in the sci-fi and speculative fiction field. I really dug his story in The Cyborg Chronicles — a space noir if you will — and his twisty tale of Christopher Columbus is a great turn in Alt 102. Now for more from Artie…

Give us a brief introduction to you. Who are you? What else have you written? What brings you to Alt.History 102?

Howdy! My name’s Artie Cabrera. After working in the music industry for twenty-years, I turned my attention and sorrows to writing my first story, an apocalyptic self-help book called I’M NOT DEAD. Since then, I’ve met some really talented writers, learned to sharpen my storytelling tools (I think), and discovered new characters and worlds within myself. Unfortunately, sometimes those worlds and characters have to die when they stop carrying their weight around here. No one lives in my head for free.

What’s your story about? What gave you the idea for your story?

While researching conspiracy theories and UFOs in ancient arts for a story, I came across a very short and vague article about Christopher Columbus and his encounter with a UFO at sea. Even though it sounded ridiculous and probably (definitely) never happened, I was compelled to outline a story around it. I wanted to know more about a story some crazy person started online but never finished. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure. I filed the unfinished story away in the vault of a dozen unfinished stories for a couple of years. When Sam announced Alt. History 102 last year, I thought it was an ideal opportunity to bring it back to life. He said yes. Lucky me. And here we are.

If you could pick a previous Chronicles anthology that you could alter history to go back and be included in, which one would it be and why?

I would probably pick Alien Chronicles first, Galaxy second, just because I love alien stories.

Anything else you’d like to plug?

I’m currently outlining my Jurassic Chronicles story and the sequels to Diablo Del Mar and Johnny Rangers for a summer release. When I’m done, I’m going to try and peddle more stories into The Chronicles if the boss allows it.

Meet The Alt.Historians — Rysa Walker

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ALT-History-102-eBook (1)Another day, another introduction to an author for the upcoming anthology Alt.History 102. Today we hear a little from perhaps the most established of all the Alt.History writers — Rysa Walker.

If you aren’t familiar with Rysa, go check out her writing now. Seriously. Timebound was a phenomenal novel and she puts out some great work in science fiction, and specifically time travel. With her stomping about in the past so much, it makes sense that she gets a chance to change it up in Alt.History, which she does wonderfully in her story revolving around Lizzie Borden.

Alt.History 102 publishes on Sunday, January 31 and we’ve had a few other interviews already this week — me, Drew Avera & Asha Bardon, J.E. Mac, and Hank Garner & Therin Knite.

But now, it’s my privilege to introduce you to Rysa Walker…


 

Rysa Walker

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Give us a brief introduction to you. Who are you? What else have you written? What brings you to Alt.History 102?

I’m Rysa Walker, author of The CHRONOS Files series, which is time travel…but also, alternative history, since my characters do quite a bit of mucking around with the timeline. This is my second story in the Future Chronicles.  In my pre-writing life, I was a history professor, and I’ve always enjoyed the “What if…” questions the most, because there are so many aspects of history where a tiny change could have made a major difference.  And so much of the history we study is really “alt. history” anyway, because–as was the case in this story–the details that end up being accepted as “history” are often exaggerated or flat-out wrong.

What’s your story about? What gave you the idea for your story?

Simon Rand is one of the key characters in my CHRONOS Files books is Simon Rand. He’s a villain, but history junkies like me will probably find it hard to entirely hate Simon.  Yes, he alters the timeline a bit. And yes, he’s got a bit of blood on his hands. But hey–that’s his day job.  If he had his way, he’d toss all that aside and be a full-time time-tourist.

This is the second Simon story I’ve written, and there’s a third one planned for late spring. When I finished the final book in The CHRONOS Files, Time’s Divide, Simon was the character who just wouldn’t shut up and let me move on to The Delphi Project.  Both of these stories, and a third one that I plan to write this spring, show readers a side of Simon that wasn’t fully explored in the main books of the series.  And I think “Whack Job,” in particular, helps explain why Simon developed his taste for extreme time-tourism, where he lands right in the thick of the action.

If you could pick a previous Chronicles anthology that you could alter history to go back and be included in, which one would it be and why?

Hmm…tough call.  Probably Robot Chronicles or A.I. Chronicles.  I have a story idea that I think would have fit well in both of those.

Anything else you’d like to plug?

The first book in my new series, The Delphi Project, will be published by Skyscape in October. It lies somewhere in the nexus of the X-Files and X-Men.  Readers who enjoyed “Whack Job,” will probably like my CHRONOS novella, Simon Says: Tips for the Intrepid Time Traveler, which was published back in December on Kindle and which will be released on Audible in the next few days. Simon will also be featured in an upcoming graphic novel project that I’m working on.

 

Time To Finish What I Started

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It was three years ago this month that I started writing my first novel. By the time 2013 was up, I had one published novel (Dead Sleep), and its sequel (Dead Sight) just a few months away from publication. Then came the job of finishing the trilogy. I knew the basic plot, I knew what I wanted to do, I just had to write it. The summer of 2014 started well and I had 20,000 words before long.

Then…life.

Within a few months, my wife’s grandmother had a stroke and her father had a heart attack. In August, we were about to prepare for the start of another school year when the call came in. We’d been waiting for it, but it was unexpected nonetheless — our son was cleared to leave his African country and we could finalize our adoption. Within two weeks, we traveled overseas to pick him up, but his health concerns took us to one hospital after another for a few months. By the time 2014 was up, the wife and I were reeling from the adjustments our son had from the adoption, the loss of her grandmother around Thanksgiving, and a profound lack of sleep.

Essentially, that third book got shelved that summer and I haven’t touched it since. If it wasn’t the third book of a trilogy, I might have just said “RIP Dead Search” and be done with it.

But I can’t do that.

Over the past year, I’ve had to re-learn how to incorporate writing into my life. I think I’ve got it mostly figured out, but I know I can always do better. I need to credit Samuel Peralta with the assist in reinvigorating my writing chops. In October 2014, I was invited to be in The Alien Chronicles, and that first Chronicles short story appeared this month last year. Since then, I had the opportunity to write a story for The Z Chronicles (Z Ball), The Immortality Chronicles (The Control), the forthcoming Alt.History 102 (Requiem For An Austrian Princess), and my latest completed story for The Illustrated Robot Chronicles (The Holy, Sacred, and Eternal Book of Robotics).

In addition to stretching and challenging me, I’ve joined an amazing band of authors who each value good writing and treat these collections with importance and respect. I’ll forever be linked to these other authors and I can’t be more happy about it.

the partyBut I think the biggest thing from this past year is my collaboration with my brother, Paul. We live over 2,000 miles apart, but thanks to Google Docs, we have written a few things together, namely our novel, Blink, which will be released on Feb. 4. I started writing it last January, but I didn’t necessarily intend to. I allude to it in the book, but the first words I wrote for it were a Facebook post about my forehead. It eventually morphed into a fictional story and after writing for a couple weeks, Paul showed me some writing he’d done parallel to my own story and it blew me away. In fact, the character he’d centered on became our main protagonist and we both were each other’s biggest fan as we wrote this. Early reaction among Beta and Early readers has been great, but it’s time to look at what’s next.

In November, I turned in my alt.history story about Mozart and Marie Antoinette. In December, I finished the edits on Blink, and just yesterday, I finished my Illustrated Robot story. I have no more pressing writing commitments, so one thing remains…Dead Search.

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BB-8 says, “FINISH IT ALREADY.”

And so here we are. A year and a half after I put it aside, I’m returning to finish the final book in my Dead Sleep trilogy. I know I will try to put it off. I know I will be distracted. I know it might be the toughest thing I’ve done with a writing project. But, I promise I will finish. I need to catch up with my characters, so Job #1 for now is re-reading what I’ve already written. I know my writing style has evolved since I wrote that first book, so this might be super challenging. But…I will do this. Hopefully this summer I can have Dead Search ready for readers and I can finally put this story to bed once and for all.

The Best Things I Laid Eyes on in 2015

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So a few weeks before Christmas, I put out my “Best of” list for short stories, fully intending to do the same for books and movies and who knows what. Then…I didn’t. But, I don’t want to leave it all hanging out there, so I’m combining lists and putting out a “Best Things I Laid Eyes on in 2015” list. You’ll find movies, books, places, people and more. I tried to think of the entire past calendar year, but I know I missed a thing or two I loved. Forgive me. So…here’s my list:

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

bb-8_14e2ad77I’ve seen the newest Star Wars film twice now and yet it seems like we’ve just shaken hands. I can’t even tell you how many times I saw IV, V, and VI as a kid. We had the movies on VHS and I watched them over and over and over. I loved them all and when Lucas re-released them in theatres with the latest effects, my dad made sure all of us kids were sitting in the seats.

Then the Prequels. Ugh. Like so many others I wanted to like them. Like so many others I was disappointed. I barely remember watching them and I know I’ve only seen Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith once each. And I know with the final movie I only saw it so I could say I did. There was no hype. No anticipation. No excitement.

Not so here. There are haters, but they can forget about trying to get me to hate it. It checked all the boxes for me and established new characters I care about. A re-tread? Hardly. Similar storybeats, but so was Harry Potter. So have been stories throughout the ages. I am an unabashed fan and I don’t care who knows.

Weapons of Mass Deception by David Bruns and J.R. Olson

weaponsmass_cvr_lrgBruns and Olson have a great book on their hands, I think. Reading this book brought be right back to the hours and hours I spent reading Tom Clancy’s books when I was in high school and college. Clancy had a knack for telling a complicated story with complex international political ramifications and making me care about it. With Weapons of Mass Deception, Bruns and Olson have done the same. The book is a tremendous achievement and I can only hope that the two coordinate their efforts again to give us more books like this down the road.

Jessica Jones / Daredevil

David-Tennant-Jessica-Jones-Poster-Doctor-Who-BrasilI’m lumping these two together. The first two Marvel properties developed for Netflix and both were daring (pun intended) and showed us a side of Marvel we didn’t know we would ever get on the screen. In Daredevil we got a great introduction to the dirty underbelly of New York and were made aware early on that anything goes. Daredevil showed us that in violence, but keeping with the theme of Murdock’s blindness, a lot was kept in the dark and at night. That violence was brought to light big time in Jessica Jones. I loved Jessica Jones. I think I liked it better than Daredevil and that is saying a lot. As a father of a pre-teen girl, I am worried about the world she’ll grow up in and the boys she may date. As a high school teacher, I see a lot of borderline abusive relationships as well. In Jessica Jones, we see those relationships personified in the villain Kilgrave. What a performance and in a way it’s a shame what the end result was for his character. I’m looking forward to what Marvel and Netflix will be cooking up for us in 2016.

Chicago Architectural Tour

BoatTour2_NatalieTaylorI went on a school trip to Chicago early in the summer and one of the things we did was this. If you ever get the chance, it is a great trip up and down the Chicago River with historical context for nearly every one of the buildings along the shore. There is a lot of new building going on and the new Trump Tower gets its fair share of criticism, but I daresay that is part of what has spurred the new developments along the route. The day we went ended up being a lot colder than we anticipated, but I still wound up fascinated by what I saw and heard along the tour.

Constitution/Warrior by Nick Webb

warriorThese books were great. So great that when I was buying Christmas gifts, I bought them in paperback for my dad. He’s hard to shop for, but he’s a military space sci-fi nut, so I knew I was safe with these books. I enjoyed Constitution, but I wasn’t sure what Webb would give us in the follow up. Wow. He really set up a complex and interesting backstory for each side in the conflict (and there are many more than two) and set up a potentially explosive third book in this series. If you like action and intrigue in your science fiction, check out Nick Webb’s books.

Ant Man

The last movie I remember smiling about so much in the theatre before Star Wars was Ant Man. Such a great movie. Really impressed me with its humor and vibe. Just as Daredevil and Jessica Jones redefined Marvel for the TV audience, so did Ant Man for films after the success of Guardians of the Galaxy. I love the nods to Avengers and how it all fits in with the larger universe without feeling too small.

My Newest Book Cover

Coming Soon…. Check this out:

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The Martian, directed by Ridley Scott

I’d read the book by Andy Weir last year so I can’t credit that here, but the movie exceeded all my expectations. I have been burned too many times by books turned into terrible movies, and so when Scott managed to turn The Martian into not only a decent movie, but a GREAT movie, I was thrilled. Matt Damon did a fantastic job and I thought the changes made from book to film were slight and appropriate for the conversion to the movie theatre.

ALL the short stories

11160045_10207031928225789_1011873126454258904_oI read a lot of short stories in 2015. A LOT. I already did my Best of list for just short stories, so I’m not going to rehash them here, but if you like short fiction, you need to check out the Future Chronicles curated by Samuel Peralta. Some great works by a lot of amazing authors. (Myself included, Full Disclosure.)

My Family

Over the summer I had the opportunity to see a lot of family. My wife and I went on a joint vacation to Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge with her parents. Unlike some, I do like my in-laws and we had a great kick-off to the summer and good stories for years to come.

We also had a family reunion for my family. My sister lives a couple states away and my older brother is over 2,000 miles away, so getting us all together is easier said than done. Fortunately it worked out and we all met at my parents’ home for a few days. Unfortunately, my 99-year-old grandmother passed away in North Dakota the same week, sending my parents off to handle that business. All of my siblings were able to make it for the funeral, but it did put a bit of a damper on the overall summer get-together. Regardless, it was a great time to see people I don’t typically get to see.

The Dark Man/The White Night by Desmond Doane

26105206A different kind of books than Webb’s offerings, but still just as compelling. If I was going to put out a Best Books of 2016 list, I really think The White Night would have held the top spot. Who is Desmond Doane? That’s the penname for Ernie Lindsey, an accomplished author on his own, but for these horror/supernatural books, he wanted a little edge he couldn’t provide as himself, so Desmond Doane was born. The first book is good, but the second…man, I couldn’t put it down. There was a moment – and you’ll get there too – when I read it and I had to send a message to Ernie cursing him out for what he did to me. I couldn’t wait to write up my review for it and I am strongly anticipating the third book in his Graveyard: Classified series in 2016.

Humbird Cheese, Toma, Wisconsin

humbird-cheese-mart-910750A must stop on our family trips to North Dakota. On our way up for the funeral, we had to stop here. If you love cheese, this is a great place with free samples of nearly all the varieties of cheese. Me? I love a good smoked cheddar and buffalo wing-flavored cheese curds.

Collider Movie Talk on YouTube

We ditched the Dish this year. After over 10 years with either Dish Network or DirecTV, we finally cut the cord so to speak. We rely on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu for most of our traditional TV viewing. However, I’ve come to expect one show each day – Collider Movie Talk on YouTube. Each day, John Campea leads a panel discussion show to discuss movie reviews, box office returns and general movie news. It isn’t dry – each of the hosts have their own unique brand of humor and their passion of movies and genre movies in particular is infectious. In addition to Movie Talk, they also produce weekly shows for comics (Heroes) and Star Wars (Jedi Council) as well as a plethora of TV show recap episodes. If you like entertainment news that isn’t just Kardashian this and Kanye that, check this out.

An Introduction to Agent Smith

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Next month I’ll be releasing my new novel, co-written with my brother Paul. The novel revolves around a secret government organization called The Utility Company (think X-Files, Fringe) and the lead agent there named Agent Smith. I’ll have more about that book down the road, including a synopsis and cover reveal, but for now, I want to introduce you to Agent Smith.

A couple weeks ago, Paul said to me, “Hey, we should do an Agent Smith story for Christmas revolving around the Elf on a Shelf.” (or something…I really only half pay attention). I pretty much said, “eh” but the more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t shake it. I drafted the opening and then tagged Paul. He wrote some and then it was on. Within four days we had a legit story that we both loved. It’s a good introduction to the Utility Company and Agent Smith, and is a good old fashioned holiday yarn with at least twelve days of Christmas “Easter” Eggs.

Here’s the cover (click to go to it on Amazon):

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On a side note, you’ll notice an emblem in the star on top of the tree. It’s the logo for the Utility Company, which Adam Hall graciously allowed me to utilize for this short story cover. The cover for the full length novel, Blink, is a fantastic work by Adam Hall and I’ll unveil that in the next few weeks.

Until then, please check out Agent Smith’s Christmas Eve adventures at the Utility Company.