Friday, July 21, 2017

The Fast Friday Interviews: Lou Antonelli

Lou Antonelli

Tell me about yourself, Lou.

I’m the last of the pulp writers in science fiction and fantasy. I write fast, furious and completely by the seat of my pants.

I like to think of myself as a talented amateur, meaning this isn’t my full-time job. I’ve worked as a journalist all my life, and I would never leave it. It’s unusual that both my job and my hobby both involve typing – which I do with only two fingers. It’s tough on the hands.

Since I write for my personal enjoyment, I’m very self-indulgent as to subjects, which probably hurts my sales. On the other hand, I don’t care about the money and I’ve had some of my best stories published by non-paying venues. But with sales to outfits such as Asimov’s and Daily Science Fiction, I have my professional credentials, also.

Tell me about your current Book:

“Another Girl, Another Planet” is a retro-futurist alternate history. It’s set in 1985, but a 1985 very different from the one we knew. Both Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov did not become full-time s-f writers; Heinlein was able to return to the Navy and shortly after World War II turned the Arms Race into a Space Race instead. Asimov instead developed genuine robotics.

As a result, we have extensive colonies on the Moon and Mars, and they’re lousy with robots and androids.
It’s in that setting we find ourselves in the thick of a murder mystery.

When everyone else panics a hero must keep calm and solve the problem or else mitigate it as much as possible.

Larry Niven blurbed “Another Girl, Another Planet”, said he loved it, “Brilliant ideas well told.”

What are you working on now?

Promoting “Another Girl, Another Planet” and writing the occasional short story while working on ideas for a sequel.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

I use a desktop computer, so at my desk.

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

Writing is like politics – most of the time you lose, most people lose most of the time, the goal is seldom worth the effort, but occasionally you get something right, and then it’s practically magic.

What is your favorite Website?

Superversive SF - Science Fiction for a more Civilized Age



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Quotes of the Week

I am attracted to ellipsis, to the unsaid, to suggestion, to eloquent, deliberate silence.
—Louise Glück

If you are not afraid of the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you.
—Natalie Goldberg

Write as often as possible, not with the idea at once of getting into print, but as if you were learning an instrument.
—J. B. Priestley

A lot of people talk about writing. The secret is to write, not talk.
—Jackie Collins

Never confuse the size of your paycheck with the size of your talent.
—Marlon Brando

And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.
—Friedrich Nietzsche

Writers lose themselves in the dark on purpose, and follow the light of strangeness and surprise.
—Andre Dubus

Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic.
—J.K. Rowling

Say what you mean. Say what you see. Make a photograph, if you can, for the reader.
—Stephen King

A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit.
—Richard Bach

You can make anything by writing.
—C.S. Lewis

To me, the greatest pleasure of writing is not what it's about, but the inner music that words make.
—Truman Capote

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Audio Editions

All of my novels are also available in Audio Editions via Amazon, Audible and iTunes. When I was a new author the entire industry seemed daunting. There were so many details. Everything was so expensive.

When STILL FALLING was published I quickly started receiving requests for the release date of the Audio Edition on Audible. I took time and researched how books were created on Audible. Fellow authors pointed me to

ACX is like a dating web site. You create a profile, you add your book, the cover, a description, some simple metadata and an audition chapter. I like to pick a chapter that has mixed, multi-character, dialog and emotional content. After it's listed on AXC, producers and narrators will begin sending you auditions.

Here are some random tips:
  • Don't decide too quickly. Make sure you get multiple auditions that you can compare side by side.
  • Listen to them carefully as you are reading the text.
  • There are a couple types of contracts you can choose from:
    • Pay them Per Finished Hour (PFH). This model allows you to pay the producer between $50 to $1000 PFH. This means if your book is 10 hours long and you are paying $100 PFH the project will cost $1000 total. You will receive all the royalties in this contract type.
    • You can also make a royalty share agreement. This type of deal does not cost the author any cash up front. The producer pays for the narrator, studio time and post production editing. In exchange, they get half the royalties for seven years (in my contracts). 
  • If you select the a Royalty Share agreement a good producer also has a vested interest in the Audio Edition. They will market the title through their channels. The Narrator may also have fans that will bring people to the title.
  • When first starting out a lower out of pocket startup cost is very attractive.
  • Create a document that contains character descriptions, name and place pronunciations. Maybe even record these. It's easy on your phone.
  • Another option is that you can record the audio yourself. It's a lot of work but some authors are also great narrators.
    • It takes about six hour for each finished hour of audio.
    • Have professional gear and a silent studio to record. Sounds of traffic, dogs barking, and screaming kids, or you AC unit, are not great for listeners. 
  • You will have final approval for each chapter. Listen to them carefully.
--I highly recommend Audio Edition. They are fun and another great revenue stream!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Read: Red Sister

Last week I read Red Sister by Mark Lawrence.

Here is the description from Amazon:

At the Convent of Sweet Mercy, young girls are raised to be killers. In some few children the old bloods show, gifting rare talents that can be honed to deadly or mystic effect. But even the mistresses of sword and shadow don’t truly understand what they have purchased when Nona Grey is brought to their halls.

A bloodstained child of nine falsely accused of murder, guilty of worse, Nona is stolen from the shadow of the noose. It takes ten years to educate a Red Sister in the ways of blade and fist, but under Abbess Glass’s care there is much more to learn than the arts of death. Among her class Nona finds a new family—and new enemies. 

Despite the security and isolation of the convent, Nona’s secret and violent past finds her out, drawing with it the tangled politics of a crumbling empire. Her arrival sparks old feuds to life, igniting vicious struggles within the church and even drawing the eye of the emperor himself.

Beneath a dying sun, Nona Grey must master her inner demons, then loose them on those who stand in her way.

--Really interesting world building Scifi Fantasy.

Friday, July 14, 2017

The Fast Friday Interviews: Stephen Kozeniewski

Stephen Kozeniewski

Tell me about yourself, Stephen.

I'm a joker.  I'm a smoker.  I'm a midnight toker.  I play my music in the sun.  I'm a picker.  I'm a grinner.  I'm a lover and I'm a sinner.  I sure don't want to hurt no one.

Tell me about your current Book:

THE HEMATOPHAGES is a rip-roaring space adventure with two scoops of unfathomable horror.  It starts out on a satirical white collar spaceship that will hopefully remind you of wherever you work, that is, until they first cross paths with a band of mummy-like space pirates.  But the danger from piracy is only the tip of the iceberg as our heroes set out to salvage a derelict ship infested with a creeping, crawling menace that threatens the whole galaxy.

When a derelict spacecraft is discovered, a doctoral student must uncover the secret to the wreck, or else evil space lampreys will devour the human race.

If "Office Space" and "Alien" had a baby, that baby would wish it was a tenth as damn good as THE HEMATOPHAGES.

What are you working on now?

Right now I am working on three things.  First is final edits on a sequel to THE GHOUL ARCHIPELAGO.  The second is a haunted house or ghost story I haven't quite nailed down the specifics on, but I'm doing research.  Third is something that should be fairly interesting, a sort of take on "Dexter" or "The Sopranos" which examines the inner life of a secret policeman.

Where is your favorite place to be when you write?

I do enjoy being outside on the porch if the weather's nice.  That is a good place to write right there.

What is your favorite lesson you have learned about the business of writing?

Take care of people.  Writing may be a solitary act, but publishing is wholly social.

What is your favorite Website?

I'm casually addicted to  It keeps me up-to-date on basically all pop culture, if only at a shallow level.  And then if you drill down I love that they do in-depth analyses on individual television shows and so forth.  And it's all with the signature snark of "The Onion" so it's not like I'm just ingesting boring data.



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Quotes of the Week

The glory of a good tale is that it is limitless and fluid; a good tale belongs to each reader in its own particular way.
—Stephen King

If your book doesn't keep you up nights writing it, it won't keep anyone up nights reading it.
—James A. Michener

A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies. The man who never reads lives only one.
—George RR Martin

The profession of book writing makes horse racing look like a solid, stable business.
—John Steinbeck

Write hard and clear about what hurts.
—Ernest Hemingway

Everything can nourish the writer. The dictionary, a new word, a voyage, an encounter...a book, a phrase learned.
—Anaïs Nin

Reading is the sole means by which we slip, involuntarily, often hopelessly, into another's skin, another's voice, anothers soul.
—JC Oats

The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.
—Mark Twain

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Tuesday Tips: Just do it

If you read this blog you already know my brother died this week.

I always tell people to write every day, even if you don't feel like it. To say I don't feel like it today is a massive understatement.

I hope to begin getting back into my regular routine today. I have already dropped a family member off at the airport today, at 3:30am. Groan... I pick up my brothers ashes today. I get his death certificates and finish the closure of a life. I will probably nap. I will cook dinner.

I will also write for two hours.

The pain that remains from the process of escorting my brother to oblivion will likely loom large into today's chapter.

It has made it easy to know who will be in the dedication of my next novel.

--Lessons in life are said to make me a better writer. I'd rather be a crappy writer and have my brother back...

Monday, July 10, 2017

RIP: Carl Wilsey

Tony Adams took this at Woodstock Fire Tower
My Brother died yesterday.

He took his final breath while I held his hand.

His final whispered words to me were, "I love you too."

We knew it was coming. I sat up with him for two all-nighters in a row, watching cheesy action films, Godzilla and the Antique Road Show. Mini strokes had taken the left side of his body, but his channel surfing finger was fit until the end.

Carl moved to Virginia about six years ago after he almost died from another health crisis. I flew to Pensacola Florida to get him and Roadtrip back in his car, packed with all his stuff. Carl wasn’t a guy that had a lot of stuff. He traveled light.

He said many times that all he needed was, “somewhere to sleep that will keep the rain off.” He lived for many years on boats. He made living in an RV seem like a waste of too much space. He had built a 300 square foot tiny house before they were cool.

For the last six years, he lived near me, here in Manassas Virginia with my sister’s family. Amy has one of those big, wonderful, houses, always full of children and grandchildren and friends and family and chaos. It more than just kept the rain off.

On Carl's Boat in the 80's

He had a few other small requirements for life: A comfy chair, coffee, “good tuneage,” wheels, movies, and a nice place to sit outside.  

Every week he spent a couple nights at my house. We have a couple guest rooms, but he loved sleeping on the sofa in front of a big HDTV watching chick flicks or Pawn Stars after we had all gone to bed. We had watched over a thousand movies together in those years. Most of them were crap, we knew it, but it wasn’t about the movies. It was about being there.

He liked to cook for us once a week. He’d spend the day shopping, then usually roasting meat in my smoker. Some meals were complete disasters, worthy of sitcom comedy. Some were the best meals of my life. Some were tragic within the last year as his alcoholism got the better of him. But we were together.

Camping at Elizabeth Furnace in 2015

I will miss our camping trips. I will miss sitting outside on lovely days, playing music and telling stories of how the music reminded us of past loves or adventures. I will miss driving out to the airport to talk while we watched the planes and choppers come and go. I will miss what Carl liked to call, “exploring.” We’d wander to placed that were off the beaten path, like the Woodstock fire tower, abandoned factories, cemeteries, creeks, or under bridges to check out the graffiti. Bonus points if the place was restricted in some way. But mostly I will miss our talks. He was there for the publication of every one of my books. He was always encouraging, and interested. Even though he never read a single one of them. Until they were released as audio editions that is. He’s made it easy to decide who the next novel will be dedicated to. I will miss the coffee stops with him. He wasn’t a Starbucks coffee guy, more like McDonald's, Waffle House or better yet a mom and pop diner in the middle of nowhere. I will miss his dreams of winning the lotto and buying a big boat and sailing it from the Chesapeake to Pensacola. He never bought a ticket as far as I know. But he owned that dream.

My coffee went cold as I wrote this. It seems fitting. Carl was the self-proclaimed, “King of Cold Coffee.” Hail to the King.

He didn't want a big funeral service. What he wanted was a quick cremation and his ashes placed in a Folgers coffee can like in the movie The Big Lebowski. We will scatter his ashes in one of his favorite places in all the world. The last roadtrip.

I still have not written his Obit. It will be impossible to boil his life down into a few column inches. So it will be just the facts. Sigh.

--I love you, bro. It has been a pleasure, a privilege and an honor to have you in my life.

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Fast Friday Interviews: Michael W. Layne

Michael W. Layne.

Tell me about yourself, Michael.

Here's the untold truth of who I am. I was born an Army brat in what was then West Germany, in a small town in the middle of the country. My first word was Ònein which is german for Òno which ended up setting the tone for the rest of my life. As an only child who moved around a lot, even at a very young age I had to entertain myself a lot, which included a lot of reading and being inventive with whatever I had on hand. From an early age, I was writing down bits of stories and creating drawings that went along with them and doing any number of creative things like illustrating my own story about how the Devil was the one who got a raw deal from God. My teacher gave me an ÒAÓ and suggested I read Dante's Inferno when I had the chance.

As I got a little older, my parents moved to VA and settled in Newport News, and that is where I first met my Uncle Pete. He used to bring over a brown paper bag filled with Thor comics and over-sized magazines like Eerie, Vampirella, and Creepy. He gave me my first Conan, John Carter of Mars, and Tarzan novels. Wow! The stories about dark sorcerers, loincloth-wearing heroes, and scantily clad warrior women combined with the amazing Frazetta and Boris covers that adorned many of the novels, left me hooked on speculative fiction forever.

Then I got older and discovered women and friends, and I took a break from fiction writing. Instead I thought I wanted to be a news reporter. That changed, of course, once I realized how intrusive reporters were with people who were upset or going through times of strife. Once I arrived at college, I began dabbling in writing again, and eventually ended up finishing a novel in my early 30s by using a whiteboard and actual index cards to outline my book.

That was a success for me in the sense that I realized I could indeed complete an entire novel. But it wasn't until technology caught up with the way my brain functions (or dis-functions) that I hit my stride. By April of 2013, I decided to write and publish novels seriously, so I took the one book I'd already completed, gave it a fresh edit, did my own cover, which is thankfully NOT the one currently in use, and I published ÒThe Conservation of MagicÓ on Amazon and Smashwords. Since then, I've written every day, seven days a week, except for about a dozen or so days when I was away on vacation.

And here I sit with my rescue mutt, Rocky, by my side, living in the house that divorce built, adding to my file of ideas daily, and working on my latest novel, ÒA Song of DeathÓ (cheery, right?). By day, I write and communicate for a not-for-profit systems engineering corporation, and by night, I write my novels, usually giving up around 2am, when my brain starts splicing in pieces of my real-life day with the fictional sentences I'm trying to craft.

To date, I've published eleven offerings, all of which are available (at least) through Amazon KDP, with six of those being full-length novels and the others being of novella or short-story length. I also have 37 fleshed-out or outlined novels and series waiting patiently in line for me to type them into existence. I keep telling them that I'll get to each of their stories in turn, but they're beginning to suspect I may be lying. I'm working hard every day to prove them wrong.

Tell me about your current book. 

When a dying rock star is tricked by a demon and imprisoned in the suburbs of Ashburn, he must figure out a way to destroy his demonic captor or else be doomed to live forever in suburban hell.

When dying rockstar David Steele makes a deal with a demon named Ahriman to cheat death, he's the one who ends up getting screwed, because, well that's what demons do. David wakes up in the DC suburbs of Ashburn, VA, healed and healthy, but no longer in his own body. Instead, he finds himself in the body of John Starling, a nerdy but badass demon enforcer who keeps order among Ashburn's supernatural community of forgotten gods, minor demons, and fallen angels, all of whom have been tricked by Ahriman and sentenced to an eternity in Ashburn for some unknown sinister reason.

David can't figure out how to leave the cursed suburban community, so he decides to write some new songs while trying to settle into his new life. But that's easier said than done with a succubus for a girlfriend, a hell-hound for a pet, and a host of darkly humorous characters, like Oizys, the minor demon who feeds off of human suffering and who's found her eternal calling as the president of the local Home Owners Association.

David still gives it a shot, but before he can strike a single chord, he's faced with a series of murdered humans and a rumor that one of the supernaturals under his charge is planning an escape. David has to stop the murders and make sure no one escapes, and even though he would much rather leave Ashburn than do his new job, he knows he has to figure out how to destroy Ahriman first or be doomed to live as a suburbanite forever.

What are you working on now? 

I'm currently working on the first book in a new (sub)urban fantasy series about a dying rockstar who gets trapped in the Ashburn suburbs and has to figure out how to escape while also keeping order among the local supernatural community. I love this series already, because it allows me to lampoon the Ôburbs while telling some interesting tales laced with equal parts fantasy, horror, and humor. I expect this first book to be out by the end of summer.

What is your favorite place to be when you write?

I write all of my books while sitting on my couch with my laptop on my lap.

What is your favorite lesson learned about the business of writing?

I've learned a lot over the last several years, but the most important thing I've learned is that no amount of marketing or superior writing style can replace a good story that people can't wait to read. I've known writers who were huge successes, not because they were particularly good writers, but because they were excellent story tellers and they were publishing tales that people really wanted to read.

What are your favorite websites at the moment? I use it to pretend I will one day find a relationship that works, which is pretty much in keeping with why I write fantasy in the first place, I suppose.


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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Quotes of the Week

The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.
—Ernest Hemingway

If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write.
—Anaïs Nin

The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn’t.
—Joseph L. Mankiewicz

I made mistakes in drama. I thought drama was when actors cried. But drama is when the audience cries.
—Frank Capra

My advice is not to wait to be struck by an idea. If you’re a writer, you sit down and damn well decide to have an idea.
—Andy Rooney

Happiness is pursuing work that sustains the spirit.
—Walt Disney

I try to let my decisions be guided not by what I think will succeed or fail, but what I'm going to learn from that process.
—Lin M Miranda

We are, all of us, acting every minute of the day and night.
—Ida Lupino

The best work that anybody ever writes is the work that is on the verge of embarrassing him, always.
—Arthur Miller

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Now Available: Virtues of the Vicious

I am pleased to announce the release of: Virtues of the Vicious

This book is a stand alone novel that takes place in the Solstice universe in the year 2636.

Here is the description from the back cover:

“It has been difficult to determine when the first shots were fired in the AI Wars. Some historians argue that the opening salvos were subtle economic assassinations to ensure monopolies continued. This historian believes it began at midnight on September 21, 2636. That shot was fired by Elizabeth Cruze.”

--Blue Peridot, The Turning Point: History of the AI Wars.

Elizabeth Cruze came to Earth for one reason: to buy weapons. She never counted on ending up in prison. Never fear, though, she’s not planning on staying there long.

Special Investigator Neal Locke has made a career out of catching the most elusive and dangerous criminals. He’s never failed to “get his man.”

When Cruze escapes from prison, Locke is tasked with racking her down. She should be easy to find…all he’s got to do is follow the trail of bodies.

But Lock has been an investigator for a long time. It doesn’t take him long to figure out that there’s more going on than what he’s been told…

Virtues of the Vicious is currently available in Kindle and Dead Tree editions! Audible is coming soon!

--Signed copies are available for $15 if you email me at!