October 11, 2008

Author Recordings and Share 'n' Scare

Denver, CO—October 8, 2008—QWAND LLC’s publishing unit WRONG WORLD announced today that it is making available a collection of audios recorded by WRONG WORLD® writers who share some very special Halloween memories.

The authors’ recordings are about a minute long and are free to the public. Just click on the following link for the PDF directory. Writers’ Halloween Remembrances

Wrong World also announced today the launch of its SHARE ‘n’ SCARE™ promotion in which readers are rewarded with free stories for simply sharing selected WRONG WORLD® movies with friends and family. Complete details can be read here.

The 24-story 20-HALLOWEEN-08 collection is available in the U.S. for $.99 in EZ-Read PDF or $2.99 on DVD-Video for TV viewing.

International customers can get the collection for $.99USD in EZ-Read PDF or $3.99USD on DVD-Video for TV viewing

WRONG WORLD® products are available worldwide.Prices listed include shipping and handling to over 190 countries.

October 9, 2008

Why it pays to network

I just found out through the grapevine my story Spark, which was published late last year in the Australian anthology Zombies, has recieved an Honorable Mention in The Year's Best Fantasy and Horror 2008. Authors who get an Honorable Mention are not notified by the editors, so without a proper network in place, you'll never know.

I was thrilled to find out that not only did Spark get an Honorable Mention, but it was listed as Ellen Datlow's (one of the editors) favorite story in the anthology! Or, at least it was the first story she mentioned of 4 or 5 she liked. Same diff in my book. :)

This is my second Honorable Mention in the Year's Best anthologies, my first being for my story Forever Young way back in 1996. Hopefully it won't be another 12 years until my next one. Or maybe next time my story will be published in full in the anthology. Hey, a guy can dream.

October 2, 2008

Halloween Anthology Now Available!

Denver, CO—October 1, 2008—QWAND LLC’s publishing unit Wrong World announced today the release of 20-HALLOWEEN-08 —I’m Going to Tell You One More Time.

The collection contains 24 stories by these 24 excellent authors:

• Sara Joan Berniker • Mort Castle • Ralan Conley • O’Neil De Noux • JG Faherty • Bruce Golden • John Grover • Jane Gwaltney • Brian A. Hopkins • Michael Kelly • Michael Keyton • John Kuhn • Barton Paul Levenson • Norma Jean Lipert • William Meikle • Scott Nicholson • Maria E. Schneider • Kristi Petersen Schoonover • Jacqueline Seewald • Martin R. Soderstrom • J.J. Steinfeld • Bev Vincent • Kaaron Warren • Donald P. Willard

You can watch Dr. Lyle Merrick’s Halloween greeting and introduction to the collection here.

The collection may be purchased for just $.99 in EZ-Read PDF or $2.99 on DVD-Video for TV viewing.

A treat awaits readers at the end of most stories, where they will listen to the storyteller recall some very special Halloween memories.

September 3, 2008

r u a ritr?

I have to admit, when a post shows up in forums or on blogs using text message-ese, I find it frustrating as hell. I've always thought of this type of thing as a lazy writer who can't be bothered to type out full words and would rather make the reader take extra time to figure out what is being said.

But lately I've been text messaging more and using IM apps like Twitter. And I'm thinking if you avoid the lure of the cryptic syntax, these types of venues could actually make you a BETTER writer.

Why? Simply, it forces you to be concise. You're limited to a mere 155 characters to get your thought across. Using full sentences, you need to get pretty creative and pick just the right words to say what you want in that limited amount of space. If this translated over into fiction writing, it would be nothing but good. Think of all that passive voice and exposition that would never fester up a novel's pages!

Of course, we learned this kind of thing in High School when I was a kid, but we called them précis and Haiku. But it's a lot more fun when you know there's a live source on the other end receiving your messages.

Just make sure you use full words. I have to expend enough effort in all the other areas of my life without trying to figure out what you're saying.

September 2, 2008

Halloween Anthology

A little more news about the Wrong World anthology I'm Going to Tell You One More Time. Here's the author lineup for the anthology. This is some CONSIDERABLE company I'm in. Do yourself a favor and pick up some of the hundreds of short stories and novels crafted by the authors below. You'll be glad you did.

For myself, I'm practically star-struck. Mort Castle? I think I need to sit down!


Twenty-four writers from around the world, twenty-four stories, one for each Hallo-hour!

Sara Joan Berniker
Mort Castle
Ralan Conley
O’Neil De Noux
JG Faherty
Bruce Golden
John Grover
Jane Gwaltney
Brian A. Hopkins
Michael Kelly
Michael Keyton
John Kuhn
Barton Paul Levenson
Norma Jean Lipert
William Meikle
Scott Nicholson
Maria E. Schneider
Kristi Petersen Schoonover
Jacqueline Seewald
Martin R. Soderstrom
J.J. Steinfeld
Bev Vincent
Kaaron Warren
Donald P. Willard

20-HALLOWEEN-08 will be released for sale on DVD-Video and PDF on October 1, 2008.

August 19, 2008

Reprint Sale

Just got news that Wrong World's Halloween "I'm Going to Tell You One More Time" anthology has accepted my story A Little Matter. This is one of my favorite stories, and was originally published in FIGMENT MAGAZINE.

Wrong World is a multimedia publisher, with a very cool approach. Stories are distributed on DVD to be read on computer and television screens. They also include voice-over introductions, a la The Twilight Zone. I'm excited to hear the introduction they put together for my story.

"I'm Going to Tell You One More Time" is scheduled for an October 1st release.

July 28, 2008

Anime, eh?

My daughter is crazy for anything from Japan. It doesn't matter what -- food, art, people, style -- she loves them all. Her last two haircuts were inspired by Anime characters she likes and she dreams of the day she can go to Japan (though I'm pretty sure she thinks Anime characters walk the streets over there).

So how did this start? I think it may be my fault (not that liking Japan is a bad thing, of course). When she was just a baby, I wanted to paint some characters on her playroom walls. Being a good Dad, I of course painted Barney, in all his purple glory. I also painted a cute character I didn't even know the name of. Little did I know how this character would insinuate itself into our lives in the coming years.

This is Pikachu, of course, a key player in the Pokemon animation series. As my daughter matured, so did her likes. Soon to follow this little yellow sprite, was Sailormoon and Cardcaptors, a more mature girl-oriented type of anime. This was quickly followed up by Yugioh, a more boy-oriented, dark-edge series.

It was around this time that my daughter started to show an extraordinary interest in drawing and art. This lead her beyond the video versions of these series into the incredibly intricate trading cards and soon to the anime graphic novels. Being a writer, her interest in the novels was particularly satisfying to me. Of course, up until then I had only been exposed to English graphic novels (i.e. Neil Gaiman's Sandman series and the like) so the structure of the Japanese graphic novels was interesting to me. While in English, the structure was the same as the Japanese versions, each page's panels being read right-to-left. It's like second nature to her, since she's been doing it so long. Mostly, it gives me a headache. :)

Well, she's since moved on to the more mature anime series like Inuyasha, Deathnote, Full Metal Alchemist, etc., but all the while has kept up her drawing. She used to want to be a Vet when she grew up. Now she wants to be an Anime/Manga artist. I guess some parents would prefer the former. Nothing makes me happier than seeing her creatively express herself. And the kid is good. Here's a couple of her most recent drawings:

If she can do this at 11 years old, I can't wait to see what she'll be drawing once she gets some life on her. I just hope I can help with that. If you hear about a sale on plane tickets to Japan, be sure to let me know.

July 26, 2008

Milo's Graduation

A few months ago, we added a new member to our family: Milo the Dog. Milo is really my daughter, Kiersten's, dog, but somehow I find myself standing outside and shouting "Make, milo!" more than I thought I would.

Well, in an attempt to have SOME control, Milo and Kiersten went to Puppy Kindergarten recently. I had no idea this existed, either. In any case, Milo, at four months old today, graduated last week. I guess if he didn't he'd have to go to some sort of Puppy Summer School, which would make no sense, since the school was in the summer. Anyways...

And now I would like to present, the dynamic duo:

July 24, 2008

Enterprise Surprise

I've long been a Star Trek watcher, if not a fan, and have enjoyed most of the series in the franchise. (I never was a DS9 guy, not sure why.) I'm also a huge Quantum Leap fan. So back in 2001, when a new Star Trek series was announced starring Scott Bakula (of QL fame), I was very happy. But for some reason, though I watched most of the episodes, the show just didn't click for me. I thought T'Pol was an attempt at taking 7 of 9 and making her a 15, Bakula's acting was wooden (which baffled me, since he was remarkable on QL), Malcolm Reid was a cheap Scotty ripoff and the technology that was supposed to be from 150 years before the Captain Kirk era was vastly superior to what it should have been. On top of that, the theme song was terrible (a Rod Stewart song?!) and the uniforms made the crew look like they should be UNDER the Enterprise draining the oil out of the warp engines.

In short, I thought it sucked.

It was no surprise to me that it was cancelled after only 4 years. Every series in the franchise since Kirk's had ran a full seven years before going away of their own volition. I was still a Bakula fan, so losing a chance to see him (wooden or not) was sad; and I still liked the Star Trek universe, so moving into the first time in almost 20 years when there wasn't at least one ST series in production was strange. But it seemed inevitable.

And, as they say, time passed. Tick tock. Flash forward to Spring of this year.

I have a PVR (a DVR to some...basically a Canadian version of Tivo) and I've developed a habit of picking an older show that's on in reruns (usually once a day) and setting the box to record the show whenever it's on. It's my little "the days over, wash over me boobtube" treat. And it's kind of neat to watch a show's entire library in a couple of months.

Well, I'd just finished watching all 6 years worth of The Rockford Files and was looking for another show to record. I knew Enterprise was in reruns (and had been for a while) but my memory (I thought) was still a little sour on it. But I noticed they were about to start the Expanse arc, which I seemed to recall I thought was pretty neat with the Spheres and gravimetric anomolies and all, so I figured I'd watch a few for the hell of it. I set the box and pretty much forgot about it.

A few weeks later I had a whack of shows recorded and came down with the flu (I'm sure the two events weren't cause and effect). So I watched them. And they were good. Really good. From then on, it was rare if my PVR spooled more than a show or two before I watched it. All the way to the end of the fourth season. Except for the terrible last few episodes, this wasn't the show I remembered at all. The characters had flaws and depth, the writing was, for the most part, crisp and reverent, and I didn't even mind the theme song anymore. In fact, I was starting to really like it.

Well like I said, the final season wrapped up, and the network wrapped around and started showing the series from the beginning again. I hadn't picked another show, and the PVR was still set, so I figured I'd watch a few again. Well, damn, these were good too! I don't know if it was knowing how the characters were going to develop made them more fun to watch in their broadcast infancy or what, but I'm still watching. I'm just about to where I first started watching the reruns and I have to say, I'm really going to miss this experience.

It may be some sort of homage to the original series' popularity (it was never as popular as when it was in reruns) or maybe the idea that it was the last of a dynasty and there's no more to be had right now. In any case, I'd highly recommend giving it a second look if you felt the same way I did the first time around.

You might just be surprised.

July 23, 2008

Gone But Not Forgotten

Roger Hall died on Sunday. Who was Roger Hall? I've known about him for over thirty years, and I have to admit if someone had asked me about him last week, I would have been stumped for an answer. But, if someone had said "Do you know Roger Hall, the author of You're Stepping on My Cloak and Dagger" I would have said yes immediately.

I remember digging through the upstairs walk-in hall closet, barely a teenager and already a bookhound. I'd read every mystery and science fiction book I had several times over, but I remembered seeing a box of books in the closet when I was in there looking for treasures when I was just a kid -- probably the season before. I found the box and it was filled with wonderous books, including Roger Hall's masterpiece.

These were my father's books. We didn't have bookshelves anywhere in the house (or at least, not with any books on them, unless you count the bound National Geographic my Aunt sent us periodically from Maryland). In fact, not counting me or my brother doing homework, no one was ever seen with a book in the house. This was baffling to me, since books were about all I could think about.

As it turned out, my father used to be a bookhound himself. But he was from a different generation. Reading books was spurious. A grown up didn't have time for that nonsense. (I would learn a few years later that my father was also a writer, and in fact had a poem published in his school yearbook, but that's another story for another time.)

I asked my Dad about one of the books in the box, and a strange smile came across his face. He soon was convincing me that this was the greatest book ever written. I clutched it to my chest and padded into my room to devour this new morsel. I read it several times over the next few years.

It was a wonderful book. A humorous tale about life in the OSS (the precursor to the CIA) in WWII. As it turned out, Mr. Hall's book was semi-autobiographical. He himself was in the OSS in WWII, and in fact had parachuted behind enemy lines during the war. He and his buddy, William Colby (who would become the first Director of the CIA after the war), actually accepted the surrender of over 10,000 German troops in Norway in 1945.

As great a book as it was and as great a war hero as Mr. Hall was, I read it repeatedly because it was my Dad's. It was the first book we had both read that we could talk about. I'm sure he enjoyed the discussions, but I have never seen him pick up a book again to this day. Not that that matters. This book would be just as important to me if my father owned a library. It would still have been the first.

I hadn't thought about this book (considered a classic, now) in years, until I heard that Roger Hall had passed away. After the life he'd lead, it wasn't a sniper's bullet or a ravenous fan that got him. He had knee surgery and contracted pneumonia in the hospital, ultimately dying of congestive heart failure at the age of 89. Sometimes life can be funny and sometimes it's just an asshole.

Interestingly enough, the manuscript for You're Stepping on My Cloak and Dagger was rejected 11 times before Hall sold it into Classic-dom. And he only wrote two other books after that.

Without his effort and the fates conspiring to get it into a musty box in my parents' closet, I would have missed out on a connection with my Dad and a little understanding into how I was (and am) who I am.

Thanks, Roger. I owe you one.

"I hope God has a sense of humor, because if he doesn't, I'm in a lot of trouble."

-- Roger Hall to his wife, Linda, a few days before he died.

July 22, 2008

Old Pics Gone

Hmm. Looks like in my exuberance to change things, I killed all the images I had posted before the conversion. I'll see about replacing them in the coming days.

July 21, 2008

Revamped Website and Blog

As is obvious if you're reading this, I recently changed the look of my blog.  I MUCH prefer this design.  I think it's easier on the eyes to read, as well.
On top of this, I've just finished a revamping of my website (both design and content), which again I believe is now much more concise and readable.  As a bonus, there is now a free ebook available for download, my short story collection Orphans.
If you get a chance, please check out the website.  Of course, any comments, good or bad, are always welcome.

Dr. Horrible Final Chapter

Well, it wasn't horrible, excuse the pun. But the final chapter wasn't close to the calibre of the first two parts, unfortunately. (I'm actually rewatching the first two parts as I write this because they were SO good.)

I watched all three parts with my daughter and when the final credits came up she said "That's it? That makes it not even worth watching." I think that's a little harsh, but you get the sentiment.

I'm glad I watched, for several reasons, and I'd still recommend it, but just go in knowing the yummy-blog-goodness isn't quite as long-lasting as it should be.

July 19, 2008

Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog

This has to be the coolest thing I've ever seen on the Internet. I'd heard about it over the past few weeks and was mildly amused at the idea, being a Firefly, Nathan Fillion and Joss Whedon fan. Heck, I'm even a Neil Patrick Harris fan to a degree after watching Harold and Kumar Go to Whitecastle. But I didn't really think I'd watch the thing. I've now watched two of the three parts and this thing ROCKS!

All three parts are available for free until midnight Sunday, afterwhich you'll still be able to get them off itunes, but not for free. Eventually there's suppose to be a DVD, but I'm guessing they might charge for that.

Anyways, go see this. Now. I mean it.

April 14, 2008

Anthology Availability and Review

Don't Turn the Lights On is now available from the publisher Stone Garden, as well as from Amazon, Books-A-Million, Barnes and Noble, Powell's and even Libreria Universitaria.

Reception for this book has been incredible. Here's what they're saying:

"...an entertaining read."
- Christopher Fulbright, author of WHEN IT RAINS and BLOOD COVEN

"...talented writers, and chilling tales..."
- Scott Nicholson, author of THEY HUNGER

"...look out for these authors...quite brilliant...originality and flair."
- Derek Gunn, author of VAMPIRE APOCALYPSE

We also received our first review for the book at Ghost Writer Reviews. Here's what they said about my story, THE POND:

“The Pond” by Martin Soderstrom; this is an old story about the Loch Ness monster. This amazing legend has been lingering since the 1930’s and more than 4,000 people have told this tale of tales. The Nessie has been reported as early as the 6th century. This story is filled with a great imaginative twist that will leave you wanting more. I have always loved this story and this author really takes this turn of events to a new height.

I'm wonderfully pleased, to say the least.