Sunday, November 27, 2011

A RIP THROUGH TIME Ebook Now Available!

Four authors. Five stories. One thrilling serial, in which rogue time-cop Simon Rip travels to the farthest reaches of time and space in an effort to recover the Berlin Device, an object that represents both humankind's greatest achievement... and the deadliest weapon ever conceived.

I was honored to supply Rip's inaugural installment, and then joined the ranks of spectators while editor David Cranmer tapped Charles Gramlich, Garnett Elliott, and Chad Eagleton to take the helm. The resulting tale is both thrilling and unpredictable, and is now together for the first time, in ebook form, for the rock-bottom price of $0.99.

And not to sound like I'm peddling ShamWows here, but wait there's more! Included in this collection is a never-before-seen bonus Simon Rip tale penned by Chad Eagleton, as well as Ron Scheer's essay on time-travel in popular culture, "Are We Then Yet?"

So what are you waiting for? Go pick yourself up a copy. Time's a wastin'...

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Magic Box

I've spent a lot of (virtual) ink talking about my Papa Burns' influence on my reading (and therefore writing) habits. There's no question he hardwired me from a young age to always think of story – and life – in terms of mystery. What I haven't talked as much about is my introduction to the world of science fiction and fantasy. That's due in large part to the fact that my love of all things fantastical came about almost passively. I was born into the era of Star Wars and Stephen King, the two being so ubiquitous during my formative years, it's hardly a surprise that I, a voracious consumer of any and all forms of entertainment, internalized them into my worldview.

But Star Wars and King were as mainstream as can be. If I'm to pinpoint the moment I tumbled down the rabbit-hole of hardcore science fiction and fantasy fandom, I've got to to give credit to my Grandpa Holm, and to a box of musty, yellowed old paperbacks, which I devoured by flashlight (fittingly, it seems, in this post-Harry Potter world in which we now live) in a cupboard under the stairs.

I don't remember the specific circumstances behind Grandpa giving me the box, or how the box came to reside in the cupboard beneath our finished basement stairs. (I expect he thought I'd reached an age where I'd appreciate them. If so, he wasn't wrong.) What I do recall is stumbling across it one day in my attempt to push aside enough boxes to craft a proper hiding space, and being enthralled by the secret knowledge those yellowed pages hinted at, and by the tacky promise of their lurid, ornate covers.

The books inside dated largely from the Sixties and Seventies, and ran the gamut from forgotten to disposable to flat-out classics. Paul W. Fairman, Terry Brooks, and countless authors too obscure for Google's reach mingled with Heinlein, McCaffrey, Asimov and Herbert, with Niven and Clarke and Le Guin.  Short story collections (all of the shocking-twist-to-the-tale variety) sat alongside massive tomes replete with maps, appendices, and glossaries. Space opera rested next to sword-and-sorcery. Dystopic paranoia tales were piled atop hardcore military sf. And I read every damn one of them, my impressionable young mind giving equal weight to each.

I write this post as news breaks that Anne McCaffrey has passed away. Her DRAGONFLIGHT, as I recall, was the first book from that magic box I ever read. How could any self-respecting twelve-year-old (as I'm guessing I was at the time) not fall victim to the siren song of that book's cover and all it promises?
Of course, it's been decades now since I cracked its cover, so who knows what adult-me would make of it, but at the time, it was one of the coolest things I'd ever read. And it sent me down a path on which I've continued to this day.

If I'm very lucky in this life, one day some nerdy kid will become enthralled with my own lurid, pulpy covers perhaps while hidden in a makeshift box-fort in a cupboard under the stairs and begin to read, with no idea whatsoever whether the book in his hands is a stone classic, or some throwaway bit of entertainment, long forgotten.

I only hope that he or she finds my story half as cool.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Ramblings of a would-be writer...

Sunday, August 11, 2002. That's when it all began for me. One day before my second wedding anniversary. One year after dropping out of grad school having completed a lone miserable semester, loading up a moving van, and heading fifteen hours north from Virginia to Maine headed toward a new job, a new city, a new life.

In retrospect, it makes sense. I'd always told myself I'd write a book one day, but it wasn't until Sunday, August 11, 2002, that my life settled down enough for me to even consider it. For me to muster the guts to try. For me to get quiet enough to hear the stories in my head.

On Sunday, August 11, 2002, I dragged myself out of bed at the crack of nine AM  a rarity for me in those days and started writing. I didn't even tell my wife what I was doing, so sure was I it would soon wind up on the ever-growing pile of cast-off hobbies I'd turned to in attempt to distract myself from my sudden rudderlessness, having abandoned my life's goal of a career in epidemiology. I'd love to tell you that day I penned the first sentence of DEAD HARVEST, or maybe began one of my many published shorts, but the fact is, that's not remotely true.  No, instead, I created a file folder titled "Ramblings of a would-be writer," and in it, I placed a file named "some beginning thoughts." Apparently, I couldn't even bring myself to capitalize the title of the file, so little did I think of what I typed into it. Which makes sense, because much of what I typed into it was crap.

No, really, I'm not being modest; I just reread it, and it was terrible. But here's the thing: terrible as it was, it was necessary.  Those first godawful notes became my first godawful attempt at a novel, which in turn led to my first not-godawful attempt at a novel, which led me to begin thinking about seeking representation, which led me to write some short fiction so I could pad my query letters, which led me to write an even better novel... which leads me to right now.

In a little over three months, I'll be releasing my first novel but of course it isn't really my first novel. That one, I worked on for the better part of two years, and never finished. It's not even my second novel, which also took two years and turned out well enough to land me an agent, but has yet to see the light of day. No, my first novel is, in fact, my third, and that one only took me a year to write. My fourth one took me shorter still, and it's slated to come out about a year from now.  As for my fifth one... well, I'll let you know as soon as I finish it.

Some of you will read this and despair; after all, it sounds like nine years of toil and torment, with not a ton to show for it.  But others will read this and take heart, because, like me, you realize not a moment of that toil and torment was for naught. The fact is, unless you're a cast member of the Jersey Shore, there's no shortcut to publication, no secret handshake to get you in the door. All you can do is sit down and get your lousy words out of the way because you know in your bones the better ones are coming.

And no matter how far your words wind up taking you, cross your fingers and keep on hoping the next ones you type are better still...

Saturday, November 12, 2011

A RIP THROUGH TIME, Coming Soon to E-Readers Everywhere!

Four pulp writers. One old-school, genre-bending serial. And all for $0.99.  Rip mastermind David Cranmer's got the deets up on his blog, but the gist is this: the book includes Rip's first arc in its entirety, from my series opening installment to Chad Eagleton's thrilling conclusion, plus a brand new Eagleton-penned tale in which everyone's favorite rogue time-cop... ah, but to find out what he's up to, I guess you'll have to grab the ebook, won't you?

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Interviewed!

For those of y'all who aren't yet sick of reading my inane ramblings can't get enough of my brilliant proclamations here and on the Twitters, pop on over to Crime Fiction Lover, where R. Thomas Brown was kind enough to ask me a few questions...

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

CRIME FACTORY: THE FIRST SHIFT Reviewed!

Over at Musings of an All Purpose Monkey, Elizabeth A. White takes a look at CRIME FACTORY: THE FIRST SHIFT, and has some nice things to say about my tale of a stoner caper gone awry.  Of course, she claims she likes some Weddle fellow's story better, but I'll try not to hold that against her.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Look, Ma! I've got talent!

Hey, wow! Crime Fiction Lover has kicked off New Talent November with a glowing review of 8 POUNDS, courtesy of Jacques Filippi!  (That's right, hypothetical playground bully that lives in my head and haunts my every waking hour, they said "New Talent November," not "No-Talent November."  And while we're on the subject, don't you think it's time you stopped calling me "Christina"? I mean, a guy tries on a dress one time, and you never let it go.  Sheesh.)

Where was I?  Oh, right: Thanks to Jacques and all the fine folks behind CFL. Y'all are aces.

UPDATE: The full version of Jacques' review is now up at his blog.