Saturday, January 28, 2017

Altered Europa Cover Art & TOC Reveal

The Altered Europa anthology has been in the works for a long time.  It has had delays due to various factors, but at long last the final pieces are falling into place.  So, at long last, here is the cover art:

Drawn by Denise Roos, you can check out more of her work at her deviant art page:

The final stories were selected quite some time ago, and the final proofing of the collection is currently underway.  I am optimistic that we will be able to have an April release for the title.  In the coming weeks, I'll be interviewing many of the contributors, and sharing those interviews on this blog as we get closer to the official release date.

Now, here is the final list of stories in the Altered Europa anthology:

1: The Public Execution of Winston Churchill —by William Rade
2:  Foundation and Evil Empire –by Sam Kepfield
3:  Fenians –by Dan Gainor
4:  The Twenty Year Reich –by Dave D'Alessio
5:  N'oublions Jamais –by Bruno Lombardi & Tom Anderson
6:  A Damn Foolish Thing –by Cyrus P. Underwood
7:  The Great Bear –by Alex Shalenko
8:  Verum Fidei –by Charles Wilcox
9:  The Fourth Pandemic –by Tim Moshier
10:  A.E.I.O.U. –by Dr. Tom Anderson
11:  The Archers –by DJ Tyrer
12:  Ave, Caesarion –by Deborah L. Davitt
13:  A Rare Chance at the Enemy –by Mark Mellon
14:  Shaken, Shot, and Stirred –by Ryan McCall
15:  The Fire Tulips –by Mike Jansen
16:  Voyage –by Murray Braun
17:  The Forbidden Fuel –by Sergio Palumbo
18:  Megali Hellas –by Ryan McCall
19:  The Battle of Tim Hortons —by Bruno Lombardi & Ben Prewitt
20:  That'll Be the Day –by Michael McAndrews Bailey

Pre-orders for Altered Europa will be available when we get closer to the release date.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Why I Write What I Write

Now that I'm starting to write again, I don't know what I'm going to work on.  So far, I've only been going over my past work, reading through 50,000 words of an incomplete novel I wrote 6 years ago.  It holds promise, but I'm not quite feeling it.  That thrill of the storyline and love of the characters isn't there, and I'm left wondering if I can get the emotional stimulation necessary to finish it.

I may have to find something else to write, or just keep trying to get interested.

In order to write anything, it has to be something that I want to write.  That's the way it has always worked for me.  Writing is about me telling a story that I enjoy, exploring things that draw me in as the creator, revealing the worlds inside my mind in a way that satisfies that creative part of me.  It gives me purpose, and fuels the creative process.  If I can't get into the story, if my mind doesn't care about what's going on, then I find it exceedingly difficult to proceed.

This is of course not the method that all writers use.  I've read so many "advice" columns from people saying that to be a writer you have to write whatever will pay, take whatever work in the publishing industry you can get, and if you keep grinding away inside the machine you'll someday get your reward and "be allowed" to write what you want.  That's all well and good for some, but it's not for me.

Another common occurrence that I've run into over the years is friends and family who like to suggest that I "write what sells."  I know they're only trying to help, but it serves no purpose and can get annoying, as trying to dismiss their advice feels like talking to a brick wall.  They're so sure if I write "something else" that I'll be a big success.  Whether it's my father telling me to write about weirdoes in the woods, or friends suggesting I write anything from "serious mainstream fiction" to "teen chick-lit," it's not going to happen.  It wouldn't increase my chances of fame and fortune to write it, and because I'd hate doing it I would end up with a totally unmarketable piece of pulp nobody would ever want to read.

With writing, I'm not one to "climb the ladder," or "play the game."  It's not that I don't respect that approach.  It's just not me.  In my case, doing that would suck the life out of me, and writing would become a job that I didn't enjoy.  The creative flames inside me would die, and I'd be a horrid hack, writing words just to make money with no pleasure or fulfillment.  So, I have learned that the only way I can write is on my own terms.  If this means I will fail to gain an appreciable audience, then so be it.  To gain a million readers and lose my soul would be worse than having a handful of people reading what I want them to enjoy.

So, going forth in 2017, I will seek to create something new that others will enjoy.  It's all I can do, and so I will strive to accomplish that yet again.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

2017 Writing Shootout and Remembering Nye Joell Hardy

As I'm getting back into writing, and working to rejuvenate Martinus Publishing, I've decided that one of the best ways to get back into the groove is to bring back the ever fun and popular "writing shootout" contest, which has produced amazing stories and brought many great writers into my life.  You can read all about the shootout here, and there are still a few slots available for writers who want to throw their hat into the ring  (sign-ups end January 13, 2017).

Now, a sad bit of news hit me after first inviting some former participants to the contest.  I learned that Nye Joell Hardy, a fellow writer and shootout participant, died in 2016.

I first "met" Nye online back in 2010, when we were both Pill Hill Press writers.  Her book, The Crows of Bedu, was released right before The Guns of Mars, and we participated in several PHP shootouts together.  After Pill Hill Press closed, we stayed in touch somewhat, mostly during the Martinus Publishing shootouts that I hosted.

While I can't say that I knew Nye very well on a personal level, she was there to voice support and cheer me up when I needed it.  I remember a few times that her encouragement helped me through dark times, and I did what I could to support her, as well.  Her writing talent left me always wondering why she hadn't seen greater success in the fiction publishing field.

Nye's stories were always fun to read during the shootout.  You never knew where she'd go with a prompt.  Sometimes, she'd write something very traditional and captivating, and others she'd invent something absolutely unique and experimental (like a story about sentient flowers).  This meant that her scores during a shootout could vary, but her stories never failed to entertain me.

One of Nye's shootout stories was the impetus for the now defunct anthology, The Secret Life of Ghosts.  I hadn't thought of doing a ghost story anthology until Nye wrote an incredibly haunting tale, and I wanted to publish it.  So, I planned the story collection and would have published it, if personal problems hadn't derailed things.  It seems sadly fitting that the anthology was put to rest about the same time that Nye passed.

Nye's death haunts me a little, thinking of my own plight, and how any of us will be remembered.  It's funny how much of an impact someone can have on your life, even an acquaintance three thousand miles away that you never met in person.  It's a difficult thing to face.  The writing world is a darker place without her imagination, and it is so sad that I'll never have the pleasure of seeing her creativity at work again.

I had the pleasure of publishing several of her stories over the years, though the best one I have in-print can be found in Yarr!  A Space Pirate Anthology.  It was an amazing story that earned her the win during a previous shootout.

I wish there was something more I could say, but I guess that's about it, for now.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Counts Family Photo

It has been a long time since I wrote a column about my ancestry, and there's one that I've been thinking about for quite a while.  A couple of years ago, my cousin Esther sent me a photo of the Counts family from around 1901.  The quality is okay, though not the greatest as it's a photo of a photo.  I'm not sure who has the original, but I'd love to see a clearer copy someday, perhaps one that's computer-scanned.

So, in this photo we see my great-great grand parents, James Wilson Counts (b. 14 Nov 1856 /died 16 March 1931) and Mertie Florella (Gamble) Counts (b. 23 June 1864 /died 18 April 1946), along with their 6 children:

Florella T. Counts (b. 8 February 1886 /died April 1969.  Married Walter D. McKittrick)
Hugh Wiley Counts (b. 16 January 1888 /died 20 September 1975.  Married Ada Bartlett, later Charlotte Law)
George Sylvester (my great-grandfather, b. 9 December 1889 /died 10 November 1974.  Married Lois Hazel Bailey)
Wilson James Counts (b. 11 June 1891 /died March 1979.  Married Wilma B. Crossan)
Mary Counts (b. 30 April 1895 /died 30 November 1993.  Married O. Boone Morgan)
Milton Irwin Counts (b. 24 February 1899 /died 10 July 1974.  Married Clara Eugenia Van Vleck)

The other people in the photo are at present uncertain.  Esther initially suspected that the old couple in the middle could be Mertie's parents, Theodore Beza Gamble and Florella Amanda (Tucker) Gamble, but this is quite impossible, as both of them died before this photo was taken (1893 & 1895, respectively).  The Counts kids are far too old for this to be the 1890's.

Confirmed S.T. Counts
Suspected S.T. Counts
I suspect that the old couple in the photo are actually Sylvester Tobias Counts and his wife, Mary Ann (Wilson) Counts.  I also suspect the lady on the far left of the photo is their daughter, James Wilson Count's sister, Jennie Hannah (Counts) Marcy.  This is pure speculation, as I do not have other photos of them, except for Sylvester's old Civil War photo.  It's hard to make out his facial features in that grainy photo, so it's not enough for a positive identification.

I would love to find an attributed photo of Sylvester, Mary, or Jennie, for comparison, but thus far such photos have proven elusive.  So, the search goes on.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Martin's 2017 Goals and Dreams

Happy New Year!  Yes, I should be writing fiction right now, but I'm a bit distracted, and I'm thinking I'll do something that I have rarely done, because I often think its pointless, tacky, or otherwise a set-up for disappointment and failure.  I'm going to put forth a list of New Year's "resolutions," to see where I want to be a year from now.

I list these as "Goals and Dreams," because that's what they are.  I don't have any illusions, and know that I will fall short on some of these, but that's what these lists are all about. More than anything, they're us "dreaming."  We look at our lives and wonder what could be better.  Getting there is the hard part, and while most if not all are possible with proper planning and effort, much of the time we are just dreaming when we make up these resolutions.  I'll be honest and say these are just what I would like to do, but acknowledge that I'll probably let life get the better of me.

1:  Write a new novel.  This should be an easy one for me.  I won National Novel Writing Month each year I attempted it, and even before I discovered NaNoWriMo I once wrote a 100k novel in 3 weeks.  The quality of these speedy works are no less than those novels that took me months to finish, so it isn't pace so much as feel that propels me.  When I am in the writing zone and know where I'm going with a concept, I can move quickly with skill.  When I don't feel what I'm writing, it can drag on, and get bogged down.  Regardless, I want to write another books this year.  I just need to find the inspiration.

2:  Lose 20 pounds.  Isn't this one on most people's list?  I've always been fat, and I'm getting older and tired of the extra pounds.  If I drop 20 pounds this year, I'll be healthier and happier.  I could lose more than 20, but this is a reasonable goal, one that I cannot guarantee I'll achieve, but at least this way I have a chance.

3:  Have a meaningful relationship.  Yes, it's been almost 2 years since my wife walked out the door, and June will mark 2 years since we were officially divorced.  I'm still not sure if I'm ready to put myself out there, but this year I dream of having a meaningful relationship.  At the end of 2017, I hope to share with the world great news that I have somebody to love.  Though, please, nobody try to set me up.

4:  Get my 1954 Chevy Bel-Air on the road.  Okay, here's the easy one.  I've spent 5 years fiddling with this old car, and at long last it's on the verge of being road-worthy.  The windshield replacement ought to be completed very soon, and then it should be just a matter of waiting for spring.  I'm not going to be stupid and drive it around with salt on the road, but if I'm lucky, we'll be salt-free by April and I'll finally be behind the wheel of this beautiful project that has sucked up so much time and money.  It won't be a show car, but it'll be a gorgeous driver.

Is that all I can come up with?  It's not a really long list, is it?  I am a little disappointed that I am not dreaming bigger.  There was a time I would have aimed to write 2 or 3 novels in a year, or dream of getting West of the Warlock turned into a television series.  Ah, but I'm trying to set reasonable goals, and ones that are more in my control.  There are plenty of things I can wish for in 2017, but many of those are not within my power.  I can't expect to publish a Best Seller, or to get a Studio contract.  Those I can dream about, but it's up to more than me for those to happen.

Maybe I should strive to write more blog posts this year.  Yes, that's #5:  Write at least 1 blog post per week.  There.  Now my list is complete.  Here's to having a great 2017!

PS:  If you feel like reading this year, pick up one of these books:  Martinus Publishing.