Big Stick

In 1897, Beverly Haddad is well aware that her sex and race will keep her from investigating the deadly and mysterious lightning strikes that have plagued New York. She seeks help from Police Commissioner Teddy Roosevelt, and soon the two find themselves hunted by a vast conspiracy known as Gideon’s Trumpet which has access to amazing new scientific devices never before seen. With the help of Mark Twain and others, they launch an attack, aided by Teddy’s new massive lightning gun, which he lovingly calls BIG STICK.

BIG STICK is now available from Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire Press! Click here to read the first few chapters, and here to order your copy!

Big Stick cover

“Full steam ahead! With Big Stick, Michael Ventrella gives us a wild and thoroughly entertaining steampunk adventure featuring an improbable cast of historical figures, plenty of action, and lots of fun! Highly recommended!” – Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of Deep Silence and V-Wars

“Memorable characters, snappy dialogue and plenty of action and adventure. Big Stick has it all. One of the best books I’ve read in a long while!” – Gail Z. Martin, author of Vengeance: A Novel of Darkhurst

“Full of the best kind of steampunk adventure with one of the biggest personalities in American history. A great fun ride!” – Philippa Ballantine, co-author of the Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series

“Big Stick doesn’t have everything. It has more than everything! A dynamic PoC secret agent! Teddy Roosevelt! Steampunk inventions! Real dirty politics in a fantastic might-have-been world! Rayguns! Airships! Assassinations! Teddy Roosevelt with a raygun! And a cover by Phil Foglio! What the heck are you doing looking at this stupid blurb? Buy this book and read it!” – Ryk Spoor, author of Grand Central Arena and Princess Holy Aura

My Philcon 2018 Schedule

I’m looking forward to the Philcon science fiction convention the weekend of November 10th. It’s Philadelphia’s oldest literary convention. It’s in New Jersey.  (Look, it was cheaper, okay?)philcon_logo

I’ve been a guest at Philcon for years, and it’s always great to go back there and see so many of my friends. Guest of Honor this year is Steven Brust! (You can read my interview with him from a few years ago here). This year’s event will be on the weekend of November 16 – 18.

brust1

Here’s my schedule:

WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT: 30TH ANNIVERSARY (Sat 12:00) [Panelists: Rebecca Robare (mod), Michael A. Ventrella, Daniel Kimmel, Ray Ridenour]  Join us as we remember the film that broke all the rules and set the benchmark for future movies. What made it so groundbreaking? Does it still hold up today?

RECIPES FOR CHARACTER CREATION (Sat 1:00) [Panelists: Vikki Ciaffone (mod), Steven Brust, Alan P. Smale, Philippa Ballantine, Michael A. Ventrella] How do you design characters that your audience will find not only three-dimensional, but memorable? What will adding a dash of this or that personality trait do to your audience’s opinion of them?

READING (Sat 5:00) [Panelists: Tom Purdom (mod), Michael A. Ventrella, Leigh Grossman] We’ll each be reading from our recent works.

AUTOGRAPHS (Sat 6:00) [Panelists: Leigh Grossman (mod), Michael A. Ventrella] … and then two of us will be signing anything you want signed.

SCIENCE FICTION AND THE MEN IN BLACK (Sun 10:00) [Panelists: Michael A. Ventrella (mod), Michael D’Ambrosio, Mark Singer, Martin Berman-Gorvine, Kevin Patterson] A discussion of conspiracy theories, secret societies, and themes of cover-ups / the creation of a false consciousness by shadowy organizations in science fiction. Should we be concerned about how paranoid society seems to be getting? Or is it all just a government ploy?…

SCIENCE FICTION AS SOCIAL EDUCATION (Sun 12:00) [Panelists: Rebecca Robare (mod), Dr. Valerie J. Mikles, Simone Zelitch, Phil Giunta, Michael A. Ventrella, Anastasia Klimchynskaya] How can science fiction help us become more socially aware? What allows science fiction to address social issues in unique ways not found in other forms of literature, and how can we meaningfully use it to better our society?

2018 World Fantasy Convention

I’ll be at the annual World Fantasy Convention this next weekend (November 1  – 4) in Baltimore. I’ll be doing a reading, will participate in the mass signing session, and will otherwise be hanging around with many of my writer and editor friends. You’ll probably find me often at the table for one of my publishers, Fantastic Books.

Hope to see you there!

 

Three books coming soon!

What a busy year it’s been for me! Six books in a period of 12 months or so.

In November of 2017, the book about the Monkees’ music was released (co-written with Mark Arnold).

In April of 2018, the second Baker Street Irregulars anthology (co-edited with Jonathan Maberry) was released, along with an audio book version a few months later.

In July, the 5th Tales of Fortannis anthology was released.

And in the next few months, you’ll see the following:

BIG STICK, my 4th novel, a steampunk adventure featuring Teddy Roosevelt and Mark Twain. “One of the best books I’ve read in a long while!” says author Gail Z. Martin. This is being released from Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire Press.

RELEASE THE VIRGINS!, an anthology wherein every story has to contain those words. It features David Gerrold, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Jody Lynn Nye, Allen Steele, Steve Miller, Sharon Lee, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Gail Z. Martin and others! This is being released from Fantastic Books.

HOW TO ARGUE THE CONSTITUTION WITH A CONSERVATIVE. This is a non-fiction book which a sort of “Constitution for Dummies” because you can’t debate what you don’t know. It’s full of humor and sarcasm and will feature a cover and illustrations from nationally syndicated political cartoonist Darrin Bell (who also does the comic strip “Candorville”). This is being published by Gray Rabbit Publications.

And then I have to finish work on the follow-up to the Monkees book, wherein Mark and I discuss their solo careers and the reunions. That will once again be issued from Bear Manor Media.

Busy busy busy!

 

My Capclave 2018 Schedule

I’ll be a guest at the Capclave convention soon (September 28 – 30) held just north of Washington DC.  It’s a fun little convention dedicated to the written word, whose slogan is “Where reading is not extinct.”

The Guest of Honor is Hugo, Nebula, Campbell, Sturgeon and Locus Award-winning author Nancy Kress!

Here’s my schedule!

Friday 4:00 pm: Beginnings (Ends at: 4:55 pm) Eisenhower
Panelists: Nancy KressWendy S. DelmaterWill McIntoshMichael A. Ventrella (M)
First sentence, first paragraph, first chapter. You only get one first chance to grab your reader’s attention. How do you craft the perfect opening hook?
Friday 6:00 pm: SFF of Political Resistance (Ends at: 6:55 pm) Washington Theater
Panelists: Tom DoyleCarolyn Ives GilmanLarry HodgesMichael A. Ventrella (M)
Science fiction and fantasy are often not politically neutral: they can serve as a mirror of and a screen for contemporary controversy. What are examples of the SF/F under past repressive regimes? How may current authors best engage in political expression, and what are the pitfalls in balancing art and advocacy (there are certainly examples of bad writing making for worse propaganda). How may an author’s politics affect their career, for good or ill?
Friday 7:00 pm: Biggest Mistakes Made by New Writers (Ends at: 7:55 pm) Monroe
Panelists: David BartellWendy S. DelmaterIan Randal StrockMichael A. Ventrella (M)
Our panelists just might be wiling to serve as examples of what not to do. Panelists share stories of things you shouldn’t do or at least what did not work at all for them.
Friday 8:00 pm: Anthology Builder (Ends at: 8:55 pm) Washington Theater
Panelists: Neil ClarkeAlex ShvartsmanDavid StokesMichael A. Ventrella (M)
So you want to edit and publish an anthology. How do the stories get picked?  How do you come up with a theme? What sells and what doesn’t?  How do authors produce readable fiction in the straitjacket of an original themed anthology? How do you properly curate your anthology?
Friday 9:00 pm: Dealing With Rejection (Ends at: 9:55 pm) Eisenhower
Panelists: Neil ClarkeScott EdelmanBarbara Krasnoff (M), Michael A. Ventrella
Everyone in the field has to deal with rejection at some point. Panelists will talk about how they handle rejection, and in the case of editors, panelists will offer suggestions on how NOT to handle rejection
Friday 11:00 pm: How NOT to Get Published, a/k/a Late Night Tales From the Slush Pile (Ends at: 11:55 pm) Eisenhower
Panelists: Neil ClarkeWendy S. DelmaterBjorn HasselerIan Randal StrockMichael A. Ventrella(M), Sean Wallace
Editors will discuss all the things authors shouldn’t do if they want to be published. For instance, submission guidelines exist for a reason. And no matter how brilliant your story is, threatening the editor will reduce the probability that it will be published to zero.
Saturday 7:30 pm: Mass autographing (Ends at: 8:55 pm) Eisenhower
Panelists: Nancy KressAlyssa WongDanielle Ackley-McPhailJeanne AdamsCatherine AsaroT. Eric BakutisStafford BattleJonathan BrazeeJack Campbell – John G. HemryNeil ClarkeDoc ColemanWendy S. DelmaterTom DoyleKelly DwyerDeidre DykesAndrew FoxJim FreundCharles E. GannonCraig L. GidneyCarolyn Ives GilmanJ. L. GribbleBjorn HasselerInge HeyerLarry HodgesDavid KeenerBarbara KrasnoffMark LaportaJohn Edward LawsonEdward M. LernerWill McIntoshMike McPhailBernie MojzesJames MorrowKathryn MorrowLawrence M. SchoenDarrell SchweitzerAlex ShvartsmanJack SkillingsteadAlan SmaleJoe StechMichael A. VentrellaDavid WaltonJean Marie WardLawrence Watt-EvansJoan WendlandSteven H. WilsonA.C. WiseAllen L. Wold
Saturday 10:30 pm: Eye of Argon (Ends at: 11:55 pm) Monroe
Panelists: Hildy SilvermanIan Randal StrockMichael A. Ventrella (M)
Our panelists read the worst fantasy story ever written, mistakes and all, and if they laugh or read it incorrectly, they are forced to act out the story. Just try not to fall over laughing! At some point, volunteers from the audience can participate and discover firsthand the author’s contentious relationship with spelling, capitalization and punctuation.
Sunday 10:00 am: Politics in SF vs. Fantasy: Meaningful Differences or Not? (Ends at: 10:55 am) Washington Theater
Panelists: Aaron EmmelJames MorrowMichael A. Ventrella (M)
Do writers handle politics differently in fantasy than SF? How different is politics in a faux medieval setting vs. a future polity based on 20th or 21st century political movements?
Sunday 11:00 am: Endings (Ends at: 11:55 am) Eisenhower
Panelists: Nancy KressWendy S. DelmaterMary FanMichael A. Ventrella (M)
How do you stick the landing? So many stories start out well but end abruptly or just trail off, leaving the reader to wonder, what’s the point. Why does this happen and how can writers avoid this fate? How do you determine your endings? Is a twist ending a cheat?
Sunday 12:00 pm: I Hate His/Her Politics, But I Love His/Her Books (Ends at: 12:55 pm) Monroe
Panelists: Day Al-MohamedJames MorrowCerece Rennie MurphyMichelle D. SonnierMichael A. Ventrella (M)
Should a personal evaluation of an author be separated from how you view his/her politics? Many people refused to see the movie Ender’s Game because of Orson Scott Card’s statements on homosexuality and other writers charge that political views influence award nominations and who is picked for con programming. Is this true and if so, is it a good thing or a bad thing?
Sunday 1:00 pm: Handling the Unavoidable Infodump (Ends at: 1:55 pm) Truman
Panelists: Jack Campbell – John G. HemryBrenda W. CloughIver CooperJames R. StrattonMichael A. Ventrella (M)
As you know, Bob, it’s often considered more elegant to establish backstory or setting details gradually rather than in an infodump. Sometimes, though, the demands of the rest of the novel leave little choice. What are some of the tricks to infodump in a way that at least keeps the reader interested, and doesn’t disrupt the other elements of the story? Are there ever points at which an infodump is preferable over other methods of communicating setting detail?
Sunday 2:30 pm: Reading: Michael A. Ventrella (Ends at: 2:55 pm) Lincoln
Author: Michael A. Ventrella
Sunday 3:00 pm: Write What You Don’t Know (Ends at: 3:55 pm) Eisenhower
Panelists: Jeanne AdamsDoc ColemanMichael A. Ventrella (M)
Fantasy authors rarely get irate email from dragons saying they got it wrong. How to write characters from places and times that you don’t know but members of your audience do, and why it’s important to get outside your comfort zone.

Here are some pictures from previous Capclaves!

My Albacon 2018 Schedule

I’ll be a guest author at Albacon this weekend (September 14 – 16), a fine small convention in Albany.  Below are some pictures from previous Albacons.

Here’s my schedule:

Pitfalls for Beginners (Friday 1 pm): Where new writers make mistakes. With James Cambias, Wendy Delmater, Melissa Mead, and Steve Sawicki

Marketing your Work (Friday 3 pm): How to get readers and publicize yourself. With Ruth Burroughs, John F. Holmes, and Ryk Spoor 

Truth is Stranger than Science Fiction (Friday 7 pm): Would the present have
made believable science fiction ten, twenty, fifty, and a hundred years ago? Why
and why not, and what does that tell us about SF?  With Steve Carper and Herb Kauderer

The Scarlet Pimpernel (Saturday 10 am): A tribute to Baroness Orczy, without whom there would be no Batman. With Debra Doyle, Carl Frederick, Melissa Mead, and Chuck Rothman

Taxes and Toilet Paper (Saturday 2 pm): Does your starship have flush toilets? Does your Merchants’ Guild hand out W2s? How many practical details do you put in your stories? With Ruth Burroughs, Elecktra Hammond, Melissa Mead, and Steve Sawicki

Autographing (Saturday 3 pm): I’ll be signing anything you want (except blank checks).

Stop Motion v. CGI (Saturday 6 pm): What are the pros and cons of each?  With Jim Macdonald, Chuck Rothman, Kathleen Moffre-Spoor, and Ryk Spoor

Reading (Sunday noon): I’ll be reading from my upcoming novel BIG STICK.

 

 

Virgins and Rejection Letters

I’m currently wading through about eighty stories for the upcoming RELEASE THE VIRGINS anthology, where the only requirement is that the story must contain that phrase.

Of those eighty, fourteen are from authors who were invited to participate, knowing their fame would help raise the money in a kickstarter campaign for the book’s publication.

virgins

The final cover may be completely different than this

The rest are from an open submission. People from all over the world sent me their stories. I’ve never had so many to choose from when editing an anthology, even when, like my BAKER STREET IRREGULARS anthology, I also had some pretty big names participating. Either everyone loved the idea and had to contribute or the promise of payment per word made a difference.

The deadline was yesterday, but a few of the invited authors asked for a little more time to submit their stories.

The problem is that I have a word count limit for the book, and I won’t know how many other stories I can accept until I see how much space I have left after the invited authors stories are counted.

So I’m slowly going through the slush pile and sorting the stories into “Yes” (meaning I really like this story and hope there will be enough room for it), “Maybe” (meaning it’s good but I probably won’t have enough room but if there is…) and “No.”

The “No” stories are getting form rejection letters that look like this:

Dear Fellow Author:

As a writer with my own collection of rejection letters, I am well aware of how disappointing it is to get one.

I hate sending them as much as I hate receiving them.

However, I’ve accumulated over sixty submissions for what may end up being only a few openings in the “Release the Virgins” anthology. I’ve had to be very picky. I’m afraid yours didn’t make the cut.

Sometimes the reason is because I already have a story with a similar theme. Sometimes it’s because I may have liked your story but saw that it needed some substantive editing, and I would rather pick another good story that did not need it. Sometimes it’s just not that well-written.

And sometimes it’s just a matter of taste, after all. Another editor reading your story may have decided it was wonderful and would have accepted it.

In any event, I wish you luck, and hope you’ll still be interested enough in Release the Virgins to get your own copy.

I would be more than happy to accept you as a Facebook friend if you send me a request. I do discuss writing quite a bit there, and as long as you’re not a Trump supporter, you may enjoy my political posts as well.

Thank you again for sending me your story.

It’s sad that I can’t accept all the stories I’d like to. I’m finding a few that are absolutely worth reading, but space considerations will prevent me from accepting.

However, if this is successful, maybe we’ll do a sequel, and then I can contact the authors of those “yes” stories that I couldn’t fit in…

 

%d bloggers like this: