The 4th Pocono Writers Conference

It seems like just yesterday that I organized the first Pocono Writers Conference, and now we will soon have the 4th.

This year’s conference will be held on January 21, 2017, at the Hughes Library in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania.  Admission is free — however, as I write this, we are full!

But there is an exception.

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Besides their regular lecture, each of the panelists will have a critique where you can send them a writing sample in advance by email and they will go over it with you there at the Conference. This is only $20. Come on, where else can you get a good critique from  established writers (including a New York Times bestselling author) as well as a New York literary agent? If you sign up for at least one of the critiques, we will find a space for you to attend the rest of the Conference.

Here’s the schedule:

9:00: Introductions

9:15: TEE MORRIS: The Physics of Fighting: Swords, Sidearms, and All-Too-Common Slip-Ups: Hollywood does two things for writers: They make fight scenes look incredibly cool, and make a writer’s job to capture that kind of excitement increasingly difficult. How do you get it right?

10:30: ALIA HANNA HABIB: Know Your Genre: Knowing the language of publishers’ book categories is essential in pitching your book to agents and editors. This workshop will teach you how to market your book by properly categorizing its genre and potential readers.

11:45: MEGAN HART: Point of View: Getting Inside the Right Character’s Head and Staying There. Figure out how to write in first or third person and which character needs to be telling the story by diving deep into point of view.

12:45: Lunch

1:45: PHILIPPA BALLANTINE: World Building: The basics of creating a world that lives and breathes around your characters, and how to use our world to inspire you

3:00: MICHAEL A. VENTRELLA: Biggest Mistakes Made by New Authors: A short presentation of things to look out for

3:15: Panel Discussion and Question and Answer session with all panelists

Click here to read bios of all the participants and to sign up for the Conference. Don’t wait, because there are a limited number of critique spaces available and once they’re all filled, you won’t be able to attend.

The Writers Conference is sponsored by the Pocono Liars Club.

 

My 2016 Philcon Schedule

I’m looking forward to the Philcon science fiction convention the weekend of November 18th. 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. The Guest of Honor is C.J. Cherryh! Other guests include Philippa Ballentine, Keith DeCandido, Gregory Frost, Barry Longyear,  Lawrence Schoen, Tee Morris, and many more famous award-winning authors you’ve probably heard of (I didn’t want to list them all and take up the whole blog post).

Here’s my schedule:

Friday 11:00 PM: EYE OF ARGON INTERACTIVE: CHAPTER THREE [Panelists: Michael A. Ventrella (mod), Peter Prellwitz, Ian Randal Strock, Hildy Silverman, Bethlynne Prellwitz]: Since everyone is usually laughing too hard to get through reading what has been dubbed the worst piece of published SF of all time, we thought we’d start where we left off last year. We’ve got a roster of pros to get it going, but after that, audience participation is
expected.

Sat 5:00 PM: CAN INTERPLANETARY GOVERNMENTS ACTUALLY WORK? [Panelists: Michael A. Ventrella (moderator), Neil Clarke, James Beall, Ariel Cinii, Tom Purdom, John Skylar]: Empires, Federations, Alliances… there are many examples of various types of interplanetary, or interstellar, governments found in science fiction. But would any form of government actually work if it were extended between worlds, star systems, or even galaxies? We will examine how governing bodies might work over such long distances… or even if they can.

Sat 11:00 PM: WHOSE LINE IS IT, ANYWAY? [Panelists: Peter Prellwitz (mod), Hildy Silverman, Ian Randal Strock, Tee Morris, Michael A. Ventrella]: Come watch and wince as our hammy authors attempt to act out terrible improvisational skits based on audience suggestions and a devious MC.

Sun 1:00 PM: IMAGINING AN ATHEIST REALITY [Panelists: John Grant (mod), Kathleen Bragg, Lawrence Kramer, David Silverman, Gordon Linzner, Michael A. Ventrella]: Is atheism just another belief system like any other religion, or do atheism and secular humanism stand in the unique position of being unbiased government and social worldviews, able to make decisions free from religious bias? And if the latter is the case, what other biases and difficulties might be experienced by a culture that doesn’t recognize the existence of anything that can’t be counted and codified?

A Bard Act to Follow

Adventure! Drama! Mystery! Humor! It’s all here in the forth TALES OF FORTANNIS anthology, A BARD ACT TO FOLLOW.

“Michael Ventrella’s Fortannis setting has produced a lot of fine fantasy fiction, and the fourth collection maintains a high level of quality throughout,” says Ryk Spoor, author of the Balanced Swords trilogy.abardacttofollow-510

“Some of the stories are simply amusing (Curso and the Wizard’s Apprentice), some tragic (The Consistency of Small Minds), and others heartwarming (The Mutiny of Broken Things and Ventrella’s own Remembering the Future). Our protagonists range from courageous knights and cynical adventurers to an absolutely chilling, self-justifying sociopath. Taken together, they give us a picture of a living, immense world which can cover the span of human (and biata, dwarf, elf, ogre, and goblin…) endeavor and passion.

A BARD ACT TO FOLLOW does not merely continue the fine tradition of Fortannis; it elevates the written world to the next level, and indeed, as the title plays upon, will be a hard act to follow!”

I was thrilled with the great selection I was able to solicit for this edition. It contains the following stories:

Remembering the Future by Michael A. Ventrella: Terin and his fellow squires perform a task and then have their memories erased, only to face the consequences of what they had done — but what had they done?

The Consistency of Small Minds by Bernie Mojzes:  Maris risks everything to help goblins revenge a murder.

Garg the Good by Dominic Bowers-Mason: A lawful good sword falls into the hands of an ogre who doesn’t like being told what to do.

Thieves Among Honor by Mark Mensch:  In order to hunt down and find out who is plotting to kill him, Nigel needs to hunt down and talk to a man who has sworn to kill him. With a knight-errant looking over his shoulder, what could go wrong?

A Poet’s Heart by Derek Beebe:  An obsessive loner traces his descent from pathetic stalking into true super villainy — all for love (or so he says).

The Mutiny of Broken Things by Beth Patterson: A werewolf artist and a bat-kin discover untapped powers when faced with danger.

The Arrangement by Henry “The Mad” Hart: A squad of righteous warriors who hunt the undead are distracted by the oldest form of manipulation and evil –political ideals.

A Charming Encounter by Tera Fulbright:  Out of all the rat holes in the city, why did she have to pick Crites’? Then of course, she offered something he couldn’t resist … gold.

Something Happened on Old Troll Bridge by Jon Cory: Dangerous things can lie hidden in abandoned old fortresses…

Chatter by Shane Porteous:  After a disturbing act, a soldier capturing slaves learns just how cruel chains can really be.

Curso and the Wizard’s Apprentice by Roy C. Booth and Brian Woods: Curso the hobling  learns that sometimes it is best not to mess with spells you don’t understand…

Shapes of Destiny by Laurel Ann Hill: Sometimes one has to embrace and accept one’s destiny if it means you can help and protect loved ones.

The Chronicles of Duren Ironath and Vaeallan by Tom Haswell: Duren the quiet scholarly elf had been aiding the head-strong and slightly mad dwarf Vaellan for years when they discover an old enemy thought long dead has returned

Another Round for the Table by Mike Strauss: Events nearly seem to repeat themselves as throughout the decades a mercenary company celebrates victory in battles with good food, good company, and stories of heroism.

This book is available now in PaperbackE-BookKindle, and iBook formats. And Bernie Mojzes and I will be at Philcon in a few weeks with copies we can sign for you!

Accepting stories for the 2nd “Baker Street Irregulars” anthology

What if Sherlock Holmes had been born in a different body? In a completely different time?

That was the concept behind BAKER STREET IRREGULARS — a new anthology due out on March 21, 2017. (You can pre-order it now!).  It contains stories from David Gerrold, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Jody Lynn Nye, Ryk Spoor, Heidi McLaughlin, Gail Z. Martin, Hildy Silverman, and more. It’s co-edited by NY Times Bestselling Author Jonathan Maberry, who also contributes a story.

You’ll find stories with Sherlock as an alien dog, a sex android, a vampire, a female college student, a musician in Beethoven’s orchestra, a monk, a computer simulation, a reality TV show host, a worker in a dystopian future, and a parrot (among other things).

There will be an audio book available around the same time as the book release.

Now we’re looking for stories for the second edition. You are invited to contribute.sherlock_holmes1

Your story must (a) feature a character who clearly has Sherlock Holmes’ personality but is not a traditional detective; (b) not take place in Victorian London; and (c) contain a mystery the character solves in a typical Sherlockian way.

I was thrilled with the number of stories that were submitted for the first book, and sadly had to reject some that were very good but either duplicated an idea in an already-accepted story or which didn’t really have a mystery in there.

If you are interested, please email me first with a short synopsis of your idea. There’s no need for you to spend time writing a story that is similar to one that has already been accepted. Please avoid variations of “Sherlock as a computer program/android” and “Holmes figures out he’s fictional” as those were the most common subjects received for the first book. Use your imagination — there are plenty of possibilities. Sherlock as a singer in a boy band. Sherlock as a Roman soldier. Sherlock as a caveman. Sherlock as an alien crashing at Area 51. Don’t limit yourself.

Include in your email any previous publications (unless I already know you). Stories from first-time authors are considered (and in fact, one was accepted for the previous book).

Note that there is no guarantee your story will be accepted even if you are in the first book. We’ll be looking for a good variety of ideas and styles, and a story that works but doesn’t fit may have to be set aside (but perhaps saved for a future edition).

The stories should be under 8,000 words but exceptions can be made if necessary. Since you will not be paid by the word, there’s no need to pad anything. Take what you need to tell the story and no more, please. We do have a word limit for the book, so if you go too long, it could hurt your chances of acceptance. On the other hand, we’ll always make room for a masterpiece of fiction.

We are not accepting reprints.

The book will be published by Diversion Books. Payment is royalties only. The rights will revert back to you after two years but there is an exception that allows you to have it published by any year-end “Best of” anthologies.

My agent Marisa Corvisiero will be handling the contracts.

The deadline for stories will be December 31, 2016. Note that this is the deadline for the finished story — your proposal must come before that time.

Your final submission should be in standard 12 point type in Times New Roman or variation thereof, in rtf, double spaced. Your name and email must be on the first page along with the word count.

So spread the word. If you know of an author who would love to write a Sherlock story, send this to them. And I look forward to hearing from you.

My Capclave 2016 Schedule

Capclave is a fine little literary SF convention held near Washington DC, which this year will be on the October 7th weekend. small_dodo_transparentCome and join us and meet some of your (and my) favorite authors, including but not limited to Tim Powers, Sarah Beth Durst, James Morrow, Alex Shvartsman, Catherine Asaro, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Allen Wold, Walter Hunt, and many more (including me!)

I’m anxious to meet Tim Powers again, who is one of my favorite authors. Unfortunately, I’m not on any panels with him. Capclave is where I spoke to George R.R. Martin a few years ago and then became an internet sensation for a week or so because of the “Hodor” comment.

Here are some pictures I took from from the convention in 20132014, and 2015.

And here’s my current schedule (subject to change):

Alternate History: How to Make it Work (Friday 6 pm) Many novels these days change history slightly — and fail. What does it take to make a good alternate history plot? With panelists Martin Berman-Gorvine, Emmie Mears (Moderator), Alan Smale, Michael A. Ventrella

Who’s the Bad Guy in a World Without Absolutes? (Friday 8 pm) Heroes, villains, and moral relativism. Does speculative literature have any concept of Good or Evil anymore? With panelists Anthony Dobranski, Christie Meierz, Hugh Taylor, Michael A. Ventrella (Moderator)

Reading (Friday 11 pm) Michael A. Ventrella will be reading from one of his books. With panelist Michael A. Ventrella

Writing Workshop (Saturday 10 am) Allen Wold will lead a panel of authors in a hands on workshop. Learn many skills as you work on a short story. All you need is a pen and paper. Limited to 15 people. With panelists Andrew Fox, Michael A. Ventrella, Allen L. Wold (Moderator), Darcy Wold

Social Media Promotion Without Being Obnoxious (Saturday 1 pm) Promoting yourself these days is a requirement for any writer. How can you do so without alienating everyone? With panelists Kate Baker, Inge Heyer, Natalie Luhrs, Michael A. Ventrella (Moderator)

Author’s Table (Saturday 2 pm) Meet the author! With panelists Andrew Fox, Michael A. Ventrella

Mass Autographing Session (Saturday 7:30 pm) Wherein all the authors gather in one room so you can get all your books signed

The Eye of Argon (Saturday 10 pm) The worst science fiction story ever written gets a reading by our brave panel as they compete to go the longest without tripping over a misspelled word or laughing uncontrollably. Audience members are also encouraged to take a chance. Can you keep a straight face, especially when the panel begins acting out the story? With panelists Hildy Silverman, Ian Randal Strock, Michael A. Ventrella, Walter H. Hunt

It’s a Conspiracy! (Sunday noon) Why are we so willing to believe that everyone is out to get us? How does this appeal to us in books and movies, even if we don’t believe them? With panelists T. Eric Bakutis, Warren Buff, Carolyn Ives Gilman, Michael A. Ventrella, Joan Wendland (Moderator)

It’s a Wonderful Death!

A brave knight breaks her vows to fight against a lunatic king calling himself “the Doomsayer” and ends up dealing with unreliable henchmen, political assassins, and a sarcastic disembodied head in a bag. Can she and her friends save the Hidden Kingdom from an unstoppable foe before her prophesied death?itsawonderfuldeath-510

IT’S A WONDERFUL DEATH is a stand-alone novel in the shared fantasy world of Fortannis. The story takes place after my novels ARCH ENEMIES and THE AXES OF EVIL and features Terin Ostler and the squires from those stories. However, you do not have to have read those books (or any of the stories in the various TALES OF FORTANNIS anthologies) to enjoy this book.

It was written by Derek Beebe and edited by me … and by editing, I don’t mean proofreading. I did an editor’s job as I have discussed in this blog before! So I’m really happy with the result and hope you will be, too.

Zachary Didur from Random Chatter magazine had this to say:

“Simultaneously epic and hilarious, IT’S A WONDERFUL DEATH tells a fast-paced story with a ton of heart. It focuses on a handful of characters and really makes you fall in love with them. Nevertheless, Beebe isn’t afraid to ramp up the action to 11 and deliver massive fantasy set-pieces.

Even though the book deals with some very dark subject matter at times, the tone was kept light by clever dialogue and moments of real levity. It never quite becomes a straight up comedy or farce but instead deftly toes the line, and in the end is an enjoyable epic fantasy story.”

So if you’re a fan of my earlier fantasy novels and want to know what happens to those characters later, please check this out! It’s available in Paperback, E-book , Kindle  and iBook !

My turn to be interviewed!

Buzzymag interviewed me a while ago — please check it out!

Transcript here: http://buzzymag.com/michael-a-ventrella-fantasy-fiction-author-interview/

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