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.


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…


More Hallways!

If you’re a gamer of any sort, you may enjoy my (very) short story “More Hallways!” which was just published in Nth Degree Magazine. Hopefully, you will find it amusing.

You can read it here, and then, to show your appreciation, you can read more great stories and then donate to Nth Degree Magazine for as little as $1 a month!



No Holds Bard!

Action! Adventure! Humor! The 5th Tales of Fortannis collection, from Double Dragon Publishing, is finally available in paperback and kindle. It features the following great stories:

The Hidden Treasure of Pirate Percy by Michael A. Ventrella: Terin is captured by pirates who are convinced that only he can uncover the hidden treasure, which is so well hidden they don’t even know where to look for it. Can Terin talk his way out of this one?  (Hint: no.) Click here to read the first few pages of “The Hidden Treasure of Pirate Percy”No Holds Bard

Greenpool by Sarah Stegall: Captured unwittingly by the magics of a secret pool, a girl plots her revenge against the fiend who killed her family, only to discover him on his way to her. Can she escape their punishment?

Chalric Hill by Henry Hart: A teenage soldier has to learn to face his fears in a deadly war.

To Be a Squire by Jon Cory:  Sometimes passing the rigorous tests of knighthood can be avoided for clever squires.

Hoarfrost by Susan Bianculli: Stealing the magical sword from the castle would be a lot easier if the sword didn’t have its own mind about the situation.

The Storm Before the Calm by Mark Mensch: Nigel and a friend find themselves both welcomed and held in suspicion by a group of selunari — but Nigel knows something they don’t.

Hidden Bouquet by Derek Beebe: Cowardly young Duke Elmiki from the Hidden Kingdom walks into the lion’s den of his enemy who is sworn to kill him and take over the duchy. Certainly he has a plan, right?

The Lost by Miles Lizak: The loss of memory for a biata has to be treated carefully, because there is a reason someone doesn’t want these thoughts returning…

Bartleby Goes Adventuring by Jesse Hendrix: Bartleby dreams of being a hero but finds that real life often requires cunning and accountancy skills in order to defeat the bad guys.

Squeeze by Shane Porteous: A mysterious skill is needed, but the possessor of that skill is reluctant to make herself known

The Hole in Vorak’s Peak by Bernie Mojzes: Maris is hired by a noblewoman who hates her but needs her skills because the woman’s husband is missing. The two of them go to the rescue but nothing is as it appears.

History Never Repeats by Beth W. Patterson: An island full of wylderkin prove to be more than enough for our heroes to handle.

Here’s what some have said about this collection:

“Like a favorite smorgasbord, No Holds Bard is a rich, eclectic banquet of wonderful stories, alike only in their unpredictable telling. Want bards? Check. Elves? Check. Betrayal? Love? Sacrifice? Humor? Got ‘em all. This collection of authors come together, each with their own offering, to give the reader an experience they’ll not forget.” – Peter Prellwitz, author of the Shards Universe

“Fortannis is a complex world. This richness gives its authors plenty of room to move around in, the freedom to pick and choose, or to start with a clean slate. Some stories are light, almost humorous. Others are darker, some grim, and some even tragic.” – Allen L. Wold, author of The Planet Masters and Jewels of the Dragon

“Whole-hearted adventure, swashbuckling fun, daring heroics and plenty of humor. Prepare to be thrilled and amazed!” – Gail Z. Martin, author of Scourge and The Chronicles of the Necromancer

No Holds Bard is the fifth entry in the Fortannis collections conceived, vetted, and edited by Michael Ventrella. “Fortannis” is the world in which all the adventures take place—a fantasy land which combines the familiar with the innovative (humans, elves and dwarves are around, but so are the feathery, telepathic biata, various animal-kin, and other species).

The punny titles of the collections (others included A Bard Day’s Knight and A Bard in the Hand) give fair warning that some of the stories may be lighthearted, but this is not always the case. Some certainly are (“Bartleby Goes Adventuring”, for instance, which is a rather Danny Kaye-ish fantasy tale) but others are dramatic sword-and-sorcery or poignant tales of how adventure and honor come with prices.

No Holds Bard is at least as good as the prior volumes, and in fact appears to continue the trend of the stories reaching higher bars. Unlike some prior volumes, I found none of the stories in these weak in any respect; there were certainly some that stood out above the others, but none that made me think they were out of place in the collection.

The best feature of the Fortannis books—one strongly re-emphasized here—is the diversity of stories. Heroic tales are side by side with character studies, with workaday people just trying to get by in a fantasy realm, with tragedy and comedy. This is a rare mix; many collections tend to a particular flavor, and while all the stories are clearly “Fortannis,” they don’t slot neatly at all into the same categories—and that’s really a great strength. I highly recommend No Holds Bard! – Ryk Spoor, author of The Balanced Sword trilogy

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