My turn to be interviewed

The Monkees Live Almanac page has a nice interview with me, discussing the book’s goal and origin. Check it out!

My turn to be interviewed

Co-author Mark Arnold and I were guests on the Blue Plate Special, a podcast, where we discussed the Monkees’ music and our new book.

It’s a half-hour interview full of laughs. Check it out!


My new book about the Monkees

While other kids wanted to be astronauts or doctors, I watched the Monkees and wanted to be in a rock band, playing music and having wacky adventures (because clearly the two went together). While I did eventually play in a number of bands, I never got my own TV show. And I still listened to my Monkees music even as an adult, along with my other favorites, Beatles, Elvis Costello, XTC, They Might Be Giants…  (I’d better stop here before this entire post is a list of favorites).MonkeesFrontCover_preview

I interviewed Mark Arnold here on this blog a while ago after he had written a book examining the Beatles’ music. “We should write a similar book about the Monkees,” I said.

We discussed the fact that there was already a book like that about the Monkees music, but then, after a few months going back and forth, decided that since there were dozens of Beatles books like that, the Monkees could stand to have a second one.

The plan was not to do a learned treatise, but more of a “fan’s look” at the music, by fans for fans.

We discuss each song in order in which it was recorded so the progression of the music can be seen. Mark and I come at this from different angles and disagree quite a bit; I talk a lot more about the music itself — the way the song was written, how the instruments were mixed, decisions the producer made — and that provides a contrast to Mark’s comments which hopefully makes a better read.

Then we list which Monkee played or sang on each song along with other trivia and information about the song’s position of the charts, whether it had significant covers done, and what albums you can find it on.

The book also contains a short history of the band, a listing of the Billboard charts so you can see how the songs and albums performed, a list of all their live performances and TV appearances over the years, and an extensive index so you can easily find the song or album you want to read about.

Part of the fun of doing this book was interviewing some of the musicians who were influenced by the Monkees, so I got to speak to Howard Kaylan (who wrote the introduction), Tommy James, Gene Cornish and Dean Friedman, and Mark spoke to Peter Noone, Ron Dante, and Butch Patrick. Their comments are side bits in the book.

Animation historian Jerry Beck (who assisted in the release of the Monkees’ movie Head on DVD) wrote the forward, and Emmy-Award-winning cartoonist Scott Shaw did the cover, filling it with all sorts of inside jokes for Monkees fans.

Like the title itself. There’s a Monkees song (written by Peter) called “Long Title: Do I Have To Do This All Over Again?” so we used “Long Title” to start off ours as well. There’s a Monkees song called “Looking for the Good Times” and their final album was simply called “Good Times” after a song Nilsson wrote for them with that name.

The book was released a few days ago and immediately shot to number one on Amazon in the category of “Music Reference” so now I can brag that I am an “Amazon #1 Best-Seller” I suppose, if I wanted to be kind of cheesy.  Nah.

Anyway, this is certainly a special thing that won’t interest everyone but I hope if you are interested, you’d enjoy it. You can order it from Amazon or directly from the publisher (at a slightly cheaper rate)!

monkees cover

Isn’t this a great cover?


My Philcon 2017 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.

I’ve got a nice schedule and it seems that they have me moderating each of the panels except one. Here’s my schedule:

MEET THE PROS (Friday 9 pm): An informal gathering where guests can meet all the panelists, writers and artists.

EYE OF ARGON INTERACTIVE: CHAPTER FIVE (Friday 11 pm):  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 started, but after that, audience participation is expected. With David M. Axler, Keith R.A. DeCandido, Ef Deal, Peter Prellwitz, and Hildy Silverman

SOCIAL MEDIA FOR PROS (Saturday 10:00 am): More and more, social media has become valuable — even necessary — as a means of making oneself known to potential readers (and publishers), promoting your work, and engaging with fellow professionals. Which platforms work best for each of these aspects? What are some things you should be aware of before engaging with your fans in such a direct and potentially interminable way. With Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Eric Avedissian, Russ Colchamiro, and Keith R.A. DeCandido

HARRY POTTER, TWENTY YEARS LATER (Saturday noon): How have the Potter books and movies held up over time? What are some of the plot problems we’ve seen since then? And what will the future hold? With Hakira D’Almah, Anna Kashina, and Christine Norris

HOW TO PLOT A STORY (Saturday 1:00 pm): You have a genre-busting world, a villain to make your skin crawl, and a sympathetic main character whose life you’re about to make very, very difficult.  But how?  When should the major conflict happen, and what happens on the way there?  Every story is different, but satisfying ones tend to follow some time-honored structures that can help you shape your story long before you draft your prose. With Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Roberta Rogow, David Walton, and Steve Wilson

AUTOGRAPHS (Saturday 5:00 pm): In which I will be sitting with my books for anyone who didn’t have the opportunity to speak with me at other times.

GAME OF THRONES SEASON 7 (Saturday 11:00 p.m.): So, what did you think of [redacted]? Or when [redacted] ran into [redacted] again? How about the deaths of [redacted] and [redacted]?! (Warning: panel will contain actual spoilers.) With Diane Kovalcin, Rock Robertson, and Jay Wile



My Turn to be Interviewed

There’s a very nice interview with me in Local Flair magazine today.  Check it out!


My 2017 Capclave Schedule

Capclave is a fine little literary SF convention held near Washington DC, which this year will be on the October 6th weekend. small_dodo_transparentCome and join us and meet some of your (and my) favorite authors and editors, including but not limited to Neil Clarke, Ken Liu, James Morrow, Alex Shvartsman, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Allen Wold, and many more (including me!)

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 201320142015, and 2016.

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

Friday 6:00 pm: How Not To Get Published (Ends at: 6:55 pm) Salon A
Panelists:Neil ClarkeMike McPhailHildy SilvermanIan Randal StrockMichael A. Ventrella (M)
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.
Friday 7:00 pm: Write What You Don’t Know (Ends at: 7:55 pm) Rockville/ Potomac
Panelists: Scott H. AndrewsJoshua PalmatierMichael A. Ventrella (M), Jean Marie Ward
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.
Friday 10:00 pm: Michael Ventrella Reading (Ends at: 10:25 pm) Bethesda
Author: Michael A. Ventrella
Saturday 2:00 pm: Writing Workshop (Ends at: 3:55 pm) Boardroom
Coordinators: Andrew FoxMichael A. VentrellaAllen L. Wold (M), Darcy Wold
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.
Saturday 11:00 pm: Eye of Argon (Ends at: 11:55 pm) Bethesda
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: Abusing Authors (Ends at: 10:55 am) Rockville/ Potomac
Panelists: Sarah AveryScott EdelmanWill McIntosh (M), Lawrence M. SchoenIan Randal StrockMichael A. Ventrella
Panelists answer whatever questions the audience has on writing, editing, character development, agents, and others. Includes many non-writer-parts-of-being-a-writer, such as being your own boss, setting schedules, and so on.
Sunday 11:00 am: Writing Workshop (Follow-up) (Ends at: 11:55 am) Suite 1209
Coordinators: Michael A. VentrellaAllen L. Wold (M), Darcy Wold
A one hour follow-up session.
Sunday 12:00 pm: Political Dynamite (Ends at: 12:55 pm) Bethesda
Panelists: Sunny MoraineJames MorrowMalka Older (M), Michael A. Ventrella
Writers and editors talk about how they address current events in their work and in social media–and what they don’t.

The 5th Pocono Writers Conference

Five years ago, I organized the first Pocono Writers Conference, which led to the formation of the Pocono Writers Group (now called the Pocono Liars Club). We’ve grown quite a bit since then, and this year, also started hosting a Writers Workshop for new writers.

The 5th Writers Conference is scheduled for January 20, 2018. Guest speakers include NY Times Bestselling author Kate Moretti; Publisher, editor, and writer Ian Randal Strock, author Damon Suede, agent William Reeve, and me (as host)!

It’s free to attend — you just have to reserve a spot. Each of the guests also does a more personal workshop where you can send a writing sample for critique and get individualized comments. (That costs $20).

Click the link above to reserve your spot before it fills up!

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