Zombipalooza!

Zombiepalooza radio recently did a five-hour show (!) dedicated to my latest anthology BAKER STREET IRREGULARS. It was great fun, and we took in questions from viewers and had a lot of laughs.

I was the main guest for the first hour, but I stuck around for the entire thing since I was the co-editor of the book. Every hour would be another guest author: First there was Jim Avelli, then Keith DeCandido, Jody Lynn Nye, and Ryk Spoor.

We discussed Sherlock, writing, talent, and many other things, with lots of advice for writers (based on what the authors interviewed said they did to prepare a story).

Please check it out!

My Heliosphere 2017 schedule

Heliosphere is a brand new convention I will be attending next weekend (March 10th) and is very special because it will be hosting the book release party for my latest:  Baker Street Irregulars!baker-street

The Guest of Honor at the convention is David Gerrold, who has a story in this new anthology, so this is the perfect place for our release party. Also in attendance will be other contributors to the book, including Keith R.A. DeCandido, Ryk Spoor, Hildy Silverman, and Austin Farmer!

Heliosphere will be held in Tarrytown, New York, just outside of the city. (Also I have to brag a bit: My wife Heidi Hooper is the “Special Guest” artist!)

Here’s my schedule:

Reading (Friday 3:30): I’ll be reading from my work, along with Anthony Balilovsky, Keith DeCandido, Alex Shvartsman, and Grant Carrington.

Books and Brews (Saturday 10:00) Come join me for coffee (no brews at 10 am, unless you want to) and we can talk about anything you want!

Capturing and Changing History in Speculative Fiction (Saturday noon): History is always subjective. Or at least written by the winners. How do you keep it close enough to recognize but different enough to be exciting? Listen to discussions among Pros and Fans. With Charles Gannon and Roberta Rogow.

Baker Street Irregulars book launch party (Saturday 1:30): A celebration for my new book, with prizes!

Elementary, My Dear Watson (Saturday 4:30): Why is Sherlock Holmes still so popular? People are flocking to recent comic releases, films, and plays. Panelists will discuss why Sherlock is still such a popular figure in contemporary culture. With guests Carol Bugge, Elizabeth Crowens, Keith DeCandido, and Marvin Kaye.

Autographing (Sunday 11:15): I’ll be sharing autographing space with David Gerrold and David Harten Watson.

The Biggest Mistakes Made by Beginning Writers (Sunday 2:00): My solo presentation for new writers.

The 3rd Pocono Writers Conference

I’m pleased to announce that the 3rd Pocono Writers Conference is now accepting reservations.

I’m thrilled that this has been successful, and I’ve invited some great guests for this one.

The Conference is on January 10, 2016, held at the Hughes Library in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, and is free — but space is limited. And this year, we’re trying something new: individual critiques!

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Here’s the schedule:

9:00: Introductions

9:15: VERONICA PARK: “All Hook and No Plot”: How to tell if you’ve got a good story, or just a great idea and a so-so story

10:30: JON McGORAN: “Economy and Exposition”: Turn boring info dumps into highly anticipated answers to compelling mysteries by integrating it into your narrative so it adds nuance, depth and tension to your story, instead of interrupting it.

11:45: Lunch

1:00: MEGAN ERICKSON: “Start at the Right Place”: How to grab readers from page one with the right scene and how to pace from there.

2:15: KEITH DECANDIDO: “The Business of Writing”: The parts of your writing career that don’t involve actually writing.

3:30: MICHAEL A. VENTRELLA: Panel Discussion and Question and Answer session with all panelists

Critiques:

Each of the participants are holding smaller sessions (10 maximum) during the presentations where you can have your work critiqued.

These sessions are $20 each. You can sign up for as many as you want but you must pre-register because space is limited. Instructions on how to email your writing sample will be sent to you prior to the Conference.

9:15: Megan Erickson
10:30: Keith DeCandido
1:00: Veronica Park
2:15: Jon McGoran

How to Reserve a Spot:

This conference is free but you must reserve a spot because space is limited. Please do not reserve a spot if you are not certain whether you can attend because you may be blocking someone else from attending if all the spots are filled. Go here to make your reservation.

Participant bios:

Keith R.A. DeCandido is mostly known as a best-selling, award-winning author, with dozens of media tie-in novels (most recently the Star Trek coffee-table book The Klingon Art of War, the Heroes Reborn novella Save the Cheerleader, Destroy the World, the Sleepy Hollow novel Children of the Revolution, the Stargate SG-1 novel Kali’s Wrath, and the Tales of Asgard trilogy featuring Marvel’s Thor, Sif, and the Warriors Three) and original fiction (the “Precinct” series of fantasy police procedurals) to his credit. He’s also an editor of more than 25 years’ standing, working for Byron Preiss, Library Journal magazine, Simon & Schuster, Dark Quest Books, the Society of American Baseball Research, and many more, as well as private clients via his KRADitorial service. In 2009, he was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers, which means he never need to achieve anything ever again. His cheerfully retro web site is DeCandido.net.

Megan Erickson is a multi-published romance author with Avon, Berkley and Entangled. A former journalist, she switched to fiction when she decided she liked writing her own endings better. She lives in south central Pennsylvania with her own romance hero, their two kids and two cats. For more, visit meganerickson.org

Jon McGoran is the author of six novels including the biotech thrillers Drift and Deadout, as well as their forthcoming sequel, Dust Up (April 2016), all from Tor/Forge Books, as well as the novella “After Effects,” from Amazon StoryFront. Writing as D. H. Dublin, he is also author of the forensic thrillers Body Trace, Blood Poison and Freezer Burn, from Penguin Books. His short fiction and nonfiction can be found in a variety of anthologies, and his short story Bad Debt received an honorable mention in Best American Mystery Stories, 2014. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers, the Mystery Writers of America, the International Association of Crime Writers, and a founding member of the Philadelphia Liars Club, a group of published authors dedicated to writers helping writers. His website is http://www.jonmcgoran.com/

Veronica Park is an agent, author, journalist and marketing consultant with more than seven years of experience writing and editing for publication. She graduated with a BA in print journalism with an emphasis in linguistics and business marketing from Brigham Young University and went on to expand her writing skills as a broadcast journalist and independent film producer, before running away with her husband to work on cruise ships in the Caribbean as a port lecturer and luxury goods marketing specialist. In publishing, she has finally found an arena that requires her entire assortment of professional skills, while allowing her to read and write every single day.  Her web page is http://www.corvisieroagency.com/veronica-park.html

Michael A. Ventrella is a Stroudsburg writer and editor with three novels and three anthologies under his belt, with more coming. At his web page (www.MichaelAVentrella.com), he interviews writers and editors and gives advice for the starting writer. This is his third year organizing these conferences.

The Eye of Argon!

Back in 1970, a teenager named Jim Theis wrote his own “Conan the Barbarian” style story for his friends:  The Eye of Argon. It was mimeographed with little illustrations and it was terrible. But hey, come on, he was a kid.

Over the years, that story was circulated around the science fiction community and became a fun thing to do at conventions, where the panel (and participants from the audience) try to read the story exactly as written, misspellings and all, without cracking up laughing.

Over the past few years, at various east coast conventions, I started organizing the reading but added something new:  Once a participant made a mistake, they were required to get up and act out the story for the audience as the other panel members read. I have a group of great writers who have regularly joined with me that make it fun, including Gail Z. Martin, Keith DeCandido, Peter Prellwitz, KT Pinto, and others. Sometimes I am able to con the Guest of Honor to join in, such as in the clips below where noted author Peter David experienced the craziness. (Apparently this has not gone unnoticed, as I just realized that the wikipedia entry has been updated to add this.)

If you want to try to read the Eye of Argon, here’s a link. But I think you’ll have a lot more fun watching the clips below:

Thanks to Sean Korsgaard for the video

Interview with Keith DeCandido

MICHAEL A. VENTRELLA: I’m pleased to be interviewing the very prolific Keith DeCandido, author of numerous novels, short stories, essays, e-books, and probably Bazooka Joe comics too for all I know. He’s best known for his Star Trek fiction, but has written tie-ins for other popular sci-fi and fantasy series as well, such as Doctor Who, Supernatural, Andromeda and Farscape, as well as comic books (Spider-Man) and videogames (World of Warcraft, Starcraft, Command & Conquer). He has also edited various anthologies, including OtherWere, Urban Nightmares, Imaginings, the Doctor Who collection Short Trips: The Quality of Leadership, and the Star Trek anthologies New Frontier: No Limits, Tales of the Dominion War, and Tales from the Captain’s Table.

Keith, you have made quite a name for yourself writing movie adaptations, novel tie-ins, and so on, from Star Trek to Resident Evil to Buffy to CSI. This seems extremely cool and fun. How did this all begin? You weren’t one of those slash writers, were you?

KEITH DeCANDIDO: No, I wasn’t a slash writer—nor, for that matter, have I written any Bazooka Joe comics. I actually got my start on the editorial side of the desk, as I was the genre editor for the late Byron Preiss from 1993-2000, where I edited a large number of tie-ins, most notably the Marvel novels that Byron co-published with Berkley Books in the mid-to-late 1990s. Through that job, I was able to get the opportunity to pitch, both for the Marvel line I worked on (someone else in the office edited me for that work) and for things like Doctor Who and Magic: The Gathering anthologies, which is where I made my first fiction sales. Eventually it snowballed into novel contracts, and now this.

VENTRELLA: Do you primarily write first and then try to sell your work or do you at this stage in your career get assignments for specific books?

DeCANDIDO: There’s never been any consistency to it. Some projects are generated in-house, some are suggested by the editor, some are wholly from the writer. Much of my Star Trek work was developed with the editor—either John Ordover or Marco Palmieri—though not all of it, but that’s always been a collaborative thing. On the extremes, my three Supernatural novels were all my own concepts, but all my work with Blizzard was very much directed by the licensor. It all varies. Sometimes people will come to me—that was what happened with Blizzard and Supernatural both—sometimes I’ll go to them—which is what happened with the new Farscape comics.

VENTRELLA: Do you find it easier to write with pre-established characters, and is that one of the reasons you can be so prolific? Or instead, do you find it somewhat constraining, in that you may anger fans who gripe and exclaim that their favorite character wouldn’t act like that?

DeCANDIDO: : I think it’s a false dichotomy. There are ways that writing your own characters is easier; there are ways that writing in another setting is easier. It depends in part on the type of story you’re trying to tell. I don’t find it constraining at all, though—it’s more of a challenge than a constraint.

VENTRELLA: Does your work get subjected to more editing and control since you do not “own the characters”?

DeCANDIDO: Again, that varies from license to license. Blizzard keeps a very tight hold on their universes—which is the source of their popularity, honestly, so that isn’t a complaint—but it also means that they do more hands-on work. On the other end of it, Tribune Entertainment was very hands-off with my Andromeda novel. With Star Trek, they tend to keep a firmer hand on whatever’s current onscreen—which currently is the JJ Abrams stuff—while letting the writers and editors be more creative with the ends of the franchise that are not being developed onscreen any longer.

VENTRELLA: Do you feel that there is any sort of bias against tie-ins in the book world? I am no expert, so correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me that they often sell much better than traditional fiction, yet can be ignored by reviewers and awards.

DeCANDIDO: That bias has lessened in the years I’ve been working, which is good to see, though it still does exist. The lack of reviews is frustrating, but a bunch of us have gotten together to redress the award issue by creating our own. In 2006, Lee Goldberg and Max Allan Collins formed the first professional association specifically for us licensed folk, the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers. We also created our own award, the Scribes, which is awarded at Comic-Con International in San Diego every year. I’ve had three of my novels nominated for a Scribe so far, though with no winners, and I also was blessed with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the organization, along with Donald Bain and Alan Dean Foster.

VENTRELLA: Who is your favorite character to write for and why?

DeCANDIDO: Probably Worf from Star Trek. He’s always been one of my favorite characters, and I got to do a great deal of work with the character in his post-DS9 phase, as well.

VENTRELLA: And in a similar note, what’s your favorite Star Trek series and why? And how about that new film, huh?

DeCANDIDO: Deep Space Nine. It had the best writing, the best cast, the best characters, the most complex storytelling, and it really just did almost everything right. I enjoyed the new film for what it was, and I’m glad it’s revived interest in Trek, but it didn’t do much for me—but neither did any of the others. Star Trek has always, in my opinion, been far better suited to television than movies.

VENTRELLA: Have you ever been asked to write a novel based on a movie or TV show you didn’t like?

DeCANDIDO: When that has happened, I’ve found myself able to seek out and focus on the elements of the original that I do like. It’s worked wonders.

VENTRELLA: What’s your opinion on e-books and self publishing? Do you think aspiring authors should work with an e-book or POD publisher, or even self-publish?

DeCANDIDO: Well, eBooks and POD publishers and self-publishers are three entirely different things, and they only overlap in spots. I used to edit the monthly Star Trek eBook line, which were original eBooks published every month focusing on the Starfleet Corps of Engineers. I do not think that aspiring authors should work with such publishers until they’re at the point of last resort. It should be the final option, not the first one. Self-publishing is particular is fraught with difficulties because the need to print, publish, publicize, and distribute takes time away from doing more writing, which is what the writer should focus on. Finally, no author should ever under any circumstances work with a publisher who charges a fee to publish. Money flows to the writer, and any publisher that does so is a scam artist who is cheating you.

VENTRELLA: What’s the worst mistake you have made in your publishing career?

DeCANDIDO: Getting into it in the first place. This business is nuts…

VENTRELLA: And what’s the worst and best piece of advice you have received?

DeCANDIDO: PLASTICS!

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