Actual Paper

The new and improved Actuator series Paperbacks are here! Not only do they have new covers, but the interior’s are updated. We moved a few things around and fixed the art in the anthology. If you have the e-book, the updated version should come to you automatically. But if you absolutely must have physical copies in your hands, you can order them now. Alternatively, you can come to LTUE or FanX and I’ll be signing them there.

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The Actuator: Fractured Earth

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The Actuator: Borderlands Anthology

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The Actuator 2: Return of the Saboteur

Coming Soon! The Actuator 3: Chaos Chronicles

Cover Reveal- The Actuator 3: Chaos Chronicles

Coming soon (like Monday, December 12 soon) to an Amazon near you!

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Yeah, it’s as good as the cover!

Evolution of a Cover

The Actuator 1- Fractured EarthIt’s amazing how things evolve over time. When the first Actuator book came out, this is what it looked like. I’ve always loved it, and it gets plenty of attention from people at signings. However, editing shortcomings required us to put out a new version of it within the first year. We added a fairy (Xenwyn) to distinguish it from the first edition.

actuator-1-ebook-coverThis cover served us well for a long time, but eventually my publisher wanted to rebrand the entire series. What they came up with next AMAZED me!

In a more classic sci-fi vein, and geared to better attract the gaming crowd as a LitRPG story, this new cover just blows me away. Here for the first time.

 

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Isn’t that stunning?!!! Here are the other two books in the series so far and their new covers.

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And book 2.

Actuator 2 Ebook Coveractuator-2-e-book-cover

All these beauties should be up on Amazon this Monday… or soon thereafter. 🙂

Free Story for Halloween

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Happy Halloween!

To celebrate, I have a new short story FREE right here for you. And if you prefer not to read it, you can watch me read it live with the Gangrene Band jamming in the background.

Or you can get the album FREE from Craig Nybo!

🙂

And if that’s not enough Halloween fun, go get Immortal Works Press’s premiere book by Jason King and Jon Grundvig for just 99 cents (this week only): Thomas Destiny!

Not enough awesome for you? Go read another short story for FREE on IW’s site.

Want more geeky goodness? Check out this podcast about Halloween Movies with Dungeon Crawlers Radio, that I just happened to be on.

I love Halloween!

Cover Reveal: Windows into Hell

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This amazing cover art by Eugene Teplitsky and Curiosity Quills Press. I’m particularly excited about this anthology, because I think it has a powerful message. Based on A Short Stay in Hell by Steven L. Peck, this collection is different authors’ ideas about what hell might be like. In the very obscure genre we are calling “religious horror,” it includes work by a Lifetime Stoker Award winning Grand Master, an #1 International Horror Bestseller, the originating book’s author, and yours truly (among others).

It’s available for pre-order now!

If you can’t wait, start with A Short Stay in Hell now. Windows into Hell will be out in three weeks, but you can enter now to win a free copy on Goodreads! Just go to:

https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/205057-curiosity-quills-anthology-windows-into-hell

How many words make a story?

 

I remember the first time I checked out a really big book from the library. Not just a novel, this thing was gargantuan. Noble House by James Clavell. I think half of my motivation was just to prove that I could read such a huge tomb. In retrospect, I wish somebody had caught me and recommended War and Peace instead. Still, I finished it, and that was important to me at the time.

Since then, I’ve read and written stories of all different sizes. Some of the most powerful, ideas that have endured in my memory to this day, were crafted with very few words. For a while, most of the industry seemed ready to declare short stories extinct. Only a few magazines held out against the falling market, and writers largely considered those venues resume builders. Then Amazon revolutionized publishing and opened a way for people to get anthologies (or even stand alone novellas) out with very low overhead. Luckily, the dying art was given new life.

It was especially fortunate for me, since I managed to get into some of those anthologies and build enough cred to sway a publisher to take a chance on my longer works. I believe if nobody made any more short stories, we’d lose something very important and valuable. While I like books for the journey they offer, I feel in many cases the books are inflated beyond the needs of the story. This might be to raise the price of the book, or to extend the escapism time it provides. However, I think we’ve all read a long book or series and thought, “That could have been done in half as many words (or books).” Fans may argue that they want 20 books set in their favorite world, but I feel those massive collections are only one facet of the many possibilities for transmitting stories via fiction. In fact, the most powerful ideas can only be shared in much smaller works.

I guess that’s why I knew the Actuator series had to be done with stories of many sizes. It isn’t only a study in the meaning of various genres, it’s a study on the impact of differing story lengths. Thus, it is over 20 authors, working in different story sizes with characters intertwined through the larger arc. I didn’t realize it when we organized the series and pitched it to Curiosity Quills Press, but the whole thing is not just a multi-genre thriller. It’s also an exploration of every facet of written story telling. It will be nearly half a million words by the end.

Book 3, Chaos Chronicles, is just a few months from release. It contains some of the most imaginative, unique stories in the series yet. It started out as another anthology in the same setting, but once I read the amazing work in it, I knew we had to bring those characters back in for the finale (book 4). I can’t wait for you to read it!

Interior Art

Cyber-Cowboy

Draconic King

I love short stories. Even though people sometimes say it’s a dying art, I really like reading and writing them. Sometimes a very short work can be extremely poignant. Here’s an example by one of my favorite authors: Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. I have a few free here, too.

I also love art. So covers are very important to me. (See my covers.) I often say how happy I’ve been with my publisher, Curiosity Quills Press, because they consistently do amazing covers.

So, I especially appreciate anybody who goes to the extra expense to do illustrations for each story in an anthology. The two at the top are the illustrations for my stories in the CQ anthologies. The artist, Ricky Gunawan, does amazing work. So, when I began editing the Borderlands Anthology for the Actuator series, I knew I wanted art for each story, but I wanted something unique to better match the feel of the story. We brainstormed several ideas. What we came up with was something I’ve really liked. In fact, we are using the same process for the upcoming anthology (which is what made me think of writing this post).

Ritual

We started by having each author select a stock photo they felt represented their story. This picture was chosen for  a ghost story set in Japan.

 

Then I took the color out of it (because they are printed in black & white) and applied a rendering process. I think it gives it a kind of computerized-painted look which goes well with the multi-genre nature of the Actuator series.

Ritual Titled

Finally, I put the title and authors name onto the picture. It gave them a kind of “old movie poster” feel that seemed to represent the various genre clichés the stories are set in.

The final product feels both artistically consistent with the series and true to the feel of each story in the collections. I liked it so well, I used the same method on all the art in the Actuator RPG. (The full version is coming soon from FINAL REDOUBT PRESS!)

What do you think?