Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Major Announcement--"Dark Hour" Cover and First Details!

This year, October has been an unusually busy month for me, between my first movie being released to DVD and a plethora of short stories I've written over the last couple years finally seeing print. But today--on Halloween--we have saved the best for last.

Here is the cover for the third and final installment in The Coming Evil Trilogy--Dark Hour!

Not only do we have the cover for you today, but I come with a major announcement: The Coming Evil is moving to a new home for its last act. None other than my pal Grace Bridges at Splashdown Darkwater will be publishing Dark Hour in 2013. Grace and I had so much fun working together when Splashdown published Rift Jump, and I'm looking forward to teaming up with her, once again, on this most important book. Dark Hour is my favorite book of The Coming Evil Trilogy. Absolutely everything I have written--really in my entire career--has been building up to this book. If you thought you knew The Coming Evil, you haven't seen anything yet. I have poured my heart and soul into every page of Dark Hour and for about 15 years now, I've been dying to finally reveal it to you all. The first two books in the Trilogy were only a prelude--this book is for all the marbles. To me, The Coming Evil was never three individual books, but one long epic told in three parts. Now, the story will be told in full.

While the first two books were released in February over the past couple years, I can't guarantee another February release for Dark Hour. With the move to Splashdown, I expect a small delay. But don't worry, it's coming and it's going to be epic.

So two big bombshells this morning--but I have one final announcement to make on this, All Hallow's Eve. In the weeks leading up to Dark Hour's release, I'll be releasing a brand new Coming Evil novella--for e-readers only--that will serve as an "inbetweenquel" bridging the gap between Enemies of the Cross and Dark Hour! That's all I'm willing to say on that front, right now, but needless to say, we're wrapping up this Trilogy with a bang.

Now is the perfect time to get caught up on the other two books in the Trilogy! Together, the three form one complete story. The Strange Man and Enemies of the Cross are both available in stores, as well as on Amazon and Barnes & Noble--in both print, Kindle, and Nook versions. Don't delay! The End is Near!

Enough talk. Ready for the details on Dark Hour? Read on and, in case you missed it, check out this interview I did yesterday over at New Author's Fellowship where I talk about my love for and approach to horror and, most specifically, "Christian Horror"! Happy Halloween everyone!



Greensboro has fallen.

Swayed by the demonic Strange Man, the townspeople of Greensboro have sacrificed their freedom for prosperity. Monsters lurk in every shadow and the few who oppose the new regime have been chased out of town, forced to wage their war in hiding. For ex-reverend Jeff Weldon and those under his care, it is a losing battle, but the tide begins to turn with the return of his brother, Dras. Dras arrives at his hometown to find it has descended into darkness—but the worst is yet to come. The Strange Man’s final plan is falling into place and the Dark Hour is close at hand. Dras, Jeff, and the last of Greensboro’s protectors work frantically to unlock the Strange Man’s secrets and uncover the key to stopping the Dark Hour before all is lost. But when Dras discovers the fate of his best friend—Rosalyn Myers—he will realize that he has more to lose in this battle than he ever imagined.

Dark Hour is the explosive final act in Greg Mitchell’s The Coming Evil Trilogy. All bets are off as the remnant of light clash with the armies of darkness. The final fates of Jeff, Isabella, Dras, and Rosalyn, along with all of Greensboro, will be decided in a desperate last stand.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Interview with Frank Creed

Continuing our coverage of Frank Creed's just-released technothriller Devil's Hit List, we're sitting down with the man for an interview.

Greg Mitchell: Here we are, for Devil’s Hit List: Book Three of the Underground! Did you ever think you’d make it this far when you sat down so many years ago to begin this series?

Frank Creed: I hoped to make it this far. I really had no notion of what it would be like to be published so many times. You learn so much with every book release.

GM: What’s Devil’s Hit List all about?

FC: The hottest new thing on the street isn't a drug-it's a virtual reality experience that makes crack cocaine look like cotton candy. There is, however, one side-effect: it's lethal. When the One State contracts the Ash Corporation to produce Virtual-e, a highly addictive entertainment intended to reduce global population levels, Calamity Kid and his crew are tasked to stop its introduction in North America. But how far can the Underground heroes get when battling the combined forces of global government and mega-corporation? That’s the back cover copy. The series is about the notorious Calamity Kid and the crew, and their continuing struggles in the cracks of the Underground. The overall story is more about the character than the action.

GM: Is this what you always imagined Book Three would be about, or did it change over time? Care to discuss any old ideas that didn’t make it into the final cut?

FC: I’ve worked out of a writer’s notebook created mostly in the nineties. I’ve had a rough outline for these first three books for a long time. One leftover idea I’ve not yet shown is human trafficking.

GM: These books take place in a cyberpunk version of the Biblical account of Revelation and the Tribulation. According to most interpretations of the Scriptures, the Tribulation is a 7 year period, marked by 3 and a half years of peace followed by 3 and a half years of hell on Earth. Where are we at in the timeline by Devil’s Hit List—or do you even subscribe to that timeline?

FC: If indeed that timeline proves to be accurate, Flashpoint starts at the beginning of the last three and a half years. I eventually want to show the second coming and deal with the rapture, but those would likely come in the last book in the timeline.

GM: So what prompted you to combine something like the role-playing game Shadowrun with Biblical End Times prophecy? Do you consider yourself a student of eschatology?

FC: I followed eschatology for a few years after being saved. I bought, and never wound up playing the Shadowrun RPG. I’ve read almost all the Shadowrun novels though.  Cyberpunk just seemed the perfect genre for end times fiction because it’s near-future sci-fi. Many think the end times are upon us, so one get to twist the modern world to fit—or not fit—what we believe prophecy to say.

And I’d like to point out here that the Jews in Christ’s time were looking for their Messiah to come as a king, and lead them out from under the Roman yoke. They missed Jesus. Can you imagine? We really need to keep a wide open mind about what exactly we think prophecy says.

GM: I know there are at least two more books coming out in the Underground series (because I’m writing one of them :p). Do you have any idea how long the series will go or do you prefer to be surprised?

FC: The Underground could go on a long time, and I hope it does. Reality is that Christian cyberpunk is not paying the bills. I’m toying with another universe that would be much more subtle in its Christian content. I may have to write novels in such a place out of necessity, and who knows what the Boss will do with it.

GM: A lot of the themes that you deal with in the book—such as transhumanism—are actually rooted in today’s headlines. Do you feel that we are headed for the sort of dark humanistic world of the Underground?

FC: I’ve read a lot in the cyberpunk genre, and have seen many things come true. The rise of what I call the mega-corp is a cyberpunk staple, and something we will see. The wealth of nations, the power of bio-ethics, and security forces bigger than most country’s standing armies.  As corporate and government power tangle, I see wide cracks in society into which those we now call the “uninsured” will fall into. How frankensteinish transhumanism will get in the coming decades, one can only guess.

GM: Thanks for stopping by, as always, Frank. Any parting words? Plug your books, man!

FC: Each of the Underground books is written to be a stand-alone novel. While everything is explained to the reader, one can best appreciate the characters by reading Flashpoint and War of Attrition first. And I’ll let Calamity Kid sign off . . . “Y’all ain’t ace enough to trump the King of Kings.”

GM: Fitting words! Thanks to Frank for another great interview and thanks to everyone for dropping by.

And don't forget--a HUGE announcement is coming your way on Halloween morning!! You won't want to miss it, "Coming Evil" fans!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Interview with Space Opera Author K.J. Blaine!


Today we have a special guest. Space opera author K.J. Blaine is with us to discuss her latest release, just in time for Halloween. What? Space Opera? Where are the monsters you've come to expect from me? Fret not! While talking with K.J. about her new release Hard Time, it became apparent that she's tapped into a dark tale of human torture and horror, fitting subject matter to get your hackles rising this October. I asked her to stop by and chat up the new book, the series it belongs to, and the surprising roots of her stories!!

Greg Mitchell: Your new dark sci-fi book is released, just in time for Halloween! Tell us about Hard Time.

K.J. Blaine: Hard Time is a Space Opera/Time Travel/Horror story all in one. A madman from the future uses a Temporal Portal to suck an entire spaceship back in time, to the year 1504. Since humans didn’t even have radio in that time, there is literally no way to call for help, and no one who could help them even if they could reach them. 

The madman is obsessed with torture, even to the point that he’s met (and may possibly BE) the Marquis de Sade. He leaves the spaceship crippled in the shadow of Jupiter, unable to get out, because it needs solar energy. The best they can do with emergency battery is maintain a slow orbit that keeps them from falling into the planet’s heavy gravity.

While the ship and most of the crew are stuck in the Shadow, the madman kidnaps everyone on the bridge and imprisons them on the moon of Io. Here, he tortures them one by one, making them watch each other’s torment, and filming it all for his sick pleasure. They are each in solitary confinement, seeing each other only when someone is getting beaten or worse.

The ship is trapped and doesn’t know where all the ranking officers disappeared to. The tormented have no way out. How will they escape, and can they get back to their own time?

(Oh, by the way, one of the petty officers on the bridge at the time of abduction is named Greg Mitchell. Thanks for letting me use your name!)

GM: No problem! I have a strange obsession with getting my name in as many strange works of fiction as possible :p What some may not know is that this is actually Book Two in the Phoenix Chronicles, begun with Gynocracy—a Kindle bestseller, I might add!  What are the Phoenix Chronicles all about?

KJB: The Phoenix is a spaceship in the near future (2042). Humans haven’t made it out of the solar system, so no faster-than-light speed, just a bit faster than now. It takes about a week to get from the farthest orbit of Pluto to Earth. But the stories are really Space Opera, which means they’re about the characters, not the technology. I try to make the science reasonably plausible, but it is NOT “hard” science fiction by any stretch.

The Phoenix Chronicles is simply the name I’ve applied to all the books in this setting. Gynocracy is actually the fourth in the series chronologically. The reason I released it first was purely logistics, which I’ll explain later. It was my test balloon, if you will, to see if anyone would be interested.

GM: How many books do you have planned for the Phoenix Chronicles? Do you see this as a finite series, or could this series continue on?

KJB: I have five books already written, but not quite ready for publication. I’m currently working on Book 1 and hope to have it up by Thanksgiving, with Book 3 by Christmas. (Hard Time is Book 2).  Book 5, assuming the other four books are doing well enough to warrant it, should go up in early 2013. I don’t see it as any more finite than the voyages of the starship Enterprise, which is to say, definitely continuing.

GM: You’ve had some success releasing these books yourself, straight to Kindle. I remember when I first started out, there was a huge stigma against self-published authors as not being able to “cut it” with traditional presses, but every day I’m seeing more traditionally published authors—including established names—leaving their publishers in favor of doing “straight to Kindle” type books. Do you see this as a phase in publishing, or is this the future of the industry? Why do you think that might be?

KJB: I am traditionally published with a small press under a different name, so I have done it both ways. I can’t speak for what it may be like if an author has a Big Six publisher behind her/him, with physical books on the shelves of brick-and-mortar stores, but I CAN tell you that small press authors really cannot compete with that. Bookstores won’t stock the small press books unless it is returnable, and that very policy makes it impossible for the little guys to make any profit.

Yes, small press authors DO have a more level field on online booksellers, but they still have a very hard time reaching shoppers who aren’t sure what book they want, who want to browse. I have three small press paperbacks (a trilogy) for sale on Amazon, but the only way anyone would ever find them is if they already knew the title or did a search on my (other) name. Even if a reader did come upon them somehow, there’s a huge trust barrier to overcome. They have probably never heard of my publisher and for all they know, that publisher could just be me. Print-on-demand technology means that my book is 14 bucks. So, does Jane Shopper, who never heard of me or my publisher, buy a $14 book by an “unknown nobody”, or does she spend $10 on “The Hunger Games” which everyone is raving about?

Kindle takes some of the risk out of the equation. People are more willing to take a chance when the price is so much lower. Also, the Kindle Select program levels the playing field even more, letting Amazon Prime members borrow the book for FREE while still paying the author a rental fee (which is almost as much as a royalty). The “free” promotions allow the author to get their books in front of people who would never randomly find them otherwise, so the exposure is almost as good as bookstore shelves. Yes, you have to give away some books to sell some books. Yes, that’s sad. But so far I have found no other way for unknown authors to catch a break. Would I rather be J.K Rowling or Tom Clancy? Absolutely. Bad news is, I’m not, so I have to find other ways to sell books.

However, as well as the Kindle Select program is working right now for me, I suspect as more authors discover it and take advantage of it, that the amazing benefits will likewise dwindle. The pool of free titles at any given time will be so big that it will be no different than the vast list of all titles.

I do think ebooks are the wave of the future and I think more and more people will get ereaders because all the paperback stores will die out. When you’ve got to go online to shop anyway, you may as well get the best prices, and that’s usually ebooks. Not to mention, who can resist the immediate? If you buy paper, you have to WAIT and sometimes even pay shipping. Folks don’t want to do that. Ebooks offer instant gratification.

GM: Now we’re about to really bake some noodles—This series started as fan fiction to the Steven Spielberg produced TV show seaQuest DSV, right? I loved that show!

KJB: Yes, it did start as fanfiction. I LOVED that show too. I loved it so much I have written five novels worth of stories set in that universe. My stories have been popular with the other seaQuest fans on, but unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of fans around these days. We’re not talking about a huge fandom like Harry Potter or Twilight.

However, when I say these stories started as fanfic, I need to make sure everyone (especially Amblin Entertainment) understands that the books I am publishing have been CHANGED extensively, so that they ARE my own. Yes, I did imagine the actors from seaQuest playing these new parts, but isn’t that what actors DO? Just because Scott Bakula played Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap does not mean he was any less effective or believable as Jonathan Archer. Two of the main seaQuest actors are now deceased. They could not play my characters anywhere else but in the imagination. The submarines became spaceships, and that right there meant a HOST of other changes were also necessary.

GM: How did you first come to seaQuest? What was it about that show that drew you in?

KJB: You really could not miss it if you had a television in 1993. I mean, Spielberg doing TV? Big money. Big promotion. Big names. *sigh* I have always been a sucker for the sea. Sea creatures fascinate me and the idea of underwater colonies excites me. The show had likeable characters who worked well together and the setting was completely awesome. What was not to like? (Well, until season three…)

GM: I think SeaQuest’s biggest flaw was that, with every year, it struggled to find its identity. I imagine every SQ fan has a favorite season, since they were all markedly different. If you had to choose, which was your favorite: The more scientifically minded Season One, the more sci-fi Season Two, or Michael Ironside :p I think that, as a teen at the time, I gravitated more towards Season Two with its underwater aliens and hotter girls, but I suppose Season One is probably a better show :p Either way, Roy Scheider was awesome.

KJB: Season One was my favorite. I loved the exploration emphasis the best. I also loved Roy Scheider, and I think some of the tangents taken in the second season are what drove him away, so even had I been inclined to like the second season plots, I could only say that if I didn’t know what they would cause for the show as a whole. I did not like the third season, personally. Michael Ironside is a fine actor, but they changed way too many characters and made the show depressing. They took out all the wonder of the ocean and replaced it with war. All of my fanfiction is set in second season or an “alternate universe” where the last episode of season two got thwarted and the 2032 setting never happened. In my rendition, the best from both casts all end up in the new reality.  My crew includes all of season two cast, plus Dr. Westphalen, LtCdr Hitchcock, and William Shan (whom I promoted to ensign). I also have a lot of “cameos” of Ben Krieg.

GM: Why the decision to transform your seaQuest stories into an original tale?

KJB: They are no longer producing authorized seaQuest novels. I have the three books that were released back in the nineties. I think my work is at least as good as what got printed back then. So did my fans. However, there is no continuing franchise like there is for Star Trek. My understanding is that Spielberg considers seaQuest a flop and would rather forget it ever happened.

The fanfiction as I wrote it is still available for free on the internet. When I made the decision to try to rescue my original plots so I could sell them, I knew I had to purge all the seaQuest out of them. I am sure most people would not understand how much that hurt. I would pull my Phoenix books in a heartbeat if Spielberg would ever let me publish them the way I wrote them, as seaQuest stories. But that’s not going to happen.

The reason Gynocracy was the first book converted was simply that it was the easiest to change. I had set it on an underwater colony and I moved it to a moon colony. I imagined seaQuest actors playing spacers instead of submariners. I changed the uniforms and the names and I lost Darwin completely. Because it was already in a non-canon alternate universe of my own design, I had already changed quite a bit to fit my own vision, so they really are no longer anything you saw on TV. Just because I happen to imagine Roy Scheider playing my Captain Jason Armstrong does not mean another reader would need to know that to enjoy the story. Since seaQuest has been off the air for decades now, I daresay people won’t even guess the connection unless they are reading this interview.

GM: Did you find the adaptation process difficult?

KJB: YES. It hurt emotionally and it was a mental challenge as well, especially after the “easy” changes on Book 4. In my seaQuest version of Hard Time, I had seaQuest trapped in the Black Sea and the crew on an island in the Mediterranean. They built a sailboat to rescue the crew. How do you do all that in space? It wasn’t easy.

GM: I think it’s really neat that you’ve done this. Although the setting is different, being in space rather than sea, I believe that the spirit of seaQuest is alive in your stories, and I would think any fans of the show would feel right at home in your original series.

KJB: The fans that have read it have been mostly encouraging. A few think I have “sold out” and I suppose they are right. I spent three years writing all these books just out of pure love, but now I am “ruining” them in order to make a buck. Guilty as charged. If anyone likes seaQuest at all, please, PLEASE read the underwater versions you can read for FREE at instead of the space “sell-out” ones. I like the free versions better too. Mr. Spielberg, if you care at all, my offer still stands: I will GIVE you my novels for just a byline if you’ll give permission to publish them as authorized.

GM: Any parting words?

KJB: Some may ask why I am using a different pen name for these books than I used for the small press books. I have several reasons, but the biggest one is audience. Hard Time and Gynocracy would be rated “R”. There is bad language. No f-bombs, but not “clean” either. There also are adult situations. Gynocracy is set on a colony run by Dominatrix women in leather.

My traditionally published books are with a small press which does a lot of Christian Fiction. That press has it hard enough just because it accepts science fiction and dark fantasy (the black sheep genres in a mostly Romance and Historical business). By using a pen name, I distance myself from them, protecting them from having to explain their prodigal heathen author. Yes, anyone who knows me could probably guess who I am. But there’s a difference between speculation and being blatant in-your-face. 

GM: The mystery continues! That's all we have time for today. Ready to read more from K.J. Blaine? Head over to Amazon and buy an e-copy of Hard Time today. In the follow-up to this interview, Ms. Blaine informed me that she is already hard at work on making these books available in print, as well, for those who want them. And, as a special treat, Hard Time will be available for FREE on Kindle October 28 & 29, so mark your calendars! Thanks to K.J. Blaine for stopping by to talk up her new series.

And be sure to stay tuned to this very blog--I have a big announcement of my own to make on Halloween morning! Mwuahahaha! 

Friday, October 19, 2012

"Avenir Eclectia" Blog Tour--Travis Perry Interview

Recently we saw the release of Avenir Eclectia Volume 1, an anthology from Splashdown Books collecting the first batch of stories released to the Avenir Eclectia website. As you may or may not know, Avenir is the brainchild of Splashdown publisher Grace Bridges, and was conceived to be a shared universe for speculative fiction writers of all stripes--science fiction, fantasy, and horror authors should all feel right at home. But with so many authors writing so many different stories--some of them having little to no contact with each other--the task of assembling these stories into a collective whole was not an easy one.

Enter: Travis Perry.

Travis is a frequent contributor to the world of Avenir and, for Volume 1, took over the lion's share of arranging these stories to fit seamlessly together. Seeing as how I'm a continuity nut, I jumped at the chance to have Travis visit the blog for the AE blog tour and explain the sometimes difficult process of smoothing out the wrinkles to make Avenir Eclectia Volume 1 a very fun and rewarding read.

Greg Mitchell: You actually have a couple different storylines going on in Avenir, but the first is about a smuggler named Ernsto who is tasked by a mysterious wizard benefactor to lay hands on some rather “mystical” cargo. How did this story come about? What, perhaps, were some of your inspirations?

Travis Perry: Greg, as you know, Grace Bridges created a story world in which the oceans are filled with mysterious aliens that people of that world call “angels.” I came over to the Avenir Eclectia site because Grace had already published my book The Crystal Portal and sent out an email to her authors announcing the existence of her new online project and asking us to contribute stories—so I initially looked into writing for AE really as a favor to her. When I first examined the world of Avenir Eclectia as conceived by Grace, I had no real inspiration for a story. But mulling over the setting, my mind zoomed in on the idea that just as sailors were reported to fall in love with manatees, thinking them mermaids, it would be interesting to read a story about a human who fell in love with one of these angels. And since the angels are supposed to be good creatures, I felt it would be an awesome contrast if the man who fell in love was a hardened criminal…so I created Ernsto and a situation in which he would be linked with his angel for the basest of reasons, yet her kindness would eventually soften his heart.

GM: While Ernsto’s story has an ending, there’s a clear indication that we could be seeing more from him in the future. Do you have any more Ernsto stories in the works?

TP: Yeah, the arc with the angel comes to a definite end and I originally considered dropping Ernsto as a character after that. But I grew attached to him, I guess, and yes, there are other stories in the works that involve him living on the surface of Eclectia as a hunter of the giant bugs that roam there…I actually have a whole series of ideas of what happens to him in upcoming events, so there should be a lot more of Ernsto in the future of AE.

GM: Not only were you a major contributor to Avenir, you also shouldered a lot of the heavy lifting in organizing this first anthology. I don’t know if people realize the kind of gargantuan task that was, to take a bunch of stories written by a bunch of different authors and form some sort of cohesive whole. And, rather than collecting each author’s installments into separate section, you spread out everyone’s installments, weaving them together into a sort of single narrative. How in the world did you manage that? Was it harder than you, at first, anticipated? Walk us through the process a little bit.

TP: I believe it was Fred Warren who commented in one of our group discussions about some concerns I had with AE contradicting itself that the biggest problem he saw was that story arcs got lost by having too many other stories between them. That lodged in the back of my mind, so when we discussed doing an anthology, I believe everyone naturally thought of two methods: 1) Put them in the antho in the order they were published to the site. 2) Collect them by author, so each author’s works would be in a given section.

Option 1 suffered from the problem that Fred noted, that is, if a given story in an author’s arc isn’t picked up again until maybe twelve stories later, the reader has lost a lot of what the author put in the last story—which happened sometimes in the order of stories as originally published. Option 2 suffered from the problem that some characters were written about by multiple authors, such as Avenir’s orphans. Separating the stories by author would miss the unified story ambiance that some authors deliberately went for. Plus, I wrote my story bits with an expectation that some other stories would lie between them—putting them directly one after the other would ruin the feel of the story arc.

So I suggested Option 3, reordering the stories. Most of the AE authors agreed that sounded like a good idea, but actually doing it was another matter…(kind of like Aesop’s Fable about the mice wanting bell the cat). I felt responsible for the idea, so I took charge of actually doing it.

As for method, I’m an Army Reserve officer who was deployed to Djibouti, Africa at the time. In our Civil Affairs company headquarters I printed out all the stories on this yellow paper that’s by policy supposed to be reserved for secret documents—we don’t really have many secret docs in Civil Affairs, so we had far too much of this yellow paper. So I printed all the stories after hours and made a handwritten master list of each tale by author and title. I created some rules for myself that each story in a given arc would be separated by no more than three or four other stories, that no author would have two stories immediately in a row, that story arcs that build to a climax should be reserved for the end of the work. Also I had the rule that any given story arc should come to some sort of resolution to be included, though I excepted single stand-alone stories from this requirement.

So on all these hundreds of pieces of paper I lined out stories that didn’t belong and reordered the papers according to the rules I created. I also edited for content some, trying to create more unity in how each author’s story fit in with everyone else’s. After getting it all on paper, I went page by page through the stack and made corrections to the electronic file of stories. It took a couple weeks of basically all my free time to get through that initial process. Which of course wasn’t done yet, since I sent it out to the collective authors for suggestions and needed changes and altered the digital file accordingly. Final stories to some arcs had yet to be written as well, so I brought those on board after asking for them. It took until the fifth version before the project was ready to be published.

As far as it being hard, I had a fairly good idea that it would take time. It took more time than I imagined, but I wasn’t too surprised about that. What did surprise me was how much I liked the final result. Overall, the stories really built into one another and supported one another and I thoroughly enjoyed the ending…in which I violated a couple of my self-imposed rules, but for good reason I think.

By the way, I’d really like to thank you personally for your contributions to the collection, Greg. Your story arc formed the backbone of the stories that built to a common climax in an absolutely essential way. Your stories are a big part of why Avenir Eclectia Volume 1 came out as good as it did. :)

GM: Wow, thanks! So, what do you think is the draw for something like Avenir—a shared universe rather than a single author’s vision?

TP: Multiple authors clearly enrich the overall story universe. Each of us think of things that others would not think of and pursue story ideas different maybe others would not touch. At times though, dealing with the diversity is a little like herding cats. I’ve been concerned about certain things I see as story contradictions. I’ve worked to smooth out some rough edges between views by differing authors on things as simple as money and as complex as the true nature of Avenir “wizards.” I think my efforts may have helped some—I’d like to think they have, anyway. But building consistency really is a continual requirement and I honestly don’t like being the “bad guy” trying to make changes in other people’s work.

So as far as Avenir Eclectia’s future is concerned, a time may come where I step away and hand off to other authors the charge of continuing to build the Avenir Eclectia story universe. I don’t know when (or if)  that will happen, but I do know that I’ve really enjoyed the overall experience of working with everyone thus far and have been thrilled the results as expressed in Avenir Eclectia Volume 1. Thanks for letting me talk about it!

GM: Thanks, Travis, for dropping in with this insightful interview. Avenir Eclectia Volume 1 is available in both print and digital formats. Buy it today! And visit Travis at his website!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Interview with "12th Demon" author Bruce Hennigan!

Just in time for this ghoulish part of the year, Christian Horror author and apologetics speaker Bruce Hennigan releases his new book The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon from Realms Fiction today! Bruce has been a real supporter of my Coming Evil books, so it was a thrill and honor for me to get to read his latest. The 12th Demon continues the supernatural supsense of Bruce's debut book The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye, where man-of-action Jonathan Steel battles the forces of the occult. Bruce was kind enough to return for another great interview. Now, without further ado...

GM: Bruce, first off, welcome back to the blog! It’s been a year since we chatted about your debut release The 13th Demon. What’s been going on for this past year?

BH: Thanks for having me back, Greg. The past year has been pretty exciting. I’ve had the opportunity to speak at several venues on Christian Speculative Fiction and Christian apologetics in addition to promoting The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye. My first book has gotten pretty good reviews and I’ve been just as busy writing the third and fourth book in the series. I’ve also been working on an update to my non-fiction work, a book on depression. And, I’ve been busy with writing dramas and working with a local filmmaker to produce one of my movie scripts. A lot is going on and sometimes I meet myself coming and going.

GM: The new book is out! The 12th Demon picks up where the last book left off. Tell us about the book. What can the fans of The 13th Demon expect in the sequel?

BH: More monsters. More horror. More blood. And, more redemption. The story picks up literally a couple of weeks after The 13th Demon: Altar of the Spiral Eye. My main character, Jonathan Steel must find a way to help the teenager, Joshua Knight. Cephas Lawrence, the older “mentor” to Steel is Josh’s uncle and the story picks up with a meeting between Steel and Josh’s attorney to determine the guardianship of the boy. But, before the meeting can get underway, an assassin from Steel’s past shows up and shoots up the restaurant where they are having lunch.

Steel’s past comes roaring back into the fray and his amnesia proves to be more frustrating than ever as he has to face this assassin from his past. She proves to be not only a bitter enemy, but a former love interest! Then, out of the woodwork, Rudolph Wulf emerges from Eastern Europe to claim the territory of the 13th demon. He clashes immediately with Vivian Darbonne Ketrick who also claims the territory of the 13th demon. Wulf is in league with the 12th demon and has developed a special blood that gives his followers “vampire majick”.

When Josh’s girlfriend joins a vampire clan, he goes back to his old ways in order to “save” her and ends up in the clutches of Rudolph Wulf. Steel not only has to find Josh and face off against another demon, but he also has to fend off Vivian and the assassin, Raven. The story builds to a climax in the caverns beneath Mount Kogain where a cadre of monstrous beings waits to become a vampire army under the direction of Rudolph Wulf.

Greg, one of my goals in my books is to introduce the reader to key issues that impact the life of a Christian. I deal with the idea of forgiveness and the “unpardonable sin”. Can you do something so heinous, so horrible that you go beyond God’s ability to forgive? Good question and I hope I’ve answered it in the story.

GM: Halloween is blessedly upon us once again, and your book has its fair share of some gnarly monsters! I had a great time imagining some of the nasties you’ve described in this book. What struck me as really neat, though, was not only do you have the sort of exaggerated “Hollywood vampire” in here, but you also delve into the very real vampire subculture. Do you moonlight as a vampire or was there some research involved?

BH: I keep my coffin in the pool house. I like the sound of running water.

I have been fascinated with vampires my entire life. I’ve talked about this in my blog, but growing up in the country with a brother who is a taxidermist I was surrounded by the macabre. His “shop” was filled with beady eyed, fanged monsters that glared down at you from the walls when you walked in. And, the floor was covered with raw flesh, bulging eyes, skulls, skeletons and the like. It was far too easy for me to imagine werewolves and vampires lurked in the dark shadowy woods around my house.
GM: Nasty!

BH: For the book, I did a lot of research into the myth behind the vampire, specifically Vlad, the Impaler. Why was he called the Impaler? Where did that practice of impaling come from? How was it related to vampires? And, where did the vampire myth originate? Lots of good questions. I tried to weave a historical narrative into the book that traces the practice of impaling from its origins right up through its influence on the development of crucifixion and then its use by Vlad, the man upon whom Count Dracula was based. Greg, I thought the fictional accounts of vampires were pretty ghoulish. But, history is far more disturbing. It is amazing what we do to our own fellow humans! I really had to filter a lot of the disturbing practices or the reader would really be horrified. The reality was horrific enough as I wrote it.

GM: I know in writing sequels for me, it’s sometimes difficult at first, putting myself back in the world of my characters. Did you have trouble picking up the threads again to continue the Jonathan Steel Chronicles or did it come right to you?

BH: Greg, my problem is not picking up the threads, but holding back on the big “reveals”. I want to tell Steel’s story right now. But, it is better to entice the reader with bits and pieces of his story.

J. J. Abrams, who created Lost and directed the new Star Trek movies, refers to his “mystery box”. I heard him give a talk to TED about a box his grandfather purchased for him at a magic store. The box was a “mystery box” in that it contained a random assortment of magic tricks and on the outside there was a huge question mark. Abrams never opened the box and he keeps it in plain view at all times to remind him that the best stories are in pursuit of what is IN the “mystery box”. I know what is in Steel’s “mystery box” and it is very easy to pick up the threads again and move forward with the story.

GM: In The 12th Demon, we learn a little more about Jonathan Steel’s past. Is it your plan to reveal a little bit about his mysterious origins through every novel, or only when appropriate.

BH: When I began The Chronicles of Jonathan Steel I knew from the start I would tell his story. Since he has amnesia, I had to sit down and construct his backstory from start to finish. Then, I took that backstory and divided it up into segments of “reveal” for the reader. Each “reveal” will be at the heart of the story of a book in the series. As we move through the books, more of Steel’s past will be revealed filling in not only his story, but the story of the twelve demons as well. For, both stories are intricately intertwined!

GM: In our last interview, you mentioned that you had the end of the series written in advance, so that you knew where everything was leading up. Has that planned stayed in place, or do you find yourself revising the ending as you discover new things during the writing process?

BH: I know what is in Steel’s “mystery box”. There are hints along the way; tiny clues as to what is really going on with this man and his “amnesia”. And, as the stories progress, I will give more and more clues. As you mentioned, I’ve already written the last THREE books in the series to make sure I know where I am headed with the story. Hopefully, Greg, my readers will keep buying the books and I can tell all 13 stories!
GM: No doubt! I want to read them all and see how this storyline concludes!
BH: In the planning phases for the series, I have placed very gross markers along the way. As I am writing the stories, those markers come into focus, so to speak. The changes I make along the way are more on the order of fine tuning than huge plot changes. Sometimes, as the story progresses, I feel the need to move one of those markers to an earlier or later point in the overall story. I just finished the final draft of the fourth book, The 10th Demon: Children of the Bloodstone and decided to move a major character development from later into the series to the fourth book. It was very painful but in the context of the immediate story it made so much more sense to do this NOW! So, I took a risk and I did it. It will sends some ripples down the line into the future books, but I think the changes will make for a better overall story arc.

GM: What’s next for Jonathan Steel? What terrors might he face in The 11th Demon?

BH: The 11th Demon will be a bit of a departure from the feel of the first two books. From a technical point of view, I’ve written the book in first person point of view from the point of view of each of the main characters. I did this on purpose so I could get to know them better. I get inside the head of Steel, Josh, Cephas, Vivian, and Theo. It was a blast playing around with how they think and how they talk. And, the story is a bit more intimate; not as epic but every bit as powerful. You’ll learn a lot about Vivian’s past and why she became the witchy thing that she is. You learn about Cephas’ dark secret and why he pursues evil as he does. And, there is a flashback to the very beginning of time and space itself from the point of view of the 11th demon. Oh, and we get to meet another group of evil beings that kind of put the Dark Council in the shadow; a rival group to the Council vying for the attention of their dark Master! I’m hoping The 11th Demon: Ark of the Demon Rose is out next October!

GM: What other projects are you working on these days? I know you have a career in non-fiction as well.

BH: I have been approached by one of my publishers to update my book, Conquering Depression. I’m hard at work with my co-author, Mark Sutton, on bringing this book to the publisher as soon as possible. The book originally came out in February 2001 and the world has changed so much since then. I was at a conference recently and most of the participants were below the age of 35. I was shocked how many of them claimed they were depressed! Of course, most of them were Christian “artists” and you and I both know how artists can get pretty emotional. After all, it is our skewed view of the world as it should be that often “depresses” us. And, that is why we create; why we write or paint or draw to try and redefine this broken world in view of our connection with the Imago Dei, the image of God. The brokenness presses on us and when we cannot fix this world, that friction; that fission is what drives our emotions often downward instead of upward.

Sorry, I waxed poetic, there. But, this book I believe will be so important. Even after 11 years, we still get emails almost every week that the book “saved my life”. How do you even begin to articulate a response to that? I just thank God that He used my huge failure for His Glory and to help others.

I am also pursuing some other genres of fiction with my agent, specifically historical fiction and a couple of detective stories. I am continuing to work on drama. I’ve been writing church based drama since 1989 and I’m still active at the state level in the creative arts in a church setting. I speak at our state drama festival every year. This year, I’m working with children’s dramatic pieces.

I continue to work with Christian apologetics and I speak every chance I get in an effort to equip Christians with the tools they need to defend the Christian faith in this godless age. When you consider that some studies show that up to 75% of teenagers will lose their faith by the time the complete college, it shows how poorly our churches are preparing them to face their inevitable intellectual slaughter.

GM: Thanks for taking the time to stop and talk up the new book, Bruce. Any parting words?

BH: Greg, you and I both know how hard it is to get the word out about the kind of books we write. Christian speculative fiction is the fastest growing sub-genre right now but the books stores, and frankly, the publishers don’t know how to market these books. They don’t know what to do with them. And yet, there is a huge demand for these kinds of books. I would like for your readers, and mine, to get the word out. Buy our books and give them as gifts. Ask libraries and church book stores to carry them. Champion Christian speculative fiction before we are a dying breed. So, go out and buy both of Greg’s books and pick up my new book, The 12th Demon: Mark of the Wolf Dragon.

Greg, thanks again for having me on the blog. I can’t wait to read YOUR next book!
GM: Indeed! Some big news on that is just around the corner!
In the meantime, check out Bruce's new book. It's available in print and Kindle formats!

Friday, October 12, 2012

"Amazing Love"--Now Available on DVD!

At long last, my feature film debut Amazing Love: The Story of Hosea is now available on DVD!

Starring Sean Astin (Rudy, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy) this movie brings the Biblical story of Hosea to life. I've always been a fan of the "minor prophet", really moved by his devotion to his God and to his wife in the face of... well, I guess you have to watch the movie to find all that out. Or, better yet, go read the book (the Bible). It's better. :p

Amazon has a posting for this movie, as well, but it shows that it won't be available until sometime in November. But copies are available at Hit the link to watch the trailer and find out more about the movie, and order your copy today!

To all my monster fans, this is quite the departure from my typical subject matter of tentacles and terror and death, but the heart of the movie is very much in keeping with my passions as a writer. To all the people who hate my monster stuff--well, here you go! Have your heart warmed by a family friendly non-monster movie :)

I find it pleasantly ironic that this movie's out in time for Halloween, though :p

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Splashdown Blog Tour--"Devil's Hit List"!

Welcome to another edition of the Splashdown Blog Tour. Today we're talking up my pal Frank Creed's new release "Devil's Hit List"--Book Three in his epically cool Underground series of Biblical Cyberpunk novels. In the days ahead, I'll be sitting down with Frank for a full interview, but for today, here's an excerpt from the book--available now! Buy it today on Amazon in either print or Kindle format!

Read the excerpt below.

* * *

Cloud mist scudded along just above our flat high-rise rooftop. Chicago’s usual overcast weather hid us from the satellite spy-cams, and the night’s low visibility helped us with secrecy.
“No, I think that rod section goes on the outside of the wing, doesn’t it?” I said.
Lethe slid an aluminum pole through a nylon loop. “You know, this is not the first time I’ve assembled a hang-glider atop a fifty-story building.”
“No wonder you’re faster at this than my brother is,” said e-girl.
Indeed, my unit was only half built and Lethe was nearly finished. Building a hang glider in the dark for the very first time is kind of awkward.
My sister came over to guide me. “That part through there. Now you’ve got it. You’re sure this is going to work?”
I squeaked a shoe on the rubber rooftop jamming the tight fit together. “Well, the weight ratios work out. You two together are a little heavier than I am, but we’ll be fine.”
“I meant is this really the best way into the security station? Ash or Virago, or whoever the big guns belong to, has complete air superiority.”
“But we have Heir superiority. You know, Christ as our King.”
“This is no time to be clever, CK. She needs affirmation,” advised Lethe, clipping her harness onto her hang-glider’s frame, hefting the giant kite, and moving toward the rooftop’s edge.
“See? This is why I like Lethe so much,” said e-girl, joining Lethe under her black fabric wing. “She understands what it’s like to be female in a man’s world. Approaching a secure target on gossamer wings, when they have helicopter gunships, seems like a very male idea.” Lethe secured e-girl’s straps to their hang-glider.
“Our strength is in our silence, not our firepower,” I stated sagely.
“You speak like fortune cookie,” said Lethe. “See you at the bottom, Sun Tzu.”
My sister had to face the building’s center rooftop for the next part, so she could not see what was coming. She closed her eyes tightly shut and ran backward as Lethe ran into their takeoff. They plummeted over the side for a few floors, e-girl’s muffled squeal streaming behind them like a kite tail, before gliding away through the night.
I clipped myself onto my frame. “Okay, self, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.” I followed them, also running with closed eyes and a Grrrr through clenched teeth.

Friday, October 5, 2012

New "Avenir" Anthology is Out!

Ah, October. I can feel the autumn chill in the air, bringing with it whispers of phantoms and ghouls. How I love it. Don't you? :p

This October seems to be an especially busy time for me as a number of short stories I submitted to various anthologies over the last couple years are all coming out at the same time! In keeping with that, today brings the release of Avenir Eclectia, Volume One!

I've talked about Avenir a number of times on this blog, but for those who are unaware of it, I'll give you the rundown: It's a shared universe microfiction project where many authors come together to tell separate stories that all fit into the futuristic world of Avenir Eclectia. The world was designed by Grace Bridges and is meant to be a playground for authors of all speculative fiction genres--science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Avenir has it all.

My particular contribution features Dressler, a hard-edged hunter who kills giant bugs on the wild, sand-blown deserts of the alien planet Eclectia. Dressler's only tender spot is his young daughter, who is dying of a mysterious illness known as ash lung--a byproduct of Eclectia's harsh environment. Dressler is overcome with grief, but when a mysterious underwater creature, that many believe to be an angel, speaks to him and offers him the chance to save his daughter, Dressler must travel into the dark, treacherous oceans for a cure. But is the angel everything he claims to be?

Ironically enough, last Halloween I posted the story behind my inspiration for Dressler and the bugs he hunts over at the Inside Avenir Eclectia page. Check it out!

The book is formatted quite cleverly by Travis Perry. While it includes entire arcs, each installment of any given arc is broken up and sprinkled throughout the project. It gives you the opportunity to experience a number of storylines at once as it cuts back and forth in between scenes to other arcs. Everything has been sequenced to occur in chronological order, so you'll see events in one author's story mentioned or paid off in another author's, making for a very collaborative experience. 

I hope that everyone goes out and buys the book. It will soon be available in e-formats as well. And, of course, you can subscribe directly to the Avenir website to get new weekly installments of the many storylines. If there are any writers out there, Avenir is also looking for more contributors. What's neat is that, included in the anthology, is an encyclopedia section at the end that will give you a crash course on the mythology of the world--a perfect training for those future writers who wish to play in this marvelous sandbox of imagination!