Amazon Hot List

Hey everyone!  Axis of Andes made the list.  We’re on “Hot New Releases in Alternate History Science Fiction

https://www.amazon.com/gp/new-releases/books/16275

Yay!!!!

More seriously? Yeah, #55 on the second page. Big whoop. Also note the rather narrow subject matter – a subgenre of a subgenre of speculative fiction

I promise you, it’s not going to my head.

On the other hand, I’ve actually sold a few books, and I’ve got a really good review. And filling out the list are powerhouse writers like Charles Stross, William Deitz, Ken Follet, S.M. Stirling.  And most of the books on the list are from the big six majors, or the medium level second tier publishers. And the list goes to a hundred books and I’m nowhere near the bottom.  So, it’s not bad..

So in the big scheme of things, maybe it’s not much ado. But it’s something, and it’s kind of nice. So I’m happy.

This is what being a writer is – mostly, you get rejected, or simply ignored, your effort to make a mark goes unremarked. And every now and then, you get a few crumbs like that.  You learn to appreciate them. And maybe make them last.

Keycon Econ Report

Well, there it went.  The first and hopefully the last Online Keycon was held over the May long weekend. How was it? A bit wobbly here and there, but on the whole, it worked out just fine.

I think people don’t really realize how demanding a Convention is, and how much work and dedication goes into running it.  The people who work on and volunteer for these conventions are really a breed apart, they put a lot of time and energy into it. You have to acknowledge that.

This was a pretty unusual Keycon, due to the Coronaclypse.  Last year, Keycon cancelled entirely, hit full bore only two months into the Coronaclypse, and amid a provincial shutdown. There was no way it could go on.

As people adapted to the Coronaclypse, we saw the rise of online Cons, E-Cons including When Words Collide in July, and World Fantasy Convention in October.  Unfortunately, Keycon was too early into the pandemic to make that jump.  There just wasn’t enough time to revamp  and reformat the entire Con, and the list of precedents and innovations that allowed for E-Cons wasn’t there yet. Still, the Keycon organizers set about planning for the next convention in 2021, and they kept their eyes and ears open, learning the ins and outs of E-cons, just in case.

I think by March or April, they’d figured out that things weren’t going to be opening up, and they were able to switch gears and reformat their convention.  The revamped online Keycon E-con, or as I like to call it kEycon would be free to anyone who signed up, and considerable thought and effort went into adapting the normal activities of a convention – panels, hospitality rooms, social events, etc., into an online format.

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Worldbuilding Quilting and Characters, oh my

Just a quick update on the writing front.

Last Saturday, I did a World Building Workshop for the Manitoba Writers Guild.  Thousands of words of sample world building, tons of reference materials, books, youtube videos, TV-tropes, etc.  We got a half dozen attendees, and it went really well, a hard core, pedal to the metal introduction to an interesting area of writing.

This Weekend, I’m doing panels at Keycon.  This year, due to the Coronaclypse, Keycon is an online convention.  I’m not sure about my panels.  So far, I think I’m on, or going to be on….

  • Pantsing, Plotting and Quilting – different approaches to writing a novel. There’s a whole bunch of us – Chadwick Gunther, Ron Hore, Susan Forest, Reed Alexander, going an hour and a half from 5:30 to 7:00 on Saturday.
  • Creating Deep Characters – pretty self explanatory, I hope.  Me and Casia Schreyer so far, one hour,  11:00 to 12:00 on Sunday.
  • Worldbuilding – again, with Catherine Fitzimmons, I’m going to sneak onto that one. One hour, 7:00 to 8:00 on Sunday

By the way, go see Keycon’s Website at ….    http://www.keycon.org/38/#sched       They’d love to have you drop by. Membership is free!

One of the nice things about doing convention panels is the chance to meet and kick back with other writers, talk about writing and share the space.  Less pressure, more engagement.  And if you’ve got someone on a panel with you, that guarantees there will be at least one other person attending.  😉

Apart from that, following up on the book covers for Aliens and Elves and Axis of Andes.  I’ve submitted a raft of short stories to Analog, Asimov’s and Fantasy and Science Fiction Magazine.

And I’m working on a query letter and synopsis for my next stab to searching for an Agent.  Last year, I sent out 30 queries for one book, and 10 for second. No joy in mudville.  This year, I’m going to try and break 100 and 50.

And geez, I need to sign up for When Words Collide, and maybe try and get on some panels. Get ready for the World Fantasy Convention in Montreal in August. Oh and there’s more workshops for the Manitoba Writers Guild.  Apart from that, I still have to work on learning marketing and promotions, there’s books to edit and release.

I dunno.  Shouldn’t being a writer involve actually writing something.  All this other stuff is starting to feel like work.  😉

Axis of Andes, Part One

Axis of Andes, an alternative history of World War II in South America will be released in May, 2021

And I have a book cover!  Check it out.  Nifty, eh. It’s a little busy, but it’s patterned on the style of history texts.  So there’s a dominant image of South America at War, with Soldiers trudging along the bottom, and a collage of war images in right and left hand columns. I’m pretty happy with it. I might ask for a tweak here and there.

In other news, Axis of Andes has been broken into two books – Part 1 and Part 2. Simple reason, it was simply too massive for one volume.

The book opens in 1937, as a delegation from Peru meets with Hitler and his cabinet in Berlin, looking for his assistance. From there, the narrative winds back and forth through the history of the region, through the societies and economies of the various nations, as events set nations on a path to war.

Inspired by an actual war between Peru and Ecuador that lasted less than a month in the 1940’s, this new version of history has this war gaining momentum and force, until literally every country in South America is dragged into the conflict and a continent is in flames.

Part One features the origins and early phases of the conflict to the point where the three countries of the Andes – Ecuador, Peru and Chile are locked in a ferocious death struggle.

Part Two sees the conflict escalate steadily engulfing one country after the other, extending from Bolivia and Argentina, to Colombia and the rain forests of Brazil.

LEXX – The Thrill of the New

LEXX Unauthorized, the final volume!  The amazing behind the scenes chronicle of the most brilliantly surreal sci fi series ever made.  Twenty years in the making.  Releasing next week! Be sure to get your copy and don’t forget to buy the previous books.

I remember the first time I saw I Worship His Shadow.

Forgive me, I’m trying to promote the final book, so that means talking about it and the other books. But I’m coming to the end of my run with LEXX, this thing that’s shadowed me for twenty years, and I think that makes me contemplative.

So… the first time I saw I Worship His Shadow.

It was amazing. We kind of forget that sometimes. We are so awash in stories, in film and television, books and games, there’s only so many ways to play something. After a while, we just get used to it, we get jaded, and there’s so much that becomes so predictable. Genuine surprise and wonder eventually gets dulled.

Ever have a moment where you’re watching a film or television show for the first time, and it’s so utterly formulaic, that you can literally shout out the lines before the actors do? Because even though this is the first time you’ve watched it, it is so dull, so much a part of things we’ve seen over and over, that there’s no surprise. Watching it for the first time, you can recite the actor’s dialogue and the story beats.

But what about those times when an actor says something, when the story does something that you didn’t see coming. When it’s honestly new and unexpected. Remember that thrill?

If any of you are writers or artists out there, then take this as a suggestion. Be unexpected, do the unexpected. The most interesting thing for people is not knowing what happens next. That’s what people watch for. Because if they know what’s next… why do they need to bother watching or reading? Maybe there are other reasons, but if there are, you damned well need to deliver something.

I Worship His Shadow? It was absolutely brilliant. Things happened that I wasn’t expecting or anticipating, everything was new. It was that ‘first time’ sense of wonder and excitement. I literally had no idea what was coming next, who was going to live, who was going to die, where the story was going to go, who was even important to the story, what anyone was going to say. I just had to keep watching to see what happens, I was watching without a net.

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LEXX – The Clone War, An old spec script

[FREE ONLINE] LEXX CLONE WARS aka MAXIMUM CLONEAGE – D.G. Valdron (denvaldron.com)

It’s odd.  I’m not really a fan by nature.  I liked Star Trek, enjoyed Star Wars, but I’ve never really gone overboard.  I’m mostly a take it or leave it kind of guy.  I go through life appreciating things, but I generally don’t obsess.

Well, maybe two exceptions.  LEXX and Doctor Who.  I step up for those. I like the Doctor because he’s good. I like the LEXX because they’re bizarre.  Of the two, I think it was LEXX I went overboard for.  Almost to the point of obsession.  I wrote the book – the LEXX Unauthorized series. Along the way, I wrote fanfics, submitted spec scripts, watched, wrote and researched obsessively, I even edited together my own versions of LEXX episodes.

I make no apologies, LEXX was endlessly fascinating and anarchic, behind the scenes and on screen. There was an energy, a creativity, a sheer imagination and bravado to the show that still amazes me decades later. It wasn’t perfect, there’s a weird stunted sexuality, they suffered from too much ambition and too little money, and sometimes it went off the rails. But it’s best, it was brilliant. And more than brilliant, it was subversive and surreal.

I’m glad to have had had the access and the contacts that allowed me to research and write, LEXX Unauthorized.

Honestly – this post is just shameless self promotion. I’m trying to get you to by the last book – hell, buy all of them.

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The Grindhouse Madman

I grew up working at a Drive-In, B-Movies are in my blood, cyborgs, ninjas, Charles Bronson flicks, gritty Italian giallos about unstoppable yet sleazy tough guys, careening through life like human car crashes, goofy monsters and the inept heroes floundering after them. My brother was a huge fan of Mack Bolan books, I used to collect them for him. So with that grindhouse sensibility, how could I not love the crazed stylings of I.D. Russell.  I first ran across him running a table at a local comic convention, and I quickly became a fan of his altar ego, the demented, unstoppable cop, Frank, from River City, a human engine of destruction, whether he’s facing off against Robot Mounties, Japanese Ninjas, Colombian Drug Lords or the entre at a Red Lobster. Firmly tongue in cheek, his work is full of inspired, hyperviolent lunacy. So check him out, it’s worth it…

I have a compulsion.

I need to be doing something creative.

I’ve made two feature films and have a dozen scripts that I’d like to produce next. I’ve written over thirty novels and published seven. I’ve got lots more story ideas swirling around in my head or illegibly written in point form on scraps of paper all over the house. I run two youtube channels: one a sock puppet movie review parody show and the other an outlet for whatever random short film or goofy sketch idea that crosses my mind.

But I also actively train in Brazilian jiu-jitsu and previously studied Hapkido (where I received a black belt). I’ve dabbled in boxing, tae kwon do, yoga, karate, judo, and aikido. I’ve competed in tournaments, done demonstrations at schools and folklorama and while I’v3 engaged in some pretty intense sparring in class, I’ve never been in a fight. (I’d like to keep it that way.)

So I’m busy. Real busy. The thing is, I can’t sit back on my laurels, (not that I have many in any scheme of things.) There’s always another project to work on, another corner to turn, another thing to try.

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Worldbuilding and other Workshops

Hey Everyone!  I’m doing workshops for the Manitoba Writer’s Guild
* World Building – May 15, 2021
* Creating Compelling Characters – June 19, 2021
* Copyright and the Basics of Publishing Contracts – July 17
The workshops will be held through Zoom.  Supporting materials and the workshop notes will be provided as pdfs through email.
To support the writing community, I’m donating my workshop fees back to the Manitoba Writers Guild.  Writing is a lonely craft, and it’s an uphill one for many of us. The Guild helps us connect with each other, it offers community, support, resources and programs.  If you’re a Writer in Manitoba, I’d happily recommend that you sign up for a membership with the Guild.  If outside of Manitoba, then I suggest you look up whatever exists for a local writers association or organization.
In the meantime, visit the Manitoba Writer’s Guild at their website.

https://www.mbwriter.mb.ca/new-virtual-workshops/

About the Workshops….

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2020 In Review – Writing Ups and Downs

This is a bit belated, sorry about that.  It’s been kicking around in my drafts file.

2020 has come and gone, and frankly, none of us are going to miss it.  Between the Coronaclypse and all its attendant melt downs, the American election fiasco and Trump’s appalling conduct, wildfires, floods, murder hornets and everything else, I’m just as happy to be done with the whole thing.

But I figured I’d take stock of how the writing career has gone.

On the Positive Side, Seven New Ebooks

  • Bear Cavalry, A True (Not!) History of the Icelandic Bears – alternate history novel told as a Morgan Spurlock documentary.
  • Lexx Unauthorized, Series 2 – The Light at the End of the Universe
  • The Fall of Atlantis – a quartet of alternate history/speculative novellettes
  • There Are No Doors in Dark Places, a collection of horror stories
  • Lexx Unauthorized, Series 3 – It’s Hot and it’s Cold
  • What Devours Always Hunger, a collection of horror stories.
  • The New Doctor a media based alternate history novel, uploaded to Wattpad.

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