James Beach

Science Fiction, Fantasy, Nonfiction and More


A salute to a great and difficult man

Harlan Ellison, RIP.

What else is there to say of a fantastic writer and a legendarily irascible persona?

There is the memoriam from an excellent modern writer, Cory Doctorow. He salutes Ellison’s great talent and also addresses his prickly nature. Others have pointed out that Ellison as a teacher was, in a common human blindspot, exhibiting exactly t he same bullying behaviors he hated in early teachers of himself.  https://boingboing.net/2018/06/28/rip-harlan-ellison.html

There’s also Ellison’s own words on art and commerce, which really should be required listening for artists in our world, whether they agree or disagree.

Just Pay the Writer. 

But the most suitable words I’ve found yet are other words of Ellison’s own, which come from being asked his thoughts on the creative giant Philip K. Dick.

What you’re asking is really two questions: What I think of him as a writer and what I think of him as a human being. As a writer, he was one of the great innovators. He was sweet, man, an absolutely individual talent, and I admired at least 80% of what he wrote.

…As for the human being, it’s an entirely different answer. When he wanted to be charming, he could be. …

You know what? I’m not going to answer. It doesn’t matter what I think. He could do you a solid or be a very unpleasant person. Like Frank Sinatra. Or God…Phil, like God or Frank Sinatra — they’re all deities.

Mr. Ellison, wherever you are, you were a truly magnificent bastard. Thank you for the work.



The Listening Jacket Project

Remember the Future: The Listening Jacket’s Playlist

I got it into my head to have a patch jacket like I always wanted, but more. With not only have metal bands, but all the music and movies and tales that inspired me for an awesome and adventurous future.

So I made the jacket, and I made a playlist. Now I’m making a QR code to embroider onto the same jacket, which may be what led you here.

That future is here! Let’s remember it.

Remember the Future: The Listening Jacket’s Playlist

Here’s a previous list I made: Science Fiction and Fantasy in rock and metal


Real News of Fictional Worlds, March 2019

Beware the Ideas of March!
Hey everyone, and welcome new readers! I hope that you’re all enjoying your March, wherever you are.

For those who may not know, the Ides of March are famously proclaimed to forecast doom in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”.

I came across an idea from this view of March, and enjoyed it so much I had to share it:

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…I wish the above image was from a real knife holder. It is instead a photoshopped work, based on the characterization of Julius Caesar in the classic comic series Asterix.

In any case, like the end of Julius Caesar, this past month of February was short and intense. Fortunately that was the only similarity.

2 months into my Master Plan
My 2019 plan for world domination was to complete and release 11 new books 2019, from 11 different manuscripts that I have in various stages of completion.

January was ahead of target – I managed to redraft 2 novels! I had hoped for a similar good run in February, to give me a total of 4 works that might only need some minor sanding before releasing. But reality intervened and I “only” managed to finish redrafting most of one. It needed more work than I thought, and I had less time than I thought.

I could be down about this – but why? The goal was nuts in the first place. I’ve gotten a lot more done than I might have otherwise–and the year isn’t over yet. : )

I’ve also decided to concentrate on completing and releasing series of novels. This is both for my creative and professional growth. So I still plan to finish 11 books this year – but now 2 of those 11 will be entirely new stories. This will take more time, and could push me behind this almost absurd schedule. 

We’ll see. I’m going to keep chugging at it, all the way up to December 31st! 

Which is why I decided to bring one of my other partial manuscripts to the front of the queue:

Creating with a Day Job

It’s hard to get creative work done while we work on other things. It’s also doable, and improvable. I’ve accumulated a lot of different methods that work for me, and I continue to refine them. A lot of them are tailored towards writing, as you may be able to tell from the fact that you’re reading this in a newsletter. But I’ve also pursued photography and music while paying the bills with other skills.

What’s most important is balancing the doing with compassion, kindness and self-care throughout.

So I’ll keep all of that in mind in a meta sense, and abide by it I strive to complete it. I’ve set a release day for May 1st. as “International Workers Day”.

Workers of the World, create! You have nothing to loose but your brains. (Spelling of loose intentional.)

Upcoming Conferences

As I mentioned last month, I’m heading to check out this year’s Nebula convention in May. I enjoyed last year’s Worldcon so much that I’m giving this one a shot too. 

I’m also happy to be on a couple of panels at the upcoming FogCon. Which I just realized in writing this newsletter, is next week! One is a full panel I proposed on the topic of creating with a day job. I’m already psyched for that. The other panel is on AI in modern science fiction. I have a particular interest in this topic, having not only dedicated my novella Underclass to an exploration of this but also in my day job seeing the continual expansion of machine learning to things we don’t fully understand.

Fogcon is a fun conference that I heartily recommend. It is small and strong, but not intense in the way that Julius Caesar and Asterix are. Maybe more like Kristen Bell or Peregrin “Pippin” Took.

On another note, Dragons vs. Sky Pirates!
I am very happy and proud to feature a new book in a new series by fine writer Daniel Potter.  The book is “Dragon’s Price”, and it’s the first in his new series “Scales and Sky”.

I also can heartily recommend his previous series “Freelance Familiars” – a  fun modern urban fantasy romp that puts these magical animal sidekicks front and center.

The gift of darkness

In other promotional news, you can give and receive the gift of darkness. : ) My series “Ghost Magnet” and many other books by other fine authors in the Adult Urban, Epic and Dark Giveway.

My first and perhaps still most controversial novel “Two-Fisted Jesus Tales” is also available as part of the Fantasy Book Binge.

Go ahead and get some ebooks. You’ve earned it. The price is hard to beat, and they’re even throwing in the photons free of charge.

If you enjoy one of my tales from the above offerings, please do leave a review on Amazon via the handy links in their titles. You can also check out their other books on their Amazon author page, such as mine.

Bookbub for Books, Bub
I’m on Bookbub, and in addition to listing my own books I’ve started writing reviews of some of my favorite others’ works. If you’d like to follow me there, click below.

What’s next?
I get more writing done, I enjoy Fogcon and I have more to report back. I may even have a rough draft of “Creating With a Day Job” to send to interested beta readers. We shall see.

Wherever you are, keep on imagining, ~ j : )


Real News of Fictional Worlds in the New Year, February 2019

Greetings new subscribers!
Very nice to meet you, and thanks for subscribing! As you’ll see, I like to have a freewheeling newsletter that covers what’s happened this month in the universe in general, in my writing in particular and with my upcoming works.

For all my previous subscribers, it’s lovely to be chatting at your sensory apparati once again.

1/12th of the way through this year, in words
As mentioned in my January newsletter, my shoot-for-the-moon-and-gain-at-least-the-mountains goal is 11 new works of at least novella length this year. This includes at least 6 full novels.

Fingers and tentacles crossed, so far I’m on course! I’ve done the first draft of one novella and the second draft of a novel. I’ll be sending them out to beta readers for feedback soon. As I also still have a day job, and I also would like to keep up my habit of sleeping at least once every 24 hours, the effort has me thoughtful about proportion. It’s about work/life balance, and about still enjoying the creative job I’m giving myself – and it’s also about having and growing a small business and respecting myself as a resource. How do I keep enjoying my creative part with, it amuses me to say, optimax efficiency?

A question that comes from that is, what do I most enjoy writing? And how might that intersect with what people like to read?

I don’t have a full answer yet–which is another reason to charge through these 11 potential works. They vary, like my interests. One is an existential fantasy about a detective in Hell; one is a military science fiction thriller about an alien invasion like we haven’t seen before (thankfully, not in real life or in fiction). One is an urban fantasy set in some of the vagaries of our current startup-tech-driven times; another is an epic fantasy exploration of civilizations that could have faded before history. Yet another is the tale of a warrior Schnauzer-Dachsund who longs to be a Dragon Hound, because I love the idea and it seems almost too cute to bear.

(Not my commissioned art – at least, not yet. Etsy has a lot of really amazing work.)

What might work best? Perhaps I’ll know more by December. No matter what particular style, genre or tone ends up making me and others happiest, I expect to always enjoy trying my hand at something new.

Upcoming conferences
I’ll be at this year’s Friends of Genre Convention AKA FogCon in March, and I’m stoked. “Friends of Genre” is a small but fierce conference driven by love for fantastic fiction and fan participation. One of the panels I proposed is “Creating With a Day Job”. I really hope this panel is approved – it’s something I’ve spent some years figuring out for myself. I look very forward to sharing what’s worked for me and hearing about other people’s processes and challenges to do the same. I hope and expect this will help me towards putting my own information into a nonfiction book that can be of help also.

One of the other possible panels at this year’s Fogcon is the intersection of science fiction, fantasy and music. Reading about the panel’s existence lit me up to explore this on my own, especially the hard rock/heavy metal side. For the curious, here are some YouTube playlists I’ve put together as research. Some of the most fun research I’ve done yet.

I’m also biting the bullet to check out this year’s Nebula convention in May. Worldcon was such a fantastic experience that I’m interested in this other big convention as well. I look forward to meeting writers, learning more about writing and publishing, and seeping in the world behind creating worlds of the fantastical.

  If you enjoy one of my tales from the above offerings, please do leave a review on Amazon via the handy links in their titles. You can also check out my books via my author page.
Bookbub for Books, Bub
I’m on Bookbub, and in addition to listing my own books I’ve started writing reviews of some of my favorite others’ works. If you’d like to follow me there, click below.

What’s next?
I go through the drafts I completed this month. One is the supernatural hard-boiled detective novella  tentatively titled “Deviled”, and the other is the sequel to my urban fantasy “Wishful Thinking” about a troubled troubleshooter for magical startup companies. Then they’re off to an editor, and then to beta readers, and then to the world at large. : ) 
That’s me for this month.

Wherever you are, keep on imagining, ~ j : )


Real News of Fictional Worlds, January 2019

Real News of Fictional Worlds in the New Year, January 2019

New year, new people, newsletter
As I launch into the new year, I realize many of you are are new to my newsletter. Let’s introduce ourselves. I’m a science fiction and fantasy author who loves to pursue ideas as far as they will go. My favorite writers include Robert Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, Jack Vance, Lee Child, Stephen Colbert, Arundhati Roy, Hunter S. Thompson, Garth Ennis, Patton Oswalt and Robert Anton Wilson.

What stories do you like, who do you like to read, and what do you like to do? If you feel like it, respond to this newsletter and tell me a bit about yourselves.

The year to come
New Year’s resolutions are great, but I really like the idea of New Year’s plans. What specific new things are we going to do, and when?

So in the week before or after January 1st I sit down with a calendar and plan it out. I give what seems like a reasonable amount of time on a monthly basis to what I want done that month. And I very specifically include spacing for friends, family, holidays, events, and just room for me to breathe.

The year as it happens will *naturally* end up being different in some ways. To paraphrase Eisenhower, no battle plan survives the start of battle. But when you have a plan, your forces are already in order. You can shift them much more easily to take advantage of unexpected opportunities and work around unplanned obstacles. You can adjust and move forward, and most importantly get more fun things done that you want to do.

So here’s to all of your goals and deeds, and joys and peace, large and small, in the upcoming 2019.

Fresh For 2019
In my specific plans, I have 11 manuscripts moving towards completion. My goal is to release all of them this year – and maybe more. Six of these are books in continuing series, 3 are stand-alone works, and 2 are first books in entirely new series and genres – 1 in military SF and 1 in epic fantasy.

Also, since I first began indie publishing in earnest about a year ago, I have had enough success with my agglomeration of writing and production methods that I’m putting them together into an ebook. I’m looking at doing some presentations and panels discussing these and similar methods in upcoming conferences.

We’ll see how it goes. 🙂

Fun From Day 1
I’ve already gotten to have quite a lot of fun. All of these pictures were taken New Year’s Day.

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Putting a disco ball on a forklift and raising the roof to the sky.

Mixing art, technology and fun in any way they like. 

Bouncing into a brand new year.

Current book promotions
My current books are in the following promotions below. For those of you who are new to my list, these promotions are fine ways to discover other authors too – all for the very hot and “in” price of free.


My book Two-Fisted Jesus Tales, Book 1: The Book of the Job is in the It’s a Strange World promotion until January 22nd.

Also the sequel is on my list to complete and release this year!

From January 1 to January 15th, my horror/fantasy novella Lessons Learned is in the Dark Start to 2019 promotion. It’s also collected in my short story collection Hyperspace Radio, which heretofore unmentioned supervillain the Evil Reverend Dr. Cosmotron called “An entertaining overview of realities I look forward to destroying.”

I’m also proud to share my new novella Underclass in the Earthbound Sci-Fi promotion. It has me feeling quite good about tales of things possibly going very bad,

And my novella Ghost Magnet, the first in my series Crime and Magic in the New Russia, is in Fantasy Firsties until January 31st. It’s also still available with other fine books in the Winter Fantasy Reads promotion until January 9th.

If you enjoy one of my tales from the above offerings, please do leave a review on Amazon via the handy links in their titles. You can also check out my books via my author page.
Bookbub for Books, Bub
I’m on Bookbub, and in addition to listing my own books I’ve started writing reviews of some of my favorite others’ works. If you’d like to follow me there, click below.
What’s next?
The first of my 11 planned releases for this year is a hard-boiled detective story set in Hell. The working title is “Deviled”. I hope to have more information and a release date by the time of my next newsletter.

That’s me for this month. : )

Wherever you are, keep on imagining,
~ j : )


Real News of Fictional Worlds, December 2018

Earth Present
And….wow. That was quite a month.

20Books Vegas 2018
….was grand. It was a gathering of authors who are reaching past the gatekeepers of traditional publishing, to follow their own passions and pursuing excellence in their craft. People engaged in getting empirical feedback directly from their readers, and making changes to their works in real time. And perhaps most of all it was a lovely community of people pursuing all of the above.

I also had a chance to wander through Las Vegas, which I hadn’t really done before. The neon sign graveyard I wanted to see was unfortunately closed – I did get some nice pictures. Then I got to wander through several casino. Las Vegas after the age of neon still seems quite in line with its classic essence. That essence, to paraphrase Hunter S. Thompson: “Shoot the pasties off the nipples of a ten-foot stripper at 20 paces, win a cotton-candy goat.”

NaNoWriMo, overachieving, and Science Fiction Music
The Vegas outing also fell in the middle of National Novel Writing Month, a yearly challenge to write a book from start to finish in 1 month.

Since I’ve done this before, I figured I’d really up the challenge and do two novels, for 100,000 words.

To achieve this output while retaining my day job, going to to a conference and even enjoying Thanksgiving, I relied heavily on the software Dragon Dictate. It’s a software program that transcribes speech into text, which can be a lot quicker than typing – especially for a first draft. This also meant I was speaking in punctuation for a couple of hours a day, to where it began to bleed into every day conversation. At one point I was talking with someone and I said “Sure comma sounds good let’s do that period”.

With 5 days left I found myself in the interesting position of having finished 2 novels, and still having 12,000 words to go. So I dug up another half-completed draft, and finished that one too.

On Thursday evening November 29th, And also a great and heavy band was playing up the street, the epic Red Fang – with two opening bands with very interesting names, “Telekinetic Yeti” and “Frisco”.

I had 2500 words to go. So of course, I did the responsible thing in order to keep to my goals.
I went to see these bands.

They all were great, and I thoroughly recommend them. I bought T-Shirts of Telekinetic Yeti in particular, because they looked like the bands sounded – the sonic version of 70s sword and sorcery bookcovers.


I was not disappointed. For once, pretty rare in random shows, they all were frickin’ as great as their names let on.

Telekinetic YetiFriscoRed Fang

NaNoWriMo, overachieving, and Science Fiction Musi

The next morning of November 30th, I rallied my hard-worked brain and pushed through the last batch of words. Results: victory!

Out now With all that flew past in November, I was glad to be able to release this new work as well – my standalone novella, Underclass! It’s the tale of a man trapped in a future ruled by AIs, who have determined a uniquely distressing solution to income inequality. Released on Dec. 1. Thanks to all my ARC team who reviewed it.

Current E-giveaways I’m also involved in some giveaways of my own, below. Lots of other fine books are available there besides mine, feel free to check ’em out.

Stay in from the cold and sometimes bloody outdoors, with my supernatural crime novella Blood and Hope, as part of the holiday promotional giveaway I’ll be Home for Witchmas through December 31st. 
From Dec. 10th to the 16th, my
Twilight Zone-esque Hyperspace Radio  will be available as part of SFF Book Bonanza’s typically great December promotion.
If you don’t have a chance to check it out that week, then for the following week of Dec. 18th to the 23rd it should be available here
for $.99 in human Earth dollars, or the suitable equivalent in interdimensional galacticredits.
My novella about a young man who becomes a troubleshooter for magical startups, Wishful Thinking, is available through Jan 2. 2019 as one of many Winter’s Tales.

The next book in this series is one of many books I’m looking forward to releasing in the coming year.

And rounding the trend of eerie tales in the brisk winter, I’m proud to have my tale Ghost Magnet in the fine promotion Winter Fantasy, from December 12th through January 9th.

If you enjoy one of my tales from the above offerings, please do leave a review on Amazon via the handy links in their titles. You can also check out my books via my author page.

What’s next?
A lot. I’m compiling a list, and checking it thrice, of the many manuscripts I want to complete and release in 2019. I expect this to include a second novel-length installment in my Quantum Mechanic series, a sequel to Two-Fisted Jesus Tales #1, and perhaps the first in a series of epic fantasy and the first in a series of military SF. There have also been a number of requests to make “The Warthog School of Vocational Magic” into a series as well. I’ll also create things I haven’t even planned on. I’m stoked for all of it and more.

Also I might even, I don’t know, take a nap at some point. I hear they can be wonderful.

Bookbub for Books, Bub
I’m on Bookbub, and in addition to listing my own books I’ve started writing reviews of some of my favorite others’ works. If you haven’t heard of Bookbub, it can be a great way to find explore authors, books and genres. If you’d like to follow me there, click below.

And wherever you are, keep on imagining, ~ j : )


Real News of Fictional Worlds, November 2018

Earth Present
Many things happening in November!

What happens in Vegas comes back from Vegas
….if what happens involves books.

I’m going to Vegas! Specifically, to a great convention of and for independent writers and publishers such as me. : )

And, on November 8th I’ll be proud to be part of an author signing with a lot of very big new names in science fiction and fantasy. Including Craig MartelleMichael Anderle and more.

As I send this out, it’s a few days before National Novel Writing Month. One of the funnest month-long marathons I’ve ever been on.

Since a lot of people who read also want to write, I heartily recommend this as a fun way to just step in and do it.

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For those who haven’t heard of it, it’s a challenge to write a novel from start to finish in one month. You can plot beforehand – or not. The rules are simple: write a new block of 50,000 words from Nov 1st to Nov. 30th.

It’s a great way to explore ideas you otherwise might never get to – and even better, it’s a fantastic way to get past the unhelpful amount of self-criticism many people can have. It’s a lark. And also, it’s statistically near impossible for all 50,000 of those words to be bad.

And if you hit that 50k, then in just about a month from now you can legitimately call yourself a novelist. 🙂 🙂

For me, since I’ve done this almost every year since 2005, I’m upping the challenge on myself – I’m going for writing two novels for at total of at 100,000 words. I’m training up for it by breaking in a new coffee maker. So far, so caffeinated, so good.

This month’s out-there pictures
A lot happened in October, but this caught my eye. It was Fleet Week, and the Blue Angels acrobatic team were performing acrobatic air stunts over San Francisco. Pretty amazing. I brought my camera.

This guy wanted to take pictures too. So he somehow bribed or scaled his way up to the top of this tower…

…to take pictures with his cellphone.

That was in some ways more amazing than the Blue Angels.

….and Halloween
Halloween pictures, fresh from last night. Much fun was had. With these below, part of the fun for me was figuring out who they were. If you want to play along, the answers are below my signature in this newsletter. Enjoy. : )


November novels already written

This upcoming month brings us Thanksgiving, also known as Turkey Day. I’m rather sentimental about it – I consider it an opportunity to celebrate family and friends, and be thankful for what we have. So do enjoy it, and consider that Christmas will be here soon enough.

Also for this month, in addition to traditionally sleep-inducing amounts of food, are some book giveaways.

First and foremost is a book by the team of J. T. Lawrence and M.J. Krauss. They have a new urban fantasy novel “The Highfire Crown“.

The first in the six-book series “Blood Magic”, it puts you right in the action from the first page. Currently FREE in Kindle Unlimited, and 99 cents in Amazon through the month of November.

I’m also involved in some giveaways of my own, below. Lots of other fine books are available there besides mine, feel free to check ’em out.


My novel “Two-Fisted Jesus Tales: Book 1” is part of “Bleak Midwinter“. So stay warm and indoors with my tale of Jesus as Chuck Norris. My own little Twilight Zone, the Hyperspace Radio short story collection has been doing quite well. I’m proud to have it in good company with the StarVember giveaway.
My novella about a young man who becomes a troubleshooter for magical startups, Wishful Thinking, is available in the promo at Prolific Works.

I’ve also finished the second in this series, and expect to release it soon.

And last but never least, I’m proud to have my tale Ghost Magnet in a fine collection of horror thrillers, The Hunger paranomrmal and horror fiction giveaway.


If you enjoy one of my tales from the above offerings, please do leave a review on Amazon via the handy links in their titles. You can also check out my books via my author page.Bookbub for Books, Bub
Rounding out a lot of things going on, I’m now on Bookbub. It’s a great way to find out about authors and books, and explore genres that you’re interested in. If you’d like to follow me, click below.

What’s next?
News of how November went, a report from Las Vegas, and maybe Halloween pictures too! Also more upcoming novels, short stories, books and more tales.For now, may the Great Pumpkin benevolently watch over you; and may the spookiness of the season brings the sweetness, and not only in the form of candy.

And wherever you are, keep on imagining,

~ j : )

P.S. Answers to the above costumes.
1. Good Janet, Derek and Bad Janet from the show “The Good Place”. If you haven’t seen it, I recommend it.
2. The eye of Sauron. Yes, that’s right. Salesforce frickin’ Tower apparently dressed up for Halloween. A bit on the nose perhaps, but cool.
3. Universal Health Care. (I didn’t come up with the pun myself, but respect.)

~ j


Real News of Fictional Worlds, October 2018

Earth Present
It would have been great to rest a bit after something as big and fun as last month’s Worldcon76. It is also almost always great to do things.

With Halloween on it’s way, I chose to do things. : ) So, in addition to writing and editing as per usual, I had a huge amount of fun photographing the costume creators, audacious models, and good friends Chanterelle Grover and Shelby Pujol. Their typically superb, unique and evocative outfits marked our fourth shoot this year.


I’m planning to make a book from all of these ventures, including an exploration of the creative processes that went into bringing these images to life. It would be technically nonfiction, but the art itself as shown by their costumes is fantastic and therefore fantasy.

One of the biggest rewards for this batch of artistic effort was just the big-eyed wonder on little ones’ faces, and the wide smiles on the faces of older ladies. Compliments abounded for Shelby and Chanterelle, as they should.

Next on the launchpad
Two-Fisted Jesus Tales #2
I’m very glad to be working on the sequel to “Two-Fisted Jesus Tales, Book 1“.
It’s titled “Doublecrossed” : ) I had originally planned these satirical adventure tales as a trilogy, or a trinity if you will; but now I think publishing it in two parts works perfectly.

The first draft for the whole series was done in one continuous 3-month stint. Then I split off “Book 1” to bash it further into shape. It’s interesting to return to the next set of first-draft words, preserved fresh like salmon splashing in a flash-frozen river.

If I can keep to the schedule I’ve set for myself, I’ll have an alpha version ready by the end of this very October. At which point Halloween and National Novel Writing Month both happen, and all bets are off.

I’m also putting the finishing touches to “Underclass” – a tale of an Artificial Intelligence solution to income inequality, and it’s aftermath.

This will be ready to hit ebook e-shelves by the end of November. Want to read it for free, and before it’s released? Just let your eyes continue their journey to the next paragraph.

Want to join a team of elite ARC professionals?
For those who may not know, ARC stands for “Advance Reader Copy”. It also means I’ll send you a free Kindle copy of my next novella. Once you’ve read it, it would be fantastic if you’d post an honest review on Amazon within a month and send me a link to your review. Limited spots on this elite force are available. First come, first served.

Strange worlds for sale

This month some of my tales are served with many authors in a ghoulish smorgasboard. All for the very reasonable price of free, with additional free virtual pumpkin spice.

I mean, it might look like blood in some light. But that’s red pumpkin spice those ebooks are covered in, I swear.

My short novel “Lessons Learned” is part of the above Halloween Spooktacular Giveaway – a dangerous treat of chilling tales just in time for Halloween.

It’s about a child who wakes up with an alien attempting to take over his mind. Perhaps he could hold it at bay and defeat it – if he didn’t have to go to school, in the society they’ve already taken over.

I’m also proud to have my recently completed  supernatural thriller “Blood and Hope” in the Short and Awesome book giveaway. Many other author’s quick reads with strong impacts are also available.
And new for me, I had just decided to start working with Instrafreebie – and then they changed their name to “Prolific Works”. : ) They have many fine books to offer, by any name. I’ve just put my short story collection Hyperspace Radio into their Ex Machina SF Giveaway.
Also newly available for via Prolific Work’s Discover the Magicgiveaway: my novella Wishful Thinking. This is the first in another episodic novella series, on a troubleshooter for magical startups in San Francisco.

If you enjoy one of my tales from the above offerings, please do leave a review on Amazon via the handy linked book titles.

What’s next?
Some further thoughts on writing, some further writing, and some photography too. It’s all great and beautiful, and my privilege to share any bit of it with all of you.

And wherever you are, keep on imagining,

~ j : )


One piece of art over the line

An interesting thing just happened to me. It’s taken a long time to happen, and I didn’t even realize I was crossing this threshold until it was a second behind me, and it was done.

I don’t ever need to hear another Red Hot Chili Peppers song ever again.

Just like that, it just happened. It wasn’t even a choice, it was an after the fact report from something deep inside my psyche.

Something similar happened to me with Led Zeppelin, who I really enjoyed. One day I was driving somewhere, and a Led Zeppelin song came on the radio, and it was like a switch flipped. After all of the thousands of listenings, I had heard them exactly enough times. I had no need to hear a single song more.

And it doesn’t really make me sad. I still love Led Zeppelin. I’ve just heard all the Led Zeppelin I need to, and I’m complete. Maybe for the rest of my life. Or maybe just a cooling-off period of several years.

A lot of art can be the same. And that means a lot of writing. And that means making new things, changing things up. It means new works in the style of flavors we liked in the past.

This is the progression of many human things. I think in all of us to some degree, and definitely in many of us to a strong degree, there is a satisfaction of things that can be reached. And at that point, if not before, there is not just a desire but a need for something new.

Here’s to finding those new things we enjoy, and making those new things we enjoy making.


Real News of Fictional Worlds, September 2018

Earth Present
So many things happened recently. I’ll be savoring them and writing about them for many days.

The beloved and amazing hacker space Noisebridge held an event that wasn’t only great – it might be the most honestly titled event I’ve seen in a while. The Stupid Shit No One Needs and Terrible Ideas Hackathon.

The standout for me, pictured below, was a device to count home many times you chew.

In the very next week I was able to attend an evening with George R. R. Martin of “Game of Thrones” fame. This was a benefit event for the great magazine Locus, and an appetizer for the upcoming original and still most prestigious science fiction conventions Worldcon 76. He discussed many and sundry things, including the most asked question: when in Westeros’ name he’s going to finish Book 6 of Game of Thrones.

Enough notes were taken for me to turn that into an entire separate blog post.


And then Worldcon76!  The oldest, first and from what I’ve seen the best science fiction and fantasy conference.

I’ve never been to a Worldcon before. I’m now a believer. Besides the many expert and informative panels, including a superb workshop on worldbuilding by the multiple Hugo winning N. K. Jemisin, there were great random moments like a conversation over a coffee with new grimdark fantasy author Anna Spark Smith. Her Tower of Living and Dying comes quite well reviewed. It was a fun enough chat for me to write up as well, so if I check in with her and she’s fine with it that might be another fun blog post too.

More posts to come, in here and on the blog. My biggest takeaways:

  • So many people really care about science fiction and fantasy. They not only celebrate it, they love it and want it to be the best it can be.
  • When people who care deeply about the same thing, and are in the same place, it can create a real and rare feeling of loving community.
  • I need to write more books.

Latest to the Launchpad
With all of that going on, I was very happy to complete a new novella and the third in my series Crime and Magic in the New Russia. It shows our heroes Aurelian and Lyita involved in a whole new level of dangerous magic, and all the trouble that can bring.

Blood and Hope

It took a while to write, and it was fun the whole time. Now on sale at Amazon, and wherever a kindly book store will order it for you. And if you check below, for a while it will be free.

Strange worlds for sale
I’m happy to have some other works also promoted this month. They all offer the chance to explore the works of many authors, at the same low price of free freeness covered in free sauce.

My novella “Ghost Magnet“, which kicked off my urban fantasy series “Crime and Magic in the New Russia”, will be available from Sept 1 through Sept 30th in the Discover Your New Favorite Series giveaway.

The third novella in this series is “Blood and Hope”, also available at the “Science Fiction and Fantasy Bonanza” promotion above.

In just a few days, my short story collection  “Hyperspace Radio” will be available through the Limitless Sci-Fi and Fantasy giveaway. It runs from September 10th through October 13th.

If you enjoy one of my tales from the above offerings, please do leave a review on Amazon via the handy linked book titles.


That was a fair amount, and there’s more to tell. I haven’t even gotten into the many great panels at Worldcon, and pictures, and plans.

But that can be for another time. I return you to your other regularly scheduled trans-etheric communications.

And wherever you are, keep on imagining,

~ j : )


An Evening with George R. R. Martin – Jester on a Throne of Games?

A couple of weeks ago I got to attend “an evening with George R. R. Martin.” This a fundraiser for the great Science Fiction and Fantasy magazine Locus, and an informal introduction to the similarly legendary grandfather of all science fiction conferences Worldcon.

Martin was being interviewed by John Picacio, an excellent fantasy artist and an able interviewer in his own right.


How was it?

As would be expected but was still reassuring to experience, it was very interesting. George R. R. Martin, for any not familiar with this name, is the only full heir to Tolkien in terms of popularity in the same field. Even in larger fantasy non-medieval influenced fantasy, there’s the worlds and publishing empires built by Tolkien, Martin and J. K. Rowling of Harry Potter – and then there’s everybody else.

Analog SF magazine, from July 1975. This picture may have played a role in Chewbacca’s character design.

Martin can even be credited for his part in a chain of events that led to the Star Wars character Chewbacca. Chewie’s character design appears to have been influenced by the magazine cover for one Martin’s earliest short stories, “7 Times 7 Never Kill Man” – published in 1975.

In an evening of pretty interesting discussion in which Martin came off as refreshingly direct, focused, and devoid of bullshit, Martin mentioned some pretty interesting things. Including…

Okay, let’s cut to it: is Martin going to finish “Game of Thrones” or not?

Short answer: I don’t know. At least he has some new pages from the next alleged book to share.

Longer answer: I’m pretty sure he will.

The biggest question on everyone familiar with the Game of Thrones series is: “Will you finish it?” There seems to be only one book left. And Martin, a writer who usually has great speed as well as skill, took 5 years to write the most recent novel in the series “A Dance With Dragons”. That was seven years ago. He’s been writing the sixth novel since then – in theory. He has also announced that this novel now is next to last.

This question was answered before any discussion with Martin even began: “Yes. He knows. Don’t ask.”

Here’s why I think he is going to finish the original series within the next few years :

Martin really caught my ear with a statement that HBO is currently considering five different possible TV shows in the Game of Thrones universe. At least one is currently moving forward to a pilot.

George R. R. Martin, an author who holds the power over many fans lives and dreams, left. John Picacio, an artist not normally known as a devastator of nerds, right.

The final season of Game of Thrones starts broadcast  in 2019, and Martin has already told the showrunners the end he plans for Game of Thrones. So the TV series will definitely end, whether or not he completes his versions that he is writing. HBO will be strongly motivated to fill in the hole for its most successful series since the Sopranos. So at least one of those pilots is likely to hit.

And relatedly, Martin shared how in just a couple of months he wrote another 450,000 words in the Game of Thrones universe. Aggravatingly, this still wasn’t the final novel in the original Game of Thrones series. Instead, all of this new text was inspired by setting down the history and backstory of the land of Westeros. As a nod to Tolkien’s encyclopedic history for the world of “Lord of the Rings”, Martin called it his “Grimarillion”.

A selection of that gigantic backstory forms the basis of the new series Martin is launching which occurs before the current Game of Thrones tales.

So frustrating as all of this new text is that doesn’t finish the current job, I think it bodes well.

What Martin might be doing is trying to set the hook of a new series before he finishes the current one. The upside of that is, once one of those new series catches, he might finally be able to finish the current Game of Thrones.

So in essence, and also because I like the worldplay:

He could be trying to maintain his Throne through these sorts of Games.

Argh. Why would he do that though?

In the course of the evening, Martin shared his previous experiences in writing before Game of Thrones. He has already had two careers fail. One was as a novel writer, when after several very successful novels he went against all known advice and wrote a fictional apocalyptic fantasy about rock music. It tanked and took his career with it. His agent stopped calling him. (How odd is that? You’d think people would be smart enough to stay with artists who have shown quality. But so it apparently can be.) He had a lot of debt, and that left him over a barrel and needing to scramble very quickly.

That led to his second career, reinventing himself as a TV writer. He wrote for the 80s TV show Beauty and the Beast. (Not to be confused with the comedian Martin Lawrence’s pilot episode Beauty and the Beast. Reality and Google can be quite tricksy). This lasted 3 seasons and then tanked. But this time Martin paid off all of his debts and saved his money.

This, Martin explained, enabled him to have the time and freedom from fear to start his 3rd career. He got to write something he really wanted to write, which ended up being Game of Thrones.

John PIcacio’s Arya Stark, from his and Martin’s 2012 Game of Thrones calendar which I might have gotten signed.

Martin shared this in the context of advice for writers. His summed-up advice is sage: don’t take on any debt you don’t need. It will leave you free to create in a very uncertain career.

So I wonder if Martin’s delays in completing Game of Thrones are, consciously or unconsciously, influenced by wanting to make sure things can continue before he takes another final step of completing something that’s been very good to him.


OK, maybe so. What else did he talk about?

Martin talked about book production and distribution, and other parts of the more formal business side of writing. Interestingly, but not surprisingly from his position and his stature in the industry, he didn’t consider indie book publishing that much. Of course, he started his third career before self-distributed eBooks and Print On Demand were viable options, so that wouldn’t be part of his needed toolset.

But he also clearly loves books as product and art. This was part of his work with and friendship with the artist John Picacio, who so well introduced and interviewed him.

He also discussed his science fiction fantasy series “Wild Cards”. This came from role-playing games he was playing with other science fiction greats in Santa Fe, including the truly superb Roger Zelazny. They created their own superhero-based RPG, and ended regularly playing four hours and then talking about it until dawn. Martin wanted to monetize it, and so they put a way together.

For Martin, an interesting angle to pursue about the possibility of superheroes was: if you got a super power, would the next thing you do really be to put on tights and fight crime? Or, alternately, would you go knock over a bank? Or set up a business? Or do something else?

This was around the same time that the great comic book writer Alan Moore put forth the legendary watchmen series. Martin considers that both “Watchmen” and the “Wild Card ” series are deconstructing the superhero myth in different ways. With Watchmen, Alan More dealt with the ‘hero’ part. With Wild Cards, Martin was dealing with the ‘super’ part.

Separate from the above, Martin also has a TV pilot coming forth – Night Flyers. It’s based on an early horror story he wrote many years ago.

Did he talk about the show and it’s variations from his books?

He answered a question on this with another question: how many children does Scarlet O’Hara have?

Scarlet O’Hara, the heroine of Gone With the Wind, had three in the book, one in the show and none in reality.

So, Martin concluded, he doesn’t mind the variations that producers are applying to characters for the show, and he will continue to write the characters how he wants to in the books.

Give me some other things he said.

“I’m power mad, I always want power and control but I have none.”

“Influence is not the same as power. They’ll take your calls and listen to your thoughts. It’s a collaborative process too, you have to remember.”

“As you rise in Hollywood you don’t get more power but you do get more money.”

Anything else?

A genuinely adorable gushing forth of George R. R. Martin when he was a young fan, and there really was nothing like comic books and science fiction to light a young person’s dreams.

Martin took a moment to recognize the passing of Steve Ditko. His remembrance led to me writing a separate post just on that. Besides my agreement in acknowledging the passing of a great, I had deep respect for the way Martin held this moment. He showed no fear in acknowledging the sadness of a human being’s passing, and stayed in that moment exactly as long as he felt which gave it the weight that it was due. Death is a fact of life whether we acknowledge it or not. Facing it in ways like this leeches death of its power over us. Keeping it real sets us free.

This acknowledgement also led to Martin to mention that Fantastic Four #20 had his fan letter printed in it. Really this is Martin’s first published work. Some seriously go so far as to say this fan holds insight into his later writing. I don’t know about that in a larger sense, but I love how it shows what a deep fan Martin is. He loves imagination and loves story from his bones, back to his earliest reading days.


Give me a summary.

I guess, in summation:

George R. R. Martin is an excellent writer, who the only real complaint about is that he is taking too long to give people something they desperately want. I look forward to him finishing the Game of Thrones series – if only so much of fandom can move on and find new things to whinge about.