About a year ago, Heidi Angell, T.W. Iain, Richard Drake, and I released The Power of Words, an anthology dedicated to the First Amendment. My story for that collection was Stealing Freedom, and fun heist story about a mother who’s planning to shut down the servers that ruthlessly enforce the prohibition of speech and communication on her planet.
As per the agreement we had on that anthology, we’re allowed to release our individual stories (the anthology will remain available) after a year. In preparation for that, I’ve commissioned my artist, Carlos Villas, to do the cover. So, without further delay, I proudly present to you the cover to Stealing Freedom, scheduled for release Oct. 1, 2019.
It always amazed me to see what Carlos does with my concepts. For those who are interested, take a look at my request and little thumbnail:
I told him, “The frame is from the bridge of a girl-child’s nose to just below the collar bone. Around her neck is a metal (techno-looking) collar about an inch thick. Blue electricity is arcing around the collar which is visually undone.”
Carlos patiently went through 13 drafts of the image until we got to the image you see above. The bulk of the revisions were in getting the collar to where we wanted it and then getting that arcing light to look perfect.
He did all that work in perhaps a week? If you’re an author looking for a dedicated artist who will eagerly take direction and produce that level of work quickly, I couldn’t recommend Carlos highly enough.
Once I got the final image, I located a font I liked and designed the overall cover with the author and title text. One may argue my author text is a bit dark, but on a monitor it works out fine. I’d be more worried if it were for a print cover (as printing brings up color and density issues), but if my color-challenged eyes can make it out, I’m confident others can see it. I downloaded the font (for free) and placed everything.
The Audible cover (yes, the audio version of this novella will also be available (I hope) Oct. 1.) was more challenging. In order to keep everything I wanted, I had to place the text over the face. My options were to put text over the face or crop the face out. I opted for the first choice.
Once more, you can expect Steal Freedom to be available on Kindle and Audible Oct. 1 (give or take a day or two).
A while back I did an interview with Short Story Book Club.I’m honestly a huge fan of this interview. First, it focuses on The Power of Words, which I still have free Audible codes for if you’d like to email me for a copy of it. She specifically read my story, Stealing Freedom, but we also talked about the First Amendment, the role of science fiction in society and my time in the military. I honestly think it’s one of the deeper stories anyone’s done about me in some ways. I hope you’ll all check it out. Please like and share the video and subscribe to the podcast. As a note, TW’s name is a bit off, but I’ve spoken to Donna, and she’s working on fixing it (it may be fixed already). Let me know what you think. If anyone has any questions for me after listening, please feel free to ask in the comments below. It was a fascinating discussion.
As those who follow my blog know, I’m a goal oriented man. My goal for this anthology is 100 preorders.
I’d have to admit, even 20 preorders would be good. This helps us out in a lot of ways. When the book goes live, if we get enough preorders, it helps out our ranking, and we’d love to see this book in the #1 spot for Science Fiction Anthologies.
I hope you’ll help me reach my goal. It would mean a lot.
But let’s talk about this great book.
In the beginning, there was the word.
Some religions state that the very universe was created by words. The nation of America was founded using words. Words established the rights and freedoms this nation enjoys. The first of those rights is freedom of speech, which implies so much more than the right to use words.
This anthology contains four stories from four authors. Each story pays tribute to either the ideals held by America’s First Amendment or to the concept that the words people use hold power.
These authors took the concept of words, and placed it in futuristic, apocalyptic, and fantasy settings:
TW Iain creates a world where citizens only seek to hear the words of others rather than consider their own.
Richard T. Drake crafts a world where a leader must speak for the underprivileged masses who simply can not speak for themselves.
Heidi Angell tells of a world where humanity itself is dying, and a man strives to preserve what he can in hope that any who survive will have something with which to remember the world that was.
M.L.S. Weech brings to life a world where words were taken from society, and a mother plots to give those words back if only for her daughter to be able to speak.
The word was the beginning, but it will never end.
I’ll be reblogging and sharing stops on a blog tour we’re participating in. We’ve already gotten some love from J.R. Handleyand Rainne’s Ramblings. Please check out those posts for some real fun and revealing interviews. We have more on the way, but this is a great start.
I don’t think I could be more proud of a project. This started out as a flash of inspiration for my own contribution, Stealing Freedom. I was joined by three wonderful authors, and I’d put these four stories against any others out there.
There’s only one month left till the (hopefully final) deadline for The Power of Words update. If you’re interested and want to know the requirements and submission method, please feel free to click here or just send me an email.
I did have a chance to review the submissions that were sent in so far, so I’m happy to announce that three authors have been confirmed for the anthology!
The contributors so far are:
Here’s his bio. Writing is an escape, and an outlet.
The job, the family, the things that make up a normal life — these are no place for wild, dark ideas. And so, in the quieter moments, TW Iain emerges. He taps away on a laptop, or on a phone, sometimes at a ridiculously early time in the morning, and gives these ideas their freedom. When he’s not writing, he’s lurking in the shadows, thinking about the next story.
Maybe he’s always existed, in the school-boy who filled exercise books with stories. Maybe he was there one winter, when a first novel emerged around shifts at a four mill (a first novel, like many, that does not deserve to see the light of day). Maybe. But he came to the fore at the start of 2015, and work on these stories became serious.
Since then, TW has published three novels and other shorter works in the Dominions series of dark Dystopian thrillers, and the first novel in a new sci-fi/horror series, Shadows. He also posts a free short story every fortnight on twiain.com.
TW’s story is called Ghost Stream. Here’s a summary:
In the Citadel, everyone listens to the Voices, and it is Cass’ job to monitor this, swimming in their streams. But then she stumbles upon the mythical ghost stream, and discovers how this can be used to influence the Voices. With attacks to the north, and a silent protest in the heart of the Citadel, those above her are not happy. And when she works out how to add her own voice to the ghost stream, she knows they are after her.
But is staying silent ever an option?
You may recognize the name. His book Expedient was featured in one of my Book Cover of the Month brackets. So I was just thrilled when he sent a submission. His story went straight to the theme of the anthology. I was excited to read the submission, and I’m happy to say I just received his revisions.
Richard T. Drake:
Here’s his bio. Richard T. Drake is the author of the Hollow World series of Epic Fantasy novels.
At age seven, in the dungeon-library of his 19th-century boarding school, Richard discovered the classic fantasy gamebook The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, and became so lost within the infamous ‘Maze of Zagor’ that he needed to draw a map to find his way out. His love of epic adventure and fantasy has been growing ever since.
He graduated from gamebooks to tabletop role-playing where, as game master, he would invent worlds, draw maps, and weave adventures for his friends. As heroes fell and legends grew, Richard discovered a love of epic storytelling.
Over the next few years, he set to work crafting an original fantasy universe, envisioning a vast array of planets and galaxies bound together by powerful magic, ancient covenants, and the schemes of primordial gods. Finally, the Hollow World was born.
When he isn’t writing, Richard keeps busy with the other staples of a heroic fantasy lifestyle: dressing up in superhero costumes, playing MMORPGs, and collecting an absurd number of action figures and comic books. He’s also a black belt ninja.
His submission is called Catalin’s Gambit. Here’s a summary:
In a shadowy tavern in the slums of Syrentium, one meeting will decide the fate of the city.
Catalin Ruic, a young woman raised in the throat-cutting alleys of the docklands, is about to come face to face with the most powerful and dangerous man in the Circle of Kingdoms.
Her plan goes beyond bravery; it is practically suicide.
But the stakes are too high for half measures. Catalin is the last protector of the lives of her people, and perhaps the very soul of Syrentium.
This is a clever negotiation story I felt had great tension and conflict. It’s clever because lots of authors use fighting for tension. It takes a lot of skill to build tension in a simple conversation. Richard has done that. He’s currently working on revisions based on my initial feedback.
This is particularly awesome as Heidi is a friend of mine I met during my online adventures as an author. She and I did a few panels together, and I’m pretty sure she’s a mind reader. We don’t really disagree on much. She heard about the anthology and was kind enough to send the first book in a new series she’s working on. She’s someone I respect enormously, and I’m honestly flattered she decided to join in on the fun.
Here’s her bio. Heidi Angell is a bibliophile, lexicomaniac and wordsmith. She is the author of The Hunters Saga, The Clear Angel Chronicles, The Hell School Series and Survivalist Bible series releasing Fall 2017. She also created Royal Prince Vince, Creative Exercises to Inspire, and A Penslinger’s Ponderings. When she is not reading and writing, she can be found spending quality time with her family. You can learn more about her and her work here.
Her story, Survivalist Bible – Genesis, is a fun zombie outbreak tale. Where most zombie stories feature people who are ironically suited for such things, her story features a character with no business surviving such an event. What does it have to do with words? Well, our square-peg-in-a-round-hole main character is writing a journal of events for others to reference in order to survive. This is more in line with the prompt of the title than the First Amendment, but that’s just fine. It fits the theme.
Here’s a summary:
Gabriel Llewellyn is a writer. He’d like to be happily wooing women during the off hours of a writing conference. Instead he’s leaping out of windows and fighting off people who’ve suddenly decided to tear apart anyone near by. However it’s happened, he’s left a message in hopes that people will be able to look back at these events and remember. His first words are:
My name is Gabriel Llewellyn. If you are reading this, then I am probably dead. Or infected. Or maybe I dropped it while fleeing the infected. I suppose it is hard to say. I hope it’s the latter.
He’s not suited for survival in this world, but someone comes along to help him survive every time he’s supposed to end up dead, but how many times can he be saved before he has to step up?
I’ve already talked about my contribution here. I’ve already had a few alpha readers get back to me, and I’m pleased to say they liked it.
That makes four stories so far. I’ve had a few people reach out to me and say they intended to submit. I’ve had some stories I just didn’t feel were right for the project. My intention is to select four more stories, so please feel free to send in something if you think it fits the theme. I’d love to see it.
I just wanted to let you all know I’ve added a new link to my panels page.
I had the privilege to join Authors Heidi Angell and J.B. Taylor for a fun discussion about the first two episodes of the new season of Doctor Who and its spinoff Class. You probably want to jump to the 30:51 mark as we had to hash out some technical difficulties, but that’s when the discussion begins in earnest. If you want to see it, You just jump straight to it here.