SciFriday: Short Films

There’s been a couple nifty, buzz-worthy science fiction shorts making their rounds on the Internet of late thanks to pending film deals. First up is Sundays, which has been picked up for the big-screen treatment by Warner Bros. in a bidding auction. Not too bad for first-time filmmaker Mischa Rozema. It’s visually impressive and if the right writer can be found, should make for one heck of a cinematic journey.

Neil Blomkamp and Simon Kinberg have picked up Leviathan, with the script by Fight Club screenwriter Jim Uhls, to be based on a proof of concept trailer created by Ruairi Robinson. The short film, a Vimeo Staff Pick, has a bit of an alien Moby Dick vibe to it, and could make for a terrific silver-screen spectacle.

SciFriday: Short Films

Making 2015 BIG!

One of my big life goal’s was to become a published author before I hit 35. In Feb. 2014 (at the age of 34 – that self-imposed deadline was looming large!), I released Convergence as a creator-owned production after it hit the quarter-finals in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest in 2013 and won acclaim from none other than Publisher’s Weekly. This was easily one of the seminal moments in my life, and I knew better than to rest on my laurels. I put out a short horror story in October called Consumption, which advanced readers responded kindly to, but which hasn’t exactly set the world on fire or found the readership I had hoped for.

Somewhere in between, I’d begun e-mailing back and forth with Lucas Bale, also a new name to the indie sci-fi scene, and we and a few others formed a sort-of writer’s club (dare I call it an Author’s Guild?) where, in addition to being a bit of a support network, we talked of releasing an anthology, which became the No Way Home collection of short stories.

I knew that 2015 was going to be a big year for me. There are certain road-markers that I had envisioned for this year, but even I’m surprised at just how big 2015 is looking, both professionally and personally.

The real big news, and a true surprise for my wife and I, is that we are expecting our first child in September! Talk about burying the lede, huh? We’ve been trying for a few years, and after two miscarriages and no luck with IVF…well, this pregnancy kind of took us off guard. The first trimester is now past us, and we’ve got a ton of work ahead of us to make our home ready for baby Hicks. Lots of planning to do, lots of money to save, and lots of decisions to make. But jeez, can I just tell you how freaking excited I am? I recently got to see our little jellybean in action at a recent ultrasound, where it was jumping around and sucking its thumb. (By the way, I say “it” not to be a detached, callous sounding asshole, but because we’re not really sure what other pronoun to use as we won’t know the gender until maybe the May time-frame.) Easily a seminal moment in my life, even more-so than publishing Convergence!

On the professional side of things, I knew that 2015 would bring about not only the release of No Way Home, but also my upcoming solo release of Emergence, the follow-up to my debut. (Pro-tip: sign up for my newsletter and get early access to Emergence for free before it goes on sale!) So, there’s two titles for the year. I had two titles out in 2014, so how is 2015 bigger and better?

How about the addition of a second anthology? Since Lucas spilled the beans on this a short while ago, I feel safe in discussing it here. This collection will be bound by the theme of crime and punishment, and we’ll be dragging a new author in with us by the name of Ceinwen Langley. We’re aiming for an August 2015 release, and I’ll be giving my contribution some polishing work after I wrap up proof-reads for Emergence. For those of you that may have been turned off by the highly unsubtle political nature of Revolver in No Way Home, you’ll be happy to hear that I’m off that kick for now. Instead of leftist dystopian and gender-rights issues, you can instead expect aliens, gore, and a dash of near-future, old-fashioned, weird Wild West. It’s a bit of a post-apocalyptic sci-fi, western horror mash-up that I really enjoyed writing, and I hope that readers of Convergence and Consumption will find lots to enjoy.

If No Way Home is any indication, our next anthology will be an even bigger hit. I was truly caught off guard at the success of our first anthology, and have been delighted by the responses from readers. There’s a lot of love for this book, and we all did our damnedest to make sure it was a solid and compelling read. It’s been sitting at the top of the charts in Amazon’s Hot New Releases for Sci-Fi Anthologies, peaking at the #1 spot and is currently #3. We’ve also spent all of March in the Top 20 for Sci-Fi anthologies (currently #15). We are very eager to get the second anthology out soon, so expect to hear lots of news on this one in the coming months.

There’s the current plans for 2015 then. Embracing fatherhood, and potentially going overboard with the spoiling of our little one (by the way, I totally want to build this sandbox. Poke around this really cool site run by Ana White while you’re there. So many awesome ideas!) One solo novel and short stories appearing in two anthologies. And then there’s that third anthology I need to get prepared for, which is all about….oh, you’ll have to wait and see. But I’ll tell you this right now, 2016 is looking pretty darn good, too!

Making 2015 BIG!

Review: Apocalypse Weird: Phoenix Lights (Alien Weird Book 1) by Eric Tozzi

PhoenixLights_FT_FINALAbout Phoenix Lights

March 20, 2015

The Aliens Have Come to End the World…

On March 13, 1997, the incident now known as the Phoenix Lights left thousands of witnesses at a loss to explain the sudden appearance of the massive V-shaped craft that hovered in the skies above Phoenix that day.

Now, eighteen years later, the Vs have returned. Bargains will be made with an intelligence beyond our grasp deep within a super-secret government blacksite. Can a crew of TV UFO Busters find out the truth about the visitors or are they going to get far more than they ever bargained for? Whereas once they were blind, now they will see.

Welcome to the invasion.

Welcome to the Apocalypse Weird.


About the Author

Eric Tozzi primarily writes science fiction, a genre especially close to his heart. For over five years he worked for NASA at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a documentary film producer and editor, covering Mars Exploration (go ahead, ask him if he’s a rocket scientist). Getting an up close, behind-the-scenes look at planetary exploration gave him great inspiration for my debut novel, The Scout.

The iconic science-fiction writer, Ray Bradbury, was a personal source of encouragement to Eric. Having directed an award-winning short film based on the story, “Kaleidoscope,” from his book, The Illustrated Man, Eric had the opportunity to spend time with Ray before he passed away. Ray’s passion for writing and space exploration fueled him to the finish line on my debut novel, The Scout.

To learn more about Eric’s work as a filmmaker, visit his website: www.erictozzi.com


My Thoughts

[Note: I received an advanced reader’s copy of this book for review.]

Phoenix Lights is the eighth release under the Apocalypse Weird banner, and easily my favorite of the bunch so far. Each AW author has tackled a regional apocalypse in their own strange fashion, with gamut of creature features running from zombies to demonic gods and goddesses, black magic, and freak weather. Eric Tozzi’s turn at the wheel guides our attention to Phoenix, Arizona and a cataclysmic alien invasion.

Given the pattern of prior Apocalypse Weird books, I was curious how in the heck aliens were going to figure into the overall map of global end-times, and the simple answer is that it does so awesomely. Tossing extraterrestrial invaders into the mix is a really fun and lively way to shake up expectations and provides a fresh take on wicked disasters befalling the human race.

And while the alien stuff is terrific, it would mostly be superfluous fluff without a strong human component at its center. Thankfully, Tozzi has those bases covered with an estranged brother and sister forced to work together while everything around them is turned to cinders. Gage is a contractor for a secret military facility – think Area 51 and you’re on the right track – while his sister, Kristina, works on the opposite end of things as the host of a reality series called UFO Busters, which tries to expose the government cover-ups surrounding extraterrestrial life. When we first meet her and her crew, they are attempting to break into the lab where Gage works. They’re forced together during the violently invasive first-contact scenario that puts them on the run for their lives and band together during the twenty-four hours of blindness that has greeted each apocalyptic scenario of the AW ‘verse. Then there’s Alice, a blind musician who is granted the gift of sight for a brief period, while the rest of the world’s populace are forced to endure their isolated darkness.

Almost directly from the beginning, Tozzi thrusts us into the action, and once all the pieces are in place and the game-board is upended, he just does not let up. Phoenix Lights is a hyper-kinetic, fast-paced read infused with moments of light horror and terrific action. The climax is an epic twist that not only promises more strange adventures for this volume’s survivors, but which also makes this an indispensable addition to the developing AW lore. Apocalypse Weird fans will no doubt be mighty happy with this installment, and for those who haven’t gotten into this line of stories yet, this is a terrific place to start.

Buy Phoenix Lights At Amazon
Review: Apocalypse Weird: Phoenix Lights (Alien Weird Book 1) by Eric Tozzi

Review: First Activation by Darren Wearmouth and Marcus Wearmouth

first activationAbout First Activation

March 10, 2015

Brothers Harry and Jack leave Manchester for New York City for their annual weekend getaway. But upon arrival, they find a silent, deserted JFK, where the few ground crew they can spot have all been slaughtered.

Harry and Jack are military veterans, but they’ve never encountered anything like this.

As they witness the carnage and stumble across murderous madmen in a post-apocalyptic New York City, it becomes clear that escape is the only option—that is, if there is anywhere sane to escape to…

Revised edition: This edition of First Activation includes editorial revisions.


About the Authors

Darren Wearmouth spent six years in the army before pursuing a career in corporate technology. After fifteen years working for large telecommunications firm and a start-up, he decided to follow his passion for writing. He currently lives in Manchester, England and would love to hear from you…

Via email: dwearmou@gmail.com
On Twitter: @darrenwearmouth
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/darrenwearmouthauthor

Marcus Wearmouth was born in Yorkshire and graduated from Northumbria University with a degree in Engineering. He spent six years in the British Army working on missile systems for the Royal Electronic and Mechanical Engineers. After leaving the forces, he started an engineering consultancy specialising in structural subsidence. Marcus loves spending time with his two wonderful children, Andrew and George. He currently resides in Harrogate, England, and is secretly a very gifted bagpiper.

http://www.dampwearmouth.comhttp://www.facebook.com/firstactivation


My Thoughts

[Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, for review.]

First Activation has really strong premise that gets saddled with some middling characterization and improbable behaviors by its leads. Now, that said, I mostly enjoyed the book and found it to be a pretty effective page-turner that could have benefited from a deeper content edit, despite shaking my head a few times and second-guessing certain actions throughout the story.

The Wearmouths craft a fun little survival story about two Brits heading to New York for vacation, but suddenly find themselves thrust into an apocalyptic scenario upon landing. JFK Airport and the surrounding area are lifeless and the dead bodies are piling up. A sort-of plague compels people to kill one person and then commit suicide, in a twisted bit of ‘get one, give one’ horror show. I found it to be a really inventive hook, and it’s a refreshing change of pace from the usual zombie fare that most apocalypses seem to involve nowadays. It’s the kind of premise that instills an automatic distrust of other survivors and keep the tension high.

The two Brits, Jack and Harry, find others survivors to aid them, but they never truly feel like the fish out of water that they are. Imagine being stuck in a foreign land, surrounded by suddenly crazed, homicidal, suicidal maniacs, and being completely lost. Honestly, that would frighten the hell out of me, but Jack and Harry never seem to be put out by the situation. The narration is told through first-person, so we also never get into any of the other character’s heads and can only guess at their emotional states and motivations, which makes things a bit more frustrating. There are casualties that hit pretty close to home, too, but nobody seems bothered by that either, as character behaviors spin on a dime to suit the plot, rather than being an organic change or deeply explored and rooted within the story.

Despite this, I still wanted to know what the heck was happening. I had questions and I wanted answers. How did this apocalypse begin, who was behind it, and why? The high concept of the story was enough to keep me reading, even while some other aspects of the story and its cast felt a bit ham-fisted and poorly thought out. I wanted to know what was coming next, and for that I have to give the authors their due.

Overall, this is a pretty solid two-star read (meaning “it was OK” on the Goodreads scale), hampered by the questionable motives and actions of its cast, which can sometimes be ridiculously inexplicable.

Review: First Activation by Darren Wearmouth and Marcus Wearmouth

No Way Home Launch Success! News! And Convergence Sale!

Our first week of release for No Way Home has been a terrific success, with our anthology landing in the Top 10 (currently Top 5!) Science Fiction anthologies and #1 in Hot New Releases for the sci-fi anthologies in the Amazon US store. It’s done exceedingly well in the UK, too, where it is currently the #2 best-seller in sci-fi anthologies! To say we’re happy with the book’s success is a bit of an understatement.

Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 3.56.18 PM Screen Shot 2015-03-07 at 3.55.51 PM

I think this is a pretty huge deal and I am incredibly honored to have been included in this epic endeavor. I’m sharing page space with a lot of awesome authors, and I’m looking forward to working with all of them again.

That’s right – I said again. We’re putting the band back together. Talks are currently underway for a second anthology release this autumn. I can’t tell you the uniting theme yet, but I can tell you that I’m hard at work on my story, along with book 3 in my DRMR series. And, we’re adding a new voice to this next collection, bringing our author count to nine with the addition of Ceinwen Langley, author of the YA fantasy novel, The Edge of the WoodsHer pitch for the antho is pretty damn terrific, let me tell you!

I’m hoping to have a release day and cover art for book 2, Emergence, nailed down soon, so be sure to keep an eye out for that. If you want to be among to first read it, you may want to sign up for my newsletter, as subscribers will get advanced copies before it hits the retail market.

And, if you haven’t read book 1, Convergence, now is the perfect time to get a copy. I’ve dropped the price down to only .99 cents on all electronic platforms.

convergence-800-cover-reveal-and-promotional| Kindle | Nook | Kobo |

| Smashwords | iBookstore |

| Google Play |

Finally, today is the last day to get the No Way Home ebook for .99 cents, so be sure to grab a copy of that, too!

No Way Home Launch Success! News! And Convergence Sale!

No Way Home Is Out Now!

No Way Home Kindle Purchase at:

Amazon

ISBN-13: 978-1508613299

ISBN-10: 150861329X

No Way Home is now available, and the advance reviews have been coming in at a steady clip. This is a collection that we are all quite proud of, and I’m very pleased to say that our readers have been enjoying what we’ve done here. Check out the praise!

Stephanie Lehenbauer says:

This anthology has a great premise. The unifying theme of being stranded grabbed my attention immediately, and the myriad ways that the authors explored the theme kept me interested all the way through. Every story was interesting, well-written, and utilized the theme in a different way. I really appreciated that diversity…

While all of these stories fit firmly into the realm of science fiction, there is enough urban fantasy to interest fans of that genre as well. Also a bit of romance, some horror, and some exploration of literary fiction. If you aren’t a huge sci-fi person, I would still recommend you give this antho a try. It’s got something for everyone.

AK Hinchey writes:

The high calibre of the writing is maintained throughout the book with each author presenting a unique view on an almost dystopian sci fi future….this is a book worth getting. … It’s an ooey gooey slice of literary creative goodness which you need to get as soon as it’s out.

Kath Middleton:

Although any reader is bound to have favourites there wasn’t a duff story in this collection and I found the length of the stories particularly successful. It allowed the reader to engage with the plot and characters in greater depth than is usual in short stories.

On a bit of a more self-centered note, here’s what Dustin Bilyk wrote about my contribution, Revolver:

Revolver had me fired up from start to finish. It was an emotional rollercoaster. I read the bloody thing in the blink of an eye then slumped into my chair, dazed and bug-eyed. It was the most un-sci-fi work in the entire anthology, but Hicks made it work. Moreover, it was a gratifying read, a feel-good story despite the aggressive, powerful writing. You’ll understand what I mean when you give it a go yourself…because you damn well should. Easily my favorite story in the antho.

Damn, Dustin…thank you!

Speaking on the central issue of depression at the root of the story, Time Heist author Anthony Vicino writes:

It’s beautifully painful and horribly consistent with real life. … it’s so refreshing to see Depression dealt with in a factually consistent manner in fiction. It’s an insidious malady precisely because other people can’t see it, can’t understand the reasons behind it, can’t empathize with it. This only compounds the problem for those suffering from the disorder because the question “What do you have to be so sad about?” is unanswerable, and all the more painful because of that fact.

The time we spend inside the main characters mind is beautiful and sad and well worth the price of admission.

Meanwhile, author David Wailing writes:

Revolver by Michael Patrick Hicks, however, takes the ‘shocking’ gold medal. A classic example of social science fiction, this portrays a nightmarish future America with clear roots in the present day. Ironically this story is the furthest away from the ‘stranded’ theme and yet I found it the most gripping.

Many, many thanks to our advance readers and reviewers for their contributions. I expect lots more voices will soon be joining them in the review threads.

No Way Home is now available for purchase at Amazon. For a limited time, to celebrate this new release, the Kindle edition is on sale for only 99 cents!

Please enjoy, and if you have time, please leave a review and be sure to check out the works of my co-authors as well. Cheers!

No Way Home Is Out Now!

Reblog: A review and discussion of ‘Convergence’ by Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks:

This has to be one of the most thoughtful reviews and critiques that my debut novel, Convergence, has enjoyed thus far.

Tommy – thank you for taking the time to write this, and I’m glad the overall reading experience was positive for you. This means a lot!

Originally posted on Tommy Muncie, Writer:

http://www.amazon.com/Convergence-Michael-Patrick-Hicks/dp/149489436X

http://michaelpatrickhicks.com/

To fully discuss why I’ve spent the last two days pouring over this book would mean spoilers for both the novel itself and my own. Although I can’t do this, I can offer up an appreciation of why I felt so engaged by Convergence that my Nook is now stuffed with notes and I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about the implications of being able to record and play back the human memory.

To cut a long story short for my regular readers and my fanbase: if you like what I’ve written about mind powers, their abuse, the addicts, the social rejection/acceptance of them and how they create both amazing advantages and deep-seated fears, please get a copy of Convergence. I’m pretty damn sure you will love this book. Not only are the themes similar, but you get treated like a grown-up: R-rated content, politics…

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Reblog: A review and discussion of ‘Convergence’ by Michael Patrick Hicks