My AnachroCon 2017 Literature Track Schedule

AnachroCon

Here is the literary programming I’ll be taking part in at this year’s AnachroCon convention at the end of February. (M stands for moderator.)

Saturday

1:00—Truth Is Stranger than Fiction
In which our panelists draw literary inspiration from history.
Panelists: James Palmer (M), Beth Dolgner, Bethany Kesler, Dacre Stoker, Leanna Renee Hieber

3:00—It’s a Cold, Cold War
In which our panelists expound on the literature of the Cold War era, from espionage novels to superhero comics.
Panelists: James Palmer (M), Bethany Kesler, Stephanie Osborn

8:00-10:00—The AnachroCon Salon
In which many of our author guests read from, sell, and sign their works.
Panelists: Leanna Renee Hieber, Lee Martindale, Christopher Stasheff, James Moore, Lev Butts, Charlotte Henley Babb, James Palmer, Stephanie Osborn, Jannaea Adams, Charles Rutledge, and More!

Sunday

12:00—Build-a-Character Workshop
In which our panelists and audience create a new steampunk hero—or villain!—and build a world around her or him.
Panelists: Arthur Hinds (M), Jannaea Adams, Lev Butts, Amanda DeWees, James Palmer, Cecilia Dominic

That’s probably not all, so stay tuned for more!

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Sample Comic Script: ROM Spaceknight

A couple of years back I sat down one afternoon and wrote a comic book script, mostly to see if I could do it. I’ve been wanting to write a comic script for a few years now, and I thought I should have something to show an editor should a script writing gig actually turn up. The result is this one you are about to read. I was a big ROM fan when I was a kid, and this was my attempt at bringing him back into the Marvel universe. I hope you will agree. Enjoy!

Rom Spaceknight

Issue #1

“The Return” part 1

by James Palmer

Draft 1.0-10/25/14
Draft 1.2 10/29/14

James Palmer
6025 Bethel Road
Murrayville, GA 30534
palmerwriter@yahoo.com

PAGE 1

SPLASH PANEL 1

In the center of a star field, a golden planet hangs, wreathed in clouds.

CAPTION

The planet Galador.

CAPTION

A forgotten world, it was once decimated by fearsome, shape-shifting entities known as the Dire Wraiths.

CAPTION

These creatures were eventually destroyed by a group of brave Galadorians and their leader, who gave up their humanity to become a powerful protective force known as…

PANEL 2

Zoom in a little closer to reveal the outlines of magnificent buildings and spindly skyscrapers.

CAPTION

The Spaceknights!

PAGE 2

PANEL 1

Zoom in on one city to show the buildings in more detail, gleaming metal, sky bridges, and people, men, women and children, going about their day in bright, colorful clothing. They are talking, laughing, playing.

CAPTION

But now it has been reborn!

PANEL 2

Exterior of a large golden building, with a wide walkway leading up to it. On the edges of the walkway, spaced at intervals, are tall, stone statues of the Spaceknights, standing as if they are still protecting the people of Galador. The last of the statues, standing taller than the rest and near the entrance to the golden building, is a statue of Rom.

CAPTION

The Palace of Galador, home to their leader Rom and his bride, the human Brandy Clark.

PANEL 3

Cut to interior of the palace, in a vast room with a large window and balcony overlooking the Galadorian capital city. Two figures stand close to each other, looking out the window.

BRANDY: Oh Rom, it’s so beautiful. So peaceful. To think we built it up from practically nothing.

PANEL 4

Rom places his hand on Brandy’s shoulder. He is smiling.

ROM: Yes, darling. It was an amazing feat. Of course, we had a little help from Galadorian science. But everything is now as it was before the Dire Wraiths came.

PAGE 3

PANEL 1

Close-up of Brandy Clark. Her curly brown hair is now long, and she wears a diaphanous golden gown.

BRANDY: It was worth it. All the sacrifices…

PANEL 2

Her face takes on a sad look, and we see a panel of her fighting alongside Rom Spaceknight as Starshine, killing Dire Wraiths that lunge for them.

BRANDY: All the lives lost…

PANEL 4

Rom takes his hand off her shoulder.

ROM: Some brave souls lost their lives, all so we could live on Galador in peace once again.

PANEL 5

Rom walks away from her.

ROM: (thinking) But this peace may have come at a price. Once shrouded in little more than legend, Galador is starting to attract undue attention.

PANEL 6

A robed attendant comes in, a tablet-like device in his hands.

VOREX: Rom, my liege. We have just received another communication from a race of beings calling themselves Skrulls. They want to enter trade agreements.

PAGE 4

PANEL 1

Rom waves his hand at the attendant, his face looking grim.

VOREX: Sire, what are Skrulls?

ROM: Just ignore them. As usual.

ROM: (thinking) I am afraid we cannot remain unnoticed forever.

PANEL 2

Rom continues walking, followed close by the attendant, who hurries to catch up.

VOREX: Rom, the Watchers report no sign of Dire Wraith activity.

ROM: Good. Thank you, Vorex. That will be all.

PANEL 3

Frontal view of Rom as he pushes open a set of double doors.

ROM: (thinking) My fear is not the Dire Wraiths…

PANEL 4

Space. A close shot of stars with the curve of Galador in the bottom left corner.

PANEL 5

Identical view to the one before, only this time there is a flash of bright white light.

PANEL 6

Close-up showing the source of the flash, a wispy being with oddly bent legs and a long frill atop its head that goes down its back.

CAPTION

“…My fear is that there are worse things out there than the Dire Wraiths.”

PAGE 5

PANEL 1

Shows the glowing being in more detail.

CAPTION

Stardust, current herald of the world-eater Galactus.

PANEL 2

Stardust looks down at the planet turning beneath its feet.

STARDUST: Another world ripe for the picking. The Master hungers. He will be pleased.

PANEL 3

Stardust extends his right hand toward deep space and sends out a beam of white energy.

CAPTION

Stardust alerts his master that another suitable world has been found.

PANEL 4

Pull back to show whole planet, and Stardust as a white streak that falls toward the golden orb of Galador like a comet.

PAGE 6

PANEL 1

Groups of people looking into the sky and pointing.

CAPTION

Several hours later: From all over Galador, reports of strange lights in the sky come flooding in.

PANEL 2

Rom is sitting at the end of a long table, at which sit his many attendants, scientists, and advisors.

CAPTION

The brightest minds on Galador convene to discuss how to best deal with this strange new threat.

VARIOUS ADVISORS SPEAK: …like a white flame.

It destroyed a Watcher lookout post!

…perhaps the Wraiths have returned.

PANEL 3

Close-up of Rom, raising his hand for silence.

ROM: Enough. I will have order in these proceedings. Vorex, have we attempted to communicate with the…phenomena?

PANEL 4

Close-up of Vorex.

VOREX: Yes, Rom. All attempts to contact the entity have been met with violence.

PANEL 5

A dark-haired man sitting across from Vorex.

TELDAR: Liege, the people are scared. They don’t know what to think. What should we tell them?

PANEL 6

Shot from other end of the table, facing down the length of it to Rom. Every head is turned toward him.

ROM: Tell them not to panic. Remain indoors until further notice. That is all.

PAGE 7

PANEL 1

Stardust lands in a central square near the palace, people running away from him. He points to the sky.

STARDUST: behold, people of Galador. Your doom approaches.

PANEL 2

Every head turns to the sky, where a large shape enters the atmosphere. It is a giant sphere, the size of a small moon. The sky turns dark.

CAPTION

The world-ship of Galactus!

Close-up of the sphere, where we see a door open in the side, and a dark shape emerge, casting a shadow covering miles of buildings.

PANEL 3

Galactus emerges, standing on a platform extended from his world-ship. Pieces of impossibly huge and intricate machinery hover in the air around him, enveloped in energy.

GALACTUS: I hunger!

PANEL 4

Shot from overhead and just behind Galactus. We see from his point of view as the people of Galador run and scurry like ants.

GALACTUS: (thinking) This world is rich with life energies. Unfortunately for its inhabitants, but they are no concern of mine. I shall feast like never before.

PANEL 5

We pull back. Galactus’s hands are outstretched, glowing with the power cosmic as he assembles the machine he uses to suck planets dry. Tiny dots of people are running for their lives far below.

GALACTUS: (thinking) They will flee their world or die. The choice is theirs.

CAPTION

Unbeknownst to Galactus, a third option is in the offing.

PAGE 8

PANEL 1

Back in the palace, we see Rom and Brandy, huddled together, watching the scene
outside their window fearfully.

BRANDY: What is that thing?

ROM: Something I had hoped existed only in legend. Something I learned about from my days as a spaceknight. Galactus, destroyer of worlds.

BRANDY: What are we going to do?

PANEL 2

We see Rom walking away from Brandy.

ROM: Something I should have done long ago.

BRANDY: No, Husband. You can’t.

PANEL 3

Overhead view. Rom is entering a long, dimly lit corridor, with Brandy close behind. There are clusters of barely discernable machinery cluttering each wall.

ROM: I have to. There is no other choice.

PANEL 4

We see Rom and Brandy from behind. In front of them is a gleaming metal figure of Rom in his Spaceknight form, standing in front of a bulky machine.

BRANDY: No. You gave up all that you are to save this planet once, and almost lost it. I won’t watch you do it again!

ROM: No one is asking you to.

PANEL 5

Above and behind Rom as he pulls a sheet from a large console.

ROM: Improvements will have to be made, of course. I just hope this equipment still works.

CAPTION

The long dormant machines hum to life.

PANEL 6

Looking at Brandy’s face, washed in golden light. Her mouth is open, her eyes wide.

BRANDY: Please, Rom, no. Not again.

PAGE 9

SPLASH PANEL 1

We pull back behind Brandy, Rom stepping into the large blocky machine, which has split down the middle and spread open, golden light pouring out of it. Rom is naked now, his clothes piled on the floor. But his profile is black, shadowed by the enormous glow of light pouring out of the machine, Kirby dots coalescing around the machine’s opening.

ROM: What I do, Brandy Clark, I do for the good of Galador.

CAPTION

Forgotten for decades, the mighty machines of Galador hum to life once more, their single purpose to transform the planet’s bravest warriors into living weapons!

PAGE 10

PANEL 1

We’re looking down from above, as Stardust hovers over Galactus as he finishes his energy-siphon.

GALACTUS: You have done well, Stardust. The energies of this planet are like nothing I have yet encountered.

STARDUST: Thank you, Master. I live only to serve.

PANEL 2

A beam of energy strikes Stardust, sending him spinning.

PANEL 3

Stardust recovers, floating prone in the air, white trails of smoke or residual energy come off of him.

STARDUST: Who dares attack a herald of Galactus?!

PANEL 4

Full body shot of Rom Spaceknight, hovering in the air, his right arm outstretched, the hand flat and shimmering with yellow energy. His hand coverings have fingers now, no more mittens.

ROM: I, Rom Spaceknight.

PANEL 5

We pull back to see Galactus, Stardust and Rom, facing off in a semicircle. Galactus is turning a knob on his energy-siphon.

GALACTUS: So, the stories of the fabled Spaceknights are true. This must be your world.

ROM: It is. I command you to leave it at once.

GALACTUS: This planet has energies I require to function. I mean you or your people no harm, but this world must die so that I continue to live. Leave your world at once, or die with it.

PANEL 6

Front shot of Rom, his arms at his sides.

ROM: I know who you are, Galactus. I don’t wish to fight you, but I will do whatever is necessary to protect Galador and its people.

PAGE 11

SPLASH PANEL

We see over Rom’s shoulder looking up at Galactus, as missiles zoom toward him from multiple sources. Some of them strike, hitting the worldship, the energy-siphon, and Galactus himself, as blossoms of fire and smoke erupt at each impact point.

CAPTION

The planetary defenses of Galador go into action.

GALACTUS: Very well. But I warned you what happens next…you die!

PAGE 12

PANEL 1

Back inside the Hall of the Spaceknights, we see Brandy Clark sitting at the console, her head down on it, crying.

CAPTION

Inside she can hear the concussions of missile blasts, and the drone of the palace’s warning system. Outside, she knows a fierce battle is taking place.

PANEL 2

Above the city, Galactus makes adjustments to his machine, oblivious to the missiles and laser fire striking his massive body. Stardust destroys several Galadorian fighter ships as they stream towards him, while Rom is blasting at Galactus with all his newfound might.

CAPTION

The Galadorian military, spurred by the sight of their leader, press the attack.

PANEL 3

Close-up of Rom as he flies toward Galactus, yellow energy beams erupting from both hands.

ROM: (thinking) This new spaceknight body is amazing. My dematerializer is built into my armor. I just hope it’s enough.

CAPTION

And in their midst, a new, improved Rom Spaceknight, once again defending Galador and its people.

PANEL 4

Back in the Hall of the Spaceknights, Brandy looks up as we see a flash of light from behind her. Tears are streaming down her face.

BRANDY: What? Who’s there?

PANEL 5

Brandy turns to see a large being stepping from a circle of light floating in midair.

BRANDY: Who are you? Guards!

THANOS: Fear not, Brandy Clark of Earth. I am Thanos of Titan.

PANEL 6

Wide shot of the chamber. Brandy and Thanos face each other. The circle of light is fading away behind Thanos.

BRANDY: Titan? As in the moon of Saturn?

THANOS: Smart girl. I came to offer you a way out of your present predicament.

BRANDY: What do you want in return?

THANOS: Give me the machinery that transformed your husband into the greatest of all the Spaceknights, and I will expunge the planet-eater from your world forever.

CAPTION

TO BE CONTINUED!

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Star Swarm Now Available for Preorder

Star Swarm cover

My first space opera novel, STAR SWARM, is now available for preorder. It officially launches next Tuesday, but you can reserve your copy now.

About the book:

Man’s outer colonies are being destroyed one by one, leaving nothing behind. Suspecting an old enemy, Captain Henry Kuttner, of the Solar Navy rail-gun ship the Onslaught, wants to investigate.

But the Onslaught is scheduled to be decommissioned, and Captain Kuttner given mandatory retirement on one of the League’s pleasure worlds. But this old war dog isn’t going down without a fight.

Going against orders, Kuttner leads his crew in search of answers. That search leads straight into the territory of mankind’s former enemies, the deadly reptilian Draconi, whose colonies are also being destroyed, and they blame man.

Now the crew of the Onslaught must risk violating a fragile peace treaty and all out war to solve a cosmic mystery before more lives are lost. Only the ship’s maverick second in command and a disgraced Draconi scientist can unravel the secret of this enigmatic enemy and its sinister purpose before it’s too late. But there are certain factions who want the human-Draconi war to begin anew, and they’ll stop at nothing to make it happen.

And meanwhile, in the outer dark, an ancient enemy returns. An enemy known only in the songs of a long-dead alien race. An enemy that leaves chaos in its wake.

A maverick first officer, a misfit crew and an aging vessel are all that stand between humanity and total destruction.

If you like Peter F. Hamilton, David Weber, and Chris Fox’s Void Wraith series, you’ll love Star Swarm, the first volume in an exciting new space opera trilogy.

“Classic military science fiction in the vein of David Weber, with conspiracies and ancient threats throughout. I want the next book now.” –Joseph Cadotte, author of In the Land of Nod

Go and grab it here.

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FREE Book Offer!

I’m still putting the finishing touches on my debut novel Star Swarm, which will be ready very soon. To get everyone warmed up for it, I’m offering the prequel story Chaos Conspiracy, absolutely free. All you have to do is sign up for my mailing list. That way you’ll be the first to know about new releases, my appearances, and get exclusive access to more free stuff as I think of it. Plus you get a free book! What could be easier? To get your free copy of Chaos Conspiracy in your choice of formats (sorry, no papyrus scrolls or clay tablets), go here.

About Chaos Conspiracy: A Starm Swarm Prequel:

The Prequel to the exciting events in Star Swarm.

Special Operations agent Lt. Noah Hamilton thought his mission was easy enough. Go and retrieve an undercover operative Leda Niles and bring her back to home base. But things get more complicated than he’d planned. Now he’s up to his neck in seedy gem merchants, criminals, and a shadowy group targeting remote scientific outposts for some sinister purpose. Now it will take all his training, all of his resourcefulness, to get the job done. That is if Lt. Niles doesn’t get him killed first. It’s interstellar action and intrigue in this short prequel that leads directly into the forthcoming novel Star Swarm: The Chaos Wave Book One.

Go here to get it now, so you’ll be ready when Star Swarm debuts.

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A Change of Direction

Star Swarm cover

And now for something a little different.

The time has come for some restructuring, and I thought it prudent to share some of that news with whomever reads this blog or will read this blog in the future.

The cover you see above is for STAR SWARM, my next book. It is a departure for me, not only in length but also genre, as I am diving into the hopefully more lucrative genre of space opera. I still am planted firmly in the pulp world, and one day I plan on getting back to spinning tales of supernatural detectives and two-fisted heroes, but you can have roots and wings, and if I am going to keep doing this, it needs to be with an eye toward making some money, and New Pulp, while fun, just isn’t a money maker for me. So, if all goes according to plan, the book will be available for pre-order on September 22nd and launch on September 30th, my birthday (because why not?).

Along with this new direction comes some inevitable re-branding and restructuring. The biggest change will be that the website for my imprint Mechanoid Press will go away. The press will still exist; it’s what I publish all of my stuff under, but Mechanoid Press as a brand in and unto itself will be no more. It was just too hard trying to develop content and keep up maintenance on two websites. Then there’s the separate business cards, and the show signage, and the web hosting, and…you get the idea. Streamlining this thing was something I should have done a long time ago, but my concept was too ambitious. Instead of two separate sites I’ll create a Mechanoid Press page on this site that lists all the anthologies and books I put together and published as an editor featuring stories by other authors.

If you look down the right-hand side of the page you’ll see images of my books. I’m working on adding Amazon buy links to them now, so you can check them out with a single click. I hope you will do so.

With this change also comes a shift in focus. My days of producing multi-author anthologies are probably over. I say probably because you never know. Something might catch my fancy later on down the road, but for now it’s just too much trouble for not a lot of payoff. The anthologies and one novel Mechanoid Press has already published will remain in print, there just won’t be anything new in that vein, at least for the foreseeable future.

Paperbacks. In my experience, these are a tricky aspect of self-publishing. They can help sell e-books, but usually don’t sell that well themselves. I have trouble moving them at conventions, mainly because they are usually trade paperback size, and cost around $14.95 or more, a risk for someone at a show to spend on a new author. So going forward I will only produce a paperback if e-book sales warrant it. I don’t know exactly what that number is just yet, but I have a feeling I’ll know it when I see it. I still have one or two promised print editions, and I will get those out. It’s just a matter of money and finding someone to create the back cover and spine. Mainly money.

And those won’t be $14.95 trade paperbacks either. They will be traditional paperback size and priced accordingly. I miss the old days of SF paperbacks you could stuff into your back pocket. I think self-publishing and e-books have brought these smaller books back into popularity, and I intend to find out. I’m going lean and mean, writing science fiction adventures of 40-50k. I will try to put them out fast, writing either a trilogy or a standalone, and build an audience over time.

I know it isn’t a sure thing, but I’m becoming more and more convinced that there’s no such thing. Finding a decent paying job is now as much of a lottery as traditional publishing ever was, and I know personally several people who are making a nice living with self-publishing. Chances are great you’ve never heard of them, they don’t win awards, but they are paying their bills. And they don’t have to court agents or kiss an editor’s ass at WorldCon to make it happen. I will gladly throw my lot in with them any day.

So there it is, more or less. I hope those of you who have been with me so far will continue to stick around. It may not always be sunshine and roses, but it will always be interesting. I will be trying some new things and thinking new thoughts as I go through this process. So please stick around.

As for what’s up next, I’m writing a short prequel story to go with the book, and I will give it away to people who sign up for my newsletter. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, keep watching the skies.

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4 Reasons to Write Faster

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In my last blog post I talked about three pervasive writing myths and how continued belief in them stymies writers.

That post turned out to be rather popular, with lots of likes and shares on Facebook, so I thought I would take one of those myths–that writing fast is bad–and numerate a few of the reasons why writing fast is actually so very good for authors and their writing careers.

So without further preamble, here goes:

1. Fail Faster, Learn Faster

It should go without saying that the best way to learn how to write is by writing. Sure, you should read books on business and craft, but you’ll only get the most out of those if you actually put some of their tenets into practice by sitting down and doing the writing.

Now, within this framework, you’ve got two choices. You can slowly and laboriously write–slaving over every word and editing as you go instead of waiting until the end–and produce a finished book once every year or two, or you can compress all that learning and doing into a few months, producing one or more finished novels in the process. They say it takes ten thousand hours to become truly proficient at something. Would you rather have those ten thousand hours spread over years or compressed down into a more manageable time frame? Sure, six of one, have a dozen of the other. I’ll give you that. But unless you’ve discovered some miracle aging cure, I’ll bet you’re not getting any younger. I know I sure as hell aren’t.

The time is going to pass anyway. Why not spend it doing something awesome?

2. Get in the Flow

Think of your last brilliant passage. It could be a whole page, or a single paragraph. Remember how you composed it? Was it written in the heat of the moment? Or did you agonize over every other word? It was probably the first one, am I right?

This is because you were in what know-it-all scientist types call Flow State, that weird mental zone you enter where everything just clicks in your brain, and the writing flows from you with seemingly little conscious effort. This is the magic time, when you finally get out of your own way and let things just happen. Dean Wesley Smith calls this ignoring your critical voice. You know, that
annoying voice in the back of your head that questions and second-guesses every bit of golden prose that leaks out of your fingers and onto your keyboard? Yeah. That guy. Ball-gag and forget about him until you’re ready to edit, once the work is done. That’s what flow state does for you. And it only comes when you get in the habit of writing fast.

3. Less Editing

Everyone usually equates fast writing with sloppy writing, when the fact is nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, you have to clean up typos. But even slow writers who produce prose at a glacial pace have to do that. I’m not talking about transposed letters and typing ‘there’ when you meant ‘their.’

No, I’m talking about the usual editing that all of us have to and should do. It’s just part of the writing process. But as has been proven time and again by people who write fast, like the aforementioned DWS and Chris Fox, who recently wrote and edited a novel in a record 21 days and launched it on Amazon to great success.

4. Faster Time to Market

We come at last to the biggie, the raison d’etre of being an honest to God, making a living career fiction writer (or any writer, for that matter). This is the business end of writing, and I know most of you want to shut down at this point because, for you, the term “time to market” is right up there with your output being called “content” and people who refer to books as “units.”

Well too bad. I hate to break it to you, but you’re in a business. Creative, yes. But at the end of the day, still a business. And you have to treat it as such. Especially in this new age of indie publishing.

In this new world, Amazon and the other digital publishers pay you once a month. And the more books you have out there, the more visible they will be, the more copies you will sell, and the more money you will make.

See, every time you publish you have a shot of being on Amazon’s Hot New Releases list for that month. Put out a book a month, and you could be on it each and every month, which would show your book to thousands of potential readers. Doesn’t that sound like a good reason to write a little faster than you are already? Hit me up with your thoughts in the comments.

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