Posted in Guest Blogger, Planetary Anthology Series

JANESKI: The story behind “Much Madness Is Divinest Sense” in Planetary Anthology Series: Luna

LORI JANESKI TAKES OVER THE BLOG TODAY. LORI’S STORY, MUCH MADNESS IS DIVINEST SENSE, WAS INCLUDED IN TUSCANY BAY BOOKS’ PLANETARY ANTHOLOGY SERIES: LUNA.  TODAY SHE WILL TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HER STORY IN LUNA

 

Science fiction needs more cops.

That turns out to be the motto for everything I’ve been writing recently.  I was pretty much raised on Star Trek, sci-fi classics like The Day The Earth Stood Still and Forbidden Planet; and my mom got me started reading Isaac Asimov and Edgar Rice Burroughs’s John Carter of Mars at an early age.  As far as I can remember, the only sci-fi cop in everything I watched or read as a kid was Elijah Bailey, from Asimov’s Robot series.

I didn’t just love sci-fi; I loved mysteries.  I started reading a lot of Mary Higgins Clark in about fifth grade, and she is still one of my all-time favorite authors (may she rest in peace).  The Queen of Suspense, indeed.  I remember dreaming that I could write a book that someone would stay up until 2am on a school night to finish, just like I did with her books.

After college, I discovered the magic of crime shows when I started watching NCIS regularly, and I have devoured every cop show I could find since then, including classics like Perry Mason and Gunsmoke.

Eventually, I realized something, and had to wonder: why aren’t there more cops in space?  There has to be crime, right?  People are still fallible people, no matter what century they’re living in (unless you’re in the 80s paradise of Star Trek: TNG, of course).  So why is Elijah Bailey the only one I could think of?

At the time, I’d never seen Babylon 5, so I couldn’t include Garibaldi in my survey of space cops.  He is one of the best, but when I started writing my own stories, I’d never heard of him.  I hadn’t even binge-watched Deep Space Nine until well after college, so I couldn’t include Odo in my list of space cops, either.  Even with those two included, the profession is still sadly underrepresented in science fiction.

So, that’s where I got Special Agent David Forbes Carter, from the Interplanetary Police Forces, Division 7.  He and his story have been ten years in the making, and the story I wrote for the Luna anthology is another step in that long, long road from that fifth-grader who stayed up to read Mary Higgins Clark, to the author who finally managed to print an actual story.

The Luna anthology story is part of the same universe as The Carter Files, as well as the short story I wrote for the Freedom’s Light anthology several years ago.  David Carter doesn’t make an appearance in this one, but two other characters do.

“Much Madness Is Divinest Sense” is the first line of an Emily Dickinson poem that I found when the short story was finished.  I had poems at the beginning of my other books and short stories in this universe, so it was only appropriate to include one here, too.  It described the story’s main character perfectly.

Division 7 Director Jacques de Tournay is the scariest kind of madman–the kind that knows he’s crazy and doesn’t care anymore.  The kind who’s smart and cunning enough to turn his knowledge and experience to something that is terrifying.  In his case, it’s vengeance.

To him, his madness is divinest sense.  His reasons don’t just make sense to him, they’re completely justified.

One thing I always remember from taking philosophy in college is that the opposite of the best thing is, of necessity, the worst thing.  So, what happens when the best, most talented director of the most powerful law enforcement agency in the galaxy turns insane?

The other character here, Agent McClellan, is another madman, but he isn’t the same kind of crazy as Director de Tournay.  He isn’t worried about justifying himself or his actions to anyone; he loves the insanity because he has more fun with it.

I tried to make the motivations of the two madmen different, to show the stark contrast between the two.  It always irritates me when a perfectly good villain in a movie or TV show or book is suddenly presented as someone you have to feel sorry for.  It can be done well in some cases, but when you spend the whole movie hating the villain for his dastardly deeds, and then all of a sudden he reveals that he’s the injured party and has a good reason for being a psycho, it feels wrong.  That’s why I loved the depiction of the Joker in The Dark Knight.  You never find out anything about him–why he’s crazy, his background, any of his reasons (in fact, he lies about his history and his reasons throughout the show), and you never ever feel sorry for him.  He doesn’t even have a name, other than the one he uses to terrify Gotham.

Without giving too much away, I wanted to do that for my villains.  I wanted them both to have reasons for their actions–a good one for Director de Tournay, and a scary one for Agent McClellan–but in both cases, they’ve gone beyond pity.  They may be mad, but they’re still responsible for their actions.  Their reasons can’t excuse them.

JANESKI_PHOENIX_ebookAny more of their story, you’ll have to read in the Luna anthology, or my recently published book: The Carter Files: Phoenix.  They are available on Amazon in digital and print copies.

If you like the universe, there is another short story in the Freedom’s Light anthology. That one, “Backwater,” is about the farmers on Mars and their fight against the encroaching Interplanetary Parliament.

Don’t forget: Back the Blue . . . even in space.

You can find Lori’s blog at https://littlesquirrelbooks.wordpress.com/.

Posted in Guest Blogger, Planetary Anthology Series

ST. AUBIN: The Quirky Side Of The Luna Anthology

MARGO ST. AUBIN TAKES OVER THE BLOG TODAY. MARGOT’S STORY, HOW TO TRAIN YOUR WEREWOLF, WAS INCLUDED IN TUSCANY BAY BOOKS’ PLANETARY ANTHOLOGY SERIES: LUNA.  IN ADDITION, MARGOT ALSO HAS A STORY IN THE VENUS EDITION OF THE SERIES. TODAY SHE WILL TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HER STORY IN LUNA

 

…or, Why “How to Train Your Werewolf” appeared in the pages of Luna

This is a round-about story involving a reluctant writer, too many unfinished novels, and an orphan werewolf.

Back in the sands of time, Superversive called out for submissions for the Luna Anthology. At that time, my most recent Work in Progress was an unfinished novel about a teenager who is put into a mental institution because he thinks he’s a werewolf.  The twist being that the kid is right, and most of the staff at the mental 636163941522787261institution are gravely mistaken. Then they find out just how wrong they are in the most violent way. But now, his foster home is at risk if they find out it’s true! So he has to fix that. At the same time, he also must figure out how to live with his condition. There has to be a way to live with it without risking his new to him family and lose the precious few friends he has…

 This was my way of getting something positive out of a harrowing experience.

The themes are perfect for this anthology. There’s too much introspection and character development to really make a good short story. While I do believe in madness, I also believe that “there is more between heaven and earth, Horatio, than exists in your philosophy.”  It also involves exploring the effect of what you want to see versus what is really there.

This book meant a lot to me, because I spent some time in a mental hospital as a teen. The reason primarily being that I was given Prozac after a trauma. I became suicidal while on the drug. They took me off the drug and were so astonished that I was no longer suicidal that they gave me every assessment and personality test they could think up. I even saw the top expert in Schizophrenia in the United States, and several world-class psychologists. They tried to find one diagnosis that fit me. They held me in-patient until my insurance ran out. They couldn’t find a diagnosis that fit. My shrink literally said she wanted to make my belief in God an entry for the DSM, and implied everyone who believed should be there, too. So out of this experience, the themes of madness, dreams, horror and illusion are fairly personal to me.

At any rate, I really wanted Jason (my orphan werewolf) to be in this anthology.   Because he’s more than just a murder floof with an attitude problem. He likes to think his way out of problems. Being a werewolf doesn’t respond well to overthinking. Instinct vs intellect is a part of his challenge. Then I realized this was a bit of flotsam left over from that novel that I really wanted to write.

It takes place after the rampage was over. Our teen realizes he was lucky to not be in jail or dead. He takes a long look at the aftermath and decides he needs help with self -control. Being a country boy, his best friend decides to take him hunting. So they go out to his grandmother’s house.  What better to soothe a city werewolf’s heart than lots of woods, plenty of game, and epic peace and quiet? They don’t count on the deadly criminal gang who wants to empty the isolated farmhouse so they can hide out off-grid… This doesn’t mix well with “Anger Management for Monsters 101.”

 I decided to turn it into a story for the Luna Anthology.

Being married to one of the editors didn’t mean I was a shoe-in. My work had to 1-Rachel-smaller-199x300pass muster for the second editor, L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright. She has been an editor in mainstream publishing for over 25 years. Plus she’s a formidable writer in her own right, penning one of my favorite YA books in existence. With “The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin” series, she knocked Harry Potter off its perch in my estimation. She is the sweetest person in the world. But through experience, skill and discerning eye, she is still intimidating. I sent it in with my fingers, toes, and eyes crossed.

To my shock, she enjoyed my work. She even helped edit it for me. I heard rumors that Luna sold in part because my story was in it. 

Then, tragedy struck: The Publisher went under! So most of my published work went under with them.  Fortunately for us writers, Tuscany Bay liked these anthologies well enough to pick them up.

They did this before I even started shopping around!  There is much happiness to go around. I hope you enjoy my take on the teenage werewolf goes to the woods– and finds trouble. Again?!

   – MARGOT ST. AUBIN

 

Margot St Aubin has tried everything from web designer for a law firm, security guard for a famous auto company (among other places), a clerk at the Borders home office,  to learning to code.  No one told her that pythoness had anything to do with well poisoning. If you ask nicely, she makes book covers. She loves to travel, which seems to mean getting stuck in foreign countries, being harassed by the secret police, and being shut out of famous landmarks by burly men with machine guns. Juggling words and harassing fictional characters is overall more satisfying.  For her sins, she is stranded in New York city for the duration. She is hopeful that messages in a bottle will lead to rescue soon.  She lives in a bunker with her family at an undisclosed location in Queens.

You can check out the entire 11-book series right here. While four of the books have already been released, the remaining seven will be coming out in six-week intervals and can be pre-ordered at the link above. 
Posted in Planetary Anthology Series

CHRISTINA: A Pilgrim In A Strange Universe

Tuscany Bay Books’ co-Publisher Jim Christina is today’s blogger as we continue our series of blog posts regarding Tuscany Bay Books’ Planetary Anthology Series.           

 

           I don’t pretend to understand Science Fiction. Truth be known, most of the time I think Science Fiction is a contest to see who can come up with the weirdest scenarios and most assuredly weirdest names.

            So, agreeing to publish a Science Fiction Anthology complete with weird names and strange scenarios, I took a, not so gentle, leap to the dark side. But once there, not only was I pleasantly surprised, but quite pleased at some of the stories offered for this Anthology. Well written, well crafted, and well thought out stories of distant planets, times far into the future, places nonexistent or yet to be discovered. And, rest assured, we have left the stories true to the author’s visions.

            Working with my partner and friend, Richard Paolinelli, I learned he can like westerns, and I can like Sci-Fi. I have yet to write a Sci-Fi novel, but Richard and I have collaborated on a western book, The Last Lonely Trail and he liked it!

            So, hopefully, those that have ignored Sci-Fi in the past may want to pull their heads out of the sand and those that have always liked and appreciated Sci-Fi, sit back and buckle up because you are in for a hell of a ride!

 – JIM CHRISTINA

 

Find out more about Jim’s western books here and at Black Dog Publishing. You can check out the entire 11-book Planetary Anthology Series right here. While four of the books have already been released, the remaining seven will be coming out in six-week intervals and can be pre-ordered at the link above. 

Posted in Guest Blogger, Planetary Anthology Series

FINN: Crazy Like An Elf

DECLAN FINN TAKES OVER THE BLOG TODAY. DECLAN WAS THE EDITOR FOR TUSCANY BAY BOOKS’ PLANETARY ANTHOLOGY SERIES: LUNA.  IN ADDITION TO EDITING THE ANTHOLOGY, HE ALSO WROTE STORIES FOR MERCURY, VENUS, LUNA, MARS AND PLUTO. TODAY HE SHARES A LITTLE BIT ABOUT HIS STORY IN LUNA

 

I grew up in a family of writers.
As a college professor, my father wrote his own textbooks. He even wrote murder mysteries, one of which that I just polished up and published. Twenty years ago, my sister got an English degree because she wanted to work in publishing. My mother went through the newspaper with a red pen.
Now? My wife writes faster than I do.
Back in the dark ages, when I wrote my novel A Pius Man (I was still in college), my father added a line. Just one line. It was a reference to our hero having faced off against “Middle Earth’s Most Wanted Assassin.”
Then this became a thing.
I went back to a previous novel, It Was Only on Stun! and introduced Galadren

“He was only known by one title: Middle Earth’s Most Wanted Elven Assassin.

Don’t you look at me like that: Middle Earth’s Most Wanted Elven Assassin happened to be about 5’9”, with blond hair, blue eyes, and enough sleek muscle to make jaguars back away slowly.  His daily routine consisted of eating his own homemade Mueslix, with enough healthy food to make most health food freaks run the other way.  He did everything short of picking his own fruits and harvesting oats personally—though he thought the Quaker Oats man was one of the oddest looking elves he’d ever seen, and he wouldn’t even discuss the Keeblers (he had long ago concluded they were Wood sprites, and someone was just too lazy to make a distinction).”
He was nuttier than squirrel mix, but boy, was he useful.
Along comes Luna, an anthology about madness.
Mysteriously enough, I also happened to be the editor. I could very easily make this work.
But this is about the moon, isn’t it? But this is very Earth-bound. That’s why God made astronomers, of course.
Hilarity ensued. It was more my usual theme of madness and shootouts. But I knew the editor, so it was okay.
   – DECLAN FINN
Declan Finn is best known for wearing loud and obnoxious clothing at conventions. He writes full time, sometimes when he’s off the clock, and tries to come out with a book of the month, much to the irritation of his usual publisher, Silver Empire. He is the editor of the Luna anthology, and has made appearances in Mercury, Venus, Mars, Pluto and Storming Area 51, for Bayonet Books. Most of his books can be found at Silver Empire, and the rest can be found at Amazon.
You can check out the entire 11-book series right here. While four of the books have already been released, the remaining seven will be coming out in six-week intervals and can be pre-ordered at the link above. 
Posted in Planetary Anthology Series

PAOLINELLI: A Series Within The Series

Tuscany Bay Books’ co-Publisher Richard Paolinelli is today’s blogger as we continue our series of blog posts regarding Tuscany Bay Books’ Planetary Anthology Series. Richard is the co-editor of Pluto and has stories in six books in the series so far.

 

My first two posts in this series by authors and editors of Tuscany Bay Books’ Planetary Anthology Series have dealt with how I went from just being one of the authors in it to publishing it and my experiences in editing Pluto. So today I’d like to talk about my stories in the series. I’ll touch on the six that were accepted and the two that were subbed and await the editors’ decision.

Aside from the story that appears in Pluto, there is an overall theme to them. A.M. Freeman, who looks to be on track along with Bokerah Brumley to get a story in all 11 books, also has a theme for her 11 stories.

red spiritual smoke on black background with copy spaceIn the case of Pluto, my story was Yes, Neil D. Tyson, Pluto is a planet. It is set around a vacationing family visiting Disneyland in the late 1950s. And, if you are wondering how that can fit into the definition of science fiction then all I can say is wait until you get to the end of the story. You won’t be disappointed.

As for why I included it, I felt a collection that took on the subject of death should have a light-hearted ending. Something, well if you will indulge me, goofy, shall we say?

As for the rest of my stories in the series, the theme is: The Last Humans. Be it the last human in space, on Earth or even in the entire universe itself. Each story, aside from Pluto, casts one human being in an incredible situation.

You might think that would be all doom and gloom in the finest dystopian fashion. But recall, Superversive Press was not just a publishing house. It was the flagship for a movement. Superversive storytelling does not buy into the subversive, dystopian, everything is horrible mindset that has infected SF/F these days.

So yes, my characters are in the soup and things don’t look so good for them when we encounter them. But at the end of the day, there is still hope. For them and for us.

So let’s look at my last humans and see if I can pique your interest in them a little.

For Luna, I wrote Polar Shift. We are immersed into the story of one Samuel Peck from Peck’s point of view. And Sam is having a very bad day shortly after we meet him. Of course, everyone else on Earth is having an even worse day and Sam comes to the realization that he may just be the last surviving human in the universe.

As a rule, I tend to insert myself into the main character and ride along the adventure I have set out for them. Which is why, more often than not, the finished story seldom ends up the was the story was originally laid out.

In Polar Shift, I really put Sam through hell and, as one of Luna’s themes was madness, I went down the rabbit hole of insanity with Sam on this story. But it is safe to say we both emerged out the other side filled with a renewed sense of hope.

Next comes Uranus and The Last Human. This was a story I originally wrote as a screenplay for film school (yes, I dabbled in screenwriting for awhile and took a couple of actual film classes) a very long time ago.

You might read this story and think “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” and perhaps it has some elements of it in there. But there aren’t any actual alien pods replacing humans to be found in my story. Rather, this story introduces us to a young scientist who returns from a vacation to find the world has changed. What remains to be seen is was the change for the better or for the worse? And she holds the power to undo it all. For Anne Fontana, the questions she must examine are: What does it mean to be human? And, which version of humanity is the right one?

This story was the first time I wrote a female main character. I’d never done it before. Oh, I’ve created several female characters with major roles in my stories right and left. But never as the focus of the story. It was something of a challenge, as I mentioned above, I tend to insert myself into the main character a lot, and I’m a guy, sooo….

At any rate, I think the story worked out nicely and I think you’ll agree too.

In July, Earth will be re-released and my story is Extinction Point. In this, a

descendant of Neil Armstrong is about to  become the first human to leave our solar system. On the way out, he will become the first human to step foot on the surface of Pluto.

This story was originally intended for Pluto had I not become Pluto’s editor and wanted to run the story above in it.

It is on Pluto that our star voyager runs into a slight detour that becomes a First Contact, a visit to an inhabited world not called Earth, a discovery of the reason why we’ve never been visited by another intelligent species, and a race against the clock to save Earth from a fate shared by countless other worlds.

In September, we will re-release Jupiter which holds my story, Icarus Falls. In this

we have another astronaut, on his final mission in space before a well-deserved retirement, finding himself on the wrong side of a disaster.

This one, from a cascading collision of debris from the destruction of an orbital space station has formed an impenetrable ring around the planet. Nothing can leave the surface and nothing can return to the surface from orbit.

It is easily the longest story in the collection but I needed every word of it to set the stage for the final act, when two people make impossible choices and both in the name of love.

In early November the last of my currently accepted stories, At Homeworld’s End,

will be published in Sol. This one is one of the shortest stories I’ve ever written. And like I did with Sam Peck in Luna, I went down the rabbit hole with the main character in this story. But unlike Sam, I didn’t go all the way here.

This is a story told from a first-person POV. And as you read it you begin to wonder why I have not named the person, nor given you any kind of description – not even if they are male of female – this was done on purpose.

Because I want each individual reader to put themselves into this character, as I did when writing this story. And possibly to fully understand why “the observer” made the decision, millions of years into our future, to stand on the surface of the Earth as it meets its ultimate fate to be consumed by our dying Sun. And to do so for no other reason, ultimately, because it was only right that one of Earth’s far-flung children had returned so that it would not die alone in the night.

So those are the six stories that are/will be in this 11-book series. I have two subs, one each for Neptune and Saturn, that are awaiting their fate with each editor. They are NOT automatically going to get in. They will have to earn their way in like all of the others that the editors will choose. I hope they do but will understand if they do not.

In their own way they each hold to the last human theme. The 13th Medallion, subbed for Neptune and a pre-Christmas Day release, sees an interesting take on the old adage: Be careful what you wish for. Phantom’s Lodge, sent in to Saturn and a Feb. 2, 2020 release, is set on Earth and has, shall we say, a more supernatural slant.

If either or both are eventually accepted, I’ll be back to discuss them in a little more detail. But even if the final count is only six, I am very glad I was able to add to this incredible series. I hope you enjoy reading all 180 stories as much as I have so far.

   – RICHARD PAOLINELLI

 

Find out more about Richard, his books and his free-to-read 1K Weekly Serial Series at this website: www.scifiscribe.com

 

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Posted in Guest Blogger, Planetary Anthology Series

FINN: Editing Luna

DECLAN FINN TAKES OVER THE BLOG TODAY. DECLAN WAS THE EDITOR FOR TUSCANY BAY BOOKS’ PLANETARY ANTHOLOGY SERIES: LUNA.  IN ADDITION TO EDITING THE ANTHOLOGY, HE ALSO WROTE STORIES FOR MERCURY, VENUS, LUNA, MARS AND PLUTO. TODAY HE SHARES A LITTLE BIT ABOUT EDITING LUNA

 

I generally hate short stories. I hate anthologies.

They’re always a grab bag of “who?” and “what?” and “How did you get published, ya hack?” There are always exceptions. There are some anthologies I’ve purchased just for the joy of reading something from Jim Butcher. Maybe a JD Robb scifi murder mystery. Thankfully, both of them collect their short stories, so I no longer feel the need to buy an anthology for one lousy person.

Why edit any anthology, then?
Because if the short stories can get past me, then they’re GOOD.
When I started, I began with taking a note from something Larry Correia noted at DragonCon: start by inviting authors you want to play in the anthology. Now, apparently, I couldn’t restrict myself to just this list, because when I started editing the anthology, the now-deceased publisher has a stable of authors, and like any other livestock, it had to be used regularly. So I had to at least look at them closely for the sake of good form, even if I had known nothing about them. They got first dibs.

I was assigned as co-editor L Jagi Lamplighter, a 20-year editing veteran of the publishing industry. I don’t know if it was because of my relative inexperience or because I don’t play well with others, but I wasn’t going to complain, especially not with someone who has that much experience. And we’re friends, so hey, I get to actually be sociable with someone I like and get paid for it.

Yes, I get paid to do this.

What? Did you think I would do this for free?

Or worse, for “exposure”?

No thanks. In God we trust, all others pay cash.

So, as I said when I started out this post, and got lost in the weeds, I was going to generate a list of people to invite. And I’m not exactly shy. I invited anyone who I thought was talented, whether or not I had a hope in Hell of actually getting them on board. I reached out to Larry Correia and John Ringo, Steven R Green, even Jim Butcher. I’m not sure those emails got through, since three out of the four of them have been polite enough to tell me “No” in the past.

And then there are the heavy hitters.

Because if I say “short stories” in SFF, three people should come to mind immediately: Lou Antonelli, Brad Torgersen, and Jody Lynn Nye. If you read this list and say “Who?” I’m going to have to ask you to please go to Amazon.com and look them up, then get back to me. Thank you.

Lou, of course, is the author of Another Girl, Another Planet, nominated for the Dragon_Award-221x3002017 Dragon Award for best alternate history novel. Brad ran Sad Puppies 3 and wrote The Chaplain’s War. And Jody, among other things, has been running Robert Aspirin’s “Myth” series.

All of them have generated more short stories than I can even keep track of. As I write this, the last count I saw from Lou was over a hundred.

As I had Jagi editing the book with me, I had her and John C Wright throw in stories for fun.

I went down 2017’s Dragon Award finalists, and started throwing out invites: Richard Paolinelli (his Escaping Infinity was excellent). Mark Wandrey of the Four Horsemen series.

And since it’s The Moon, I looked up William Lehman, who I knew from doing a short story about a werewolf. If he couldn’t make a story around the moon, I would have dropped dead from shock (I had mild shocking sensations when it was completely different).

While I was at it, I also had some people in my Rolodex to summon: Ann Margaret Lewis, who had just finished one of her SF novels. Lori Janeski, who was working on a novel set around the moon. Karina Fabian, who has some awesome rescue nuns.

And I got some fun ones. As I said, I generally don’t do short stories. I’m very hard to please.

There’s one problem. We got a LOT of submissions. A lot. Don’t believe me? Order a hard copy of Luna. I dare you.

I presume that people just found the ideas and themes of the anthologies more interesting than some of the earlier ones. I can’t imagine anyone went out of their way to have me as their editor. I’m sure I cured them of that idea. (more on that in a moment.)

We had so many submissions, it was suggested at the previous publisher that we make two anthologies! One is the dark side of the moon for the darker stories!

When we came to Tuscany Bay, it was decided, nah, we’ll do one anthology. I made the mistake of not culling the short stories again. Hence the two-pound anthology that you can break your foot with if you’re not careful ***.

Oops.

   – DECLAN FINN

 

(***-Publisher’s Note: Yeah, we didn’t chew that decision all the way down to the bone, did we?)
Declan Finn is best known for wearing loud and obnoxious clothing at conventions. He writes full time, sometimes when he’s off the clock, and tries to come out with a book of the month, much to the irritation of his usual publisher, Silver Empire. He is the editor of the Luna anthology, and has made appearances in Mercury, Venus, Mars, Pluto and Storming Area 51, for Bayonet Books. Most of his books can be found at Silver Empire, and the rest can be found at Amazon.
You can check out the entire 11-book series right here. While four of the books have already been released, the remaining seven will be coming out in six-week intervals and can be pre-ordered at the link above. 
Posted in Planetary Anthology Series

PAOLINELLI: A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Pluto

Tuscany Bay Books’ co-Publisher Richard Paolinelli is today’s blogger as we continue our series of blog posts regarding Tuscany Bay Books’ Planetary Anthology Series. Richard is the co-editor of Pluto and has stories in six books in the series so far.

 

A couple of days ago I talked about how I went from subbing stories to the Planetary Anthology Series, to editing Pluto in the series and finally to publishing the entire series. To say the three years since I first heard about the series have been eventful would be an understatement.

But today I want to focus on editing Pluto. Having never edited an anthology before I was both excited by, and terrified of, the challenge. You’d think having edited an entire section of a daily newspaper would mean that taking on a long-term project like this would be a breeze. And you would be wrong.

red spiritual smoke on black background with copy spaceIt’s an entirely different critter to tackle. So the first thing I did was call in reinforcements and asked Dawn Witzke if she would be a co-editor. Dawn had gone through the process as Earth’s editor and her experience was invaluable throughout the process. It’s why her name is listed first on the cover.

Then came sorting through the subs. We received nearly 50 stories and read each one of them from the first word to the last. Aside from one or two exceptions, they would have all made a great collection and were worthy of inclusion. Unfortunately, we had a word count limit – which I violated by 10% – and could only accept 21 stories.

As a writer, I know rejection letters and e-mails come with the territory. It doesn’t make them any easier to accept, but if you do this for a living, this is the reality you have to deal with. As someone who hates getting them, imaging how much more I hated having to write nearly 30 of them, especially when most were for stories that were very good, but just didn’t quite fit the bill for Pluto?

Ugh. Writing those rejection letters was easily the one thing I hated about this process.

Actually editing the stories was just like my old days on the copy desks at the newspapers I worked at over the years. The writers we worked with were professional and that part went off without a hitch.

Then came deciding the order the stories would appear in. The choice for the first story was an easy one for both of us as B. Michael Stevens’, Like So Many Paper Lanterns, was an amazing story that set the tone for the entire collection.

But setting the order for #2 thru #21? Wow, that took some time. In truth, we could have arranged them in any order and it would have worked. They were all that good. And I can’t say I have any favorites over the others because if they already weren’t a favorite, they wouldn’t have made the cut in the first place. We have stories by established authors and by first-timers and all of them fit the requirement of a story of great wealth, or of death or set on the planet itself.

But there is one line from the book that will always be a favorite opening line for a story for me. It comes from Bokerah Brumley’s, Pluto Chronicles.

“The chicken had to die.”

That line all by itself ensured that her story was going to make it into Pluto. Trust me, the rest of the story lives up to that opening line.

Yes, Pluto has chickens in space and Vikings in space. It has military sci-fi stories among fantasy tales. It has heartbreaking stories and some that are guaranteed to make you smile when you finish reading them. There’s even a Rainbow-Colored Rock Hopper.

And, oh by the way, Walt Disney himself even pops in to say hello.

And after you finish reading the collection which concludes with my story – Yes, Neil D. Tyson, Pluto Is A Planet – and you find yourself wondering what inspired that bit of madness… well, here’s a hint:

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I swear, the man knew exactly what we were going to find when we finally got out there. Exactly how Walt knew would probably make for a very interesting episode of Ancient Aliens.

Unless of course, my little story isn’t actually a work of fiction after all…

 – RICHARD PAOLINELLI

 

Find out more about Richard, his books and his free-to-read 1K Weekly Serial Series at this website: www.scifiscribe.com