Call For Submissions - Cifiscape Volume III: London

We are officially announcing today that we are now accepting submissions for Cifiscape Volume III: London. It will once again be published by Onyx Neon Press (cifiscape.onyxneon.com). This is an anthology of writing talent, to be set in London. After the success in the USA of two volumes on The Twin Cities, we want to see the imaginings of London. In a city with so much past, we want to explore the future. What is the future of London? In the previous volumes all sorts of dystopian wonderlands appeared, where the best and worst possible futures were playing out simultaneously. In this volume, we want to see London. What do we dream of? What's the zeitgeist? What's under our skin?

Submissions should be sent to:
Kit@onyxneon.com. We are hoping for contributions of about 5,000 words.

Author Spotlight: David Oppegaard
Sunday, April 23rd, 2012

David Oppegaard answers some questions about his life as a published author, teacher, and podcaster.

What was the motivation behind teaching a class like "Grounding The Fantastic"? (The class you teach at The Loft)
David: It was the first class of any kind I have taught-I got my MFA in Writing to simply become a better writer, with no eye toward teaching. My old professor and the director of the Hamline writing program Mary Rockcastle finally convinced me to try my hand at teaching. The Loft is great because they allow you to design your own class.

Could you tell us a little bit about the class?
David: "Grounding the Fantastic" is a multi-genre fiction class (sci-fi, fantasy, horror, etc.) divided in two basic parts. The first half of the course we try our hands at several different genre-aimed writing exercises, with a special focus on a specific craft topic each class (such as character development).
The second half of the course is a more traditional workshop environment, with an eye on toward helping a writer develop whatever piece they submit to class (novel chapter or short story). I stress the idea that we're all "mad scientists" tinkering in the fiction lab.

What is one of the main points you try to focus on in the class?
David: The stranger or more out there your story is, the greater an effort you must make to not only ground it in visceral detail, but to give your piece a meaningful, emotionally resonant backbone.

I've heard you mention the term "Slipstream fiction," and I was just wondering if you could expand on what that term means?
David: I take it to simply mean slipping between fiction genres, or streams. Imagine two streams running alongside each other-the slipstream author is the fish jumping from one stream to the other, enjoying both. I'm currently polishing a horror-Western that fits the bill nicely.

What was the inspiration behind Rotations of the Earth?
David: The old idea that we'd have flying cars someday and the fact that we still don't.

Tell me about your full-length novels,
Could you give us a brief synopsis of each one?
David: Hell no, I've written twelve! My two published novels are The Suicide Collectors, which is set in a near-future America that has been devastated by a suicide plague, and Wormwood, Nevada, about an isolated town in central Nevada where a meteorite lands and slowly causes the town to unravel.

Do you write a lot of short stories?
David: Three or four a year, if that. I'm always in the middle of a novel or busy drinking.

Any more short stories coming out?
David: I have a short story called "A Fairy Tale for the Incarcerated" coming out this spring in the Write of Spring anthology.

Have you had fun getting to watch terrible movies and talk about them, in your podcast When Harry Met Fatty?
David: Hell yes. We drink ourselves silly. At least I do-Noah takes it a little more seriously. He's the true backbone of the show-I just crack wise and interrupt him a lot.

Have you had a good response from listeners?
David: We've gotten a decent amount of hits on our website, but most of the feedback has been from friends and family, who like it. Sometimes it feels like we're talking into a void.

Do you listen to music when writing or editing, and if so what do you listen to?
David: I've gotten into bluegrass lately, thanks to Trampled By Turtles. I love music and writing-I have over 400 albums I rotate. I love the rock and roll.

Does it change depending on whether you're writing or editing?
David: Not really, but I can't listen to new albums either way. I pay too much attention to the song writing and lyrics.

Is it based on mood?
David: Sometimes. Bluegrass sure perks you up, Dukes of Hazard style.

Be sure to check out David Oppegaard's novels Wormwood, Nevada and Suicide Collections in paperback and ebook on Amazon.

Thank you for visiting for another Author Spotlight.
Cifiscape Volume II: The Twin Cities is out now in paperback, Kindle, and Nook. iPad/iPhone coming soon.

Author Spotlight: Brian D. Garrity
Friday, April 13th, 2012

Brian D. Garrity was kind enough to answer a few questions about his love of music, writing, film, and photography. He's an interesting guy and it was a pleasure to get to know him a little better.

How did you get into Photography to begin with?
Brian: Growing up I drew a lot, and at the age of about eleven started taking pictures and making short films and animations on Super-8. During college in Minneapolis, I played in bands and hung out with the local underground music scene, documenting shows. Around 1985, a shot I took of Sonic Youth was published in Cream Magazine, and I guess that's when I found a niche. It was a natural extension of the skills I'd been playing around with all those years, plus it payed.

Do you have a picture that you've taken that you're especially proud of?
Brian: There's an editorial shot I did in the mid-nineties that people seem to gravitate towards. It's a telephoto black and white close-up of my girlfriend's legs. She's wearing a Betty Boop skirt and combat boots, grasping the leash of a toy dog sitting at her feet. The aromatherapy tycoon Horst bought a print to hang in one of his mansions.

Did you always think that you wanted to be an author, or was that a goal that developed later in life?
Brian: Definitely later. I'd always devoured fiction and loved making up stories, so I fancied becoming a filmmaker, which was what I studied in college. It became apparent that making movies was a remarkably convoluted process, involving too many people and too much money. It's extremely rare for a filmmaker to be allowed to pursue their singular vision. So I focused on the photography, still chasing scenarios in my head, which is pretty pointless if they're not documented. Then I had a little lesson in mortality after a bad fall down the staircase of a warehouse, New Year's night, 2001. I was pretty broken. While convalescing, Rutger Hauer's soliloquy at the end of Blade Runner kept running through my head. So I started writing.

What was the inspiration for the world you've created
in Godless, Bullseye, Inc., and Ready-Made Dreams?
Brian: Ready-Made Dreams was written first, during the buildup and invasion of the second Bush's second Iraqi War. Godless was intended as the opening of an epic rock'n roll novel with a Sci Fi edge. And Bullseye Inc. reflects trends that seem to be happening with expanding corporate branding, homogenizing culture, taken to an extreme. They were all written independently, so the inspirations were varied, but by mixing characters from different narratives, it created an interesting time-line with back-stories to lean on.

What's the chronological order of those three stories?
Brian: For now, Ready-Made Dreams is the end. But one of the novella's implied themes deals with alternative realities, so you never know. Godless is the opener.

Do you have more stories planned for the world you created in Godless and Bullseye, Inc.?
Brian: I think it would be fun to explore the underground band that Hondo, Barris, and Zelda belong to in Godless. It's always been a bit of an obsession to tell the ultimate rock'n roll story. Harlan Ellison's Spider Kiss and Don DeLillo's Great Jones Street are outstanding works on the subject, but dated, and I haven't seen anything of that caliber on the contemporary music industry yet.

Would you ever make a full-length novel of those characters or that world?
Or maybe just a collection of short stories, similar to Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles.
Brian: Right now I see them as a series of vignettes. Originally it was to be one great sweeping novel, but written as shorts they seem to acquire a life of their own, going off in unexpected directions.

Which musician/band did you have the most fun taking pictures of?
Brian: There were a lot of great experiences, but I'd have to say Marilyn Manson. I toured with him twice, and he was so giving with his time and so damned interesting, it's pretty reflective in the images.

Do you see a correlation between your incredible gift for crafting memorable and vivid scenes in your stories and your background in photography?
Brian: That and filmmaking. I don't have any academic background in literature, as anyone who's helped me edit can attest, so it's got to come from somewhere. Actually, I've never taken a photography class either.

What was your inspiration behind Still Waters Run Deep, does it come from anything in your own life?
Still Waters Run Deep by Brian D. Garrity
Still Waters Run Deep
Amazon Paperback
Kindle coming soon

Brian: What a friend calls my 'opus,' Still Waters Run Deep is a novel about the misadventures of a gang of River Rats on the upper Mississippi in the seventies. I grew up on the Mississippi. I was a River Rat. Moving to the Twin Cities, making new friends, we'd trade war stories from our childhoods. The reaction to mine was pretty universal: dude, you should write a book- all we did was hang around at the mall.

Are you working on any books or stories that you're excited about?
Brian: Just finished an erotic horror short: Auto Lurkers. Dubious market potential, but it was fun to write. I've been tinkering with Skyway, an intended literary piece, for a few years. It's written in the second person point-of-view, a difficult format. There are a couple concepts for photo publications in the works as well.

Any more full-length novels on the way?
Brian: I'm considering working on a piece that I started about five years ago. It starts as a satire on the commercial photography industry and slowly turns into this hallucinatory horror trip – kind of a reflection on some of the experiences in the industry.

In Godless one of the factions is the "National Church of Athletics",
is that a commentary on anything in particular?
Brian: Over the past thirty years I've seen sports rise from a celebrated pastime to a kind of fanatical devotion, on par with nationalism and religion. All three seem to thrive in politically conservative climates, so I made an extreme extrapolation for the story.

Do you listen to music when writing or editing, and if so what do you listen to?
Brian: I usually have music on when writing, but there was a time I worked exclusively at the Library. The silence and the academic surroundings actually helped me focus. While finishing Still Waters Run Deep, I had the radio tuned to a seventies retro station, which is probably one of the reasons the book contains an extensive playlist of seventies hits. Working on Godless, I was into The Bronx, and band author Charlie Huston referred to in one of our correspondences as 'real skull fuckers'. I couldn't agree more.
Does it change depending on whether you're writing or editing? Is it based on mood?
Brian: Rock'n roll. Always.

Be sure to check out Brian D. Garrity's novel Still Waters Run Deep in paperback on Amazon. Kindle Edition coming soon.

Thank you for visiting for another Author Spotlight.
Cifiscape Volume II: The Twin Cities is out now in paperback, Kindle, and Nook. iPad/iPhone coming soon.

Cifiscape Volume II: The Twin Cities on your Kindle, Nook, and iPad.
April, March 3rd, 2012

Thank you to everyone who came out to the book launch this past Saturday. The event was a massive success and everyone had an amazing time. You can find pictures from the event on our facebook page.

We have more news than just the thank you, though. Today is a special day because it marks the first time that we get to say this: Cifiscape is now available on your favorite ereader! Well, unless your favorite is the ipad, in which case you'll have to wait a week, but Cifiscape Volume II: The Twin Cities is available for Kindle and Nook (which look suprisingly like the Personal Access Data Device from Star Trek).

For us this is a big moment because that was an avenue that we didn't explore with the previous Volume, but don't worry Volume will be coming out for ebook soon, so if you haven't already picked up a copy you will be able to do so in the next few weeks.

Author Spotlight: Bob Lipski
Friday, March 30, 2012

Bob Lipski is a rare talent. His work is unique, original, and funny. Seriously, in his installment for Volume I of Cifiscape Bob Lipski poked fun at the future, and simultaneously shed light on our obsession with technology. When he told us he had something for for Volume II we were genuinely thrilled and excited to see what he had prepared for us.

I hope you enjoy getting to know Bob Lipski a little bit with this weeks Author Spotlight

What's your background in art?
Do you think that affected you positively? Or negatively?
Bob: I've been drawing as long as I can remember. I've always liked drawing. I liked other things that kids my age liked, but when I wasn't watching Transformers, I drew stories about them. When I wasn't playing Nintendo, I was drawing Super Mario comic books.
I took every art class I could in high school and then in college. I spent some time at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and I liked the time I spent there. I did a lot of life drawing classes, which were very important to cartooning. I read an interview with Charles Schulz (Peanuts) who said in order to cartoon well, you had to be able to draw realistically. So the life drawing classes became very important to my cartooning.

Where did the inspiration for Uptown Girl come from?
Bob: I was reading a lot of alternative comics about 15 years ago and started doing an autobiographical comic strip called 'Fake Farm Landscape' that was similar to a lot of what I was reading, like James Kochalka or Jeffrey Brown. After a few years of that, I wanted to try a comic book and tell longer stories. I thought I would do a more fictionalized comic than my real life comic and tell weirder, or at least different stories than what I was doing in 'Fake Farm Landscape.' But I didn't want it to be similar to my autobiographic comic, so instead of using a guy as the title character, I used a girl.
I also wanted to reach a different audience than 'Fake Farm Landscape.' Whereas the comic strip was filled with swearing and sex, I wanted to make something a little more accessible and less offensive. So I decided to leave out the swearing and make it an all ages comic. Uptown Girl found her audience and I've been having a lot of fun with it.

Could you tell me a little bit about your upcoming book Little Adventures?
Bob: Little Adventures is a collection of short stories that I did off and on over the last few years, mostly while I was working on the first Uptown Girl graphic novel "Big City Secrets". Most of the stories are funny, but there are a few quieter, reflective bits in there.

Did you always draw like you draw now, or was there a time when you did more "traditional" drawings?
Bob: I've always been a cartoonist, though for years I called myself an illustrator because I wanted to draw children's books. Eventually I moved away from those for a while and got into drawing comics. That label seemed too highbrow for what I was doing, so I embraced the title.

What was the inspiration behind The Fall of the World's Own Optimist?
(from Cifiscape Volume II: The Twin Cities)
Bob: Like most things I write, it started with something that happened to me. I watched someone buy a lottery ticket and then after it was printer, the guy left without paying for it or taking it with him. The clerk was annoyed and feeling spontaneous, so I purchased it. I checked the numbers the following night and I lost, of course. I wasn't expecting to win, but I was still hoping I would. But the reality of my life sunk in and I realized I have it pretty good. And of course, what the clerk says to Uptown Girl at the end of the story is an inner voice of mine that tells me how corny I really am.

Besides Little Adventures, what else are you currently working on?
Any more stand-alone comics?
Bob: I am about a fourth of the way through the next Uptown Girl graphic novel. It's called "Long Forgotten Fairytale." It'll end up being the longest thing I've written mostly on my own. The first graphic novel was written by Brian Bastian, and he's helped me with some stuck plot points on the book I am working on now, but for the most part it's all me. I hope it turns out okay. It should be out in 2014. I am also putting together a collection of early Uptown Girl comics for the 10th anniversary of the character. It's called "Greatest Hits" right now, but there's a good chance that will change. That will be out next spring. And hopefully once Little Adventures comes out, I can put some more time into my kid's book and try to find a publisher for that.

Do you listen to music when you're drawing, and if so what do you listen to?
Is it based on mood?
Bob: That's a good question. I need to have background noise when I draw or I get kind of bored. I used to listen to podcasts, but ended up being too distracted by them and I would sit and listen to them as opposed to drawing. What I find is good to listen to are commentaries on movies or tv shows, as well as documentaries. Baseball is good, too. I also listen to music, and the type of music I listen to is usually decided by what I am drawing. If I am writing and laying out a page, I listen to music that is a little quitter, like Paul Simon, Neil Young, Bob Dylan. If I am inking then I tend to listen to louder or faster music.

Thank you for visiting for another edition of Author Spotlight.
Cifiscape Vol. II: The Twin Cities is out now in paperback. It'll be out for Kindle, Nook, and iPad/iPhone next week.

Cifiscape Vol. II: The Twin Cities released
Friday, March 23nd, 2012

Let's just get straight to the point here.

Cifiscape Vol. II: The Twin Cities is released. It's out.
You can buy it on Amazon.com.
It's available on Barnes & Noble.
Soon it will be available in local bookstores in Minneapolis.
Seriously, follow the links, buy the book. It's out now.

Story Synopsis: Lethal Options by Aaron M. Wilson
Thursday, March 22nd, 2012

We're ramping up for the release of Cifiscape Vol. II: The Twin Cities by releasing the synopses of all of the stories in the book.
Today we're talking about Aaron M. Wilson's Lethal Options. His story is an existential, original and epic tale of choices.

For reasons unbeknownst, Daniel Seward struggles to find hope in three dystopian choices in which to straddle humanity's future, but more importantly, the future of The Twin Cities. Rising from what must have been a lethal biking accident on Minneapolis' Midtown Greenway, Seward stands between life and death, risking eternity in purgatory. He drifts from a Minneapolis that is free of automobiles to a St. Paul ripe with hillbilly cannibals to a Twin Cities parted by a great wall.
All three choices present problems for humanity, but Seward must choose the one future that presents humanity with the most hope, the most opportunity for redemption.

Vol. II will be available tomorrow. Check back here for more updates.

Author Spotlight: Jonathan Hansen
Friday, March 16th, 2012

When I think about Science Fiction, I always think about that Ray Bradbury quote about Science Fiction about being the literature of ideas. Jonathan Hansen is a man who embodies that idea.
His story in Cifiscape Vol. II is something of a gem. Especially given the nature of what we're trying to do, his story, Harris, sums up what this anthology is about: local authors, talking about the future of the Metropolis they live in.
I personally love Jonathan Hansen's style, and wit, and find his writing to be both entertaining and deep (which is a rare quality these days).

So without further ado, I give you the Author Spotlight of Jonathan Hansen:

How did you get into writing?
Jonathan: It was because of Star Wars. Later on, there was Jack Vance, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lloyd Alexander, Stan Lee and Stephen King, but I was three when I saw Star Wars for the first time and that was it, George Lucas blew my three year old mind. Me and an entire generation, right? Clichéd, but true, just like Spielberg forever scarred me when it came to swimming in the ocean; Lucas turned me on to new worlds. After that, I was all about genre stuff. I watched it, I read it, I made it up with my action figures and eventually I started to write it down on stacks of yellow legal pads. That was how it started.

Do you have a background in English or is this something that’s come on later in life?
Jonathan: I studied English Lit at the University of Colorado Boulder and I took a few Creative Writing classes here and there, but in college I was more focused on Archeology. I loved to write stories, but the idea of being a professional writer never occurred to me. Then I found out how few Archeologists actually get to fight Nazis on a regular basis, so I moved to L.A. and bummed around for a few years instead. I didn’t decide to really try to be a writer until just a few years ago, after moving to Minneapolis, and finally realizing I didn’t want to—and wasn’t really capable of—doing anything else, so…

Where did the idea for Harris come from?
Jonathan: Harris grew like most stories. I started with the image in my head of a man in some post-apocalyptic ruins using a bow to hunt a deer, and that was cool, but I didn’t know what else to say with it. It was really the question of motivation that solidified the story for me. It had to be something simple, due to the story’s size, and yet still be believable that someone would put themselves through what the main character puts herself through. When I figured that out, I knew who the main character was and the rest just sort of worked itself out.

Do you have other stories that operate in that world, or is that a one-off story idea?
Jonathan: Actually, I wrote down the kernel of an idea that was kind of cool, maybe and it would include one of the side characters from this story and a group of characters from a different short story of mine, but it would take place in space and I’m not really sure if it will ever actually exist, so… yes?

Are the characters from Harris inspired by anybody in your own life?
Jonathan: No. I drew from some experiences, maybe, but not in any real, direct, tangible way. Except for the cannibals, that part is totally true.

What made you base the story in Minneapolis?
Jonathan: Well, I live here, so that’s a big part. I know it. I also like Minneapolis’ status as “the big city” for like, five states around, but it’s also the biggest small town on the planet, so I figured, if alien invaders bothered to destroy Minneapolis, then they must have destroyed everywhere else too. Its inclusion in the damage adds scope.

In your bio you talk about having you worked as a service coordinator for a cemetery, what did you actually have to do?
Jonathan: This was the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. It’s in L.A., right behind the Paramount lot on Santa Monica and it has a crazy history. Some of Hollywood’s original settlers are buried there, as well as Valentino, John Ford, Tyrone Powers, Mel Blanc, Cecil B. Demille, Bugsy Siegel (His plaque says: "From the Family"), and Douglas Fairbanks. I saw his corpse once. Fairbanks Junior was going to be buried in the same plot, so they had to dig up Senior to make room. So one day I went into my “office”—a dirty little storage room off the chapel—and there’s this casket sitting there in the middle of the room. Creepy, right? So I opened it. Inside? Douglas Fairbanks Sr. dead as a doornail (Thankfully…). Guess what? The guy had hermetically sealed his coffin, so you could open it and look through the glass and see this long-fingered, shriveled up, beef jerky man laying there in an immaculate silk tux. His hair was perfect. So yeah, that was the cemetery.
A man named Jules Roth for decades had owned it for decades and when he died, it was discovered that he had stolen all the money. So when the new owners came in and they were repairing the place from years of neglect, I worked as an Assistant to the Interior Designer and then as the Archivist for all the crazy old Hollywood, Masonic Lodge, L.A. gangster stuff that had accumulated in the back rooms and old buildings over the many years and after that, I was hired as the Service Coordinator. I prepared the services, I casketed the bodies.
One time, I saw the body of man who had been floating in the ocean for days. He looked like an old bloated pumpkin, all whitish-orange and puffy. And when we told the wife that she didn’t want to view the body, because of how he looked, she said: “Yes, I do. I want to make sure the son of a bitch is dead.” I also filed the death certificates and I picked up the cre-mains, where I learned that the offices of a crematorium are covered in dust… HUMAN DUST! I also drove the Limo and Hearse and worked as the Site Representative for any TV and Film shoots—which were mostly just bad TV shows that have long since been canceled. L.A. Doctors. Remember that show? Neither does the rest of the world.

What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
Jonathan: Easy. My first job in high school. I was a dishwasher at a restaurant/hotel. It was a terrible job in a terrible place run by terrible people. And it was really gross. After that, I’d rather handle dead bodies than other people’s chewed up, wet food. Plus, the manager was a jerk like he had stepped out of an 80’s teen comedy. I ended up quitting suddenly and his whining was like a soothing balm on my soul.

What is the Scribblerati?
Jonathan: The Scribblerati is my writing group. Most of us met during a Loft Class taught by local author Lyda Morehouse. I had been in a writing group previously with Mark Teats, but that one was quickly dissolving, so when the chance came up, we decided to form a new group with fellow classmates Shawn Enderlin and Lisa Bergin. We had a couple of members come and go and then Claudia Hankin joined and the group really solidified. Now, we meet twice a month to critique, encourage, support, etc. We’ve been together since 2009, so there’s a good foundation of trust and respect, which allows us to be honest and give tough, but fair criticism without people getting all hurt, because we understand that we’re all working toward achieving the same goal of getting published. So, it’s a really good supportive group.

Do you guys ever work on projects together?
Jonathan: We put together a sample book called: The Scribblerati Sample Book. Impressive title, huh? It actually turned out kind of cool. It’s just a little thing that we gave away as schwag when we went to Diversicon this past summer. Other than that, no, we all have our own projects. We’re all genre writers, yes, but we have different focuses and styles and ideas, so I don’t know how well it would work.

Would you guys ever consider actually publishing that anthology or compiling another one?
Jonathan: The Scribblerati Sample Book is just that...a book of samples. It's 50 pages, so you get a ten-page sample of what each of us are working on. There aren't any complete stories, just some good and hopefully enticing excerpts. But that's why we don't sell it, we don't feel like it's a "real" product. We gave it away for free at the last Diversicon, but also figured we would put up the link so that anyone who didn't make the convention (and was interested) could still get one. It's just a fun little thing, so there really isn't anything to publish. It's just samples. The cost is just the cost of making and shipping the thing from Lulu, it doesn't go to us. We don't make any money off it. But as far as making an Anthology ourselves, I'd never say never (Sean Connery taught me that...), but it's not on the table right now. As a group, we're not only genre writers, but we're also novelists and currently everyone is knee deep in their own projects. Lisa is just about to start querying, Shawn and Mark are wrapping up the final drafts of their books, and Claudia is well into the 2nd draft of hers. (Curious what those books are? Here's a link: http://thescribblerati.blogspot.com/2011/09/two-years-later.html) So we're busy and not really short story writers in the first place. Like I said: I'd never say never, but for the time being, probably not.

I know that you took a class from David Oppegaard last semester, what did you think when you heard that you were going to be an anthology of work with someone you took a class from?
Jonathan: I really enjoyed David’s class. He’s a nice guy, a good writer and he’s published, so it was an all around good feeling for me to be included in his company.

I know that you have a full-length novel called Gunslingers of the Apocalypse, could you give us a brief synopsis of that?
Jonathan: Here’s what I sent out in my queries:

Six months ago, the Dead rose and the world came to a sudden and violent end. The virus burned across the face of the planet and in the aftermath, the choice was clear: You either learned the rules of survival or you joined the legions of the walking Dead.
“Black Magic” Jack El-Hai learned these rules; that's how he managed to stay alive in the fiery ruins of the Collapse when so many others did not. Amidst the chaos, Jack meets a young woman named Noelle Easter—tattooed, resourceful, and rowdy—they are a perfect match and soon, wild in love. Together, they survive the end of the world.

However, staying alive means hard choices, it means spilling blood, it means killing. But when they find refuge in a small Minnesota town—a place spared due to isolation and a tall fence—Jack and Noelle also find a new purpose: scavenging. They spend their days among the ruins of the old world hunting for the things people need to survive. It’s a dangerous occupation, a daily battle against both the ravenous Dead and the murderous living alike, but the town depends on them. It’s not a great life, but it’s better than most.
Lately, though, things are getting worse. Trouble is coming; Jack knows it. The Dead are gathering at the fence in greater numbers, scavengers are dying, and the shaky truce struck with the rival camps of survivors is beginning to crumble. Finally, when the town is invaded and an iron-fisted new rule threatens everything he holds dear, including Noelle, Jack realizes that the true monsters are not the ones locked outside the fence… they’re locked within.

Where did you get your inspiration for that book?
Jonathan: The inspiration came from two places.
1. I was REALLY disappointed in Land of the Dead. Really disappointed.
2. One night I was riding home on the bus and it was mid-March or maybe April, so it was a really ugly time of year in Minneapolis. Dirty snow, mud, everything just felt gray and winter worn out and for some reason, a lot of people on the route 17 bus had luggage with them. They weren’t going to the airport, and they got on after me, so they weren’t coming from the airport, and they weren’t sitting together, so here’s all these strangers with crappy suitcases piled on the bus, just looking sweaty and bedraggled and beaten down. It was really depressing and I started imagining it was a bus full of American refugees, like something awful had happened and these people were all riding silently in the dark, heading for somewhere safe, just worn out and clutching everything they owned. And then this moron comes sprinting out of the dark, right in front of the bus. The bus driver slams on the breaks, everyone goes lurching forward, and super idiot goes running pell-mell off into night—most likely he was late to take a ride in his homemade catapult or something equally as stupid and suicidal. So he’s gone and the bus just goes on, no big deal. So, then I imagined that the bus driver just ran him down and everyone on the bus made that same shocked noise they had just made, while the bus bumped over him and the driver ran the wipers to get rid of the blood, and we drove on like it was no big deal. Why was it no big deal? Well, the guy must have been a zombie. In fact, that was what the bus was running from, a zombie apocalypse… and that was the beginning of the idea. This is what I think about on the bus. Also, I was watching a lot of Deadwood at the time…

Is it part of a series, or is it a stand-alone novel?
Jonathan: It’s part of a series. Four books. The first one was supposed to be Mad Max meets Dawn of the Dead, a kind of two-fisted noir, neo-wild west, quick draw outlaw kind of thing. The other books would kind of progress that way. Four loosely connected books featuring the same characters (more or less) which, if read together, would tell the tale of the Zombie Age from the beginning to its eventual end. Neat, huh?

What’s been your experience of trying to shop it to publishing houses?
Jonathan: I queried 30 agents and I got a lot of really good interest. Some requests for more, some requests for full, but no one picked it up. Maybe I missed the zombie zeitgeist, maybe it’s just that first novel that never gets to be, maybe it just needs more work, either way it’s trunked for now. One of my plans for this year is to print it out again and do a new edit with (hopefully) fresh eyes. After that, who knows?

What else are you currently working on?
Jonathan: Well, besides the new edit on my first book, I have also applied to Clarion West, so fingers crossed on that. Plus, I have my blog and the Scribblerati blog, so those will keep me occupied.

Any more short stories coming out?
Jonathan: No. Well, I’ve only got one submitted at the moment and there’s maybe a half dozen or so more in various states of undress on my computer. They’re being tweaked and edited and rewritten, etc, etc… I was working on them more a month or so ago, but…

Any more full-length novels that you’re working on?
Jonathan: Yes, I’m very excited about it. It’s in progress and the prose is flowing like a mighty river! I’m about six chapters into the first draft, which is almost a third of the way done by my calculations, so that’s very exciting. It’s a post-apocalyptic, urban fantasy Dirty Dozen versus a Dragon type of thing, so it’s fun to work on.

How do you feel about self-publishing?
Jonathan: With a firm and honest commitment to the editing process, multiple drafts, and to putting out the best story possible, I don’t care where a book comes from. Bottom line: a good story is a good story. That being said… if you’ve hand-drawn your cover yourself, didn’t really do more than one draft, and didn’t bother to have a real-life professional editor look at your work, then I’m out. I have a very low tolerance for that crap. This is you, this is your thing, treat it like it’s important, for God’s sake. Anything less and you should have stuck to blogging, because you’re wasting our time. For myself, I don’t rule it out as an option, but I’ll be honest with you: I want a real book. That’s what I really want. A real book in a real brick and mortar book store. That’s the pie in the sky for me. Not to say that e-books aren’t real, they totally are, but for me personally, for my own goals, if/when I ever get published, if the only version I get is an e-version, I won’t feel like I’ve really made it. Of course, the industry is continuing to change and adapt, so who knows what the future holds, right? At the moment, I don’t really give it much thought, since I don’t have anything publish-ready.

Do you listen to music when writing or editing, and if so what do you listen to?
Jonathan: No, I can’t not-listen to music when it’s on. The same goes for my wife’s voice. Both break my concentration. I can write in silence, but really I prefer to write at home with the TV on. I can totally tune that out and get to work.

Does it change depending on whether you’re writing or editing?
Jonathan: No, but I watch the same things everyday, if I’m at home. Judge shows and Cops, all day. Judge Judy, Judge Joe Brown, Judge Mathis, the People’s Court. And Maury too, I love him, he’s the most insincere man on television. Why do I watch them? People’s bad behavior and lack of awareness of themselves or the camera… it fascinates me. Plus, I can totally tune it out. Also, I learn things. 1. Never put anyone on your cell phone plan, because they will always try to rip you off. 2. No one can be a 1000% sure about anything.

Is it based on mood?
Jonathan: No, it’s based too much on ritual. Sometimes I worry that I’m Rain Man. I think I’ve seen every episode of Cops, ever. That fact embarrasses my wife so much. Hi, honey!

Thank you for visiting for another edition of Author Spotlight. We'll have another one next week, as well as more story synopses. Cifiscape Vol. II: The Twin Cities is complete, and will be out next week. Because of the way our publisher works we can't give you an exact time, but you will see us broadcasting the news of it being on sale as soon as we see it.

Sorry We've Been Gone So Long – So Much To Talk About
Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

It's been almost a month since you've heard from us, and we are truly sorry for that. We found ourselves with a lot to finish and not enough time in the day to get it all done.
Well, you'll be happy to know that we did get it all done. Like, actually, Cifiscape Vol. II: The Twin Cities is finished and has been sent to the printer. It should be out next week. Seriously, it's done. I know you can't believe it, but the book is done and we're just putting the finishing touches on the ebook which should be out at roughly the same time as the Paperback (it'll be available through Amazon, Apple, and Barnes and Noble).

Time line of upcoming events:
We will be having a planning meeting for the Marketing of Cifiscape on Friday, March 23rd on the U of M campus so contact us at cifiscape@onyxneon.com to get filled in with more information on when and where that will be. You'll also get a chance to meet the designer of the books as he'll be in attendance.

We will be attending the Bloomington Writers' Festival on Saturday, March 24th. It runs from 9:30 am to 5:00 PM. We'll have a table, so if you're attending be sure to come say hi, we'll have a sample copy of the book with us for you to thumb through (since we won't be able to sell the books at the event).

We are having a launch party at 6 PM on Saturday, March 31st at University Baptist Church (1219 University Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN , and map) on 13th and University. Come get a chance to meet the authors, get your hands on a copy of the book, and even get that book signed by the authors.

Story Synopsis: Harris by Jonathan Hansen
Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

We know that it's been a while since you've heard from us. We're working on that post. Right now we're starting the story synposes for Cifiscape Vol. II: The Twin Cities, which will be out sometime next week (fingers crossed). Our first Story Synopsis is:
Harris by Jonathan Hansen

Aliens came and wrecked the world. They pillaged, they looted, and then they left, gone back to the stars. Boone lives in the ruins, scavenging, trying to survive, but today the only thing she wants is to make it across downtown. She needs to make it home, past the gangs of twisted cannibals and the monstrous wreckage of the aliens’ war machines. She has to make it home. She doesn’t have a choice. Run, fight, or die… just another day in the windswept rubble of Minneapolis."

Author Spotlight: Erica Lindquist & Aron Christensen
Friday February 24th, 2012

The first time I read a story by Erica Lindquist was almost a year ago in the June 2011 issue of Efiction Magazine. It was a short story called Fireflies and I loved it. Seriously, it had been a while since I had something that the idea was the main focus. While I loved the characters, and thought the story was wonderful, it was the idea of it that struck me. It felt like I was reading something that Ray Bradbury could have included in The Martial Chronicles, seriously, it was that good. I began to communicate with Erica via Twitter, and when Kit and I decided it was time Volume II of Cifiscape, I immediately thought of trying to get Erica to be a part of it. Admittedly, Erica and Aron don't reside in Minneapolis, and while that may stretch the bounds of our premise, I felt that the quality of the writing was enough that I had to try and get her in Vol. II. Well, long story long, she and Aron were happy to submit a story that they had previously published in their own collection of short stories called In Odder Words. We were happy to accept it into this Volume, and we're even more excited about getting to share it with you soon.
However, we are here today to learn about Erica and Aron, so, I am proud to present the Author Spotlight for Erica Lindquist and Aron Christensen:

Did you guys always want to be authors?
Erica: I never even considered it when I was a kid. I was always an avid reader, but I never wrote much of my own. I went to school for another profession entirely, but when the writing bug bit, it bit hard.
When I finished Anvil of Tears, I was still in college. I went on to internships and a couple of jobs in journalism, but rewrites and beginning work on my next book took up more and more of my attention. Eventually, I was laid off from my job. While unemployed, I could write full-time.
I loved it! As the weeks rolled by, I spent more time writing and less time job-hunting. Finally, I asked Aron if we could get by without a second steady income. We considered a while. We had to tighten our belts a little, but we could make it work. I have been a full-time author ever since. In short, writing is a new dream of mine.

Aron: When I was younger, I wrote myself little adventure stories. Nothing serious, just fun stuff for myself or my friends that I never intended to go anywhere. In school, I always enjoyed any assignment where I got to write. My writing was usually a little more creative than it was supposed to be, but humor was how I got by in school so I kind of got away with it.
I can’t say I ever wanted to be an author, though. Erica started writing books and I was her first editor, beta reader, and fan. When she got stuck, she talked out the plot with me. I actually resisted being called her co-author for a long time because I didn’t think that my contributions were equal to the work she put in, certainly not enough to put my name on the cover with hers. I just slowly got more involved until I admitted that I was actually writing the books with Erica. Now I love it.

In your bio you say that you weren’t classically trained in writing,
could you expand on that?
Has that affected the way that you guys craft your stories?
Do you think it has helped or hindered your writing careers at all?
Erica: When I say that, I don't mean in the sense of a musician who might reference classical as a kind of training. I mean that I haven't been trained at all. I have no idea what I'm doing. None. I majored in English for one very, very short semester in college. I grew quickly tired of reading plays – I remember having to read Wit in two separate classes – and changed majors. I have never taken a creative writing class. I've read a few books on writing, but not many. What education in writing I have is from reading the novels I love. A lot of them aren't classy and even fewer of them are classics.
As to how that's affected my career, it's hard to say. I'm unsure how much impact my lack of training has had. When I first started writing, I was lucky enough to be friends with a New York Times bestselling author. When I talked to her about my seedling ambitions, she had a lot of advice for me.
I had every reason to listen, but I didn't. She told me not to write about writing, but my first novella took place in an author's mind. She warned me not to make my first novel part of a series. My first book was the beginning of a trilogy that I still haven't finished! (Though I'm hoping to this year.)
The point is that I didn't follow the advice given to me. What I've finally learned about writing came only through experiencing it for myself. I don't know that advice from teachers would have helped me avoid those mistakes.
That's not to say that teachers wouldn't have helped me. While I might have made those particular mistakes anyway, a good writing professor doubtlessly would have helped me with my admittedly rough prose. I've tried to learn from my favorite authors, but trying too hard to sound like them means diluting my own voice. Maybe learning from someone who knew how to teach would have helped me through that.

Aron: I don’t have any formal background in writing either, but I am a long-time role-player. I’d say I love running games more than I like playing them. Every role-playing game calls that person something different, but the title I prefer is Storyteller. I approach my role-playing like a book or a movie and try to tell a dramatic and exciting story with a clear plot arc. When it comes to writing actual books, I think that my role-playing experience taught me a number of things that I bring into the writing process.
One of the things that I am known for among my role-playing friends is my non-player characters. My players really enjoy the variety and depth of my NPCs and I usually populate my games with them pretty heavily. Fleshing out secondary characters in our novels is something that I usually take care of.
The other thing I do is outline. I’ve run games with no plan and just embarrassed myself hideously. Thankfully, when I screw up in front of a role-playing group I’m only embarrassed in front of a half-dozen people. The same mistakes in a novel would have a much wider audience for my screw-ups! So I learned to outline and think ahead and as we’ve applied those methods more and more to our writing, I think our books have improved.

Where did the idea for Little Hawk come from?
It’s connected to one of your full-length novels, correct?
Erica: I don't quite remember why I first wrote Little Hawk. I have a hard time writing short stories, so I don't often write them. But at some point, I must have decided that it was a good idea, or else that I just wasn't going to be able to sleep until I wrote it all down.
Logan, the protagonist of Little Hawk, is one of the characters of our first book, Anvil of Tears. In that novel, he is a cop who turned heartless bounty hunter. But Aron and I started talking about how Logan might have turned into a cop in the first place. His planet is a hard, harsh place where the average citizen has a pretty loose grasp of the law. How does a little boy on a world like that grow up to be a cop? And so Little Hawk was born.
You don't need to read Anvil of Tears to get Little Hawk and vice versa. Each of them is their own story. Someone who reads both might have a little extra insight into Logan, but I certainly wouldn't want to obligate anyone read an entire novel just to understand Little Hawk!

Aron: I think Erica was just in the mood to write a short story and we started thinking about ideas. When we mentioned exploring Logan’s childhood to our friends, they got all excited so we started working with the idea. We knew how Logan had turned from cop to bounty hunter and that part is explored in Anvil of Tears, but we wanted to develop the man before he was either.
Little Hawk is a short story about a boy growing up in a hard city and the choices you have to make to survive and it sheds some light on who Logan was, who he is, and maybe hints a little bit about his future… if that’s not too much of a spoiler.

What were you guys doing with your lives before you stepped into writing?
Erica: As I briefly mentioned before, I was in journalism. I had gone through nine majors in college (including criminal justice, art and anthropology) before finally settling into digital communications. My mentor was a journalism professor with a keen interest in updating the field for the digital age.
So when I graduated, I went to work first with the local newspaper and then one of the associations that works with all of the papers in California. But I was young and new to the field. I had very little to contribute and even those small ideas were generally met with disinterest or outright hostility.
As the newspaper industry fell on hard time, I was laid off. But by then, I was already writing novels.

Aron: I’m the one with the day job. I work as an analyst in the healthcare industry and make sure we can pay the mortgage and get healthcare. Some people wonder if I’m resentful to be working while Erica spends most of her time writing. Even Erica worries sometimes that I sacrifice too much for her. So here’s the deal on one of us working while the other focuses on writing: If neither of us wrote, I’d still be working this job. We need it, and I like my work. So I’m not resentful that I have to keep a job. If we ever make it big and it lets me shift to full-time writing as well, I’ll be grateful, but I’m not waiting for that day. I’m just going to keep living my life and doing what I love. If we needed the extra money, Erica would work. We both know that, but as long as I can pay the bills on my own, I’m glad to give her the time to do what she loves. I come into the writing when I get home and we communicate constantly by email to keep me in the project. We've made it work.

Is it helpful having a writing partner that you are married to?
Does that affect the way you have to critique each other’s work?
Erica: I love being married to my co-author. It means that I have pretty much constant access to another brain, one that I have a great deal of respect for. I'll admit, though, that it can be tough sometimes. I occasionally do freelance design and website work. When clients tell me that they don't like my artwork, I can shrug it off. I'm not invested in their opinion. But I care a great deal about what Aron thinks of my work. Not only do I give great weight to his opinion, but I love him. I don't want him to hate what I do, especially when he invests so much of his own time and effort in the results.
When we first began writing books together, there were a lot of arguments and hurt feelings. We both stuck with it, though. Like most things, it's gotten much easier with practice, and the results are well worth the effort.

Aron: The only drawback to my co-author being my spouse is that it can be a little hard to keep feelings out of it. My style is to generate a lot of half-baked ideas and throw them on the table so we can pick and chose. If we go too long without any of my ideas working, I can get frustrated.
But being married means we that know each other well and we know how to communicate, and as soon as we focus on the challenge we’re trying to resolve in the book instead of on each other, it works. It sounds strange to say that we need to keep our feelings out of it when we’re married, but being married taught us how to do that.

Aron, I know that you’re working on a story telling guide for tabletop role-playing games, what was the motivation behind that?
Do you play tabletop role-playing games?
Aron: I am a huge gaming nerd. I’ve been role-playing since before I can remember. I know that I was young enough that I used a very simplified, almost paperless system, and grew into the more sophisticated games as I got older. I like being a player, but I also really enjoy running the games.
My gaming group was the motivation for a book on the subject. One of my players actually requested that I write one. I’m told that the way I run games is very different from anyone else and I have a lot of unique ideas. I’m always very open to criticism and suggestions and I try to treat each game like a learning experience. I keep the things that worked, jettison the things that blew up in my face and create the next game with those in mind.
I didn’t really think that I had anything unique to say about role-playing, but when we started talking about all the little things I do, it added up to a good-sized pile. I figured I may as well share the things that I learned. If people want to read it and use what I learned in my games, then maybe they can avoid some of the mistakes I made and profit from some of the lessons I learned.

Any more short stories coming out?
Erica: Well, we're working on an ongoing short story serial, The Dead Beat. There are twenty-nine stories all together. We've written out the first twenty, so that leaves nine more to go. I've got a post-apocalyptic short collecting some dust that I'd like to find some time to finish.

Could you tell me a little bit more about that Post-apocalyptic short?
Erica: Sure. Let's see... It doesn’t have title yet, but it is set in the future of the American midwest. There are desert bandits, old nuclear silos, lost technology and, in the end, a tragedy. It's not finished yet - we've been too busy with Sword of Dreams and The Dead Beat - and we have no idea what the story's publication fate will be.

Are you working on any more full-length novels?
Anvil of Tears by Erica Lindquist and Aron Christensen
Anvil of Tears - Reforged Book 1
Amazon paperback
Amazon Kindle edition
We're just finishing up Sword of Dreams, the second Reforged book, and hope to have it out in the middle of this year. After that, we'll be working on the final book of the trilogy, Hammer of Time. It going to feel strange to finally finish the Reforged trilogy! Anvil of Tears was my first book and the series has been my permanently ongoing project for several years now. It's been fun, but I think I'll be sticking to single novels for a while.

Have you guys ever considered trying to get published by a publishing company?
How has the self-published experience been?
Any trial and error stories that you’d like to share?
Erica: When I first wrote Anvil of Tears, I spent about sixteen months querying it to agents and publishing houses. All I ever got back were rejections. To be fair, I knew even less about the querying process than I did about writing.
After I ran through every agent on my list, I shelved Anvil of Tears and got to work on my second book, In the House of Five Dragons. I sent that one out, too, and received the same response. By then, I was getting frustrated. I just wanted people to read our stories. So I cleaned up our books, edited them a few more times, and put them up online as webfiction. The response wasn't overwhelming, but it was a response. People actually read our books and commented! It felt great!
Eventually, maintaining the website became so time-consuming that it was biting into my actual writing time. That was when we moved over to paperback and ebook releases. It's been working pretty well for us ever since.
Trial and error stories? I've got lots of those. Like I said, I'm entirely self-taught. It's nothing but trial and error.
One of the first painful lessons I learned was that I'm not a seat-of-my-pants writer. I tried. Oh, how I tried! Aron told me that I should probably outline my books, but I told him that I had no interest. If I outlined, then I knew exactly what was going to happen. Where was the fun?
As it turned out, deleting hundreds of pages because the plot wandered in pointless circles was far less fun. Some authors do an excellent job of letting their stories and characters grow naturally, with no plan. I'm not one of them. Without an outline, my characters end up staring into mirrors and moping about their lives. Not exactly riveting reading…
I've been advised many, many times not to write a lot of dialect. Unless you're Stephen King, it's just going to make your prose and dialog unreadable. Well, as I had so many other wise bits of advice, I ignored this one. The first draft of Anvil of Tears contained an accent so thick that, when I went back to edit the manuscript, I couldn't understand a word I had typed. It was one of the main characters. Rewriting every line of his dialog took a week. I was miserable.
I had never heard this one before I started writing, but I wish I had: Don't write main characters with a lot of secrets from the readers. Maybe one secret or one mysterious character could have worked, but Anvil of Tears had three. Their back-stories wound up so convoluted and secretive that the characters barely made sense. It's hard to like a character whose motivation has no apparent logic. I revealed all secrets by the end of the novel, but as lot of bitter reviews remind me that it was far too late for many of them. They had already stopped reading.
When writing In the House of Five Dragons, I learned to never surround a telepathic main character with villains who need to keep secrets from him. It quickly gets tough to come up with excuses as to why the protagonist doesn't just dip into their brains to discover “The Evil Plan”. I think that it all worked out in In the House of Five Dragons, but I'll never try to write a character like Rikard Mazrem again.

Aron: Fortunately for me, Erica handled the whole publishing side of our books so I had some distance from the pain of querying and rejection. My main role was to keep Erica sending the books out. I just wanted to share what we had done and I’m persistent enough to keep at it. That really started before ebooks took off so it was a lot harder. With the explosion of ebooks, it’s now very easy to self-publish and that’s what we’re doing with everything. The hard part now is getting noticed by enough people to get them reading!

Here's the one we ask everyone:
Do you listen to music when writing or editing, and if so what do you listen to?
Erica: I listen to a lot of music and watch a lot of movies when I'm writing. I find it essential to maintaining the mood of a scene. A good soundtrack helps me feel the dramatic tension when I might otherwise get bogged down by the process of the writing itself, which can sometimes be a little tedious and difficult. When I'm editing, I don't need the music quite as much. By then, I've put together enough of the story that it draws me in and holds my attention. I'm less likely to get distracted by wording and grammar. But I keep the soundtrack playing… It doesn't hurt!

Aron: I don’t listen to music while writing very much, I find it more helpful to have a movie on in the background. When we’re writing Reforged I put on some sci-fi, when we wrote In the House of Five Dragons, we watched Rome, I, Claudius, and Gladiator a lot. I’m a very visual person and I find that being able to look up and soak in some imagery is more helpful to me than just music.

If you want to keep up with Erica and Aron you can find them posting regularly on their Website as well on their Twitter and Facebook.

Thank you for visiting for another edition of Author Spotlight. We'll be doing this every week. Keep coming back to read them all. Also, Cifiscape Vol. II will be out in mid-March, so look for more news as it gets closer and closer to being finished.

Author Spotlight: Dale Newton
Friday February 17th, 2012

I love getting to know new people, especially people who are fascinating. Dale has been involved with film, science fiction, and been interested in radio. He's co-written multiple books on film making, has numerous book projects in the works, and seems to be constantly adding more and more projects to his diverse and vast list.
He's a genuinely nice guy and a talented writer. We are proud to present the Author Spotlight of Dale Newton, author of a story in Cifiscape Vol. II.

How did you get into writing?
Dale: I started writing creatively in my early teens. I had an uncle who lived in Japan, and my brother and I arranged for him to buy each of us one of the early portable tape recorders being made there. I began writing little scripts for us to perform on audio recordings. This later blossomed into a fascination with radio dramas of the 1930s and 1940s. I remember doing historical re-enactments on audiotape for school history projects. About that time the first "portable" video equipment started appearing, and I began writing scripts for video productions at school.

What’s your background with writing fiction?
Dale: I've been writing fictions from the very beginning, mostly in the form of radio, video, or film scripts. My bachelor's degree is in English Education, so I picked up some formal training along with exposure to lots of great literature during my coursework. I've taken a variety of writing classes since that time and have been a member of a couple of writing groups.

Where did the idea for Wardrobe Malfunction come from?
Dale: The kernel of the idea has been kicking around in my head for half-dozen years. I saw a student at my daughter's high school wearing a separate sleeve with a t-shirt, and it occurred to me that would be a good way to carry personal electronics. I later used the idea in a treatment for an instructional video that was set in the future, but sadly the project never took place. When I started thinking how the Twin Cities would be different in the future, I remembered this idea and realized we'd have very different clothing if the growth in personal electronics is any indicator. The story grew from that seed of an idea. After I wrote the story, I ran across an article about a fellow who had designed a wearable television screen as a vest. It's hard to stay ahead of the future.

I saw that you’ve co-written a bunch of books about filmmaking. Is that a particular interest of yours?
Dale: I've been making movies since I was 13 years old when I fell in love with the idea of creating a world in a movie. I've produced and worked on a number of independent movies.

Is that something that you do on the side?
Dale: Making feature-length and short movies is an avocation. Making instructional, informational, and promotional videos is a big part of my vocation.

Tell me about your film Resident Alien?
Dale: It's a feature-length science-fiction comedy romance that I wrote and produced. In the movie, a failed astrophysics student and the only tenant in the building he manages both witness a crashing UFO and are nearly incinerated by it. When a mysterious stranger, an unscrupulous UFO investigator, and a wily sheriff arrive, their lives are turned upside down. The story reveals the dangers and adventures that arise when you wish on a star -- and your dreams come true.

Do you write a lot of short stories?
Dale: At age 14, I wrote my first science-fiction short story, and then audaciously mailed it off to Ben Bova – famed author and then editor of Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact magazine – to be considered for publication. It was politely, but roundly, rejected.

Decades later – after writing a half-dozen feature-length screenplays, a passel of press releases, numerous Sunday School Christmas programs, scores of video scripts, and a pair of books on independent filmmaking – I offered my second science-fiction short story, Wardrobe Malfunction, for inclusion in Cifiscape Volume II. Apparently, the intervening years did me some good.

What else are you currently working on?
Dale: I'm editing the second draft of a book I've written on special effects for movies, and I have the outlines for a book on video production and a book on personal motivation sitting in my office and nagging me to get started on them.

Any more short stories coming out?
Dale: I have some more in mind, but haven't put pencil to paper yet.

Are you working on any full-length novels?
Dale: I have not yet done a full-length novel. I'd like to do more short stories as training ground before I tackle a novel. Besides, I'm busy revising a stage play for teenagers that I wrote with my younger daughter. I'm also working on a stage musical with my older daughter, Jen Newton, who is a music composer.

Any other screenplays
Dale: There is an animated feature-length script that is awaiting a rewrite, and I have a short puppetry film I'd like to find time to produce. I think that's plenty of projects for now.

Do you listen to music when writing or editing, and if so what do you listen to?
Dale: The majority of my creative writing is done while I'm traveling on mass transit, so the background soundtrack for my work is usually the rattles and rumbles of a bus. I could bring along portable music, but the white noise of Metro Transit is enough for me to concentrate. However, when I am typing at the computer, I use a play list of music that stimulates my mind. It's quite eclectic, everything from Handel's Water Music to Regina Spektor, with Yma Sumac, Queen, Django Reinhardt, Bach, Avril Lavigne, Apollo 100, African djembe music, the Aquabats, Jen Newton, Gustave Holst, the Veronicas, and songs from Broadway musicals to spice things up between. My new favorites are the bands Vampire Weekend and Fun.

Does it change depending on whether you’re writing or editing?
Dale: I generally use the same music for both. I find that energetic music helps me retreat into my head so I can visualize and focus on my work. When I'm doing creative writing, I just write or type as fast as I can to keep up with the movie that's playing in my head. Music helps me block out distractions and gives a forward push to the work. When I'm doing more mundane technical writing, the music helps keep me motivated and working at a good pace. It's like a treat I get to have as long as I work.

Is it based on mood?
Dale: If I want strong emotional content to a scene, I'll sometimes select a CD or a song from my play list that fits the mood of it. It helps conjure up ideas in the desired mood.

Thank you for visiting for another edition of Author Spotlight. We'll be doing this every week. Keep coming back to read them all. Also, Cifiscape Vol. II will be out in mid-March, so look for more news as it gets closer and closer to being finished.

Author Spotlight: Aaron M. Wilson
Friday February 10th, 2012

Today we are starting a feature called "Author Spotlight." This will be an ongoing interview series that will allow us to delve a little deeper into the lives of our authors. You'll get to know them a little better, and so will we.
We wanted to start with someone who is both unique and talented. He has a pretty fascinating life, and it was really good to get to know him a little bit. Today we are starting with Aaron M. Wilson.
Let's get to the questions

Did you always want to be an author?
Aaron: An "author," no. I have always been a writer. My parents are finally getting around to cleaning out the junk room, where they’ve stored childhood mementos, to create a workout room. Instead of tossing everything, as I’ve suggested, I’ve been getting boxes of reviews, stories, and poems that I wrote as far back as kindergarten. Yikes!

What did you go to school for?
Aaron: I earned my dual undergraduate degree in Creative Writing and Rhetoric and Discourse with a minor in Environmental Studies, from Beloit College in Beloit, WI. All of my writing instructors and mentors, including those at Hamline University, where I earned my MFA in Writing, suggested that we write what we know. Thus, I’m always expanding what I know. My writing is heavily slanted towards environmental activism, using what I’ve learned from my minor.

I noticed that you write about bikes and bike mechanics in a number of your stories, is that a personal interest of yours?
Aaron: I love bikes and biking. When the weather is good, I bike everywhere. I used to bike to work more often that I do now: 23 miles round trip. I feel that bikes and bike mechanics make great characters, especially environmental activists. I just don’t see humanity being able to continue its love affair with the automobile. Bikes are the answer.

Have you ever worked as a bike mechanic?
Aaron: I wish. I know the basics. I interviewed with a couple of places, but because of my education and natural affinity for sales and management, they wanted me out front with customers instead of in back with the grease. It is still a dream of mine. I would like to find a small town with a bike mechanic need and open my own shop.

In What’s For Dinner? (from Cifiscape Vol. I) you talk about organic food, and environmental catastrophe, do you have an interest in environmentalism, living green, and/or organic food?
Aaron: Yes, I don’t want to be one of those parents that has to answer their child’s question, “What were you thinking? Why is the earth such a mess? And why didn’t you do anything about it?” I want to respect the needs of future generations. The myth around organic foods is that they are healthier for you. That is marketing hype. The purpose of organic agriculture is to respect and replenish the earth, attempting to work with natural systems rather than against those systems. We need to respect natural systems or risk a societal collapse. However, in order to respect those systems and honor mother earth, we should eat as low to the ground as possible: vegetables, or as Michael Pollen puts it, “Mostly Plants.”

What was your inspiration behind The Skin Scholarship?
Aaron: Thanks for asking. The recession, mostly. However, I work in higher education as an adjunct instructor, and I see what students have to do in order to pay for school. Tuition is too high. Combine student’s plight over rising costs of education with the predatory sex trade, bingo, you’ve got The Skin Scholarship. However, in this instance, I think that reality is worse. There are amateur porn sites that pay college students to create sex videos, and those sites pay well.

How is it being a dad and an author?
Aaron: Nora is now four-months old. As the full-time (or as we call it, day-time) care provider, I do not have time to write. Thus, I am taking a writing hiatus. Once I came to the conclusion that Nora is my priority, my life became simpler. When she is older and a more independent nap-taker, I’ll resume a more regular writing regiment.

Do you ever think about what your daughter will think of your writing when she’s grown up?
Aaron: I think that it is a parental fallacy to expect children to take an interest or appreciate their creative work. I hope that she likes it. However, I write for me first and adults second. So, it might be awhile before she sees any of it.

Does that change the subject matter that you would talk about in your stories?
Aaron: No. I don’t write for her. I might write something for her in the future. I’m not going to put limitations on my creativity, but I do everything else for other people. Writing is for me.

Are you working on anything new?
Aaron: Yes. I’ve put my novel on hold. The plan is to write several linked stories to create a novel in the world of The Skin Scholarship. I’ve finished the first section that follows the downfall of Jonah (the main character in The Skin Scholarship), and I’m on to the second character's story.

Any more short stories coming out?
Aaron: The Bike Mechanic is still in serial with eFiction Magazine. Right now, that is all that I have in the cooker.

Do you listen to music when writing or editing, and if so what do you listen to?
I listen to The Crystal Method. I listen to them exclusively. I own all of their work, and I owe most of what I’ve written to their trance educing rhythms and club mixes.

A Surprise For All of Us
Thursday February 2nd 2012

Today is an awesome day for us here at Cifiscape. We are announcing another story to our anthology that wasn't going to be part of it until a matter of weeks ago. This contributor had a show in Minneapolis a few weeks ago, which we attended, and we loved it so much we asked him if he would be willing to share some of his work with us to put in the forthcoming Vol. II.
His work is graphic, brutal, grotesque, beautiful, tragic, wonderful, and all together original. We love his style and we cannot wait to share his work with you.
So on this day, in the beginning of February we are happy to announce that John Beckmann will be joining Cifiscape Vol. II.
You can keep up with on him at his website and at the Stampede Press Facebook page

This isn't your average wardrobe malfunction
Tuesday, January 24th 2012

Ladies and gentlemen I would like to thank you for coming back regularly to keep up witht he author announcements, it means a lot to us that you all have been interested in the news, and today we are happy to announcement the final author for Cifiscape Vol. II. Don't worry, though this will not be the end of regular updates. We will begin releasing synopses of the stories to get you excited about the stories and we will begin the Author Spotlight feature soon as well, so, lots to look forward to.

Today, though, we are happy to announce another new comer to Cifiscape, his story is charming, unique and funny. It's an amusing venture into the world of the future without any of the distopia you might imagine for our future, in fact, his story makes it seem like the future is going to have a lot of the same problems that we face today.
Today we are happy to announce that Dale Newton will be joining us in the upcoming Volume. He takes a fanastical world and grounds it in the reality of something that we can all relate to (David Oppegaard would be proud).
You can keep up with Dale at his website.

Making a Book: Methods to Publish Your Work
Monday, January, 23rd, 2012

PASA and Onyx Neon Press would like to cordially invite you to the first skills workshop of the spring semester: Making A Book

Humphrey Offices room 175, Friday January 27th, 3:00-4:30
Refreshments will be provided by PASA

Perhaps you want to publish your travel narrative, a master piece, or an organizational report. Regardless of your content, this workshop will walk you through the basics of publishing you or your communities writing, tricks for designing it, and allow you to turn your work into a professionally bound book available on amazon, and other on-line book sellers. Come here from Author Aaron Wilson and Editors of Onyx Neon about the process of getting writing into print.

Please RSVP at: http://www.facebook.com/events/149538631826565/

Warm Regards,

Two Hearts in a ribcage
Thursday, January, 19th, 2012

If you read the previous volume of Cifiscape you'll know that one of the most memorable stories was about a man who had a shit job, where he found a dead body at work (spoilers!), and you'll also know that it was pitch perfect, and fabulously written.

The author we are announcing today is tremendously talented in both his creativity and his execution. His dry wit and attention to detail makes him stand out in a collection of talented writers such as we have. Today we are proud to announce that Max Hrabal will be joining Cifiscape again with a story in the upcoming Volume. His story is excellent and we cannot wait for you to read it.

Comics return to Cifiscape Vol II

It's probably not what you're thinking, but we are happy to announce that yet another author from the previous volume of Cifiscape will be making an appearance in Vol. II. This author, or rather this artist, gave Vol. I a little comic relief and challenged us by making us see that we don't know what the future of the Twin Cities will hold, and by forcing us to look at our current use of technology in a humorous, yet poignant light.

In Vol. II he does it again, and we are so happy to have him back, shedding light on current and future issues.
That's right, Bob Lipski, creator of Uptown Girl, and author of numerous books involving the character, as well as Ill Communication from Vol. I will be returning for Vol. II. We are tremendously excited to have him back and we cannot wait for you to read Bob's new comic, really and truly, it's wonderful.
You can keep up with Bob on his website as well as his blog.

Behind Schedule, but Ebooks

Hey everybody we just wanted to apologize for suddenly dropping off the face of the planet this past week. We were hard at work on the cover and book designer as well as getting author questions written when suddenly the computer of our designer (that's me) blew up. So, we're a little behind schedule, but over all everything is coming together. Hopefully we'll have the cover and book finished by the end of January, so that we can get it to you no later than March (obviously we'd love to have it to you sooner).

We would like to go ahead and announce that Cifiscape vol I and II will both be available on the Kindle and Nook a little bit after Cifiscape Vol II is released (delay only because we believe in quality of production). So, have no fear, my nerdy friends you will be able to enjoy all 9 stories of Cifiscape Vol II and all 7 of Cifiscape Vol I in all their glory on your favorite handle held ereader.

At this exact moment we're working on getting those author announcements up, so that you can all geek out about who is going to be in this next volume.
Also in the coming weeks you will be able to begin to read synopses of the stories in both volume I as well as volume II so you'll begin to understand why we're so excited about this upcoming volume. Because, seriously folks this one's even better than the last one.

Thank you for your patience, we're working on getting back on track, and hopefully making up for lost time.
You guys are the best, have a wonderful day,


The Saga Continues

We are announcing an author today who is a real treat for us. He was previsouly featured in Cifiscape Volume I and when we saw that he submitted a story for this volume we flipped our $&^#, seriously, we love this author. Some authors struggles with dialogue, some authors struggle with plot or character development, he struggles with neither. His gift is for the scene, though. If you recall his story from volume one it was a mere ten pages but you were able to see the scene in front of you, it was like watching photographs come to life, which makes sense considering his profession.

Brian D. Garrity has been a photographer for a number of years, and is all the more talented for it. He is able to craft a scene and show characters as people, even if they are the most ridiculous or down-to-earth people you can imagine, it matters not, Brian can make a character sound like a real person. His story for Volume II is a continuation of the world which he so eloquently showed off in Volume I. This one has a larger narrative, but reading it is like watching a movie play out before your eyes. It's really good $^*& and we simply cannot wait for you to read it.

Go check out Brian's photographs and buy his book about a group of River Rats on the Mississipi river in the 70s: Still Waters Run Deep

A new author to our crew

The author we are announcing today is new to us here at Cifiscape. He was one of the last story submissions that we received and definitely stood out because of his unique perspective not only compared to our other authors, but also in general. His story definitely follows the original idea of looking for the optimism in the world, trying to find to the good in the strange. We loved what he had to say, and we would loved the way he had to say it.

Today we are happy to announce that Doug Donley will be joining us in the second volume of Cifiscape. His story will challenge and cause you to think, while at the same time entertain you. He's a talented guy and we couldn't be happier to have him on board for Volume II.
You can keep up with him at his church's website.

Biggest announcement yet/an old friend returns

Today's Author announcement is a big deal because this author is remarkable, not only is his writing style unique and accessible, but he is also gifted with the most rare gifts when it comes to being a writer: creativity.
His ability to craft new and original worlds would be impressive if it wasn't completely blown out of the water by his ability to make us believe in these worlds. We have been keeping up with his career since his involvement in the first volume of Cifiscape and we are happy to say that he has only grown as a writer over the past year.

Today, on the eve of the Eve of Christmas, and in the midst of the Hanukkah season, that Aaron M. Wilson will have a story in Volume II. When we first read his story for Volume II about alternate endings and chock-full of Dickens references we couldn't help, but fall in love with the dystopian reality. Keep up with him on his blog and twitter.

The next announcement will be on Wednesday, and then another big announcement on Friday! We are also beginning a series called "Author Spotlight" where we will be asking the authors in depth questions about their work, their inspirations, what kind of music they listen to when writing versus editing, and more. So look for that starting before the new year.

Preparing to announce

We are a little less than an hour away from the biggest announcement we've made so far! We're announcing an author who is familiar to this project. Who will it be?

Check back at 5 PM to find out

Author Announcement #3

We're here again today to announce the third story for Cifiscape Vol. 2. Our author today is a talented and original lover of science fiction. He teaches science fiction at The Loft and is an amazingly gifted and original writer.
Today we are proud to announce that David Oppegaard will have a story in the next Cifiscape. Keep up with him at http://www.davidoppegaard.com as well as on his Twitter

Look for our next announcement on Friday!

Author Announcement #2

Today we are announcing the second author who will be in Cifiscape Vol. 2. Well...actually, we're announcing the second and third authors and we couldn't be happier. These two authors are talented, seriously, seriously talented. I cannot say enough nice things about these two authors. Between the their raw imagination and their ability to convey their scenes we cannot wait to show you what they have in store for you.
Today we are proud to announce that Erica Lindquist and Aron Christen will have a story in the next Cifiscape. We couldn't be more excited. Keep up with them at http://www.looseleafstories.com as well as their Twitter

Website premiere and author announcement #1

To everyone who has been following the progress made on Cifiscape Vol. 2 we'd like to thank you for your continued belief in this project.
Today we have the most joyous news we can possibly imagine: today we unveil our new website AND we're announcing our first author for our next volume. Truly this is a good day for us here at Cifiscape.
There is more work to be done on the website, so don't fret, it will continue to grow and get more and more interactive over the next month or so. For now we just want to have a landing pad for everything Cifiscape related. So take a moment, poke around and let us know what you think. (you can email us at cifiscape@onyxneon.com.com if you'd like to ask any questions).

On to the big news for today, though. Today we're beginning to announce the authors for volume 2. This first author's talent is in his ability to write gritty and visceral dramatic scenes while still making it easy for us as readers to follow. We love his story and we're truly excited to have him in Volume 2.
The first author to be announced for Volume 2 is none other than Jonathan Hansen. (you can keep up with what he's up to and what he's interested in at his blog