Monday, December 19, 2016

Print Edition of ‘Circa Sixty Years’ Coming Sooner Than Anticipated

A Tyrannosaurus rex in a Santa Clause suit.

Well, the photographic cover for my single short story book, “Circa SixtyYears Dead” will not be here in time for the holidays. However, the print version will be here sooner than I had anticipated, thanks to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing’s new paperback print option.

“Circa Sixty Years Dead” Print Edition

Until recently, a print version of a self-published Kindle book had to be produced by separate means through Amazon’s Create Space. But now a print edition of an ebook can be produced a little bit more quickly through Kindle Direct’s new print option (currently at the beta level). So far, I’ve partly registered “Circa” for this option. I just have to upload the manuscript and cover to the program. The manuscript is what may take a while before I upload it because I need to make sure it’s formatted correctly and formatting isn’t the best of my self-publishing skills. Apparently, the manuscript and cover have to come from my own files rather than the ones Kindle Direct already has for the digital edition. Perhaps someday Amazon will take things a step or two further and enable the files for the ebook to convert more easily to print-ready format. So look out for the paperback edition of “Circa Sixty Years” coming between now and the first week of the new year!

Holiday Deal

And now for my Holiday Deal: from now until Christmas Eve, customers can receive a free ebook copy of The Fool’s Illusion if they purchase the print edition. This is a great deal to save on those last minute Holiday gifts you are looking for for that reader friend or relative.

One Last Holiday Donation for the Season

I donated a model Millenium Falcon to the California Highway Patrol’s toy drive, and a monetary donation to the local meal program for the elderly (Meals On Wheels of Yolo County). Now I have one last donation to make for the holiday season.

I’ve been working on some Christmas fantasy art which I am going to donate to the public domain. Once I donate to the public domain, I will donate it to where many of the beautiful illustrations you see here at the Fantastic Site come from and are done by some really great artists. These artists have been kind enough to donate their work for free use making it easier and more affordable for writers and bloggers like myself to post images on our websites. So I felt that it’s time to give back. Be on the look out for my Christmas coloured pencil drawing by visiting my Facebook page throughout the week. I hope to have it up by Wednesday but it will be up by Christmas Eve for sure. I will provide the link to it on my Facebook page where you can download a copy (for free, of course). That will be my holiday gift to you wonderful readers and fellow writers out there.

This weekend will be extraordinarily busy for me since it’s the Christmas weekend. So I’m taking a week off from posting here and will return at the beginning of the new year. I hope to have the paperback edition of “Circa Sixty Years” launched by then and to have made some progress on the photographic cover. I also said I would provide a review of the movie Arrival which I wasn’t able to do this time but will try to have it here next.

I wish everybody a Happy Hallow-Day Season and New Year and will see you next year!

Until then . . .

Monday, December 12, 2016

Falling Behind But Writing Through the Busy Season

It’s been a very busy week especially as we have gotten further into the holiday season. If you missed my post last week about writing around holiday busy-ness, you can take a look at it here. Hopefully some of those ideas I’ve put into practice will work for you other writers out there too. Still, my writing’s come to a slow-down because I’ve had a load of other things to do, yet I continue to work on my stories and that is most important: to write everyday even when you don’t feel like it. If you only do it when you feel like it, then you’ll never feel like it. Or, to put it more precisely, the days when you don’t feel like writing will out-number the ones when you do and so you will always come up with an excuse not to write.

A Little Nemo comic panel depicting a Santa's workshop exterior.
Credit: Wikimedia Commons

I’ve been continuing to work on my novella averaging at least a page a day considering my full-time day job, and I try to get one to three extra pages in on the weekends. Plus I’ve been giving a little time to my current short story in which I’m developing the character interaction and working the characterization into the story. The photographic cover for “Circa Sixty Years” has been the slowest project in the last three weeks since it’s not actual writing but the marketing side of it and I’m first and foremost a writer. So I’ve been concentrating more on producing the stories themselves. I was hoping to have the photographic cover edition out by now for the holiday rush, but it may not happen until after the new year. If I get it done before the holidays I’ll definitely announce it here and at my Facebook page. So far I’ve gathered stock photos for it, but I still have to look for some more before I start cropping and pasting.

But this weekend was so busy with the Christmas shopping, decorating and visiting family I rarely see that I didn’t even get to see Arrival like I wanted too. I’m planning to see it this week sometime and hopefully read the short story it’s based on so I can have a review of both for you here next time. We’lll see.

Does the holiday season inspire you to write more or does it hinder you in your writing?

Until next time . . . 

Monday, December 5, 2016

Writing Around the 'Distractions' During the Holidays

A floating mountain orbited by flying machines.

Well, Thanksgiving has come and gone and Christmas will be here before we know it. The holiday season brings with it a cramped schedule. We’re running here and there shopping for food and gifts and trying to deliver those gifts. We’re trying to write and mail off those holiday cards in time. Then we have family to cater to, including those who come from out of town and stay with us. On top of that there’s our jobs and other everyday, year-round duties such as paying bills. This cramped holiday schedule makes us writers’ writing time even more cramped. This is especially so if, like me, you’re working a day job.

It’s even tougher when you have family to cater to who stay with you during a holiday week or weekend. You can’t just ditch them to go write. After all, they are our family, our blood, so we should show them appreciation and love. That’s what the holidays are all about, or should be at least. But still, an artist needs his/her own space where they only work on their art and won’t be sidetracked. That’s often a challenge when family from over three hundred miles comes to stay with me during a holiday week, especially when I live in a small apartment and there’s really no private space suitable for writing.

When I write fiction, I have to, or more like prefer to, be alone in my house to connect to that other world that I’m creating and to “journey” through it with my pen as my walking staff or, in the case of sci fi, as my rocket ship. My most honest work comes out when I am writing alone. But sometimes that just can’t happen, such as in the case of family or friends from afar who stay with you, or even just everyday intermediate family or roommates year-round. So during the Thanksgiving week when my parents were staying with me, I told them that I would see them when I get back from my day job and my errands. Those errands mostly consisted of my writing. This was especially the writing of my novella that I’m presently working on that was started during NaNoWriMo and, though I started it late in the month, I was trying to use that time to focus on just that. So I had to find an alternative central control for my writing. Everyone has their own alternative writing space that works best for them since we all work differently. Some people will use the library, some will rent a hotel room if they can afford it (which is not quite in my budget). My alternative writing space for fiction? The fast food joint.

I already write best at fast food places and cafes when I’m working on non-fiction such as articles and movie reviews (or this blog post). Unless there’s someone there who I know, I often don’t heavily converse with other customers at these places and so can focus on my work without being distracted by other customers. And so if I don’t know the majority of the people in a restaurant, including fast food, I can more easily write fiction than I can around people who I know. Why? When I’m around friends or family there’s an air of expectation that I won’t get when I’m writing around strangers. I also feel forced to write more quickly because I know I can’t just take my own sweet time and leave my parents hanging at home and making them think I’m trying to avoid them.

So maybe the holiday rush can make us writers work more quickly and even productively since we know we’ll have lesser time to write. Maybe that can even be the greatest gift Life can give us each Holiday season. At least aside from that new fantasy anthology or space battle video game you asked St. Nick to bring you.

Do you have an alternative writing space for when friends or relatives stay with you? If so, where is it? Feel free to leave your answers in the box below.

Until next time . . .  

Monday, November 21, 2016

Far Out Fantastic Events: NaNoWriMo and New Gaiman TV Series

The most far out fantastic events for me since last week have been my participation in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and news of author Neil Gaiman producing a new sci fi TV series.

World-building and Character Development for NaNoWriMo

I had said at the beginning of the year that I would write a full first draft of a novel (or novella) and there’s no better motivator for it than now, NaNoWriMo. In the last two posts I talked about writing through writer’s block for one of my short stories and searching for new monsters for another. [link to the posts that talks about these] But I’ve decided to take a break from both these stories so I can write my novella during this month of November. The problem is I only started writing it last week and we’re already in the middle of the month. In fact, I didn’t even actually start writing it; I just planned it. But even so, there probably won’t be another motivator for another year, so I’ll still write it even if some of that writing spills into next month.

Some people start off approaching their novel with character development because the story is more character-dependent. Others may start off with the stories’ events and, therefore, the plot and so develop it as they write. This novella will depend on the settings most of all, at least initially, since it centers around the collision of two universes. So I began with developing those. Therefore, I thought that the best way to begin writing this story was to start with the world-building. The novel will take place in a near-future earth, so that setting requires relatively little development. The setting that does require a lot of development is the online game that the story involves. So I’ll basically be developing a world for a MORPG (multi-player online role playing game) for this story. But who knows, maybe it will turn into a real online game. (Any game developers out interested?)

I’ve also been working on making a profile for the protagonist. I need at least sketchy details about the main character because knowing something about him ahead of time will also help me find a direction to go in writing the novella. Normally, with short fiction I can start writing the story itself and then take care of the other developmental aspects after. But with a 60-plus page novella versus a 10-to-20 page short story, I would probably get writer’s block within a page of the draft. For a story as long as that, writing without a pre-created main character and setting that is so integral to the plot would be like writing in a vacuum which just doesn’t happen. This sequence of writing a novel or novella works for me personally; it may or may not work for other writers. A lot of it has to do with the type of story you’re writing.

Two planets are reflected in a body of water.

Neil Gaiman to Produce New Sci Fi TV Series

Speaking about conflicting universes, Neil Gaiman is planning to produce a new TV show about interdimensional travel, according to iO9. Titled The Building, it’s based on an indie-produced film called Parallels and involves a group of people in a skyscraper that travels through multiple universes. The series will cover the origins of the skyscraper and the characters’ attempt to get back to Earth of our own dimension. So here’s one more in science fiction to add to the alternative universe subgenre! Working on a TV show like this and having recently written for several Doctor Who episodes, which also deal with multiple universes, shows that Gaiman is opening up to more sci fi. He’s mostly written fantasy.

I may or may not be posting here this weekend (or early next week, keeping in mind that I’ve been running late with these posts which I apologise for). I will have family in from out of town for Thanksgiving and so am not sure if I’ll have time to come up with something to post. So if you don’t see me here this weekend, I’m still on the planet, in this universe, and will be back here at the Fantastic Site the following weekend. And remember, we may be in a dark aftermath of the elections and many of us may be unsatisfied and even straight out angry over the results. It may be right up there with a zombie apocalypse for some of us. But we still have a lot to be thankful for. So try to remember some things to give thanks for this Thanksgiving.

Those of you who are participating in NaNoWriMo, what level of the writing process do you begin your novel? For example do you begin by brainstorming for ideas or by outlining? Do you start by creating your characters or by writing the story itself? Leave your answers in the box below.

Until next time . . .  

Monday, November 14, 2016

In Search of New Monsters For Horror Fiction

A ghoul holding a candle and peaking through a doorway.

The most current horror story I’m writing is a haunted house one but the challenge is in coming up with unique monsters. So far I’ve steered clear of the vampires and zombies (unless you count attacking skeletons, which I don’t because they don’t have enough flesh to be considered a corpse). I don’t want to create any spoilers, but the monsters that are cliché in this story are more so in high fantasy than in straight horror.

For the past decade, vampires and zombies have dominated the horror/sci fi scene. As with many types of monsters, their popularity is a phase. Vampires have been fading out in the last year or so. Although the two will be in the popular imagination for years to come, like everything else they are fads and fads eventually fade out. Aliens were a fad in the ‘90s and early 2001s; pirates were a fad in the late 2001s through the early half of the present decade. As much as I love zombies, their popularity will probably be used up soon and the masses will probably move on to other characters of interest. These could be demonic clowns which seem to have been getting more of a spotlight horror fiction lately.

Yet, for those of us writers who specialise in certain monsters that have been traditionally popular such as the undead or werewolves, we can still put twists on their characters in order to prevent rehashing old plots. But the challenge in writing about archetypal monsters such as these is to come up with new ways of portraying them. Fairly recently, comic books have been doing this by making the hero a zombie such as in I, Zombie, or a vampire breaking the stereotype of monsters as evil and victimising. But now this trend is getting old.

The problem with much horror, not just today’s but that of the past 50 years at least, is that it caters to the more familiar archetypes like the ones mentioned above. Which is a little ironic because the basis of horror fiction is fear of the unknown, and so fear of the unfamiliar. But Frankensteinian monsters, Dracula and Jeckylle-and-Hyde archetypes have been done numerous times in both books and movies, not to mention television. What’s so surprising is that, with the fan cult following of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthullu character, that a major movie hasn’t adapted that character yet. Though a movie based on Lovecraft’s Mythos, The Mountains of Madness, has been in the plans for the last two years at least, there seem to be very updates on it.

An article at, entitled “Alright, Folks, It’s Time Horror Got Some New Monsters” talks in great detail about the need for new fiends in fiction. It’s a really good one and includes interviews with horror authors and movie directors on the subject. I strongly recommend reading it.

So what monsters out there in the mythical universe do you think deserve a chance in books, TV and the big screen? Please leave your answers in the box below.

Until next time . . .

Monday, November 7, 2016

Post-Halloween Post: 'I, Frankenstein', Writing Challenges, Variant Cover

I hope everybody had a great Halloween. It went by all too fast as always. Maybe that’s why I’m a horror writer, so I can have “Halloween” year round. Overall, my All Hallow’s Eve was okay, even though I became dreadfully sick and I hadn’t even eaten any candy! So I didn’t do anything that night except stay home and read H.P. Lovecraft’s “The Rats In the Walls”, which is one of his best stories and has plenty of Gothic elements such as a haunted castle and a dreadful family secret. I strongly suggest reading it. The next evening, however, I attended a Halloween party that my writers group put on. Each year we get together on or near the hallow-day and read a story we each wrote based on a photo prompt. I’m not good writing in response to prompts, at least when it comes to fiction. So I’ll admit that my story was crap. But I’m glad I wrote and read it for the sake of participating. Here’s some more of my post-Halloween activity:

Short Movie Review of I, Frankenstein

The day after the party I was sick again. This time jt was probably from eating too much Halloween candy and other goodies at the night before. So I stayed indoors most of the day. I used part of the time to watch 2014’s I, Frankenstein that one of the local TV stations was airing. I hadn’t seen it before. Overall, I liked it. It’s a popcorn horror/dark fantasy flick, but it worked. What made this movie fairly good was that the story stays relatively true to Mary Shelley’s novel. Even though it starts out after the events of the book, its continuity between them and those of the movie was strong. The movie was loaded with plenty of suspense and story development and more than enough action. In fact, the movie was mostly all action, which kind of rushed the story. The set design was fantastic, though. The special effects were okay, the exception being that when the demons are killed in battle and explode the pixelation of the digital effects give away the realism. Also, Frankenstein’s monster (given the name “Adam” in this movie and played by Aaron Eckhart) looked too much like a normal human being which was my biggest fault with the movie. Other than those few problems, it wasn’t bad.

The Challenge of Writing the Opposite Sex’s P.O.V.

Now that the Halloween rush is over, I’ve been getting back on track with my writing projects. I’m continuing editing my current short story, a sci fi horror about a search engine. It’s been a bit of a challenge because the main character is a woman and I haven’t written many stories with female protagonists. The few that I have I’ve fallen short in developing their main characters. But the key to writing from the point of view of the opposite sex is to think of the common human desires and ambitions your protagonist has, and so desires and ambitions we all share as human beings, then give him/her distinctive traits. An article by author A. Lee Martinez at talks about this in more detail and so if you have problems writing from the view point of the opposite gendre I strongly recommend reading it. 

Writing Through the Block

The other challenge with this story was a sudden case of writer’s block. It came about from myself having inevitably changed directions in the course of the story while revising. I couldn’t go back to the old direction because the story and character would’ve remained stale. So what did I do when I couldn’t find a solution that connected A with B and therefore one scene with the next? I simply wrote through the block. Not only did it help me continue revising the story but it lead to a new idea that enhanced the plot! So the next time you get a block in your writing try writing through it no matter how lame the words seem. It’s in writing itself that develops ideas and brings in new ones, maybe not immediately but eventually.

To Come . . .

The other project I’ll be returning to is “Circa Sixty Years Dead”’s variant cover, the photo realistic cover that I said I would give my newest published book of horror. [link] So you’ll be hearing more about that in the weeks to come.

So what did you do for Halloween? Did you go to any parties? Hand out treats? Hand out tricks? Did you watch or read any good horror? Feel free to leave your responses in the box below.

Until next time . . .

A skull with a pair of skeleton hands beneath it.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Halloween Reading: Free and Discounted Horror Books and a Review

Three jack-o-lanterns and a raven.

I said I would have some treats for you on this Halloween weekend and I’ve kept my word! Starting now and ending midnight October 31st (early November 1st ) you can purchase my collection of dark fiction, The Fool’s Illusion, at 50% off the list price. To do that just go to and use this code: 5HVKZ4DU. And if that’s not good enough, then starting Sunday and also ending at the stroke of the witching hour on Halloween, you can get a copy of my newest horror book, “Circa Sixty Years Dead”, for free! Just go to Amazon to claim it; no code needed. A print book of short horror and science fiction at half price and an ebook of a short but terrifying supernatural tale at no cost! Take advantage of this offer now because, as I said, they turn back into rotting Jack-o-Lanterns at midnight, Halloween (early morning November 1st).

And if my books of horror and dark storytelling aren’t good enough for your Halloween reading, check out my review of one that is, a book by author Mercedes Lackey--Jinx High. Lackey’s novel has everything you can ask for in a Halloween read: demons, spirits and witches. Michelle Miller gave me the pleasure to guest-blog this review at her Castle Macabre. Thank you again, Michelle! And may you and all you readers out there have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Take scare, everybody and until next time . . .

Woman wearing a painted Day of the Dead skull face.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Halloween Flashback Flash Fiction and More!

Halloween Flashback

Halloween is just shy over one week from tonight! Can’t wait? Well then I have a ghost’s chain link to a story just for you! Also, below you will find other haunting chain links to posts of past Halloweens. First the story. It’s called “The Boos Brothers”. I wrote it back in Halloween of 2013, but didn’t publish it here to the Fantastic Site until the following year. I talk more about it at my "Halloween Ghost Post" which is the post from the night before I published the story to the Fantastic Site, that night being the one before Halloween or, if you prefer, All Hallows Eve Eve. It also includes a Halloween reading list. I was hoping to include one for this year but didn’t get a ghost of a chance. Anyway, “The Boos Brothers” is a ghost story about Halloween decorating and, of course, Halloween haunting. In this tale, the two are tied together more closely than one would think.

Speaking about decorating, I’m just finishing up with my own for the season of Samhain (the Celtic god Halloween was originally celebrated for). I’ve hung most of my door decorations, most of them that I made throughout the years. My Disney Haunted Mansion scene is already up, complete with The Nightmare Before Christmas characters (just minus the Christmas; I’ll do that in December). You can see some of these decorations from past years at my "Hallow-Day Decorating" post of 2012. I’ve put out my metal vintage style Jack-o-Lantern, my abstract style Jack-o-lantern, my skull-o-lantern and Day of the Dead candy skull cup an aunt of mine made a couple Halloween/Day of the Dead seasons ago. Finally, I put on my kitchen window sill some solar-powered animated decorations: a Jack-o-lantern man, a graveyard scene and some skeletons.

A tin vintage Jack-o-lantern, a skull lantern and a Day of the Dead candy skull cup.
A Jack-o-lantern, a skull-o-lantern and a Day of the Dead candy skull cup. This last one was made by an aunt of mine.
Photo Credit: Steven Arellano Rose, Jr.

Your Ghoul-Ru Fortune Teller Predicts . . .

Next week there will be Halloween treats for you--discounts on my books and a freeby! The details . . . The magic crystal 8 ball is very murky at this time so tune in next week for the details!

Until then . . .
Take scare!

Monday, October 17, 2016

4 Documentaries About 4 Famous, Fearsome Authors

A while back, I talked about how interviews of some of my favourite authors motivateme to write better, especially during those times that I don’t feel like writing for whatever reason. Well I thought I would put together a short list of documentaries about four of the world’s most famous horror authors since we’re nearing Halloween. Below are documentaries and bio films of Mary Shelley, Edgar Allen Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Stephen King. All four of these can be viewed for free on YouTube, and one is also at

Frankenstein: Birth of a Monster: This is a dramatisation of Mary Shelley’s life as a writer. Originally aired on the BBC network in 2003.

They Mystery ofEdgar Allen Poe: This was a Biography channel presentation. You can watch either on YouTube or at, but I strongly suggest you watch it at the latter; the YouTube version cuts off the introduction and opening credits (probably to prevent potential infringement issues).

Lovecraft: Fear of the Unknown: Out of the four, I liked this one best. It’s filmed with both archival footage as well as modern day depictions of author’s work by some really great artists, including comic book artists. The accompanying phonographic recording style of H.P.’s narration footage gives a sense of the “ancient” of his work like his work itself gives the sense of the ancient of the Elders. Let alone, it gives that haunting effect. And if this isn’t enough, there are interviews with contemporary horror writers--including Ramsey Campbell, Guillermo Del Toro, and Neil Gaiman--about the author. Produced by independent film studio Wyrd.

Steven King: Fear, Fame and Fortune: This was an A&E channel presentation originally aired on Halloween of 2002. It covers King’s life from birth through his critical accident that he fortunately recovered from to continue writing his macabre stories up to this day.

If you know of more documentaries about famous horror authors, please let me know by posting in the box below.

Until next time . . .

Saturday, October 8, 2016

6 Far Out Phantastic Finds for Your Halloween Blog Reading

A Jack-o-Lantern

This is one of my favourite times of the year. A time when the darker weather comes (though it hasn’t come enough here in Sacramento yet), the days grow shorter, and a post-harvest haze permeates the air filtering out the sunlight by a few layers and giving off a burnt aroma. Darker days (literally darker, that is) call for darker stories and events that grow out of the horror genre. We like to take on the forms of our favourite creatures of darkness through costuming. Well, as much as I love the season of the witch, more commonly known as Halloween, I couldn’t come up with anything relevant to write about for this post. Yet it’s still early in the season but it will fly by faster than a witch on her broom or a vampire bat fleeing the oncoming dawn. So I dug up this list of six phantastic blog finds for your horror-reading zombie appetite. But there will be a special Halloween treat for you (and maybe even a trick) by the weekend of Halloween as there has been in past years here at the Fantastic Site. But for now, check out these groovy ghoulish links!

The HorrorWriters Association’s Halloween Haunts: This is a seasonal series of blog posts by some of the Association’s authors who give their personal takes on Halloween. 

Season of theWitch at Castle Macabre: This is author Michelle Miller’s seasonal blog read-along series. Her first read is Edgar Allen Poe’s “Masque of the Red Death”. 

“Poe Read-Along- The Mask of the Red Death”: She talks more about her Read-Along, Poe’s story of a demonic plague and even Poe himself here. She even has a small but interesting paragraph on the 1960s Vincent Price film adaptation and how you can watch it for free! 

“Witchy Peril-‘Masque’ and other Short Stories”, The Writerly Reader: This post by another author who visit’s Michelle’s above post also discusses here impression of “Masque of the Red Death”. She also goes over other short horror stories, including one by H.P. Lovecraft. 

“Salem’sLot Read-Along”, Gather Together Read: This blog is now reading one of Stephen King’s earliest novels. You may be able to catch up with them if you head on over now to find out where they’re at in this creepy read. 

Blaze McRob’s“Haunted Halloween Party”: Horror author Blaze McRob is producing a series of blog posts for the season where you can participate in contests to win prizes as well as discover horror fiction writers you may never heard of before. Even so, they have some really great stories up their sleeves.

Like I said, I’ll have my annual Halloween treat here for you by Halloween weekend, and maybe even a horror book review before that!

Until next time . . .   

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The New Book-to-TV Trend: 5 New TV series Based on Sci fi/Fantasy Novels

Vintage Television with Vintage PC Screen and Text

Sorry about the late post. My desktop was having problems.

Traditionally books have been adapted for the big screen but now the trend is in ones adapted for the small, including online television. This isn’t a new thing even for the science fiction and fantasy genres. It started as early as the Six Billion Dollar Man in the ‘70s, which was based on Martin Caidin’s novel, Cyborg. Several of Steven King’s novels were made into television series such as It (1990), and then George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones has been an HBO hit since its debut in 2011. But now that there are five novels by four different popular sci fi/fantasy authors that have either recently been adapted to television or are in the plans to be, a book-to-TV trend is definitely forming. Therefore you can expect to see more famous novels (and maybe even not so famous) turn into television shows in the near future. Here are the most recent upcoming five:

1) Neil Gaiman’s American Gods: Cable network Starz will be premiering this series based on Gaiman’s number-one-selling dark fantasy novel next year. Read the latest news on it here. Also, read about the new edition with the far out book cover art by Robert McGinnis!

2) Micheal Crichton’s Westworld: Although the movie came first, the book was written by its screen writer shortly after and who would later write his best-selling Jurassic Park and so that’s why I included it here. More than 40 years later, it just made its television series debut on HBO this past Sunday!

3) Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale: This totalitarian futuristic novel is currently in development for its Hulu adaptation. But one of Atwood’s other novels is also in the plans for a TV series and that one is . . .

4) The Heart Goes Last: It’s television rights was just recently acquired by MGM TV, distributor of The Handmaid’s Tale TV series. It is set in, what first seems to be, a utopian future that quickly goes dystopian.

5) Stephen King’s, The Dark Tower: Yes, the best-selling horror author is coming out with another TV series based on one of his novels (in this case, a series of them). It takes place in an apocalyptic future where magic seems to return to the earth in a second dark age. The series’ production plans have just been revealed and, according to Entertainment Weekly, filming will start in 2017 and is due to premiere in 2018. However, those who are impatient to see it need not feel so bad. The big screen adaptation is set to premiere this February! Read more about both and their latest news here.

In the past, movie adaptations have motivated viewers to read the books they originated from. (I myself just started reading Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend.) Hopefully, the book-to-TV series trend will do the same and help to continue resolving the literacy problem in our nation.

Do you think the new book-to-TV trend in sci fi/fantasy will encourage more viewers to read? Do you know of any other sci fi, fantasy or horror novels that have been or are in the plans for weekly television adaptation? Feel free to leave your answers in the box below.

Until next time . . .

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Gaiman and McGinnis restore the human touch to book cover art

I apologise for not posting last week. I started a new day job and so it put me back in my writing schedule. But now I’ve returned to the night job here at the Fantastic Site once again!

A few weeks ago I was at Crocker Con talking to a friend, Chris Wisnia creator of the Doris Danger comic book series. The series commemorates comic book creator Jack Kirby’s art of the 1970s while spoofing 1950s and ‘60s atomic sci fi monsters. Anyway, I told him that one of the comic books I read over the summer was an issue from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman storyline from 2014, Overture. He told me he just finished reading Gaiman’s award winning novel, American Gods. I said I haven’t read that one yet because I normally don’t have the attention span for a 500-plus page novel. (The last one that I read was David Copperfield, which, as great as it is, took me over a year to read because I was reading other books simultaneously.) But I told him that I’ll probably read it as an excuse to buy the new Robert McGinnis cover edition. McGinnis used to paint the illustrations for early pulp fiction magazines and paperbacks, including the James Bond series. And so I’m using this excuse for two reasons: 1) Because McGinnis painted the cover art rather than digitally produced it; 2) The style is that of the late 1960s to early ‘70s. Though Neil himself says that “In my head . . . it's probably from about 1971...”  Close enough, since that was a transitional period between two eras.

Robert McGinnis Book Cover for Neil Gaiman's American Gods.
American Gods, Robert McGinnis cover edition
Credit: Amazon/William Morrow

The McGinnis edition of American Gods is now available. Neil plans to release several more of his titles with book cover art by McGinnis because, as he says, he is a lover of the old school paperbacks and loves the book cover art for its beautiful, hand-painted technique. He also says that it’s of a style of book cover art we rarely get any more. I agree with Neil, totally.

Too many people want realism in images now and so want believability in the technical sense. That photo-realism comes easier than ever with today’s computer technology, which I personally believe humanity has become too damn dependent on like a doper with drugs. This love of the photo sensual as opposed to the aesthetic high of hand-produced art, has been exploited by the corporate system, a system that I confess to being partly guilty of giving into myself in order to sell my own books. But, I haven’t sold out without offering the option of a hand-produced book cover illustration which was the case with “Circa Sixty Years Dead”. In about a month or so, before the holiday rush, I’ll have committed the sin of hypocrisy for “Circa Sixty Years”, or more like half-hypocrisy because I’ll still be offering the hand-produced book cover art edition alongside the digitally produced one.

But I support Neil’s and McGinnis’s return to hand-produced book cover art, because it’s helping bring back the humanity in art which has been taken over by the machine and the drive to make money. If you want to support a return to hand-produced art and you’re a Gaiman or McGinnis fan like me, then you may want to purchase the new paperback edition of American Gods. If you want to go a 16th of a mile further, then purchase “Circa Sixty Years” which you can get a hell of a lot less than American Gods but that’s because it’s on Kindle, though I plan to offer a print edition soon. So, yes the book is digital, and I’ll admit, the art is digitally reproduced, but the cover art is a photo of a hand-produced illustration the exception being the black background and some touch-ups (mainly around the edges of the statue which really runs into the digital black background). So the reason why I say you would be going the extra 16th of a mile is because the cover art isn’t completely hand-produced but also because I’m not Neil Gaiman. Hence, my book on kindle is only 99 cents.

How much humanity would you say is left in today’s book cover art, most of which is digitally produced?

Until next time . . .

Book cover depicting a six-armed goddess statue.
Available Now At Amazon!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

‘Circa’’s Influences and In Search of . . . Bloggers

Well, “Circa Sixty Years Dead” is one week old today, and my previous book, The Fool’s Illusion, will be three years old later this month! Several of you took advantage of the free giveaway of “Circa” last weekend, and so I want to thank you all. When you finish reading it, I ask that you leave a review at the book’s Amazon page at your earliest convenience, even if it’s just one or two sentences. For those of you who missed the freebies, you can still get “Circa” at the low price of 99 cents. I’m not sure when or if there will be another free giveaway for my newest short horror story. However, I am planning some more promotions where you can get a discount or even win a free copy. Watch out for promotions like these as we get closer to Halloween, the time to celebrate the horror genre! Also, I have an online book tour in the plans so watch out for updates on that, too.

A book cover depicting a six-armed goddess statue.
"Circa Sixty Years Dead" Now Available for Purchase!
Photo Credit: Steven Arellano Rose, Jr.

Superficially speaking, many of the influences for “Circa” come from my love of archaeology adventure films like Indiana Jones as well as old horror movies about archaeological finds such as Universal’s Mummy films. But I can’t leave out of the list my interest in documentaries about unexplained findings such as the 1922 King Tut excavation. One of these that I enjoyed as a kid (and still do today) was the old In Search of . . . TV series hosted by the late Leonard (“Spock”) Nimoy. The great thing about this series, as with most other documentaries of the 1970s and ‘80s, is that it didn’t rely on blockbuster- influenced drama and big budget special visual effects to win over its audiences.

Like good journalism should, In Search of investigated accounts of strange phenomena by showing credible sources. Doing so made the events believable of their possible existence, although the show itself made no claims about whether or not they were true. (To do so would have been over-conclusive and therefore opinionated.) It didn’t present its cases by blaring the masses’ televisions with cinematic, over-dramatic soundtrack or smothering them with surreal camera effects. Not that it didn’t use re-enactments or any soundtrack for its episodes, it did. But the producers balanced these techniques out with the exposure of documented sources such as newspaper clippings, news footage and interviews with experts. So below I’ve provided you with a list of sample episodes of this entertaining yet educational show along with some horror movie trailers to some of the cinematic influences on stories such as my above mentioned one.

Far Out Fantastic Archaeological Finds

'In Search of . . .' Episodes

“Mummy’s Curse”

“King Tut”

“The Diamond Curse”

Horror Movie Trailers

The Mummy (Universal, 1932)

The Mummy (Hammer Studios, 1959)

The Mummy (1999 Universal Remake; not that this is a favourite of mine, but it completes the list more.)

Sphinx (1980)

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

To Come . . .

Next time I’d like to return to talking more about book cover art, Neil Gaiman’s current work, and my plans for future editions of my own work. As I said, I have a lot more marketing to do for “Circa”. At the time, I’m in search of host bloggers for a near future book tour for “Circa”. If any of you fellow bloggers are interested in featuring “Circa”, please let me know in the box below or email me at and put “Circa Sixty Years book tour” in the subject box so I’ll know you’re not a spammer.

Until next time . . .

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Book Release: “Circa Sixty Years Dead”

Well, it’s finally here! “Circa Sixty Years Dead” is now available at Amazon! And to celebrate the labour of my work as well as the labour all of us put into our jobs whatever they may be, for two whole days I am making my latest book of horror available for free download! So from this Sunday September 4th through Monday September 5th, you can obtain your free digital copy of “Circa Sixty Years Dead”! You don’t need a Kindle device to read it. Just click on “Read On Any Device” under the book’s image at its Amazon page and you’ll be taken to instructions on how to download a free Kindle app that can be used on any digital device. So take a break, celebrate your hard work and the closing of the summer and read about an archeologist’s labour of love . . . and labour of death! Also, after you read it, please leave a review at the book’s Amazon page. It would be greatly appreciated!

A book cover depicting and six-armed goddess statue.
Credit: Steven Arellano Rose, Jr.

Book Title: Circa Sixty Years Dead
Author: Steven Arellano Rose, Jr.
Release Date: 3 September 2016
Format: Kindle/ebook
Length Type: Short-read (equivalent of 24 print pages)
Blurb: A young archaeologist obsesses over an ancient goddess statue that holds a beautiful force but a terrifying fate.
Where to Purchase: Amazon
Bio: Steven Arellano Rose, Jr. is a writer of science fiction, horror and other dark fiction. “Strange Phenomena” was his first short story published in print originally in the anthology Leafkin, Volume II (2010) under the name Steven Rose, Jr. He also writes film and computer technology reviews. Steven’s interests include collecting 1960s and ’70s pop cultural artifacts and other weird things, disco music and meditation. He resides in his native Sacramento, California. You can visit him at his blog,, or follow him on Twitter: @starosep2.

Now that I’ve launched “Circa Sixty Years”, look out for these upcoming events:

  • Possible book tour
  • “Circa Sixty Years” photographic cover edition
  • “Circa Sixty Years” print edition
  • The Hidden, a short fiction collection

I urge you to share this release post to your social media groups on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or whatever platform they’re on. Also, bloggers: if you’re looking for books to feature on your blogs, I’m perfectly open to you featuring “Circa”. Just let me know in the box below, at my Facebook  page or Tweet me! Have a happy Labor Day and a great last few days of summer!

Until next time . . .

A statue of Shiva.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

‘c Sixty Years Dead’ Cover Reveal; Using a Graphic Design Application

Last post, I presented the complete book cover illustration reveal for my upcoming horror short read, “Circa Sixty Years Dead”. Now, may I present to you the full cover reveal--illustration and lettering both:

A book cover depicting a giant, six-armed goddess statue.
Credit: Steven Arellano Rose, Jr.

As I said I would, I used a graphic design application, Paint.Net, to paint the black sky and touch up some of the statue’s edges to reduce that glowing effect. I also used black digital paint to touch up the horizon line on the right-hand side because it had been uneven with the horizon line on the left. The rest of the illustration was produced by my own hands. The lettering was completely produced using Amazon’s graphic design application, the cover creator.

Graphic art software is very handy in practical situations, in my case, the marketing of a book. Yet I try not to let the digital art drown out my art made with my own hands using physical tools, pencils in this case, as opposed to virtual ones such as Paint.Net’s paintbrush.

Almost since time began, machines have been used for the practical purpose of making work easier. Even though art serves several functions, not all of it is practical. Art as we know it today is expression of the individual. It’s a reflection of the artist’s view point on life, including the emotional energy that comes from that view point. A virtual tool hides that energy because a program is doing half the commanding of the tool’s actions, distancing the artist that much more from the art.

Art’s function in the selling of books is at least half practical. It would have taken too long for me to go back to the original paper version of the illustration and hand-paint over the highlighted areas that left the glow effect. This was a problem I didn’t see until after I scanned the picture onto the computer and digitally painted in the sky. So, a graphic design application or software package such as Paint.Net and Photoshop has its use as a supplement.

As a substitute, however, the software can cover up the natural look and emotional energy of a work. When it does, it hides the artist’s role in the work. This problem is an example of the concern about computer technology taking over not only people’s jobs but also human activity in general.

Since art is a creative act, it is the artist’s job to preserve that act since machines cannot create based on human experience. At least they can’t do this through their own awareness or experience since they don’t have consciousness. To put it another way, it’s the artist’s duty to prevent the machine from taking over humanity, at least on the level of the creative act such as painting, music and writing. To ignore that duty is to allow the machine to take control of human life and maybe even all life.

A female robot with an electric guitar.

“Circa Sixty Years Dead” is scheduled for release during the coming week. However, I am still open to feedback about the cover even if it means having to delay the release by a few days. So please let me know what you think of it. I want my readers to be satisfied with a book they’re paying their hard earned money for. Although, I will be giving away free copies of the book on its release day in celebration of! If everything seems okay to you, I’ll release the book on Amazon by next Saturday. To be the first to know of its release and to get a free copy, follow me on Twitter, @StaRosep2,  or like my Facebook page.

Before I close up for the night, let me leave you with this question: in your honest opinion and belief, do you think today’s book illstrators are too dependent on computer technology for producing their work? Feel free to leave your answers and any feedback in the box below.

Until next time . . .

“Circa Sixty Years Dead” Synopsis:

A young archaeologist’s obsession with an ancient goddess statue is destined to haunt him for the rest of his life.