We did it! Now Vote on What Fang Blows Up.

Earlier this evening, I promised that if we achieved the new stretch goal by midnight tonight, you would get to vote on what (or who) Fang blows up in my story. For context, read my earlier post today titled: “Fang (and I) Need Your Help.” or visit the Have Blaster, Will Travel Bulldogs! anthology Kickstarter.

As promised, here’s a poll! I can’t write this without you, so help me decide where the explosions’ll happen. If you can’t fill it out on this post, follow this link.

(Shoot! I was so excited I almost forgot to say the two most important words in this post: THANK YOU.)

Fang (And I) Need Your Help

Dear Readers of Extraordinary Calibre:

If the “Have Blaster, Will Travel” Kickstarter reaches its next stretch goal of $3,000 by Sunday, April 29th, you will receive three new science fiction stories in this anthology. Not only am I one of the authors included in that new goal, but you’ll also get a story *just* about Fang, the psychotic teddy bear featured in the novella Redwing’s Gambit.

I believe in this setting, the publisher, and the talented authors involved. But more than that, this is my opportunity to write a character fans like and design a plot you’ll enjoy. To me, that’s “the” reason why I write.

I hope you’ll support this collection of stories and beg your forgiveness if this went too far into Self-Promotion Land, but there are days when I ache for the cheers of my readers. This character is one of my favorites and I’d hate to see him die a horrible, untimely death.

To back the Kickstarter, visit Have Blaster, Will Travel: A Bulldogs! Anthology


Agent M

Pre-Order Don’t Read This Book

Down a lonely alleyway, under a starless sky, lies a city that never was, yet is: the Mad City, where nightmares walk the streets, and a good night’s sleep can get you killed.

Here, then, is a book from that place. Within these recovered pages are the tales of the Awake, insomniacs who’ve walked those perilous streets, bringing a bit of the power of dream with them to fight back the night—always at a terrible cost.

For many, it will not end well. For a few, they might just become heroes—or at least find their way back home.

For you, a choice. Turn away. Don’t read this book. And maybe you’ll continue to rest easy. Or open the cover and enter a world unlike any you’ve ever dared to imagine…

Edited by Chuck Wendig and featuring the stories of…

– Stephen Blackmoore
– Harry Connolly
– Rich Dansky
– Matt Forbeck
– Laura Anne Gilman
– Will Hindmarch
– Mur Lafferty
– Robin D. Laws
– Ryan Macklin
– C. E. Murphy
– Josh Roby
– Greg Stolze
– Monica Valentinelli

My story is titled “Don’t Ignore Your Dead.” It is an exploration of grief for a college-aged insomniac plagued with guilt, anger, and loss.

Pre-Order the softcover edition at EvilHat.com today.

(via FlamesRising.com)

Novels, Long-Term. Short Stories, Short. Money? Oh, Money.

From the “What readers want to know” files, someone asked me about how I set my goals and how far in advance I set them. I can’t, for the life of me, remember who asked me the question and when. The past few days have been a jaunt into the land of hallucinogens. Felled by sinus troubles and sparkly antelopes. Anyway, the question resurfaced from layers of muck and I thought it was such a good one that I wanted to address it here. So, if you did ask that question, I owe you a book. (Seriously.)

What I do for a living affects what I write in the sense that certain projects are written on spec and others are for companies or individuals. The “others” part of the equation can pay lots or a little; can be an open invite or a closed call.

However, having a steady stream of income dramatically affects my writing goals based on a) what I want to write and b) when it pays. Lesson learned: I do *not* base any budget on what I can earn on creative freelance projects.

It may not seem like I write intentionally, but trust me — I do. Very much so, in fact. The new story I wrote for the Don’t Read This Book anthology titled “Don’t Ignore Your Dead” allowed me to explore grief. Almost every story I have out there was written with an experiment in mind, but in a way that is still enjoyable for you to read. But that’s the small scale.

The large scale, of course, are the novels. There are full-time authors I would kidnap/murder/teleport/beg to get a novel out of, but they can’t afford it. Literally, they cannot afford to write a novel because that removes their ability to pen screenplays, game material, scripts, etc. that they are paid handsomely for. I was one of them.

Now, that may sound like an excuse, especially to those of you who make time to write novels. The thing I’ve learned is, that if you want to write novels, you write novels. If you want to pen short stories, write those. Scripts? Etc. Etc. Etc. Mind you, there’s a reason why I’m writing short stories while other more sinister plots are hatched on my laptop, but money is a reality and a motivator for people to write in the first place.

Having a steady source of income allows me to achieve what I want to creatively because I have more flexibility to make decisions. If I’m scrambling (e.g. broke or uncertain) then I have to make tough choices that’ll cut into other goals. And I have, because I want to deliver and deliver well regardless of what I’m working on.

Money isn’t the only cause to make goals longer-term, though. For me, it’s about process and mastery of a particular form. I love to write. Love it. This is the Work. This is Art. This is Life to me. Marketing, which is part and parcel to being an author now-a-days, was my distraction. A huge one. Oh, I got suckered into the fray and wanted to do the things everybody else was doing because I, like many in this industry, enjoy and want to belong to the community. ****ERROR****MISTAKE****ERROR****BALETED****. Mind you, I do the marketing thing for The Day JobTM. Some marketing occurs based on perception rather than science so you get a bunch of people doing “X” because everyone else is. Wheeeee! Isn’t this fun!?!?!

No, not really. Not if it distracts you from the Work. And, in reality, it’s not always valuable to market. Sometimes, there is great value in shutting the hell up. Especially if it cuts into the thing you hold most dear and causes you to doubt your efficacy based on silly notions. There is what happens, there are the common perceptions of what really occurs, and there are the things that develop based on those illusions.

This notion is what led me to write “Planting the Decision Tree” for the newly-launched Book Life. In the article, I talk about the sides of the equation to weigh when making a decision. Learned, painfully, through trial-and-error. Who is the master of your destiny? You. Not anyone else. You. Well, and (more to the point and the reason why I’m writing this post) me.

Anyhoo, back to the original topic which, as usual, I meandered away from. Yes, my goals are long-term. Very. They are not fixed and immutable, however, because if they were I would be (to put it mildly) screwed. This is why I have more than one set of them, because I cannot survive if I bank everything on IT. If I concentrate only on IT, then I have blinders on to get to IT and miss out on opportunities when other things fall apart. (And that, my readers, is something I have a lot of experience with. Things falling apart. Not to be confused with the book Things Fall Apart which, of course, is a fantastic tome.)

I do plan well in advance but all the mad plots in the world are mere puffs of smoke. What they’re based on, however, is the Work. What am I penning? Well, if you stick with me, you’ll certainly find out. 🙂

    Mood: Con Crud by Proxy
    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: Less than I would like but not half as much as I deserve.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: I moved from couch to chair.
    In My Ears: Kingdom Hearts
    Game Last Played: Um… Double um…
    Movie Last Viewed: Can’t remember. Darn it!
    Latest Artistic Project: Cross-stitch
    Latest Release: Redwing’s Gambit for Bulldogs! the RPG

There is only one Soundwave, thank you.


The story behind this particular acquisition is a sordid and wistful tale of nerd rage. Yes, even I succumb to those WTF moments on occasion. In this particular case, it is the devolution of Soundwave. For me, his character was the reason why I liked putting up with Optimus Prime’s endless death and rebirth cycle, the birth of emo (Thanks to Starscream), and those endless quests for energon cubes. So, when the new Soundwave was announced, I knew there were going to be changes. I just didn’t realize the character was going to be a pale robotic mutilation of what he once was. Yes, I understand the need to evolve characters. No, I don’t enjoy it when they are broken.

It’s been a challenge to find the original character in a decent state. So, I turned to someone who knows a lot about toys and toy design. Phil Reed, COO for Steve Jackson Games, is also an expert. If you haven’t checked out BattleGrip.com you should, because he gives the type of reviews that are not only informative, but blunt.

On his recommendation, I picked up this version of Soundwave from Big Bad Toy Store and I couldn’t be happier. So, without further babbling, I present to you… a revived and renewed version of Soundwave, Rumble, and Ratbat.

Encore: #21 Soundblaster is equipped with shoulder-mounted gun, handheld gun, and three missile projectiles, and is accompanied by two new Cassette Warriors, Enemy and Wingthing w/ translucent cassette cases.

Utilizing the original Soundwave mode, Soundblaster features a darker color scheme and a deepened cassette portal which enables him to carry two of his warriors at once. Soundblaster is the result of Soundwave’s final showdown with Blaster, the result of which left both destroyed. Soundwave’s body is blown apart, but the remains are salvaged by his cassette warriors; Scorponok subsequently reconfigures the remnants of Soundwave into Soundblaster. A repaint utilizing the Rumble/Frenzy mold, Enemy is equipped with twin guns. Previously, Enemy was only available as part of radio/headset and (head only) a Transformers Voice Changer. Utilizing the Ratbat mold, Wingthing is equipped with twin guns. Previously serving as the transforming partner of Action Master Soundwave, Wingthing exists to implement brutality and destruction on Soundblaster’s behalf. Among his fellow Decepticons, Wingthing is looped into the general disesteem reserved for Soundblaster.

Now, to learn Japanese…

    Caffeinated Beverages Consumed: A paltry one and a half.
    Work-Out Minutes Logged Yesterday: walk
    In My Ears: Final Fantasy something or other
    Game Last Played: Um…
    Movie Last Viewed: Johnny English Reloaded
    Latest Artistic Project: Cross-stitch
    Latest Release: Redwing’s Gambit for Bulldogs! the RPG
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Looking for Monica’s books and games that are still in print? Visit Monica Valentinelli on Amazon’s Author Central or a bookstore near you.


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