Tag Archives: science fiction

Author Interview: Brian Prinzo II

I recently got to catch up with Brian Prinzo II, author of the recently released Cain and Abel: The Revelation, to explore his writing life and what’s behind his new book.

What inspired you to write Cain and Abel: The Revelation?

It started with my boredom with the science fiction section in my local library when I was in high school. I checked out and returned numerous books without finishing them because they couldn’t catch my attention. It also stemmed from my fantasies of being similar to the characters in Cain and Abel (having powers, inhuman strength, fighting bad guys and the forces of evil, etc.). So when I was in college, I started my own book to satisfy my bizarre imagination.

What’s your writing process like? Are you an outliner or a pantser?

I’m definitely a pantser. I started writing Cain and Abel before I had a full plot outlined. I was basically piecing together action sequences I had in my head and trying to make sense of them. I did make character descriptions with brief back stories and laid the foundation for the settings and the world, but beyond that there was little to no planning. Any English teacher would be rightfully whacking me on the knuckles with a yard stick for this.

Have you always been a writer?

I’ve always dreamed about being one, but I’m careful with the term. It’s hard for me in my mind to really define the word. Does having a published work make you one? If you’re sitting on thirty books that’ve never been published are you still considered a writer? I’ve tried my hands many times when I was younger, but I never really finished anything until Cain and Abel. Quite frankly, I almost gave up on that.

Coffee or tea?

Although I drink both, I definitely prefer tea. I’m currently hooked on Arnold Palmer (half tea, half lemonade).

Where’s your favorite place to write?

Usually on the couch in pajamas and a bathrobe with my laptop. I find my arms get strained really quickly when I sit at my desk, and I have all my notes in an app. It’s a little more comfortable that way, at least for me.

Are you reading anything good right now?

I am. I’m currently reading American Demon, and I have Million Dollar Demon on queue (both by Kim Harrison). Her Hollows series is absolutely fantastic and I highly recommend it to any fans of paranormal and dark fantasy. She definitely influenced me, but the biggest influence on my book was The Nimble Man by Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski. This is another all-time favorite of mine. I will say Kim Harrison is a little more in depth with her material concerning magic, but I would still suggest both.

What’s your favorite time of day?

I’m a bit of a night owl, but there are pros and cons to everything. I’ve read successful people are up very early and in bed very early but I can’t seem to get into that schedule (and I’m far from a millionaire).

Do you have any future books in the works?

I am working on a sequel to Cain and Abel, as of right now entitled Cain and Abel: The Resistance. I have no release date and I honestly don’t want to create an ETA because I write agonizingly slowly, and I sincerely have no idea when it will be done. I hit a bout of writers block with this title that was equivalent to a brick wall and it literally spent years collecting digital dust. This year however it started pouring out of me. This is one of the nice things about self publishing. You can move at your own pace with no agent breathing down your back. I will say however that as crazy as The Revelation is, The Resistance pretty much tells The Revelation to hold its beer.


You can connect with Brian on Facebook, and be sure to check out Cain and Abel: The Revelation on Amazon. If you pick up a copy, make sure you go back and leave a review!

Thanks, Brian, for spending a little time with me to dive into your work!


Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Adding to My Book Collection!

If you’ve been spending any time on this blog, then this title probably seems odd since you know I’ve been working on reducing the number of books I have in my Bookshelf Cleanout. The thing is, I really do need to works through all the books that don’t mean much to me. As I do, that means I can start collecting the books I actually do want! Right? Right. We’ll say that’s right.

My most recent acquisition comes because of my bad habit of taking any old book I can get my hands on. A couple years ago, I came across the very end of a library book sale when everything was free. Free books? How could I refuse? Among others, I came home with the Time Police trilogy from Warren Norwood.

I didn’t think a whole lot of it, but I was crazy about them as I read them. Sometimes there’s just something great about old sci fi! I jumped online to look for more. I found a complete set of The Windhover Tapes by Norwood on eBay, and I finally bought them.

Yes, she does have three boobs. What can I say? It was sci-fi from the eighties! And they’re all first-run paperbacks, which makes them that much better. I haven’t read these yet, but I’m excited to dive into them at some point soon. I’m crazy about vintage stuff, and that’s a good thing considering these books are out of print! You can still find some copies on eBay and Amazon. Hopefully you’ll be hearing more from me soon on this series!

Are there any books you’re searching for or that you want to add to your collection? I’d love to hear about it!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside DetectiveHer short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Close up hot cappuccino white coffee cup with heart shape latte art on dark brown old wood table at cafe,food and drink concept.

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Cover Tease for Remembering Calix

My newest novella, Remembering Calix, is currently available for pre-order! Check out a partial cover reveal below, and keep your eyes open for the full, official cover!

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside Detective.  Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Starlog 2: Star Trek and Network Television

For the second part of my Star Trek course, I’ve been asked the question: To what extent did the business model of network television enable Star Trek: The Original Series to appeal to such a wide range of audiences? In ways did that same model constrain it?

It’s an interesting question, and certainly not one that I’ve thought of before. I’d recently heard the stories about Lucille Ball at Desilu Productions sticking her neck out to make the show happen. I grew up in the era of The Next Generation, and I just thought Star Trek had always been popular and successful!

I think Star Trek was fortunate to get it’s start on network television, where it was forced to be family-friendly and appeal to a wide audience. It couldn’t be too sexy, too smart, too adult, too childlike, or too much of anything else. It only makes sense that this is part of what has kept it going on for so many years. Those who remember it fondly from their childhood aren’t disappointed when they return to it in their adult years.

That network-imposed need for a broad sense of appeal is exactly what made TOS what we came to know it as. The original pilot, “The Cage,” featured Captain Pike instead of Captain James T. Kirk. It was essentially dubbed as too intellectual, and a new pilot was ordered. Even though it seems odd to deem a show as too smart to appeal to audiences, that decision could very well be the make-or-break point for TOS. If the network hadn’t dismissed “The Cage,” would we still even be talking about Star Trek?

On the other hand, the network may have constrained it from doing anything that might exclude a part of their target demographic. An example of this could be the direction that Star Trek: Discovery has taken considering that it’s only broadcast on a streaming platform. The episodes in the first season are rated either TV-14 or TV-MA depending on which one you watch. To me, this means that they had a chance not only to continue the Star Trek legacy but also to take it in a direction they’d never gone before and perhaps appeal to an entirely new audience.

Even within Star Trek itself, new worlds are still being explored.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keepingand The Graveside Detective.  Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Siren’s Call, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

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Starlog: My New Star Trek Journey

How do you know you’re a geek? A fan? A trekkie?

I always knew, but now I really know. I’ve officially enrolled in a course about Star Trek. If you don’t think that could possibly be a thing, check out this screenshot.

Edx.org is an amazing service that offers numerous online classes for free. You can get an official certificate (and most of these are from pretty prestigious places) for a small fee. I’m a sucker for credentials, certificates, and learning!

I started with a course called PredictionX: Omens, Oracles, and Prophecies. I do a lot of fantasy writing, and I thought this could be some great inspiration and information. It was absolutely incredible, and it really opened my eyes to some things I hadn’t thought about before.

I knew even before I finished PredictionX that I would have to check out the Star Trek course. I’ve loved Star Trek ever since I was a kid, and I’ve enjoyed going back and rewatching the episodes as an adult. This course, however, isn’t just about being a fan. It’s all about the cultural impact and how Star Trek has influenced people’s lives and the future. I can’t wait to dive in all the way!

For now, since I’ve gone through my orientation, I’ve officially been promoted to Cheif Warrant Officer. You can see my virtual (but still very official) insignia below. (Seriously, this is the best thing for a geek!)

How about you? Are you a trekkie? Are you taking any online classes just for fun? Let me know!


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Book Review: Redshirts by John Scalzi

I didn’t know I was looking for a story that combined my love of sci-fi shows and sci-fi books, but I found it anyway in Redshirts.

From the Cover:  

Ensign Andrew Dahl has just been assigned to the Universal Union Capital Ship Intrepid, flagship of the Universal Union since the year 2456. It’s a prestige posting, and Andrew is thrilled all the more to be assigned to the ship’s Xenobiology laboratory.

Life couldn’t be better…until Andrew begins to pick up on the fact that (1) every Away Mission involves some kind of lethal confrontation with alien forces, (2) the ship’s captain, its chief science officer, and the handsome Lieutenant Kerensky always survive these confrontations, and (3) at least one low-ranked crew member is, sadly, always killed.

Not surprisingly, a great deal of energy below decks is expendedon avoiding, at all costs, being assigned to an Away Mission. Then Andrew stumbles on information that completely transforms his and his colleagues’ understanding of what the starship Intrepid really is…and offers them a crazy, high-risk chance to save their own lives.

What I Loved:  Redshirts begins with a humorous dedication and then dives head-first into a prologue that immediately pulls you into the storyline.  This book is written with a humorous and casual tone, even though there are lives on the line.  It’s a much lighter read than pretty much any other science fiction book you could pick up, even though it involves alternate dimensions, time travel, and other typical sci-fi problems.  There are constant plot twists and one hilarious fourth-wall break that I made my husband listen to me read out loud because I had to share it with someone.  This story is character and plot driven without a lot of extraneous descriptions, which works really well for it.

One of my favorite quotes:  But then he tripped and one of the land worms ate his face and he died anyway.

As I said, I didn’t go looking for this book specifically.  We spend a lot of time at the library, and I just happened to wander through the sci-fi section on our way out.  Being a fan of Star Trek, I just had to get it.  Absolutely worth it.

What I Didn’t Love So Much:  There’s really nothing to write here.  Redshirts is unique and entertaining.  Once the main characters get their problem solved, the books goes on to show how the original story affected other characters along the way.  It’s fantastic.

Rating and Review:  If you like science fiction with a bit of humor, and if you don’t demand all the tiny details about how space travel or time travel work, and if you know what a redshirt is, then Redshirts is absolutely for you.  5 stars.

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Book Review – You Dear, Sweet Man by Thomas Neviaser

How much attention do you give to the advertisements that surround you every day?  They’re constantly there, and many of them barely even register.  But what if one of them insisted that you pay attention?  Such is the case in You Dear, Sweet Man.

Note:  I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.  I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.  I will always give you my honest opinion on something before linking to it.

You Dear, Sweet Man is the story of a burger joint that will go to any lengths needed to redesign its marketing campaign and keep up with the times.  It’s also the story of a burned out man in search of something new in his life.  There’s also the story of the two young-and-hungry men who are desperate to help make the ad happen, and the woman who is manipulating all of them.

What I Loved:  This story was so very different from anything I’ve read recently, and I mean that in a good way.  It wasn’t just your average genre fiction.  The characters were well-developed and described, making them easy to differentiate from each other and to envision as I read.  The story held my attention even when I really wasn’t certain what direction the story was heading.  I think this is in large part because the opening chapter was such a great hook, and it made me want to know more.  There’s also just a great sense of suspense.  Once I finished, I felt that You Dear, Sweet Man had an ending reminiscent of something out of the Twilight Zone.

What I Didn’t Love So Much:  Unfortunately, this book could really use some better editing.  There were repeated or missing words and redundant phrasing that needed to be taken care of.  Overall, the story was well-written, but I found these distracting.

I also felt that the ending could have used a little bit more explanation.  I don’t want to go into anything specific in order to avoid spoilers, but I wish there was a little bit more clarification.  Perhaps it was meant to be somewhat mysterious, and I can see how that works, but I’m one of those people who really likes to understand what’s going on.

Rating and Recommendations:  I hovered back and forth for the star rating on this one because I was slightly disappointed at the end.  Since it is so innovative and well-written, though, I’m giving it 4 stars.

I recommend this book for anyone who likes science fiction when it’s incorporated into our current way of life.

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Ashley O’Melia is an independent author and freelancer from Southern Illinois.  She holds her Bachelor’s Degree in Creative Writing and English from Southern New Hampshire University.  Her books include The Wanderer’s Guide to Dragon Keeping and The Graveside Detective.  Her short stories have been published in The Penmen Review, Paradox, and Subcutaneous.  Ashley’s freelance work has spanned numerous genres for clients around the world.  You can find her on Facebook and Amazon.

Interested in having your book reviewed?  Contact me.


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Book Review: Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein

Okay, I know you aren’t supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I completely did.  I mean, just look at this thing.  Every time I went to Barnes & Noble, this book was practically dancing and singing on the shelf, begging me to take it home.

I resisted at first, but that’s pretty much just because I’m a ridiculous tightwad unless I’m buying something for my kids.  Also, I was a little worried that it might be too “heavy.”  It’s about a mission to Saturn, and while I’m not afraid of heavy reading, I’m not always in the mood for it.

It turns out I didn’t have to be.  When I finally decided that I had to buy the book even if it was just so I could look at the pretty cover on my shelf, I discovered a story that was riveting and thrilling while also being very real.  It was surprisingly down-to-Earth for a story about space, and I loved it.

Saturn Run is the story of an urgent flight to Saturn (and a race against the Chinese to get there first) when the possibility of a visit by an alien spaceship is discovered.  You couldn’t possibly tell a story so big from just one viewpoint, so the authors didn’t.  This a character-driven plot, focusing on how the mission affected the different people involved in it.  There are a lot of characters, but they’re all very deep, distinguishable, and memorable.  While the novel outlines the political aspects of space travel, it emphasizes the direct impact on the characters involved.  The viewpoint changes numerous times, even within chapters, but it’s so seamless that it only adds to the story.

Although Saturn Run falls doubtlessly in the category of science fiction, it also just might be creating a new genre of “science really-could-happen-in-the-timeframe-specified.”  The author’s note in the back (which you can’t read until you’ve read the story) shows just how much prep work the authors did for this novel, including plotting orbits and calculating the engine specifics of the starships involved.  While the science is not what we have today, there was nothing as Star Trek-y as a transporter or a tractor beam (although those could have been quite useful to some of the characters).  Sandford and Ctein took current science and advanced it by fifty years without throwing in a lot of magic and fantasy.

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in science fiction.  I even finished the last third of it with a terrible head cold because I just couldn’t put it down!


If you enjoyed this post, be sure to come find me on Facebook and Amazon!


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Author Interview with Tyler Omichinski

As a game designer and writer who has traveled widely, Tyler Omichinski brings a lot to the table.  I got to spend a little time chatting with him about his writing life, his most recent book, and whether he prefers real books or e-readers.

How has your work in game design influenced your writing?

Two main ways. The first of all is that when you’re doing things like writing up rules, you need to be extremely specific and efficient. It’s really almost technical writing at that point, and it teaches some great skills. I’m not a particularly purple writer when it comes to my prose, and this kind of thing really forces you to look at your writing with a brutal sense of efficiency.

The other thing is that same old focus on the shape of stories. A good game should, functionally, be telling a story, just one that emerges from gameplay. Risk has you waging war against your friend, and every time a story arises from that. When I’m designing a game, I’m trying to keep an eye on telling the right kind of story when that happens – with ReAnimator, for example, we wanted to keep the stress piling up, while also giving a general sense of unease. That was accomplished through forcing the players to make an increasing number of choices between suboptimal choices, reflecting what happens to a lot of protagonists, while also having the subplot cards dealing with some unsettling things here and there.

I see that your book takes place in Paris.  Have you ever been there?

Yes I have! I’m also a huge fan of the city. I was there for about three days while living abroad, and something about the city just grabbed me. For this piece I also read a ton: Robb’s Parisians, a bunch of books about the history of the city, Robb’s Strangers (about LGBT people throughout the Victorian Era) and more. Then I promptly went and did an alternate history so if I got anything wrong, I could claim that it was on purpose.

What was your inspiration for this story?

A combination of a couple of factors. I’ve gushed about Robb above, he’s a phenomenal historian that sometimes covers these amazing niches of history, weaving masterful narratives with these anecdotes that give you so much information and makes you feel like you’ve really experienced something.

The next part was to try to put my mind in the struggles that are going on for some people in our own world right now. I’m an out bisexual and I’ve faced my fair share of discrimination, but at the same time we have people literally being killed for being like me elsewhere in the world. Even not that far away if we think about Orlando. I wanted to try to put myself into that experience, to try to figure out what someone would do in order to avoid the worst of that. To really try to understand when coming out wasn’t even really an option for people.

To all of that, I really just wanted to write about Paris and monsters. It all wove together pretty well.

You’ve done a lot of work in the board game industry.  What was your favorite board game growing up?

Probably Trivial Pursuit: I’m from a family of competitive know-it-alls  (including myself) and we would all get really into that game. It’s fascinating how much useless knowledge like that can really encourage you to be a writer. You want to figure out “Well, why is that random factoid a thing,” then you realize that there’s a story behind it, and a story behind that. Stories the entire way down.

What’s your favorite book?

Probably American Gods – it was there for me during an incredibly dark time in my life and it was like the perfect balm. It really is one of those books that you can go in looking for something and probably find it. There’s so much going on in there, and the prose is so beautiful. That being said, it is definitely fighting against something like Name of the Wind or Three Parts Dead.

Favorite authors?

Now that’s a list. Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, Neil Gaiman, Jeff Vandermeer, Max Gladstone, Cassandra Khaw, Caitlin R Kiernan, Ben H. Winters… I read a crazy amount. Like, three or four books a week. It’s so hard to pick just a few, but at some point it becomes way too long and unwieldy. My friends have long ago learned that if they ask for a recommendation, I’ll just keep piling books on them until they politely tell me to stop. Then I’ll go for a bit longer as I think of a few more ideas.

Where’s your favorite place to write?  What’s your writing process like?

My favorite places to write are either lying down on the couch, or in a bar. I need a lot of noise around me to get my best work done, and I do this weird thing where I don’t usually look at the screen while I’m typing. I’ll usually be staring off into space, or my neck at a weird angle as I look at the ceiling. Almost like the story has to sneak up on me, and I’m trying to make it easier for it.

Most of my first full-length book that I’ve finished was written in the back of a bar while my friends played pool. I’d sit there watching the pool game and typing away.

For a process – it really seems to be different for each project. It’s almost like each one needs something specific to bring it into the world. Queen in Yellow was a lot of Lou Reed and other punk like music written in the middle of the night in bars. Wild Bloodlines was written listening to Celtic instrumentals during the afternoon and was almost done in a single, mad, fury of writing.

Plague in Paris was done with classical music in short, focused, attacks. Each session was a few hundred words here or there, and the entire thing had an outline and a structure to it. I’ve never been able to recreate that process for anything else, but that’s basically the way it has been for everything for me.

Real books or e-readers?

Oh jeez. Both? I love the convenience of e-readers, but there’s nothing beating a book. I’m also a collector of real books, so that similarly helps me out. But, I have friends and colleagues around the world so I love being able to read something from them the instant it comes out. You might have to come back to me on this one – I’m not sure if I can really choose.

How long have you been writing?

Since I was twelve, so what’s that, 17 years now? That’s been quite awhile. I still have the first “story” I wrote as a kid, complete with the regular kid deus ex machina at the end. It was about the Elves going on strike on Christmas, and then I think Santa replaces them with robotic transforming snowmobiles. Even as a kid I was writing some pretty weird stories.

Do you have any other books in the works?

Yes, pretty much always. I have a book called The Queen in Yellow that I’m doing another round of edits on after it went through some agents who gave me some nice feedback but it wasn’t quite for them. I have a ghostwriting contract that is in the works, and I’ve started another book that’s currently called The Last Witch and is still in its first draft.


You can find Tyler’s book on Amazon.  Make sure you leave a review to tell him how much you love it!  You can also check him out on Facebook, Twitter, or his website at www.omichinski.com.


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