Wednesday, December 23, 2020



If you think the world has gone insane in 2020, just wait until you see what Alice encounters in 2021!
WONDERLAND... A descent into madness.

Available for!  Publication date: January 29, 2021.


Friday, December 18, 2020

A 15-Year Anniversary Retrospective

Fifteen years ago this month, I submitted my first book for publication. Issues in Internet Law became the flagship title of Amber Book Company in December 2005. Nowhere on its cover did it proclaim it was the first edition: it never occurred to me there’d be another edition, let alone ten more.

In fact, I had begun to doubt it would even be published. The first typesetter we hired screwed up the book. They used InDesign to create the book but, as I later figured out, they didn’t know how to use the program properly. InDesign has two settings, for printing either documents or books. They used the document setting instead of the book setting and the result was spaghetti text between two covers. When they wanted to charge us more to fix their mistake, I decided we’d bring the project (and all others since) in-house. With only weeks before the deadline to get the book published in time for the winter school term, Larry, Marc, and I set out to learn InDesign. I’m not saying there was a steep learning curve but the reason I have less hair today definitely stems from having pulled out half of it during those frustrating weeks.

More books followed. My next two were on web design: The Web Designer's Client Handbook; and Putting Your Business on the Internet: Your Website, Your Web Designer, & YOU! My fourth book was the novel I had started 30 years earlier. Some famous writer (I think it was Hemingway but I’m too tired to look it up) said after completing a first manuscript, one should take a celebratory sea voyage, lean on the ship’s railing and toss the manuscript into the sea… then return home and write a second novel that would be worthy of publication. Regrettably, I didn’t follow this sage advice.

I returned to what had been successful: I wrote the second, third, fourth, and fifth editions of Issues in Internet Law (now subtitled “Society, Technology, and the Law”). From the fourth edition forward, the book was published in both softcover and hardcover, and somehow holding the hardcover copy in my hands made me feel like a true author.

In 2009, I published my second hardcover, this time with a dust-jacket. Randoms was a short story collection. I was interviewed by the local newspaper and did book signings across the country. The printer had enormous difficulty with the dust-jackets, though. No two covers were quite the same color. To resolve this, we published a paperback edition.

About that time, I pulled two typed pages out of my desk drawer. They had been sitting there for several years, remnants of my failed attempt at writing a play about Heaven and Hell. Playwriting, it turns out, is surprisingly difficult. I decided to turn it into a short story instead. It became a lengthy short story but at least I was able to finish it. But had I? The open-ended conclusion was actually an enticing premise, so I wrote a sequel. I wanted it to be about gangsters but somehow during my research it morphed into a completely different story. Yet I still wanted to write the gangster story, so I had to write a sequel to the sequel. By then, the characters had started to grow on me. They had taken on lives of their own and they had more stories to tell. Enough to fill a book. And so, Paved with Good Intentions was published.

I went back to writing Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law. The 6th edition was published in both paperback and hardcover. During this time, I joined (and later ran) a local writers group at which we would present a short story each week. I collected the stories I wrote into a 560-page book called Shards. A small selection of these tales would appear in 2012 in Careywood, a charity book published with all proceeds going to benefit repair of a famous Rhode Island mansion.

But people kept asking when I was going to write the sequel to Paved with Good Intentions. “What sequel?” I’d reply. As far as I was concerned, it was done. After all, I had turned two pages into a novel. But I had left nagging questions (like “Who’s the father?”) unanswered. And so I wrote And a Child Shall Lead Them in 2010. This time, I knew the story wasn’t finished. I ended with a cliff-hanger, possibly the best cliff-hanger ever written (even topping the ending of Beneath the Planet of the Apes, in which the Earth is blown up yet they still managed three more sequels).

Then it was back to writing an updated edition of Putting Your Business on the Internet: Your Website, Your Web Designer, & YOU! and Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law (7th edition). I wrote the storyline to conclude my fantasy series but it was so long I decided to break it into two books: To Hell in a Handbasket (published in 2011) and The Witches’ Cauldron (published in 2012). The four-book series was rebranded as “Halos & Horns.”

I had told my Heaven and Hell story, albeit over four books, yet in the process I had created an entire fictional universe and intriguing ancillary characters. I decided the four books comprising Halos & Horns would be the first arc in a much larger saga. The second arc would be called Fangs & Fur and focus on what had been the supporting characters in the first arc. Written in 2014 and published in 2016, the initial book Flashbacks picked up where the first arc had left off, revealing the origins of the key characters through a series of flashbacks while advancing the present-day storyline.

You may be wondering what happened during that two-year gap. Besides writing the eighth and ninth editions of Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law, three other significant events occurred. The first Halos & Horns story arc was collected into an omnibus edition with lots of extras: interviews, essays, and 61 magnificent illustrations by various artists. As an omnibus, the book was already large, about 900 pages. That meant higher printing and shipping costs. Additionally, we were printing two versions: both paperback and, for the first time, Halos & Horns would appear in hardcover. When the proof came back from the printer something was missing. All those beautiful illustrations appeared washed out in black and white. I shook my head. I said, “These artists worked as hard on their drawings as I did on my writing. They deserve to be seen in all their glory, in color.” I was immediately told that wasn’t feasible. It would mean tripling the retail price of the book. But I insisted it be done right or not at all. While retailers are free to mark up a book at any price they choose, Amber Book Company published the full color Halos & Horns Omnibus Edition at only one dollar above cost.

In 2014, I published a collection of essays selected from my blog, entitled Collected Essays of a Reluctant Blogger. The third significant event during the gap was that I wrote my young adult science fiction trilogy, The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer. In 2015, the first book, The 25th Hour was published and met with much praise. The Tomorrow Paradox was released in 2016, and the conclusion All the Time in the World (considered by many to be my finest novel) in 2017.

The year 2016 also saw publication of the tenth anniversary edition of Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law. The previous year Amber Book Company had entered into an agreement with VitalSource, the world’s largest distributor of textbooks, to offer a digital version beginning with the ninth edition. The book was used as a textbook on four continents and received glowing reviews as far away as India.

Cops and Robbers, published in 2016, was my first entry into the quirky crime drama genre popularized by David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Befitting its irreverent and serious duality, it was published with two covers, which we referred to as “the grim cover” and “the whimsical cover.” That same year, the second collection of my essays was published in More Essays of a Reluctant Blogger. Cub: The Story of a Boy Reporter, a book I had worked on for 40 years containing my photographs of, and interviews with, famous actors and actresses, athletes, authors, comedians, politicians, producers, and other celebrities was finally published in 2017. The eleventh edition of Issues in Internet Law: Society, Technology, and the Law was also published that year.

Nightstalkers, the second book in the Fangs & Fur arc, was published in 2018. My third essay collection, Return of the Reluctant Blogger, was also published that year. The year ended with publication of Nosferatu, Inc., the final book in the Fangs & Fur arc.

This year, 2019 was a banner year with the publication of the first three novels in my new young adult science-fantasy series, Vampires Vs. Aliens. Shards was updated with new material and reissued as Shards: The Omnibus Edition featuring 900 pages of short stories. The Adventures of Mackenzie Mortimer Omnibus Edition, collecting the entire trilogy in one volume was published this year. The three books comprising the Fangs & Fur story arc were also published in a single volume, Fangs & Fur: The Omnibus Edition. The third Halos & Horns story arc, entitled The Age of Magic began and the first book, Alterverse, was published in 2019. And all four books in the first Halos & Horns arc received new covers for their international editions.
 Of course, 2020 has been a difficult year for all of us. Yet Amber Book Company continued publishing new books. In April, my science fiction time travel novel Justin Tyme came out. It was followed immediately two months later in June by another science fiction novel, the dystopian young adult book The QuaranTeens, about teens emerging from lock-down in a post-coronavirus apocalyptic future. September 2020 saw the release of Warriors & Wizards, Book Two in The Age of Magic story arc.
It’s been a productive 15 years but we’re not slowing down. The first quarter of 2021 will see publication of the quirky crime drama Wonderland in January and Return of the Djinn, Book Three in The Age of Magic story arc, in March. Then, in June, Vampires Vs. Aliens, Book Four will be published as the series hits its stride. In December 2021, expect to see Oz, the second book in the Wonderland trilogy. We'll also be releasing a Vampires Vs. Aliens Omnibus and an Age of Magic Omnibus in 2021.

I’ll be doing some writing in 2021 as well. I’m working on Absalonis' Emporium & Curio Shoppe (a themed short story collection); another collection of essays; a book of quotations; and a few projects I can’t reveal yet. I expect I'll be writing Vampires Vs. Aliens, Books Five and Six, as well as Neverland, the conclusion of the Wonderland trilogy.

Fifteen years. On behalf of Amber Book Company I’d like to thank all the individuals who’ve helped us along the way, starting with proofreaders Jennifer Jackson, Kayla Martinez, Jeff Kupfer, Margaret McDermott, Michelle Krane, and the late Eido Cohen. Thanks also to the fantastic people, past and present, at LightningSource (Judith Woodall Tonan, Joan Williams, Gayle Cantrell, Natalie Mozingo, Jim Patterson, Carrie Smitty, Brent Spears, Heather Henderson, Carol Egan, Adam Hughes, Sherry Holland, Ann Decker, Amy Yates, and Jenna Hall); VitalSource (Kevin Hoyle, David Bernheisel, Sheena Morris, Maureen Prosser, Margaret Mathis, Tanya Wick, and Zach Harris); Draft2Digital (Tara Robinett, Dan Wood, and Kevin Tumlinson); CreateSpace/KDP; MBS Textbook Exchange; Quality Books (Bill Hennis, Tiffani Griffin, and Stephanie Hilton); The Distributors (Patty Walsh); Coutts Information Services;  Follett Higher Education Group; Diane Kaczmarczyk; Chris Finan; Larry Brown; Margo Berman; Ellen Reid; Colt Taylor; Lisa Cutter; Michael Dasch; Faith Jackson; the late Batton Lash; Daniel Reed; Vanessa Montes; Jeremy Pound; Rino diStefano; Schamell Padgett; Lynn Glascoe; Jason Freeman; Alain Gomez; our web hosting company; Google for hosting this blog; and anyone else I’ve unintentionally forgotten to thank for aiding our success during these 15 years. And of course, Amber, who was there from the beginning and who will remain in spirit. See you in 2021.