Tag Archives: testing the prisoner

Getting Back on Track

So I recently finished a short story about a young man who buys a haunted Camaro—and inadvertently destroys the life of a paroled car thief. The story is now in the hands of critique partners and happens to be the only writing project that I actually finished this year. If you followed any of my previous updates, you’ll know that 2017 has kicked the shit out of me and in doing so, caused my writing output to plummet. 
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Going into 2017, I promised myself not to write any more short stories this year so I could focus on the first draft of the SF novel I started writing last year. Four chapters into the first draft by April 2016 and the novel ended up on the back burner for a home renovation, a Kickstarter to fund a new anthology, the release of said anthology, and writing six new short stories for contests and anthologies.
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As productive as that was and as proud as I am of those stories, the SF novel languished. Then came 2017 and I set my sights on finishing the first draft by December. Four more chapters were written between January and May… and the novel was again sidelined while I edited submissions to a new anthology, finished a month-long home renovation, then watched my summer collapse along with the roof at my workplace as a result of a severe storm. I want my summer back, damn it!
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So, to get my writing chops back in shape, I cranked out the aforementioned short story about the haunted car—just so I could feel good about finishing something this year.  I thought I would then return to the SF novel…
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Instead, I’ve spent the past week crafting the plot synopsis for my next full-length Miranda Lorensen novel. Almost there. I spent more time working on it in my sunroom this evening—and peeking up every so often to watch a tiny bunny roam around my neighbor’s shed. Who can resist bunnies?
If all goes as planned, this novel will tie directly to the novella that my publisher accepted back in June. The novella, Like Mother, Like Daughters, addresses some aspects of Miranda’s life mentioned in my novels Testing the Prisoner and By Your Side
 
I jotted down a quick jacket blurb for the novella recently. It needs work, but…
 
Psychic-medium Miranda Lorensen and her daughter Andrea set out for a “girls night of ghost hunting” at the home of Andrea’s closest friend, Wendy. When Andrea Lorensen stumbles over Wendy’s dead body in the woods, the shock triggers Andrea’s own latent abilities as a medium. Against her mother’s wishes, Andrea decides to ensnare Wendy’s killer with help from the other side.
Meanwhile, Miranda travels to Salem, Massachusetts to speak at a paranormal investigators conference. When she is invited to participate in a local ghost hunt, Miranda encounters a spirit that leads her to the truth about her past life.
Like Mother Like Daughters title
Now, hopefully, the novella will be released next year with the novel to follow a year or so later. My concern is that as of 2018, it will have been FIVE years since my last novel. Yikes!  
 
During that time, I’ve been focused on short stories and editing anthologies, which has proved fruitful. My publisher and I have released two volumes of the Middle of Eternity speculative fiction series, my work has placed high in a few local contests, and I’ve been published in a handful of other wonderful collections such as the ReDeus mythology series and Beach Nights. I firmly believe that short stories and novellas are nutritious parts of a well-balanced writing career. 
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As much fun as those projects have been, a few solo publications are definitely needed within the next year. While Miranda has earned a modest fan following–and several readers have contacted me to ask when to expect her next adventure–people have short memories these days so I hope all of this works out as planned! 

Book Review: Not Bad for a Human by Lance Henriksen with Joseph Maddrey

“One thing I know for sure: God didn’t bring me this far to drop me on my ass.”

Lance Henriksen is well known to SF and horror fans for such films and TV shows as Aliens, The Right Stuff, Millennium, Pumpkinhead, Aliens vs. Predator, and much more.

In his autobiography, Henriksen depicts a childhood fraught with poverty and insecurity with a mother who survived a succession of failed, and sometimes violent, marriages. His brief service in the U.S. Navy was no less problematic and ended in his arrest and discharge after going AWOL.

Wandering across the country and through Europe with a strong passion for art, Henriksen finally found his calling in acting—despite illiteracy. He eventually used scripts to teach himself to read. Over time, he moved from stage to film and, reluctantly, to television, becoming close friends with directors and actors such as James Cameron, Bill Paxton, Ed Harris, and others.

Most of the narrative focuses on Henriksen’s method of embodying the characters he portrays and often breathing life into them by going off script and improvising lines that he feels would be more natural than what had been written. On many occasions, his directors were receptive, other times less so. Many pages are dedicated to his experiences making AliensThe Right Stuff, and Pumpkinhead while an entire chapter is devoted to the arc of Frank Black, his leading character from the Chris Carter series, Millennium. 

Frequent mention is made of Henriksen’s enjoyment of pottery as an art form. When filming on location domestically or overseas, he frequently sought out potters who were creating the most original work. At one point, Henriksen himself had created so many pieces that his wife prompted him to open an online shop.

Though he admits to making a string of low-budget films simply to pay the bills, Henriksen tried to find something redeeming in nearly every character he portrayed and to this day, the septuagenarian still enjoys learning and growing as an actor and exploring new concepts.

It should be noted that I acquired my signed hardcopy edition of Not Bad for a Human directly from Mr. Henriksen at Monster Mania convention in August 2011. In fact, we swapped books. I gave him a copy of my first novel, Testing the Prisoner, and we chatted briefly about independent publishing.

Phil with Lance Henriksen

Lance Henriksen: Not Bad for Human

Testing the Prisoner on sale at Amazon: $3.99

Since Amazon adjusts prices at their whim, I just discovered today that the paperback edition of my first novel, Testing the Prisoner, is on sale for $3.99. That’s $1 less than the Kindle version! I have no idea how long this sale will last, so if you’re interested in an emotional and deeply human story wrapped in a paranormal mystery, you will not be disappointed.

Daniel Masenda thought he had made peace with his dark past when he left his home for a better life fourteen years ago. As the mayor of a small, tranquil town along Virginia’s Eastern Shore, Daniel has everything he ever wanted – until a series of haunting visions, coupled with the death of his estranged mother, pits him against two ghostly entities at war with one another. Each has its own agenda as they force Daniel to relive moments from his violent youth and push him to the edge of insanity. As his idyllic life begins to unravel, will he be able to decipher the message behind the hauntings before they destroy, not only him, but the soul of someone he left behind?

Testing the Prisoner by Phil Giunta

 

Check out the reviews for Testing the Prisoner on Amazon and Goodreads and pick up a copy today. Thank you for supporting small press authors!

Of Home Renovations, Work Disasters, and Book Signings…

In a previous post, I discussed the recent home renovation project that consumed most of June for me. I painted a large portion of my second floor through the middle of the month and the renovation was completed as of June 29 with the installation of new carpet! Now, approximately 80% of our second floor has new carpeting.

Since then, I have been busy reassembling our dining room and library with little or no time at all for writing. In fact—and to my chagrin—my SF novel-in-progress took a back seat for the entire month, but that wasn’t entirely unexpected to be honest.

New Carpet-Library

New Carpet-Hallway  New Carpet-Stairs

Empty Bookcases

Bookcases Filling Up

To make matters worse, a severe storm struck my area on July 1, causing a partial roof collapse at my workplace, accompanied by flooding and a natural gas line rupture to the generator that provides power to a portion of our IT equipment in the event of a main power failure—which also occurred.

As a member of our IT Infrastructure team, I was called in to assist with disaster recovery implementation, an activity that required participation not only from my own immediate team, but various members of our corporate parent’s IT group as well as vendors of the two or three of the major hardware and software platforms we rely on.

After a continuous 50-hour conference call, during which I slept no more than 4-6 hours, our systems were restored and business was able to resume. Unfortunately, the disaster occurred on my birthday, forcing me to cancel all plans with my wife and family. A final critical issue remained outstanding into Monday that I was not able to resolve until July 4…so that holiday was also lost.

It has been a brutal four weeks, friends. I am exhausted to the point of burn out and as of this writing, we are still working through new and unexpected problems, while I’m still working to put my house back in order.

On a high note, the Bethlehem Writers Group announced the winners of their 2017 short story contest and I am proud to have taken an Honorable Mention (as I mentioned before!) with my story “So Hungry…,” which will be published in the fall edition of the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable online magazine.

Also, I look forward to my book signing at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, DE on Thursday, July 13 from 11AM to 1PM. The titles available for purchase at the signing include my paranormal mystery novels, Testing the Prisoner and By Your Side as well as the speculative fiction anthologies Somewhere in the Middle of Eternity and Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity, and of course, Beach Nights!

Lastly, I will be meeting with Firebringer Press publisher Steven H. Wilson next week to discuss the release of my paranormal mystery novella, Like Mother, Like Daughters later this year.

Once the mayhem subsides, I hope to return to work on my SF novel in progress and resume some semblance of a normal routine.

Enjoy your summer!

 

Of Home Renovations, Writing Contests, and Audio Books…

For me, this summer has begun with a challenging and exhausting home renovation. We’re repainting an area of the house that has not been touched in 14 years—specifically, our library.

With five packed bookcases, two recliners, two tables, and more “stuff”,  and the fact that the library shares ceiling space with the adjoining stairwell and hallway, it’s no wonder that we left it alone for as long as we did. However, the carpet is in dire need of replacement and I thought that since we’ll need to move furniture to make that happen, I might as well repaint these areas.

 

As of this writing, I have patched and sanded where needed, primed, and applied the first coat of paint. The second coat of paint will be applied tomorrow evening and then I can clean up. After that, it’s touching up the window trim and inside the hall closet. The carpet installer will be out next Monday to measure for the estimate and provide samples. It’s a family-owned business and we had them out last June to replace the carpet in our bedroom–which I also repainted a few days in advance. They did a fantastic job and as such, we called them first.

On top of this, two high-profile projects at my FT job are keeping me busy and will consume part of my upcoming weekend and well as my summer. As you might have guessed, I have not written at all this week and probably won’t next week either,  but over the past two to three months, I did manage to write three more chapters in the first draft of my SF novel-in-progress while also editing submissions for Meanwhile in the Middle of Eternity, the third volume in our series of speculative fiction anthologies.

The first volume is called Somewhere in the Middle of Eternity (released in 2014), and the second, Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity, was released last August. Our third collection has a tentative release of summer 2018.

On the short story front, I have two submissions out into two separate contests. The first is the Rehoboth Beach Reads Short Story Contest in Delaware, sponsored by Cat & Mouse Press and Browseabout Books. I won second place last year and my story was published in the resulting anthology, Beach Nights.

I already had a new story ready to go by the end of 2016 for this year’s contest, which is themed Beach Life. Winners will be announced around August 7-8. Watch this space for updates!

The second story is a paranormal tale set in New Mexico and was submitted to the Bethlehem Writers Roundtable annual contest. I was informed last month that the story made into the final round of judging and is now in the hands of NYT bestseller Carrie Vaughn to select the top three winners. Winners will be announced by July 1, which would make a marvelous birthday present for me! Stay tuned.

Lastly, when Podiobooks merged with Scribl.com, I was disappointed to see that the reviews for my audio books did not migrate over… then I stumbled upon my audio books at LibriVox and not only do they have the older Podiobooks reviews, but new reviews that I had not seen before. My exciting discovery for the week!

Click here to listen to Testing the Prisoner. 

Click here to listen to By Your Side. 

 

 

 

 

Book Signing at the Beach!

Taking a few hours out of my summer vacation to sign books at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth Beach, DE on July 13 from 11AM to 1PM.

The titles I’ll have on hand include:

By Your Side by Phil Giunta Testing the Prisoner by Phil Giunta

Somewhere in the Middle of Eternity 

 

Browseabout Books is located just a block and a half up from the boardwalk at 133 Rehoboth Ave., Rehoboth Beach, DE 19971