“Road Trip” is Available in Forbidden Future: A Time Travel Anthology

ForbiddenFuturesmallsize_zps6dbe5513 (1)I know it has been a while since I have posted here, but for those who were patient enough to stay with me, I have some great news. My second professional sale and first time travel story, “Road Trip”, is now available in Forbidden Future: A Time Travel Anthology published by The Masquerade Crew. The story features four friends driving to a college party who take an unexpected detour into the future. It is one of nine stories in the anthology and it is available for purchase in the USA, Canada and the UK.

“Road Trip” already has a review up:

The story has good character analysis, and a believable story line. The ending is unexpected. This was one of my favourites. -Moonwalker

What a great way to start the weekend. If you would live to review “Road Trip” and the rest of Forbidden Future contact me at ahwupdate at gmail dot com. I am also available for guest blogs and interviews.

Thank you once again to everyone who continues to support my dream of being a writer. I won’t let you down.

Cover Reveal: Forbidden Futures

Check out the cover for Forbidden Futures, published by The Masquerade Crew and featuring my short story “Road Trip”:

ForbiddenFuturesmallsize_zps6dbe5513 (1)

 

“Road Trip” follows the adventure of four friends driving down to Central Illinois for a college party when strange, yellow clouds ruin their plans. Suddenly they find themselves in a Heartland gone to seed, being chased by religious fanatics and manipulated by a mysterious government agency. As time warps around them, can they make it back home or will they forever be trapped on an endless road trip?

If you are interested in supporting the anthology, check out the fundraiser The Crew are running on their blog.

My Path to Becoming a Writer and My First Published Story

Hi, my name is Matt Mitrovich.

I have been an avid reader most of my life and like most book worms I had the desire see my own name in print one day. I wanted to witness my ideas and characters come to life.

I didn’t take orthodox route in becoming a writer. I studied history at Bradley University and law at The John Marshall Law School. I would often write down my ideas, but they were just brainstorming sessions not real writing. I talked about writing a lot to the point where everyone knew about my dream to be an author. It took a co-worker, however, who asked me if I had actually written anything to make me realize I wasn’t following said dream.

In fact I really wasn’t in a happy place when I started writing. Two years ago I worked as a contract attorney, doing temporary e-discovery assignments for companies and firms around the Chicago area. It certainly was not what I expected to be doing out of law school, but with the economy being as it was, I was just grateful to be paid while still working in the industry. Nevertheless, I felt like I had little control over my own life. My wife said there were days when I came home irritated, depressed and generally miserable. I needed to do something just to stay sane.

So I decided to take charge and write something. Thinking of something to write about, however, seemed like a daunting prospect. I didn’t have any ideas for stories. I wanted to write alternate history, my favourite genre, and thought I could post short scenarios and see what people thought. I would post it to my own blog so I could make the rules and not be under the thumb of a moderator or administrator.

Turns out blogs like that are a dime a dozen. I wanted something different and unique. I thought hard and realized something important. There was no single place to get information about the genre itself. Most SF websites will cover an alternate history work at some point, but it is rare and they are often ignored by most genre fans. Even worse, the forums and wikis alternate historians congregated at seemed to be full of people who professed a love of the genre, but were ignorant of the authors, works and history of the genre itself.

So I set out to rectify that problem. I wanted to keep people up to date, but I wanted to start slow. I decided to post a summary of the week’s alternate history news every Monday. It wasn’t a stretch after that to call it “Alternate History Weekly Update”. Afterwards, I was amazed to discover how easy it was to write an article once a week. Last June I was writing 10 articles a week. Now, however, I have found a more sustainable goal of 5 articles. This allows me to turn my attention to other projects…and keeps my wife happy.

Two years of constant blogging and I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunities it provided. It introduced me to wonderful and intelligent friends and it helped me enter the larger world of fandom with my new gig blogging for Amazing Stories. More importantly, it finally allowed me to get the confidence to write my own fiction.

In 2011, I finished my first short story, “Collapse Theory”, which has sadly never seen the light of day. Still your first try is usually not that good and I have had more success with follow-up works such as “A Perfect Hell on Earth” and “Revenants in Warfare”. Those stories were with amateur publications, but to truly feel in my heart that I was real writer, someone had to buy my fiction. I realize not everyone thinks the same way, but it is how my neurotic mind works.

once upon a clockwork taleTurns out my path to my first professional publication started off in rather silly manner. After attending a live Rifftrax showing of Jack the Giant Killer, I did what I always do after seeing a bad movie: tried to make it better. At first it was just a jumble of thoughts in my head with nowhere to go, until I saw Echelon Press was looking for queries regarding steampunk retellings of classic fairy tales for an anthology titled Once Upon a Clockwork Tale.

I’m going to tell you something even my editor doesn’t know. I didn’t actually have the finished story when I wrote my query. I had an idea and I certainly must of convinced them because they emailed me back saying they wanted me for the anthology…and I had less than two weeks to submit my story. I had no idea they would accept my query. Honestly I had just wanted practice in writing queries since I had never done it before. I was not, however, about to let an opportunity like this pass me by. When I wasn’t working, I was writing, and somehow I manage to string together a story that the good folks at Echelon thought was worthy of Once Upon a Clockwork Tale.

The story is called “The Enchanted Bean” and as you can probably guess it is a steampunk retelling of “Jack and the Beanstalk”. Here is the description from the back of Once Upon a Clockwork Tale:

How do you reach a fabled land of giants without any magic beans? Build an airship, of course. A British adventurer takes to the skies seeking wealth and glory, instead he finds ancient gods ruling an oppressive flying kingdom. With the help of their allies, these former masters of men want to replant the World Tree and rebuild their war machines. To stop the sky from falling, our hero will have to do more than chop down a beanstalk.

I really enjoyed writing this tale. Although it is more “pulp” than “punk”, I think readers will enjoy this adventure tale that pokes fun at some of the common steampunk tropes. I also gave some nods to Norse mythology and a couple pop culture icons. I hope you check it out and enjoy it and all of the other stories contained therein. You can get your copy from AmazonBarnes & NobleCreatespace and Smashwords.

Writing has been an incredible journey so far and I am not through yet.

Young Justice: Thoughts on the Final Episode and My Ideas for Season 3

Young_Justice_TV_seriesYoung Justice is over.

For those who don’t know, Young Justice (called Young Justice: Invasion for the second season) is an Emmy Award winning animated series created by Greg Weisman and Brandon Vietti for Cartoon Network. Despite its title, it is not a direct adaptation of the Young Justice comic series, but rather an adaptation of the entire DC Universe with a focus on young superheroes/sidekicks. The series follows the lives of young adult heroes and sidekicks who are members of a fictional covert operation group called “the Team” under the guidance of the Justice League. The main setting is the fictional universe of Earth-16, during a time period in which superheroes are a relatively recent phenomenon. Despite this the continuity of the series always reminded me more of the old DC universe, before it was rebooted with the New 52.

Despite being marketed to kids, I enjoyed the series immensely. It had an original plot, complex storylines and realistic interactions between characters. Sure there was only so much they could get away with since it was on Cartoon Network, but Young Justice still managed to have a dark/gritty undertone that appealed to an adult audience. I’ve heard laments about the show’s cancellation (allegedly due to poor toy sales) on the SF Signal Podcast and the DragonCon Alternate History Track Facebook group. There are still fans fighting to bring it back, but with its return doubtful, I feel no regrets about presenting my own ideas for Season 3.

Major spoiler alert! Stop reading if you don’t want the finale of Young Justice ruined.

Since there was a five year gap between Seasons 1 and 2, I am going to stick with that plot device and put Season 3 five years after the events of Season 2. Since they were in high school in Season 1 and in college in Season 2, this would put most of the characters in their early twenties. During the new five year gap their Darkseid invaded Earth (referencing the finale where Vandal Savage hands the War World over to him). Although defeated, Earth is devastated and many metahumans/New Gods died in the fighting. Batman died delivering the final blow to Darkseid and is remembered as a hero across the world. Other heroes, like Superman, have either retired or gone into exile, horrified by the destruction and the loss of so many loved ones.

Their is a lack of central authority on this future Earth. The United Nations and many governments have collapsed and anarchy is prevalent. Many metahumans and costumed vigilantes continue to work to preserve order. On one had you have men like Dick Grayson, formerly Nightwing, who struggles as police commissioner of Gotham City to fight crime while still maintaining the freedom people enjoyed before Darkseid’s invasion. Then you have the new Justice League. Superboy, Wonder Girl, Robin (Tim Drake), Impulse/Kid Flash and others (I see Kaldur’ahm in the group, but not as Aquaman. I would like to have his father, Black Manta, give his life during the war and have Kaldur’ahm take his title to honor his memory) have assumed the titles of their mentors and have adopted extreme measures to preserve order. Although not everyone agrees with summary executions of meta-criminals, people can’t deny it has produced results and many are calling for them to assume control.

Turns out the League has been listening.

Episode One begins on War World. With the Moon destroyed in the war, the War World has taken its place. It is manned by a multi-national force and acts as humanity’s only line of defense from future alien invasions. After a few moments of soldiers going along with their duties, the Justice League uses a boom tube to attack the station. After securing the weapon they broadcast to the world that they are now in control. Nations submit to the League’s authority, some out of gratitude and others because they have no choice with the League in control of the universe’s most dangerous weapon.

The episode continues with Dick being approached by Batman (Tim Drake) about him and his wife (I would like it to be Zatanna due to their previous relationship) joining the League. They are recruiting from the former superhero population to better help administer the plan. Dick isn’t happy and he lets Tim know, feeling he is disgracing the memory of their deceased mentor. After a short philosophical debate (Tim reminds Dick how Batman used fear to fight crime in Gotham) Tim leaves. While at home Dick and Zatanna discuss what happened and they are joined by their son Zachary Zatara Grayson who at first voices they should join the League. Dick tries to talk sense into him until they are attacked by some Leagers. The League is very serious about their coup and are now taking out anyone who could possibly oppose them. Zatanna gives her life to save Dick and their son. In his grief and rage, Dick vows to take down the League at any cost.

That is pretty much all I got so far. I see Dick taking on the Nightwing mantle again and raising a team of rebel superheroes to fight the League’s control. Although they would probably just call themselves “the Team”, I would like it if they somehow got called the “Outsiders” by the media. I see the Outsiders being made up of the more classic DC sidekicks facing off against the more recent young heroes of the League, although that won’t always be the case. If Blue Beetle is alive I would put him on the Outsiders so I could see the conflict develop with his former friend the Flash (Impulse/Kid Flash).

There will be plot twists, double crosses, double/triple agents and plenty of grey morality. Although the League are tyrants and act as you would expect a dictator to act, the audience will see them using their powers to help Earth rebuild itself. Meanwhile, the Outsiders will still have a good reason to fight the League, they will be forced to do bad things for the greater good. I want to make it difficult for the audience to pick the good guys from the bad. I think it will reflect the age of the characters who now have to deal with adult issues on their own without advice from their older mentors.

There will be other factions at well. I see a “Human Liberation Front” working against both the League and the Outsiders. They want to free the Earth once and for all from metahuman influence and allow humanity to succeed or fail on its own without help from “the gods”. This might be a good place to put the eternal survivor Lex Luthor, who could use the HLF to secure the power he always desired. I also would love to put Arsenal here as well. He has no love for Luthor, but he has every reason to hate the metahumans and would probably be willing to form a temporary alliance with Luthor to free the Earth from metahuman tyranny.

Then there are the aliens. I think they would be terrified of the Earth becoming the center of some metahuman empire (the New Gods are gone, they do not need to be replaced). They would likely plan to invade Earth and wipe out any threat before it is to late. I would like to work Starfire into their group, but acting as a double agent. I see her joining the Outsiders which would give us a chance to witness her relationship with Dick and its effect on his son Zach. Also I would love to see Kyle Rayner as a Green Lantern, leading the alien coalition to liberate Earth.

Then there is someone or something else. Something ancient and evil. Something that needs the Earth. Something that is manipulating the civil war between the metahumans to distract them from the true threat to existence. I see Wally West as the harbringer of this evil.  Although I don’t like how superhero death has become meaningless, at the same time I never supported the desire to bring Barry Allen back from the dead to satisfy the die-hard comic book fans. So in Season 3 we learn Wally didn’t “cease” but instead traveled to some unknown corner of the multiverse. There he witnesses the destruction of several timelines as he races to find his home timeline to warn everyone of what is coming. When he does return home he tries to unite all factions to stand against the true threat to existence.

Some will probably notice I pulled from several comic series including Final CrisisKingdom Come and Alan Moore’s unwritten Twlight of the Superheroes. I like to remind everyone I have no relationship with Cartoon Network, DC or the creators of Young Justice. I am just a fan who is lamenting the cancellation of one of his favorite shows. I doubt my version of Season 3 will ever see the light of day (I don’t like fan fiction), but perhaps I might use the general outline if I ever write a superhero story.

Thanks for the good times Young Justice and everyone who worked on it. You made my Saturday mornings that much more enjoyable.

Update on “The Enchanted Bean”

220px-Jack_and_the_Beanstalk_Giant_-_Project_Gutenberg_eText_17034Sorry for not posting recently. If you follow Alternate History Weekly Update you would have read my announcement on Monday on why I have been so busy. Good news, however, on my short story “The Enchanted Bean”, scheduled to be published next year in Once Upon a Clockwork Tale. My editor at Echelon PressKaren L. Syed, is moving ahead to the next round of edits. I just submitted my bio and brief description of the story for the jacket copy. Check out the first drafts below:

Bio:

Matt Mitrovich is a misplaced refugee from the multiverse. As he tries to find his home timeline, he passes the time by editing Alternate History Weekly Update, a group blog he founded dedicated to news and reviews on alternate history, and contributing as a blogger to new electronic version of the classic SF magazine, Amazing Stories. Sometimes he writes fiction about the worlds he visits, like “A Perfect Hell on Earth” from Jake’s Monthly Anthology, which is based on a diary Matt found in a France torn apart by a century long war. Regrettably this Earth requires you to be a “productive citizen”, so Matt became an attorney to fulfill this social obligation while his search continues. He was lucky enough to take a native of this timeline as a wife and believes she is most beautiful when she becomes frustrated trying to convince him there is no such thing as parallel universes.

Jacket copy:

How do you reach a fabled land of giants without any magic beans? Build an airship, of course. In “The Enchanted Bean” a British adventurer takes to the skies to find unimaginable wealth and glory, but instead finds ancient gods ruling an oppressive flying kingdom. With the help of their Russian allies, these former masters of men want to replant the World Tree and rebuild their war machines. To stop the sky from falling, our hero will have to do more than just chopping down a bean stalk. He will need to get over his own fears and accept help from an eccentric American inventor and an unladylike noblewoman. Who would have though finding a golden goose could be so hard?

I Love Podcasts

I love podcasts. Great for passing the time at work, doing chores or exercising. The best way to describe it is talk radio for my generation and instead of conservative shock jocks I can listen to a wide variety of personalities and topics.

I listen to several SF or geek themed podcasts including Kevin Smith’s network of podcasts (Fat Man on Batman, Babble-On, Smodcast), HP Lovecraft Literary Podcast, Nerdist, Rooster Teeth, Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, SF Signal and Twilight Histories. I was even a guest on the Dissecting Worlds podcast.

Recently I have been getting into audio fiction podcasts. Short stories can be fun to read, but listening to a talented reader tell a story is a completely different experience. I also like the extra filter stories have to go through. Most audio fiction podcast I listen to are usually attached to a print magazine (for example Lightspeed) so the stories need to go through more than one filter before I can listen to them on my iPod. This means the quality of stories is better then what you usually find in an anthology.

There are, however, the occasional disappointment. I guess I just don’t like second person narratives.

Synthetic Voices is a recent find that lists some of the better stories of past months. A quick listen with good recommendations. Think of it as a nexus to the multiverse.

Hopefully one day I will create my own podcast. Maybe I will use it to promote AH Weekly Update or my own fiction. Anyone else interested in starting a podcast should check out this article.

(Note: Sorry I didn’t link to all of the podcasts mentioned, but if you Google them you will find what you are looking for.)

Writing Update 11/3/12

I was hoping to write a piece on podcasting, but I decided to share some news about my writings:

  • I have just submitted a revised edition of “A Perfect Hell on Earth” to the Cruentus Libri Press anthology War is Hell. The new edition contains spelling and grammar corrections, along with some additions to the story. Those who read the first edition will still find the story the same, but the new edition is still a superior version in my humble opinion. You can still get a copy of the first edition in the alternate history edition of Jake’s Monthly.
  • I have begun my rewrite of Down in Dixie. The new story is tentatively titled Parallel Pete and follows Nick, a human with the ability to hop across timelines without the help of machines. While working for the secretive Gordian Institute, he is framed for murder and all the evidence points to someone with the same abilities as Nick. The new novel will feature characters and settings from the Down in Dixie, but will be an entirely different story. This is going to be an ongoing project because I still have some short fiction to write, for example…
  • I want to submit something to the Flying Elephant Short Story contest. I am thinking about a dark fantasy story. Set in the aftermath to a war in heaven, a father tries to save his family…even if it means dooming countless generations. I really like the ideas banging around in my head.
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