If anyone is still following this page, my apologies for the long silence.  Allow me to explain:

My last post was on 10/26/2011, letting everyone know that the book had been cancelled by Twisted Library Press.  TLP has pretty much cratered since then; everything was cancelled, not just us.

Two days after that last post, I went to get my very first flu shot.  Two days after that, I was in the emergency room.  I had developed weakness in my hands and feet that advanced to the point that I could no longer walk.  I was admitted to the ICU and diagnosed  with Guillain-Barre Syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder that sometimes follows a flu shot or other vaccination.  The primary symptom is paralysis progressing inward from the extremities.  Mine progressed quickly.  Within a few days, I could no longer move anything below my chin, and had to be placed on a ventilator and a feeding tube because I could no longer breathe or eat.  I was basically a head in a jar, unable to move or speak, for a number of weeks.

Eventually the paralysis began to recede, and I proceeded with the long and difficult process of learning to move, walk, eat and drink again.  You don't think about how complicated standing up is until you have to learn to do it again.  Fortunately I had the help of a wonderful physical therapist who kept me from giving up when it got hard.

After I was finally well enough to leave the rehabilitation hospital (walking, but on a walker), a routine check-up with the pulmonologist six days later revealed that my lungs were full of blood clots.  The medical term is pulmonary embolism, which is life-threatening.  This probably happened because I was unable to move for so long, which can cause clots to form.  I was sent back to the hospital immediately so that could be treated.  Fortunately, that only took a few days to get started; unfortunately it meant that I would be on blood-thinning medication (rat poison) for the next six months.

I continued to go to outpatient physical therapy to try to get back to normal with my walking and balance.  By Valentine's Day I was able to walk without a walker, although not as quickly or as gracefully as most people.  My muscles had atrophied while I was in the hospital; I had lost 50-60 pounds withering away while I was paralyzed.  The good folks at the rehab hospital discharged me from therapy and wished me well.

Then, in March, my uncle died and my mother had a stroke.  She had to be flown to a hospital in another state.  Eventually she was released to rehab as well -- the same rehab where she had recently come to visit me as a patient.  They were shocked that we were back, but took care of her, and after a few weeks she was released as well.  Eventually she was almost 100% recovered.

My wife and I moved in with her temporarily to care for her.  Four days after we got her home, I got up in the middle of the night to let the dog out, tripped, and broke my ankle in 6+ places.  It had to be surgically reconstructed and is now full of plates, screws, wires, pins, and bone grafts.  The orthopedist said I would have to be off my feet for at least three months.  So, after all that work, I was back in a wheelchair.  I did not have the strength or balance to manage crutches.

That was in April.  About 14 weeks later I was allowed to put weight on my foot again.  I can get around for short distances on a walker, although not without pain.  I am once again in outpatient physical therapy to try to regain the function in my ankle.  Next week I have more surgery to remove some of the screws.

So, that's where I've been.  Hopefully you will understand that the anthology hasn't been my first priority.  I do, however, have a few ways in mind to get it published.  I may not be able to pay the promised one cent per word, but we'll deal with that when the time comes.  I will keep you updated as information becomes available, but I don't know when that will be.  Anyone who wants to withdraw a story can do so by writing me at the submissions address.

As a self-employed writer, I had no health insurance.  The health care professionals who treated me generally did so without any guarantee of payment, but never gave less than their best.  As a result, I am now hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.  If anyone is in a position to help, I have set up a donation page at Give Forward (just click to go there).  I understand that times are tough all over.  The page also allows you to give hugs, which are free.  I could use a hug.

If you know of any other people or organizations who might be interested in helping, please  consider giving them the address, or sharing it through your various social networks.  Feel free to use me as an example of the plight of the uninsured.  I ended up here by doing something that was supposed to decrease my burden on the health care industry; ironically enough, I got a flu shot because I "couldn't afford to get sick."  No matter how careful you are, serious illness can hit you out of nowhere.

The address is:  http://www.giveforward.com/supportmichael

Again, my apologies for all the delays on the antho.  It's a labor of love, and I know how hard everyone worked on submissions that aren't useful anywhere else.  I'll keep at it.

Questions or comments always welcome.  I hope that everyone else has had an easier few months than I have.

It is my sad duty to announce that publication of BETA CITY has been  cancelled by the publisher.  All rights in all works submitted have been returned to the authors.

That said, I'm not entirely ready to give up the ghost, and if the authors are willing to wait, I will try to find another publisher for us.  News to follow as it comes.

Got some requests for an update.

I'm working on the third (and hopefully final) draft of the screenplay now.  I'm also waiting to hear back on my request to up the word count in the final product.  I also have some invitees whose status I need to clarify.  It may be a month before I have those issues worked out, but I should be able to move quickly from there.

As always, feel free to send me emails asking for information or just to yell at me for being slow.  My continuing apologies for the frustrating delays.  But I am determined to do this right instead of just getting it done.
Hello everyone, and I apologize for the lack of updates.  At this point, everyone should have received some kind of first-round response -- either a rejection, or a hold request.  If you have not received either of these PLEASE LET ME KNOW  AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, because it means I have mis-filed your submission somewhere.

I was amazed and gratified by the skill and creativity of the submissions, including the ones I had to let go.  Thanks again to everyone who submitted.

I don't know exactly when the next (and final) cut will happen, but hopefully it will be soon.  As always, feel free to write or comment if you get tired of waiting.
Folks, I am sorry for being not-so-communicative.  We are more or less in the same holding pattern as before.  I am waiting on a couple of things, and I realize that many of you are in turn waiting on me.  The interconnectedness of this book keeps us from going forward until every element is in place.

I can tell you that I have read many amazing submissions.  This call for subs brought in a lot from two groups, neither of whom submitted much to LIMINALITY:  (1) Academics (English professors, master's degree candidates, etc.) and (2) young first-time writers.  No idea why -- feel free to discuss amongst yourselves.

I will continue to update you as regularly as possible.  I am on the downhill side of the screenplay assignment.  After it's complete, there should be some breathing room between my handing in the first draft and the notes coming back.  So there is real hope for serious progress early next month.

Apologies as always.  Bear with me, everybody! 




Okay, I am making this post on April 1, but this is NOT an April Fools joke.

Regarding responding to all of your wonderful submissions:  I'm just not where I wanted to be on this.  My goal was to have a 1st round of rejections and requests to hold by the first.  We're just not there.

The primary reason is that I have been hired by a movie studio to script a feature film.  The project has been in development for a while and is basically waiting for the script to move forward.  This means I have to work both quickly and well.

This is a huge deal for me -- potentially life-changing -- and so there's just no question that I have to put it first for now.  That said, BETA CITY is my baby, and it's going to be awesome, and no amount of success elsewhere will pull me away from it.

So, I must ask for your continued patience.  Look for another update in about a week.

We're getting close to the deadline, folks!  If you want to write something for the antho but aren't going to get done in time, send me an e-mail and we  will discuss it!  I'll work with you.

Getting some great submissions at the last minute.  I hope to see more tonight and tomorrow!
New submission tallies:

Section 1:  4
Section 2:  5
Section 3:  7
Section 4:  11
Section 5:  3
Section 6:  0 

So, some increase in submissions as the deadline approaches.  I wouldn't be a surprised by a big surge at the end.  Since there's no way anyone had a story for this one in the trunk, all of these are new, and no doubt many are still being edited (or written).

As you can see, competition is fiercest in the middle, with 3 &4 receiving the most.  Surprisingly many for Section 1, and surprisingly few  for Section 5 (although a number of the 4s bleed into 5).  Not surprised that no one is trying to write a finale, of course.  I thought someone might make an attempt, but of course some elements of the finale will have to be editorially assigned.

Just over a week to go... let's get those stories in!  If you're working on this, or want to, and need more time -- please send me an e-mail.
Heroes & Villains:  New entries added for Samcrow and The Professionals.

New submission tallies:

Section 1:  1  
Section 2:  5
Section 3:  7
Section 4:  6
Section 5:  3
Section 6:  0 

I've given up on the parentheticals, as I can no longer keep track of them all, much less where they are intended to land.  Suffice it to say there are at least 15-20 submissions I've been queried about and discussed, and  which I expect to be submitted eventually.  Plus who knows how many of you are out there hanging onto your stories until the last minute.

Speaking of which, if you've already submitted and I add something (as I did today) to the site afterward that you want to use, you can revise and resubmit.  Just reply to the confirmation e-mail I sentand attach your new version.

I'm seeing some great stories in the inbox!  I have recently confirmed that we are going to have some really cool pro "guest stars" contributing to the book, and a great cover artist whose work I have admired for years.  Trust me, folks -- it's gonna be great!
So, time for some updates.  First of all, here is a new submission tally:

Section 1:  1  (3)
Section 2:  3  (1)
Section 3:  4  (0)
Section 4:  3  (2)
Section 5:  0  (3)
Section 6:  0  (1)
TOTAL SUBS:  11 (10)

So, a few submissions over the holidays, and several more queries, which means more are coming.  Here are a few thoughts on submissions received so far:

Section 1:  This is your best chance to submit a story that isn't really about the invasion.

Sections 2, 3, 4:  The lines get fuzzed here a lot, and between sections 4 and 5, which is inevitable to some extent.  Making your story great comes first, but here are a few tidbits on the differences I'd like to see in the sections.

Section 2 is about the air war.  At this point, the aliens are still trying to establish a beachhead.  Super-folk and conventional forces are fighting the invaders in the air and still believe they can repulse the aliens before they land.  

Section 3 is about the ground war.  Here the aliens are still fighting their way into the city.  They are being resisted by, again, both supers and conventional forces (Ohio National Guard, etc.).  I'm seeing several section 3 stories where the fighting is all over and the aliens already have control of the city.  That really belongs in section 4.  During section 3, control of the city has not yet been ceded to  the aliens.  Things like work camps and pit excavation crews belong in section 4.  Of course, it's a fluid situation, and there may be sections of the city that are already held by the invaders in section 3.  But the general guideline is that the fight is still going on.

Section 4 is about isolated solo or small-group resistance.  This is in contrast to section 5, which is about organized resistance.  Think of Star Wars.  In the first half, it's just Luke and Obi-Wan and Han and Chewie and Leia against all the bad guys.  In the second half, the organized Rebellion shows up.  Section 4 is the darkest hour for the city; the army and the government have collapsed, and anyone working against the aliens should feel very alone.  Small groups are okay, but if you want to include city-wide resistance networks, think about going for section 5 instead.

If you want to try for sections 2 or 3, think about giving me some solid action.  I know the guidelines say not to just focus on aliens vs. heroes, but, y'know, a few explosions here and there are good too.  Even if you don't have the action "onscreen," the difference between sections 2 and 3 is how the war is going.  So consider letting us know what's going on, in the background if nothing else.

And, finally, if we've discussed your story individually, whatever we've agreed upon there supercedes any general guidelines I post in the blog.  Feel free to query if confused.