This year marks 3 years since our move to Calgary, Alberta. In that time I have been gainfully employed by CDI college and (now) Janus Academy. I currently teach autistic youth the grade 7-9 Alberta curriculum. It has been both a challenging and rewarding return to education. Publishing news has been quiet. Other than getting "A Pattern in the Heavens" published, I have been relatively quiet in terms of pushing short stories. Machinia's promotion blitz (ha ha) was limited by COVID and since the restrictions have been lifted I have not had time in any significant way to promote the novel. My current aim is to build up this website and my Facebook site. A brief attempt at advertising did not yield positive results. I reached out to marketers who all had good ideas, many of which left me wondering what my publisher was doing with my work. For those who aspire to write I applaud you and encourage a deep delve into the realm of marketing avenues. Despite excellent reviews and a wonderful write up in my (former) city's local newspaper, sales barely moved. As writing is a business, all writers need to have a grounding in the fundamentals before pursuing the craft.
I am writing this on the couch of my new home in Calgary, Alberta. After months of debate my wife and I sold our house in Hamilton, loaded our household items on a moving truck and loaded ourselves our son and our cat into a Toyota minivan and headed west. Best decision ever. New province, new landscape, new opportunities. There came a point in the COVID landscape where staying put was not an option. Work was always a challenge and our bills kept getting bigger. And while we still have bills to pay, a mortgage is no longer one of them. The Machinia front has been quiet, save for a terrific article in the Hamilton Spectator by Jeff Mahoney. With the move and new job I have not been devoting much if any time to the novel but have a few new sales here in Calgary. The short story pursuit is a challenge though one new online mag picked one of my stories for further review so hopefully it will make it to the final round. My spot at Hamilton's ComicCon is still reserved for this October so a visit to see friends and family will be linked to that event. One a positive note Machinia is available online essentially everywhere. If you've read the novel shoot me a review. Have a cool summer!
It has been a few months since my last posting. In that time I confirmed that Machinia is now distributed online across the USA, and many parts of Canada. Through Amazon and other outlets it is also available around the world so, from that perspective, our global reach is complete! Promotion is always the challenge and in that regard the process continues to be a work in progress. Jeff Mahoney of The Hamilton Spectator, our local newspaper in Hamilton, Ontario has expressed interest in interviewing me and my publisher, Lacey Bakker of Pandamonium Publishing House. Pandamonium will be hitting the road and quite literally as Lacey intends to travel across Canada and the US in a specially equipped RV purposely outfitted as a mobile office and bookstore. She will be stopping at bookstores, promoting the brand and its authors (including me!). On the writing front, efforts to sell a short story continue to meet challenges, which every writer understands as rejection. On the plus side I do get the occasional editing critique and requests for new submissions. For any aspiring writer, such offers are golden crumbs. Book #2 is complete and in its initial editing stages before I submit to my publisher for review. It is not a sequel to Machinia since that novel was never written with a sequel in mind. I will reveal that it tells the tale of a space soldier who embarks on scouting expedition to a far off world of wonder in an effort to escape the growing sprawl of interplanetary existence. Out on the galactic "frontier" he must survive by his wits and devotion to duty. But the settlers he encounters challenge that focus, moving him to act in new ways he never thought possible. I will give further details about that novel, the short story quest, and of course Machinia, in future posts.
Though we are still traversing the final length of 2020, the new year will begin with Machinia being chosen as my publisher's kickoff to Pandamonium's International Book Club 2021. I am both humbled and honoured with the choice. In other news Boston Robotics just previewed the advances to their robotic design with an entertaining dance video featuring three of their advanced bots. I am pasting the link to the video featured on the December 30, 2020 Global News article by Josh K. Elliot: https://globalnews.ca/news/7547565/dancing-robots-do-you-love-me-video/ I continually post news in the robotics and artificial intelligence field on my Machinia group page on Facebook. Those of you with a Facebook account are welcome to join and comment on the posts. I am opening the group page to outside posts as long as they are in harmony with the theme of the group and promote the novel. In addition to this website and Facebook I also have a Twitter account: @MoscarellaPaul and an Instagram account PaulMoscarella. I do contribute reviews to Goodreads and participate on Reddit when I can. Currently I have 13 short stories submitted to various publications and will be editing my second completed novel in the new year. I will share details about the story at some point in the new year. ** For those of you who would like a preview of the novel please use the Amazon Kindle link to Machinia and use the "Look Inside" feature.**
Machinia is now available trough many major and independent bookstores. However, spreading the word is an ongoing process especially in this era of COVID limitations. On the plus side Mike Glyer of the Hugo award winning science fiction website File 770 graciously posted a guest blog of mine entitled "Data Determines Destiny". I will attach the link at the end of this post. In the piece I look at two aspects of Machinia: the ongoing expansion of big data and the inevitable rise of robots. Given that the novel was a thirty year edit many of the ideas that were highly speculative in the 90's are now becoming more mainstream. Artificial intelligence is maneuvering its way into our daily lives and robot capabilities are expanding to include services that were once only possible by human beings. In effect we are building the foundation of Machinia's robot empire with every advance by Boston Dynamics, Panasonic, Microsoft, Google, and Apple. It won't be too long before a humanoid robot becomes something akin to a home computer or microwave oven. Exotic at first, commonplace as time goes on. And with Musk shooting his private rockets into the sky what is truly exotic anymore? I wouldn't be surprised if he or one of his science fiction obsessed wealthy friends has the first home-friendly robot ready for mass production in a year or two from now. By the time our protagonist sets foot in Machinia it is 2156. I wondered if a fully established robot society in the 22nd century was a little extreme. Now I see that my timing was fairly accurate.
"Data Determines Destiny" file770.com/data-determines-destiny-guest-post-by-paul-a-moscarella/?fbclid=IwAR3spWG-aHAixRu7l_NsC2nL5JhhB63A5sXGyEqTjDdq4EeO2eG2O4UtoGY
This week I decided to get educated (and got educated) on a few things that have been on my radar but never dived into. For instance the "X" in Xmas actually is the Greek symbol for Christ. Next, I read an in-depth article on the whole QAnon conspiracy adherents and have a (much) better understanding of why American politics have spiralled out of control. Finally, I saw a term used in some of the Reddit groups I belong to called "handwavium" which is essentially what science fiction writers use when they need to invent a technology that helps move the plot but is not based on solid scientific principles (warp drive, anti-gravity, etc). As a reader of the genre there is certainly a lot of this handwavium though certain writers make efforts to keep it at a minimum, Robinson and Bova being two that immediately come to mind. Without question the greatest use of this is in the movies where the essential laws of physics are constantly violated. Handwavium in a Star Wars or Marvel film is never-ending! As a writer I try to chart a middle path, using a mix of creation but keeping within my subjective idea of reason. In Machinia we have a sentient race of robots that are the result of an AI revolution of self awareness. The novel takes place in 2156. While the robots of today are extraordinary in their advances, the great breakthrough in AI self awareness is still open for debate with some experts in the field believing it will never happen, or at least not for many centuries. As.a story I felt making the advent of robot self-awareness coincide with a time frame so far in the future would detach the story from all things contemporary. From an artistic POV I did not wish to do that.
My novel Machinia began life in the 80's and was finished in the 90's. From that point it was shopped and edited for thirty years until finally being selected by Pandamonium Publishing House in Southern Ontario, Canada. Many things changed over the decades: publishing houses merged or went out of business, submissions to publishers/agents went from strictly snail mail to electronic only. As a writer, my ability to send out material became a smoother process thanks to the speed of these transformations. Where I once had to wait months for a reply to a submission, I was now able to hear back within a matter of weeks. The sweet acceptance of a contract made me believe that the long awaited moment in the sun had arrived. I couldn't wait to participate in book signings, art crawls, comic-cons and all the events associated with publication! All of that got shut down and postponed indefinitely into some vague future called "TBD 2021". What that means is that most of the effort to get Machinia seen by the reading public has been online, a vast sea of endless wilderness. Granted, positive reviews have been encouraging and heartwarming. But without my physical book sitting face forward on a bookstore's shelf getting it "seen" is an ongoing effort. So I promote with this site, Facebook, LinkedIn, my publisher's website, Amazon and Barnes & Noble and many online independent book stores.. But to me these are the "Also available at..." choices. Like my work (I currently teach for Brant Skills Centre in Brantford) everything has become channeled through the Internet, a peculiar experience in which the tactile world of direct interaction is now replaced with a screen and speakers. I make do (as we all must) with the technology utilizing its features as a temporary solution to the restrictions placed upon me by COVID. And while it has shown to be exceptional in certain ways it can only go so far. I look forward to "TBD 2021" when I can finally sit at a table in a bookstore with a stack of books and a pen, signing books and talking to people without needing microprocessors and telecommunication infrastructure to do so. PM-12/15/2020
(I originally posted this on my Facebook Machinia group page)
In the midst of this challenging year there are signs of optimism. Rapid vaccine development for the COVID disease that has ravaged the world must be lauded as a profound achievement. An equally big piece of news was the successful launch of SpaceX' Starship prototype, SN8. While the news focussed on its fiery landing it was the flight that was the big news. A human passenger ship that will eventually make routine flights to the Moon, Mars, and Jupiter is well underway by Elon Musk and the motivated engineers of SpaceX. These are people who see the extraordinary challenge of space travel and embrace it. A lesson to all of us that literally or figuratively, reaching for the stars is part of the human condition.
After months of false starts my author's website is finally up. It was something that I had debated getting off the ground since I began promoting Machinia (my debut novel) on Facebook. But, unlike Facebook, I needed to research the steps required to actually create a dedicated website. Fortunately, there were many options and my ultimate choice was to secure my domain with Godaddy and create my website through Weebly. I cannot say this was done with thought and care so much as through fast Google searches and skimmed reviews of what other authors recommended. So here it is, a platform that will be used to highlight events related to my publications. To date I have a novel, published by Pandamonium Publishing house.Thanks to COVID-19, many of the events scheduled to highlight the release of the novel were cancelled. Adding to my frustration our local Canadian bookstore, Indigo, won't carry the paper copies of the book unless I do an in-store signing. They won't allow in-store signings due to COVID restrictions. When challenged with this fact they acknowledged the paradox and left it unresolved. Getting them to stock my book online is another challenge that will hopefully be fixed before 2021. But, on the bright side the reviews have been good and a YouTube event hosted by Pandamonium Publishing was a big success. I will post a link to the video when it is ready. Considering how long it took to finally get Machinia published these are good problems to have. But to you writers who aspire to greatness and see publication as the finish line understand that it is but a stop on a long journey. Perhaps we can travel this land together.
Paul A. Moscarella is a writer of science fiction. He is also a teacher with twenty years of experience working in both private and public school systems. Subjects include English, Science, ESL, Special Education, and Co-op. He loves cars as much as writing and he and his son are restoring a classic 1974 Beetle. Paul has been married for over fifteen years. Machinia is dedicated to his wife, Nadia.