Scott M. Sandridge

A Work in Progress

My Time at Context 23 (Before Day 1)

Well, context 23 has come and gone, and I have a fun yarn to spin…or something like that.
I’ll also be counting my total number of Homer Simpson moments, starting with:
When the paneling schedule was first made a few weeks back, we were told that whoever’s name is first in the panel block would be moderator. Normally, when I’m moderator, I like to get myself prepared for it. Unfortunately, some time between that e-mail and Convention time, I forgot about that part of the message. Thus, I was completely unprepared.
Homer Simpson Moments: 1
I also, for some reason, thought my first panel on Friday was at 4:30, so when I started my new dayjob two days before con time, I fired Nick Winks off an e-mail to tell him I might be late since I have to rush directly from work at 3:30. He said that’s okay, but I probably shouldn’t worry since the first panels don’t start until 5: 30.
Homer Simpson Moments: 2 (and I wasn’t even even at the convention yet).

August 31, 2010 Posted by | Writerly Updates | Leave a comment

SpecMusicMuse Review: Elis—Griefshire

Sabine Dünser died shortly after laying the vocal tracks of this very album, which she called her “baby.” Griefshire is a concept album by Elis that tells the tragic story of two brothers on a spiritual quest that leads one of them to become a fanatic, its combination of Goth Metal sound and classical instruments enhances the emotional impact of the tale. Mostly in English, two of the songs are in German, and, alas, my German is too rusty to understand the entirety of those two songs except in terms of mood and feeling.

The best songs are “Show Me the Way,” “Brothers,” “Phoenix from the Ashes,” and “How Long,” but it is obviously an album that should be listened to in its entirety from beginning to end. Not only are the lyrics excellent, but the story as a whole as well, even if you can’t fully understand the two songs done in German lyrics.

Just one of many CDs that, when listened to, suggests a spiritual awakening is occurring in the realm of music and art not seen in a long time, especially in Metal. Perhaps the genre is maturing like many of its predecessors had, and this maturing spirituality is part of the natural artistic process? Or perhaps it’s just a “European” thing? Either way we in America can learn much from the music genres emerging overseas.

And so for this review, I will leave a couple lines of hope from their song, “Phoenix from the Ashes”:

“Now that I have found a way,
To salvation, I know I will be,
So much stronger than before,
Nothing will ever break me.”

Format: Audio CD
Release Date: Jan. 16, 2007
Label: Napalm
List Price: $16.98
UPC: 69372350272

August 30, 2010 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SMM Classic: Midnight Syndicate – The Dead Matter: Cemetery Gates

(Oct. 10, 2008)

Spooky dark and brooding, just the kind of music you want to hear while watching a horror movie, and a great set of songs to play while reading your favorite horror novel or writing your own chilling tale. Midnight Syndicate shows off their musical genius with The Dead Matter – Cemetery Gates. While not a direct soundtrack to The Dead Matter movie, the CD is more of a companion piece for it. Included are three bonus tracks, one of which is the theme to the movie. The organ work that starts off the first song, “Cathedral Ruins,” grabs your attention and lures you in, and each song traps you inside a world of spine-tingling fear. All the songs are instrumental, no lyrics of any kind, yet the composition of the notes unfolds like chapters in a novel that leads to a chilling climax. It’s a great CD to have for Halloween (or any other time you want to be scared).

The Dead Matter – Cemetery Gates
Artist: Midnight Syndicate
Release Date:
Format: Audio CD
Label: Linfaldia Records
List Price: $14.00
UPC: 718122024421

August 23, 2010 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Morpheus Tales: Dark Sorcery Special Issue

“Morpheus Tales Publishing proudly presents the Dark Sorcery Special Issue, edited by Tommy B. Smith. “An amazing issue, beautifully illustrated, a perfect combination of stories.” Stanley Riiks A truly dark and magical special issue from the UK’s hottest and most controversial genre fiction publisher. The Morpheus Tales Dark Sorcery Special Issue is available in three great formats, the Compact A5 Collector’s Edition, the Large Format A4 Collector’s Edition, and a downloadable ebook version*. All editions feature the same great artwork and fiction you’ve come to expect from Morpheus Tales.”

Oh, and my story, “Magic Coin,” is in the issue as well. 😉


*also available at the above links.

August 22, 2010 Posted by | Writerly Updates | , , , , , | Leave a comment

SpecMusicMuse: Review of Destini Beard w/ Midnight Syndicate – The Dark Masquerade

First impression: wow.

The Dark Masquerade is a musical and lyrical nightmare come true for fans of Gothic Horror. Haunting melodic sound with an angelically dark voice (Destini Beard) turns this CD into a lethal yet beautiful combination that’s guaranteed to keep you up at night staring fearfully at shadows, while also yearning for said shadows.

Whether it’s the vampiric melody, “Awaken,” the sad “Farewell Forever,” or the esoterically meaningful “Dark Masquerade,” just figuring out which of the six masterful songs comprising The Dark Masquerade to be a favorite will become an undertaking in and of itself. For me, “Internal Struggle,” is the best of the six–it’s the Gemini in me, what can I say?

This is a CD that I highly recommend.

Best listened to while reading: anything from Poe or Lovecraft, some Stephen King and Dean Koontz.

But, if you choose not to read anything while listening, turn the lights off and don’t mind the glowing red eyes in the room….

August 20, 2010 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

SMM Classic: Review of The Plot to Save Socrates + Interview w/Paul Levinson

(April 1, 2007)

The Plot to Save Socrates by Paul Levinson

An ancient manuscript is found that hints at a time traveler from the future going back in time to save the great philosopher, Socrates, from his death at the hands of the democratic Athenian government. When Thomas O’Leary shows his student, Sierra Waters, the manuscript, she finds herself in a time-traveling adventure in search of Socrates’s mysterious savior – who could be anyone from any time, even her. Of course, when historical figures like the warrior-philosopher, Alcibiades and the inventor, Heron of Alexandria, get involved, the threat of a time paradox becomes more and more dire.
Paul Levinson handles a complicated plot and a multitude of characters in a manner that can only be described as masterful. Certainly not something the average writer would even wish to attempt. And to top it off, he leaves you with a great tale both entertaining and meaningful. It also comes complete with discussion group questions for the philosopher in every reader.
I highly recommend this book, and I won’t be surprised if it wins several awards.

Best to read while listening to: anything from Classical to Gaelic to Electronica/Industrial.

Publisher: TOR
Price: $14.95
Trade Paperback
ISBN-13: 978-0-765-31197-9
ISBN-10: 0-765-31197-6
Genre: Science Fiction

(April 8, 2007)

Interview With Paul Levinson

I had the honor of interviewing Paul Levinson, author of The Plot to Save Socrates, President of theScience Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA)from 1998-2001, and who was a guest on my favorite show, The O’Reilly Factor. So yeah. Stoked? Psyched? Words can’t even describe it.

How did you come up with a time-travelling tale about Socrates?

I’ve been bothered about why Socrates didn’t take Crito up on his escape offer since I first read the Crito in a freshman philosophy class at the City College of New York in 1963. As soon as I began writing and publishing science fiction in the early 1990s, I knew I wanted to write a time travel story in which someone went back in time to try and save Socrates. (Incidentally, I had this idea well before Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure – in fact, I’ve yet to see the movie. I really should.) Since time travel provokes profound philosophic paradoxes (more on this below), it seemed natural to me write a time travel story about a philosopher.

What struck me most about the novel was the whole Free Will vs. Fate conflict that seemed to be going on in it. Was that idea intentional?

Yes. One of the prime paradoxes about travel to the future is that, if you see someone wearing a red shirt tomorrow, for example, does that mean the person has no choice but to wear that shirt? The truth is, if time travel existed, none of us would have any real control over our lives, because we’d be locked into everything the time traveler sees.

So in The Plot to Save Socrates, the problem the characters have to solve is: how can they know if what they are doing is the result of their free will, or of a pre-ordained fate. And, of course, it’s very hard to know this, certainly hard to prove what’s really going on … and that, to me, was a big part of the fun of writing this novel.

Sierra Waters is a very interesting character. She seems to be in conflict against her own interests at times.

Yes, because Sierra is torn in many ways (like the piece of paper she tears up in the very first paragraph of the novel). First, affection for and then guilt over Max. Love of some kind for Thomas. Passionate, romantic love for Alcibiades. Love of history, and getting things right. So she is in deep conflict, because she knows she can’t have all of these things. About the most clear-cut thrill for her, historically, is Plato’s life. And, of course, we find out at the end that her guilt about Thomas when she was with Alcibiades was … ironic, to say the least.

What type of music do you think is best to listen to while reading and/or writing time-travel stories?

I don’t listen to music while reading or writing – I love music too much, so it’s way too distracting for me. But to see what music I love, and listen to all the time, whenever I can (except when I’m reading or writing), just look at the Music part of my Profile page here on MySpace.

How much of an advantage can podcasts give writers?

Podcasts are wonderful if you have the voice and technical savvy to do them. I love them. They’ve really helped my book sales. You’re talking to your readers – what more can you ask for? So I really recommend doing them to any writer who can.

What other things is your billiant madness cooking up in the near future?

Well, thanks – I’m definitely mad, that’s for sure…I’m writing the sequel to The Plot to Save Socrates right now. When that’s done, I’ll be writing another Phil D’Amato novel (he appeared in my previous novels, The Silk Code, The Consciousness Plague, and The Pixel Eye). And then maybe a sequel to Borrowed Tides.

I now have four podcasts – I may add one or two more. I’ve also greatly expanded my blogging from just MySpace to now and – and I’ll be doing more of that.

I’ve been writing 2-3 television reviews per week – of 24, Rome, andLost – and I’ll be reviewing The Sopranos when it resumes (and concludes) next month.

August 16, 2010 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

SpecMusicMuse: Review of The Dead Matter

B-list horror films are often hit or miss. The Dead Matter, from Midnight Syndicate Films, is a bit of both.

From sinister vampires and zombies to ancient evil relics, all the old horror film clichés are here, including a guilt-ridden protagonist with a deceased brother. While the plot could’ve been better, I’ve actually seen worse plots in blockbuster films. And Jason Carter’s acting became one of the saving graces to this film (that, and the zombie humor).

But Jason Carter aside, the acting for most of the cast was mediocre. However, for a low budget film, the special effects were good, minus one mistake: a cut on the left cheek appears on the right cheek in the next scene then disappears altogether.

The film’s musical score, however, was awesome. It was exactly the quality and style you’d expect from Midnight Syndicate.

Overall, the film could have been better, but it’s nowhere near the worst movie I’ve seen (Werewolf still ranks as the worst movie ever).

August 13, 2010 Posted by | SpecMusicMuse | Leave a comment

Writerly Update 8/10/10

Yes, I know it’s been a while. what can I say? I needed a vacation from blogging.

Well, anyhow. Dayjob hunt is still dismal. I’ve now been unemployed for almost 7 months.

But, on the bright side, my writing is still chugging along.

I’ll be at Context here in Columbus, Ohio, on Aug. 28-30. So be there, or I’ll sick zombie wererabbits on you.

Also, another of my stories will be appearing in an upcoming anthology around the end of this month. So stay tuned for the big shameless plug that’s coming.

Also, I’ll be starting the production of the Emperor of Vangaard podcast novel on Sept. 1. And will also be restarting my A Work in Progress podcast, too.

Oh, and one more thing. Beginning this Friday, SpecMusicMuse relaunches on this here blog, with all new material each Friday plus a reprint of the older stuff from the prior blog and column each Monday.

That’s all for now. Back to job hunting….

August 10, 2010 Posted by | Writerly Updates | Leave a comment