Incognolio Has Launched!

I’m beyond thrilled to announce that my novel, Incognolio, has launched and is now available as a paperback and eBook. For four years I poured my heart, soul, wit, and considerable bile into this book and I can assure you that it is unlike any novel you’ve ever read. For the launch, the eBook is priced at 99 cents and is free to those enrolled in Kindle Unlimited.

So far, Incognolio has received exclusively 5-star reviews at Amazon & Goodreads! I’m also giving away five copies of the paperback in a Goodreads giveaway running through August 18th.

I call Incognolio a psychological thriller. But it’s also a comic novel with elements of mystery, fantasy, and science fiction. Most importantly, it’s a real page-turner! And as Professor Solomon Von Pizzle of the Ludicrous Review observed: “Incognolio exudes so much pathos, it’s pathological!”

Special thanks to Karl Monger, Rebecca Faith, and Sione Aeschliman for their invaluable assistance in editing my manuscript and bringing the story to fruition. Sione understood the novel way better than I did myself—having written most of it in something of a trance—and enabled me to do a final rewrite and to, at long last, craft a satisfying ending.

I also want to thank my son Ollie who served as my creative consultant, contributing some inspired ideas, rejecting my duds, and helping me to generate a long list of unusual character names, including: Yiddle, Mr. & Mrs. Yankerhausen, Floreska, Greazly, J.R. Cosmipolitano, Quodon, and the inimitable Dr. Schmendrick.


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INCOGNOLIO Pre-Orders Go Live!

Incognolio will be released by Janx Press as a paperback and eBook on August 9th. You can pre-order the eBook now for a special price of 99 cents at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Google Play. 

Here is an excellent 5-star review from Readers’ Favorite:

Entering the pages of Michael Sussman’s inexplicable – category-wise – brilliantly-executed experimental novel, Incognolio is less like walking through a dream than it is like mentally traversing the ingenious daydreaming path of a highly imaginative, psychologically aware writer who is creating an inner epic from the images produced by streams of self-conscious meditation. Yes, it is that immediate. The book itself is crazy; crazy cool. Need an example? ‘“Because I possess the Faloosh,” she replies, employing what is in all likelihood another of my made-up words. “It enables me to intuit the entire backstory of any novel in which I appear as a character.”’ Any attempt to describe the plot line of this book would be arbitrary at best. Still, it is a miracle of inspired effort that Sussman creates such a marvelous coherency to his story – as fractured, unstable, and tenuous as it is. And there is humor. Lots of funny stuff delivered with the offhand manner of a master comic’s best throw-away lines.

Incognolio is intelligent and wry, and securely at home in the surreal insecurity of the self-reflective mind. Dreams do not make good books. Insanity, however, does. Especially the insanity of a writer like Michael Sussman, who seemingly retains a most convivial relationship with the madness of the normal mind. Because that is what Mr. Sussman makes the reader feel: that all those sudden reality shifts, those changes of incidental characters, those displacements of locale and occupation – all are nothing more than the powerful experiences of one who pays attention to this little thing called life. But it is the author’s genuine creative skills that make his through-the-looking-glass words so entangled and enticing, and makes of his wonderful experiment such a grand success. 

—Joel R. Dennstedt, Readers’ Favorite

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Launching 30-Day Kindle Scout Campaign!

Unravel the mystery of Incognolio or go mad!


My novel, INCOGNOLIO, was accepted for the Kindle Scout contest and I’m launching a 30-day campaign as of today. Kindle Scout is reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books.

Here’s how it works:
Readers browse book campaigns by authors and nominate books that they would like to see published by Kindle Press. Amazon takes note of which books readers want and awards contracts accordingly.

What I need from you:
Join Kindle Scout through your Amazon account and nominate INCOGNOLIO. It will take just a couple of minutes! 

What I will get: 
A boost toward winning a publishing contract and Amazon promotion!

What you will get:
You will receive a free copy of any book that you nominate that receives a contract, including mine if I’m successful. You can also read the first several chapters of my novel right now!

Here’s my blurb:

Adrift in the dreamlike narrative of his own novel, Muldoon traverses identities, planes of reality, and the dark recesses of his psyche in an effort to grasp the enigmatic Incognolio. Is he writing a story in which his stillborn twin sister has come to life, or is he the one who died at birth and it’s his sister who’s writing the novel? Guided only by the whims and dictates of his subconscious mind, Muldoon must finally face his demons and write his way to freedom or succumb to madness.



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Cover Reveal for INCOGNOLIO

I could not be more pleased with this newly minted cover for my novel, INCOGNOLO. It was created by Menchu, a fabulous graphic designer from Venezuela. She was the winning finalist of a book cover contest I ran last week at 99Designs, and she captured the air of mystery and intrigue that I was looking for. The novel has just been accepted by Kindle Scout for inclusion in their reader-powered contest to win a publishing contract. The launch date for my campaign is March 31st, the day after tomorrow!



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Atheneum to Publish My New Picture Book: Duckworth, the Difficult Child

I haven’t posted for quite some time, as I’ve been hard at work on a novel. But I’m back with three exciting announcements:

La Gran Cadena by Júlia Sardà

The story, my homage to Florence Parry Heide’s The Shrinking of Treehorn, is about a boy with misguided parents who remain untroubled when he gets eaten by a snake.

This is my first picture book to be published since my debut—Otto Grows Down—was released by Sterling with illustrations by Scott Magoon.


Special thanks to Harold Underdown and Karl Monger—as well as Emma Ledbetter at Atheneum—for their expertise in editing the manuscript.




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Visionary Fiction Challenges Our Species to Evolve




(The original post of this article can be found at:

Human nature is not fixed. It has evolved over the course of millennia and is capable of further change. Is it overly grandiose to suggest that visionary fiction could help play a role in such a transformation?

Most likely, but I shall nevertheless make the case.

Visionary fiction overlaps with several better established genres, such as science fiction, fantasy, speculative, and inspirational fiction. What’s unique about visionary fiction is its focus on the expansion and evolution of the human mind, imagining new frontiers for the human spirit.

What’s the importance of visionary fiction in today’s world?

There is no denying that we live in an era of unprecedented change and extraordinary uncertainty about the future. It’s the Age of Crises. Population explosion, pollution, natural disasters, climate change, economic recession, scarcity of resources, terrorism, and ethnic wars all threaten to disrupt or end civilization as we know it.

Perhaps science and technology can help solve some of these dilemmas. But even the most astonishing technological breakthroughs will not save us if they are not accompanied by a transformation in how we think, act, and relate to each other.

Just as science fiction has furnished the inspiration for many technological advances, it’s conceivable that visionary fiction could help provide the inspiration for a new awakening of the human spirit.

For it is now evident that it’s the shortsighted, self-centered, greedy, and xenophobic aspects of human nature that have created our predicament. Only by evolving into a wiser, more generous, compassionate, and cooperative species can we hope to survive.

My novel, Crashing Eden, envisions a world in which humans are transformed by regaining the capacity to hear the primordial vibration of the universe, reestablishing Edenic consciousness. This may be pure fantasy, but unless we can manage to overcome our differences and think on a planetary scale, our future may well be bleak.


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My Son; My Muse

As a baby, my son was high maintenance. I stayed home with Ollie for the first couple of years and he always demanded my full attention.

At the time of his birth, I was preparing to record a CD of my own piano compositions. Ollie, however, had other plans for me. My job was to entertain him, and he made it clear that this did not include playing piano. The only time available to practice was during his naps, but I didn’t want to wake him.

So I canceled the hours I’d booked at the recording studio and shifted from playing music to writing fiction. Since it was a quiet activity, I could write during my son’s naps and in the evenings after he went to bed.

I wrote a comic mystery novel, titled Soup to Nuts, which I never managed to publish. But my writing continued to improve.

By the time Ollie was five, I’d read him hundreds of picture books. I didn’t care for most of them, and decided I could do better. So I began writing for children, and in 2009 my debut picture book—Otto Grows Down—was published by Sterling.

As Ollie aged, I started writing for older kids. He had an incredible imagination and became something of a writing partner. He supplied me with ideas and gave me invaluable feedback on my stories. He was even a good editor.

When Ollie was eleven, I began working on a young adult novel. Being precocious, he was already reading some YA novels himself. Ollie helped me construct the plot, develop characters, and refine the manuscript. The result, Crashing Eden, has been released by Solstice Publishing. I dedicated the book to Ollie. In truth, his name should accompany mine on the cover.

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Favorite Quotes on Writing

I like to collect quotations, especially about writing. Here are a few of my favorites:

“Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will.”

“Narrative is the human way of working through a chaotic and unforgiving world.”
     E.O. Wilson

“Always try to put the funniest word at the end of your sentence underpants.”
     Gene Weingarten

“Writing is a way of talking without being interrupted.”
     Jules Renard

“What’s so hard about the first sentence is that you’re stuck with it. Everything else is going to flow out of that sentence. And by the time you’ve laid down the first two sentences, your options are all gone.”
     Joan Didion

“A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us.”
     Franz Kafka

“Remember that writing is translation, and the opus to be translated is yourself.”
E.B. White

“It is not my intent as a writer necessarily to help young readers escape this world we live in so much as to show it as a place imbued with magical potential.”
     Tim Wynne-Jones

“He was listening to what I like to call the wisdom of the novel. Every true novelist listens for that suprapersonal wisdom, which explains why great novels are always a little more intelligent than their authors. Novelists who are more intelligent than their books should go into another line of work.”
     Milan Kundera

“Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
     T.S. Eliot

“Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.”
     E. L. Doctorow

“I try to leave out the parts that people skip.”
     Elmore Leonard

“Writers are troublemakers. A psychotherapist tries to relieve stress, strain, and pressure. Writers are not psychotherapists. Their job is to give readers stress, strain, and pressure. The fact is that readers who hate those things in life love them in fiction”
     Sol Stein

“Start as close to the end as possible.”
     Kurt Vonnegut

“There are three rules for writing the novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
     W. Somerset Maugham

 “Books are never finished, they are merely abandoned.”
     Oscar Wilde

“It took me fifteen years to discover I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous.”
     Robert Benchley

“Fiction writers are by their very nature, middle children—they are searchers, doubters, malcontents. They believe themselves somehow abandoned, uncoddled, unloved.”
     John Gregory Brown

“When you catch an adjective, kill it.”
     Mark Twain

“Jewish humor uses crazy logic as a way of coping with the incomprehensible.”
     Jim Holt

“Writing is the mask and the unveiling.”
     E.B. White

“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.”
     Ray Bradbury

“This is not a book that should be tossed aside lightly. It should be hurled with great force.”
     Dorothy Parker


 Do you have other favorites? Feel free to share them below.


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Can’t Wait

Who doesn’t hate to wait?

The facial expressions of people in post offices and waiting rooms across the globe tell the story. Waiting is hell.

From childhood onward we’re told to be patient. But as Ambrose Bierce succinctly put it, patience is “a minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.”

Many jobs and professions entail a good deal of waiting, but perhaps writers have it worst of all.

We query agents and editors, and then wait weeks or months to hear whether we can submit a manuscript. (These days, we may never hear back at all; an increasingly popular policy among these folks is to reply only to queries that interest them.)

If you’re lucky enough to receive an invitation to submit your work, entire seasons may come and go before a response arrives.

And if you’re fortunate enough to receive a contract from a publisher, you’re waiting has just begun; it can easily take two years before your book hits the marketplace.

Currently I’m waiting for an illustrator to complete the cover art for my novel, Crashing Eden. I’m also waiting to hear back from reviewers who have advance copies of the book.

The usual advice writers hear for dealing with this ongoing dilemma is to start work on your next project. Makes sense. Now I just have to wait for my damn muse to get in the mood…

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What is Visionary Fiction?

When I first heard the term visionary fiction, what came to mind were such literary giants of the past as Dante, Milton, Goethe, Blake, and Whitman. Each of these authors bent toward the future, envisioning a human race struggling to evolve toward a higher spiritual plane.

Two of my favorite twentieth century writers, Nikos Kazantzakis (Zorba the Greek, Saint Francis, The Last Temptation of Christ) and Hermann Hesse (Siddhartha, Narcissus and Goldmund, Steppenwolf, The Glass Bead Game) were firmly in this tradition. Their novels portray protagonists who are striving to reach a more enlightened state of being.

Only recently have I discovered that visionary fiction is resurfacing as a “new” literary genre. In collaboration with fellow authors Shannon Sinclair, Jodine Turner, Saleena Karim, and Sandy Nathan, I’ve joined a Visionary Fiction Web Ring, and invite other novelists to become involved.

So what exactly is visionary fiction?

Perhaps the most cogent answer I’ve come across is from author Michael Gurian, who defines the genre as “fiction in which the expansion of the human mind drives the plot.”

According to Gurian, what moves the story along in visionary novels are such things as visions, hallucinations, mystical experiences, paranormal abilities, channeling, precognitive dreams, eerie coincidences, profound insights, and a feeling of being “utterly at one with the world.”

Visionary fiction overlaps with several better established genres, such as science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, and new age fiction. What seems to be unique about visionary fiction is its focus on the expansion and evolution of the human mind, imagining new frontiers for the human spirit.

Although I didn’t set out to write visionary fiction, my forthcoming novel—Crashing Eden—seems to meet all of the relevant criteria. Still, the story ultimately defies categorization in that it can also be read as a tongue-in-cheek send-up of both organized religion and new age mysticism.

The last word goes to that quirky comedian and philosopher, Steven Wright, who said: “I was a peripheral visionary. I could see the future, but only way off to the side.”


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