Saturday, April 30, 2011

HEROES of the FALLEN: Reviewed by Bruce Durham

"Mighty voice for sword & sorcery", author Bruce Durham grants me a splendid review on Heroes of the Fallen HERE.

I consider Bruce a friend and a great writer, so I am very pleased he took the time to post his thoughts on my first novel. I especially appreciated - "Heroes of the Fallen works best as an homage to heroic fantasy, the type of fantasy one would expect in works by Gemmell, Erikson, Burroughs and Howard, the type of fantasy bursting with larger-than-life characters and lush, exotic imagery."

Thanks Bruce

Bruce has had over twenty short stories published and even a graphic novel The Marsh God (the first thing of his I ever read) Coming up next he is sharing a TOC with quite a number of renowned speculative authors in Lawyers in Hell

Friday, April 29, 2011

Read Lately

Danse Macabre, by Stephen King

This is full of insights into the horror genre ~ books and movies. Some of it is also covered in On Writing, which in many ways is an updated version that focuses a little more on writing over the adoration of King's chosen genre-but an awful lot of the same stories were in each.
I find myself carried along with King's narration stronger in his non-fiction than I even do with his fiction-and that's alright. I'm always on the lookout for ways to make stories grab people-what makes than click, what kills them-& when it comes to Horror I appreciate what King offers.
But when he starts to include thoughts on fantasy, I thought he dropped the ball. He paints with too wide a brush and while he clearly adores even the worst of horror movies and comics (not novels so much) that love doesn't carry over into fantasy. He had a lot of backhanded compliments at Robert E. Howard, saying at one point "Pigeons from Hell" was a great horror story and later saying Howard never wrote anything good beyond Conan? Clearly he didn't read (or remember enough)
This was also the book where he said Sword & Sorcery are tales of power for the powerless-he went on to say that the theme of all fantasy is Power-how to get it (or lose it=Sauron)
I have to disagree
Making such a blanket statement flies in the face of other King statements, such as the famous-"Harry Potter is about how its important to have friends, Twilight is about how its important to have a boyfriend." He forgets the myths fantasy is based on - Beowulf=Courage, Gilgamesh=Hubris/Consequences, even Hercules and King Arthur are far more complicated than merely being tales of Power-they are about wrath, revenge and redemption~far more than merely escapist entertainment told about the campfire.

So its not a bad book, I just took issue with King's handling of a genre that is not his.

B.P.R.D. Soul of Venice & Other Stories, by Mike Mignola

I really enjoyed this second installment of Mignola's Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. Beyond the great title story we had an excellent ghost story with Lobster Johnson and a haunted train among others-BPRD is off to a wonderful start

in contrast

Hellboy: Weird Tales vol. 1 & 2, by various writers/artists

Was rather disappointing.
The art was usually phenomenal, but the stories = meh.
Now, I don't fault anyone for wanting to try their hand at a Hellboy story-hell I'd love to...but most of these were dogs. They just didn't capture the magic that Mignola brings to his iconic creation. I sensed that a lot of the writers wanted to up the ante as it were (TV shows are especially guilty of this in later seasons...and it usually kills the show)
These tales tried to push the envelope a bit more and it just didn't wash. So, Paul I recall you said you had these-trust me the regular series is far better.

Solomon Kane: Castle of the Devil, by Robert E. Howard, adapted by Scott Allie and Mike Guevara

The original REH Castle of the Devil is a fragment-but it sets thing up nicely for this expanded tale. The REH fragment fits almost verbatim into this graphic collection and over all I found it to be a pretty good read. I would have liked a little more explanation on what the demons actually are toward the end and why one of them can live so long but others can't? Still, it was a good enough collection I shall get the next Solomon Kane graphic, no problem.

Swords & Death, by Fritz Leiber

When I started reading Leiber's Fafrhd and Grey Mouser saga, I very nearly quit. The first book with stories about the characters before and when they first meet fell flat-it took a good friend suggesting I go back, to get me to pick Leiber up again-and I'm very glad I did.

Swords & Death truly redeems itself over Swords & Deviltry.
Leibers prose and surprise storytelling are exactly what I was looking for-I had to chuckle that a couple of great conventions I had written into the forthcoming Blood of Our Fathers were employed by Leiber years before I was born. I'm not changing mine (they are different enough) but it made me smile to think I was walking a similarly inspired trail. I'll be continuing with Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser very soon.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Inspiration for Secret Project

Just a bizarre hint at inspiration for a project I will announce soon as the ducks are all in a row-needless to say I'm pretty stoked though.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Man Cave: MAKE vs. FIND

My latest post is up at the Man Cave Author Blog.

The subject has been finding the time to write-I throw out my two bits and even mention a little about deadlines.

Oh here, is the cover art for the upcoming IN SITU anthology~my story The Dig will be available very soon.

Now if I only knew when the rest of my antho's were coming...

Friday, April 22, 2011

MONK PUNK! Now Available

The Monk Punk anthology is now available here (and at a cheaper discount than amazon offers for now)

I don't have my copy quite yet, but am especially looking forward to the stories by the couple of authors I am familiar with-William Miekle, John R. Fultz, and Sean T.M. Stiennon. Did I mention my tale opens the anthology-yeah I like that.

Here is the final Monk Punk TOC in the order that the stories will appear:

Introduction by D. Harlan Wilson

Fistful of Tengu by David J. West

Don't Bite My Finger by Geoff Nelder

The Power of Gods by Sean T. M. Stiennon

The Key to Happiness by R.B. Payne

The Just One by William Meikle

Wonder and Glory by Adrian Chamberlin

The Liturgy of Hours by Dean M Drinkel

Brethren of Fire by Zach Black

The Second Coming by Joe Jablonski

Suitcase Nuke by Sean Monaghan

Capital Sins in a Dominican Monastery by Gayle Arrowood

Nasrudin: Desert Monk by Barry Rosenberg

The Last Monk by George Ivanoff

The Cult of Adam by Mark Iles

Snowfall by JC Andrijeski

Xenocyte: A Kiomarra Story by Caleb Heath

Vortex by Joshua Ramey-Renk

The Birth of God by Jeffrey Sorensen

Rannoch Abbey and the Night Visitor by Dave Fragments

Black Rose by Robert Harkess

Citipati by Suzanne Robb

The Path of Li Xi by A.J. French

Where the White Lotus Grows by John R. Fultz

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Demon Cross: Book Review

The Demon Cross, by Nathan Shumate

I love this title-especially in light of the cover.

Originally a serial in 2002-03 (I believe) explains the chapter breaks-this is a quite a page turner, I read it in one sitting. We are looking at a good novella length here.

I planned on reading a section, stopping and coming back the next day but it wouldn't let me, I had to see what happened next. It opens with a occult ritual and sets an eerie mood for what is to come...

This is the first in a Avalon & Company series. We follow Ms. Rennie Avalon, closely, this is first person POV. She is a private investigator extraordinaire, moving us along at a good clip, introducing her family and living situation. Her daughter is plagued with nightmares (this will be developed more in future installments I'm sure) and the elderly sisters who babysit while Rennie does her work.

A mysterious job offer comes from an elderly German gentlemen, Vielstich, who has had an unnamed antique magical tome stolen. Those of you familiar with the Necronomicon or Book of Nameless Cults will have an idea of what to expect. It seems a group of neo-Nazi's are behind the theft and mean to summon a demon beyond description.

The only thing in the story that had me wondering was the mention that this was a book the Nazi's once had during WW2 but even Himmler was afraid to summon the Demon, considering the dire straits they were eventually in toward the close of the war, I had to wonder if there was anything they wouldn't have attempted-BUT that's a paltry thing in comparison to the way the rest of the story grips you.

Besides the suspense and action, Shumate also reveals some depth with his characters, even the turncoat neo-Nazi Castler (yutz that he is-I kept picturing Danny McBride), got a wee bit of sympathy from me toward the end. I'd like to see Vielstich back in the coming series too, if possible.

I'll definitely be around for the next installment-this series has a lot of places to go. You can get a copy here or at the usual suspects.

Monday, April 18, 2011

The THIRD: Book Review

The Third, by Abel Keogh is a dystopian thriller set in the not too terribly distant future - 2065. In so many ways, you can compare it to 1984 for 2011.
Environmentalism run amok has changed the very fabric of peoples lives, cars are a distant memory and inefficient green laws control all aspects of society. These are especially affecting our main characters Ransom and his wife Teya-Why? Because they are about to have an illegal third child.

Keogh has painted a gritty picture of the future, we are drawn immediately into the story with Ransom having to make a tough choice on the way to work one morning-causing ripples that will affect him and his family forever.
A good man has to do something in the face of evil-but Ransom doesn't see himself as hero, just a guy trying to do the right thing.

Teya has been keeping secrets further complicating things in a society used to monthly pregnancy tests, bread lines, rationing and waiting weeks for paperwork to be approved. As a reader some of her actions drove me crazy-BUT were I in Ransom's shoes, I would have had to react the same as he did-gotta support the wife.

I got a kick out of the naming of buildings after environmental extremists-Edward Abbey, Ted Kaczynski or even Population Bomb author (and wildly inaccurate doomsayer) Paul Ehrlich. Where's Gore plaza?

Abel has villains you sure love to hate, Census Bureau thugs and technocrats Dragomir & Mona. Even allies (Esperanza=Hope) keep you guessing. Mentions of rebel John Gaulters and Sons of Jefferson made me smile.

But neither Esperanza or Ransom are any kind of Black Prometheus, this sinister society is not brought down in one fell swoop. We are beside Ransom and Teya in a very poignant and worrisome way. Keogh's writing is intense and vivid. This is a close point of view in a harsh realm. The realistic problems by such a totalitarian government still exist and it is all the characters can hope for to just escape.

We are set for a sequel.

You can visit Abel here and grab a copy of The Third here. Highly recommended.

Monday, April 11, 2011

One Year Later: New Review

It's been almost one year since Heroes of the Fallen was released and Author J. Lloyd Morgan (The Hidden Sun & The Reluctant Wanderer in the How the West Was Wicked antho) gives me a great review.

He writes, "I must say, I'm impressed. - - I can't praise this book enough--not only for its pacing and story, but the vivid characters West brings to life."

I surely appreciate that-sales (I know they occasionally happen) are very nice, but it makes your day to know you are being read and that someone catches that fire your were trying to spark.

The full review is at J. Lloyd Morgan's Blog here.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sword Throne...

Preparing to take my place.
Ok, yes I suck at photo shop-this was my first try ever and I am not nearly patient enough.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Late Night Inspiration

I have taken much longer than I ever intended (or believed) I would take on my sequel-especially considering it was mostly done in the first place. But splitting a 230,000 word book in half has its problems. When I broke it, I had no idea of the continuity issues that would come trying to make sure that the sequel can stand on its own. I want to write it so that if someone misses the first Heroes of the Fallen they won't be lost-perhaps even have them later discover the first and be delighted that there is more to read in reverse order.

I am looking on the bright side that some great inspirations have come at this late hour (both tonight and lately) to better flesh out the sequel and just make that crazy diamond shine all the better.

Kristine-it will be in the mail by next weekend. Chuckle if you like.
Pic by the Phenomenal Gregory Manchess

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

What I Want to See...Soon

I have got to see this... Looks to be the best Samurai movie since Mifune passed.

And now I would even consider getting HBO to see this...
even if I know season 3 (A Storm of Swords) will be the best one.