Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Back to My Lyrical Roots

I started writing poetry before I ever attempted a novel. In fact when I did get a novel idea, I was overwhelmed with how long it would take in comparison to the instant gratification a poem/song did
(I always thought of my poems as songs) and put off doing more than an outline for years.

I probably cranked out over 300-400 of the poems in the course of a handful of years. 17 to 21ish. Then I slowed down quite a bit and actually worked on stories thereafter.

No wonder my first editors said I was so lyrical. I took that as a high compliment.

Looking through my desk drawer now at some of them, I am surprised at how many are essentially love songs, and incredibly needy love songs at that. I briefly considered the idea of compiling them all and someday having a poetry book, but so many are so bad I don't want to shoot myself in the foot by releasing them.

Some few actually have good lines in the middle (but are surrounded by crap) and others aren't too shabby. When I looked at a sheet of popular song lyrics by some rock groups I love, (T. Rex, Led Zeppelin) I realized my lyrics weren't actually that bad, but it always helps to have great music backing you up. Various incarnations of my teenage rock bands probably only ever put music to about a fourth of my songs. I would share the better recordings here, but don't even know where to begin adding my old four track recording tapes to the computer. (yes, I had cutting edge equipment for poor boys back in 1991)

Here is one I don't mind sharing (likely from the later period when I was 21 or so and slowing down-but quality and some kind of esoteric depth had arguably gone up)


See these hands - they reach for you
See these ears - they listen to you
Feel this heart - it beats for you
And yet you leave me all alone
I should be like a sunstone
The sunstone stands and holds the temple
The sunstone blazes like its maker
The sunstone stands all alone

Hear my voice -It sings for you
See my eyes -They look to you
Feel this heart - It beats for you
And yet you leave me all alone
I should be like a sunstone
The sunstone stands and holds the temple
The sunstone blazes like its maker
The sunstone stands all alone

Now my eyes - I see through you
Now my voice - Don't sing for you
Now my heart - Doesn't beat at all
And now you are left all alone
I am like a sunstone
The sunstone stands and holds the temple
The sunstone blazes like its maker
The sunstone stands all alone
I am like a sunstone

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday ~ RED COUNTRY

"A choice between killing and dying ain't no choice at all."

Red Country, by Joe Abercrombie
is likely my favorite fantasy fiction read to come out of the Big publishers this year (Orbit) I still mean to read a few more from TOR and PYR, but this will be pretty tough to beat.
Anyone else I really liked (published this year) is almost certainly indie.

I don't like giving away spoilers, but there are a few caveats to Abercombies books. The three standalone novels, Best Served Cold, The Heroes and Red Country could be read without having read the First Law Trilogy, but would be much better appreciated IF you have read them. A lot of back-story could be understood, but the true appreciation and context just won't be there.

They are rough, called Grim Dark by some, but I never felt like it was as nihilistic as others have claimed. Brutal perhaps, but in my mind no more so than Unforgiven and not even as terrible and gut wrenching as another favorite of mine =Cormac McCarthy's Blood Meridian.

In any case, Red Country is absolutely a western set within Abercrombies fantasy world. It works as any western should, minus the gunpowder. Every scene and confrontation on the plains or saloon easily felt like it belonged in that American tradition.
Living in the Inter-mountain west, I caught quite a few nuances showing Abercrombies research and attention to detail that I think could have easily been passed over by other storytellers, but for me - it fit. It showed how close and true he worked to make this a great western with realistic touches ~ you have to be realistic.

Without spoiling too much, anyone that has read the books knows that the character laying the biggest mark in Abercrombies universe is Logen, 'The Bloody Nine' Ninefingers, and we've been missing him and wondering what happened to him for the last couple books.

He is back-anyone with any sense will know it is him in the first couple pages, so that's no spoiler. But he has tried to put his past behind him and everyone knows him now as "Lamb" the coward.
But when his step son and daughter are kidnapped, there is gonna be hell to pay and the sleeping giant is awakened.

It was just a little slow going in the beginning (not unlike The Heroes) but once things started to happen-Did they ever.
So many scenes and chapters erupting in my head that I'd love to mention but just can't yet, so many that made me want to cheer and laugh. Abercrombie has a wonderful knack for setting things up that make you so sure on how they will turn out and then turning them on its ear and twisting it upside down. Highly, highly recommended.

I so wish I could get my hands on the UK cover (above) these US covers are seriously lame, I wish a marketing rep could see that, all three of the US stand-alones have terrible covers, why is it so hard to just keep the brilliant UK ones? This US cover tells you nothing, shows nothing, and a basket-hilt rapier swung two-handed? Give me a break.

Abercrombie is a little slower on getting books out, The Heroes was released in February of last year, but I am so anticipating the next one already even if it will likely be 2014.

Unlike some of Abercrombies other books, this had a map-that only made me anticipate a wider travelogue than we  received, not a big deal except for the tantalization of what might occur where - I kept expecting something to go on in the rock formation (canyon lands) The Three Emperors, but nothing did, just my being map happy I guess.

Now I've got a hankering to watch some of my favorite westerns while finishing up my Thanksgiving pie and turkey.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I probably wouldn't indulge in turkey so much if they weren't so delicious. It's their own fault, theirs and pies.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Wandering Weeds Rolls In

So I just discovered that the Wandering Weeds anthology is finally available here 

 "They roll in from unknown places, mysterious and unexplained. They take root, take over, spread to all corners and refuse to be eradicated. no one can say why they came, but there's no arguing that they're up to no good. These plants are out for blood, and getting rid of them will take a certain kind of hero - the best kind. Twenty-five tales of evil weeds to entertain, enthrall and change the way you look at the unwelcome invaders in your lawn."

My tale Garden of Legion is a weird western with the ever recurring Porter Rockwell. This one has a little bit of everything I love about the genre and I am rather proud of it.

I have posted the table of contents before, but being that this project was delayed so long I may as well do it again.
Wandering Weeds TOC in no particular order:

The Souls of the Wicked by Francis Pauli

They Call the Wind Mariah by Jaleta Clegg

The Tumbas by M. Pax

Weeds by James Hartley

Tumbleweed by Robert Borski

Cowchip Charlie by Charlene C. Harmon

The Colors of Blood by Kevin J. Childs

Tumblers by M. Baker

Desert Oracles by Katie M John

Feral Tumbleweeds by Monique Guilland

Fair Weather, with a Chance of Tumbleweeds by Andrea Tantillo

Legends of the Tumbleweeds by Duane Ackerson

Garden of Legion by David J. West

Sleeping Beauty by Louise James

Duncan Derring and the Lady Luck by Bryan Thomas

Beyond the Fence by Rebecca L. Brown

Thistle by Terry Alexander

Fun with Weed Eradication by Berin Stephens

I survived the sargasso sea by Eric J. Guignard

Crispy Fried Pickles at the Mad Scientist Café by Katherine Sanger

The Great Tragedy of the Illustrious Empire by Audrey Young

Oh, Dark Tumbleweed by Brian D. Mazur

I am sure I'll be updating this info soon. I'm actually kind of surprised that the print book is available before a kindle. Until then, watch out for any tumble weeds that seem to have a mind of their own.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Read Just Lately

The Necronomicon, The Book of Dead Names, edited by George Hay

I reread books I enjoy all the time, whether for research or pleasure, this is a little of both. I am working on something for the Swords & Mythos anthology and decided on a Abdul Alhazerd story. Abdul Alhazerd supposedly wrote the Necronomicon, well Al Azif anyway.
In any case, when I first purchased this book, I was only loosely aware of H.P. Lovecraft and his Mythos at all, I relatively knew nothing.
So of course I start reading the Necronomicon late at night in my grandfathers basement, yes I was very creeped out.
But it started a weird tales fascination that has never gone away. Unfortunately it took some number of years before I realized that DeCamp, Hays, Wilson and other contributors were all having a laugh-while the Lovecraftian analysis is as spot on as anything, all the essays contained purporting to be the authentic truth of the Necronomicon are the literary equivalent of a Mockumentary, and I ate it up a good dozen years ago.
Still, its good for rereading and preparing my own fiction.

Conan: Throne of Aquilonia, by Roy Thomas, Mike Hawthorne, Dan Panosian

Continuing on with the year long run of Roy Thomas and Conan's journey down the Road of Kings, most of this collection takes place in Tarantia, capitol of Aquilonia - hence the title.
We get some interesting side characters, and some nice teases for things that Conan fans know is coning years into the future. I did like the catacombs sequence though it had a few weakness's, and I thought the dragon was dispatched a bit too easily/quickly, but overall it was a decent spot.
Afterward Conan journey's on to Argos and we are given a great set up for Queen of the Black Coast - too bad I already know that arc is seriously bungled and I think I'll be skipping it. For a 1*-5* slot, I'd rate this a strong 3*+.

IRONWOLF: Fires of the Revolution, by Howard Chaykin and Mike Mignola

Thanks to Paul Macnamee for this copy.
I love Mignola's artwork, this had a futuristic steampunk thing going before steampunk was a household word. Granted this is by no means Mignola's best work, but it's still great, depth and shading all his wonderful hallmarks.
Chaykin's tale is interesting with flavors of the age of revolution mixed with somewhat current type drug and crime ridden conspiracies, yet it never really engaged me. I never found myself really drawn into the characters for good or bad, though not for lack of trying. There were a number of writerly tricks to get us interested but they didn't convince me. Good, but certainly not great. If I recall Paul, you said roughly the same thing, right?

By The Sword, by Richard Cohen 

This was an in depth review of all things relating to the history of the sword, from gladiators to musketeers to samurai to fencers and beyond. Cohen speaks from experience as an award winning Olympic fencer himself and the book is full of valuable anecdotes relating to what is truly a warriors art. Highly recommended for those researching more about the use of the sword and the history of great swordsmen.

Freakonomics, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner

The header also reads, A Rogue Economist Explore the Hidden Side of Everything.
This was a fascinating book, dwelling on why people do the things they do and how crunching the numbers gives a bigger picture over what people might answer makes them do what they do.
It can be two very different things and they don't even realize.
I sense I can't express this very well in a quick book review, but this is highly recommended.
The insights to life are well worth your time. I will be looking for follow up books by the authors.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Have You Missed the Katon University Series?

I got a head start on these before they were released. My friend Andrea Pearson is launching several novellas she has titled The Katon University Series, (look at that name again)

This initial trio is the first year of the University stories and are all based loosely on older short stories by such as H.P. Lovecraft and M.R. James but with a fresh teen approach and twist to reach a YA audience. Delightfully creepy but not gory, more atmosphere and suspense than anything. I actually like her ending for The Music of Anna Morse better than Lovecraft's finale for The Music of Erich Zann.

There will be three to six novellas for every year of college for the three students at Katon University: Anya, Austin, and Lizzie. After the novellas for each year are finished, Andrea will write a full-length novel, tying themes from the novellas together.

Britnell Manor

Austin receives a photograph in the mail and quickly discovers something about it isn’t quite right: every time he looks at it, there are changes.
And the changes aren’t good.

Loosely based off an MR James ghost story, Britnell Manor is a novelette in the Katon University First Year series.

Kindle, Nook, Smashwords

The Music of Anna Morse

When Anya, a talented cellist, goes to Ohio to sharpen her skills with wind magic, she has no idea her studies are about to collide with terrifying creatures and people from another dimension.
Based off one of HP Lovecraft’s popular stories.

Kindle, Nook, Smashwords


Whistle, and I'll Come

Lizzie doesn't know the old whistle she found in a deserted trapper's cabin is possessed. She blows on it, accidentally calling back the spirit of a dead goddess consumed by the desire to snare the person who called her.

When the goddess arrives in the form of a statue, the stillness of Lizzie's mountain retreat is destroyed. Based off a story by MR James.

Kindle, Nook (link coming soon), Smashwords

The stories can be read in any order, and I enjoyed all three. And I am digging the 'Eye' on the cover of Anna Morse that James Curwen did. Thanks for letting me be an advanced reader Andrea, I look forward to the next year.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Good Home For the Spoon

My short story, A Good Home for the Spoon, is now available in issue #17 of Dark Eclipse and hey, I'm actually sharing a table of contents with Clark Ashton Smith, that's pretty cool, my first with one of the Great Old Ones = "Klarkash-Ton".

My tale has the dubious honor of being the only thing I have written thus far, where I deliberately try to sound like another author, in this case I wrote as if it were a snippet of Hemingway's experiences in 1920's Paris, and therefore a "lost" chapter of A Moveable Feast, one of my personal favorites.

His wife actually did lose a suitcase full of his writings on the train and the notebooks turned up again decades later, Hemingway then reworked them into what was to become in my arrogant opinion his posthumous opus A Moveable Feast.

While he steered clear of writing anything supernatural, I thought, what if there was something that could be written off later as an absinthe fueled experience, so I brought that into play to beg the question of what really happened when Papa got all bashed and cut up one night.

I also based the tiny silver spoon off my personal baby spoon that my mother recently gave me. This pic is close but not quite right.

Here is the table of contents...

Issue #17 of Dark Eclipse includes some great short stories including "Consummate Justice" (Gerry Griffiths), "Sink" (Bill Morrow), "A Good Home for the Spoon" (David J. West), "Beimini" (Ryan Neil Falcone), "Tangible Evil" (Kathy Busse and Kimberly Yerina) "Over Time" (Christine Proctor) "Dead Ends" (Richard J. O'Neill) and "The Beast of Averoigne" (a classic short story by Clark Ashton Smith). Columns and articles includes "The Chimerical Dark: Remodeling Hill House: From Book to Movie to Remake" (Sean Davis), "Book Review: Specter Spectacular: 13 Ghostly Tales" (reviewed by Rin Gardner), "Lovecraftian" (Manny Frishberg), "Books to Die For" (Nicholas Paschall), "Book Review: The Dark Man" (reviewed by Kurt Reichenbaugh) and "Bits of the Dead" (Jay Wilburn). And don't forget we have horror poetry in in each issue including poems by M. Sullivan, Dawn Napier and Hitcher.

And for the Nook - props to Keith for making me think

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The King in the Office

I'm working very hard this month at being more productive than usual-something I intend to keep going with momentum. I am not doing the NANO but I have been keeping that kind of pace with several projects at once, and in my minds eye I need to--to turn Pro. (yes, I am continually judging myself against the full on no day job pro's)

Looking back at my Preparing to Blitz post from earlier this year, I can see that a lot of things did get taken care of and finished, some are shortly to come down the pike (Garden of Legion, Rolling in the Deep, Make a Monkey Outta Me, A Good Home For the Spoon,) and there are plenty that have not yet been done either.

It's a double-edged sword. I am proud of accomplishments, yet disappointed I didn't do more that I set out to do.

I still have some pressing personal deadlines, some projects I simply wish to do and at present 3 projects I was invited to be a part of coming in the New Year - work on them is of course required sooner than later.

Oh, and that's not even counting several of we Space Eldritch contributors have discussed doing a sequel, Space Eldritch 2 already. I am very grateful for the response we have received thus far.

I am working on a short I hope to submit before the end of the month, The King in the Wood, it takes place partially in a Curio shop and as I was describing what was inside, I realized after I had typed it all down that I was describing a lot of things here in my office-Ray Bradbury's advice pays off.

It remains to be seen if I can pull off all of the goals but here are a few before the end of the year ~

BLESS THE CHILD that I want to release in Dec.
Turn in BLOOD OF OUR FATHERS for edits
Secret Project that is 95% finished
An essay on Heroic Literature (I at least have until Jan 30th-but better to have a rough done by New Years)
and there are probably a dozen stories I'd like to submit in various states of disarray.

Thinking about this, it is a lot, but I can do it if I apply myself.

And you wise readers? What do you do to keep that fire burning bright???