Monday, November 22, 2010

The Serpent's Root

My second Saphir tale, "The Serpent's Root" made the grade for Rogue Blades Entertainment's Challenge anthology. The theme was Discovery and of course being an RBE title it had to be of a Heroic nature.

Here is the released Table of Contents

•“A Fire in Shandria” ~ Frederic S. Durbin
•“In the Ruins of the Panther People” ~ Daniel R. Robichaud
•“The Serpent’s Root” ~ David J. West
•“Fire Eye Gem” ~ Richard Berrigan Jr.
•2nd PLACE: “Cat’s in the Cradle” ~ Nicholas Ozment
•“Some Place Cool and Dark” ~ Frederic S. Durbin
•“The Ash-Wood of Celestial Flame” ~ Gabe Dybing
•“Witch with Bronze Teeth” ~ Keith J. Taylor
•“Inner Nature” ~ John Kilian
•1st PLACE: “Attabeira” ~ Henrik Ramsager
•Honorable Mention: “Songs of the Dead” ~ Eric Magliozzi
•Honorable Mention: “The Golden Maiden” ~ Michael Navarro

I originally wrote the tale for Sword & Sorceress 25, but it was turned down as being too different from the rest, though they did encourage me to keep shopping it around.
Part of the Challenge for the judged anthology was to adhere to the cover art by V Shane, so I looked at it again, pondered how to put a panther and ruins into the yarn and modified and twisted it up again. Also thanks to Bruce Durham for his input in making the tale stronger=great advice.

In any case, I wanted to write about a daring female thief and thus Saphir was born on the mean streets of Zarahemla. I blended a number of odd influences for the story. Here for example is a pic that was a huge inspiration for the story. Known as Squaw Rock, it has unfortunately been defaced and vandalized- the face and breasts chipped away - but ever since I saw pic's of the riverside relief carving I wanted to write a story about it.

The anthology should be available for Christmas.
So let me know if y'all want more Saphir stories. Here is the first one, "Song of Saphir". Oh yeah and for what it's worth I pronounce it Sa-Fear. I found the name in my Strongs Dictionary of Bible Words-it means 'beautiful'.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

...And Then Winter Came

Had a blast last night at the multi-author signing. I even received a sketch from Howard Tayler author/illustrator of Shlock Mercenary.
Thanks Howard it was a great surprise. (I even heard it captured my shifty eyes incredibly well.)
I enjoyed discussing writing business with Daron Fraley, Berin Stephens and Jaleta Clegg. I am especially taking some of the things John Brown said to heart. I will make it to some Con's and get more novels out this coming year!

After the signing at Dragon's and Fairytales bookstore, we went around the corner to Village Pizza-thanks to Eric James Stone = he bought!

We discussed most of the ways we have all the broken the law one way or another-usually with explosives. Larry Correia also had some great tales of pranks and road kill. We had a lot of laughs and then noticed the snow was falling, thick as a shut-ins dandruff.

Winter came with a vengeance.

We bid our goodbyes and I drove home slowly through the blinding snow grateful for good friends.

Friday, November 19, 2010

BIG BOOK Signing Saturday

There will be a big book signing Saturday,

November 20th

at Dragons & Fairytales

located at

3535 E Ranches Parkway Suite A

Eagle Mountain, UT 84005

Phone number is: 801-789-5014

from 5 pm to 7 pm.

Those present will include-

Serial killer-in denial Dan Wells,

NY Times bestselling Monster Hunter Larry Correia,

cultist John "Servant of a Dark God" Brown,

collector of Dragon War Relic's Berin Stephens,

Shlock Mercenary Howard Taylor,

Jake Black-Ender's Biographer,

the always biting Eric James Stone,

The "Thorn" in my side Daron Fraley,

Chef Jaleta "Nexus Point" Clegg

and finally me, self-crowned king of LDS-S&S David J. West
yeah, I just came up with that.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

E-Book Success (for me anyway)

Tis the season to be thankful, so...

The Kindle E-Book Heroes of the Fallen has been randomly leaping into the 30,000th spot ranking on Amazon. 30K may not seem that great until you take into account that there are 700,000 e-books on Amazon.

Yeah, so now I don't feel quite so shabby.

Funny thing is, I sincerely doubt that most of my target demographic use a Kindle, IPad, etc. I estimate 10% at best-but that's admittedly a baseless guess. I honestly have no idea.

When it comes to marketing on behalf of an E-Book I am still lost, personally I am more likely to be stoked about a rare find in a used book store than I am about the latest technology-must be the literary barbarian in me.

But as a friend of mine likes to say, 'its all about delivering a story, its not the medium that counts'.

As for E-Book success, seems I am running on good old word of mouth and/or the friends that never bought the hardback.
Either way, lets keep it up shall we?
I have kids to feed.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Why Books Are Better Than Movies

It is a simple statement we have all heard (and said) a million times. "The book is better than the movie."

It's not a case of 70/30 or even 80/20, not even 90/10
NO the percentage of movies better than the book is incalculable.

IF you could think of 10 movies better than the book, I would be amazed (and seriously question your tastes to boot) I can think of maybe three or four tops.

The first couple coming to mind are actually a pair of my favorite movies...

To Have and Have Not that's because William Faulkner rewrote Hemingway's hard luck piece about the Florida Keys, moved it to Martinique, involved WW2, Vichy French, etc, etc and it had Lauren Bacall~nuff said.


Apocalypse Now based on Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Not only was it a brilliant film with an outstanding cast-it was modified like To Have and Have Not, from ivory traders in darkest Africa to a currently (when released) more resonant conflict, in this case Vietnam - thus it speaks to the viewer of today stronger than the book.

But therein lies a part of the key for these two movies-they were dramatically changed from their source material-usually that is a death sentence for classic works-this time I didn't mind-normally it is my hundred and one curses and a voodoo doll for the filmmaker who changes original stories.

But what about all the rest? I still haven't addressed my heading.

Books are better than movies because we the reader are transported into another world of our co-creation with the writer. They give us descriptions but we fill in so much more than is ever splashed upon the page-and it is us we see.

A movie gives one view-we all see the same thing.

A book has infinite possibilities for interpretation, making it a universal sharing experience.

We pick up a book and we all see our own version, it can become so much more personal than the silver screen. Think about this-we all know who we would have cast for certain movies (much better than who they did use) ~ Why?
Because books trained our minds to do that. We fill in our own blanks using our own imaginations and life experience-it becomes our story.

I imagine this post will only really be understood by fellow voracious readers but I believe the principles apply to everyone-even if they don't know why.
Case in point, does anyone doubt a novel version of AVATARD or Transformers (without the media juggernaut behind them) would have fallen upon the hillside of boring unoriginal works? Those movies threw out the worst of plot holes you could never hope to get away with in a book-but the average viewer was awed by the spectacle, not the story.
IF they were books-no one would have said the book was better.
Now I'm really rambling...

So in your own writing ~ remember it's the story your sharing, and the better it is shared, the more people will feel it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Blood Of Our Fathers: Update & other news

I meant to get Heroes Book 2, Blood of Our Fathers to my editor yesterday (figuratively) but I haven't yet. I'm shooting for within the week though.
In some ways I have wondered if you just can't force it and some special insights have to come at the right time-but then again I don't want to get off schedule too bad.
I am pleased at some of the story that has only presented itself very recently-like Heroes, some things were added last minute-and they seemed to be things people really liked-so I look at it as all for the greater good.

In other news
I am nominated for a Whitney Award-whether I am a total finalist waits on early next years announcements.

I will be in the Rogue Blades Entertainment: Challenge Anthology ~Discovery
What rank my story "The Serpent's Root" is in that contest also remains to be seen-but in any case my second Saphir story will shortly be in print.
Back to my first Saphir story "Song of Saphir" won first place in a readers contest for the LDSP YA short story contest-that is still supposed to be in a anthology but it has been delayed, I'm not sure how long until it will be printed.
coming up within the next year
Blood of our Fathers: Heroes of the Fallen Book 2
Roar of the Crowd~"Whispers of the Goddess"
Shadows and Light 2~"The Hand of Fate"
Challenge Antho:~"The Serpent's Root"
and I have high hopes for my inclusion in the following anthologies~ RBE's Assassins, Historical Lovecraft, Wandering Weeds, Cutlass and Musket, Swords and Mythos, and Monsters & Mormons at the least, I am sure there are many more I'll want to be a part of but all of those mentioned will be an exciting kickoff for 2011.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Strange Sights of the Week

I know I have read about these four a long, long time ago.

Pirate Street Signs

It's alright folks, its an all-beef Chicago dog.

Ride the Lightning!

First person who comments "Pizza with heart" gets smacked, because its too obvious.
This is why I don't order as much anymore.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Books Read Lately

It ought to be readily apparent that this was my October reading list.

Swords of Talera, by Charles Allen Gramlich
This evokes the adventure, action and wonder of Edgar Rice Burroughs and Robert E. Howard but it is also its own animal. An absolute page turner, sinister events pummel earth man Ruenn Maclang at a breakneck pace. Chapters end and I had to keep reading because I had to know what happened next.
Taken from earth to a strange alien world, we discover the dangers of Talera alongside Ruenn. Blending science and sorcery the dangers of Talera could be overwhelming, but Ruenn knows when he needs to count on friends, or even turn enemies into friends to succeed. A likeable realistic character, Ruenn is not the toughest man on the planet, nor the best fighter, but he is determined and resourceful and exemplifies what is noble in the human spirit. Supporting characters are equally intriguing (or loathsome) the princess Rannon, reptile-man Jask and the clone Jedik were among my favorites. The beasts of Talera are frighteningly creative too.
The first novel in a trilogy, I am anxious to get back to Talera and join Ruenn on his quest. Gramlich is full of surprises and whenever I thought to anticipate Talera the rug was pulled out. For fans of the pulps this is a must.

Legend of Sleepy Hollow, by Washington Irving
Classic. Sleepy Hollow, Rip Van Winkle and the Spectre Bridegroom. I have always loved the Sleepy Hollow tale and this was a good time to reread it. The idea that there could be a few different answers is part of the appeal. Rip Van Winkle too had a eerier feeling about it than I recalled. Its not just a man falling asleep for twenty years, it has the early American mysticism, and the strange dutch explorers from centuries earlier slipping Rip a mickey in their enchanted brew. The Spectre Bridegroom wasn't as strong in appeal to me, while still an interesting story-it seemed a little too convenient-but then again I can't fault Irving considering how long ago he wrote these tales and how powerfully they have remained in American lore.

At the Mountains of Madness, by H.P. Lovecraft
It had been eons it seemed since last I read this tale, and even though I knew it there were surprises around the dimly lit corridors. I also recently read an article of S.T. Joshi's about this being the tale to take the supernatural out of Lovecrafts mythos and account for everything in a scientific manner.
While I can see his reasoning I am not yet fully convinced that was the case. Some things are beyond even the maddening comprehension-the fear of the unknown as Lovecraft would say and I personally doubt he would ever take away all of the unknown in his tales and reason it away as entirely explainable through enough understanding of science. Madness knows not science but the supernatural.
I very much look forward to the movie of this by Guilermo Del Toro.

Complete Stories of Edgar Allen Poe, by Edgar Allen Poe
I must admit I did not read everything in Complete Stories and Poems, but I did read a lot. My kids enjoyed my reading of The Raven and El Dorado (always a favorite of mine since I was a kid) and it was good to check in on old favorites-Pit & Pendulum, Rue Morgue, Mask of Red Death, Cask of Amontillado, Tell-Tale Heart (could the narrator be a woman?), Gold Bug, House of Usher etc etc.
I still need to read The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym however.

Marvel 1602, by Neil Gaiman and Andy Kubert
Heresy some may say, but I was not yet a fan of Gaiman. I have avoided reading him for ages, because I dislike HYPE. I have still never watched Titanic and intensely dislike Avatar. Dan Brown has sold a billion books and yet has horrible style as do other astronomically successful authors-so-I have avoided Gaiman too.
Oh yeah, I have also disliked movies based off his works and or screenplays. Beowulf was a huge disappointment for me-Gaiman even complained of Angelina Jolie's casting as the temptress demon-say what? what? WHY? If that's WHO you write Grendel's mother as-why complain?
Back to the book.
SO I admit I was reluctant to read Gaiman but decided I would since this was a graphic with familiar characters I liked. Set in 1602, said familiar Marvel characters abound in the Elizabethan era and it is awesome. Nick Fury as the queens secret service head is great and Captain America's inclusion was brilliant. The tension and drama had me riveted. I found myself loving the intrigues and backstabbing surprises and things reached a high point by the end of book 6 (of 8) and then...
the finale was rushed and weak. I am still not a huge fan of Gaiman because he dropped the ball. A storyline that had so much potential, was so captivating and then blink--time continuum is fixed. Like it? Duh.
I am still willing to read Gaiman again but it better have a good ending and not be a quick ditch god-in-the-machine fix.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

The Hand of Fate

Just got word last night that my story "The Hand of Fate" is going to be published in Pill Hill Press's Shadows and Light 2 anthology.

It's especially cool for me because it is actually the very first short fantasy story I ever wrote (with the intention of publication). It has been submitted twice to other markets and rejected twice. I revised it a third time, cutting a few hundred words off the length and sent it out again. Just like my novel Heroes of the Fallen, third time is the charm.

In any case I am rather pleased they accepted my tale of a Bedouin type warrior who must keep his code of honor at all costs. I blended a variety of influences-but I realized after it was written that they were all movies I liked as kid and not fantasy movies at all.
Real weird obscure stuff that you remember fondly because you watched it so many times as a kid, but your wife makes fun of you for liking now. Regardless, I think you will enjoy my Sahara meets Tuareg tale.

Here is the Table of Contents:
Azieran: The Secret in the Mist by Christopher Heath
Mania's Children by Gustavo Bondoni
The King of Sorango by John M. Whalen
Choices in the Dark by Ray Tabler
Aquila's Ring by Cat Rambo
Sons of Odin by John Richard Albers
Champion by Marc Sorondo
The Hand of Fate by David J. West
Master Race by Gerald Costlow
Tithe of Hell by Edward McKeown
Night Ambush by Scott Harper
Spread Your Wings and Die by Lydia Sharp
Zhea by Gregory L. Norris

I think I have read some of Heath's and Whalen's work before, but have yet to read any other contributors-I'll review it when I get my personal copy.

Oh yeah, this is the tale with Mongolian Death Worms-can't forget the Death Worms.