Wednesday, June 29, 2011


This came out a good year ago but I only just saw it and its pretty good-I suspect my regular commenter's will like it (if they haven't already seen it) just saying...

Now I still need to see Solomon Kane, Black Death, Season of the Witch, The Eagle, and in August the next incarnation of Conan. Regarding all five of these - IF they are actually better than Centurion that will be a great movie.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Templars are Vampires~The Coming of the King: Book Review

I was enchanted with the prologue showing Cromwell (whom I've been fascinated with since watching Richard Harris play him in the titular film) had Charles Stuart executed...because he is a vampire, or Other, as they are called in the novel.
The Coming of the King, by William Meikle is the first in a trilogy of absolutely gripping historical horrors.
This is great scary stuff. Take the concept that the Templar's are actually vampires having conspired with the head of John the Baptist/Baphomet and ultimately becoming the Stuart royal line of England.

Most of the background material for TCOK is familiar stuff for me, I read Holy Blood, Holy Grail when I was in High School, and then that 'snicker' literary classic DaVinci Code brought the controversial bloodline concept even more so into the public consciousness.

While TCOK turns the sacred bloodline concept upside down (perhaps sacrilegiously), I found it an incredibly entertaining read.
Besides the historical references (which I treasure) it is packed with fantastic prose, well-timed surprises, bloody-good sword fighting action, a cantankerous old Scot and the best Pict since Bran Mak Morn-I hope to see more of Lennan in the next installments.

I'd been meaning to read Meikle for awhile now and I was not disappointed-I'll have to keep going on this trilogy for certain.

From the synopsis ~

It is 1745, and the long awaited night has come. The Blood King calls his army to battle and will bring them South to claim his birthright; the throne of Britain.

Only the Watchers on the old wall stand in his way.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Living the Dream

It's my birthday, I'm 38 today, and have to say I am living the dream. I can't quite explain it, but 38 was a magic number to me. Every since I was a kid, 38 seemed that great adult highpoint when I would truly be grown up-18, 21 even 30 never had that same feeling.
Honestly I don't feel any different than I did yesterday at 37, but taking stock of life such as it is I am happy. Great wife, reasonable kids :}
& lots of my stories are published and a lot more are lined up for release very soon.
My second novel Blood of Our Fathers is slated for early 2012 and I have a lot of projects I'm excited about in the works ~ Midnight Sons, Gods & Robbers, Bless the Child, Challenge Discovery, In Situ, Roar of the Crowd, Monsters & Mormons, Wandering Weeds, and the Song of Saphir among others.

Before I turn 39 I plan on having my catalog three times larger, because to feel accomplished you have to push yourself and do the things that seem too hard and even impossible. Extraordinary results require extraordinary efforts and YOU have to set the wheel in motion.

Warning! Shameless Plug----give yourself the gift of my e-book (or hardcover, that's fine too) here and I'll get the gift of royalties.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Books Read Just Lately

I've fallen behind posting what I've been reading (more coming up soon, but not today-just so they aren't all plastered here this week) in part because I've been rereading favorites in addition to new stuff.

The Centurion Principles, by Colonel Jeff O'Leary
the sub header is Battlefield Lessons for Front line Leaders

I had never heard of this book before, though it does seem to be my bag, and was pleased that I found it in the discount pile. It is a guide of sorts for leadership and tactics-maybe to a similar degree to other business type readings of the Book of Five Rings or even Leadership Secrets of Attila the Hun (both of which I greatly enjoyed) even if one was meant as a business guide and the other was not.
The difference with this book is that it is not a dirty tricks Sun Tzu type work, O'Leary makes it plain that moral accountability is foundation for your leadership legacy, that leadership empowers when motivated by a pure heart, commitment and sacrifice to your cause etc etc.
There is a strong current of a correct moral compass in all your dealings here-to me this was vital as I'm gearing up for some rewrites and editing to help me capture a certain commanding character-that would have these attributes-not to mention just life in general.
Following the examples of ten great leaders from Hannibal to Abraham Lincoln (few if any actual Centurions unfortunately-Scipio Africanus=almost) O'Leary shows their indomitable will, moral fortitude and tactical flexibilty in order to conquer/overcome obstacles. Overall a pretty good book.

"Study the defeated as well as the Victorious."

"It is not a weakness to admit your limitations, it is a weakness not to improve them."

B.P.R.D. vol.3 Plague of Frogs, by Mike Mignola & Guy Davis

I think I liked the first two collections of the further adventures of the BPRD better than this one-BUT this was still very strong. Davis's art captures that shadowy starkness we are used to with Mignola's work and the reveal of the monsters that killed Prof. Bruttenholm (Hellboy: Seed of Destruction) is a nice touch to circle the series back around again despite the absence of Hellboy. I am still eagerly following Mignola's universe...more to come.

Conan: Free Companions, by Tim Truman, Joe Kubert, Tomas Giorello, & Jose Villarrubia

I'll put the negatives forefront first. I like Villarrubia's art a lot more than Tim Truman's-and while I respect Joe Kuberts career I'm not a huge fan either-I dig his sons Andy and Adam's work much more than him. Now besides preferring someone else to Truman's art-this particular volume has the absolute weakest stories thus far in the Dark Horse relaunch of the Conan title (If we aren't counting Michael Fleischer's Marvel tales)
In part that's because every other graphic in the collection had some fragment of Howard himself driving them (even Cimmeria vol. 7 at least had the poem Cimmeria)
I am not a fan of Truman's added in monsters, the Skrae, they do nothing for me and don't feel like they belong in the Hyborian Age.
Now, I'm not an immoveable REH purist (you know who you are) and I don't expect every single issue of a fairly linear series to have to be REH based-there have been some decent brand new interludes-most everything with the first five collections. And while Cimmeria did go off on its own new tangents, it seemed to stay close enough to cannon for me. Free Companions however had too many flashbacks, too many cutaways and I suppose I wanted a straight forward action story not a lament.
Granted, I am still looking forward to the just released Iron Shadows in the Moonlight collection vol. 10 so I have not written off Truman by a long shot.

Hellboy: The Crooked Man and Others vol. 10, by Mike Mignola & Richard Corben

I was delighted and disappointed with this collection-BECAUSE all the things the Hellboy titles have been leading up to-this magnificent epic confrontation is still delayed and not told here.
That said...this is a magnificent book. The Manly Wade Wellman inspired piece The Crooked Man is the first great American Hellboy tale, utilizing Americana mythos=wonderfully creepy. The next tale They that God Down to the Sea in Ships is equally awesome-whats not to love about a Blackbeard ghost story? The other two tales are alright, but this book is made by the first two. Now I hunger all the more for Hellboy 11- whenever that comes out?

Leadership Secrets of the Rogue Warrior, by Richard Marcinko

I love this book, I've read it numerous times and inspired by The Centurion Principles I reread this again real quick for Fathers Day. Marcinko is the most entertaining 'living' ex-military man writing (that I've come across) right now. I've enjoyed quite a few of his books.

This one in particular is along the lines of business strategy-something I personally have little use/interest for...though I am coming around in regards to self-promotion of my own writing career etc.
But Marcinko always has great anecdotes and food for thought to use for my favorite type of characters (see above) a sampling of The Rogue Warriors Ten Commandments of Spec War

1. "I am the War Lord and the wrathful God of Combat and I will always lead you from the front, not the rear."

& a sample of The Leadership Code

"I will be totally committed to what I believe, and I will risk all that I have for these beliefs."

"Popularity is not leadership."

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Legends of Steel: Barbarians of Lemuria

Apologies to Jeff Mejia, I meant to post this review a long, long time ago.

Legends of Steel: Barbarians of Lemuria is an expansion for the Barbarians of Lemuria role playing game. Similar to D&D this is more in line with the Pulp traditions of Sword & Sorcery scenarios than the Epic fantasy tropes usually saddled with standard D&D.

And Mejia, the Evil DM knows his Pulp.
Set in the world of Erisa, we are given a beautiful map (excellent art throughout by the way) and have a general rundown of the world, cities, cultures and bestiary-but true to S&S the players and DM are encouraged to go their own way and discover through different careers rather than skills just what it is they want to do while adventuring.

I am greatly enjoying the adventure 'THE BETROTHED', some great twists are ahead for the players. I'm also appreciate the world building and sampling of characters included. On the other side I've grown so used to a D20 system this took a little getting used too (haven't played the older AD&D in ages) and Legends of Steel uses a 2D6 system-not a big deal-I just kept reaching for my D20. This will become a treasured part of my gaming equipment for me and my boys.

From the description~"Now you will be able to adventure in the Sword & Sorcery world of Erisa with heroes created using the highly acclaimed and innovative engine from The Barbarians of Lemuria RPG. The Legends of Steel campaign setting together with the Barbarians of Lemuria rules engine, promises to be the quintessential "rules light" Sword & Sorcery RPG package Legends of Steel: Barbarians of Lemuria Edition will include the complete Barbarians of Lemuria rules and the complete Legends of Steel campaign world. With additional material such as: *New Boons *New Flaws *New Careers *A Bestiary of Erisa *Two ready to play adventures"

Overall a very comprehensive and good looking book (I did mention the great art inside right?) Get 'em while they are hot, and on a super sale right here.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Cheatin' Death

I'd like to think that I have had enough brush's with the raggedy ole Grim Reaper that I can keep a cool head or maybe even like the Samurai of old, to be at peace enough with the reality, to accept it head on.

The truth is, these brush's are usually so sudden that you just react in whichever way comes natural to you-whether that's losing control of bodily function or laughing (what I usually do) is up to your own programmed mind.

This last week I was driving down the freeway doing perhaps in excess of the speed limit, perhaps not (I admit to no such thing-wink wink) and with a clank and cuthunk and a crunch there were suddenly no brakes. (Something blew apart inside) My foot hit the floorboards without the slightest resistance.

Moments earlier I had been hemmed in by terrible afternoon traffic (also going at terrific speeds) but now, the way was clear and I was able to maneuver into the median and come safely to a stop.

It could'a been bad, real bad.

But it wasn't and I didn't really think about how bad it could'a been for a few hours. Made me start thinking about all the things I've done in my time that were stupid and dangerous-lots of things I don't even wanna mention in a public forum, but you can use your imagination.

I don't particularly take chances anymore, I'm not a thrill seeker nor do believe in tempting fate (fate being a rather loose term in my book-I don't believe in a fixed fate).

But I do respect that I have cheated death a number of times and will yet draw some superior cards.

And I expect to have a smile on my face when he does finally win his hand.


Saturday, June 11, 2011

Robert E. Howard: 75 Years Later

I would have liked to have made it to Cross Plains, Texas this weekend for Robert E. Howard Days but alas it couldn't be done.

This weekend marks 75 years he has been gone-yet I find his writing as magical and enticing as ever. I've always wanted to write, but Howard's work brought a dynamic, raw energy to my literary worldview-something that kicked me into actually sitting down and writing, rather than scribbling illegible notes and just talking about it, as I had for years.

Not only has Howard's prose inspired me but the very nature of his career has as well. He sold a wide variety of stories to lots of different markets during the depression and I ponder the similarities of today's economies and opportunities for writers. We are in a similar yet different age, instead of pulp we have pixels.

I'd count myself well served to have a fraction of the writing legacy and career of the man from Cross Plains.

The one piece truly worthy of Howard's creations in the original Conan movie was the soundtrack, great stuff. If the forthcoming Conan movie has a soundtrack even half as good I'll be impressed.

Monday, June 6, 2011

D-Day Remembered

Sixty-seven years ago today, my grandfather, for whom I am named, helped take Normandy beach, more specifically Omaha beach, as it was code-named. He was a part of the seventh-wave of landing crafts to hit the beach. When I found that out, I was stunned. My research has shown that there was a 99% death rate for the first-wave of landings and that decreased by only 1% with every successive wave. So in the seventh-wave 93% to 92% of the men around my grandfather died. Its amazing and blessed that he made it. He often spoke of how the snipers liked to use the red cross on his helmet as a target, so he wore it riding high.

I am one of the only people in the family he told his war-stories to, certainly the one who had heard the most. Could be I am the one who asked him the most, but it also took him until the mid 80's to be able to talk about it.

He's been gone twelve years now and I keep meaning to put together a novel to tell his story, so that my family members who are not familiar with it or have at best only heard small pieces can get a little more insight to his sacrifices and experiences. I currently have a few snatches of "My Arm of Mercy" written but it needs to be completed.

David E. West was a medic and the only weapon he carried was his knife, using it to both save and take lives. I honor him and all the rest of our Vet's as both warriors and healers.

Love you Grandpa