Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All Hallow's Eve: Scary Story Beginnings

Sometimes to tell a scary story, I think about what would a tough as nails character say was their scariest experience...

Port Remembers

Old Port was mobbed by gang of children as he stepped through the door, all of them begging for another story from yesteryear. "All right you varmints, let a man take off his hat and grab a bite before you hear your tale. What will it be this time? Bandits? The Walker War? Ghost story?"

"No, we've heard all those. We need a new one."

"Yeah, Mr. Rockwell a new one, a new one."

Port nodded as the Lady of the house handed him a bottle of his favorite drink, Valley-Tan Whiskey. He slumped into the finest easy chair in the parlor. He tossed a knotty log into the dying fire and rubbed his old hands together. "Give me a minute, get the inspiration flowing," he said, before guzzling the liquor.

A jumble of the children's cries roared out like a river in flood. "What frightens you more than anything Mr. Rockwell?"

"Aww, nothing frightens him."

"Shut up."

"No, you shut up."

Port raised his hands demanding silence. "Kids! Simmer down. There's things that have put the fear of God in even me. Things out there in the bleak high deserts, pale things a crawling out of the earth, from tombs and holes and yonder; treacherous things such as you can't even imagine. Things that have driven me to drink on occasion," he said, winking and shaking his bottle for another from the Lady of the house.

"You're pulling our leg."

"Am I? You think I haven't tangled with a few monsters in my time, man and beast?"

"Well, I reckon you have. Sorry sir."

"Yeah, sorry," chimed the rest of the gathering brood.

Port lit a long match and puffed on his pipe. He settled into his chair a little more comfortably and nodded in satisfaction as the Lady brought him another bottle. "Now, where was I?" 

 The children paid rapt attention as a faraway look washed over Port's face...

*Porter Rockwell: Judgment Day by Glenn Hopkinson

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Devil in the Details

How about that! I'm a Kindle bestseller. SPACE ELDRITCH made it to #2 in Space Opera (#10 in Horror) thanks to our big release day and Book Bomb (extra special thanks to Larry Correia and Howard Tayler and their fan's) We were never quite able to unseat Ender's Game.

Also, I will be a guest once again on Douglas Dietrich's radio show Critical Omissions
tonight Oct 30th, at 8:30 pm mountain - 10:30 pm eastern
Click the link, hit play, and it will open up live at the correct time. We'll be discussing some of the true weird history that inspired my Space Eldritch tale "Gods in Darkness" as well as all manner of Lovecraftian strangeness. The call-in lines will open as well to phone in and talk. 1-347-688-2902
Youtube link to follow in a couple days.

Thanks again to everyone that ordered a copy of Space Eldritch, yesterday was literally the first day that writing paid me more in one day than the day job. Now to just try and keep that up everyday!
We are already chatting about a volume 2 for next year.

Monday, October 29, 2012


“With five feeble senses we pretend to comprehend the boundlessly complex cosmos.”
– H.P. Lovecraft

Startling Stories meets Weird Tales in SPACE ELDRITCH, a volume of seven original novelettes and novellas of Lovecraftian pulp space opera. Featuring work by Brad R. Torgersen (Hugo/Nebula/Campbell nominee), Howard Tayler (multiple Hugo nominee), and Michael R. Collings ( author of over 100 books), plus a foreword by New York Times bestselling author Larry Correia, SPACE ELDRITCH inhabits the intersection between the eternal adventure of the final frontier and the inhuman darkness between the stars.

Can I just say how pleased I am to be a part of this horrifying pulpy collection. I'm honored to be rubbing shoulders with these guys and being able to put my best foot forward with their legions of fans (OK, at least Larry and Howard's legions of fans)
I've been reading these other tales the last few days and WOW am I happy I'm in this.

The Table of Contents 

Foreword – Larry Correia
Arise Thou Niarlat From Thy Rest – D.J. Butler
Space Opera – Michael R. Collings
The Menace Under Mars – Nathan Shumate
Gods in Darkness – David J. West
The Shadows of Titan – Carter Reid and Brad R. Torgersen
The Fury in the Void – Robert J. Defendi
Flight of the Runewright – Howard Tayler

So if mind-shattering Lovecraftian space opera is something your wicked soul needs, grab a copy now on Amazon, or Barnes & Noble or if you are so inclined you can get it from Smashwords

The print edition is soon to follow and I'll of course keep everyone updated on that as well.

All of us are book bombing the Unfathomable Reaches out of this today to get some traction with the rankings, so I'd appreciate some help spreading the word if you're so inclined. Thanks

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Ball is Rolling

I'm feeling pretty slick. Space Eldritch is coming October 29th,  an excerpt of my tale "Gods in Darkness" is up on Cold Fusion Media
This of course is my big Lovecraftian science fiction piece, which I actually tried to channel how would I do a near modern day Sword & Sorcery tale. It takes place in the indeterminate 60's during the hidden heyday of the U.S./Soviet space race.


I have been told that my tale, "Rolling in the Deep" should be available on Halloween itself in the
A Flame in the Dark: Monsters anthology.
This particular tale is one of my Porter Rockwell weird westerns, though it takes place largely at sea. Lot of interesting motivations gelled together for this. This collection was put together with the idea that Faith had to play a big part, so I crafted a  Porter (Samson) meets a Lovecraftian Elder God (Philistine God, Dagon) Sorry, no wicked Delilah this time round. YES, I loved the Adele title so much I stole it-I think I blogged I was gonna do that last year.

They posted the table of contents last week, I only saw it just now.

"Visitor Bob," a unique look at the bogeyman by Ellen C. Maze
"Divide and Conquer," wherein author Greg Mitchell looks at a different kind of vampire
"Running Late," a vampire tale by Pauline Creeden
"Closet Commentary," Teric Darken's tale of voices in the night
"Willing Blood," A vampire tale with a twist by Kat Heckenbach
"We Create Them," Thomas Smith's look at poverty through a lens of horror
"Invisible Intruder," by Stoney Setzer
"Twelfth Night," a Christmas story by Sean Philips
"Psychobabble, Toil, and Trouble," in which Stephen McQuiggan laments the loss of our monsters
"Of the Lake," JR Roper's tale of aquatic terror
"More Lives," a cat tale by Dana Bell
"Smoke," a good old-fashioned werewolf story or is it? by Jeremy Tyler
"Cornhusker," a tender, coming-of-age story (mua ha ha ha) by Tim Ward
"Holy Angels," Delphine Boswell's story of a church's uninvited guest
and of course
"Rolling in the Deep," a decidedly Lovecraftian tale by David West


What gave Papa Hemingway that head-wound?

Find out in my tale "A Good Home for the Spoon".
It is supposed to be up on November 1st in  Dark Eclipse Magazine
This one is my lost chapter of Hemingway's A Moveable Feast (one of my all time favorites)
I tried to make the piece fit as if it had been left out for some reason, perhaps because Papa wasn't sure himself if it was true or simply an absinthe induced nightmare.

This is my only tale where I have deliberately tried to sound like another writer.

So having three stories come out in one week is making feel like this writing thing is working out.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Russell Means ~ An American Hero Remembered

"The one thing I've always maintained is that I'm an American Indian. I'm not politically correct. Everyone who's born in the Western Hemisphere is a Native American. We are all Native Americans."

I cannot even begin to cover the life of the amazing man that was Russell Means, but wish to impart a few words in respectful remembrance to a truly unique individual, who at the least no one could say was without strength and conviction as well as many incredible talents.

I first knew of Means from his excellent portrayal in film of powerful and noble Native American characters such as -  Chingachgook who IS the Last of the Mohicans as well as The Pathfinder in the lamentable Pathfinder and also the Older Running Fox in Into the West.

And while I greatly enjoyed those films, Means was an awful lot more. A civil rights activist, he co-founded AIM, the American Indian Movement, and he will forever be attached to Wounded Knee, where he led a 71 day armed takeover of those sacred grounds (as well as demonstrations at Plymouth Rock and Mount Rushmore). He continually led the fight against anti-Indian legislation and pushed for their rights “to believe, express and exercise their traditional religions, including but not limited to access to sites, use and possession of sacred objects, and the freedom to worship through ceremonials and traditional rites.”

I watched a documentary about Wounded Knee on PBS a couple years ago and was struck by Means charisma and devotion. If I could ever convey a fraction of that noble endeavor and drive in my writing that would be something.

His ongoing work for equality and justice never ended, he campaigned all his life. I watched quite a number of his discussions posted to facebook and now regret that I had not tuned in for some time. It was no coincidence that he was cast as the wise man in so many films.

He passed away this morning and now walks among his ancestors...

Now, I'm going to go watch Last of the Mohicans one more time.


Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Next Big Thing Blog Chain...

I was chained to this by Shelley Brown (author of The Fall of Cliff Castle (Book One in The Glass Slipper Chronicles)) and so I'm sharing a little bit about my WIP with you today.
So without further ado (because ado is seldom useful) my WIP:

What is the working title of your book? 
 Bless the Child
Where did the idea come from for the book? 
I was fascinated with the concept of mercenaries in the ancient world. The idea especially of Greeks, when they weren't fighting each other, would sell themselves out to the Egyptians, Babylonians, and other minor kings; and that brothers could potentially find themselves facing each other on opposite sides of a conflict very far from home.
I also wanted to utilize some Biblical old world references that I found interesting such as Elephantine Island on the Nile, the fall of Jerusalem thanks to Nebuchadnezzar, and a number of rumored aspects of that siege and destruction.
* the artwork for the cover has graciously been donated by Kris Cooper
What genre does your book fall under?
Historical Action/Adventure with a Sword & Sorcery flavor

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 
I have given no real thought to this. Most of the characters (even while many are real historical personages-Solon, Psenophis, Jaush of Lachish, Nebuchadnezzar, Zedekiah, and Balthazar/Daniel are inspired by people I personally know)
While I do think this could be turned into a screenplay much easier than my other works. The protagonist, known as The Spartan would need to be an able bodied man in his mid twenties in the beginning of the book and it follows his story up to around forty or so.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? 
Never thought about this before but here goes...

To keep from getting wet, the bloody, drowning road to redemption for a Spartan mercenary is perhaps best traveled by boat.


Saving oneself is most nobly done by saving another.

and (having too much fun with this)...

No country for sword-less men.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? 
This will be my first self-published novel. The greater motivation for such will be explained toward the end of this post.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? 
I think I finished the rough draft in about 5 months. 
This was also when I was offered my first publishing contract and decided to start this blog and hence the name Nephite Blood, Spartan Heart - a merger of sorts of my Heroes of the Fallen saga and this Spartan book, the only two things I was working on at the time.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 
I really liked, Jezebel by Frank G. Slaughter, Lord of Samarcand by Robert E. Howard, Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield, Lion of Cairo by Scott Oden, and 300 by Frank Miller.
Who or What inspired you to write this book? 
I began the book when my daughter was in the hospital with a terrible case of RSV. She almost died. The frustration and heartache in the beginning of Bless the Child is from that pain of not knowing if she would make it or not. I wrote it at her crib-side in the Primary Children's Hospital in SLC.
I was also greatly inspired by a lot of my historical research reading related to my first novel(series) Heroes of the Fallen ipso facto - Hugh Nibley.
And lastly, when I was still doing construction to pay the bills, I was remodeling a basement at the home of an old woman and her daughter - a single mother whose toddler son kept calling me 'Daddy'. It broke my heart.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? 
I am going to donate 100% of the proceeds to The GAN Warriors a trio of young local boys with a terribly debilitating disease. I wanted to do something to help them and polishing and dusting off a trunk novel seemed the most viable thing I could do. It lets me get my work out to a greater audience and help someone(s) else at the same time.

There you go, that's all she wrote!
Now I have to chain people to this
I'll stick to my regular blogger friends who I know are always working on something
Adventures Fantastic Keith, I'd love to hear more about what you're working on, not that we don't all groove on your reviews.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

'The Mad Song' in Artifacts & Relics: Extreme Sorcery

I'm very pleased to announce that my novella "The Mad Song" has been accepted into Heathen Oracle's next anthology Artifacts and Relics: Extreme Sorcery

I get to share a table of contents with ~

Fred C. Adams

Collen Anderson

James Beaman

Joe Bonadonna

Steve Goble

Jonah Lissner

David C. Smith

Bill Ward


John M. Whalen

This promises to be a great Heroic Fantasy collection, and I will update when I know of an imminent release.

My tale is based off a cursed musical instrument known as the Pipe of Mahmackrah and thusly the Mad Song it plays....

I based the look of the pipe upon one played by John Two-Hawks a Native American musician that I became aware of through his work recording with one of my other favorite groups - Nightwish.

In the concert DVD of Nightwish's: End of an Era
Mr. Two-Hawks plays upon a double barreled pipe, the look was so distinct and unusual that when I thought about what kind of cursed instrument to use for my story his pipe was the only thing that came to mind. Though the cursed pipe of Mahmackrah is crafted of black onyx and covered with swirling eldritch runes.

I was able to find one great pic to share so you can see what I'm thinking of. Of course my tale has nothing to do with Mr. Two-Hawks apart from that, and the song incidentally that I listened to constantly while writing the Mad Song was actually every possible interpretation of Led Zeppelin's Kashmir.

The story is set in a desert wasteland, pregnant with foreboding spirit and legend, ripe for panic and dissolution, it awaits the traveling magic caravan or reader with hungry anticipation.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Amazon's Author Ranking Mean's...?

I have to laugh. Authors/Artists by nature are moody bastards and I am a Cancer which only increases that moodiness. And now Amazon has instituted a new author ranking system so that it not only tracks your books ever-fluctuating rhythm of sales, it will track you and all of your books combined to evaluate your ranking.

I and most other writers I know of, have gone through bouts of constantly scanning Amazon to see how are sales are. I finally broke free of the habit after a few months and only occasionally look now-(granted once I start self-publishing with Lost Realms Press, I am sure I will check more often because I will be getting paid more frequently than the current situation.)

I look once in awhile now and shrug, oh I sold a few more I'm in the top 40,000. No big whoop.

I had a friend last night post on facebook that Stephen King was/is #1 in the Horror ranking and my friend Michael Brent Collings was #88. Hey good for him, I thought/posted/liked. I had no concern for myself on this, guessing I was far too lowly for any such ranking.

Then I got the email in the morning telling me I was #547 in Horror. That's not too shabby if you consider how many people are writing horror these days. I was surprised because while I write horror stories I don't consider myself a horror writer, but then what is the next thing coming down the pike? Space Eldritch is  Sci-Fi/Horror so I suppose I'll embrace that rank after all.

Checking the stats tonight, I found some ever changing numbers and guidelines for what I do (according to Amazon)

In Contemporary Fiction (do I even write that?) I was as high as #5,077 but am now #9,573

In Action & Adventure (this is what I would say I write) I was #1,685 but am now #3,441

In Fantasy I was #1,792 but have dropped to #3,721

and In Horror I was as high as #497 but have dropped to #665

Does any of this matter?


If I was actually the 497th best selling horror writer on Amazon, I think I wouldn't still be worrying about the day job, even the 665th and I think I would quit and be writing full time. But these numbers only take into account my name paired with all of my books, anthologies etc. Heroes of the Fallen which is decidedly not a horror novel is selling at least a copy or two a week and thus drives up my overall numbers. I don't believe I rank even 665th in the Mormon authors category for which I am not even listed.

I probably ought not to even look at these rankings again for all the good they do...But, I probably will come October 29th when Space Eldritch is released and me and the crew seriously book bomb the hell out of it. Maybe I'll break the top 100 that day and can list myself as "Best-Selling Author"!

*** UPDATE!!!
We did make it #2 in Science Fiction/Space Opera and #10 in Horror!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Read Just Lately

I have not made it through my regularly scheduled book reading as of this last month-too much work on polishing a pair of novella's Gods in Darkness and The Mad Song but I did read a good number of short stories.

I started out doing my sci-fi research with The Cold Equations, by Tom Goodwin.

The foreword and afterword in the collection of Goodwins other tales extolled the virtues of his story and why many believe it to be the best sci-fi short story ever written.

If that is truly the case, no wonder I lean so far to the fantasy aisle.

It is a good story, but it lacks a certain amount of wonderment, awe, and  even terror. It does not have any of those. It is just what the title says, Cold Equations. This is not a story that I think I will ever read again for enjoyment. It does have something to say about the nature of the universe. It does give a twist on what you expect (spoiler* you do expect a rescue of sorts) and you don't get that rescue.

But best sci-fi story ever? please

Conan and the Witch-Queen of Acheron, by Don Kraar, Gary Kwapisz and Art Nichols

Has the dubious honor of being just about the worst Conan comic I have read yet. Its a shame because I like that title and thusly expect something more out of a Conan story. I actually ordered this from Alibris quite awhile ago, just so I could read/have a copy and when I finally get around to it, we have a story that makes Conan the Destroyer seem deep and well thought out. At no time did the lead character really act like himself and the logic in the story was weak. Early on Conan fights off half the town guard in some idiotic standoff because he paid a tavern girl with Acheron gold.
Then is quickly felled with the old hit from behind trick=lame.
Of course he must go on a quest to show some stupid petty ass king where he found the Acheronian gold.
This all could not be more unlike Conan. Also I can forgive a bad story sometimes with great art-we don't get that either, pretty sub-par art throughout. Any given Savage Sword of Conan has better art and a better story.

The Doom that Came to Sarnath, by H. P. Lovecraft

This is a collection of older Lovecraft tales, many that somewhat predate the usual mythos, and as such are generally regarded as not quite as good.
It does however have some gems, this is where Nyarlathotep dwells and The Nameless City and his Houdini ghost written piece Imprisoned with the Pharaohs.

While perhaps not as good as later tales, this still contained many that I did enjoy and that Lovecraft ambiance is throughout, Some tales like The Other Gods actually struck me as very unlike Lovecraft, but I think it has to do with their being written before he truly found his voice.

The Science Fiction Century, edited by David G.Hartwell

Considering that this is a massive tome (that I have read some stories in) with stories by all the greats of 20th century sci-fi, I doubt there could have been much editing at all in comparison to just sheer selection. I'll bet this has to be the single biggest volume of short stories I own. Many of them I had already read from other collections, but some like Frank Belnap Long's The Hounds of Tindalos were a first.
It was an interesting story that at least hints at horror, wonder, mystery, and terror as opposed to Cold Equations but it did leave me wishing for a little more of something, if anything I would have greatly enjoyed the tale continuing.
Many other writers such as Bradbury and H.G. Wells, C.S. Lewis and Poul Anderson will be readily familiar in the collection and those are some tales that I skipped as I skimmed this collection. But this is a comprehensive collection. No doubt I will be returning again soon.

The Craft of Writing Science Fiction that Sells, by Ben Bova

I have owned this book for months having found it in a thrift store and I had not intent of moving it into the TBR pile, but I pulled it out when a friend on facebook said he had been hunting for a Ben Bova writing book and he would pay handsomely for it.

It turned out to be the wrong Bova book, but since I was working on a sci-fi tale I read it. It does have a lot of tips but many are outdated or I had already learned (hard way or not) I did like that it broke up what could be a certain sterility by having some of Bova's tales intermingled as examples of what works-and while I found them somewhat interesting, it isn't going to make me run out and buy more of Bova's work either.

Seems that for me, a lot of the advice was just too late and that's on me not Bova, it probably would be a great book for a writer just starting out.

I am also reading my fellow Space Eldritch contributors tales and it is going to be a great collection-coming October 29th.

Friday, October 5, 2012

What is Hubris? What is Genius? What is Delusion?

Now besides my title playing hell with the Google search engine optimization - (who knows maybe this will drive traffic, considering one of my all time most visited posts is still What is a Tengu/Fistful of Tengu) I wanted to throw this out here for the sake of perhaps you all letting me know what you think.

I wanted to come up with a new bio for the Space Eldritch collection (October 29th by the by) and rather than write the same old, same old, I decided to do as my friend Krista suggested and write it as a writer, not a biographer.

So I came up with this and at 1 a.m. I feel like a genius, but hey, if it really doesn't work, say so. Thanks


David J. West can’t remember a time he wasn’t writing. From the primordial heat of a drowning Atlantis to a pair of vigilantes six-guns blasting raw justice in the old west, return to when obsidian rained down on Cumorah’s slopes, and crusaders broadswords swept over shadowy terrors, and ultimately, on to the cold vacuum of space for the birth of a new star. David is there, recording it all for your savage amusement. Check out his first brutal novel Heroes of the Fallen and his other short story collections and anthologies at 
No Lie Untold

Monday, October 1, 2012

Gods in Darkness

It took far longer than I ever meant, or honestly thought it would, but I finished 'God's in Darkness' (title gratefully stolen from a Karl Edward Wagner chapter heading in Darkness Weaves.)
for my Space Eldritch contribution. At least this time he didn't haunt my dreams saying I could not use his title as he did here.

Gods in Darkness is 15K of pulpy speculative assault on the seven senses in the cold emptiness of space. My goal with the piece was to put a Lovecraftian Sword & Sorcery tale up into the Detritosphere (Crypto-Cosmic military term for a Low Earth Orbit) ~ alas I never did put a sword up there, but knives, blunt objects and sorcery abound.

I am pleased that my wife says it is the best thing I have ever written.

There are several homages thrown in for good measure, the naming of my protagonist as Cormac Ross was deliberate as the Cold War veteran is cut from the same Gaelic cloth as the bulk of Robert E. Howard's hero's.

And while I didn't name (yet-still doing copy edits) the Lovecraftian being, its hard to not throw out some kinda Zyth-Yog as an addition to that mythos too. I am sucker for name meanings and it is the rare exception that I don't have a purposeful name with a meaning in relation to that character. Not being fluent in Elder Gods vernacular, I chose to simply not name the thing.

Still, this has been a fantastically satisfying month for writing and I figure my regular readers will greatly enjoy what is likely my very best work to date.

The chilling artwork at the top is 'Breathing the Void' from 5kypainter  Absolutely awesome!

The above is an example of a Soviet tool used in space by the cosmonauts. Deadly blunt objects indeed!