Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Comic Con Time

This is the big one - for me. Salt Lake Comic Con  is new, just a couple years old now and doesn't have near the name recognition of a slew of others like San Diego, New York or even Dragon Con but it is big. Around 150 K people are in attendance and by Saturday it is crazy. I do most of my looking around on Thursday before the crowds swell up. My boys will come with me on Saturday - they are cooking up their own cosplay for it. Mathias is thinking about being the Demogorgon from Stranger Things and Bear wants to be a steampunk Deadpool.

In any case, of course I'm a guest this year and will be signing books at Booth 2220 with my friends the Space Balrogs. I'll be on several panels as follows.

The Rocketeer- Celebrating an Overlooked Classic

Thursday September 1, 2016 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm 

25 years ago Disney's THE ROCKETEER starring Billy Campbell, Jennifer Connelly, and Timothy Dalton soared into cinemas, but never found the mass audience it deserved. We take a look back at the highlights, making-of, and more about the film, as well as the franchise that never was (but should have been).
Room: 255C

Killing the Stigma - Combating Mental Illness Misinformation in Popular Culture

Friday September 2, 2016 10:00 am to 11:00 am 
(Hey, that's frigging early!!!)
Ranging from Batman's gallery of villains, the mad scientist and the homicidal socially awkward killer, fandom is rife with poor portrayals of mental illness and how it affects the person with the diagnosis. This panel will dissect and examine movies, television, comics, and books and their use of mental illness to drive their plots.
Room: 1551 A

Choose Your Own Apocalypse: Marvel Monsters Edition
Saturday September 3, 2016 12:00 pm to 1:00 pm 

The bad news is, the world is gonna end. The good news is, you get to pick how you go out. Will it be at the hands of the seductive Enchantress, or will humanity be consumed by Venom, Carnage & other corrupted Klyntar? Or will the world fall to the oldest mutant alive; a monster god appropriately named, Apocalypse? You get to decide in an interactive panel game of epic proportions! In Choose Your Own Apocalypse, each panelist represents a different way the world is going to end. A moderator conducts the panelists and audience through a series of rounds in which the panelists have to make their case for their specific apocalypse. They do this using campaign speeches, witty rhetoric, and performance art. Then the audience gets to choose who is the winner.
Room: 255C

An interesting thing to me about this Con in particular is I'm not on any writing tracks - which I always was before and you know what - that's a good thing. Who goes to writing tracks? Other writers. Do they want to get your book? Not very often. Usually they want to talk to you about their books. So as far as sales and fans its kind of a wash - talking fandom is usually the better way to go - so its all good this way.

I have print copies of Cold Slither I'll be signing and I'm very pleased with how its been doing online -its been sitting in the top ten for western horror and Whispers Out of the Dust has been joining it as of today. So that's pretty cool. I have admittedly tried to learn a little more about marketing this week than before when I just put stuff out there and hoped it would sell.

Oh and I believe the 12th issue of Utah Geek will be there as well featuring the 12th chapter in my ongoing noir fantasy serial Walking Through Walls. I'm pretty sure I'm gonna wrap it up in chapter 13 and then figure out what to do with it. Either release it as a novella or cannibalize it for another work - I'm not sure yet. I'll have a lot of pics to post next week when its over. Til next time.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Corona Obscura: Book Review

Corona Obscura: Sonets Dark and Elemental, by Michael R. Collings

Talking about Michael's poetry and verse were some of the very first blog posts I did here when I started back in - wow- 2009! And I only have a greater appreciation for his art with age.

Linda D. Addison writes the forward and says it so well that I have to share a line here "Michael has created some strange word alchemy that touched me on a cellular level, making me smile, building excitement in my gut as I traveled from one poem to the next."

I feel the same way but even her description is poetry.

Charles Gramlich's review reminded me that I had to read this too! Thanks for sharing such a love of language Charles.

There are a lot of great poets out there but Michael is amazing and he is still alive and churning out more even as I type this. So much of what I love about language is typically from the dusty past, from those who are passed and buried.

But Michael's work is alive in the heated now, its pure visceral byzantine grandeur. I read it and wish I had come up with such a turn of phrase. The sheer beauty and horrific dichotmoy moves me. As a lover of language,  I am in awe at his words and equally moved by them.

I love to reread these sonnets and get in that void, that passion before I jump back into my own wordsmithing because I believe it helps me attain a higher level for my own work.

The man is one of the best and so deserving of the Grand Master award he received at Horror Con earlier this year.

I'll be delving back into this and others soon enough to walk these midnight trails into amaranth bleeding crimson as starlight fails.

That was a line that in particular jumped out at me.
Highly recomended for lovers of prose and verse.

Get a copy here

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Who is Porter Rockwell

Just who is Orrin Porter Rockwell?

I enjoy thinking of him as a decidedly unique alternative compared to what most people think Mormons are like.

A hard-drinking, gun-fighter, scout, frontiersman, and sometime lawman - Porter Rockwell is to me the quintessential weird western hero.

Sometimes its hard to separate fact from fiction and I may have only muddied the waters with these newly found yarns in my collection of weird western tales starring the infamous Porter Rockwell in  Cold Slither! But you gotta do what you gotta do.

Born in Belchertown, Massachusetts on June 28th 1813, Rockwell was a friend to Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church. He was the youngest person baptized into the church upon its founding.  (Thanks Paul for the pic!)

Following the Church as they moved west to Nauvoo, Illinois, he was always a tireless supporter and helped whenever possible during the tumultuous years.

It was after eight months in prison on charges that he was the attempted assassin of Illinois Governor Lilburn Boggs, that Porter was exonerated and found himself back in Nauvoo. Haggard and unkempt, he made his way into Smith's home during a Christmas party.

At first thought to be an unruly attacker, it was then realized he was the prodigal friend returned.
It was here that Joseph Smith prophesied and blessed Porter that if he never cut his hair, no bullet nor blade could harm him. So was born the legend of the Destroying Angel.

Many a dime novel or embittered tell-all novelization featured a bloodthirsty Porter wreaking bloodthirsty ruin upon folk traversing through the Utah territory whilst shouting his terrible curse of "Wheat!"

[Awesome pic by Ryan Wood]

Porter has more murders laid at his feet as a member of the Danites - the church's rumored bloodthirsty enforcers - than any other gunman I can think of. The Salt Lake Tribune tabulated his kills at well over 100! Nobody else is even close. The author of In Mormon Circles, James Coates, says the number has to be closer to 50 to 100.

Of course the Salt Lake Tribune's numbers cannot possibly be true, but even a smaller percentage is still higher than the other infamous gunslingers.
Wild Bill Hickock = 6 or 7?
Billy the Kid = 8
Wyatt Earp = 10?
Doc Holiday = 16 (and the report said that was likely exaggerated)
John Wesley Hardin = 27

Fact and fiction take hard turns in the wild west and as I said its difficult to separate them, the actual accounts from men like Sir Richard Burton have Porter as a congenial fellow, warning the esteemed traveler to beware of white Indians (bandits disguised as Indians) in the mountains. They hit if off so well that Burton upon his return to England later sent a bottle of Brandy to Porter.

In the end, Porter died in bed without a scratch on him at the age of 64. The prophecy had come true despite all the scrapes, Indian wars and gunfights he had been in. The Salt Lake Tribune declared that "the gallows were cheated" but I see it as proof of something divine that defies materialist expectation.

Here's a final quote that I liked so much I had to put it in the book,
 “In his build he was a gladiator; in his humor a Yankee lumberman; in his memory a Bourbon; in his vengeance an Indian. A strange mixture, only to be found on the American continent.”
 — Fitz Hugh Ludlow on Orrin Porter Rockwell

Grab a copy of Cold Slither in print or kindle and I'll be signing copies at Salt Lake Comic Con next week too! 

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Dent In the Summer Reading Pile

The Death of Kings, by Bernard Cornwell

The Saxon series, following Uthred of Bebbanburg is one of my all time favorites. I even got my wife to enjoy watching The Last Kingdom with me. I highly recommend it.

Death of Kings is the sixth book in the series -yes, I'm a little behind for something I enjoy so much but there is an element of savoring it here. Overall I would say the pace is slowed on this one compared to Sword Song and The Burning Lands. It is a big watershed in the sense that King Alfred passes in this one too. The whole Alfred/Christian vs Uthred/Pagan was a big drive for the previous books - and that is going away but nobody is going to fill Alfred's shoes. And that is part of the problem with the politics in this book - the Dames are going to be that much worse for the English.

So Death of Kings is slower book in many ways and I have to say its been the least enjoyable of the series so far - that said - the finale was a great climax and was most excellent, its was just a little more of a wait to get there than Ive been used to in the series.

Dead Pact, by Craig Nybo

Caveat, Craig Nybo is a friend of mine and I truly enjoy his work! He has a wonderful imagination and does some of the most far out concepts of anyone I know!

Now about Dead Pact which is a stand alone kindle selection from Craig's bigger anthology - Terrifying Lies. This tale is a gritty weird western in the grandest tradition.  Nybo throws some great loops and douses the reader in dark shadows before bailing them out again. We're thrown into the action of Galen Waite investigating some demonic possession near the town of Bannack. Think cross between possession and the Walking Dead. This one had me on my toes. And as always I look forward to more from Craig!

Murder at the Kinnen Hotel: A Powder Mage novella, by Brian McClellan

I've heard good things about McClellan's Powder Mage series and I've been meaning to get to it, so when I saw that he posted this novella for free I snagged it.

But I think it was a bad place to start. It is set years beforehand and while I could see that interesting world building was being set up and such, I didn't feel the grasp of what all of it meant nor was I impressed with some of the characters even though I was told they were intimidating. I'm sure I missed things that would be a thrill IF I had read the trilogy already, but as a standalone tale I thought it went a little weak. The climax especially felt limp for something that is a mix of mystery and fantasy and I just would have liked a little more punch.

I still intend to read the trilogy and I'm sure I may have new found appreciation for this prequel tale of sorts afterward, but as a starting point for me it was too shaky.

Pride of the Traveler, by Bryce Beattie

This is another short - I read all three of these at work -shhhhhh.
This low magic fantasy follows Key, a young swordsman who goes to a carnival of sorts and to fortune teller to ask about his destiny. She tells him pride will be his downfall. He also gets a warning about the possible collaboration of dark magic and vampires with the powers that be in the city. So, he goes into town and joins in the dueling matches therein. He isn't humble and promptly defeats all comers until he has to take on the captain of the guard who has some of that dark magic on his side.

It is a predictable enough tale but it is enjoyable and really feels like a prologue to something greater. I would definitely read that follow up of Key's adventures because I like Beattie's storytelling and prose.

The Adventures of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent by Larry Correia

Larry always has a good dose of humor in his works and with this one he really lets loose, firing off all guns at the usual suspects. Poking fun at all the social justice warriors, Fox execs who cancelled Firefly, and Joe Biden is almost too easy. The R. Lee Ermey type secretary of defense was also welcome touch.
For just sheer entertainment this novella is good, not too long, not too short its in the just right size for this type of tale - any longer might be a bit much. But its nice to see a place where you can still poke fun and throw in the planet destroying aliens side walled by a smooth talking Insurance adjuster.

As yet this is only available as an audio book and Adam Baldwin's reading knocks it out of the park.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Preparing to Pimp Thyself


My weird west collection COLD SLITHER print copy is up over on Amazon - though I'm not doing the real launch push just yet - I've got the kindle set for pre-order and I'm hoping to push that on August 30th for the sake of rankings etc. In fact I don't think as of this post the kindle slot is even up yet.

I'm excited that the book is finally done- considering I had wanted to release it on my birthday two months ago. But I think its an amazing book that a lot of people will get a kick out of. I was tickled pink that one of my friends said he thought the first Porter tale = Cold Slither itself reminded him of a Conan type yarn.

I made a banner for use at the upcoming Salt Lake Comic Con - it was fun trying to come up with something that I hope will grab attention at our booth and hopefully entice some book buyers. I used the Horror Flick font - same thing I used on my new business cards - gotta love that retro pulpy look.

I do know I'm on at least one panel each day at SLCC
The Rocketeer on Thursday
Mental Health in Popular Culture/Entertainment on Friday
and a Choose Your Own Apocalypse game with the Space Balrogs on Saturday.

I've got a lot more book reviews lined up shortly that I'll be trying to post up on before summer is over.

Oh and I finally put together a mailing list newsletter because I've been hearing how necessary that is for self-promotion etc - so there's that BURNT OFFERINGS -

Now back to work on just novels for the foreseeable future this year.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Salt City Steamfest!!!

It's that time of year again - the gears are rolling and I'm going to be a guest at Salt City Steamfest.

I'll be talking on the Steampunk vs Weird Western panel and after that we'll be doing another of our infamous Choose Your Own Apocalypse games in a steampunk setting - last time I was Air Pirates and I won!

I'm not actually sure what else will be happening yet but it promises to be a good time with a lot of really cool people.

I'm looking forward to all the trippy costumes and retro steampunk items that will be there.

More details here!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Coming of LONE CROW

The Coming of Lone Crow, by Joel Jenkins

I am so glad that my friend Paul McNamee, gave me a heads up on this one. I was intrigued by the cover sporting a few well-known (and not so well known) western historical persons - among them my own weird western incarnation of Porter Rockwell.
I gave the kindle sample and look-see and was hooked. I bought it and have thoroughly enjoyed the 14 odd stories enough that I will have to buy a print copy for my collection - I'm going to reread it and I know I'll want it in paper.

So about the stories - Lone Crow himself is the last surviving member of his tribe who had been taken in and raised by Mormon foster parents giving him a Christianized white mans world view which is also mixed with his mystic Native American side. He is a taciturn type who is well aware of the racist backlash of the times he lives in and yet he has become infamous enough for his supernatural exploits that he gets hired on by the prestigious Miskatonic University for a number of projects.

One of the items that helps him survive these mind bending encounters is his blessed-by-a-prophet eagle butted peacemaker. Being imbued with a sacred blessing allows the gun to actually harm strange creatures that otherwise might be immune to earthly weapons - creatures like the Hounds of Tindalos or the recurring Ulutoth a Lovecraftian old one akin to Cthulhu.

I loved the action and esoteric historic cameo's and all I could think while reading this is WOW! Joel Jenkins is my kind of writer! Several of the stories loosely relate to each other and we are teased with quite a number of references to interesting sounding tales that we never do get a glimpse of - it make for a world we know is much bigger while still retaining a pulp infused rip roaring good time!

I've since chatted with Joel and was told another collection of Lone Crow's stories are coming and I anxiously await that!

I recommend getting a copy here!