Thursday, January 31, 2008

Sending out Good Thoughts

Friends of mine, James Reasoner and his family, lost all their belongings yesterday in a wildfire that raced through their little piece of Texas. He had a chance to update his blog at the local library and talks about it there. The family and pets are safe; everything else is gone. We've been in touch with Jim and they are staying with family and OK for now on food and shelter. But if you would send your prayers and good thoughts their way it would be appreciated.

Both Jim and his wife, Livia, are authors, widely published and in demand. Jim had a contracted book about a third done when the fire took it. The publisher has already said they'll wait for him, which is good news, and Jim is not a "sensitive" writer. I know he won't let this keep him from wordslinging, as soon as he gets another computer. The family also lost thousands of pulps, books, and irreplaceable memories, of course.

Once they are settled again his friends will be sending him books and materials to rebuild his collection, although much of it will not be replaceable.

Jim, we're thinking of you.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

How I Once Became an Editor

Some of you might know that I'm an Assistant Editor for The Dark Man (TDM), the Journal of Robert E. Howard studies. Since I'm still swamped with work, and I apologise to all whose blogs I haven't been able to visit and whose names I've not yet had time to add to my links, I thought I would run for you today an editorial I wrote for the first issue of TDM after I became an editor. I'll let it speak for itself.

I’m a writer, the natural prey of those nasty creatures we call editors. So how come I’m suddenly listed as an assistant editor for The Dark Man? How did I end up joining the ranks of my traditional enemies? I assure you that it isn’t my fault. I was trapped, I tell you, and it was one of those big traps, a bear trap. Or perhaps it would be more accurate to call it a “Bearfield” trap.

As a member of The Dark Man review board, I thought my only duties would be to lend my name to the enterprise-—a name well known to almost half a dozen readers-—and to occasionally comment on the various pieces that crossed my electronic desk. I never thought I’d be involved in “whipping” a piece into shape the way that I’ve had editors whip my own work into something marginally less confused than what I’d submitted.

Then along came a submission to The Dark Man on the subject of Pike Bearfield, Robert E. Howard’s “other” comic western hero, and it was a piece I liked very much and which I fought to see included in the Journal. Ah, the price of shooting one’s mouth off.

I somehow got asked to shepherd the aforementioned Bearfield essay through the revision process and into print. Trapped! And it was neatly done, I do have to agree. (I’d suggest that I was hoist with my own petard but that sounds kind of dirty.) To avoid being skinned alive and called luggage, I accepted the role thrust upon me by my "Dark Man" colleagues, and that is how I came to editor.

But, shhh! I haven’t told any of my writer friends yet that I’m now aligned with the enemy. They wouldn’t be happy if they found out, and you know how cruel writers can be. I’m sure my friends know plenty of hurtful ways to call me a traitor and a sell out. They might use words like Judas, Benedict Arnold, Quisling, or maybe even Metallica.

So let's just keep this between us.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Pictures of Books, Yeah!

Feeling pretty swamped at the moment so I thought I would run the first in a series of pictures of my bookshelves and books. There are many many others, but here are the first three.

Picture 1, at top, is a set of shelves in our living room. Left side contains the westerns I've read. Right side has John D. MacDonald, and series such as "The Survivalist," "The Destroyer," "Perry Rhodan," and "Doc Savage." The middle shelves are "selected" To Be Read books, meaning they are on top of my list for my next book to read. Although this often changes. Note my autographed copy of a picture of Losira (Lee Meriwether) from Star Trek: The Original Series on the bottom shelf at the right side. Now do you believe that I'm a geek?

Picture 2 at bottom left is a selection of my secondary "To Be Read" pile, which grows and grows. Picture 3, bottom right, is a built-in bookshelf to one side of our fireplace. The top two shelves are my stuff. The bottom is Lana's.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Opinionated Book Reviews

I thought I might review a few books that have to do with writing. Hope you don’t mind some strong opinions.

Ray Bradbury: Zen in the Art of Writing: RATING = C+: I was disappointed in this book. I’d heard the title mentioned years ago and built up an image of what a fine book it must be from Bradbury. Maybe I expected too much. The essays are almost all ones I’ve seen before, and most are quite slight in content. Bradbury talks much about his technique of writing down a series of evocative nouns, (the fog horn, the attic, etc.) and then using them to trigger a story. I've tried this and it works. But there wasn't much else of help. The book is a "cheerleading" work, meant to keep up the writer's spirits while they languish in the slush pile. There was considerable autobiographical material on Bradbury, which I liked. The title essay is the strongest.

James Sallis: Difficult Lives: Jim Thompson - David Goodis – Chester Himes: RATING = A: I've mentioned Sallis's work before, primarily for his mysteries. Difficult Lives¬ is a non-fiction biography of three 1950's detective novelists, including Himes, who was black. The book was issued by a small company called "Gryphon Press," but deserves a wider audience. I thought it was excellent, poetical in places, and with strong insights into the characters of these writers. The portraits of the first two, Thompson and Goodis, are also filled with their connections to alcohol, which many have noted seems to be a close friend/enemy of some writers. I asked Jim about Himes and alcohol, and he said there probably was a connection but that he didn't have enough information to be sure. Recommended, if you can find a copy.

Tim Underwood & Chuck Miller, Editors: Feast of Fear; Conversations with Stephen King: RATING = C+: This book spans King's career and the interviews are generally well done and ask the right questions. The downside is that all of it has been said before. I didn't learn anything new about King, but I'd say it would be hard to do so considering his saturation point has long since been reached. This is mainly only for hardcore King freaks.

Douglas Winter: Stephen King: The Art of Darkness: RATING = B: This is an old book (1986) but if you like King then you’ll probably enjoy it. It was easy reading and gave a good amount of biographical background. I read it because of my interest in writers in general, but didn't find terribly much of use here. It pretty much is what it seems, an ode to Stephen King.

Jack Woodford: Trial and Error: RATING = D-: If you’ve ever thought about writing, then I urge you desperately to never touch this book, and if you are ever given a copy throw it immediately in the garbage. This is the worst type of cynical tripe, utterly useless to anyone who wants to write serious material. If you follow its directions you might find yourself selling a few things here and there. If you have some talent you might even sell quite a bit. But none of it will be memorable, and unless you are totally without soul you will despise yourself for it. Woodford insults readers, writers, editors, and just about everyone else you can name. I have no doubt he is showing the writing world as he saw it, and a bleak and terrible hell it is. He never lies and tells anyone that he’s going to show them how to write, only how to make money from writing. (That’s why he gets a D- instead of an F.) He tells you to throw out your vocabulary. Even a person with a high school education knows 1000s of more words than he needs. He says never to rewrite. He says to steal time from your other job to "knock off" a short story or two. He is the archetype of a hack. In the end I feel sorry for the fellow. His real name was Josiah Pitts Woolfolk, and he died with $56 dollars to his name. He had been in Federal prison for a time for mail fraud, and in the end was typing but not selling from a seedy hotel in Richmond, Virginia. He died at 77, with his one apparently memorable piece of writing being this book. How depressing.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Need for Cognition

Joe Ricks, a friend of mine and another faculty member at Xavier, and I were talking yesterday about a phenomenon he calls “Need for Cognition.” What he means is that some people, and academics are often among them, have a chronic and near constant need to “think” about things. He and I both have this quality, but this need is not present in everyone. Many people, it seems, are rather happy to let their brains idle. It’s not that these folks are stupid by any means; it’s just that they don’t exert themselves with thoughts when those thoughts are not directly related to the task at hand. In quiet moments, their thoughts are also relatively quiet. For me, it is often in the “quiet” moments that my thoughts race and twist the most.

This reminded me of a time in graduate school when a friend of mine and I were at a local drinking establishment partaking of more than a few alcoholic beverages. My friend’s girlfriend came in, somewhat miffed that he had blown off plans with her to go drinking with me. (I didn’t know of her plans prior to this.) She asked, in a rather exasperated voice, why we felt the need to occasionally drink too much. And both of us said at the same time, without any prior rehearsal or even discussion of the topic: “to stop our heads from thinking.” What we meant, or at least what I meant, was that sometimes I wanted my thoughts to shut the hell up, and once I’d gotten enough alcohol in me those thoughts would obey.

As an adult, I’ve found that playing a video game or chess has much the same effect as alcohol. When I’m caught up in the game my thoughts are all focused. They’re not wandering around yammering at me about this or that topic, and this can be a great relief after a day of cogitating. After my discussion with Joe, I was thinking (of course) about whether writers are more likely to come from the folks who have a “need for cognition.” Does part of the drive to write come from the very fact that writers’ thoughts are constantly yammering at them? Or am I projecting my own mental state onto others. What do you think?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

For More Branding, See...

CS Harris over on her blog has a lot more on the topic of brancing. CS (Candice) is also in my writing group and it was she who brought the topic to our attention Monday night. She's done a lot more thinking about it than I have so check out her posts on the subject.

By the way, in my thoughts on "branding," I wasn't sure whether I should include a "series" as an example. The reason is, to me, branding is more about subject matter, plot devices, and so on than it is about character. I can see how a series character could also become a brand, but I don't think it necessarily needs to be.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


My writing group talked last night about "branding" for authors. No, this isn't a roundup of recalcitrant writers to be marked and lobotomized, but is when an author essentially turns themselves into a name "brand." Like KFC or McDonalds. When you buy a "brand" name you get consistency. You know what you're getting and it's always going to be pretty much the same. This seems to be, essentially, what bestselling authors who want to continue to be bestselling do. Tom Clancy. Dean Koontz. James Patterson. These are all examples. When you pick up a Clancy book you have a good idea before you crack the cover about what you're going to get, and at the highest selling levels branding is apparently a very effective and desirable tactic. And the "brand" extends well beyond characters. The characters may be different, but the basic form of the work is the same.

My problem with this is twofold. First, as a reader I almost never like brand names. Yes, I read most of Koontz's work, but I actually liked him better in his earlier days when he took more chances with his material. I also like Louis L'Amour, and he was definitely a brand name in his day. But I've only read one James Patterson book. I've managed two Clancy's. I'm thinking of a couple of military thriller brand name types that I can't remember the names of because I've never been tempted to try even one of their books.

Second, as a writer, I actually like to think of myself as a flexible writer. I want to write different kinds of things, lots of different kinds of things. Writing gives me the freedom to imagine so many different kinds of stories. I would think that I would very quickly get bored writing essentially the same story over and over. Where's the fun in that?

So what's your opinion? Is branding good for you as a reader? As a writer? Or do you care one way or another?

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Chess in Fiction

Bobbie Fischer’s death started me thinking about the use of chess in fiction. One of my favorite anthologies of all time is Pawn to Infinity, a collection of SF tales involving chess that was edited by Fred Saberhagen. The best story in the collection was “The Immortal Game” by Poul Anderson, which was a brilliant dramatization of an actual game, called “The Immortal Game,” played in 1851 between Adolf Anderssen and Lionel Kieseritzky. Another equally famous and beautiful game is known as “The Evergreen Game,” which was played in 1852 between Anderssen and Jean Dufresne. They had no formal world chess championship in those days, but Anderssen was widely considered the best in the world at the time.

Some variation of chess appears frequently in fantasy works. The first time I remember seeing this was in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter of Mars series. Martian chess was called Jetan and was played on a black and orange board of 100 squares rather than the 64 squares of Earthly chess. ERB even included the rules for the game in, appropriately enough, The Chessmen of Mars. (You can also find the rules on Wikipedia.) Alan Burt Akers (Kenneth Bulmer) created a chess variation called Jikaida for his Dray Prescot books, a sword and planet series that had some influence on my Taleran works. Jikaida has a number of forms but Bulmer gives the rules to the most common type in an appendix to A Sword for Kregen. The game has 36 pieces and, I believe, 216 total squares. a Sword for Kregen is clearly influenced by ERB’s The Chessmen of Mars.

John Norman invented a chess variation called Kaissa for his Gor books. Kaissa is played on a 100 square board of yellow and red and involves an interesting twist called the “placing of the home stone,” the home stone being the spiritual heart of Gorean cities. Norman never gave the full rules of the game in the books, and even indicated that there were many different versions, but several versions have been formalized by fans and you can find some of them at Kaissafan. The term Kaissa is a variant spelling of Caissa, who is known as the goddess of chess. She first appeared, as far as I know, in a poem by Sir William Jones. Norman’s real name is actually John Lange, and he is a philosophy professor. One might expect him to know about classic poetry, although he doesn’t seem to know much about women.

I invented a game for my fantasy stories as well. It’s called Kyrellian, although there is a simpler version called Kyrell. The central board (battle board) for Kyrellian is 100 squares, with two smaller boards (Home boards) of 40 squares each attached to either side by a narrow, one square width, bridge. The players, known as Crystal and Obsidian, start with 20 pieces each on their home board and must move their pieces into the battle section of the board across the bridge. The object is to capture the opponent’s land (the 40 square board), and this can be accomplished in several ways. Kyrell, the simpler version, begins with the pieces already placed on the battle board. There is a longer, more convoluted version, in which four players compete from four different Home boards.

I’m considering doing an article on the issue of chess-like war games in fiction, but I need to do quite a bit more research. Maybe some of you can help. Any of you know of books that have used chess as part of the plot, or that have invented some variation on the game?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Searching for Bobby Fischer

I must interrupt my regularly scheduled blogging to announce that Bobby Fischer has died at age 64 in Iceland, apparently of kidney failure, although what caused his kidney problems has not been revealed.

Bobby Fischer was widely considered a chess genius, and was the first, and still the only, American of the modern period to hold the World Chess Champion title,which he won after defeating the Russian, Boris Spassky, in 1972. He then refused to defend his title and was stripped of it. Many have claimed that Fischer was the greatest chess player of all time, although there is no way of proving such a claim.

There was a time when Fischer was something of a hero to me. I came to chess late but played it a lot in college and played competitively for my first two years in graduate school. I never achieved Masters status but I took the study of the game seriously and did pretty well in local tournaments. I flirted with the idea of pursuing it at a professional level but realized three things, 1) the amount of effort required would be enormous and I didn't have the strength for chess and graduate school both, 2) because of getting a late start in chess, I'd probably never be as good as I wanted to be, and 3) I lack the killer instinct needed to play at the top level.

It was reading works by and about Bobby Fischer that first really brought me to an interest in chess. I played and replayed his games as a learning experience, and they were often things of beauty. At times he created virtual works of art on the board.

Later, I found that Fischer was not a particularly admirable character on a personal level and I lost any sense of hero worship for the man. But, on the chessboard, he achieved greatness, and I cannot help but feel a touch of sadness for the passing of such a talent.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

An Illuminating Update

The January Illuminata is up with a longish, somewhat technical, piece from me called “A Grammar Primer.” (It’s the January 08 issue.) This is a shorter, edited version of a longer piece that will be published down the line, and I cover such issues as “tense,” “subject/verb agreement,” “conjunctions,” and another element or two.

Bret Funk, the editor of the newsletter, also announces that The Illuminata will be going quarterly for the rest of the year. This is way down from the monthly schedule he’s maintained for something over five years. I understand his need to take this step, though, and support him. Besides his own writing, he’s got plenty to do with a new family and new job. His opening essay in the newsletter explains it all.

To tell you the truth, the monthly schedule for producing a column was starting to tell on me as well. Coming up with new ideas was getting pretty difficult after over five years and it won’t hurt me to take a little breather. It’s actually a bit lucky that this slow down comes now. Several other fiction projects and possibilities have suddenly loomed on my horizon and I’m going to need the energy. Sometimes, when a drought ends, the rain falls hard and ruts the land even as it nourishes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Post Presentations, With Suspense

Well, there were five folks in the audience for my talk. One of them was Lana. Nevertheless, I thought it went pretty well. Everyone seemed interested and involved, and there were a lot of good, fun questions after. The entire audience was female as well. Maybe I need to redirect my writing focus. Some would say that my stuff appeals more to males than females, although I believe women often enjoy a good adventure tale as much as any man. As I was talking about my books, the eldest lady there, who was probably in her sixties, commented that Cold in the Light sounded like her kind of book, and she bought a copy after. I told her it was pretty gory so I hope she doesn’t blanche too hard when she gets to some of the slaughtering.

One thing I talked about was how it’s OK to open books with what I call “Quick” suspense, but that to keep the reader very long you soon have to introduce “Slow” suspense. Quick suspense is when you open with an action scene like: someone (often a child) is trapped in a burning building and another person is rushing into the flames to try to save them. Although the reader may be caught by this scenario, they won’t be held long because they don’t know anything about the characters. Slow suspense comes about when people care about the characters, and then anything—even something small—that threatens the character will create suspense.

Under certain circumstances, the kind of Quick suspense I just described can also produce a sense of Slow suspense. But only if the reader already knows and likes the character. This means that sequels or series can have a built in advantage in the suspense department. At least it seems so to me.

I’ll leave you with a couple of pics of my talk. I tried to get Lana to photoshop some pictures of folks like Steve Malley and Wayne Allen Sallee and Sidney Williams into the seats to make it look like my audience was bigger, but she said her computer couldn’t handle the visual overload. I understand. I understand.

Monday, January 14, 2008

I Hereby Refer You To

My post today is just a referral to Moonrat's incredible post on the issue of publishing "rights." Moonrat is an editor and knows of what she speaks. I found this post very helpful and think that any writer, published or new, would do well to check it out. I'm bookmarking it myself for further study.

Have a good 'un.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Approaching a Presentation

Since I’m getting ready for another presentation I thought I might post again on public speaking. I talked about it several times last year but one thing I didn’t discuss is how I actually prepare. Some of you with experience with public speaking will have developed your own strategies, and I’m not saying mine is the best by any means. I’ve used it for a long time, though, and it works for me.

Sometimes I’m asked to speak on a particular topic, and of course I do so. But a lot of venues leave the topic open, only hoping for something that will benefit other writers, particularly newer writers. In that case, I tend to select a topic for my talk that I personally want to know more about rather than picking something I know well. Enthusiasm is a big key to putting over a talk, and it’s hard to work up enthusiasm for something you have thought out very well. If I pick a topic I don’t know a lot about but want to, then I’m in an excited state of learning when I construct my talk, and that excitement is usually still there when I’m in front of people. A new insight or two into the writing process is certainly beneficial to me as a writer, but it also translates into an emotional excitement that can bleed into a talk and excite the audience.

Once I’ve decided on a topic, I immerse myself in reading about it. This usually calls for a trip to the library, but I often find a lot of stuff available online or in reference books that I already have hanging around the house. I usually jot some notes down for the talk as I’m reading, but I don’t even make an attempt to organize them at first. This is really more of a thinking/learning stage.

Once the writing begins, after a few days of thinking/learning, I first know I will need an intro, an icebreaker. I also know that this doesn’t have to have any detailed relationship to the main focus of the speech, so I personally always look for a way to work dreams and nightmares in. People love to talk about and hear about dreams, and I’ve got plenty to chose from and can usually find one that I can relate to the main topic of my talk.

For the main topic, I try to find a way to create “bullet points” for it. “Four ways to create Quick suspense,” for example. Or, “six ways to think about characters.” Lists such as this are not only a boon to an audience, they are a boon to the speaker as well. They really help organize material in a meaningful fashion, and they make it much easier to rehearse and learn a talk. Psychologists know that “part” learning is easier than “whole” learning for lengthy material. For example, it’s easy to memorize a six line poem by going over it all at once. But for a forty line poem it’s easier to memorize it one stanza at a time and then connect the stanzas. For a talk, I also find it easier to learn and rehearse each bullet point, then link point 1 with 2 and so on. This is part of that “modular” process that I talked about last year.

Finally, when writing up a presentation I tend to first write it out pretty much word for word as I intend to give it. Once it’s written, I like to let it sit for a few days because when I come back to it new points often occur to me. After everything is pretty much finished, I simply give it a few days of rereading without making any supreme effort to learn it. I’m just letting it “soak in” so to speak. Then I take my complete speech and make an outline of it, putting just the labels of the “parts” with a point or two under each label to focus my memory. As I begin to rehearse, using my outline but with the full speech available for checking myself, I do it in sections, like I mentioned above, and often practice on drives in the car, or on walks.

Anyway, that’s my basic approach, and now I better get back to it.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Kinda Weird being the Subject of a News Release

Being lazy and very busy, I steal my post today from the: ST. TAMMANY PARISH LIBRARY NEWS RELEASE. Below is quoted from their promotional flyer for my talk next Monday Night (January 14).

"The Slidell branch of the St. Tammany Parish Library is pleased to present Dr. Charles Gramlich and his newly published fiction thriller: Witch of Talera, the third book of the Talera cycle.

Talera is a world in turmoil, a world where warfare is constant, where violent death is a part of life. Ruenn Maclang, an Earthman who now claims Talera as home, has learned to walk the sword's edge as he fights to preserve those he loves and the world in which they live. But the source of Talera's violence is more mysterious than Ruenn suspects, and the puppeteers who guide it are about to take a hand in the game. What can a single swordsman do when he fights not only beasts and men, but the architects of a planet? What can he do when the gods themselves take the field against him?

Dr. Gramlich is a professor of psychology at Xavier University of Louisiana of over 20 years. During that time he has published over 70 stories, over 100 articles and essays and more than 50 poems. He has also written over 60 reference articles for encyclopedia type works, including on authors such as Peter Straub and Candice Proctor, on genres of writing such as “Sword & Sorcery,” and even on rock bands like Mötley Crüe. Witch of Talera is his fourth novel and he is currently working on several long-term projects.

The lecture begins at 6:30 p.m. on Monday January 14th at the Slidell Branch of the St. Tammany Parish Library located at 555 Robert Blvd. in Slidell. The event is free and open to the public, and registration is requested. Books will be available for purchase before and after the program. Please stop by the Slidell Branch or call 985-646-6470 to register. ###"


Monday, January 07, 2008

Work Begins Anew

Back in traffic today. Back driving across the 24 mile Causeway Bridge with the sun just coming up pink over the lake. Back dealing with students, colleagues, emails, proposals, textbooks, classes, emails, meetings, files phone messages, emails, etc. I've got a nice headache splitting my scalp right down the middle. Classes don't actually start until Thursday but most moments will be just packed even before then. I won't be posting much, and, worse, I won't have much time to visit other's blogs for the next few days. But I will catch up toward the end of the week and the weekend.

Meanwhile, time's a wasting. Enjoy your day.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

New Year Day 5: Update

Mostly an update today. I’ve been working on getting ready for school, and found out yesterday that a textbook I was going to use for a class has had its publication date pushed back from November 2007 until March 2008. That will leave me scrambling for a book since classes start in about a week. The University bookstore is supposed to let me know about this kind of thing, but alas. I should have had enough sense to check earlier.

Other than that, I did get an acceptance on a story from Flashing Swords. The tale is called “Worms in the Earth,” and is one of the few humorous stories I’ve attempted over the years. Humor is popular with editors, though. This is actually a reprint sale. The story sold first time out and was published, then I resold it a couple of years later to an anthology that ended up never seeing print, then resold it again this week. It’s actually been submitted four times and sold three of the four. The other submission was for a “best of” anthology so it had pretty stiff competition there. Below is a brief excerpt from the piece, but I’ll be sure and let everyone know when the piece is published.

Deep into his palace Farthane stalked, making his way to what he called his "black" room (though a visiting imp had once been heard to remark, "why doesn't he call it his 'blacker' room since his whole castle is most wholesomely black?"). Drawing from his fastidiously immaculate shelves his most ancient and potent grimoire--the Necronudicon (older than the Necronomicon and with better pictures besides)--he turned the laminated bat-wing pages until he found the one spell he sought, the one cantrip that he had never used in his rather short long life.

I hope to have a post on writing humor in the next few days. I generally find it difficult to do, but when it works I really enjoy it. How about you? Any humor writers in the audience? Do you find it easier or harder to write humor? Do you enjoy reading humorous works?

Finally, I know most of you are not in this area, but if you are or know anyone who is, I’m going to give a talk on writing and publishing, and hopefully sign a few books, on January 14, at 6:30, at the library in Slidell, Louisiana. That’s a Monday night. Would love to see anyone there who could make it. But I can’t pay for your plane tickets if you live in, say, New Zealand or Canada or England or Detroit or Chicago, or some wild and wooly place like that.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


A book was delivered to my door today. That’s not an unusual occurrence. But this one I didn’t pay for. That’s a bit more unusual. Michael Burgess, who generally writes SF and Fantasy under the name Robert Reginald, sent me a copy of his book Invasion!. This is actually a trilogy under one cover, and is basically a riff on H. G. Wells’ War of the Worlds. It continues and expands the story, and I have to admit this is one of those day dreams that I’ve indulged in quite frequently. What would I have done had such an event really happened in my life time. For some reason, I usually imagine that I’m in Graduate school when the war starts.

Frankly, when it comes to SF and fantasy, I enjoy when authors take beloved tales and play off them. Some are better than others, of course. So much depends on the writer. Rob is a professional and this book sings. Here’s a website that talks about the book.

You’d guess that I’d feel this way, I imagine. The Taleran books are very much influenced by the John Carter of Mars books by Edgar Rice Burroughs.

How about you? Do you like it when an author takes a well loved theme and puts their own spin on it? Do you like to read that kind of thing? Or would you prefer everything new and shiny?

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

New Year, Day 2

Sorry I didn't get around to anyone's blog yesterday. I spent most of the day on the couch watching football. Unfortunately, there weren't many good games. Lots of blowouts.

As is my habit these past few years, I got a few items submitted right after midnight on New Year's, including a resubmission of "Love in the Time of Cybersex." I have some poetry I want to resubmit today. I also realized that I forgot to post about the December Illuminata publication. My Writer's Block column last month was on "Emotion and Medium in Writing," in Volume 6, Issue 4, and as always you can download a free copy of the newsletter here.

Now it's off to check folks blogs, but I leave you with some pics that Lana took from our front driveway near midnight on New Year's eve.

Happy New Year!