Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Review of Killing Trail, and More

Travis Erwin gives a good mention to Killing Trail over on his blog. I'm glad the book is being so well received. Thanks, Travis.

I recently read a pretty good book myself. It was called Night of the Living Trekkies, and was written by Kevin David Anderson and Sam Stall. Since this is somewhat of a "gimmick" book, I was afraid it would be awful. But I love Star Trek so I decided to give it a try. It was actually very well done and I enjoyed it very much. I'm very pleased to have been wrong about it.

The book's premise is a zombie outbreak at a Star Trek convention. The key to this kind of thing is good writing and this certainly qualifies. And clearly the authors knew their subjects, both Star Trek and Zombies, and Star Wars to boot. Lots of nice touches, like using episode titles for the chapter titles, and having the dialogue at places reflect the shows.

Kudos to the authors


Friday, July 29, 2011

Painting, and My Personal West

We've been having some work done on our house for the past couple of days and they are painting in my room, among other things. That's where my computer and internet access are so that's why I haven't been around to the blogs as much. It seems to be completed now so I'm gonna start making some rounds of blogs.

In the meantime, Richard Prosch is rerunning his "My Personal West" series of posts. The one he's got up today is a guest post by me that I wrote back when Killing Trail first came out. If you didn't see it then, check it out now. It's HERE.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Novel Spaces: Dedication Weirdness

I'm over at Novel Spaces today talking about one of the strangest experiences I've ever had in my writing career. It has to do with the issue of book dedications. I hope you'll check it out.

It will be one post down from the top now.


Friday, July 22, 2011

Hell West

My dream last night began with a college age man sitting in a class for would-be teachers. The students are practice teaching and one young woman first has cake served to the class. Our young man, I’ll call him “hero,” gets a piece of white wedding cake. Class then ends and hero leaves with two female friends, a blonde and a brunette. He is dating the blonde but runs into a female teacher who whispers to him that he should really date the brunette, who is smarter and nicer.

Hero has to go to the bathroom and this is where the weird stuff starts. While in the bathroom, he gets a feeling that something isn’t right. About that time, a dwarf comes in and locks himself in a stall. Then a bag lady he saw outside also wanders in. She starts to flirt and tries to grope him, and he quickly leaves without managing to consummate his bathroom experience.

He goes around the back of the building to urinate but runs into two security guards. He and his two lady friends are then standing next to a railroad car on display behind the building when the sunny sky darkens and a kind of ‘shield’ snaps into place between the three and the outside world. A monstrous shadow starts to rise out of the railroad car, and the two security guards open fire on it. A massive arm with a single huge claw on the end smashes out of the car and crushes the guards. The blonde is also killed and our hero knocked unconscious.

Here it gets really weird, and funny. Our hero wakes up in Hell “West.” Satan has had to abandon the real hell but has set up a little touch of home right on the college campus. He's brought his family with him, 1) a mentally challenged 20 something son who wears a batman mask and cape, 2) a son of about 8 who never says a word, and 3) two twin teenage daughters, one with long and the other with bobbed hair. Hero is being kept because his blood is especially nutritious to the hell-borne. He is told that his brunette friend is alive but being held prisoner to keep him in line.

The long-haired daughter seems the most normal of the family and hero talks a bit to her. She protects him from her short-haired sister who wants to hammer nails into him, and this makes him feel like his best chance of escape is to befriend her. That seems to be working. When the bat masked son wants a snack, the long-haired twin is the one to “bleed” hero into a chalice, but he realizes she's doing it because her sister would hurt him much worse.

Then, Satan offers hero a bet. If he can beat the devil and his family in baseball, they’ll let him go. The young man agrees. The “baseball” is really a hacky-sack, and the bat is a fat red plastic kid’s bat (like my son had). Satan is up first and hero is pitching. Satan gets a hit and his youngest son runs for him. The kid gets on base, but then tries to steal another base and hero tags him out.

The devil fouls the next pitch into the bushes. While hero fetches the ball, the devil brings another player in on his side, a woman who is completely burned black and who stands between our hero and the batter’s box. (Satan refers to the damned as the “Burned ones.”) As our hero pitches, she tries to knock the ball away, and if she succeeds it is called a foul.

Unfortunately, I woke up before the game could finish so I don’t know if our hero escaped. I’m thinking his chances aren’t too good. What do you think?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Doc Savage, Quake 4, Writing

You can download the newest issue of The Illuminata today, with articles and reviews, including an opinion piece by me on “Doc Savage: The Hero Problem.” If you’re a huge fan of Doc, try to remember that I really am a nice guy anyway. :)

The issue is: Vol. 9 Issue #3 July 2011, and you can download it as a PDF or an EPUB HERE.

Looks like a good writing day here. We’ve had four straight days of heavy, heavy rain, and though we definitely needed it we’re starting to experience some localized flooding, including some road closings. I’ve been inside a lot, playing a bit on my new video game, Quake 4, which is brought to you by the same folks who gave you Doom, my favorite video game of all time. Quake is not quite as good but is still fun. Primarily, though, I’ll be sitting high and dry in my house today, writing, writing, writing. Then napping. Wow I’ve got a good life. I hope yours is going as well.

Friday, July 15, 2011

More Star Trek Versus Conan

Here's a bit more of that, dare I call it, "humor?" Well here goes anyway.

Many people think Chekov has an accent because he’s Russian. In fact, it’s because Conan punched him in the mouth until he could no longer speak straight.

Conan once told Q to get off his ship. Q listened.

Conan was once captured by the Gamesters of Triskelion. He made them fight each other and bet on the outcome. He won several quadrillion Quatloos on his bets but immediately spent it all on strong drink and women.

Conan once wore a red shirt for a whole year. He lived. But the same couldn’t be said for those who accosted Conan during that time.

Dilithium crystals always remain crystallized in the presence of Conan.

The warp drive was invented by Zefram Cockrane when he was running from Conan.

Conan loves Tribbles; Especially grilled over an open flame.

Tribbles are normally born pregnant but not so in the presence of Conan. Conan finds their offspring to be an irresistible hors d’oeurves and they can sense it.

Conan does indeed have a piece of the Federation’s action.

Conan has found that Picard’s bald head puts a dandy shine on his boots.

One of Conan’s wet farts became Wesley Crusher.

Conan once beat Kirk at a game of Fizzbin. He got a Royal Fizzbin with his first hand.

Conan spanked Charlie X.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Three Days Off

I "finished" Under the Ember Star on Friday and for the past three days have refused to allow myself to look at it, or even think much about it. I'm a firm believer that you should always put any story or book away for a while before you do the final read through. It helps you get some needed objective distance.

I also didn't want to get started on another major project until after I finished the last read through on "Ember Star," and I haven't taken many days off this summer so far, so I decided I'd take the entire three days off from writing.

Man, am I tired of my writing vacation. I would normally try to let "Ember Star" sit a few more days but I'm too antsy and will get back to it today. I'm pretty happy to have that hunger. I played video games and read for three days, and I enjoyed it, but there was definitely something missing. Writing energizes me, feeds me intellectually in a way that video games, watching TV, and even reading can't do. It's in my blood now, or my brain, or some part of me. I reckon I'll be doing this until I die.


Sunday, July 10, 2011

Alien in the Family, at Novel Spaces

I'm over at Novel Spaces for the next couple of days. I did a post on the hybrids in literature, particularly in science fiction. I hope you can drop by.


Friday, July 08, 2011

Conan Versus Star Trek

In the line of the books about how bad ass Chuck Norris is, I was thinking about putting together a book about Conan the Barbarian versus Star Trek. I'd probably have copyright issues in either case so I don't think it will ever happen, but here is a sample of what I've come up with for fun so far. I've got lots more. What do you think? And please do forgive the occasional vulgarity. These kinds of things aren't long on manners.

In one of their trips back through time, the crew of the Starship Enterprise (NCC-1701) encountered Conan the Cimmerian. The following events happened.

1. Twenty-seven red shirts died. Fourteen others suffered severe internal injuries from wedgies.

2. Yeoman Rand got pregnant. Twice.

3. Spock attempted a nerve pinch on Conan only to experience in return the more effective and far more painful nerve PUNCH.

4. Scotty finally met someone who could drink him under the table. Until Scotty passed out, the two of them got on well. They even moved past “It’s green” to “It’s liquid.”

5. After bumping into the drunk Conan, Bones retorted, “Dammit, Jim, I’m a doctor not a punching bag.” He was wrong.

6. Kirk couldn’t act his way out of getting his ass kicked.

7. Uhuru learned a lot about alien tongues.

8. Sulu discovered that swords aren’t toys. It took him a long time to get his rapier out of his ass.

9. Conan was accidentally duplicated in a transporter accident. Both his sides were bad ass.

10. Conan tried Romulan ale and thought it was for pussies

Wednesday, July 06, 2011


I’m so close to the end of “Under the Ember Star” I can taste it, and I’ve been writing myself out on that so I don’t have a lot of energy to blog. Here’s a few capsule book reviews.

I recently read two books in Ed Gorman’s Sam McCain series, a private eye series set in small town Iowa in the 1960s. These were Breaking Up is Hard to Do and Everybody’s Somebody’s Fool. Both were very good and very easy reads. I’ve already ordered more.

Do read Michael Connelly’s The Narrows. This is a serial killer book but it was quite well done and persuaded me to get some of his earlier works.

Read Koontz’s The Good Guy. Although Koontz has written out most of the darkness within this one hearkens back in some ways to his older work. It has one of the strongest beginnings in recent memory.

Read Rumble Tumble by Joe Lansdale. This is a Hap and Leonard book, and if you don’t know what that means then you need to find out. Email me if need be and I’ll explain. These books are suspense but I wouldn’t call them “straight” suspense. There’s always some pretty weird shit in any Lansdale book. Rumble Tumble is the good stuff. A quick read, and very brutal.

Probably you shouldn’t bother with The Forty Fathom Bank by Les Galloway. Galloway, who is dead now, attempts a Hemingway riff and doesn’t quite pull it off. I really didn’t like the main character, who is a whiney little bitch, and the ending is telegraphed very early. But I did admire the prose. It’s a novella of 108 pages. Galloway wrote it when he was 72 so that was kind of cool.

Of interest to early paperback readers, Pocketbook Writer: Confessions of a Commercial Hack, by Charles Nuetzel. Nuetzel wrote a few ERB type books back in the 60s, as well as a lot of other stuff. This is his autobiography. It includes an interview I did with him years ago.

A very good book is In the Courts of the Crimson Kings by S. M. Stirling. This is the first in a proposed Martian series. It was far superior to The Sky People, the first in a proposed Venusian series. Stirling did an excellent job updating the Sword & Planet genre here. He created an interesting way for the Martians to express themselves and kept it up throughout the whole book. There was plenty of action, as well, and quite a twist ending. Check it out.

Maybe, if you want, read Ice Prophet by William R. Forstchen. I’ve liked every other book I’ve read by Forstchen, especially his Lost Regiment series, but I didn’t really care for this one. I believe this is one of his first, written in 1983. The idea is good, a future ice age world where religion rules and ice ships sail the glaciers. It has similarities to Ice Schooner by Moorcock, but is not as good. Forstchen spends too much time on the development of the society and less on the characters and action. The ending is pretty cool, though.

Another very good book is Nightblood by T. Chris Martindale. An even better book by him, however, is Where the Chill Waits, which I read a few years back. Both books are excellent horror novels, and I also feel that Martindale writes with a style similar to what I used in Cold in the Light.

As for Heart-Shaped Box, by Joe Hill. If you like Stephen King you’ll probably like this. Joe Hill writes much like his pappy. The book started out good, then slowed way down in the middle. I almost put the book down then, but am glad I didn’t because the ending was a real roller coaster ride and was very good.

The Rocket’s Shadow and The Lost City, by John Blaine. These are two YA books, both written in 1947. This is a Tom Swift/ Tom Corbett kind of series but I didn’t think they were as exciting. “The Lost City” had a neat twist in that the “city” in question turned out to be a hidden Mongol city where the actual grave of Ghengis Khan was hidden. I would have loved these books when I was in my early teens, but they were a bit much of a sameness for me now.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

White Cat Comes Alive

I’m pleased as a good beer to let everyone know that White Cat Publications is now live and rockin’. This promises to be a great site for both readers and writers. The link to the home page is HERE, but once you’re on site you can see the richness of what is up there already, as well as get glimpses of what is to come. If you click on the “Fiction” tab you’ll even see a story by me called “Ruins & Wraiths,” as well as excellent tales by Tyree Campbell, Stewart Sternberg, Charles P. Zaglanis, and Lillian Cohen-Moore.

If you’re a reader, there’s already some good stories on the site and a lot more to come. There are reviews and links and other news for the reader’s world. (Don’t forget to click on the “Next Page” at the bottom of the home page.)

If you’re a writer, this is a paying market with an editor who knows his stuff and is open to a variety of stories and styles. There is also a lot of supporting material for writers, and heads up on issues such as internet plagiarism.

I urge everyone to have a look, and bookmark the site because it is expanding geometrically. I’m going to add it to my magazine links today.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

When the Dam Breaks

A while back I posted about hitting the wall on my WIP, “Under the Ember Star.” That wall proved tough to get over. I find a book develops a certain momentum, especially if you try to end chapters on cliffhangers. And once you get into that rhythm of movement it’s hard to break free. That was the source of the wall. I wanted the story between 25,000 and 30,000 words, and I realized I had to get hold of the reins and pull the thing up if I were going to end it where I wanted it. But the story fought the reins. I finally won, but it was a near thing, and it looks like the final will be right around 30,000 words, just a little longer than I’d hoped.

When the wall finally breached, the end came quickly. I did about 20 pages of rough draft in one day. It’ll have to be polished so the work is not done by any means, but the pieces are all there and I know where they go. And best of all, I’m pretty happy with how it turned out. I was afraid there’d be too much talky explanation at the end and not enough action, but I found a way around that. Sometimes, also, I worry that I won’t be able to pull it off, that this time I’ll write myself into a corner I can’t get out of. I’m glad it didn’t happen. This time. Someday it probably will. That’s the perils of writing by the seat of your pants.

In other news, I have another review of a friend's book below. This is for Apostle Rising, by Richard Godwin.

Apostle Rising mixes a number of genres, and does it flawlessly. There are elements of the police procedural, with two sets of connected serial killings being investigated. There are horrific elements that are a match for anything you’ll read in a straight horror novel. And there are edge-of-your-seat twists and turns that keep your head spinning and which are the basics of the thriller. The final twist caught me completely by surprise even though I read a lot of thrillers and am generally pretty good at picking out the hints. This one had me smiling because it was just perfect, and yet I never saw it coming.

The story is also written in luminous and often poetic prose:“The woods are cast deep in folded meadow shade, hues of blackness tinged with the heavy odours of autumn, rotting to nothing in the scattered leaves where insects scurry and blind slugs creep and grope their way to mulch.”

One of the main reasons I picked up this book is because I’d read a number of Godwin’s short stories and always enjoyed his prose. Godwin is a helluva stylist and I’m a sucker for beautiful language, especially when it is combined with a dark sensibility that gives it backbone.

Finally, we have good characters, both heroes and villains. I like heroes who hurt but move ahead despite the pain, characters who stand for something, who fight the good fight. Frank Castle and Jacki Stone have those qualities. And the villains (there are more than one) are a good match for our heroes. Overall this is a very strong outing for what I believe is Godwin’s first novel. I’m looking for even greater things ahead for this writer.