Thursday, April 28, 2011

Storm Wrath

My thoughts and prayers go out to all who suffered in the past few days from tornadoes and storms. Over 200 people dead across the south, and that count likely to rise from what I hear. The worst has been in Alabama and I pray that our blogging friends from there are OK. Arkansas, too, was hit, and though my family did not have any trouble, other families did.

I remember long enough back to recall the early 1970s, when it seemed tornadoes did horrific damage every year in the south. Things seemed to quieten down in the 80s, 90s and into the current century. I hope we're not at the beginning of another upsurge.

The sun is shining bright here today. But there is a darkening of spirit when I think of those who have lost homes and loved ones. I pray for good news today to give hope to the bad.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

One Test Down, Novel Spaces Today

First round of grading done. More to come later. But I'm off to visit blogs today. I'm over at Novel Spaces today if you get a chance to visit.


Monday, April 25, 2011

Final exams, but I Leave You Reviews

Today officially starts final exams, so I'll be largely off the grid for a few days. I'll leave you with a few reviews. The first is a review of James Reasoner's Redemption, Kansas, which I just finished.

"Another excellent western by James Reasoner. Take a Kansas town called Redemption, a Texas cowboy injured in a stampede, a group of townsfolk who fear Texans but are learning that the lawmen who swore to protect them from the trail herds might be worse, and a beautiful, strong-willed woman, and you have the ingredients for an explosive western. As Bill Crider says in his blurb on the book, "If anybody asks you who's carrying on the heritage of fine traditional Westerns in the vein of Louis L'Amour and Elmer Kelton, tell 'em James Reasoner's the man."

On Saturday I went to a book signing by Shauna Roberts for her book, Like Mayflies in a Stream. She was back in town for a brief time and it was good to see her again. I've run a review of her book before, but here it is again. It's well worth repeating.

"I found this a really compelling read. Just great characters and a very realistic feel to the historical world. The basic story is a retelling of the Gilgamesh legend, but the mythology is fleshed out with supporting characters who seem extremely real. By the time I got to the second half of the book I was loath to take a break from it and was turning the pages rapidly to find out what happened next."

In the meantime, Shauna left a review on Amazon and Goodreads for my collection, Bitter Steel. Sure made me feel good.

"I loved this collection of epic fantasy short stories and poems. The prose is breathtakingly beautiful, particularly given how easy it would have been to write these tales of honorable but flawed heroes living harsh lives and fighting battles that are not always winnable in prose as bleak as the landscapes and battlefields the stories take place in. Gramlich is among the best stylists writing speculative fiction today."

I'm gonna visit blogs tonight, and then see you all again in a few.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tougher Days are Here Again

Grading time is upon me. I’m grading a test now in my Capstone class, and on Monday I’ll have two tests to grade. Senior grades—and most of my students are seniors—are due Tuesday at noon so that means Monday will definitely be a nose to the grindstone kind of day. Probably most of the night too.

In the meantime, It’s been a while since I’ve talked up my own books so I thought I might leave you with some samples from a couple of my available works. Soon I hope to be able to turn my mind to writing some ‘new’ stuff.

Here’s the opening to “Showdown at Wild Briar,” from my Kindle collection Killing Trail. As you might guess, things aren’t going to be as easy as the end of this teaser suggests. In the west, going home ain’t for the faint of heart or the slow of hand.

“You Josh Allen Boone?”

Leaning back in his chair in the Bucket of Blood saloon, a man looked up from under the brim of a battered Stetson. His gray eyes studied the speaker, noted the briar-scarred chaps, the faded red bandana at the neck, beaten smooth and soft with many washings, and the sun-worn face under a sweat-stained hat. A Remington New Model Army .44 rested in a holster high on the man’s right hip. Except for the boots, which were hand-tooled and expensive, the outfit shouted cow puncher.

“Who’s asking?”

“Don’t matter,” the cowboy said. He tossed what looked like a newspaper clipping onto the table beside Josh’s beer. “Figured you’d like to know. A Texas ranger down Brazos way shot a horse thief. One, Terrance Morelli. Seems old Terrance wanted to clear his conscience afore he died. Told about a man name of Frank Caine he’d killed in Wyoming. I believe you knew Frank.”

A tiny smile quirked the corner of Josh Allen’s lips. “Knew him,” Josh agreed. “They say I murdered him.”

“Now they’ll say you didn’t. You can go home.”


Here’s a piece from the collection Midnight in Rosary, also available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. This is from a story called “Love in the Time of Cybersex.”

The shapeshifter prowled toward him, as if her bones and muscles weren’t quite human. And they weren’t. Persona vats could grow anything. He’d seen a dragon here last night for sweet sake, though the cost of downloading one’s mind into something like that was astronomically high. But the shifter body was almost standard, and with practice the person inhabiting it could make it change shape. In the lighter gravity of the moon, the werewolf myth could come howling to life.

This shifter was named Smokeheart, a werepanther instead of a wolf, and she hadn’t been here quite long enough to learn how to fully control her body. She remained mostly human, except for pointed and tufted ears and a rampant grace, and a tail as strong and flexible as satin rope. Boone recalled that tail fondly.

Killing Trail is a collection of western stories and some nonfiction stuff about the west. The stories were most strongly influenced by Louis L’Amour. Since this is a self-published book, it’s exactly as I want it to be. Now, whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing the readers will have to say.

Midnight in Rosary is a collection of mostly vampire stories with some werewolf stuff thrown in. It’s also got a fair amount of erotica in the mix.

Thanks for listening!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011


Here are some of my recent reviews of books that I've read by friends and colleagues. The reviews are all published on Goodreads and Amazon. The links below will take you to Amazon.

Beat to a Pulp: Round 1, edited by David Cranmer and Elaine Ash.

It would be virtually impossible to do a review that does justice to all the richness to be found in this collection. We're talking a whopping 380 pages of pulse pounding, gut wrenching pulp fiction. Not for the faint of heart, but maybe it's perfect for the faint of pulse. It should certainly get the heart rate up and the blood pressure rising.

I hesitate to mention specific stories for fear readers, and the writers, will think I didn't care for the others in the collection. I can honestly say that I didn't find a clinker in the bunch. They each had something interesting to offer. In looking back through the table of contents, however, a few stories do particularly linger in my mind.

"Heliotrope" by James Reasoner has some great atmospheric horror.

The monkey in "Hard Bite" by Anonymous-9 will linger a long time in my head.

"The Unreal Jesse James" by Chap O'Keefe had some great SF elements that I loved. Plus that title is just a winner.

"A Native Problem" by Chris F. Holm put me in mind of "Heart of Darkness."

"Hoosier Daddy" by Jedidiah Ayres wins my "I just threw up in my mouth a little bit" award. And that's not a bad thing.

"Acting Out" by Frank Bill had perhaps the most unique style to the story.

There are many other memorable stories, including works by Patricia Abbott, Evan Lewis, Edward A. Grainger, and Scott D. Parker, and there's an Ed Gorman story, which is always a plus.

Overall, I highly recommend it.

Storlandia Issue 3:, Containing the Novella "Dead Girl, Live Boy" by Michelle Brooks.

Issue 3 of Storylandia consists of a novella by Michelle Brooks called "Dead Girl, Live Boy." Brooks is a Detroit writer and the work is set in Detroit. It features a young woman named Josette and her brother Josh, both severely wounded by childhood, who live together as roommates and try to survive in a world full of bad relationships, a world where almost every decision has to be made between something bad and something worse. The story is told from Josette’s point of view, and begins: “The night my brother Josh took a razor and carved a grin underneath his mouth…”

Although this book would generally be classified as literary fiction, it certainly has elements of psychological horror in it. The writing is superb, the characterization top notch. At times, the combination of Josette’s insight into her world, and yet her inability to rescue either herself or her brother is heart-wrenching. And their parents? Simply chilling, in an understated way. I won’t spoil the ending by saying anything specific, but if you read and appreciate literary fiction you’ll probably have a rough idea of how things will end. Even if you don’t typically read literary fiction, this might make a good foray into that field.

I highly recommend it.

Archangel, by Bernard Lee DeLeo

Well, you will never look at Archangels, Lucifer, and nuns the same way again. The story concerns two Archangels, Raphael and Abaddon, the Archangel of the Abyss, in an alliance with two Catholic nuns to destroy demons that are possessing important human figures on earth and wreaking havoc with human lives and world affairs. There's a lot of action and a whole lot of humor. A fun book.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Poetry Evening

Last night a group of local poets had a poetry reading at the Barnes & Noble in Mandeville. It was sponsored by the Northshore Literary Society. Eve Brouwer, who is also a member of my NorthShore writing group, did the hard work of herding a bunch of flighty poets into some semblance of order and getting everything to run smoothly, including MCing the whole affair. She even baked cookies. Just to show you what Eve was up against, even I was late sending my poems in to her. I am not usually late on my responsibilities and was very ashamed, but she seems to have forgiven me. I guess we’ll see when she gets her chance to critique my next piece at the writing group.

I enjoy poetry readings, although I don’t go as often as I’d like. Most of the time it seems I have to keep my nose to the grindstone, but I did go last night and even read a few haiku from my collection Wanting the Mouth of a Lover. I much enjoyed the whole event. Some of the talented poets reading included Laurie Astoria, Pat Currie, Richard Boyd, David Cook, Sheila Delacroix, Mignon Fahr, D’Wanna Hanes, Kenny Mathews, Susan Newton, Mary Louise Guste Nix, and Eve herself. Our youngest poet was Evan Ross Cherry, who read his poem “Mardi Gras Day.” We also heard poems by two other local poets who were unable to be there, Gary Hanes and Jean Lutz. There were many good pieces worthy of discussion, too many to cover individually. We heard funny poems, dramatic poems, nature poems, spiritual poems, family poems, odes. A wide selection. There were also quite a few folks in the audience who came just to hear the readers, so it wasn’t just poets listening to other poets.

Sometimes we writers complain about the dearth of readers, or about the lack of interest that the world seems to take in literary matters, but in fact there are a lot of readers out there, and a lot of people with literary interests. You just need to look around a little. They, like the Northshore Literary Society, are quietly going about the business of creating and talking about stories, poetry, and books. While some of us complain, they are sponsoring poetry readings, and inviting authors to speak, and getting the word out about “words.”

Thanks to the Northshore literary society and to all the poets who read last night at Barnes & Noble. You gave me an enjoyable evening and I appreciate it.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Writing News and Updates

A story of mine just came out in Trembles Magazine. It’s called “Lily White and Red.” It’s not for the squeamish. Trembles has a webpage and a facebook page. Both pages are up now. An ebook version is out for both the Kindle and the Nook, priced at 99 cents. I have my contributor copy but haven’t read it all yet. Looks to be some good stuff in there, though.

In other publishing news, I’ve just finished ordering some author copies of all my books to have at home for signings or for direct sale. I was mostly out of copies before this latest round of ordering. I suppose no one will mind my putting up the details of that soon, with prices and that sort of thing. There’s one particular item I’m kind of proud of that I’ll talk about then.

In general writing news, I’ve made good progress this spring on my book on evolution and religion. The finish of that is still a ways off but the trees are thinning ahead. I also rough drafted a few pages of a potential novella I’m calling “Under the Ember Star.” I already have a market for it if I can get it written, but there’s been no fiction work for me since last Friday due to some family things and a heavy week at school. We’re coming down to the wire and I start getting final papers on Monday of next week, with final exams coming just behind. So, fiction will be waiting a while longer, although I hope to get some done this coming weekend.

That’s about it for news and updates. Stay frosty my friends!

Monday, April 11, 2011

There is no Spoon

My post over at Novel Spaces is still up, although it's one down from the top. It's entitled "There Is No Spoon." Maybe you'll have a chance to drop by.

I haven't visited blogs for a couple of days. Between family issues and work I've hardly been able to get on the computer. Fortunately the Novel Spaces post was scheduled ahead of time. I probably won't be getting around very much the first few days of this week either but by mid-week I should be getting back to normal. I hope things will at any rate. I haven't forgotten you all, though.


Wednesday, April 06, 2011

When Evening Closes In

It’s Wednesday evening, a little after 6:00. I’m sitting on my deck with the laptop and the sun is still bright behind me. But the temperature is getting cooler. I know the night is coming. There was a lot of wind earlier today but it is quiet and still here now, as if the air itself is a bit tired and ready to sleep.

Our bird feeders are largely empty except for some doves, which are evening feeders. I hear them calling in the distance and sometimes I call back to them. And now and then I see a Cardinal or Blue Jay dropping in for a last sunflower snack before bedtime. The day is closing up for most of the birds as well.

There is just a hint of yellow in the light over my shoulder, the yellow that to me will always be a mark of evening. I love this time of day. And yet it often makes me a bit melancholy. I cannot say why rationally. The feeling is deeper than that, and I have to wonder if it is not some genetic remnant from a time when night was the bad time, the time of teeth and claws and hunger.

Tonight will not be a bad time. I will eat good food and will have Lana here with me. And later, I hope I will write well. I hope, also, that all of you will be safe from the teeth tonight, and that you will have those things around you that give you satisfaction.

Let the night close in. But may it not close upon you.

Monday, April 04, 2011

My Talented Lana

Today's post is dedicated to my talented wife, Lana, whose photography skills are lately being recognized all over the place. On Saturday night she won first place in photography for her "Foggy Morning" over at the Lacombe Art Guild Spring show. Her "Grebe and Grasses" photo, which I personally love, got honorable mention. You can check out her post about the contest and see the winning entries at her blog.

To make things better, Lana's winning entry, "Foggy Morning," was taken almost outside our front door. Gotta love that.

Lana already picked up another first place award for photography at another art show earlier this year, and her photos were in high demand at a recent art market in Madisonville down here. These days, with technology, many people can take good photos with the digital cameras available, but there's still something about the eye of the artist that adds to the quality of photos and turns them from the mundane into an art form.

Quite often as we are out on our nature walks, Lana and I will see the same physical scene, but her eye catches patterns of light and shadow that I never see, or she will become entranced with the geometric lines found among growing plants or in natural arrangements of stone. Often, with wildlife, there will be only a second available for the special shot, the one that raises the level of the scene to art, and she somehow manages to capture it. I stand in awe. I hope you'll check out her blog.