Sunday, May 20, 2018

Unsheathed: A Review


Unsheathed: An Epic Fantasy Collection. 2018: Hydra Publications. ISBN = 9781940466682

Edited by Stuart Thaman.

Contains: 9 fantasy stories, all of which would be classified as either sword and sorcery or high fantasy. Full disclosure: one of the stories is mine.

Hanging at Crosbothar, by Austin Worley: A great opening line here, “Corpses hung from the ancient maple like leaves.” Has an historical feel—brought to mind the Templars—but brings in magic as a significant player in the story. The primary hero is female and is well drawn. Writing is good; lots of sensory details. Enjoyable.

Retribution by Night, by Chad Vincent: No real hero in this story, but plenty of villains. The one known as Armstrong is most memorable. I’d generally consider it sword and sorcery but the naming convention in the story sounds more historical. The writing style is very unusual, perhaps rather experimental on the part of the author. Interesting read.

Where All the Souls are Hollow, by Charles Gramlich: My story. Features the character, Krieg, a series character I’ve been working with. This was intended to be sword and sorcery with a twist. I won’t give that away. For those of you familiar with fantasy, the charter of Krieg probably most resembles Karl Edward Wagner’s Kane.

Switch Blade, by Dr. Scott Simerlein: More high fantasy than sword and sorcery, and a tale with humor. A magical blade that can switch bodies and souls. The tale hinges on the difficulty of getting the right soul back into the right body after an accident. Ingenious plot. A very satisfying ending that brought a smile and a “well-done.”

King’s Road, by G. Dean Manuel: This one has another magical blade and my favorite character in the collection, Prince William. William’s father, the king, is not serving his land well in the face of a sorcerous invasion. William has to act but he does so with honor by giving his father a chance for redemption. A good read with another strong ending. Has a kind of historical feel.

The Artefact, by Ross Baxter: Excellent start to this tale, when three companions enter a ruined estate in search of secrets. There’s a cool female warrior named Silja, and a tinkerer named Jud, who is the primary character. I liked Jud a lot and liked how the tale ended. Sword and sorcery.

Under Locke and Key, by Jay Erickson: The only story to feature a child as main character, although there are strong supporting characters. Gwendolyn is a slave girl in a land where a plague called the “Red Tears” is running rampant. The cure to the plague is hidden in plain sight but the story is well constructed so you don’t solve the mystery until the final reveal. I liked it quite a lot. Sword and sorcery with an historical feel.

Ransom for a Prince, by Liam Hogan: This one features a realistically portrayed female warrior who must fight a desperate battle to give her liege a chance to escape. No magic in this one. Lots of good fighting choreography. And a strong ending. Well done.

Only an Elf, By Stuart Thaman: This one features elves and dwarves and leans more toward high fantasy. The main character is an elven slave of the dwarves who discovers a way to strike back at her captors. Well told tale with interesting and complex characters.

Sunday, May 06, 2018

Rope and Wire, and Lane Gabriel

I've joined an online western community called Rope and Wire, which is the brain child of Scott Gese. There's a tremendous amount to explore and so far I've just scratched the surface. Generally, it provides a place where western authors can find support and support each other. Lots of good stories are already posted there, although, as I say, I've only been able to read a few so far.

My first story accepted for the site went up yesterday (Saturday). It's called "Gun Law" and features a character named Lane Gabriel. I created Gabriel all the way back in 2013 and wrote three partial stories about him. Life intervened and I never finished any of them. Then I moved on to other projects, but I've remembered the character.

When I became aware of Rope and Wire, I decided I wanted to submit something to them. I went back to the Lane Gabriel stories and found one that I could whip into shape as a complete tale. If you read it, you can see that the "end" could easily be expanded on, and I may do that over time.

If you check out my story, you'll find it written under the name Tyler Boone, which is what I've decided to publish all my westerns under from now on. Anyway, if you'd like to read "Gun Law," you can find it here.

Thanks as always for the support!


Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Blog Rejuvenation


Well, I took off half of March and all of April from the blog. I just needed a break. Sorry to all those whose posts I’ve missed, but April, in particular, would not cut me any slack. However, school is just about out. A couple more tests and graduation and I’ll be done for the summer. So, I thought I’d see if I can rejuvenate the blog a bit over the summer.


First post back is gonna mostly be writing related updates. I’ve had various bits of good news, and some not so good. I’m putting the not so good behind me so here’s the good:



First and most recent, Sirens Call #38 is out. It’s a free PDF download and contains a horror story by me called “She Fled, Laughing.” It’s gone one of the grosser endings I’ve written. I do hope you enjoy. Like I say, it’s free to read. Here’s the link.
 



Second, the “Unsheathed” anthology is now available in paperback if anyone wants. Nine sword and sorcery tales, including “Where All the Souls are Hollow,” a Krieg story, from me. There’s also a kindle version, which I mentioned in my last blog post way back when. Here’s the link:

 

Third, “The Shot Rang Out” is the first in at least 4 western anthologies of 500 word flash fiction tales that will be published this year. All are helmed by the illustrious Scott Harris. Each will contain 52 stories, written by 52 different writers, in response to a specific prompt. “The Shot Rang Out” is already available in paperback and kindle. I’ll be in all four anthologies, under the Tyler Boone name. My story in “The Shot Rang Out” is called “The Long Ride.” My stories for 2 and 3 are already done. #4 is rough drafted. I had a lot of fun with these and I’ve read the first volume all the way through and will say it’s all great fun. Here’s the link to the first one:

 



There are a couple of other things upcoming that I’m excited about. I’m going to have a Krieg story in a brand new fantasy mag that’s coming out soon. I won’t say too much until it drops, but I’ve seen some illustrations for it and they are dynamite.



Looks like I’ll have a story in a Halloween anthology this fall, although I’ll share more about that later too.



Finally, my first western novel will be published this summer through my own Razored Zen Press. It’s called “The Scarred One.” I’m just looking for the right cover now but it should go up sometime in the next few weeks.



If anyone is still out there, thanks for reading. I’m going to make my blog rounds later today, although I’ll never get caught up on all the posts I’m missed, I’m sure.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Unsheathed

A new collection of Epic Fantasy is out from Hydra Publications called "Unsheathed." This contains a story by me called "Where All the Souls are Hollow." This is the second story that I've written about the character Krieg, who is kind of a mix of REH's Kull and Karl Wagner's Kane. I just found out this was published so I haven't read it yet, but I like the cover and the story titles look pretty interesting. Right now it's available on Kindle here:

There's a third story of Krieg that is completed but not yet sold. It's called "The Rotted Land." I'm currently working on a fourth story called "Lords of War." I've been really enjoying writing about this character, more than any other heroic fantasy character I've created. Each of these tales starts with a brief, few line poem. Here's the one for "Where All the Souls are Hollow."

Out of choking dust and black smoke
came a warrior with eyes
like broken blades.
Wherever he journeyed,
war followed.
None could say why.
The survivors called him Krieg.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Lawyers, Am I Right?


A few lawyer jokes for your morning.

1.
A lawyer dies and is standing before St. Peter at the Pearly Gates for judgment. The lawyer says: “I object.”

“Object to what?” St. Peter asks.

“I wasn’t given enough life. I’m only 50 years old.”

St. Peter consults his records and frowns. “It says here that you’re 87, not 50.”

The lawyer sputters. “Why that’s ridiculous. You must keep shoddy records. How did you figure I was 87?”

St. Peter replies: “We added up your billable hours.”


2.
A Catholic couple die in an accident just before their wedding. They go to heaven, but because they'd really been looking forward to their wedding, they ask St. Peter if they can still get married. He tells them that he’ll have to get back to them.

Two years later, St. Peter comes and asks if they still want to get married. They say yes and so he takes them to a priest who performs the ceremony.

All is well for quite a few years but finally the couple decide that they want a divorce. They go and ask St. Peter if they can get a divorce in heaven.

St. Peter sputters: “It took two years to get a priest up here. Do you have any idea how long it’ll take to get a lawyer?”


3.

A condemned man is asked on his last day if he’d rather have a visit from his lawyer or a hooker. Without hesitation, he says: “Lawyer.”

The guard says, “Now you know the lawyer is not going to be able to get your execution delayed.”

The prisoner nods. “Yes. But all I want is a last round of kinky sex.”

“Well then why not pick the hooker?” the guard asks, flabbergasted.

The prisoner answers: “Because there’s ‘nothing’ a lawyer won’t do to get his client off.”




Thursday, February 22, 2018

Harlan Coben


Though I’d heard his name often enough, I didn’t discover Harlan Coben as a reader until I picked up “The Woods” by him in February of 2017. Here is my review on Goodreads:
“Very good. A standout mystery thriller that keeps the twists and turns coming. Well developed characters that you can root for, but who are certainly not perfect. I found myself irritated at interruptions that kept me from turning the pages and I think that is a pretty good recommendation. I'd not previously read anything by Coben but I'll be looking for more.”


Despite liking “The Woods” so much, it wasn’t until January of this year (2018) that I read my second Coben book—Darkest Fear. I loved it even more than “The Woods” and immediately headed to the bookstore and online to get more of his works. Here’s what I said about Darkest Fear.
“Wow, what a very fine book. The best I've read in a while. This is a good example of a page turner. I was completely caught up in the story and the characters. I've only read one Coben before, The Woods, which I also highly recommend. This is the first one I've read in the Bolitar series but I'm off to pick up the rest of them now. A very talented author.”


Since January 1st, 2018, I’ve read four more Coben books. This is rather unprecedent for me. I hardly ever select works from the same writer so close together. It goes to show how much I am enjoying his work. Here are some quick reviews below:



Six Years: “Really good. A professor uncovers the mystery of why the woman he loved suddenly married another man and made him promise never to try and contact her again. Layer upon layer of secrets are uncovered. Excellent plotting and very fine characters.”


Fade Away: “The third book I've read by Harlan Coben. This is also 3rd in the Myron Bolitar series. This is my least favorite of Coben's works so far, but it still gets 4 stars. A really good writer capable of creating very interesting characters and wrapping an exciting and intricate plot around them. Starting another Coben book tonight.”


The Innocent: My favorite so far: “An outstanding thriller. My favorite so far from Coben, which is saying a lot because I've liked everything I've read by him so far. It's a long book but I came close to finishing it in one session. That's how much I liked it. I did finish in two sessions and it was the kind of book where you close the last page and get that little feeling of melancholia because it's over. I highly recommend it.”


Gone for Good: This is the only one of Coben’s books so far that I didn’t just love. I still liked it, though. Here are my comments on Goodreads: “Is there such a thing as too complicated? Maybe, and maybe this one slips into that territory. I enjoyed it. Good writing. Interesting characters. I felt rather lost quite a bit of the time, particularly early. The ending was good.”




In short, I love me some Harlan Coben. Excellent storyteller and I highly recommend him.