Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Harmland and other Updates

The writing has been slow but at least I'm doing some.  My planned collection, "Harmland," is coming along. It's almost completed in content and I've pretty much got the cover issues resolved.  Probably it will go up in June.  Yesterday I put in several hours of work and managed to finish three book reviews that I've promised to The Dark Man Journal.  I'll give those a final look through today and email them off. It will be good to have some stuff going out instead of having more things pile up on my desk/computer.

Lana and I had planned a trip to Yellowstone right about now, but had to cancel it because of her chemo.  Although I enjoy such trips, I'm enough of a homebody that I'm not really going to feel that bad.  And, Lana's chemo seems to be working at present. The swollen node in her neck has decreased in size and that's a good thing.

Off to give those reviews a final read through.  Then we need to do some grocery shopping since we're about out of food in the house.  I wonder if I should have a shower before I leave the house?  If you hear about any strange wild animal sightings in Abita Springs, Louisiana on May 29 you'll know I decided against the shower!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Memorial Day Sale at Wildside Press

Wildside Press is hosting a Memorial Day Sale.  They've cut their ebooks to $2.99, and have cut a dollar off many of their print books.  I thought I might mention a few items I found interesting.

1.  Young Thongor.  The first new Thongor book in 40 years. It's Carter after the fact with Adrian Cole and Robert M. Price.  Carter has been dead for many years, of course, but this must be based on some notes or draft material he had.  I know Cole can write so I snapped this one up.  It's $2.99 as an ebook, for either epub or Kindle, and $14.99 for a print copy.

2.  The Cthulhu Mythos Megapack.   Lots of great Mythos stories for only. 99 cents!  Includes some Robert E. Howard, and many other writers, such as T.E.D. Klein.  I snapped that up.  The ebook link is:

3.  The Cowboy Megapack.  Lots of great Western stories in ebook format, at 99 cents.  here

4.  The Mummy Megapack. Great classics and some newer stories of mummies.  Also 99 cents for ebook.  here

5. The Andre Norton Megapack.  99 cents.  here

If you go to  Wildside Press, you can pick at the top of the page to search for either ebook or print. 

My books are also on sale there.  Not all of mine that are published there are available in ebook, but the Talera series is, and Bitter Steel, and In the Language of Scorpions.  The ebook link to my books is here

My print books at Wildside, which also includes Write With Fire, and Midnight in Rosary, are listed here: here

By the way, I also have copies of all my books for sale as signed copies.  If you are interested in any such, email me at kainja at hotmail dot com

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Drought Breaks

Well, a drought that has lasted over two months finally broke a little yesterday. For the first time since mid-March I actually wrote a new piece of fiction. It was short, a prose poem I'm calling "The Hiss of Angels," and it came with a lot of effort, but it was new and it went down officially on a page. It's not that I haven't had ideas. In fact, the idea for this poem came to me several weeks ago. I've had lots of ideas, have tossed them around in my head, but in the end I just didn't have the drive to get them down. Sometimes it's impossible to escape the thought of, "What's the use?" In the end, of course, there is no "use," other than that I want to do it.

 I also finally got up the energy to check my amazon sales for April and May. One rather strange thing is that "Killing Trail" had been selling a few copies every month since it was published almost two years ago now. But in May that has come to a stop and only "Harvest of War" is still selling anything. I would have thought the audiences for those two books were different. I can understand why "Days of Beer" dropped to zero, since folks buying that would have been only buying something 'from me' essentially. I was hoping "Killing Trail" would continue to have legs. Alas, it looks like not. Of course, I've been doing no promoting for the past couple of months either so that probably had an impact. For some reason, I don't seem to get many word of mouth sales. I could try to figure out why bu the answer might just depress me so I'll leave it be for now.

One thing I have done a lot of is play my Skyrim video game. It's a fantasy quest type game, and I like it a whole lot. It has some interesting writing in it. All throughout the game world you find "books" of various kinds that can be read or used. That's cool. The thing about a video game like this is that it consumes your whole mind while you're playing it, and that keeps you from thinking about other, less pleasant, kinds of things. Writing requires thought, and as soon as you start thinking, the scary stuff can start to creep in. Well enough rambling. Time to visit blogs.

Friday, May 18, 2012

First Chemo, and a some vague thoughts on writing

Well, Lana had her first chemo treatment yesterday.  It was a long day, from about 8:20 to 2:00 in the chair with infusions of various medications running into her body.  She handled it like a trooper.  We took along my laptop and she was even able to get online with it and do a little facebooking as a distraction.  She had some weird feelings in her body later but so far not a lot of problems. I understand the worst often hits after a couple of times.  She also has to go back today for a half hour for another infusion of some med to counteract the nausea effects of the first meds. 

I actually did some 'thinking' about writing yesterday evening, for the first time in quite a while.  Mostly I was thinking about the cover to Harmland, and deciding I needed to add a subtitle to make sure folks knew it was short stories rather than a novel.  Also, in the first version I posted, a couple of folks thought the "eyes" down in the left hand corner were headlights, so I wondered about adding another pair of eyes, or two, to dispel that possibility.  I also enlarged the font size of my name and the title, and moved the title in a bit, which several people suggested. Anyway, I've copied the new mock-up below.  It's still not completed, of course, but let me know if you see problems. I'm not really happy with the subtitle of "stories," but haven't come up with anything else yet.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

A New Kind of Summer

Our graduation ceremony was yesterday.  I have to return the monkey suit (graduation regalia) on Tuesday and check in at the office for anything critical in my box, but other than that I'm off work until the fall.  Normally this would be a time of great rejoicing and I'd be full of writing plans. But on Monday Lana gets a port put into her chest so she can get her chemotherapy infused, and then the therapy itself starts on Thursday.  She'll be getting 5 to 6 hours of treatment, and then will repeat that treatment every 21 days through the rest of the summer.

They told her she will lose her hair; they expect her to get weak and nauseated.  They gave her 3 prescriptions for anti-nausea medicine.  They told her that her immune system will be weak so she needs to avoid being around folks with any sickness.  She's taking a leave of absence from work.  She won't be able to feed the birds because of the dust dangers.  She has to worry about infections through her fingernails so she won't be able to handle raw foods or do a number of other things she normally does.  Despite this information, neither of us really know what to expect.  That means I don't really know what my plans are either.

For now, I've gotten a new video game, called Skyrim.  It's a fantasy game and so far I'm enjoying it a lot.  Not easy to worry when you're in the middle of exploring some ancient burial site and being attacked by skeletons and dragons from all sides.  And that's a good thing.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Tubb versus Kern

E. C. Tubb (1919-2010) was a well known British writer who wrote over 140 novels and hundreds of short stories under as many as 58 pen names. Most of his output was SF, although he also wrote fantasy and westerns. His best known series is the “Dumarest of Terra” SF series, numbering 33 novels. His best known pen name, at least to me, is Gregory Kern, under which he wrote 17 books in the Cap Kennedy Space Opera series.

I’ve read quite a few of each series, though slightly more of Cap Kennedy. Critics and SF historians generally consider the Dumarest series to be superior, but I have to admit that when I reach for a space opera I’m more likely to choose a Cap Kennedy than a Dumarest.  I recently tried to analyze why.

First, there’s no doubt that Earl Dumarest is a superior character to Cap Kennedy.  Dumarest has depth and we get to see his emotional ups and downs. He’s tough but vulnerable to love.  He has moments of doubt.  Kennedy is always focused and disciplined. He gets lots of opportunities for sex but turns them down because he’s committed to his mission, to protect earth’s civilization from its many enemies.  Kennedy is very nearly a superman, and is pretty clearly modeled after Doc Savage.  He even has a crew of associates, much like Doc, although his assistants are a lot more sophisticated and I like them a lot better.  Dumarest travels alone, although he often picks up a companion, usually female, during each novel.  You feel like you could be friends with Dumarest, not really with Kennedy.

Now let’s consider setting.  The settings for the Dumarest series are slightly more varied than for the Kennedy series, but in general there isn’t that much difference. In each case we have exotic settings in the space opera tradition.  There are desert worlds, ice worlds, etc.  The Dumarest settings often seem somewhat more realistic to me, while the Kennedy settings are more dramatically presented.  I think I like the dramatic presentation a little better.  Storytelling is so much about heightened focus on specific details. 

The big difference between the two series is plotting.  The plots for the Dumarest novels are much looser.  The ‘series’ plot is that Dumarest is trying to find his way to Earth, which in this future history is so completely forgotten that it’s considered a myth.  The ‘series’ plot for the Kennedy series is that Cap is a kind of secret agent who travels the galaxy on missions to protect the Terran federation.  This means the Cap Kennedy series is more tightly plotted, with each story focused on a specific threat to the Federation.  The Dumarest stories, on the other hand, generally give lip service to the overarching issue, the search for Earth, while focusing on Dumarest as he gets involved with a particular character and some problem she (or less commonly, he) is having.  This means the Kennedy series has a lot more continuity from story to story than the Dumarest series, and that means less time needs to be used on set up and story development.  This allows the Kennedy series to get into the action much more quickly, and that is the main reason I prefer the Kennedy series to the Dumarest.

I appreciate the Dumarest stories and enjoy them, and actually wish I liked them better because I do really enjoy the character. But for just a quick, enjoyable read, I pick the Kennedy series. 

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Cold in the Light on Sale, and Harmland

Cold in the Light is on sale for $2.84 as a Kindle ebook this week.  That's 2 dollars off the regular price so it's a pretty good deal.  I didn't even realize it until Paul McNamee pointed it out to me. 

I'm getting ready for a signing today at Barnes & Noble in Covington, Louisiana.  In fact, they're hosting an all day literary affair, with a children's play, poetry readings, and an authors' signing circle featuring a bunch of folks who are far better known than me.  I'll be signing at 2:00, so if you're in the area, check it out. The address is: 3414 Highway 190, # 10 Mandeville, LA 70471 (985) 626-8884

I'm working on a blog post comparing E. C. Tubb's Dumarest series to his Cap Kennedy series, written under the name Gregory Kern. That should be up in a couple of days.  I'm trying to recover from all the whining I got about grades right after I turned them in. I'm sure I've not heard the last of that. In the meantime, I'll leave you with a cover image that I've been considering for a collection of horror/noir stories. What do you think?

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Been A While

Been a while since I blogged. I’ve been giving and grading finals, meeting with students, meeting for the last time in the semester with various groups and committees. I have one more final to give. Tomorrow. So far I’ve only made two students cry. Better than some years. I hate this time of year. I hate flunking people. And yes, they have truly brought it on themselves, but that doesn’t make it any easier.

Lana has been having some issues. Her taste sensitivities have gone all to hell since the tonsillectomy. Many of the foods she loves to eat taste like crap to her now. We are hoping that will ease up soon. She’s also having some pain in the neck area where the cancer is, and we’ve already been put off once in getting an appointment for her treatment. It’s frustrating and upsetting. However,  Lana did return to work today. I’m home alone for a few hours. I hope she’ll have a good day.

Outside of tomorrow, I should be more regular in blogging for a while now, and able to blog about some things other than work and health issues. I see my Google reader is up to 271 posts. I won’t make it through all of those, but I will start trying to do some visiting today. I’ve got a couple of ideas for decent blog posts coming up.

 I will be signing books with several other writers around 4:00 this Saturday, May 5th, at the Barnes & Noble in Mandeville, Louisiana. I know very few of you live anywhere close, but you are invited if you would like. I also got in a shipment of some of my own books today. I got more copies of In the Language of Scorpions and of Bitter Steel. I now have copies of all my books except Writing in Psychology, and the ebooks, of course, Days of Beer, Killing Trail, and Harvest of War, so if anyone is interested in a signed copy, drop me a line at kainja at hotmail dot com.

 And now, off to visit blogs.