Thursday, November 29, 2012

Christmas, New Year Sale

 As I usually do at this time of year,  I’m offering some deals on signed, print copies of my books for Christmas and New Year. Excellent gifts for yourself or others, you know. J I’m sure these prices still seem kind of high, but that’s the nature of the trade paperback size, and not much I can do about that. I will make the shipping free in the USA.

You can see what I have available and the prices below. If you know someone who is planning on committing themselves to writing in the new year, you might consider Write With Fire, which is my book on writing and publishing. All of these are available at Barnes & Noble and Amazon as well, and many of them are available as cheaper ebooks if you would like. 

To order, email me at cagramlich11 at gmail dot com  

1.  THE TALERA SERIES: Sword & Planet Fantasy Adventure Series
Swords of Talera -- $12.50
Wings Over Talera -- $12.50
Witch of Talera -- $12.50

All 3 -- $32.00

2.  Under the Ember Star (With The Battle for Eden by Mark Burgess) -- $12:50 (Only 2 copies available)

Bitter Steel:  An anthology of Sword & Sorcery short stories  -- $12.00
Midnight in Rosary: An anthology of Vampire and Werewolf short stories  -- $12.00
In the Language of Scorpions:  An anthology of horror stories  -- $12:50

Any two anthologies   --   $22.00
All three anthologies   --   $32.00

Cold in the Light: A horror/thriller--  $8.00

Wanting the Mouth of a Lover: A collection of vampire haiku  -- $5.00

Or $3.00 as an addition to any other order.

Write With Fire: A nonfiction guide to writing  -- $14.00

Works like Killing Trail, Days of Beer, Harvest of War, Harmland, and The Inklings Anthology are not currently available in print but are in ebook format at B&N and Amazon. 

Have a very Merry Christmas and a great holiday season!


Sunday, November 25, 2012

Graham Charleston, Newest Report!

This just in!  Charles Allen Gramlich is this century’s Nostradamus. Local pseudoscientist, Les Ramli, has spent the entire past decade examining the epigraphs that Gramlich used to open the chapters in his first novel, Cold in the Light. Ramli presented convincing proof to this reporter that the epigraphs have been predicting important world events since the book’s publication in 2002.  

Consider the following: “The hair stood up on their bodies when they saw the ruins. It must have been the roar of winds through the white canyons of stone, or the cold stroke of ancestral memory.  Maybe it was just the dead passing by with empty eyes.”

Ramli says that this epigraph successfully predicted the rise of the highly popular TV show, “The Walking Dead,” as well as the entire zombie apocalypse fascination that is currently sweeping our country.” How stupid of me not to have figured that out for myself, I thought after hearing Ramli’s comment.  Other epigraphs in the book successfully predicted that Curiosity would find shiny things on Mars,  that the 2012 presidential election would be won by either a Republican or a Democrat, and the 115 pound pumpkin that local farmer Chas Springs grew this very October.  

Learn your future and the future of your world. Buy and read Cold in the Light today!

--Graham Charleston reporting, for the Deerhaven Endeavour.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012


Everyone who reads this blog regularly knows that my wife, Lana, was diagnosed with cancer this past March. She went through chemo and radiation over the summer and it was certainly the worst thing that either of us had ever been through. Weight loss, hair loss, vomiting, weakness, full body rash, and a hundred other symptoms that made minute by minute living miserable for her. Much of the time she couldn’t even sleep to escape it.

There were many days when I could barely get out of bed myself, and I can only imagine how hard it was for her. Actually, I’m pretty sure I can’t imagine it. Many times she said that she just couldn’t take it, and yet she did. Day after day.

The treatments finished several weeks ago and she had begun to feel quite a bit better and was able to eat and sleep again. But we still had to get the full body scan to tell us the final results. Well, she got that scan on Monday and late on Tuesday she got the call with the results. She’s clear of the cancer. We both wept a little bit at that news. Talk about Thanksgiving!


Monday, November 19, 2012

Razored Zen Interview: G. B. Miller

I think it’s time to run another author interview. My guest today is G. B. Miller.  I first became aware of G. B.’s work on his Blog, and through a story of his called “Cedar Mountain” that was published over at Beat To a Pulp. We’ve corresponded frequently since then. Without further ado, here’s G.B.  (RZ represents Razored Zen and I’m sure you can figure out what GBM stands for.)

RZ:  Tell us a little about yourself outside of writing.  Home town. Family.  Job.  That sort of thing.

GBM: I have lived in Newington, CT practically all of my life, with my wife and two children. As a matter of fact, I live in the same house that I grew up in. I’ve been working for the State of Connecticut for the past 16 ½ years, with the past 8 ½ being spent slaving away as a payroll clerk. I don’t have much in the way of hobbies beyond walking and bicycling (hand problems), but used to be an active pool player and bowler back in the day.

RZ:  What made you want to write? Is it a desire that’s always been with you?  Or was there some particular event or book that ignited the fire?

GBM: I’m not sure if the desire for the written word has always been there for me. Certainly doing the verbal thing was. I’ve always enjoy creating parodies (both song and non-song) about all kinds of things but sadly never wrote anything down. Sometimes being blessed with a good memory is a bad thing. But yes, a particular event did ignite the fire back in 2006 and I found that writing was the easiest form of therapy there was. While the initial effort proved to be disastrous, prodding from friends and co-workers persuaded me to continue this sometimes quixotic journey.

RZ: Writers always get asked about their influences.  Consider this that question.

GBM: Strangely enough, I don’t think that I had any influences on my writing, at least consciously. I didn’t read a lot of fiction while growing up, basically keeping myself limited to non-fiction and historical fiction. I guess you can say that while no one individual influenced my early writing, genres certainly did, in that I wanted to write stories that would make the reader walk away after reading it with that story still milling about in their head. As for my later writing, certainly cruising other writer’s blogs and e-zines to pick up tips, pointers and advice helped me tremendously.

RZ:   G., you seem to enjoy writing fiction with erotic elements. What is it about that genre that has attracted you?

GBM: It was the easiest thing to perform. Seriously though, sex is one of two elements (in my opinion) that have an unlimited amount of tangents to explore. So when I started to get serious about my writing back in ’09, I choose to combine my strong point of character description with the unlimited potential of sex exploration and try to create something truly unique. A good example of this would be my short story “Red Stripe,” in which I combined the elements of heavy metal, punk and sexual excess to create a truly unique story. Plus, and I know this will sound kind of sexist, sex is the easiest thing to write if you enjoy writing from a female point of view. Sex as a weapon, so to speak.

RZ: Writing can be hard work. What motivates you to keep going?  What inspires you?

GBM: The fact that a lot of people have denigrated me for my writing over the years perpetually motivates me to write. I’ve actually permanently enshrined this little annoyance in the acknowledgment section of my novel. As for inspiration, the world around me does. I know it sounds cliché, but a lot of the stuff and people that I observe throughout my day-to-day activities plant multiple seeds of ideas for me to choose from.

RZ:  What are you working on currently?  And what’s next for you? 

GBM: I’m in a state of flux with my writing at the moment. While I was waiting for “Line 21” to drop, I was keeping myself busy by writing a novella in a genre that I’ve had mixed feelings about for quite a while. Once “Line 21” dropped, I started thinking about a couple of partials that I could work on next. However, by doing a little networking on Facebook, I got a potential publishing lead for a completed novella of mine, so I plan on doing the whole submission thing all over again: editing and writing a synopsis.

RZ: What work is available from you right now, and where can readers find it?  Is there a place online where folks could go to learn more about you and your work?

GBM: My commercial debut for Line 21 is available at Solstice Publishing; and at Amazon. Also, you can find my short story “Cedar Mountain” at Beat To A Pulp (in the archives for 2009), and my short story “Red Stripe” at The Cynic Online Magazine.

I can be found at my main blog Cedar’s Mountain; and on Facebook.
And you can check out the book trailer for Line 21 on You Tube.

 G., thanks for visiting Razored Zen.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Strange Experiment

In 2002, researchers Alexander and Hines, found that young male vervet monkeys preferentially preferred to play with a car and a ball while young female vervets preferred to play with a doll and a pot.  It is well known that human children show gender differences in toy preferences but many researchers thought this was primarily a function of early socialization.  If male and female monkeys show the same preference, however, then we have to give biology another look.  What could possibly account for the differences in toy preferences among vervet monkeys?

The difference is likely to be in the “nature” of the toys rather than what they represent in human society.  Cars and balls are essentially moving and movable objects. Toy cars have wheels that allow them to be pushed. Balls fit the hand nicely for throwing. From day one, young male humans show a greater preference for moving objects than females do.

On the other hand, dolls represent figures that evoke a connection with other living beings. From day one, young female humans show a preference for faces over moving objects. And young girls show a greater affinity for babies than young boys do. According to this thinking, the doll represents the possibility of “nurturing” behavior to the young vervet females. I have no idea what the “pot” represents in this situation, although perhaps it represents a nest-like “place” to put the doll.

We humans are different from each other in myriad ways. Some of these ways are biologically and genetically based, but that doesn’t mean they are “correct” in any grand scheme of things. Nor does it mean they are “invariable.”  The wonderful thing about nature is its diversity, and in humans we see the same kind of variability. It is a thing to be celebrated, not bemoaned. I am fascinated by the opening up of my thoughts after reading about the vervet monkey study. To paraphrase a much wiser fellow, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, or mine.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Graham Charleston, New Report, and Vlad Dracule!

In a recent issue of the Deerhaven Journal of Psychotherapeutic Effectiveness, Dr. C. Gramlich, a prominent local psychologist, identified three cases of a new cognitive disorder that he refers to as Bored-reader’s Syndrome, or BrS. BrS is a potentially non-fatal disorder that attacks the central nervous system, producing difficulties in concentration, loss of mental focus, and loose stools. Fortunately, Dr. Gramlich also published a simple cure for BrS in the same article.  At 99 cents, it also happens to be the cheapest cure ever for a psychological dysfunction. Simply purchase and read “Harvest of War” by Charles Allen Gramlich (no relation).   – Graham Charleston reporting, for the Deerhaven Extreme.

I don’t always read vampire stories.

But when I do, they’re from “Midnight in Rosary,”
By Charles Allen Gramlich!


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Graham Charleston Reporting

Dr. Charles Gramlich, professor of psychology at a prominent New Orleans University, has made the extraordinary claim that reading the three books of the Talera fantasy series, Swords of Talera, Wings Over Talera, and Witch of Talera, will actually help you lose weight and maintain a svelte figure.  Gramlich says that, “those who read the slender volumes of the Talera series, which are quick and exciting stories, develop a speedier metabolism, allowing them to burn calories more quickly. This effect lingers for weeks after the books are finished,” he adds, “and can easily be prolonged further by consuming another book by the same author.”  When asked whether that author, Charles ‘Allen’ Gramlich, was any relation, Dr. Gramlich abruptly yelled “Fire” and left the room.  Nevertheless, this intrepid reporter believes Dr. Gramlich’s statements regarding the weight loss effects of the Talera series. Surely such a handsome and kindly looking fellow would not lie – Graham Charleston reporting, on the beat for the Deerhaven Examiner.


Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Recent Movie Reviews

Lana is back to work at the library and has been bringing home movies for us to watch. We saw The Grey the other day, starring Liam Neeson. A plane crashes far to the north and a small cadre of men survive, including the Neeson character, who was hired to protect the men from wolves while they worked. Now the pack come after the group and the Neeson character is without his guns and is left with only his knowledge of the ways of the wolves. Although I enjoyed the northern scenery in this one, it left me fairly flat. 

We also saw Snow White and the Huntsman, starring Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the girl from the Twilight movies.  It also had Charlize Theron as the wicked witch, and she certainly stole the movie as far as I was concerned. I liked the special effects in this one quite a lot, and there were some very cool images that actually entered my dreams over the next couple of nights. I also thought that Twilight girl, Kristen Stewart, did a better job as Snow White than many people claimed. She certainly was not going to be the “fairest of them all” when Theron is around, though. This one had great promise but there were quite a few places where it fell flat in what it attempted. Or so I thought.

We saw The Cabin in the Woods, which also starred Thor, and had an appearance by Sigourney Weaver. I was actually fairly disappointed in this one. The way the plot turned meant that the whole movie was so self-referential that you never felt any real fear. Lots of plot holes as well, and some slightly underhanded tricks, I’d say. The special effects were cool and there were some neat scenes with monsters in them.  I think it was a bit too hip for its own good.Weaver was good.

We saw Wrath of the Titans, starring Liam Neeson as Zeus and Ralph Fiennes as Hades. They are brothers in the movie and I’ve always thought they looked enough alike to be brothers in real life. This was the most enjoyable of the movies on my list here. I actually found myself feeling some tension for the main character, Perseus, who was played by Sam Worthington. (I can’t believe it wasn’t Thor.)  Except for an ill conceived minotaur, and an Aries who had daddy issues, this one was pretty well done.

Saturday, November 03, 2012

A Tool of the Writing Trade

In 1989, two psychologists, (Nemeroff & Rozin) introduced college students at the University of Pennsylvania to the “Chandorans,” a made-up tribe who supposedly hunted wild boar and marine turtles as part of their cultural behaviors. Half the students learned that the Chandorans hunted boar for their meat and turtles for their shells. The others were told that the turtles were hunted for meat and the boar for their tusks.

After reading the two different descriptions, the students were asked to judge the Chandorans on various characteristics. Students indicated that the Chandorans who were described as turtle eaters lived long lives and were good swimmers. Students told that the Chandorans ate boar meat judged the tribe as aggressive and as more likely to have beards.

The judgments the students made are indicative of something called the “representativeness heuristic.”  A heuristic is a mental short cut that allows humans to decrease the mental effort required to make a decision. It does not guarantee that the decision will be the correct one, but its ease of use makes it very common. The representativeness heuristic is based on the concept of “like goes with like.” Marine turtles are long lived and are good swimmers, so the people who supposedly ate the turtles were thought to have these characteristics too. You are what you eat according to this thinking. Because boars are aggressive and hairy, those who supposedly ate boar meat were also judged as aggressive and hairy.  Like goes with like.

Although the Chandorans were made up and, thus, there was no connection between their eating habits and characteristics, and despite the fact that this kind of relationship does not generally hold up where ‘real’ populations are concerned, human beings routinely make this kind of connection. And because they do, writers can exploit the tendency to add depth to their cultures and characters. Consider the Vhichang from my Talera series of fantasy novels. The Vhichang are bipeds with feathers and a beak-like facial feature. Also on Talera we find the Nokarra. The Nokarra are bipedal, too, but furred, clawed, and with bodily characteristics that are more similar to those of big cats such as lions and leopards than to birds.

Because of these simple descriptive characteristics, readers will be inclined to accept without question that the Vhichang are better than the Nokarra at controlling the “saddle birds” that people on Talera ride.  They will accept that the Nokarra are more physically impressive warriors than the Vhichang, and that they have heavier bodies, even though I specifically say that the Vhichang do not have hollow bones like earth birds do.  If, however, I wanted to convince my readers that the Vhichang were far better warriors than the Nokarra on a physical, one on one basis, I’d really have to work at it. And, many folks would still ‘feel’ as if it were unbelievable, even though it’s all made up fantasy and they wouldn’t know ‘why’ it seemed unbelievable that a Vhichang could easily best a Nokarra.

Heuristics are such a common and unconscious part of human thinking processes that most of us don’t even realize when we’re relying on them. But being aware of them can help a writer create a sense of things being “true” for readers even when they are completely made up.