Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Favorite Reads of 2016

I got this idea from Patti. Here’s ten of my favorite reads from 2016, in no particular order other than the one I read them in.

David Gemmell, Sword in the Storm. It had been a while since I’d read any Gemmell and I’m glad I’ve still got quite a few of his books on my TBR shelves. This is the first book in his 4-book Rigante series of Heroic Fantasy tales.

James Oliver Curwood, The Bear.  I love good animal stories. This isn’t just about the bear of the title but is also about a man who discovers more in nature than just the need to master it.

Robert Heinlein, The Puppet Masters. I should have read this a long time ago. Very pulpy, from an older era, but I loved the heck out of it.

Bruce Boston and Alessandro Manzetti, Sacrificial Nights. A collaborative poetry collection. Rich in ideas, with Incredible imagery.

Tim Marquitz, Prey. I don’t read as much horror fiction as I used to but this one hooked me. Graphic stuff with many memorable scenes.

Bobbie Brown, Dirty Rocker Boys. I make no secret of my enjoyment of 80s Hair Metal. This book is by Bobbie Brown, a video vixen of the time who married Jani Lane of Warrant.  This was quite funny in a lot of places.

Holling Clancy Holling, Minn of the Mississippi. My favorite childhood book was Pagoo, by this author. Only as an adult did I discover that Holling had written other books. I ordered this. I’m certainly much older than the target audience for this but I loved it.

Garnett Elliott, CarnosaurWeekend. Just about everything you need in a pulp story. Fun stuff.

David Cranmer, Torn and Frayed (Drifter Detective #7). The latest installment in the Drifter Detective series. Cranmer does noir right.

Alex Haley, Roots. Another one I probably should have read years ago but didn’t. I found it nearly a masterpiece. I got very involved with these characters.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Some Thoughts on Writing

1. Writing is never wasted. Sometimes I just write individual scenes involving characters or settings, without really trying to make them a story. Often, some of these scenes later tie themselves together in various stories, although they usually need to be revised to fit. I have a computer file called “Parts,” where I keep such unconnected scenes.

2. Related to the above, I started pretty early to keep a kind of "Encyclopedia" for each invented world I came up with. This would have brief descriptions of characters, races, plants, animals, cities, etc. It’s fun to do and also helps me hold the disparate threads of stories or settings together in my head where my unconscious can  work on them. Some of these kinds of elements end up in my dreams because of that.

3. Remember that "you can write ugly" when you begin. The 'story' doesn't have to be anything publishable when it first comes out onto the page. Writing allows you time to fix all that stuff later. I find that the act of writing itself often generates a flow of creativity and things come out better than I would have thought when I was just 'thinking' of the story.

4. Related to #3, writing is really "rewriting." I've learned to enjoy it. I never have anything come out right when I first put it down, but I have confidence that I'll be able to fix it down the line.

5. A story idea belongs to you. Just because you’ve written it one way doesn’t mean you can’t rewrite it in another way. I’ve taken stories that I wrote early in my career and revised them based on experience, sometimes turning the core into a completely new story, and sometimes just an expansion of an original tale. Many writers do this. Poul Anderson and Louis L’Amour spring to mind. I have multiple versions of some stories, either with different endings, or just ones that were better developed as I grew in experience.

6. Reading a story is like flying over a landscape in a plane. Writing that story is trudging the ground, going up and down the hills, fighting through the underbrush, wading the streams. It's a lot more difficult but one experience can't replace the other.  When I first started out, I sometimes took really strong scenes by other writers, such as Howard, or Bradbury, and typed them out for myself to get a feel for sentence length, paragraph length, etc. 

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Gods of Talera

Well, I intended to get a post up about Gods of Talera sooner but then final exams came in and everything else went out the window. So I’m finally getting around to it.

As most of you know, the fourth and fifth books in the Talera series are finally out, just in time for the holiday season. I posted a bit about Wraith of Talera last blog. Gods and Wraith make a duology, a grouping of two books that complete a single story. 

Gods also marks a kind of ending for the series. The story line of Ruenn Maclang, which began in Book 1, Swords of Talera, reaches a logical conclusion. I don’t, at current, have any plans for further books about this particular group of characters, although I am interested in exploring some other aspects of the planet of Talera, perhaps through some novellas.

Gods also provides a final reveal on some of the questions that have been troubling Ruenn Maclang throughout the series. Namely, who actually created the planet, what happened to them, and what do they have to do with the Asadhie, the group of sorcerers that Ruenn has been in conflict with throughout the series. I had fun writing that part.

The Talera series started as a labor of love, and has ended that way. The Barsoom books of Edgar Rice Burroughs were a huge part of my formative years and for as long as I can remember I wanted to tell Sword and Planet stories in the ERB tradition.  I’m proud of this series. I hope many readers will feel the same way. 

Saturday, December 03, 2016

Wraith of Talera: Shai!

A few years ago, Shauna Roberts, a fine writer herself, told me that she had enjoyed the Talera trilogy but was hoping sometime to see a true warrior woman show up in the series. For those of you who have read it, you know that Rannon is a powerful warrior herself but we’ve almost never seen her in action, and her role as Queen of Nyshphal does make it a little hard for her to go leaping about freely with a sword.

Shauna’s comment hung around in the back of my mind and eventually coalesced into a warrior named Shai in Wraith of Talera Here’s how she was introduced: “A shape leaped through the new sphere gate. A man. No, a woman. She wore an armor of bones, carried a rapier in either hand.”

Shai becomes an ally of Ruenn Maclang and stands with him in the final climactic battle of Wraith. I think it’s one of the best battle scenes I’ve written in the series. I won’t tell you whether Shai survives. You’ll have to read to see.

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Happy Happy News: New Books Out

Well, after many delays due to the death of Robert Reginald, my original editor at Wildside/Borgo Press, the next two books in the Talera series have finally been released and are loose in the world. These are books #4 Wraith of Talera, and #5 Gods of Talera. They form a connected duology, separate from the original trilogy (Swords, Wings, Witch), although, of course, characters and settings and history are carried over. I’m pretty pleased with how they came out and it’s wonderful to see them in print at last. I’m pretty fond of the covers too, which continued the theme of the earlier books but put some nice twists on that. The covers are below. (Thanks to Steve Coupe for his work on this.)

The original Talera Trilogy involved the earthman Ruenn Maclang being transported to Talera, establishing himself there, and dealing with the witch/goddess known as Vohanna. Witch of Talera finished that basic storyline but left some loose ends. In Wraith of Talera, those loose ends come back to haunt Ruenn—pretty much literally—and that book and Gods of Talera deal with these events. “Gods” brings the primary story line of Ruenn to a natural close and it will be the last Talera book, at least for a while. I do have a couple of novellas planned to examine other aspects of the planet—not directly related to Ruenn’s story. I don’t know when I might get around to writing those.

Gods of Talera is dedicated to Robert Reginald, my editor at Borgo Press, and later with Wildside Press. Rob was the editor on most of my published books, up till now. He was excellent—hands off enough to let me take the stories where I wanted them to go, but hands on enough to shepherd them through the minutia. It was a great relationship and I still miss him. In addition to the dedication there is another acknowledgement of Rob spread throughout the pages of “Gods.” It has to do with place names and down the line I’ll reveal it.

For now, I’m just happy to see these books out. There will be both print and ebook editions, though only print editions are out at the moment. I don’t know about audiobook editions yet. I'm sure these will also go up on Barnes & Noble, but it looks like they're only available on Amazon right now.  

I hope you’ll take a look see. As always, I appreciate your support.