Tuesday, January 5, 2016

An End and a Beginning

We begin 2016 and I find myself at a crossroads.

I have outstanding writing contracts and have promised material to several people for their projects. I will be fulfilling those commitments but after that will be stepping away from writing for publication. I have not come to this decision lightly nor is it sudden. Several people have asked me why.

I have always wanted to be a writer. I will never give up on that craft. I love the stories, the sharing, the ability to entertain and educate. So, though I won't be pursuing publication, I will still be writing... but for another audience.

I have reached a few people, won a couple of awards. I never attained any significant amount of fame as a writer. I attribute that to being one of many, more of a channeller of the craft than a practitioner.  I wrote out of compulsion and see now it was merely to be in the right place to encourage others rather than to distinguish myself. I have had the honor to be present at the start of several writers' careers but mine is developing differently.

It's time to move on.

Everyone faces a point when it's time to grow past where they are and take a chance on something new. This doesn't depend on where you are, who you are, or how old you are. If you stop changing, learning, and looking around yourself you will slowly lose your focus and fade away. 

Exactly where I will go from here and what my eventual destination may be isn't clear yet. There are several subjects that fascinate me. One of them will undoubtedly rise from the bunch and identify itself. I look forward to that.

On to the writing that remains....

My short story Fifty appears in the Airship 27 anthology Legends of New Pulp Fiction. I am proud to have been part of that project, mostly because it was designed as a benefit for a friend of mine, Tommy Hancock. He has recently gone through a tough time medically and I hope this anthology, comprised of the work of over 100 writers and artists, can alleviate some of the financial pressure that situation imposed on him and his family.

I will be attending Shadowcon this coming weekend in West Memphis, Arkansas. This is a relatively small "relaxacon" and has always been a great way to start the convention year.  

In the coming year, I have a four-part series of detective stories coming from Pro Se Press (The Velvet Wasp), a short story from Amoeba Ink (Ned and the Tomatoes), a short story in a Pulp/Rock anthology helmed by Sean Taylor (I hope), a short story from Charon Coin Press (Below Tennessee), and a novel from Alban Lake Publishing (Deity) to appear. With any luck, I will continue to pen for Catnippery LLC's web series Mysteries of Science.

I am currently working with Alban Lake Publishing on submissions guidelines for a followup anthology to The Idolaters of Cthulhu, to be titled Miskatonic Dreams. I hope to get the same or better quality of stories for the new anthology as I did for IoC. I hope to continue working as editor for ALP, Pro Se Press, and Hermit Studios. I would like to think I have been of some use to them and can go on being useful.

Finally, as prelude to this new stage, I have removed myself from Facebook and Twitter. Social media is a two-edged sword. On the one hand, it is a magical way to get your name before the public without actually having to meet anyone face-to-face. On the other hand, without that personal contact, it seems hollow. As a person, I feel the need to meet and talk with my readers, to find out first-hand what they like to hear. What kinds of stories touch your heart? Make you think? Frighten you? Make you laugh? 

So, Happy New Year! Remember, as always, to stay low and keep your powder dry!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

What It Takes

After years of writing, I have learned a lot about the craft. I have learned that to be a writer, you must write. I have learned that in order to get published, you must submit. I have learned that to sell books, you must promote. Most importantly, I have learned that to be successful, you must commit.

Being a writer or artist is not for everyone. It is not for the thin-skinned. It is not for the shy. You are sharing yourself, baring your psyche, exposing your very soul to praise and ridicule. It is both therapeutic and terrifying at once. Most fail who try, few succeed well enough to be well-known.

Writing genre fiction isn't like writing mainstream fiction. It requires a specific set of literary skills and much more innovation. Drama is about life in general, an experience commonly shared by all. It isn't easy by any stretch of the imagination to write it well, but it can be generated from common ideas.

To write good epic fantasy, the writer must be hero and villain, statesman and despot. You must build an entire world within your own mind and keep it straight while juggling events, names, places, and emotions. The epic fantasy writer fails most often because of the little things that scurry out from under their control to hide in plot holes. Plot holes that eventually become the craters that swallow the story.

To write good horror, the writer must be afraid of the subject they write. The writer must feel the horror to describe it believably. Without knowing horror, they cannot write it well. They must visualize the most terrible things and convey that sense of mortality in the face of the lethal in a way that speaks to the reader's soul.

To write good science fiction, the writer must research and understand the science before writing the fiction. Science fiction readers read it because they enjoy the paradigm between reality and fantasy. Cheat them of that and the writer fails miserably.

I have done my best over the last four decades to give my readers the best of my interpretations of those genres. I hope I have succeeded on some small scale in doing so.

On to writing news. 

My short story Granny Wise appeared recently in Southern Haunts 3: Magick Beneath the Moonlight. This was actually a fictionalization of actual events and I enjoyed building the story. I got to work once again with some wonderful editors and appear with great talent.

A Barrier to Us appeared in Ten-Legged Tales from the Anthology Club, a tale of hubris in exploration. This collection is different from most of the other anthologies I have written for. Matthew did a marvelous job creating a unique premise and executing it admirably.

Finally, my story Nothing at All came out in the NovoPulp Anthology Volume 3 from Hermit Studios Press. It has been described, correctly, as "hard s-f", a term I prefer to "scifi". I believe it was Ackerman who created "scifi" during the heyday of "hifi" and it makes me think of furniture-sized sound systems instead of a writing genre.

More of my fiction remains accepted but unpublished, hopefully to appear soon. Stories with Pro Se Press, Amoeba Ink, and InkMonkey Press lurk in the wings.

I have been accepted as a guest for the upcoming ShadowCon and MidSouthCon, two conventions I always try to attend. I'm looking forward to seeing everyone there.

Til then, remember to stay low and keep your powder dry!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Writing, Editing, and Generally Staying Busy

The projects are piling up behind this one manuscript I agreed to edit. Novels are more difficult to edit than short stories, of course, but this one has been an exceptional challenge. 

Anyway, September came and went too quickly. I had a birthday... again. I finished some projects and started too many more. Had a booksigning at BookStop Plus in Bartlett, TN, which was fun. 

Just submitted Angelkiller for consideration with Voyage Media. I know there has been a lot of similar material on television and movies recently, but I hope the twist on the story will sell it to producers for scripting.

So, in other news, The Idolaters of Cthulhu hit new highs on Amazon, topping out at #45 in Horror Anthologies. I am gratified to see so much interest in this anthology and delighted that a large audience is going to be able to read the great stories. I invite you to visit its Facebook page for updates.

As a writer, I have begun to stretch into several other genres beside horror, scifi, and fantasy. I have had publications of detective fiction, comedy, poetry, and even political commentary. None of those, though, attract me to writing as much as horror. There is something about writing horror that touches me at a visceral level, especially psychological horror. The nature of fear is primal, something we all experience and try to avoid. When faced with it, we all react pretty much the same way -- escape. Facing that fear, dealing with it, is the hardest thing we do as human beings. It is what we call courage, grit, determination. Horror fiction is all about overcoming or succumbing to fear. It is about both courage and cowardice, wisdom and foolishness. Fascinating stuff.

Given all that, my favorite pieces of work oddly enough aren't the horror fiction I have written. Instead, my very favorite is a short piece called To Our Brothers I wrote about 20 years ago. It still echoes in my mind when I read it. My readers have reacted best to my stories Remembering Krempla, Stolen Thunder, Eclipse over Elmwood, and Camouflage but that little letter from the end of humanity lingers in my memory as my masterpiece to date.

I continue to try to find that chord I struck in Brothers, so far without success. Even if I never do again, at least I have that one under my belt.

So, stop by my website for links to my past work and visit me on Facebook for continuing adventures! 

That's all for now. Til next time, remember to stay low and keep your powder dry!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Looking Toward 2016

August was an interesting month for me. Besides a personal anniversary and a family birthday we didn't think we might see because of a previous medical condition, I was able to finish editing and promote The Idolaters of Cthulhu anthology, saw two of my own short stories appear, got the word that my short story collection would come out the first of this month (and so it has!), and attended the River City Comic Expo where I made several new connections. August has in the past been eventful and this one was par for the course.

Imagicopter is getting a facelift for its website and I understand the Imagyro magazine will be rebooting soon with the help of Emily Mottesheard and Herika R. Raymer. It will be good to see that publication online with new material, interviews, and reviews.

My script work for Claude D. Miles' The Mysteries of Science has borne fruit and is now appearing on Roku TV on the Independent Channel. It's given me more entries for my IMDB listing. A couple of scripts have yet to be produced, I understand, but the crew have done a wonderful job so far.

My Facebook page continues to grow. It currently entertains (I hope!) over 125,000 members. I really enjoy keeping that page as current as possible with things that interest and entertain me, and apparently lots of other people.

I invite everyone to check out my latest interview on Terrie Leigh Relf's website. I've had the pleasure of working with Terrie in the past and, although it's unlikely we'll ever meet in person, look forward to doing so in future. It's fascinating how friendly you can become with people over the interwebs without ever actually speaking with them or meeting them personally.

As this year winds down, I look forward to diving into some new work. I have begun writing on a novel I'm calling Dreamwalker and another with the working title of Body Count. The first is a dark fantasy and the second is a hard science fiction thriller. With any luck, and barring disaster, I should have both finished by this time next year. I have to finish the detective stories for Pro Se Press yet and am completing an editing assignment for them and one for Hermit Studios. Along with all that, I have several miscellaneous short stories to fill in the (little bit of) time I have in between.

Some of you may know I am a fan of ancient and military histories. I have found myself more and more active on the social media discussion pages about both. Besides being a great distraction from the writing, they are a nice way to converse with people of like mind. I have even been invited to and accepted a contributorship to one of the better Facebook pages on archaeology. I have no letters behind my name and make no claim to being an expert on the field but I am an enthusiastic amateur very willing to learn.

So, here are some links to my latest work. Please click on the image you like, have a look and let me know what you think.

Here you will find my short story The Boat and tales of the lost and forgotten.
I'm very pleased to announce this collection of my short stories from Pro Se Press. I hope you will enjoy them. There is fantasy, science fiction, horror, and even a little comedy here to entertain and amuse.
Besides being the editor for this newest, most unique look at the venerable Cthulhu Mythos, it contains my short story He Who Hesitates. It was a great honor being included amongst the number of award-winning authors.
COMING SOON from Seventh Star Press, the third in the series. My contribution is the short story Granny Wise.

That's all for now. Until next time, remember to stay low and keep your powder dry!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Halfway Through the Year

Here we are at the last day of July. Seems like just yesterday we were talking about the new year.

The biggest news for me is the release of The Idolaters of Cthulhu anthology. It was a long road, but I got to work with some very talented writers and I'm doing everything I can to promote this unique look at the Cthulhu Mythos. The book trailer was posted today to YouTube. Take a look.

I am personally proud of the anthology and the managing editor at Alban Lake Publishing is already talking about doing another.

In other news, my short story The Boat will be included in the upcoming Potter's Field 5 anthology, also from Alban Lake Publishing. Here's the cover art for that one. Very atmospheric. 

Potter's Field 5 cover
I am also participating in the anthology benefiting my friend Tommy Hancock who has a serious medical condition. My short story Fifty went in to Airship27 for that last night. Thanks to Ron Fortier for helming this project. Tommy is editor in chief of Pro Se Productions and so hard-working he puts everybody else I know to shame. 

The Mysteries of Science, the comedy web series from by Catnippery Productions, will be debuting on Roku TV tomorrow on the INC channel. I have been allowed to peek at the episodes produced from my scripts and the crew did a great job! Catch them all, but especially the ones beginning August 21st! (shameless plug)

Otherwise in July, we had a fantastic get-together at the house on the 4th. A friend we hadn't seen in almost 20 years brought his wife and sons, the family and regular gang was there. There was a massive feast and a mind-boggling fireworks display exploded over my front lawn. I can truly say it was the best 4th in years.

Anyway, that's it for right now. I hope to have more news soon. Til then, stay low and keep your powder dry.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Olde School - A Review


Title: Olde School
Author: Selah Janel
Publisher: Seventh Star Press, 2014 
Paperback 428 pages
ISBN-10: 1937929655
ISBN-13: 978-1937929657
Digital 378 pages

What happens when a mild-mannered troll finds out that the land he has inherited is inhabited with dark magical and murderous spirits? Can he depend on his less-than-sympathetic friends? The Kingdom City mayor who wants the land? The ogre policeman? Paddlelump Stonemonger has only a few days to find help against the power that draws its victims to their doom using their innermost desires.

What begins as the story of a struggling businessman with all the normal problems of running a busy toll bridge soon turns disturbing as Paddlelump discovers the secrets lying in his forest. Reading about Paddlelump I quickly learned to like him and even his grumpy and insulting companions. The one bright spot in his life, the human waitress Flora, is as strong and smart as he is timid and gullible.

Janel's story-telling talent is in full bloom with this book. I was charmed with the characters and swept along with the flow of the story as it developed. No reader of fantasy or horror will be disappointed.

Find it at Amazon here.

From the cover:

Kingdom City has moved into the modern era. Run by a lord mayor and city council (though still under the influence of the High King of The Land), it proudly embraces a blend of progress and tradition. Trolls, ogres, and other Folk walk the streets with humans, but are more likely to be entrepreneurs and own start-up companies than they are to cause trouble. Maidens gather to flirt with charming shepherds, but also buy up merchandise about their favorite famous princesses. Despite progress, the old ideals linger. Princesses still want to be rescued, but they now frequent online dating services to encourage lords, royals, and politicians to win their favor. Crones still sell herbs to guarantee good childbirths or true love, but now they have to cross toll bridges to get to the meadows and forests they favor. The old stories are around, but everyone knows they're just for fun and act as fodder for the next movie franchise. No one really takes them seriously. Everyone knows those tales aren't true, just like everyone knows that there's no such thing as magic. It's all old superstition and harmless tradition. Guarding a bridge is a pretty traditional way for a troll to make a living, but Paddlelump Stonemonger is far from a traditional troll. 

Bookish, timid, and more likely to carry a laptop than a weapon, Padd is quickly coming to wish he'd never put a toll bridge over Crescent Ravine. While his success has brought him lots of gold, it's also brought him a lot of unwanted attention, especially from the Lord Mayor. To make matters worse, good help is hard to find, as the maids and serving wenches now have unions. It's enough to overwhelm any businesstroll. Even Padd's oldest friends give him a hard time when his new maid seems inept at best and conniving at worst. So when a shepherd warns Paddlelump of strange noises coming from Thadd Forest at night, the troll doesn't think much of it. The land has been in his family for generations, and as the first troll to do much with it, he has bigger things to worry about. Unfortunately for him, the history of his land goes back further than anyone can imagine. Before long he'll realize that he should have paid attention to the old tales and carried a club. 

Darkness threatens to overwhelm not only Paddlelump, but the entire realm. With a little luck, a strange bird, a feisty waitress, and some sturdy friends, maybe, just maybe, Padd will survive to eat another meal at Trip Trap's diner, or at least avoid being dinner for something else. It's enough to make the well-intentioned troll want to crawl under his bridge, if he can manage to keep it out of the clutches of greedy politicians. Olde School is Book One of The Kingdom City Chronicles

Thursday, June 18, 2015

The Idolaters of Cthulhu TOC Announced

It is with a great deal of pride (a no small measure of relief) that I announce the TOC for the upcoming anthology from Alban Lake Publishing, The Idolaters of Cthulhu. This anthology is structured a little differently, in three parts with atmospheric poetry from classical authors interspersed. We open with a tale from the master and close with a poem from another master. Thanks to all involved and I hope you find this work to meet your approval.

Here it is

The Idolaters Of Cthulhu



Beyond The Wall Of Sleep by H.P. Lovecraft

Fane of the Faceless God by DJ Tyrer
Fatwa by AmandaHard
Slave To Unkind Gods by Matthew Wilson
Names by James Victor

Sentry by Herika R.Raymer

Sublime Architecture for the Proper Devotional Praise of Dagon by Shenoa Carroll-Bradd
The Ones Who Remember by Robert J. Krog
The Meat Junkies by E. Dane Anderson
Breakwater by Gregory L. Norris
Torn Asunder by Michael Krog

He Who Hesitates by H David Blalock

The Arms Of the Gods by Jonathan Dubey
Cthulhu In Autumn by Robin Wyatt Dunn
Dreaming Of A Darker Tomorrow by Ben Stewart
Leap of Faith by Tyree Campbell
Casual Blasphemies by Harding McFadden
A Better View by Brian Fatah Steele

Afterwards by Clark Ashton Smith

Look for the release July 1, 2015. Again, thanks to all involved and happy summer!