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
ASIN: B00J4UGVIM


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

TABLE OF CONTENTS

FOREWORD

Beyond The Wall Of Sleep by H.P. Lovecraft

PART THE FIRST: INCURSION
Fane of the Faceless God by DJ Tyrer
Fatwa by AmandaHard
Slave To Unkind Gods by Matthew Wilson
Names by James Victor

INTERMISSION
Sentry by Herika R.Raymer

PART THE SECOND: BATTLEGROUND
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

INTERMISSION
He Who Hesitates by H David Blalock

PART THE THIRD: THE COMING
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!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Upcoming weekend June 19-21

My daughter Herika R. Raymer and I will be guests at the upcoming Hypericon 10 in Nashville, TN from June 19-21. Hypericon is one of a few conventions I try to attend every year. The con staff is friendly and I enjoy working with them. Here is my schedule:

Friday 19 June

4:00 PM - Villain vs. Anti-Hero - You’ve heard both terms, now it’s time to define them. Join our panel of writers as they explain the differences.

9:00 PM - Seventh Star Press - Seventh Star Press is here, and they’ve brought half their writers with them. See what’s going on in the SSP world.

Saturday 20 June

8:00 PM - Secret Top 10 SciFi Movies Revealed - Join our panel of movie buffs as they reveal their super-secret top 10 list. There’s a good chance they won’t agree. Let’s just hope they’ll be civil about it.

9:00 PM - Well crap...now what? - Have you written yourself into a corner? Can’t seem to stop to make an ending? Have more than one idea and don’t know where to go with it? Whatever your problem, our experts probably have faced that problem too. Let’s discuss those and see what you can do to fix them.

This will be the first Hypericon since Fred Grimm passed away. Fred was one of the con's biggest movers and shakers along with his wife, Stephanie. He will be missed greatly this year.

Also attending are my friends Dan and Jackie Gamber, Tommy Hancock, Elizabeth (Donald) and Jimmy Gillentine, Sara Harvey, Iscah, JL Mulvihill, Stephen Zimmer, and many others.

Come on out and say hello if you're in the area!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Past, Present, and Future

It has been some time since my last entry but there is a reason for that. It has been a very busy few weeks. 

Besides finalizing the TOC for the upcoming Alban Lake anthology The Idolaters of Cthulhu and all that entails, beside finishing several short stories for myself, beside completing editing assignments for Pro Se Press and Hermit Studio Press, I just got back from attending the New Orleans Genre Writers Conference. Add to all that some behind the scenes plans for more coming events and you can understand why I have been slightly negligent in keeping this blog up to date.

First things first.

The Idolaters of Cthulhu is designed to be a Lovecraftian anthology like you've never seen. We wanted to bring a slant to the Mythos that was under-represented. To that end, some of the finest and most talented writers have turned their hands to the task. It is my honor to co-edit this anthology with Herika R. Raymer, a talented writer in her own right. The anthology is breaking new ground, so it's only right it should look, sound, and be different from other Mythos compilations.

It is therefore my distinct pleasure to make the first of several announcements concerning the anthology. The cover art for The Idolaters of Cthulhu courtesy of Michael Bielaczyc of Aradani Studios in Nashville, TN. The title of the piece, appropriately enough, is "Edge of Madness."


Personally, I don't think there could be a more appropriate illustration for the cover. 

In March, I attended Midsouthcon and, as usual, had a great time. Once again Robert Krog won the Darrell Award for Short Story (sigh) and I took First Runner-up. That makes 11 times in the last 17 years I have received some form of recognition from the Darrell Award Jury, winning once. I think that may be some kind of record. If only Robert wasn't such a good writer, I might feel bad about that.

April saw the 5th Annual That Book Place Authors Fair in Madison, IN. I was one of several dozen writers there and got to touch base with people I hadn't seen in a while.  There are too many to name but you might be able to get an idea of who by checking out John F. Allen's blog about it here.

In other news, after a nice trip to Huntsville, Alabama with the family for a few days off, I attended the New Orleans Genre Writers Conference hosted by Dark Oak Press and Media. For three days, I got to interact with fellow writers both veteran and aspiring. We discussed every aspect of the writing profession, from idea to publication and promotion. It was a most entertaining and enlightening three days with Trisha Baker, "The" Rob Cerio, Jason Fedora, J. L. Mulvihill, Kimberly Richardson, Kalila Smith, M. B. Weston, and of course, Allan Gilbreath. I really enjoyed interfacing with the attendees and look forward to next year.

As for the rest of the writing news, there has been a little movement but I'll have to save that for later. I'll have to leave it there because there are several things on the burner. Til next time, stay low and keep your powder dry.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Ripper's Daughter - A Review


Title: The Ripper's Daughter
Author: Pamela Turner
Publisher: BlackWyrm Publishing, 2014
118 pages
ISBN-10: 1613181620
ISBN-13: 978-1613181621

From the cover:

Louisville, Kentucky 1898

Ten years earlier, Jack the Ripper terrorized London's Whitechapel District. Assigned to the case, Detective Inspector Nathan James discovered the Ripper's true nature, and made a decision that changed his life. but the murders stopped and the Ripper disappeared.

Now living in Louisville, Kentucky, Nathan runs a saloon, while trying to keep his relationship with his manservant, Stephen, secret. He's never forgotten his failure to stop the Ripper, and when murdered prostitutes start showing up, suspects the elusive killer stalks the city's streets. But is the Ripper responsible for these deaths, and will he reveal Nathan and Stephen's darkest secret?

I don't normally read vampire fiction, so when I started this novella I was ready to put it down. I have an aversion to most vampire tales because of their portrayal of the vampire as either a victim or a romantic. There is something of that in this novella, but the overarching storyline was what caught my attention and made me forget the vampire aspect.

The Ripper murders are a point of interest to anyone who likes mysteries. What would have been ignored today, in the early days of yellow journalism and 19th century morality became a huge news story. That the murders were probably not connected made no difference. That the Ripper might have been the invention of a particularly desperate newspaper editor was quickly passed over at the time. Instead, the result was a sensationalistic story that still fascinates to this day.

Pamela Turner has wisely sidestepped the details of the London murders and added a new slant to the story, a twist to who and what the murderer really was. That, combined with the investigation of a new and equally disturbing set of murders makes for a great story and a fascinating read for anyone who enjoys a good tale of love, betrayal, intrigue, and death.


Monday, January 26, 2015

What is Waiting in the Wings

2015. Hard to believe. I will soon be eligible for Social Security but, as I was exempt from the program, can't claim it. Never mind. Other things are hopefully coming out this year that may delight and entertain.

I have several stories that have submitted over the last several months yet to appear. Here's a rundown on them as of today.

I have been assured by Pro Se Press that the first Velvet Wasp tale (O Death, Where is Thy Sting?) is to appear very shortly and another tale, which I cannot further discuss due to contract restrictions, is in the works.

My story The Hard Part will appear in the NovoPulp anthology, volume 2 (Niamh Brown, editor), from Hermit Studios Press.

I have an acceptance in hand for Granny Wise for Southern Haunts 3: Magic in the Moonlight (Dark Oak Press, Alexander Brown editor). Another submission for that publisher's Tales of the Goth Gnome anthology (Homer and the Little Man Under the Tree) remains in limbo. I did have encouraging feedback on my latest submission (The China Incident) for their Dreams of Steam VI anthology (Kimberly Richardson, editor) and the one I sent (The Game) for their Interstellar Bartender anthology (Aubrey Stephens, editor).

I received a heartening mention from Ink Monkey Mag indicating that my short stories What is a Ninjabot? (Blink! anthology, Mandi Lynch, editor) and Ned and the Tomatoes (The Tomato anthology, Kay Iscah and Mandi Lynch, editors, in association with Amoeba Ink) should come out sometime this year.

I have submitted a short story (Below Tennessee) to Charon Coin Press' State of Horror: Tennessee anthology (Jerry Benn, editor) but received no word yet on that one.

I recently penned several scripts for Claude D. Miles' comedy web series The Mysteries of Science. With any luck, and some funding, they should get produced this year and appear on their YouTube channel.

This is not to say I haven't had a few rejections. I prefer to concentrate on the successes rather than the failures, however. I learn from the rejections and move on. Dwelling on what you have done wrong without learning from it is counter-productive.

Alban Lake Publishing
I continue to work as an editor for both Pro Se Press and Hermit Studios Press (Denmark). I am also currently serving as editor-in-chief of an upcoming anthology from Alban Lake Publishing, The Idolaters of Cthulhu. We have had some really excellent tales submitted for that collection and I hope to put together something the fans of the Mythos will enjoy.

Earlier this year I attended Shadowcon XIX at their new location in West Memphis, Arkansas. I got a chance to reconnect with my friends/publishers/fellow writers, which is always a pleasure. My next convention will be Midsouthcon in Memphis, TN then on to Madison, IN for the Book Fair. I hope to see some of you there. Stop by and say hello.

Enough puttering. I need to get back to the notebooks. Til next time, remember to stay low and keep your powder dry!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Looking Forward

Here we are at the end of another year. It seems like they get shorter as I get older. I finally understand the concept of time dilation.

My short story The Price of Immortality appeared in Alban Lake's Bloodbond magazine in November. This was the only vampire story I ever had published. Although it hasn't appeared yet, AL's Disturbed magazine will contain my short story Uncle Bill's Boys, one of my few werewolf tales. I seldom branch off into those two genres, not because I don't read them but because I believe today's take on those stories has departed from the monster aspect and become soap opera. When women and men begin to see walking parasitic corpses (vampires) and shape-sifting predatory killers (werewolves) as targets of romance, I have to cry foul. And I've heard the argument that sex has always been part of the vampire mystique. What is conveniently forgotten is that in its original form vampirism was a form of predation perpetrated by a maniacal murderer. Sex was used as bait to draw in the victim. Is it a statement on our society that we have come to see that as romantic?

There is a dearth of good speculative fiction nowadays, in my opinion. Television and movies have degraded the genres into prepubescent entertainment. The occasional attempt at reaching an adult audience doesn't ever seem to get the same attention and dies off almost as soon as it appears.

Recently on Syfy (Lord, how I hate that name) there was a miniseries called "Ascension". I found it principally a good example of science fiction and understand they may be trying to pitch it for a series, but like all speculative fiction today it suddenly veered off course and hurtled into the abyss with the line "The starchild must be born". 

I am a writer and an editor. Unfortunately. I can see where writing works and where it goes wrong. I know how the sausage is made. Sometimes I wish I didn't.

I got the chance to see the movie "Radio Free Albemuth" based on the Phillip K. Dick story of the same name. It cost nearly 40 million to make and garnered less than 6,000 in theaters. The reason? It was true to the story. The movie actually used the concept behind Dick's story, that of an oppressive society that controls dissension with an iron fist. It is a depressing story on the whole, even though it does have a hopeful ending. People in America shy away from that kind of thing. We have become educated to be a society of followers, led by fantasy ideas of the possibility of a perfect society if all just recognize everybody is the same. The idea of individuality and individual responsibility is being leached out of our society, something we as writers should be highlighting in our work rather than avoiding.

Enough of that.

My facebook page will likely break 30,000 likes by the end of the year. I am delighted at this but wonder how the changes to facebook policy will affect my pocketbook when they go into effect on January 1. I have already looked into Ello and Tsu as alternatives and have begun using Twitter more often. If it become necessary, I will shut down the facebook page with great regret and move on.

I'm headed to Shadowcon in a couple of weeks. This is a comfortable little convention I enjoy and look forward to every year. I already have a few more conventions to attend in 2015. Maybe I'll see you at one of them.

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