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!

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 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!