Monday, July 6, 2015

Moonstone Brings Back The Black Bat Prose

Moonstone Books has a new release coming up later this year, The Black Bat Returns. The 270-page prose contains stories of the classic pulp character along with the Green Lama, Golden Amazon and Domino Lady. It includes stories by Ron Fortier, Bobby Nash, Adam L. Garcia, Colin B. Harvey, Sean Taylor, James Palmer, David Boop, David White, and Josh Vogt with a cover by Mike Fyles.

The Black Bat Returns is due out in November 2015.

This one features my team-up tale of the Black Bat and the Golden Amazon!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

[Link] Cheat Sheets for Writing Body Language

by Amanda Patterson

Translate emotions into written body language

We are always told to use body language in our writing. Sometimes, it's easier said than written. I decided to create these cheat sheets to help you show a character's state of mind. Obviously, a character may exhibit a number of these behaviours. For example, he may be shocked and angry, or shocked and happy. Use these combinations as needed.

The Top Five Tips For Using Body Language

  1. Use body language to add depth to dialogue.
  2. Use it because more than 50% of human communication is non-verbal.
  3. Use it to show how your character's emotions affect his or her actions.
  4. Use it to help you show rather than tell your reader everything.
  5. Use it in moderation. If overused, it can slow your story down.

Read the full article:

Friday, July 3, 2015

Childhood Inspirations

We all know the axiom that "Writers read," but does that mean they were always avid readers? Let's find out, shall we...

When you were a child, were you an avid reader? Why or why not?

Aaron Smith: I read constantly as a child, mostly because I wasn't the type who fit in well with other kids. I was never really a reader of children's books, except when I was very young. I graduated pretty early to reading classic science fiction (Asimov, Heinlein, Dick, Bradbury), the original Sherlock Holmes stories, and the books my father threw out when he was done with them(he saw paperbacks as disposable, while I most certainly did not! So I rescued them), which included Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and the James Bond novels of John Gardner (I caught up on Fleming later). I still enjoy the adult books I read as a child and often go back and reread the Holmes and Bond stories. Yes, I absolutely think it's important for those who grow up to be writers to have read as children. I don't think I'm aware of any of the writers I know not having been avid readers as children. Semi-related to the subject, one thing I don't quite understand is the current subdivisions of books into "children's books," "Young adult," "adult," etc. When I was growing up, there were books for kids and then we graduated to adult literature when we were ready. I don't remember all these phases being so noticeably differentiated back then. But if labeling books in such a way helps writers to sell them and readers to find them, I guess it's ok.

Mandi M. Lynch: Absolutely all the time. Sending me to my room was not a punishment because my books were there. Also, the library was a quarter mile from my house. I was allowed to walk there. Alone by age 10 or 11, with friends possibly sooner.
Ray Dean: I was always a big reader... books were exciting and offered me glimpses of other places and other times. But I really jumped in when my classmates started to tease me because I stuttered. Talking with them was a chore and so I spent more time reading.

Rose Streif: I was very much an avid reader.  So much so that my family (who in fact encouraged it) found it strange.  They would be in the other room playing cards and I would be in my room with my nose in a book.  I couldn't help it, for I was a slightly introverted and imaginative child, and books were heaven to me.  My older sister jump-started me into reading for myself (and reading more complex literature) when I was five: she was reading Black Beauty to me at bedtime, and when she came to the last chapter, she put it down and told me I had to finish it on my own.  Evil, but effective.

Stephanie Osborn: Absolutely. I was such an avid reader that my mom used to punish me for ignoring her when she'd tell me to do something. I eventually managed to convince her that I simply never heard her and she was going to have to ascertain that she got my attention, met her eyes, and that my eyes had a conscious, focused gaze on her, before she told me to do something. Otherwise, I was in some other world and never knew she said anything. Given I also had some somnolent activities at the time, that made sense to her, and we never had another problem with it.

Bobby Nash: I don’t know if avid is the right word or not, but I did read, both books and comics. My parents weren’t overly happy about my reading comics and tried to discourage it as often as possible. That  made me want to read even more comics, of course.

H. David Blalock: I was an avid reader of biographies and histories. I was enchanted with the past more than the future because I grew up during the height of the Cold War and there didn't seem to be much to look forward to at the time.

Angelia Sparrow: I was wild about books from the day I realized the marks were the story. I read voraciously. I loved Thornton W Burgess' animal books and Nancy Drew in early grade school and Edgar Rice Burroughs and JRR Tolkien in later grade school. By Jr High, I had discovered Ray Bradbury, and Harlan Ellison and Tanith Lee and Julian May in high school. I still enjoy some of it. Burgess holds up well. Brian Daley's Han Solo trilogy is still quite good. I think you can't write unless you read. You have to be immersed in words to fall in love with them.

Robert Krog: I was an avid reader as a child. I grew up in a house full of books and readers. I was read to quite a bit when I was young. My mother, my father, and my older siblings (sometimes) all read to me until I was old enough to read on my own. I read voraciously. I read in classes with my novels hidden in my textbooks. I read at home when I should have been doing homework or chores. I read late into the night. I wish I had that much time to read now.

Selah Janel: Always. My mother worked hard to instill a love of story in me from the very beginning. She read to me all the time, and when Reading Rainbow began airing she made it a point for us to visit the library every week and look for every title mentioned on the show. I think between myself and my younger sibling, I’ve probably read a good 75% of the titles mentioned on the show and probably 85-90 percent of the books featured on the show. Most of the time when the flyers for Scholastic and other book clubs came out at school I was allowed to buy at least one book, and Mom used it as a way for us to discuss about things I was interested in and might like to read. I still remember the first book I was ever allowed to check out – There’s a Nightmare in my Closet. Summers were spent living at the library, doing the summer programs, selecting stacks of titles to take on vacation, etc. When I lived in Illinois, the library was actually built into the bottom floor of a house and the librarian lived above it. I was so jealous of that, it was such a homey, magical place. I even accidentally got locked in that building over her lunchtime because I was in the back room reading quietly and not paying attention to the time. As a grew older, My parents used things like the Peanuts comic collections as bribery for me doing my homework, and the Star Wars EU became bribe material when I was a teen and hung out at a fancier library in Indiana. It was always an important part of my upbringing – I was expected to read. We may not always agree with what I liked to read, but I was expected to take an interest in books, and that interest soon developed into an all-encompassing love.

Lee Houston Jr.: I'm still an avid reader. My parents read to me when I was a child. To this day, I can still recite passages from Green Eggs and Ham by Doctor Seuss.

Being able to read is an important life skill, regardless of what professional career you eventually choose as an adult. But having a love for literature, which in turn nurtures avid reading; fosters curiosity, the imagination, an eagerness to learn, and a love of live itself.

Erwin K. Roberts: With my family reading tons of stuff to me, most definitely. My family was also a late adopter of TV, first set when I was in the Second Grade. I read lots books and comics. As my reading skills developed I read more advanced material. I went thru just about every science-fiction title available in the children's section of the Kirkwood, Missouri, Public Library and more when available from the St. Louis County Bookmobiles.

Jeff Hewitt: I was a voracious reader as a child. My parents and older sister were, too. There was a TON of reading in my house growing up.

Armand Rosamilia: I was an avid reader. I was punished and had to spend my time in my parent's room to keep me away from my brother so we didn't kill each other.

Chris Kohler: I read all the time as a child, as I had a lot of time on my hands and it kept me from being bored. I enjoyed stuff by Beverly Cleary, Ruth Chew, and Judy Blume (as well as books on geography and dinosaurs) until about age 11 or 12, then I started reading stuff like Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and I really enjoyed Frederic Brown. I discovered Piers Anthony around age 14 and devoured those for a couple of years, then started getting into Stephen King and L. Ron Hubbard (the Mission Earth books were sort of dope).

Then in college, my recreational reading was Heinlein, Asimov, Bradbury, Card, Clarke, Harrison, and I'm still working on the rest of them. I haven't really revisited books as I read as a kid (although I re-read some of them several times back then).

I'm not a writer, I'm a comic artist/cartoonist. So much of my reading these days is art books, because I want to be inspired and steal their tricks. wink emoticon I would think that prospective writers should be reading all the time for similar reasons.

Kathleen Bradean: I was an avid reader from the moment I learned to read. (4 years old, for the record) I remember the moment it clicked. I was afraid to go to sleep that night because I thought I might forget how. I read everything I could get my hands on. I took my elder sisters' readers and devoured them. Then I read my parent's novels. My third grade teacher put me into detention when I saw James Mitchner's Hawaii on her desk and said "Oh, I read that!" so my mother came down to the school and gave her hell for calling me a liar.

What series or authors did you most enjoy as a child?

Mandi M. Lynch: All of them. Goosebumps, Babysitters Club, Sweet Valley High (didn't like em as much but I read em all), the Jenny Archer series, the Mandie series... Roald Dahl. Matilda is still my favorite book; I have easily read it 200 times.

Ray Dean: Alcott was my gateway drug... Little Women was the first book I stayed up all night to read. Under my covers, flashlight, the whole bit. I don't think I fooled my great-grandparents who I was staying with that summer. They always encouraged me to read and do well in school.  I read her whole series of books and went on to Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Wrinkle in Time, Narnia, Little House, Boxcar Children, whatever I could get my hands on. It's no wonder I hung out in the library all the time and the school staff that I still talk to were all librarians or archivists.

Rose Streif: I skipped most children's literature when I was a child, because it simply wasn't immersive enough.  Books of that sort did indeed exist, but they were not in our home library.  I read a few of the classics, and then started on Stephen King around the age of nine or ten.  But the "Wham!" moment happened at age eleven, when (at the suggestions of my sister, brother, and father, respectively) I read the trifecta of Watership Down, Johnny Got His Gun, and Animal Farm.  My reading and inner life were never the same after that, and I began writing shortly thereafter and drifting towards fantasy and science fiction.

Stephanie Osborn: My gosh, too many to count, I think. Surprisingly enough, many of the series I read had nothing to do with SF: the Little House books, the Anne of Green Gables books, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden (and later Tom Swift, which WAS sort of SF), Sherlock Holmes (eventually; I was given Hound of the Baskervilles before I was old enough to deal with the frightening aspects, and that sort of set me back a bit). Film and TV were what first brought me to SF. Then I discovered the Star Trek novelizations in there someplace, but before that I'd discovered the likes of Asimov, Bradbury, a bit of Heinlein, some del Ray, Madeline L'Engle, and more.

But I also did things like sitting down to read a volume of the encyclopedia, cover to cover. I read the dictionary and Mom's etiquette handbook. Anything I could find to read, and from which to learn, I read.

Bobby Nash: In the school library I discovered Encyclopedia Brown then later moved on to reading my Mom’s Reader’s Digests looking for stories. The only one there that stands out in my memory is called The Snowbound Six. I really should look that one up and give it a re-read. After Star Wars, I read Han Solo’s Revenge, which I really enjoyed. From there it was Conan, The Avenger, comics in paperback form, and whatever other paperbacks I could get my hands on. Eventually I discovered Bova, Bradbury, and Asimov.

H. David Blalock: I discovered the works of Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury as a pre-teen and found out there were those who had a better view of the future than the average person. I followed them and the writings of people like Norton, Vance, Van Vogt, Hamilton, Clement, etc. until I stumbled on the writings of Bierce, Machen, Lovecraft, Howard, Ashton Smith and Derleth. My horizons expanded from the past to the future and beyond. There were no series to speak of unless you want to infer that voraciously consuming the works of these writers constitutes a serial involvement with their work.

Robert Krog: I read my Children's Bible, Fly Away at the Airshow, The Little Red Tugboat, Where the Wild Things Are, and a lot of other young children's books early on. Later, I read dictionaries, most of The World Book Encyclopedia, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Secret Door, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, The Dragon Lance Chronicles, The Pern novels, The Dark Angel Trilogy, A Wizard of Earthsea, The Mysterious Island, The Myth books by Robert Asprin, The High Crusade, The Once and Future King, various collections of Fairy Tales, some Hardy Boys, The Hitchhiker's Guide, and a few novels by Edgar Rice Burroughs, such as Pirates of Venus, and Tarzan. At the time, I enjoyed everything I could get my hands on. I was not particularly discriminating.

I read everything I was supposed to read during high school, such as David Copperfield, works by Kipling, etc. I really enjoyed Les Miserable. It and the Lord of the Rings are two I go back to from time to time. They are probably my favorites, though by the time I read Les Miserable, I wasn't really a child anymore. I read the Lord of the Rings in third grade and fourth, as I recall.

Selah Janel: As a little kid I loved nursery rhymes, fairy tales, Beatrix Potter, Nancy Carlson, Stephen Kellog, Tomy dePaola. My reading skills were brushed up on this huge series of picture books my grandparents had – all I remember is they were brightly colored and featured characters like Sam and Jan and the like, and they all had pets, and they liked jam and candy and ham sandwiches a lot. They were really fun, and I read them all a million times, along with things like The Berenstein Bears, Clifford, The Little Witch, etc. As I grew a little bit, I was introduced to Laura Ingalls Wilder, Louisa May Alcott, The Babysitters Club, American Girl books, James Howe, Chronicles of Narnia etc. As a preteen I loved My Teacher is an Alien, Stories from Wayside School, and I secretly read urban legends and the RL Stine titles that were just becoming popular. I’m sure I read a lot of movie novelizations, too, because that was pretty popular in the eighties, as well.

I loved the Reading Rainbow books – The Rain on Kapiti Plain is still one of the most gorgeous things in the world to me and I can still sing you the songs from Abioyo and Mama Don’t Allow. I always asked about the books that were turned into animated specials on CBS and ABC Saturday morning shows. It still saddens me that there are a LOT of books that were read to me by teachers or I devoured as a middle school kid that I just don’t remember the title to, things that were deliciously weird and surely influenced me, but I couldn’t tell you what they are for the life of me.  It was interesting, because even as a teen, I had a much younger sibling so I would read what she was reading because I could get through those books quickly and they were a much-needed break from heavy school reading. Through her I read most of Roald Dahl’s titles, The Bailey School Kids, and things like Ella Enchanted. It was a two-way street, too. From me she started reading Harry Potter and a lot of my books were handed down to her.

Lee Houston Jr.: About the only books I remember from true childhood (before starting school) are Doctor Seuss and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton. As I got older and my reading skills and comprehension developed, I discovered comic books. Then in fifth grade, there was a copy of A Princess of Mars by Edgar Rice Burroughs in my elementary school library. By the end of that book, there was no turning back. I couldn't stop reading if my life depended on it.

Erwin K. Roberts: Dr. Dolittle was first read to me, then I read more on my own. The library had most of Walter Brooks' (creator of Mr. Ed) Freddy the Pig series which often contained satire of more adult subjects. I never had a chance to discover Edgar Rice Burroughs until the paperback boom. Apparently both libraries I partonized had an unspoken ban on his work. Otis A. Kline did not have such a reputation as ERB. So I discovered the sword & planet genre via his works. I read the Tom Swift JR books and collected them for a few years. Then I got some Tom Senior books and found them much better written. I still have a few of the G&D Lone Ranger novels. My favorite Juvenile series, so-called, was the Rick Brant - Science Adventures. I collected comics all the while. I've been in and out of comics fandom since about 1962.

Jeff Hewitt: Writers MUST read, MUST. It would be like wanting to be a swimmer who refuses to swim laps, or even look at the water until they're in. You read to understand what works, to see how other authors address the difficult nature of writing, to see what doesn't work, and why. In the past, composers copied the works of great masters by hand. In doing so, they were able to see how a symphony or opera fit together, by looking at the individual pieces and fitting them together.

Armand Rosamilia: Dean Koontz was the first author I loved to read. Before that was Hardy Boys books.

Kathleen Bradean: My real first love was mystery novels like Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys. Then I moved on to Agatha Christie and the rest of the adult library offerings in mysteries. After I'd read everything they had, I picked up Dune and became a science fiction fan. I also loved Jack London, Robert Louis Stevenson, Alexander Dumas and most of all Jules Vernes - stuff that was for all audiences when written but are considered YA now.

Do you still find that you enjoy children's fiction? Do you still enjoy the works you enjoyed as a child? Why or why not?

Mandi M. Lynch: I still read Matilda. And mid grades and YA. And I nanny a 18-month-old so I read picture books a lot. There are some fabulous books out there like the Llama Llama series and Bug Patrol by Denise Dowling Mortensen.

Ray Dean: Yes! Sometimes it is better than I remember... and sometimes I read it and say. I don't remember that... and wonder if I didn't see it or if I'm just beginning to understand it. Perspective changes as well. Like Jo and the Professor in Little Women. I couldn't believe that Jo didn't marry Laurie! I was bereft and sad for her back then. Reading it as an adult, I understood... boy, did I understand!

Rose Streif: Because I didn't read much children's literature as a child, I still don't. This makes my reading tastes seem incredibly pretentious, when it was really a case of early conditioning.  I'll probably get pilloried for this, but I could never make it through the first Harry Potter book, even though I enjoyed all the films.  Having said that, I still adore all the books I read as a child, because most were meant for adults.  Johnny Got His Gun I've never been able to pick up again, because of the difficult subject matter, but it's an incredible novel and I've never forgotten it.

Stephanie Osborn: I think it depends on the particular fiction. Yes, there are some of those I still read. I'm especially still fond of the Anne of Green Gables books. Since that series covered Anne's entire life, then the lives of her children, I discovered decades ago that there was something in there for me, regardless of age.

I recently got my hands on used books of a complete series of which i'd found a few books in my uncle's childhood collection, and had been fascinated with. It was about a jungle boy and was obviously a riff on the Tarzan books. Well, I got the whole series to read to find out what happened...and was rather shocked to discover how derivative, formulaic, and downright racist they were. It was classic pulp, even to the point of using multiple writers under the same pen name to create the books -- but you could still see the somewhat different styles. I found out what happened to the kid, but then I put 'em away and haven't opened 'em again because the cachet was gone -- the older, wiser, more knowledgeable me just wasn't interested.

Bobby Nash: Sometimes I do enjoy reading books where I may no longer be the target audience. There are some amazing young adult and teen titles out there. Part of me is kind of envious as there wasn’t really a line dedicated to teens when I was that age.

H. David Blalock: I no longer consciously read children's fiction, although I do still enjoy the books I read as a child. Some might say I never really read children's books (if you discount the biographies).

Robert Krog: I enjoy of some and some I do not. I read a lot to my own children and I find that some of the things that pass for children's literature is pure drivel, and others are simple, good stuff. I love rereading Where the Wild Things Are. I can recite it by heart. It isn't long. smile emoticon I also really like rereading The Clown of God by Tomie Depaola. I loved it as a child, though I didn't really understand it, and rediscovered it years later. The first time I read it as an adult, it brought tears to the eyes of myself and my wife.

Some works though, don't stand up to adult scrutiny. In books written for teenagers, the typos stand out, as do the one-dimensional characters, the wooden dialogue, and the poorly developed plots. A lot that is written for teenagers is an insult to their intelligence and helps to dumb them down and wither their interest in reading. I won't name names. Some is all adrenaline, fluff, and poor on plot, theme, character, etc. It's good, maybe, for catching the attention of someone who might not otherwise be a reader, but it isn't what classics are made of. I do have some fond memories of books I simply won't ever read again.

There is an elegance in children's stories sometimes, in stories for little children, a straight forward, unassuming simplicity that is more touching, at times, and more meaningful, at times, than anything that can be found in works written for adults.

Selah Janel: I love children’s fiction. I think it still has a lot to say, because it really gets to the core of issues and feelings. Plus, there’s a comfort factor there, whether it’s a title from my own childhood or something different. If I’m really out of sorts I’ll still check out a BSC or American Girl title, and I’ve read my copy of Heidi forty thousand times. I’ve gone through two collections of Beatrix Potter and all my Little House books have been read to pieces.  A few years ago I went through the books a lot of Disney cartoons were based on (not movie novelizations), and my mind was blown. I also just finished the Bunnicula series, because by time James Howe finished it, I was definitely an adult. I still enjoy most of the titles I loved as a kid, because I’m still, essentially, the same person. There are some titles that have made me cringe to go back to. There are some things nostalgia just can’t blind you to once you grow up. For the most part, though, it’s always a fun trip back in time. If a book is truly well-written, it doesn’t matter what age it’s meant for or what age you read it at. It’s going to give something to you and make you feel something. I’ve gotten more from Heidi and Laura Ingalls as an adult than I ever did as a child, and reading the Reading Rainbow books now makes me really appreciate how beautiful those stories are, as well as how hard it is to express some of those plots and feelings so succinctly. They give me memories from my childhood, little time capsules of moments that I might not recall on my own.

Lee Houston Jr.: The ones from childhood I still remember, yes. Being older and single, I don't really pick up children's literature unless it's in regards to my nieces and nephews. I have read and enjoyed the entire Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling. Got involved with that because my sister wanted an opinion on whether or not the books were “safe” for her kids, and finished the series on my own via the public library.

Erwin K. Roberts: There have been any number of books I read to my kids that I've enjoyed, but would not read for myself. However, I still can get a charge out of both Carl Barks & Don Rosa's duck epics. (My kids and I watched the Duck Tales show together. My adult daughter has the DVD's and is looking forward to the new episodes on the way.)

I have not read a Tom Swift Jr book in about forty-five years. But I pull the Rick Brant books out, now and then and truly enjoy them. That speaks strongly to the skills of the main author Hal Goodwin, an island hopping Marine journalist in WW2. He'd usually been where his stories played out. (Anyone remember Rip Foster Rides the Gray Planet? That's his work, too.) I also belong to the Rick Brant Yahoo group.

The kids books & comics I still like never talked down to the reader. That's also the reason I can enjoy most of Pixar's films, kids, or no kids. Not to mention the Muppets.

Anybody else remember when Gladstone began publishing Disney comics in the 1980's? They said, in add ition to reprinting good U.S. material, they were bringing in stories published all over the world, with one exception. In the United Kingdom, they said, the local publishers enforced a directive that since no one over ten years old would dream of reading their original stories, absolutely nothing of interest to those over ten would be allowed in their Disney comics. Having downloaded and read a few UK Disney comics, I can tell you that the Suits got their way.

Armand Rosamilia: I rarely read children's fiction. I definitely don't write it.

Kathleen Bradean: I didn't like preachy stuff that was written to be "good" for kids, but I loved well-written YA stuff then and now. I go back to novels I loved as a kid. Some I still like. I didn't like Sherlock Holmes until I read A Scandal in Bohemia. That was the first time I'd ever read a female character who wasn't a good mommy, and I was smitten! Irene Adler still heavily influences the female characters I write. However since I can't view a parallel life where I wasn't a heavy reader as a child, I have no idea if that made me a better writer or not.

Based on your reading history, how important is it for future storytellers to be readers during their childhood?

Mandi M. Lynch: An absolute necessity. We need to start kids on a love of books and reading for reading sake as early as possible. Quit with reading only being over-analytical why is the chair blue type shit. Actually encourage enjoyment. If you're 10 and want to read Asimov or 50 and want to read Harry Potter, then do it. Too many people don't touch books after school. Too many people lack imagination.

Ray Dean:
Literacy is huge! I joke about children's books as gateway drugs, but I guess I'm more serious about it than I want to admit. The books I read showed me it could be done. That you can take a bunch of letters and characters and create worlds!

Rose Streif: I cannot stress how important it is.  And I may get pilloried for this as well, but I believe in a Garbage In, Garbage Out principle: if you read nothing but garbage, you will write nothing but garbage.  And those habits can start early.  Everyone progresses along different lines and may even have barriers to overcome, but you must challenge yourself, or accept challenges.  And that doesn't end with childhood.

Stephanie Osborn: Reading is essential for a writer, at any age. Optimally, I think, the young writer-to-be should be an omnivorous reader; this is when we pick up our foundation of literature. It's when we have TIME to read, ENERGY to read, and it is the best chance we have of absorbing lots of "good stuff" to work into our own writing later, as adults. I've tried to play catch-up on adding some classic literature to my mental library, things that I didn't have access to as a child, and it's much harder now, because I have to make time for it. I simply DID it as a child. But I still read nevertheless, because I get fresh ideas by doing so. I'm exposed to different styles, different ways of utilizing a point of view, and more. And I'm inspired to try 'em out in my own writing, sometimes to good effect.

Bobby Nash: I don’t know if you have to be an avid reader as a child to be an effective storyteller later. Obviously, it helps to be a reader because you’re exposed to a diverse set of storytelling methods and styles, but there’s more to being a writer than being a reader. That said, I like to think my reading choices as a kid helped ignite my interest in mysteries and adventures, which informs much of my writing.

H. David Blalock: Reading is critical to the intellectual development of children. Without it, the imagination is stunted, crippled. In an environment that does more to indoctrinate than educate, learning to read is essential to critical thinking. If you cannot read, you cannot form your own informed opinions of things. Then again, if all you read are books on the best-seller lists, you restrict yourself to the same formula over and over. Children's minds need to be stretched, challenged, encouraged to break boundaries of ideas and concepts. Young minds are the future, and the future must not be limited by the past.

Robert Krog: I'm not saying that it's essential. I've known a few authors whose work is good who have confessed that they read less than was required as children and didn't start reading for pleasure until they were adults. That being said, it can't hurt, and it surely can help. The adults who finally picked up books and found a new love are few and far between, and those whose interest in reading died aborning are as common as flies. Everyone I know who enjoys reading now but didn't as a child wishes that he had read as a child. They think they missed out on something, and they surely did. In some ways though, they get to have a second childhood, so God bless them and their newfound love of books.

Selah Janel: You can’t perform a craft unless you’re experiencing it, and the best way for a true storyteller to learn is from the very beginning. Children’s stories are really good ways to get the very basic mechanics of story: plot development, characters you can relate to, building of tension, etc. They also have a way of connecting with young readers, infusing them with that soul that not all adult titles are really capable of delivering. There needs to be some foundation, some appreciation of story and the written word if a child wants to grow up to write and tell stories of their own, or else they’re probably approaching it for all the wrong reasons. Think of how many childhood memories come from stories: the books you were read at bedtime, the weird things that supposedly happened to a friend’s friend that you were told on the playground, the memories and family legends that your parents and grandparents recalled around a dinner table. Stories of all sorts are important to children because they give them a foundation for the world and their lives, something to hang onto when things get tough or if they need a reference for the way they’re feeling.

Lee Houston Jr.: I feel it is very important. While many claim writing is a teachable subject, in the end you only learn the basics (like subject, noun, verb) and must develop the skills and passion to write on your own. One can learn not only what makes good writing from the books they enjoy, but what creates bad writing from the ones they didn't like.

Erwin K. Roberts: I wanted to be a writer, early on. For comics, not prose. I read bunches of both comics and books. As soon as I had an opportunity, for a reasonable price, I bought a copy of Stan Lee's Secrets Behind the Comics, written the year I was born.

Today I do not think it is as important to just be reading huge numbers of books. Reading books is still very important, but with the various new formats  and delivery systems for entertainment other things have become important, too. Those that think they want to write for non-traditional print and other media should also be looking under the hood of the media they enjoy and want to target.

Jeff Hewitt: By reading, we get a look at the building blocks of effective story telling, and that, in turn, should help us in our practice, art, and love.

Armand Rosamilia: It is so important to be an avid reader as a kid and read everything you can get your hands on you have even a passing interest in. I read mostly nonfiction books now to keep learning, and for future stories.

Kathleen Bradean: Some I don't like as much. But that doesn't change the impact they had on me. Did that influence me as a writer? Maybe.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

[Link] Are You Reading The Wrong Books? What Science Is Saying About Fiction Readers

by Will S.

For most, the love of books starts in childhood. For others, this love blooms later, eventually revealing the vibrant colors of a true bibliophile! But science has started looking into the effects of reading on the brain. They’ve done experiments, ran MRIs, polled, and surveyed, all to what end? Studies have been released in the past several years that have given scientists some interesting data about fiction readers and what type of fiction they should read!

What has science concluded? Studies are showing that readers of fiction are more empathetic towards others. By engaging with a story, readers are temporarily placing themselves in a character’s shoes, therefore, the more stories you read, the more shoes you’ve tried on. It’s a fascinating insight into the world of reading.

Read the full article:

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Nugget #57 -- Mixing Fiction

Mixing the "high ideals" of literary fiction, with 
its focus on characterization, meaningful symbolism, 
and grand themes, and putting those ideals into the 
"common writing" of adventure fiction, likewise, really 
gets me motivated. There's nothing in the rule book 
that says a genre writer should write poorly 
or ignore the history of classic fiction.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Researching Steampunk — And More

By Stephanie Osborn

I’ve spent a good deal of time researching history for my science fiction writing, which is funny, really, because history was my least favorite subject in school. But when you’re writing a story, somehow it takes on a completely different focus, becomes less dry and dusty and more malleable. And I’ve done it quite a lot by now, actually:

  • Burnout (postWWII to the present, military and space)
  • The Fetish (Native American post-European history)
  • “The Bunker,” Dreams of Steam (Victorian era UK and USA)
  • The Displaced Detective Series (Victorian era London)
  • The Adventures of Aemelia Gearheart (as-yet unpublished; Victorian era Europe, Asia Australia, Revolutionary War America)
  • Extraction Point (scientific history, Middle Ages to present)
  • The Sherlock Holmes: Gentleman Aegis Series (coming soon; Victorian era worldwide)

For our purposes, let’s focus on the Displaced Detective series. The Displaced Detective series has been described as “Sherlock Holmes meets the X-Files,” in that it is a series of science fiction mysteries in which Sherlock Holmes is yanked from an alternate reality into the modern day and can’t be sent home again. Instead he settles into the 21st century and, together with the chief scientist of the project that brought him there, solves scientifically oriented mysteries. So I had to start with a purely Victorian British man, and compare and contrast his world with a modern American one. It entailed considerable research on the Victorian era, and London specifically.

Building references

Did you know that if you went to Great Britain and got a hotel room on the first floor, you’d need to look for the elevator, or the stairs? That’s right. Their ground floor is our 1st floor.  Their 1st floor is our 2nd floor! In the Victorian era (and in Baker Street!) the ground floor in London would house the servants, kitchen, possibly the water pump (if it was indoors) – and of course, Mrs. Hudson’s living area, as well as possibly a shop of some sort on the street. But the principal, formal living area would be on the first floor and above. We know this is where Holmes’ rooms were, as well as the sitting-room; Watson’s bedroom was on a floor above this, judging by references in the stories.

Also it’s good to know that Baker Street had an Upper (north) end and a Lower (south) end. Upper Baker Street had no numbers, nor any real dwellings, in Victorian days. In fact, it didn’t get numbers until about 1932 or thereabouts. So 221b never really existed in our world. What exists where 221b should be? That’s heavily debated, and the property keeps changing hands, but there is a large block of buildings that started out as a bank headquarters sitting where the number should actually be. The mailing address is heavily debated between the bank and the Sherlock Holmes Museum, a little way farther up Baker Street.

So did the Baker Street Irregulars really exist? As a matter of fact — yes, they did, but not as street urchins. In WWII the headquarters of the Special Operations Executive, an espionage, reconnaissance and surveillance organization that eventually merged into MI6, and with which certain “names” (such as the late Sir Christopher Lee, and the celebrated author Ian Fleming) were reputed to have worked, was located in Lower Baker Street. It took on the nickname of the Baker Street Irregulars, which is not to be confused with the international fan organization of the same name.

Is there an Underground station nearby that Holmes and Watson could have used? Yes, the Baker Street Station, one of the world’s oldest — and which was refurbished and remodeled in recent years so that one part of the station (which connects two Underground lines) is Sherlockian-themed, and the other once again displays its original Victorian styling.

Is there anywhere nearby where Holmes and Watson could have simply strolled, as is mentioned in a couple of the Conan Doyle stories? Yes, Regents Park is at the upper end of Baker Street and is quite large.

What about household furnishings? Well, the ones that would most puzzle us today are actually all still in existence but use different names. The gasogene (aka domestic time bomb) was a seltzer maker. It consisted of two bottles held together with wicker or wire, one containing tartaric acid and sodium bicarbonate which reacted to produce carbon dioxide, and the other containing water. When the handle was depressed, carbonated water emerged for mixing into drinks – when the thing didn’t explode from pressure buildup, that is. The tantalus was simply a liquor cabinet, often portable (in an awkward, bulky sort of way). It contained crystal decanters rather than bottles, with metal labels on chains. The gasogene was typically kept here too. The tantalus was usually kept locked unless it was being used to pour drinks. (No sense in encouraging the hired help to raid the liquor cabinet, you know! Seriously, that would have been one of the rationales behind keeping it locked, in the day.)

Alcohol and Tobacco

If a gentleman were out and about, he might have ale, beer, or stout, typically at a pub. After dinner, or at his club, it was whisky, scotch or brandy, usually with a cigarette, cigar, or pipe. The combination was used because tobacco potentiates any other drug with which it was used, so the host could provide a nice buzz with much less expensive alcohol. (It was also why opium was usually smoked with tobacco in a hookah. An expensive drug, as it was imported, the tobacco enabled the same high with a lesser amount.) Cigarettes were hand-rolled, and there were tricks to handling a pipe: lighting it, keeping it going, and maintaining it are all more difficult than one would think if one hasn’t tried it.

How do I know? I learned to smoke a pipe expressly to be able to write Holmes’ use of it properly. This includes sipping whisky or brandy with it, which resulted in my learning first-hand how well tobacco potentiates the alcohol! I am NOT a heavy drinker, and I have never been so drunk before or since, nor do I wish to be.

There are a myriad of variations on a pipe. Holmes is usually depicted smoking a Meerschaum Calabash pipe, but this dates from the first stage portrayal of Holmes by William Gillette. He found that such a pipe had several useful advantages for stage use:

  • It was heavily curved, and so the bowl stayed out of the way of the face. This both enabled the audience to see the actor better, and the actor’s expressions and emoting to come through as a consequence. (It is sometimes debated how much of Gillette’s ego went into the choice.)
  • It was well balanced, and allowed the actor to speak around it even with it in his mouth, sometimes even without the aid of hands.

In all likelihood, however, Holmes would have smoked a long-stemmed briar pipe.

Then there is something called the dottle. This is the slightly charred, often soggy remains of the bowlful of tobacco left at the bottom after smoking. It can be removed, dried, and smoked, though it is often a bit harsh. Doyle tells us that Holmes had a habit of collecting the dottle from a day’s worth of pipe use, drying it on a corner of the fireplace mantel, then using this as his first-thing-in-the-morning smoke.

Lighting tobacco could be a risky proposition in those days. A smoker would have used a match, a hot coal held awkwardly in fireplace tongs, or possibly the jet of a gas lamp. There WAS the precursor of a modern lighter: the fusee, a kind of a flintlock or flare; it was bulky and dangerous, especially if the smoker possessed a beard.
For emergencies, brandy was used to “revive” a victim, I presume in much the same manner smelling-salts were and are used. Modern well-known liquors were available at the time, such as Glenlivet (a relatively new distillery at the time) and Hennessey, a British brandy as opposed to a French cognac, but it is the same beverage for all intents and purposes. (The difference arises from the requirement that “cognac” be applied only to those products of a certain region of France.) I thought Holmes might be an Anglophile, although possibly not; his grandmother was French (Vernet). Besides, Watson references brandy, not cognac. As a result, I chose Hennessey for my experiments with after-dinner tobacco pipes and brandy.

Clothing and modes of dress
A gentleman's dress varied depending on where he was or where he was going. If he was in the city, his outerwear would include an overcoat, top hat, frock coat, ascot, cane, and possibly spats. But if he were in, or traveling to, the country, he would attire himself in tweeds; a boater, deerstalker or flat cap; and an overcoat, cloak, Inverness cape, or duster-type coat, depending upon weather. All of these would fasten with buttons or hooks & eyes; there were no zippers and no belts. Trousers were held up with suspenders, or “braces” as they were usually called. Jeans were just being invented, and were not used in the UK. The cloth was produced in France (twill de Nimes — “denim”). The first cowboy hats by Stetson in the US had avid competition by Christy's in the UK, who is still a provider to the Crown.
A proper gentleman such as Holmes would be attired from the skin up as follows: vest and pants (these today would be called boxers and undershirt – NOT a t-shirt, but a tank-top style), stockings (socks), a shirt with replaceable collar (ring around the collar? Throw it away and get another), button-up trousers (modern pants, trousers, or slacks, but with a button fly) held up by braces (suspenders), a double-pocketed waistcoat (“WES-kət,” now known as a vest), and if in public or with visitors, a suit-coat of various styles, and a tie of some sort, approximating the modern bow or regular tie, or something even fancier. The tie was often referred to as a cravat. Shoes were leather, usually ankle height, and buttoned up. Note also that some men of the era wore corsets, although there is no evidence that Holmes or Watson did so.
Accessories would include cufflinks and a pocket-watch. The watch was properly placed in one waistcoat pocket; the chain (if the wearer was of sufficient means to afford a long chain) was threaded through a buttonhole in the waistcoat and over to the other pocket. On the other end of the long chain would be some necessary trinket such as a pipe tool (for cleaning and/or tamping one’s pipe) or a jack-knife (pocket knife), and this would be tucked into the waistcoat pocket opposite the pocket-watch. If the wearer could not afford such, then a single swag ran from the waistcoat pocket to hook around one of the waistcoat buttons. In addition, when going out, no London gentleman would be caught dead without his cane (young or old, handicapped or no), kid leather gloves, and silk hat (top hat). Optional accessories included studs instead of shirt buttons, a stick pin for the cravat, spats (to protect expensive leather shoes from the mud on the streets and in the gutters, which not infrequently still contained the contents of chamber pots, at least in certain parts of London), watch fobs, and overcoats and wool scarves in winter.
The only skin which showed on a PROPER Victorian male or female in public – if they were of any station at all – was the skin of the face and upper neck.

Personal hygeine
The era had very little running water. Instead they used pitcher and basin, with water from a pump (often outdoors). There were, of course, no hot showers, but there were clawfoot tubs with water lugged from the ground floor; if heated water was desired, it was heated on a wood or gas stove.

Straight razors and soap with a brush to lather it did for shaving; the “safety razor” had just been invented — the ancestor to the modern razor. In addition, one could get periodic touchups by the corner barber.
Toothbrushes were uncommon but existed, made of natural materials (wood, boar bristle). No toothpaste — they used tooth powder made by their neighborhood chemist (apothecary, pharmacy). This powder ranged from baking soda to powdered pumice and sometimes did as much harm as good. The first commercial deodorant came into being about this time — Mum, later known as Ban, it was a paste or cream applied by the fingers. Colognes, aftershave, personal fragrances, all were compounded at the chemist's. Aftershave was probably no more than a simple alcohol and/or witch hazel blend with possibly fragrance added. For men, bay rum was a popular fragrance of the day; women’s fragrances tended toward the single-note florals.

Non-London Research: Colorado

Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs (~6000ft) pre-white-man were literally areas of springs, some of which are naturally carbonated, all of which are artesian. They were natural winter havens for Native Americans (mostly Utes). Ute Pass (US 24) was used by the Utes to get to the summertime pasturage behind the Front Range, in the high meadows (~9000-10,000ft). Lots of bison were in the area then, at low and high altitudes, so there was plenty of food.
The Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument (used in book 1, The Arrival) was an ancient Eocene redwood forest valley. A massive volcanic eruption from numerous volcanos in the area (part of the 39-Mile volcanic system) dammed a stream and flooded it, killing the redwoods before “petrifying” (remineralizing) them; it also fossilized insects and animals. When the first settlers came through the area, there was so much petrified wood they had to move it just to make a road, and often took souvenirs with them. There’s very little left now except what is preserved in the Monument. The conjoined Hornbek Homestead, moved to the site from its original location nearby, was a frontier homestead run by Adeline Hornbek. This amazing woman was widowed once, married again, and her second husband Hornbek disappeared, leaving her with a ranch and kids. She made a go of it and had one of the wealthier frontier homes, complete with:

  • glass windows
  • 2 stories
  • 4 bedrooms
  • ornate Victorian furnishings
  • a milk house, chicken house, and stables!

She even ran the local mercantile and was a contemporary of Holmes — or rather, would have been.
Cripple Creek & Victor were gold/silver boomtowns. They sit in the middle of an ancient volcanic crater, where to this day, miners dig into the volcanic neck for ore. (Yes, I’ve been down in one of the gold mines in the area.)

Non-London Research: RAF Bentwaters & RAF Woodbridge

Now we get into WWII history.  RAF Bentwaters & RAF Woodbridge (used in books 3 & 4, The Rendlesham Incident & Endings and Beginnings) were built for emergency landings returning from Germany over the Channel. The ancient Rendlesham Forest is in between the two bases. There was even an accidental German bomber landing there due to an inexperienced crew! They got turned around, lost over the Channel, and thought they were over Nazi Germany. The crew was immediately taken into custody as prisoners of war, and the aircraft was stripped down for secrets.
In the late 20th century they became NATO bases. In late 1980, “England's Roswell” occurred. UFO appearances were documented by base security, and soldiers’ IR night goggles indicated a “hole” in the center of the unidentified object. Under regression hypnosis, a military sergeant indicated the beings were time travelers. There were many explanations, but there was enough there for me to take it and run for The Rendlesham Incident & Endings and Beginnings!

Where Did I Find All That?
Lots of places, really. In most of this research, I found that Google was my bestest friend. Sometimes it takes a bit of trial and error to find the right combination of keywords on which to search, though. It’s definitely worth sitting down with the browser open to your search engine and trying different combinations and permutations of keywords on your subject. Sometimes you need to exercise a bit of discretion on the results; I try to avoid the obviously over-the-top websites — you know the ones I mean — unless, of course, I am actively LOOKING for something over-the-top.
Wikipedia is a surprisingly good jumping-off point. Given my background, education, and experience, I know enough of certain sciences to tell if a Wiki article is “on” or not, and if I can trust it; history and culture, different ball game. However, within certain limits it can give you an overview of your subject (don’t trust political commentary, etc.), and the references at the bottom of the article are invaluable. You can chase reference trees for hours, if you aren’t careful and lose track of time. And learn a lot in the doing. I know, because I have!
Travel is one of my favorite sources of information. I love to travel and explore, and often used business trips as a springboard for exploration. The extensive knowledge of the Colorado Springs area I use in the Displaced Detective books, as being one of the homes of the detectives, is partly because of such business trips, and partly because I had a friend living in the area at the time. It was easy to tack on a weekend to the business trip, taking advantage of my friend’s spare bedroom, and explore the area, sometimes with her, sometimes on my own. There are very few places in Colorado that I mention in the books that I have not visited myself. And I have several future books in the series planned around other locales I have visited as well, such as New Orleans and the Pacific Northwest.
Believe it or not, I’ve been learning to use social media as a really good source of information. For instance, I now have a selection of Facebook groups where, if I’m stuck on a particular detail, I can post a question and have expert historians, keepers of museums, and re-enactors, all providing feedback on the “sticking point” — and I’m soon past it and writing on!

This is just a sample of the information my research has uncovered, as well as how I dug it all out, and I continue to explore history, looking for cool things to work into stories. It’s been a fun ride so far, and I’ve no doubt it will continue to be!

Stephanie Osborn, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery, is a veteran of more than 20 years in the civilian space program, with graduate and undergraduate degrees in four sciences: astronomy, physics, chemistry and mathematics, and she is “fluent” in several more, including geology and anatomy. She has authored, co-authored, or contributed to more than 20 books, including the celebrated science-fiction mystery, Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. She is the co-author of the Cresperian Saga book series, and currently writes the critically acclaimed Displaced Detective Series, described as “Sherlock Holmes meets The X-Files.” In addition to her writing, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery now happily “pays it forward,” teaching math and science through numerous media including radio, podcasting and public speaking, as well as working with SIGMA, the science-fiction think tank.

(© 2013, 2015 Stephanie Osborn)

Monday, June 29, 2015

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #329 -- In Five Years

Where do you hope to be as a writer in 5 years?

I'm going to have to answer this one 2 ways. It all goes back to when I was a corporate chair monkey, and each year, I'd have to turn in my budget along with my realistic goals and my dream (or push) goals. So I'm going to do that here too.

Realistic goals:

1. Having a few novels under my belt, I will be focusing on novel projects and publishing far fewer short stories.

2. I will have at least 4 more comic book projects from reputatable publishers either in the production or already published.

3. I will be a more fit writer physically, and because I was able to take control of my health life, I will find that I'm more able to take control of my writing life (scheduling, persistence, etc.) as well.

Push Goals:

1. I will have in development one novel with a major house, not because I expect to get rich of it, but because it will help me build my platform as a writer from which to increase sales across the board for all my body of work.

2. I will reach a point in my writing career in which I can achieve a sustainable income by writing alone. Not a fancy income, but a sustainable one that alones me to be a full-time writer and keep the bills paid.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

King of the Bastards Preorders Available Now!

Apex Publications
Contact: Lesley Conner, managing editor

King of the Bastards Preorders

Apex Publications is happy to announce that preorders for our next release, King of the Bastards by Brian Keene and Steven Shrewsbury, are now open. King of the Bastards is a sword and sorcery/horror novel that brings together characters and mythos from both Shrewsbury and Keene’s popular novels. All preorders receive an exclusive 40 percent off discount code for another Apex product, and free shipping on all domestic orders. The expected release date is July 21st.

King of the Bastards can be preordered on the Apex Publications website.


Rogan has been many things in his life as an adventurer — a barbarian, a thief, a buccaneer, a rogue, a lover, a reaver, and most recently, a king. Now, this prehistoric bane of wizards and tyrants finds himself without a kingdom, lost in a terrifying new world, and fighting for his life against pirates, zombies, and the demonic entity known as Meeble. And even if he defeats his foes, Rogan must still find a way to return home, regain his throne, save his loved ones, and remind everyone why he's the King of the Bastards.

Title: King of the Bastards by Brian Keene and Steven Shrewsbury
Preorder dates: June 22, 2015 to July 20, 2015
Release date: July 21, 2015
Price: $15.95 (trade paperback)

BRIAN KEENE is the Bram Stoker and Grand Master award-winning, bestselling author of over forty books, including Darkness on the Edge of Town, Take the Long Way Home, Urban Gothic, Castaways, Kill Whitey, Dark Hollow, Dead Sea, and The Rising trilogy. He’s also written comic books such as The Last Zombie, Doom Patrol, and Dead of Night: Devil Slayer. His work has been translated into many foreign languages. Several of his novels and stories have been developed for film, including Ghoul and The Ties That Bind. In addition to writing, Keene also oversees Maelstrom, his own small press publishing imprint specializing in collectible limited editions via Thunderstorm Books. Keene’s work has been praised in such diverse places as The New York Times, The History Channel, The Howard Stern Show,, Publisher’s Weekly, Media Bistro, Fangoria Magazine, and Rue Morgue Magazine. Keene lives in Pennsylvania. You can communicate with him online at or on Twitter at @BrianKeene.

STEVEN L. SHREWSBURY lives, works, and writes one day at a time. Over 365 of his short stories have been published in print or digital media since the late 80s along with over 100 of his poems. He writes in the realms of horror and sword & sorcery. His novels include Within, Philistine,Overkill, Hell Billy, Blood & Steel, Thrall, Stronger than Death, Hawg, Thoroughbred, Tormentor, Godforsaken, and the just released Born of Swords.

APEX PUBLICATIONS ( is a small press dedicated to publishing exemplary works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Owned and operated by Jason B. Sizemore, Apex publishes the thrice Hugo Award-nominated Apex Magazine. The Apex catalog contains books by genre luminaries such as Damien Angelica Walters, Catherynne M. Valente, and Brian Keene.

Saturday, June 27, 2015



Pro Se Productions, a leading Publisher of Genre Fiction and New Pulp, proudly announces the latest release from its Reese Unlimited imprint! The first such author centered imprint of the company, focused solely on author Barry Reese’s work, is now the home for the character Reese is most known for, albeit working his heroic magic under a new name. The Peregrine Omnibus Volume One is now available in print and digital format.

“Change,” says Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of and Partner in Pro Se Productions, “is sometimes inevitable. But with change often comes the best of benefits, and that is definitely the case with The Peregrine! Although he fights under a new name not yet familiar to his die hard fans, Max Davies is still the two fisted, double barreled hero that Barry has meant him to be and now, finally, his complete adventures will be collected into three colossal books! This first volume collects his earliest adventures and over the course of the next three months, two more omnibuses will be released, reprinting all six volumes of Max’s action packed tales as well as the two volumes of Tales of the Peregrine, with tales penned by Barry as well as other authors, including myself. It’s been a very long time in coming, but it was the perfect time to bring every tale of this classic New Pulp character together, flying high under a new name. The Peregrine has indeed taken flight!”

ADVENTURE HAS A NEW NAME! Award Winning Genre Fiction Author Barry Reese, known for creating such fantastic characters as Lazarus Gray and Gravedigger, revitalizes one of his greatest creations for fans old and new! Max Davies lives on as The Peregrine! An adventurer. A man of mystery. A hero. Max Davies, newly moved to Atlanta, Georgia, finds himself unable to avoid danger, intrigue, and death. Donning the mask of The Peregrine, Davies seeks to bring justice to a world dying for it and peace to his own troubled spirit. And the only price he may have to pay is his soul. The Peregrine Omnibus Volume One brings the first three book length volumes of this classic New Pulp hero’s adventures together into one massive two-fisted collection. Fly again for the first time with Barry Reese’s The Peregrine!

Featuring a fantastic cover and interior illustrations by award winning artist George Sellas and logo design and print formatting by Sean E. Ali, The Peregrine Omnibus Volume One is available now at Amazon  and Pro Se’s own store, 806 pages for only $30.00.

This first of three omnibuses is also available as an Ebook, designed and formatted by Russ Anderson and available for only $5.99 for the Kindle and for most digital formats via Smashwords.

For more information on this title, contact Morgan McKay, Pro Se’s Director of Corporate Operations, at

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to Like Pro Se on Facebook at

Friday, June 26, 2015

[Link] Fantastic Adventures and Amazing Tales: Encouraging Creative Writing and Storytelling

Editor's Note: Want to help kids develop their inner writers? Try these resources.


by Katherine Handcock

If there’s one thing anyone who spends time around young kids knows, it’s that they are born storytellers! Children’s vivid imaginations and lack of preconceptions make for wild, fascinating, unexpected stories, and during their toddler and preschool years, we encourage them to explore and elaborate on their inventions. And most kids are thrilled when they start learning to write — finally, they have the opportunity to make their vision permanent, and share their ideas whenever they please.

But as kids move through elementary school and beyond, it’s all too easy for them to lose their love of writing and storytelling. The scrutiny of teachers and peers can make kids doubt their ability to create a “good” story, and too often writing becomes a chore, rather than a pleasure.

Fortunately, that’s not the way things have to end! It is possible to kids to keep their love of telling a good story, and develop it into a lifelong passion — and for some, even a career. This blog provides a selection of books, toys, and activities for all ages that will get your child’s creative writing juices flowing. And who knows? You might find your own fingers itching for paper and pen…

Read the full article:

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Nugget #56 -- &%$!-ing Offensive

That's not to say that I ever set out to offend intentionally, 
but I can't let the story suffer because someone might take 
something my narrators or characters say at face value 
and believe that's also the opinion of the author.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Bast Lisa M. Collins Made

The House Bast Made: Reid Cannon, Archaeologist 

Reid Cannon and his friends discover myths need not be fairy tales. Set in the Valley of the Kings, peril and the paranormal collide in THE HOUSE BAST MADE

Adventure has a new name, and it is Reid Cannon!

The House Bast Made features Reid Cannon - who is Reid and what sort of adventures does he become involved in?

Reid is a Ph.D. student in Archeology from the University of Chicago. He hails from Arkansas and got his bachelor’s from University of Arkansas, Master’s from UCLA. He is fond of the ladies and likes long walks on any beach where they serve drinks with umbrellas. There is a long line of archeologists and anthropologists in Reid’s family tree. This particular adventure finds him on one of his father’s worksites. Reid got his nose for adventure from his grandmother Jane Roberts (Her story will be in an anthology this fall). Much like grandma Jane, Reid has an uncanny ability to sniff out the fantastical and paranormal. 

What's the basic gist of this particular story?

The House Bast Made is an adventure where a young archaeologist, Reid Cannon, learns myths need not be fairytales.

What drew you to Reid’s story?

I have a deep and abiding love for all things ancient Egyptian. When I was little, I found an old, worn book about the country, which I still have to this day. Imagine me out in the backyard doing excavations trying to find bits and bobs of interest. In my mind, I was a great archaeologist. As time moved on, other subjects took the place of archaeology in my heart. By the time I graduated college, I considered myself a historian.

When I was writing my latest novella, The House Bast Made, I got to put my archaeology hat back on. It felt good, like I was revisiting an old friend…you know the kind that gets you into trouble but you love every moment. This book was such fun to write. I knew the setting in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings was going to be perfect for some fantastical paranormal fun. Our archaeologist, Reid Cannon, comes to the realization—myths need not be fairy tales. Reid and his friends get embroiled in a war between gods and goddesses that has raged for eons. Reid and his crew must come together to save a friend from the brink of death and the world from utter chaos. My hope is you will enjoy your time in the Valley of the Kings and join us next time when Reid Cannon travels to South America!

Where can readers find out more about you and where can they buy The House Bast Made?

Pen and Cape Society:

Bio: Lisa M. Collins has always been interested in Outer Space, Adventure stories, and Southern culture. She was born in Dixie and has always lived south of the Mason Dixon Line. She graduated from the University of Arkansas with a bachelor’s degree in history with specializations in American and Russian history. Lisa lives in central Arkansas with her husband and an adorable cat, Baby Girl, who believes she is Lisa’s co-author. Lisa has one adult son who is married to his high school sweetheart.

Lisa’s non-fiction has been published in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature. . She copy edited and researched on Understanding Global Slavery by University of California Press. Her science fiction story, The Tree of Life, is in the 2013-2014 anthology by Holdfast Magazine. These days she edits for Metahuman Press, and is an upcoming creative contributor with Pro Se Productions and Mechanoid Press. She is a Sally A. Williams Grant winner from the Arkansas Arts Council for writing.

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #328 -- It's Elementary

When did you write your first story and how old were you?

If I remember correctly (after all, it was a long time ago), I wrote my story in elementary school as an assignment. I want to say it was either fourth or fifth grade. But I do remember the story. It was an absolutely awful super hero story that barely made it to the back of the handwritten, wide-ruled page torn out of a wire notebook and handed in.

It was full of every comic book cliche I could cram into 250 or so words. But it was a start. And like all starts, it was a crucial first step.

(For the record, I think I made a B- on it.)

Saturday, June 20, 2015



A leading publisher of Genre Fiction, Pro Se Productions announces the release of an anthology that places women in the driver’s seat of each story. Heroines, villainesses, and more are the order of the day in The Dame Did It, now available in print and digital formats.

“Even though,” says Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, “having a woman as a lead character is not exactly new, even in Pulp, it’s an arena that still has so much room for fun storytelling and innovation. And the authors in The Dame Did It do just that with both a surgical precision and all the over the top craziness readers expect from Genre Fiction.”

A death rattle echoes down a shadowy alley….
Guns blaze like exploding suns in the dead of night…
And make no mistake about who’s responsible….


Pro Se Productions presents a collection of new stories wrapped in the shadows of Noir and definitely Hard Boiled with a feminine touch. Authors Joel Jenkins, Christofer Nigro, Shannon Muir, and Percival Constantine deliver two fisted, gun shooting hard core action in these blood soaked pages, and each tale revolves around a woman. A heroine desperate to save the day, a villainess hungry to destroy, or someone trapped in the middle. All and more will be found in The Dame Did It!

Featuring a terrific cover and logo design by Jeffrey Hayes and print formatting by Percival Constantine, The Dame Did It is available now at Amazon and Pro Se’s own store at  for only $10.00.

The anthology is also available as an Ebook formatted by Forrest Bryant for $2.99 on the Kindle and for most digital formats via Smashwords.

For more information on this title, contact Morgan McKay, Pro Se’s Director of Corporate Operations, at

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to Like Pro Se on Facebook at

Friday, June 19, 2015

Oh, the Horrors (of the Publishing World)

For this week's roundtable, let's talk horror stories. No, not how to write horror stories. Instead I want to hear your horror stories from the world of getting and staying published. Please don't name names, as this is a small world (after all), but it would be good (I think) for new writers to be prepared for the inevitable stuff than can go wrong.

Alan Lewis: My first two books, published by different companies, were messed up initially. Each company uploaded the wrong (unedited) file to the printers. As a result, I was hit with bad reviews until they were able to upload the correct (edited) versions. This pretty much killed early sales since reviews help drive ebook sales, and negative reviews kill them completely. Having it happen once, I can understand. But two time in a row and by different companies? I almost quit writing completely as a result. They say lightning doesn't strike twice, but in my case, it does.

Mark Bousquet: I have a story in with Publisher X now for a book that was supposed to come out in January. It's now June and on track for a July release. Publisher X has valid reasons for not hitting the January deadline (some his fault, some not), but when you're excited to get a story out and it's not out when it was originally supposed to be out, it sucks, and I get mad at Publisher X.

Also, Publisher X is me.

And yes, there are valid reasons - my own long-term unemployment and never-ending search for a full-time job, formatting issues between different submissions, one nightmare file that doesn't play well with Pages, difficulty with a cover artist, someone getting sick, someone else disappearing, a file getting misplaced, and so on.

Valid reasons - It still sucks, though, and I feel terrible for that anthology's writers. But the contracts are signed, the final edits are being done, and the anthology will be out in July.

Instead of sharing any particular horror story beyond that, I would say that new writers need to be aware that horror stories will happen. A copy editor will miss an easy grammatical mistake. Or twenty. A publisher will tell you your book will be out in June and then it won't come out until October. Your name will be spelled wrong (this happened to me on my first publication credit, which came from Yale University Press! (I was an Illustrations Researcher on the Encyclopedia of New England book which came out a decade ago.) An artist will disappear, another will deliver the wrong content. You'll have a release your excited about come out on the same day as a horrible tragedy, which means you're caught between wanting to get the word out and not looking insensitive (this is happening to me right now). What I've learned is that whomever your publisher is, your artist is, your copy editor is, your graphic designer is ... ultimately, the final responsibility lies with you, so the more you can take control of your own career (not doing everything but being intelligent about everything that's being done), the greater your happiness.

R.J. Sullivan: Haunting Blue was rejected by a major publisher for being "too exciting."

Lucy Blue: I probably should leave this topic be -- I come across as the hag on the hill screeching doom every time I get started on it. My biggest horror story is the collapsing dominoes that were my writing career a few years back. After working with an A-list agent for a decade and publishing six mid-list paperbacks with a Big 6 publisher, in the space of three months I found out that 1)my publisher didn't want my next book and in fact wanted me to basically "go erotica or go home;" and 2)my agent was retiring, closing up shop, and the nice girl who'd been taking care of my stuff while he, my actual agent, was ill had decided (AFTER I had chosen to NOT go with the new people taking over the agency but stick with her out of loyalty) to not be an agent after all because the market was just too horrible. When I was a new writer, I thought that once I had an agent who knew everybody's name in NYC and signed a contract with a publisher, it would be smooth sailing, and I could just concentrate on being the Shakespeare's sister of historical fantasy/romance. Yeah.. . not so much. BUT--BUT BUT BUT BUT BUT -- and please, any new writers reading, this is the most important part -- it hasn't stopped me writing, or publishing, or finding readers, or making money as a writer. I just have to work harder and take more responsibility for my own stuff. I don't expect somebody else to take care of me and my career and my ego any more - which is good because nobody will. And in a lot of ways, that's been really liberating. But it sure didn't feel liberating while it was first happening.

Tamara Lowery: Before I found a publisher, I found a "publisher" that seemed very interested in my manuscript. I sent it in; they looked it over and sent it back with the advice to have it professionally edited then resubmit. The snag was that they preferred I use only an editor THEY recognized. For me, that was a red flag. Sure enough, when I did a more thorough bit of research of this "publisher" I found that several articles warning about them had been posted on SFWA's "Writer Beware" blog. Bullet dodged.

For quite a while, I kept an eye out to make sure my story did not turn up under a different author name/title.

Desmond Reddick: I'm still a neophyte to being published, As such, I don't necessarily have any horror stories about staying published. That horror story is still very much in progress. I do, however, have a story about my first anthology acceptance that gnaws at me to this day for reasons beyond my control.

I had written many stories in the first quarter century of my life, mostly yawn-inducing screeds sure to bore even the most diligent and forgiving of readers. Then the submission notice came out. It called for zombie stories and the anthology was specifically geared toward authors who had yet to be published. Perfect! It just so happened that a brilliant idea popped into my head. Of course, looking back, it's far from brilliant, but it was unique and fun in a sick way. I wrote it feverishly and submitted it. Lo and behold, it was accepted. I was ecstatic! It wasn't a major publishing house or anything, but it offered a token payment and an author copy. That was more than enough to stir my excitement.

Then, thanks to a particularly nasty internet battle between said publisher and an author he once worked with, it was revealed that the publisher spent more than a dozen years in prison for four counts of first degree sexual abuse of his former step-children. He admitted it, referring to his past mistakes, and said there would be no hard feelings if someone wanted to withdraw their story from the anthology. In a stunning turn of events, I appeared to be the only one to do so. I am an educator, so being in any way associated with a convicted sexual predator is not necessarily something I need in my career. Further than that, as a human being, it would certainly bother me. Yet, here I was: the only person who didn't see that "he'd paid his debt to society" or whatever. Honor had certainly kept me away from other situations that would have been boons earlier in my life, but this was my first foray into becoming a published author, my dream.

I eventually would be published, shortly after, with a different story. Though, that anthology made zero attempt to copy edit and completely neglected to put in a Table of Contents, but that's far lower down on the publishing horror story ladder. Today, with my first professional short story sale and my forthcoming first novel, I feel a little better about the publishing world, though that zombie story is still sitting in my completed drafts folder. I still sneer a little bit when I see it sitting there. Maybe one day I'll get over myself, polish it up and send it off.