Sunday, August 20, 2017

JIM ANTHONY vs. MASTERMIND

Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to present the fifth book in their continuing new adventures of that classic pulp hero, Jim Anthony – Super Detective.

Jim Anthony had battled all manner of evil and villainy in his illustrious career as a globe-trotting adventurer. But now he finds himself challenged by three unique criminals, each with devastating weapons of destruction; the Flame Wizard, Baron Strum and Prof. Meteon. Each is determined to wreak unimaginable havoc on the world and vanquish the Super Detective in the process.

The hero soon comes to suspect there is a fourth nemesis; a super Mastermind orchestrating these other villains in a cunning, deadly plot for reasons he is unable to fathom. But the Super Detective is never alone thanks to his various allies ala pilot Tm Gentry and British butler Dawkins and along the way he is joined by the beautiful Maria Flores and her All-Girl Squad.

Writer Adam Mudman Bezecny has plotted a fast-paced, action-packed novel in four parts creating some of the most dastardly pulp villains ever to challenge the Super Detective. “This is a really interesting collection,” explains Airship 27 Productions’ Managing Editor Ron Fortier. “Although each of the chapters works very much like a stand alone adventure, ultimately they create a longer narrative plot leading to the Super Detective’s newest arch-fiend, Mastermind.”

Artist Richard Jun provides the marvelous black and white interior illustrations and Adam Shaw delivers the stunning cover based on one of those pieces. All of which are assembled under the guiding hand of Airship 27 Art Director Rob Davis.

“Jim Anthony is one of our favorite pulp heroes,” Fortier adds happily, “and we hope to continue this series of new books for as long as our readers enjoy them.” So buckle up for a wild ride, pulp fans, this is adventure with a capital A …for Jim Anthony!

AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS – PULP FICTION FOR A NEW GENERATION!

Now available at Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

‘SILVER MANTICORE: STILL AT LARGE’ DEBUTS!


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

EVIL SHALL FEEL THE STING OF JUSTICE ONCE MORE!
‘SILVER MANTICORE: STILL AT LARGE’ DEBUTS!

DATELINE: New York City 1967. Headlines scream that The Silver Manticore, criminal mastermind, is dead. If he’s dead, who broke out of his City Morgue drawer? Find out in Author PJ Lozito’s third installment in this popular New Pulp series-SILVER MANTICORE:STILL AT LARGE. Available now in print and digital formats from Pro Se Productions.

The Silver Manticore is at large, up to his mask in trouble! The Daily Sentry learns the Federal Reserve is being knocked over. Is the Silver Manticore behind it?

A clever police detective, a determined reporter, and deadly ninjas trail the Silver Manticore and Bako. SILVER MANTICORE: STILL AT LARGE takes you through the winding streets of Chinatown, the mean streets of Brooklyn, the greenery of Long Island and deadly duels on rooftops with advanced autogyros darkening the skies.

U.N.D.E.R. is breaking up and can’t help.

Why was transplant surgeon Bernard Christian kidnapped?

Who is the beautiful and alluring Lai Choi San?

What invisible raider busted up a jail? Was it crooks from England, Italy, and Japan who cross swords with the Silver Manticore –literally.

Or is it scoundrels from the Soviet Union, India, France, and China? Can they succeed if the Elixir Vitae keeping them alive is wearing off?

All This and More in P.J. Lozito’s SILVER MANTICORE: STILL AT LARGE From Pro Se Productions.

SILVER MANTICORE: STILL AT LARGE featuring a captivating cover by Adam Shaw and print formatting and logo design by Antonino lo Iacono and Marzia Marina is now available on Amazon and in Pro Se’s own store for only $15.00.

The continuing adventures of the Manticore are also available as an eBook formatted by Antonino and Marina for the Kindle for only $2.99. This book is also enrolled in Kindle Unlimited and all members of Kindle Unlimited can get it for free!

For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies for review, contact Kristi Morgan-King, Pro Se’s Director of Corporate Operations, at directorofcorporateoperations@prose-press.com.

For more information on Pro Se Productions, go to www.prose-press.com. Like Pro Se on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ProSeProductions.

Friday, August 18, 2017

[Link] Women Who Conquered the Comics World

by Lisa Hix

The day after she returns from the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con International, comics icon Trina Robbins sits down with me outside at a café just around the corner from her home in San Francisco’s Castro District. As we talk and eat, trains from the Muni Metro railway come thundering by. Robbins’ partner, Steve Leialoha, a comic artist for Marvel and an inker for the DC/Vertigo series “Fables,” arrives fresh from Comic Con with his bags and joins us at the table for half an hour or so.

“When I got to San Francisco in 1970, I discovered that maybe it was the mecca of underground comix for the guys, but not for the girls.”

As both a comics creator and historian, Robbins is particularly interested in the unknown history of female cartoonists and the ways they were celebrated and thwarted throughout the last century. Late last year, Robbins published a Fantagraphics book called Pretty in Ink: North American Women Cartoonists, 1896-2013, and now, the Cartoon Art Museum in San Francisco is presenting an exhibition of Robbins’ personal collection based on the book.

The subject is particularly relevant right now, given that new comic-book-based movies are hitting the big screen every few months, yet not a single one has revolved around a female hero. Marvel has taken bold steps by making a Pakistani American teen the new Ms. Marvel, in a comic-book series written by a woman, and turning Thor into a woman in its upcoming revamp of the series. At the same time, the major publisher raised feminist ire with a sexualized variant cover of its new Spider-Woman series. If a woman had drawn Spider-Woman instead of a man, it’s unlikely she would have sacrificed the hero’s comfort and mobility in favor of an erotic pose.

Robbins knows something about the glass ceiling for women cartoonists because she first hit it herself in the early 1970s, when she tried to join the male-dominated “underground comix” movement based in San Francisco. After the men cartoonists shut her out, Robbins joined forces with other women cartoonists to create their own women’s-lib comic books. She went on to become a well-respected mainstream comic artist and writer, as well as a feminist comics critic who’s written myriad nonfiction books on the subject of great women cartoonists and the powerful female characters they created. Naturally, Robbins has spent some time hunting down the original cartoons from the women who paved the way for her career, and as luck would have it, she found the very first comic strip ever drawn by a woman, “The Old Subscriber Calls” by Rose O’Neill, practically in her backyard.

Read the full article: http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/women-who-conquered-the-comics-world/

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Nugget #104 -- No Other Purpose

A good story opening should trigger something 
in the reader that makes him or her want to 
keep reading. It has no other purpose. 

Bill Hart at the typewriter. 


Tuesday, August 15, 2017

[Link] AVOIDING THE CURSE OF BACKSTORY INFO DUMPS

by Paul Bishop

In fiction, backstory is what has happened prior to the current narrative frame of the story—the history created for a fictional character or situation. Properly used, it enriches a story by revealing cause and effect. Improperly used, it is a cumbersome boring information dump of exposition.

My first novel, Shroud of Vengeance, was part of an ongoing western series featuring a character named Diamondback. The books in the series were written by several different authors using a publishing house owned pseudonym. The editor gave me the bible for the series, which provided the limited information needed as part of the character’s backstory: Diamondback got his nickname after being the victim of a horrible whipping; he is wanted for a murder he didn’t commit; he wanders the West acting as a travelling judge settling disputes between outlaws and he is popular with the ladies.

The goal was to include this background information in an unobtrusive manner enabling the books to be read in any order without intrusive information dumps or large chunks of narrative explanation. Drop the nickname on the first page, show his scars when he takes off his shirt, and tie the plot into a dispute between dangerous outlaws for Diamondback to settle. With a series of this type, the main character remains static. There are no consequences or character arcs to carry over from one book to the next—as if each was a standalone novel.

Until the last decade most television series were also examples of this type of storytelling. This was perfect for reruns, as series could be shown in any order. Think about I Love Lucy. It doesn’t matter which episode a viewer watches, the set-up is immediately clear—wacky redhead doing wacky things. There is no need to know what has happened in prior episodes. There are no ongoing storylines to confuse the narrative if episodes are shown out of order. Many, many mystery and cop shows operated, and still operate, on the same principle. However, times have changed. Now, books and many of the most popular television series thrive on ongoing storylines continuing from episode to episode, or book to book, to maintain viewer/reader loyalty.

Read the full article: https://www.bibliorati.com/single-post/2017/07/25/AVOIDING-THE-CURSE-OF-BACKSTORY-INFO-DUMPS

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Blackthorn of Mars rides again!

Blackthorn, Princess Aria and Oglok ride again! A young man desperate to save his sister from the raiders who kidnapped her to slavery... An ancient undead released after half a millennium... Four sorcerous First Men who will kill half a world to keep their darkest secret... And three champions who will stand for Mars against horror and tyranny--or die trying! Join Earth General John Blackthorn, Princess Aria of Mars, Oglok the Mock-Man and an ever-expanding cast of rebels, monsters, magicians and villains battling to solve the mystery of the ancient Harmony Spires. From award-winning author, I. A. Watson comes a new novel in Van Allen Plexico’s Blackthorn universe, where magic and technology are one and Humanity must face its ultimate challenge.

Longtime denizens of the Pulp Factory may recall the multi-author SF setting put together by Van Plexico when we were all much younger. It's post-apocalyptic Mars by way of Kirby and Burroughs, and there was an anthology. Then Van made me do a novel. Then I wrote some weekly (or was it daily?) promotional shorts for the novel. Then the shorts became a novel. Then Van threw away his computer with it on (this is extreme editing). Now, much revised and again expanded, said novel has appeared to drag you back to the Red Planet where science and sorcery meet swords and swashbuckling.

Anyway, if your SF taste runs to matinee-cliffhanger and warring arch-villains vs a princess and her hero then you may wish to give this a look. It's there on Amazon.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

MORE ADVENTURES IN THE SOUTH SEAS

Airship 27 Productions is happy to announce the release of our second “Tales From The Hanging Monkey” anthology.

When Irishman Corky O’Brian opened his bar, the Hanging Monkey, on the island of Motugra he had no idea it would become a magnet for some of the most colorful rogues ever to ply their trades in the South Seas.  The cast includes his lovely, but deadly Chinese waitress Miko, Khuna the powerful island warrior, sea captain Nick Fortune and pilot Jimmy Dolan.

Together these five colorful characters fight their way through one breath-taking adventure after another courtesy of writers Bill Craig, J. Walt Layne, Don Gates, Nancy Hansen and Lee Houston Jr.  From chasing after a cursed diamond to uncovering the mystery of a lethal mermaid, when you stop in at the Hanging Monkey, there’s no telling what will happen next.

“Reaction to our first volume was overwhelming positive,” reports Airship 27 Productions Managing Editor Ron Fortier. “Enough so that we knew we had to whip up a second quartet of these fun adventures.”  Fortier then recruited professional artist Mike Harris to do the twelve interior illustrations with Award Winning Art Director Rob Davis taking on the cover to complete the project.

These are old fashion South Seas tales as done New Pulp style with fast paced action amidst tropical sea breezes that will have readers soon clamoring for more…Tales From the Hanging Monkey.

AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS – PULP FICTION FOR A NEW GENERATION!

Available now from Amazon in paperback and soon on Kindle.

Friday, August 11, 2017

[Link] 100 Must-Read SFF Short Story Collections

by Margaret Kingsbury

While classic authors like Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, and H.G. Wells wrote some of the earliest SFF fiction, the popularity of SFF as a genre started with short stories. Both the Pulp and Golden Age eras of science fiction and fantasy (from about 1920-1960) were steeped in short stories, with publications like Amazing Stories and Astounding Science Fiction publishing the first works by SFF giants like Edgar Rice Burroughs, Isaac Asimov, and Ray Bradbury, among many others. SFF short stories were hugely popular with the public, and its thanks in part to these short story writers and magazines that we have epic SFF franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek.

Nowadays, short stories take the back burner to novels and epic series for most SFF fans. However, many fantastic SFF writers write short stories, for many reasons. Some get their own start in shorter works and later turn to novels — like Ken Liu, Yoon Ha Lee, and Theodora Goss. Others prefer writing short stories — like Kelly Link and Carmen Maria Machado. Still other SFF authors readily switch back and forth between long and short works — Catherynne M. Valente, China Miéville, and Neil Gaiman, among others.

I read SFF short stories for many reasons. I love their brevity. They encapsulate the emotional impact of a single moment much like a poem does, but unlike poetry, they still give richness and depth to character and setting. And hey, I like that feeling of being completely immersed in a new world for 20 minutes, and then being finished. I love my epic series like any other SFF fan, but sometimes I crave bite-size pieces. It’s like chocolate. And short stories are great places to discover new authors. It requires less commitment than reading a novel, and I love discovering authors through their short stories before they’ve written their first novel.

Also, shorts are often far weirder than novels. And I do so love weirdness.

I’ve compiled 100 must-read SFF short story collections so you can set out devouring these bite-sized chocolaty treats of weird worlds and astounding stories too. I tried to pick newish authors and collections, so you won’t find any of the Pulp and Golden Age writers on this list (well, I snuck in an Ursula Le Guin, but it’s a new release!). There are 60 collections of individual author’s short stories, and 40 anthologies of multiple authors. For the anthologies, I only used an editor once. Many editors compile a ton of anthologies, like John Joseph Adams, Terri Windling, and Ellen Datlow. But I wanted to give as diverse a list as possible, so I only listed one by these editors.

I hope you enjoy these as much as I!

Read the full article: http://bookriot.com/2017/07/25/100-must-read-sff-short-story-collections/amp/

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Forget the Scissors, I Need a Machete!

Will these do?
For this week's writer roundtable, we're going to talk about cutting words -- and not just a word here and there but a significant amount of them. 

Here's the scenario... You finish your latest novel or novella, but you're WAY over the word count. 

WAY, WAY OVER. 

How do you get it back to the side your editor wants? 

What are your techniques for serious trimming on your work?

Lee Houston Jr.: Actually, there have been a lot of times where my writing buddy and friendly neighborhood beta-proofreader Nancy Hansen says I write too tersely and always fall short of the minimum word count, so I go back and keep re-reading and adding more until I've reached the goal.

In the end, if I'm over, I just reverse the process. I keep rereading and subtracting. Making choices in that category is tougher because you cannot be so in love with your own prose that you are unwilling to cut anything, even if in hindsight the passage in question actually doesn't add anything to the overall story.

But whichever way you're headed, you have to be careful not to subtract too much or your story might not make sense and adding too much could have your readers think you "pad" your stories.

It's a tricky tightrope to traverse, but every writer finds themselves walking it at one point or another during any project. The real trick is to get to the other side successfully.

PJ Lozito: I am a big believer in cutting out (but save it to a file!). That's one reason I don't think giving a daily word count means much. As for getting up to size, I have notes I can and do use. Nothing makes me prouder than finally being able to use some interesting tidbit I was saving.

I heard you were looking for a word-cutter.
Nancy Hansen: Anybody who's had to edit or publish me knows, I write too big at times. I have to cut all the time, and it's hardest with your own work. I can show you where to cut, but I can't seem to see it in my own stuff—at least not initially. So first off, if I have time, I set the piece aside and go on to something else. It's kind of like cleansing your palate with something in between courses. When I go back, I have fresh eyes. If that doesn't work, I'll hand it over to someone else, a trusted beta reader or even the editor who is waiting for it, and explain that I've tried to cut back but I am too close to the material to see where, and could you please take a look. Nine times out of ten with a short piece people are happy to help, and they give you an idea where and what should go. On longer pieces like novels, the usual advice is to look for a spot where something momentous is about to occur and taper it off there. Most times I can figure it out myself, but now and then you need a different pair of eyes.

Frank Fradella: Step One: Check your ego.

Step Two: Ask yourself if you have started this story as late as possible. Do I need this first chapter? The first three? Am I creating too much preamble? Do I REALLY need this characters origin or can it be revealed as necessary through dialogue or flashback later on?

Step Three: Ask yourself what purpose each character serves in the story. Do you have two characters who play the same or similar role? Can you eliminate one of them?

Step Four: Identify the purpose of each and every scene. Chances are you have one or two that you're chalking up to "character development" that can be axed outright.

Step Five: Push back. If every single character or every single scene has an unshakable purpose, present your case to your editor and ask them to suggest edits, and then be prepared to show why those scenes or characters need to be there. But remember Step One. Very often, they're right and you can make the cut. So cut.

Robert Krog: I start by searching for and deleting adverbs, interjections, needless intensifiers, words like just, so, and well. That always reduces the word count by a bit. Then, I go through and find wordy phrases that can be supplanted by fewer or even one word. Why be lazy and write "very happy" when "elated" means the same thing and so much more? When this too has failed to reduce the word count into the acceptable range, I begin looking for passages that don't advance the plot or build character. This is the painful part because I thought they all advanced the plot and added to characters when I was writing. I have, occasionally reduced the role of or even cut extraneous characters from stories. This usually does the trick. If the protagonist is still able to do all that needed doing without the sidekick, and the sidekick didn't add much or anything meaningful to the story, then out the sidekick goes. This greatly reduces the verbiage. Sometimes, I have already written lean enough that such cannot be done, in which case I've had to ask the editor for leniency on the word count. This has been known to work, but not often. Sometimes the editor will shoot back with suggested cuts, and I will have to admit that the editor is correct. Another trick is, of course, to look for inadvertent info dumps and eliminate them. Working the required information into the story in a show rather than tell format is usually less wordy, and the reader didn't buy a work of fiction expecting textbook style writing, anyway. Information dumps often insult the intelligence of the reader. Respecting the reader's ability to pick up what is needed from context is a good policy and should be used whenever possible.

The Internet called and said you wanted an editor.
Ellie Raine: Usually, I first look at each chapter and determine if I can afford to cut those out, or cut them in half. Sometimes, the hardest things to catch are the not-so-integral scenes before and after the good, important, meaty bits that actually matter, and firing those. It's usually mundane things like the character asking the desk clerk to check in, when that can be wrapped up in a paragraph to get to the scene where his hotel suite is broken into. Basically, I just look at what I think should be the focus of the audience's attention and cut the fat out.

Bobby Nash: The first things I look for are any side trips or character moments that, while can be great, don't necessarily advance the plot. After that, it's looking for extraneous words, adverbs, and tags that can be cut.

Lance Stahlberg: I am literally going thru that scenario now. Was also thinking it was blog worthy of listing off what I did. (Posted here: http://lrstahlberg.blogspot.com/2017/06/tips-to-reduce-word-count_23.html)

Matt Hiebert: The words "Kill Your Darlings" always haunt me. But I don't kill them. I cut and paste them into another document. Although I never go back and read them, I know they're there and not gone. Not dead.


Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Nugget #103 -- Opening Your Tales

It's not just about your opening sentence. It's about your 
opening page, your opening few paragraphs, or maybe just 
your opening few sentences. That all depends on the story 
you're telling. Only you can know how long your 
opening section is. Regardless of its length, it 
must trigger the reader to keep going. 


Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Writing the Scary -- 7 Tips for Creating Horror and Dread with Words


by Sean Taylor

What’s the scariest scene you’ve ever seen in a horror flick? Why was it scary?

Now I know some of you are going to default to either scenes of gratuitous (now there’s a loaded word if ever I’ve seen one), gore or perhaps others will immediately think of a jump scare, but I want us to think even deeper than that? What scared you even deeper than the moment of the scare? What really stayed with you and made you think twice about taking that dark alley, what caused you to make sure you got home before the woods at the park started to get dark, what got lodged in your brain and made you check the closet twice before being sure no one was hiding there so you could relax and go to sleep?

For me, those are the true scares, the deep frights, the fears that rattle us at our cores and stick with us.

Case in point. Okay, well, two cases in point. Both from my own movie-going experience.

Case 1: Window Scratching

I saw the original television broadcast of Salem’s Lot when I was way too young. At the time, my bedroom was made up of a former back porch and had glass shutters for the walls on three sides. Outside those shutters were short trees with limbs that moved in a good breeze. (Those of you familiar with the movie have already guessed where I’m going with this.)

In the movie, when someone was turned into a vampire, he or she would visit a friend or loved one and scratch outside their window, asking to be let in.

Well, that night, there was a strong breeze, and when the tree limbs brushed against my window-walls on all three sides, needless to say, I was terrified and imagined that vampires were outside begging to be let in to drain my blood. And no, I did not open the shades to check, not until morning light sent the vamps packing.

Case 2: Door Bumping

I was an adult when I discovered the absolute scariest motion picture ever made. For those who realize it, that movie is 1963’s The Haunting, based on Shirley Jackson’s equally “haunting” story, The Haunting of Hill House. That movie had few jump scares and relied more on a constant, building sense of madness to keep the viewer off-center and off-balance.

Lots of folks remember the sudden face at the top of the spiral staircase, but for me, it was the bumps on the door while Nell and Theo hugged each other, huddled in shared terror. In reality, I will most likely never see a ghost, but I will hear lots of loud bumps in the dark, and that’s something that triggers memories of that scene almost every time.

I share these examples to show that the best horror isn't forced or faked or manipulated through tricks, but maintained through the steady use of narrative technique.

What made Salem's Lot scary was how the story affected me. And the same goes for The Haunting. And guess what? Each of those was a terrifying book before it became a motion picture -- and if they hadn't both been so damn scary as books, they never would have been made into movies.

You’re Not in Control, Like in the Movies

Writing scary is hard. Movies have it a lot easier when it comes to horror. They control the eye, and thus, they also control the mind of the viewer.

Writing scary is hard. Books are stuck in one place, but the reader isn’t. Skip ahead a few pages and the suspense can be ruined. Put the book down, and the tension is released. The writer has no control of the reader’s eye, no power to keep them from turning a page... besides those specific to all other genres of writing of course.

Writing scary is hard. It's really hard because it takes an understanding of the human mind, memories, senses, and universal generalities about the human condition. In a story, you don't have the luxury of visual shorthand to creep readers out like directors do in a scary movie.

Jump scares? Nope. Sorry. The reader controls the pacing. And he or she can skip ahead or backward at will. That clutching crone hand can go backward and forward and be skipped altogether based on the reader's whims.

Graphic visual scares? Gore? Sorry again. Unless you're the most visceral writer ever, written gore falls short. And overused, it simply becomes words on a page made less by the sheer volume of them.

So, as a writer, you're stuck with having to be a psychological and writing genius. But how? While I'm far from an expert on horror outside of reading it for years and knowing what I like (as the saying goes), I have written several tales in the genre, from ghosts to monsters to zombies and creepy human beings, and I've learned a few things with each telling.

Thanks for Reading Thus Far; Now Here’s Your Reward

The key to writing horror, as least as I see it (and you’ll find as many different takes on this as you can find authors, I’m sure), is to camp out in the concepts of discomfort and dread. You’re not going to surprise scare a reader. You’re going to slowly overwhelm them with several smaller “uneases” that become a full-blown “creepy” and finally if you’ve done your job right, all-out dread.

Dread is that feeling that keeps a reader’s stomach unsettled, that scene that makes them feel phantom pains in the same limb or joint the killer keeps sticking a pin into, the sum of all the chills up a spine and “what if” scenarios of the mind a reader keeps accumulating during the time it takes to read your tale.

But how?

1. Be visceral. But don't mistake visceral for gross. For example, while a limb being removed and force fed to a tied up victim is certainly a compelling image in a story, it may not be as effective as something as simple as a sewing needle being wedged into the soft skin beneath a dry fingernail.

My friend Kimberly Richardson is a master of this technique, as demonstrated in her story “Silk” from the collection Tales from a Goth Librarian. I won’t spoil it, but you definitely need to read it to see perhaps the best lesson on this topic you’ll ever see.

2. Tap into the universal fears. For example, when I wrote "Nymph" for the Gene Simmons House of Horror graphic novel collection (yes, I know that it's not pure prose, but bear with me), I wanted to recreate the sense of being lost in the woods, in a place where you're at the mercy of the natural world. When I was a kid the woods were creepy more often than not, and I had lost that feeling after moving to Atlanta and growing up. But I knew there was something innate, subconscious about being afraid of being lost in the woods, and I wanted to tap into that.

In Robert W. Chambers’ tale “In the Court of the Dragon,” from The King in Yellow, the narrator begins to notice he is being followed by a sinister church organist. Very few people enjoy being singled out, and none I know who like being singled out for a nefarious purpose. Add to that the idea of the messenger of death, and Chambers is able to touch on two universe fears at once in this story.

Another master of this technique is Neil Gaiman. What’s worse for a child than to have your own mother against you? And yet, that’s the premise for his newly classic Coraline. Is there any more universal fear than being hunted by those who are supposed to protect you?

3. Discover the specific, individual fears make a person tick. For example, in my zombie tale "Posthumous" (from Zombiesque by Daw/Penguin Books), it's not the decaying body of the zombie that makes her creepy. It's her determination to save her marriage, her blind, unwavering determination to do so regardless of the consequences to anyone else. Incidentally, this is something I learned from the writing of C.S. Lewis, that the great goods also have the capacity for becoming the greatest evils.

Stephen King did this well in the story “N.” Bear in mind that I have OCD and I constantly rearrange books on a coffee table, look for even numbers on everything from the radio volume to the number of french fries I eat at a time. Yeah, I know. Weird. But look it up online. I’m not alone in this. So when King asked what if those crazy little habits are the only things keeping a terrifying other universe from invading our own, that really resonated with me.

4. Unleash your horrors on ALL the senses. Don't let just sounds and sights convey your protagonist's woes and horror. Go deeper. Is that smell like the burn ward at a hospital? Does the touch of the killer leave grease and sweat on a victim's neck? Does the hooker's kiss taste like she's been eating rotting meat? Engage all the senses that can convey fear and discomfort.

As simple as this should be to writers, it’s perhaps the most underutilized. It merely requires us to shift from the “first gear” of what we see and hear to the higher gears that are stronger and more efficient.

Jessica McHugh, a fellow writer I’ve met a few times on the convention circuit, really, and I do mean REALLY gets this one. If you can read her work without really feeling the tightening in your gut (even to the point of wanting to empty your stomach sometimes), then you’ve got a mind and gut of steel. Don’t believe me? Then try to sit through this one turned audio at The Wicked Library podcast: Extraction.

5. Use sounds that bother the reader, not just the characters. You can make up words that sound like stuff. The official literary term for this is onomatopoeia, and it works because it plays games with the reader's ear, whether they hear the sounds spoken aloud or not.

For example, in my steampunk horror tale "Death with a Glint of Bronze" for Dreams of Steam II: Brass and Bolts, I hit the reader right off the bat with the "crick-cracking of the neck bone where it attaches to the top of the spine." But the following sentence continues the idea, simply by using sounds that create a stop and reflow, like restricted breathing might sound: "Then there is the delicious constriction as the breath slowly ceases its movement through the windpipe."

6. Don't try to be "horror movie" scary. Aim for "imagination" scary. Go for the stuff that no movie could ever film, you know, the kind of sick, warped, crazy stuff that could only take shape in someone's imagination as they read. For example, does anyone really know by reading Lovecraft's stories what an elder god truly looks like? We have ideas, but that's all. We have the accepted image that has become synonymous with the tales, but let's be honest -- does that fully match the horror you imagined in your psyche when you first read the words of Lovecraft's description? On a similar note, isn't your personal nightmare of Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky far creepier than any of the drawings you've seen of it?

Ray Bradbury is the master of this kind of scare, and he isn’t afraid to leave the action sequences “off panel,” preferring to let the characters fears become the readers’ fears. One need only read Something Wicked This Way Comes or his short story “The Veldt” to see this master at play.

7. Make your setting as important as your characters. Setting is perhaps the most effective weapon in your arsenal as a writer when it comes to horror fiction. Choose the right setting and you’ve already done half the work. Why does Stephen King trap people on islands so much? Isolation. An island is a cage full of open doors that don't matter.

Why is Gothic fiction (even Gothic romance) so creepy? It’s those castles and mansions. Empty spaces and echoes. Secret rooms.

But let’s think a little more contemporarily too. Movie theaters with the lights out. Joe Hill covered that to great effect in the story “20th Century Ghost” from the 20th Century Ghosts collection. From the same collection, “Last Breath” captures the eeriness of dirty, unkempt roadside attractions during long car rides on family vacations.

But Wait! There’s More!

These techniques aren’t just for horror. A little bit of scary can often improve even the best love story, or perhaps a dramatic literary book.

Don’t believe me?

Okay, smarty-pants. I’ll prove it to you.

1. Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier -- What makes this book memorable? Is it the forlorn new bride left mostly alone in the big house (shades of The House of the Seven Gables, anyone?)? Is it the lingering tension that her new husband could be a killer? Perhaps it’s the big, creepy, gothic type mansion with rooms she’s not supposed to visit. Is it the way Du Maurier forces the reader to use his or her imagination just as the protagonist does? Why, yes. Yes, it is.  And guess what? All those are elements of horror. The key fear: those who are supposed to protect you turn against you.

2. Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton -- Let’s look at setting first. The frozen, rural town. What is more isolating, more soul-crushing to someone whose biggest goal is to live vibrantly? The sense of oppression doesn’t let up from the moment Ethan kisses Mattie. Tension mounts as they try to break out and find freedom, but fate has other plans, and ironically it’s the setting itself that becomes the “monster” that kills their chance at happiness. The key fear: failure to find happiness, and becoming the very thing you hated in the first place.

3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte -- Not only is the Gothic setting of this novel unsettling, but it seems to pervade through all the characters as well. Not only that, there are visions of ghosts, multiple creepy (and needless) deaths in the house, and unpunished sins left to fester that plague not only Heathcliff, who ultimately must die alone with his ghosts. The key fears: loneliness, isolation, and rejection.

4. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Ronald Dahl -- Who's creepier than Dr. Victor Frankenstein? Willy Wonka. It's like Friday the 13 for kids in this book. Who gets knocked off next? Sure, they make it out (kind of) okay, but wow at the horror in here. Mauled by squirrels, shrunk, juiced, almost drowned in chocolate, etc. That Wonka was one whacked-out mad scientist. Key fears: how about squirrels, getting shrunk, drowned, and juiced? How does that grab you?

Okay, Bye-Bye Now

That's all I've got to give you, but if you can learn to do even those seven things well, you'll never hurt for a job writing truly frightening horror stories.

Monday, August 7, 2017

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #353 -- Favorite Short Story Collections

Since you're so vocal about your support and love for short stories, what are you favorite short story collections?

I'll play along, but to do this right I'll have to break it into genres. Sound fair?

Science Fiction:

 

 



Horror: 







Fantasy:






Mystery/Crime:



 

 

Literary:



 

 

 

Sunday, August 6, 2017

NEW RELEASE! Virtue Inverted by Piers Anthony and Kenneth Kelly ~ Review Copies Available

Virtue Inverted is the first book in a hard-hitting sword and sorcery trilogy by best-selling fantasy author, Piers Anthony, and collaborator Kenneth Kelly. Benny is a poor mountain boy who has found true love in Virtue the vampire. However, Virtue is no ordinary vampire; she's actually a very nice girl. Her bites contain extraordinary power, but will that power be enough to combat the evil that awaits them?

Available in Paperback and Ebook!
Authors: Piers Anthony, Kenneth Kelly
Visit Piers at hipiers.com
Publisher: Dreaming Big Publications, website dreamingbigpublications.com

Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/Virtue-Inverted-Pakk-Trilogy-1/dp/1947381008/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1500614685&sr=8-1&keywords=virtue+inverted

Youtube promotional video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unyngc-giao&index=9&list=PL6I3oHbAuEP4mg9-LxvePUfOM24E__p3M

Bloggers, Vloggers, and Reviewers: We have PDF and MOBI electronic copies available for review. Please respond to this email or contact Kristi at dreamingbigpublications@outlook.com to request your free copy. Your reviews are much appreciated, and are a great help! Don't have time to do a full review? Please consider doing a blog spot promotion on your website! You can utilize the promotional video (link above), the cover art, and request author photos and bios.  We also have written author interviews available upon request!

From the publisher: As always, it is an honor to work with my all-time favorite author, Piers Anthony. Those of you who follow Dreaming Big are aware of how I came to work with Piers. I am continually honored to be his publisher, and was excited to be asked if I would consider this collaboration. Collaborations are always interesting to me, because there are hints of the author I know and love, but the other author also, of course, adds his or her own style to the book, and if I am not familiar with the other author, I don't know what I'm going to get! Piers Anthony's style is evident in these pages, but Kenneth Kelly's style adds a richness and depth that I'm sure fantasy fans will love! I know I have. Enjoy!

Kristi King-Morgan

Saturday, August 5, 2017

SAVING LIVES WHILE FACING DEATH! ‘PULP MEDICAL’ DEBUTS FROM PRO SE PRODUCTIONS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Doctors and Nurses stand knee deep in Life and Death every single day. And sometimes, it’s their lives that are at risk!

Pro Se Productions and authors Kevin Findley, Kristi Morgan, and Kenneth Robkin delve into the world where saving lives collides with crime and danger with the release of PULP MEDICAL. PULP MEDICAL puts professional lifesavers and the hospitals and emergency rooms they staff in the spotlight…and in the crosshairs. Sometimes the patients aren’t the only ones that need saving…

“Doctors and nurses,” says Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, “are just as viable as adventure heroes and the protagonists of crime and noir tales as any profession. Always right there on the edge of danger and, in many ways, diving literally into danger with their hands and bodies to bring life back from the brink of death. It only makes sense that a collection from Pro Se paint tales of those in the Medical profession with a pulp brush. And these three tales do just that.”

With a fantastic cover and logo design by Percival Constantine and print formatting by Antonino Lo Iacono and Marzia Marina, PULP MEDICAL is available for $10.00 in print at Amazon and in Pro Se’s own store.

This collection of Medical Crime, Noir, and Adventure is also available as an Ebook, designed and formatted by Lo Iacono and Marina for only $2.99 and is available for free for Kindle Unlimited members.

For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies to review this book, contact Pro Se Productions’ Director of Corporate Operations, Kristi King-Morgan at directorofcorporateoperations@prose-press.com.

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, go to www.prose-press.com. Like Pro Se on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ProSeProductions.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Airship 27 Announces The Eye of Quang Chi

THE EYE OF QUANG CHI

Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to announce the first in a brand new mystery series by prolific New Pulp writer, Fred Adams Jr.  “The Eye of Quang Chi,” is the first book in the Smith Brothers mystery chronicles.

In the early 1900s San Francisco tycoon Reginald Smith had all a man could want. His trading business, the Oriental Trade Consortium, had become a financial empire and the beautiful Ling-Tao wife. Then his fortune changed when his beloved died in childbirth, giving him two sons, Ming and Hong. The problem being they were co-joined twins, forever tied to each other by an accident of birth.

Smith hired them a brilliant tutor who convinced him to stop sheltering his sons from the public. He argued that they would only survive the cruelty of the world by embracing it, but becoming as strong and clever as their father. Thus began their true education and upon his death, Reginald Smith left his vast wealth and influence to his amazing sons.

Now a strange mystery plagues the city’s fabled Chinatown. A mysterious gem from China has been stolen and believed to be in the city. Pitting their unique intellects and vast resources, the Smith Brothers take on the case to ward of a bloody tong war. But can even they solve the mystery of the Eye of Quang Chi before the streets ran red with blood?

“Ever since signing on with Airship 27 Productions, Fred Adams Jr. has provided us with some of the most original, exciting and unique novels to bear the New Pulp label,” applauds Airship 27 Productions’ Managing Editor, Ron Fortier. “Adams is a retired college writing teacher and has proven he knows how to tell a story. What has blown us all away is the strange twist and turns he creates, keeping his readers off-balance and providing them with new, fresh experiences. Believe me, The Eye of Quang Chis is no exception.”

Joining the talented writer in presenting this first Smith Brothers adventure is well known British artist Morgan Fitzsimons, who provided both the ten interior illustrations and the colorful, evocative cover. “Morgan is a treasure,” Fortier adds. “Her research in the time and setting of the story was impeccable and she truly has a flair for the romantic. She was the perfect choice for this title.”  Award Winning Airship 27 Art Director Rob Davis put it all together with his deft designing touch and thus offers up one of the company’s most original and intriguing packages. Fortier concludes enthusiastically with, “We think mystery fans are going to love with the Smith Brothers.”


AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS – PULP FICTION FOR A NEW GENERATION

 Available now at Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

Thursday, August 3, 2017

[Link] TEN TYPES OF AUTHORS WHO CAN GO F**K THEMSELVES

NOTE: Language warning for those easily offended, but a lot of truth here.


--------------------------------------------

By Gabino Iglesias

So yesterday I was thinking about an upcoming piece I’ll be writing for LitReactor and chuckled at the amount of reactions I’ll surely get. You see, I’ve been doing the columnist thing for almost a decade. It all started back home with a monthly political column. By the time I stopped writing it in early 2016, I’d received four death threats. In any case, I tweeted this: “Everyone who’s gotten angry at one of my columns should hear the stuff I don’t even bother to pitch.” The result was almost immediate; a bunch of authors said they wanted to read it. I’m all about making my friends happy, so here we are. Thank the writing deities that we have crazy, brave venues like CLASH. Let’s get started, shall we? Here are ten types of authors who can go fuck themselves (God I’m good at making friends!):

1. Authors who hate almost everything about writing

There are a bunch of authors out there who are constantly complaining about how hard editing is, how much it sucks not to be famous, how the market is flooded with books, how much rejection blows, and how they failed to meet their self-imposed word count for the day. Listen, if writing brings you nothing but pain, quit. Seriously. Everyone’s an author. We need more educators, honest police officers, taxi drivers, cooks, etc. There are other options. Editing is how you make your work better. Stop bitching about it. Rejection is part of the game. If you can’t take it, don’t play. I received a rejection last week. Did I complain? No, I thanked the editor for his time and sat down to read the story and try to figure out how I can make it better before sending it elsewhere. No one owes me anything, so I hustle and try to get into publications. I win, I celebrate. I lose, I work harder and try again. If writing is hard, painful task, stop doing it.

2. Authors who are professional coattail riders

Two things are bound to happen if you do the writing thing long enough. The first is that some good folks will reach out and help you. There are a lot of good folks in the publishing world, and they take the time to help other out. The second thing is that you will meet big name authors at conventions or readings or online. We all need as much help as we can get, but what we do is mostly up to us. That’s why it makes me angry when I see authors out there befriending successful authors just because they think that being friends with them is a quick path to publication or an agent or a blurb. Stop doing that. Riding someone’s coattails makes you look like an asshole. I know many successful authors and the one thing they have in common is that they are humble people who sit down and put in the work. You should do the same.

Read the full article: https://yesclash.com/2017/07/26/ten-types-of-authors-who-can-go-fuck-themselves/

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Nugget #102 -- Eyes vs. Brains in Self-Editing

The biggest trouble with self-editing is that (as the
writer) your brain already knows what you want
to say. So when you read over your draft to fix
problems, too often your eyes miss the problems
on the page and instead listen to your brain’s intentions.


Tuesday, August 1, 2017

[Link] 100 MUST-READ SCI-FI FANTASY NOVELS BY FEMALE AUTHORS

By Nikki Vanry

Ready for your TBR list to explode? I’ve gathered the 100 best sci-fi fantasy novels by female authors and there is sooooo much reading goodness to dig into. From YA to adult lit, from magical realism to epic fantasy to post-apocalyptic sci-fi feminism, from short stories to series, there’s a book on this list for every single reader.

Do note that I’ve only listed the first book in any given series, so expect that this list could easily give you ten times as much reading power (especially with those stick-to-your-gut epic fantasy series). I’ve also only included one book per writer to showcase the widest range of voices from sci-fi fantasy novels by female authors. So if you want to sink into a really prolific writer like Ursula K. Le Guin or Octavia Butler, you’ve got loads more to work with as well.

Read the full article: http://bookriot.com/2016/07/09/100-must-read-sci-fi-fantasy-novels-female-authors-2/