Friday, October 31, 2014



Known for bringing the best in Genre Fiction today to readers, Pro Se Productions announces the debut of a high fantasy series with a definitely Pulp like pacing as a part of its Pro Se Single Shot Signature line. Ravencroft Springs Author Logan L. Masterson introduces a unique innovative world of fantasy and magic with the release of Canticle of Ordrass: The Wheel of the Year-Samhain, the first chapter in Masterson’s epic series of interconnected short stories.

“Logan L. Masterson,” says Tommy Hancock, Partner in and Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, “is simply one of the best writers of Genre Fiction working today. Not only does he have a meticulous knowledge and caring for how to write, but his ability to walk the finest of lines as an author is amazing. Samhain is the doorway into a series that can only be referred to as ‘high fantasy’, complete with politics, religion, warring races, and more than enough to keep any Martin or Tolkien fan happy. Also, though, Logan writes in such a crisp, sharply paced voice that readers who enjoy the pulpiness of Howard and other such fantasy writers will more than get what they like out of this tale. That’s the line Masterson walks and he does it with a skill so very few have.”

When Davia Mollari, a young woman from a distant land, is called to an ancient temple, new vistas of friendship, hope and spirituality open before her, even as inquisitors from her homeland close in. Guided by priestesses of an ancient religion, defended by the Royal Rangers, and hand-in-hand with her two fellow postulants, Davia will face the demons of fear and loss. But as she rises to accept a purposeful new life, the servants of Kruss make plain just how far they're willing to go to put an end to her heretical bloodline.
Canticle of Ordrass: The Wheel of the Year-Samhain is the debut short story in Logan L. Masterson's Pro Se Single Shot Signature series from Pro Se Productions.

“Writing Samhain,” says Masterson, “and planning the rest of the Wheel of the Year Cycle has been a tremendous challenge, but rewarding beyond measure. The themes of the work have required some delicacy, and finding room for so many characters took a lot of precision. Then there's the balance of action/adventure fantasy with character-driven plot. I feel like it all comes together pretty well, and Samhain (pronounced 'Sowen') is definitely a project of which I can be proud.”

Canticle of Ordrass: The Wheel of the Year-Samhain features evocative cover art and logo design by Jeff Hayes and eBook formatting by Russ Anderson. The series’ debut short story is available for the Kindle via Amazon at and for most eBook formats at for only 99 cents.

For more information on this title, interviews with the author, or digital copies for review, 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

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Your Character is Your Contract with the Reader

We've talked quite a bit here on the blog about building and developing great characters in our stories, but we've not quite sliced it this way before. So, at the suggestion of one of our readers (and one of my writing mentors), this week let's talk about how we honor the contract we have with our readers in terms of our characters and how they interact with our stories. 

Characters are met in an instance but defined over time. As such, how do you remain true to your character as he or she or it (and you!) encounter the various twists and turns of a story?

Peter Welmerink: Character and plot need to weave about each other and grow together. Both need to develop simultaneously to maintain the readers curiosity, retention and draw to both. Having a great character in a stale plot line, or vice versa, will kill a story for me. You don't need both punching you in the face the whole time vying for your unwavering attention, but there needs to be that give-a-shit factor with both or I, like anyone else, will simply put down the book and move on to something else.

Lance Stahlberg: There's an interesting balancing act that goes on in telling a good story. Readers get invested in characters. Characters are what will drive your story and keep your readers coming back. Character is king. That said, focusing a story entirely on a character runs the risk of getting boring fast. They need to be involved in an interesting plot. Character-driven stories tend to come off as pretentious to me. So you ideally are going for a plot-driven story with a solid, memorable character to follow through events.

So here's the trick, which gets closer to answering your questions here: Characters have to be flexible. They must be solid enough to engage readers, but they have to be adaptable to those twists and turns you want to throw at them without screwing up your narrative. You stay true to them above all else by getting into their heads.

Mark Koch: Character comes first and foremost. They are the life to the setting and what makes a story something other than a beautiful photograph, whatever the medium.

Ellie Raine: My version of “remaining true” to a character is kind of hard to explain. I usually write in a first person perspective, so in regards to the narrating character, I sort of shift my personality during the writing. My way of thinking changes, my morals change (only for these sessions), and my history/childhood/upbringing changes. So in a sense, I’m not me when I’m writing. I’m that character. If something dramatic happens to them, the gears turning my brain are synced with theirs. Whatever their instant, knee jerk reaction to that situation is, that is what I feel "rings true” for them.

Though, for the characters surrounding the narrator (or those in 3rd person), I pretend that I’m observing my friends (or strangers I’ve encountered) during those dramatic events in the story. If my mind isn’t in the story, or if it is shoved out during the writing, then that’s a red-flag for me. If I’m thrust out of the story and am reminded that I’m writing it, that tells me the characters probably wouldn’t be reacting this way—and I try again with a different reaction.

Selah Janel: I think it’s important to remember where a character starts at, but to also allow room for growth. I’ve changed considerably over the years, so it’s unfair for me to think I can dictate everything blow by blow for a character. If something comes up that I initially didn’t plan on for that person, I’ve learned to embrace it because it’ll often make a story better.

Percival Constantine: Character is key. You have to know your character more intimately than you know your significant other, your parents, your children, etc.

Dave Creek: Depending upon the particular problem, you could go in the other direction -- take the story in a new direction based upon who your character has become. That might even lead you down a path you never would have thought of otherwise.

Logan Masterson: The world itself can often provide guidance, too. Especially with genre fiction, antagonists are free to provide all kinds of interference. Then there are geography, weather, and a bazillion other variables at our fingertips. Lastly, there are subplots. Not only do they round out characters, but they can guide them too. Subplots should intertwine with the main plot, and leading a character toward the goal is probably the best way to do that.

What do you do when you face that moment when you must chose between character and advancing the plot, when one seems to be a forced fit onto or into the other?

Ellie Raine: It depends on the plot points before this moment. If I write out those points on a whiteboard and see that I have too much characterization already, I will try to focus more on plot. If there is too much plot and not enough characterization, I will focus on character.

Percival Constantine: That's simple—you change your plot. This is why I keep my plot outlines somewhat free and loose, so I have freedom to change them if the character changes in ways that I didn't take into account when writing that plot.

Mark Koch: Well defined characters don't have to be so rigid in that definition as to be unbending. Hit something rigid hard enough and you will find that it will dent or crack. Those moments are some of the best moments in character development -- when we see that the characters have depth and more dimension than the sound bite voice over.

H. David Blalock: Okay, I'm going to just put this out there and say this is my opinion and you know what they say about opinions.

Story-telling has gone from simply telling a story to the tale having to be riddled with "relateable" people. Since the advent of soap-opera fiction, readers have changed in their expectations towards identification with the players. Readers want to inhabit the hero (or the villain, depending on the reader's character). However, character development is part of the plot. It shouldn't be a problem to have the character react differently than expected as long as the progressive growth of the character itself is plausible. 

Most every story relates a change in a character from one state to another, whether through conflict or epiphany. As such, all characters should act "out of character" at least once as an expression of that growth. The magnitude of that odd behavior should define the level of radical growth the character experiences. 

In other words, if a character must act "out of character" to forward the plot (and the writer doesn't want to completely abandon the storyline) then the character must adapt. Plot advancement trumps character action.

Marian Allen: If there's a conflict between what you need the character to do and what the character WOULD do as you've developed her, and you absolutely can't get some other character to do the thing or reshape the plot, then you need to sit down and pretend you're having a heart-to-heart with your character. "Why would you do this thing? It seems so unlike you." Eventually, you come up with a wrinkle in the character that makes the thing INEVITABLY what she would do. Then you make a note of it and go back and iron that wrinkle into the fabric of what came before.

Lance Stahlberg: There is a metaphysical aspect to writing. Instead of just being a puppeteer and making your creations do whatever you want, you have to give them life. You know that you need the plot to move from A to B and somehow get to C. But when your character is confronted with a situation where you need them to go one way, but they refuse because it would go against their nature, the character wins every time.

It's now your job to figure out how to get things back on track. There's a lot you can do to finagle events to move things where you want them to go, but not quite as much when it comes to characters, once they are established.

Selah Janel: I stop and think very carefully about why I’m trying to choose one over the other. For me, they go hand in hand…a character is either reacting to the plot in an authentic way, or the way they act move the plot forward. For me, personally, if I come to a point where I’m in crisis, it’s usually because I’m trying to force something to happen and it’s either not being translated right by the characters or it’s just the wrong thing to happen. On the flip side, I may think up new ideas mid-manuscript and stop to rehaul everything because it’s a better idea than what I’d initially planned. I have to be very honest with myself at times – am I writing something that’s best for the manuscript for that character, or am I going slightly AU because I’m amused and it’s what I want to read? Is there some way to combine the two to preserve what I like but still move things forward and stay true to the character?

A friend of mine once said that "making the character perform an action that runs contrary to his or her character just to move the plot forward is a betrayal of the trust of the reader." Agree or disagree? Why?

Frank Fradella: Witness The Mummy 2. In the first film, the entire plot is driven by the love of two people -- Imhotep and Anuck Su-Namun. Without that backbone, you have no story. By the time the second film comes around, they have both proven their love over and over again, even winning against death itself.

And yet at the end of The Mummy 2, when the stone temple is crashing down around them, Anuck Su-Namun gets scared and leaves Imhotep to die?

I call bullshit. The entire story hinged on that relationship, and they threw it away in an effort to make the "heroes" look better. THAT was a betrayal of the characters. I was very, VERY angry with them over that."

Logan Masterson: Characters can sometimes frustrate us, and never moreso than when they refuse to stick to the script. I, for one, am always looking at ways to subtly influence my players to keep them in line, but I'm pretty good at it. Characterization is just natural for me. I pay close attention to each major character's known and unknown motivations. I sometimes do mindmaps of these relationships. Then, I can use other characters to nudge a contrarian in the right direction.

Selah Janel: A little of both. I think yes, you have to be careful to not let your personal interest control the character in a way that the reader is going to find disheartening…..but at the end of the day you are the author. You’re the one with the pen. It’s your idea. I think it’s also slightly dangerous to be writing with the intent of giving people what they want, especially if that’s not true to your original (or slightly altered, even) vision. It’s just as dangerous to pander as it is to try to force a character to do something that isn’t necessarily in their wheelhouse, in my opinion. If the plot needs to move, it needs to move – that may mean stopping and taking extra time to rework the plot, it may mean taking time to rework a character or redefine what that character’s actions might be, but I also feel that worrying too much about what readers are going to think is something that will compromise the end product, as well.

Ellie Raine: Again, this depends. If there was a strong reason for the character to go against his usual behavior, then I’m more likely to accept it. But if there is no explanation, I will forever question why a character did something so unexpected and irrational (according to their established personality).

Mark Koch: If you have to force a character forward or into a situation or action contrary to their dictates as they are defined- be true to those dictates regardless. Have them react accordingly. Force them, by means of outside influences or fate, but then keep them honest by expressing anger, or outrage, or sadness, or irritation and defiance. At the very least, give a window to some guilt or shame afterwards depending upon what the plot requires.

If someone walked up to you or me and compelled either of us to do something we would not choose to do- we'd have a predictable reaction. If it was truly contrary, that reaction might even create an opportunity for a new plot point or story of its own. Revenge. Redemption. Regret.

Percival Constantine: Agree completely. This is why I think it's important to have flexibility in your plot. I was a huge fan of the TV show How I Met Your Mother, yet the series finale was one of the worst endings I'd ever seen in any medium. To the creators' credit, they had a fixed ending in mind, something that doesn't often happen in TV and especially not in sitcoms. But over the course of the show's nine-year run, the characters evolved and that original ending no longer made sense. Yet the creators still insisted on using it and the result was an incoherent mess that betrayed the trust of the viewers. 

Jay Wilburn: If the character doesn't fit the action and being forced into committing the action can't be explained by the circumstance or some change in the character, then the story outline is wrong. The course of events needs to be rethought to fit the world and characters you created. It may only be a small adjustment in the end. It might be a different journey than you expected to the same destination. It might be a different story than the one you originally thought you were writing. As you need to be ready to kill your characters, you also need to be ready to kill your original story outline when it has outlived its usefulness.

Lance Stahlberg: Wholeheartedly agree. A reader will notice characters acting out character faster than they will notice a supposed plot hole. They can be pretty forgiving of the latter if you keep the characters enjoyable.

At what point, if any, does the reader's need supercede that of the storyteller? Is there a time when it becomes more important to move plot forward "come hell or high water"?

Lance Stahlberg: Never. If you can't move your story forward in a way that keeps your characters consistent, then either your plot sucks, or your character sucks. Or maybe just the corner you wrote yourself into sucks. Both the plot outline and the characters have to be malleable enough to get through those rough patches.

I mean, there are ways to get away with a character being forced to act in a way they normally might not want to. Heat of the moment, stress under pressure, an impossible choice with no “right” answer, false perception at odds with what's actually happening. Or maybe a core trait of the character is that they are unpredictable. But there always has to be some way to reconcile what a character does with who they are. Always. At minimum, you have to acknowledge in the narration or inner dialogue that they acted oddly, which you could always explore later. But never ignore it.

Mark Koch: Storytelling gives your character lemons because the plot has to advance? Have them do something with them, be it make lemonade or curse the lemons and grind them under their heel.

Great characters don't appear to be directed in the story, they appear to be reacting to it as it unfolds. Give them choices that are true to who they are- even if they don't get choices in the outcome they can always choose their inward or outward reaction.

Dave Creek: You can take the character anywhere you want her to go as long as you motivate that action. It may take going backwards and putting in the motivator earlier in the story.

Ellie Raine: The only time I can justify sacrificing character development for plot is when a reader is half way (or sometimes near the end) of the book and still doesn’t know where the hell it’s going. I’ve read too many books that only cared about developing characters, and so went entire stories staying in the exact same place with little plot advancement. But on the other hand, I’ve read a few books where they didn’t give a damn about character development, and I ended up not caring about the characters at all.

Percival Constantine: Never. Characters can change and grow over time so they shouldn't be stagnant, but at the same time that change has to be visible. A character who was once a paragon of virtue and honesty in chapter one can't suddenly be a lying, back-stabbing bastard in chapter ten without any reason for that change. If you get to a point where you have to move the plot in a way that is contrary to your character, then you need to change the plot or go back and see where you went wrong with that character's development.

Selah Janel: I worry about moving plot forward on a schedule more with shorts or anthology calls than I do individual projects. That being said, I do think you have to keep a balance in pacing the plot and everything else. That being said, there’s no reason why they shouldn’t work together. Plot needs character and character needs plot. It really also comes down to show don’t tell –- this is where you need to figure out ways to showcase your characterizations as quickly or succinctly as possible to keep the story rolling while still being true to your cast.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Nuggets #24 -- Spirit and Intellect

 But me, I’m not going to be satisfied with being good. 
I want my writing to come from both my spirit and 
my intellect, my soul and my mind, my natural 
knack and my learned skill. I’ll do whatever it takes 
to hit great, starting with natural talent (or 
self-delusion anyway) and adding skill upon skill 
to that, never satisfied that I’ve hit “tallest” yet.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

[Link] What's wrong with New Pulp?

Editor's Note: Instead of an interview with a fellow author this week, let's go straight to the horse's mouth (so to speak) and let one of our regulars here, Percival Constantine, interview himself (in effect) in this insightful blog post about the fate of his beloved New Pulp movement in fiction.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. There’s a lot of reason to believe that pulp is alive and well in the mainstream. Seems like every new TV show has pulp elements in it. Superheroes, a total descendent of the mystery men from the pulps, absolutely dominate the box office.

Even with competition from far more visual mediums, pulp still manages to succeed in prose fiction as well. Self-published authors like Russell Blake and JF Penn do very well for themselves writing pulpy action/adventure thrillers, and Mat Nastos’ The Cestus Concern made it to the top of the Amazon charts.

But the rest of the New Pulp books? Not even close to doing that well. I don’t really know of any author who classifies themselves as a New Pulp author who is able to make a full-time living by writing fiction full-time.

I think the biggest problem is...

Continue reading:

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #301 -- Cussing in Fiction: How Much Is Too Much?

Recently two of my writer friends published posts about this topic on their blogs, and it got me thinking.

First, Mark Bousquet ran the article Genre Fiction: To Curse or Not to Curse, That Is the Question, in which he states:

"Since then, I’ve largely kept curse words out of my stories. My go to swear word is “damn” because that’s a soft curse word, in my book, and I’m sure the occasional “shit” and “piss” has made its way through to publication. Part of this is a choice on my part to not use that kind of language (and if you think that’s a prude thing, you missed the demonic orgy in this book), but again, it’s mostly about what the right words are to come out of a character’s mouth."

A few weeks later, Lance Stahlberg, a former Shooting Star Comics alum and fellow pulp and genre writer, through his two cents into the discussion with his article To Cuss or Not To Cuss. In that article he writes:

" the crime novel I am working on, I'm up to 48 F bombs and 78 variations of feces. I even drop the dreaded N word. Twice. Two and a half if you count the time someone started to say it and was shot before he could finish it. Earlier drafts have an even higher curse per word count ratio."

Then I found that Lance referenced this article, Why I No Longer Swear in My Books, by Robert Chazz Chute, a writer I was unfamiliar with up to that reference. He adds to the discussion with this bit:

"The f-word can be a crutch.

"Use it too much and dialogue risks a feeling of laziness and sameness. Increase the frequency and the impact suffers. Working around that obstacle has proved so minor, I wish I’d done without cursing from the beginning. “She cursed him as she sliced his throat,” can serve just as well, or better, than a string of expletives."

So, where do I fall on this topic? What do I feel I can add to it?

Precious little, I'm afraid, but I will say that the following is how it works for me.

Gratuitous-ness is a relative thing, a sliding scale. As with any kind of possibly gratuitous content, be it sex, violence, language, gore, it is necessary for as long as it keeps the story grounded and keeps the illusion intact for the reader. The very second it begins to pull a reader from the story because it seems superfluous it becomes gratuitous. I know that makes it an art more than a science, but it's the best way I can gauge it. Only the contract between the reader and the writer can determine the answer to that question.


You're writing for a market with rules about such things. Then you do what the publisher or the market dictates. Other than that, I stand by my first comment.

And that's my two pennies. As always, your mileage may vary.

Sunday, October 26, 2014




Known as an innovator in Genre Fiction, Pro Se Productions prides itself on searching out properties that belong in the publisher’s already stellar lineup of titles. Often those concepts come from writers already familiar to Pro Se and its readers. Author James Palmer’s Sam Eldritch appeared in an issue of Pro Se Presents, Pro Se’s now discontinued magazine, and left his mark on the fiction world. And now, Pro Se Productions announces an open call for submissions as Sam returns to Pro Se in Eldritch for Hire, a digest anthology.

“What makes Sam Eldritch stand out,” says Tommy Hancock, “is more about how James writes it and envisions the storytelling. Not only is Sam a master of the comeback, but the entire world in which he lives is set on high wit and sarcasm. The monsters are scary, the mysteries need to be solid, but even with that Sam is that unique character who doesn’t take himself too seriously, yet plays as hard boiled as well as he does humorous and supernatural. Eldritch will be right at home with Pro Se and we’re glad to have a character like Sam from a fantastically talented creator like James Palmer.

Sam Eldritch, Occult Investigator for Hire, is witty, offbeat period pulp about a different kind of gumshoe, a guy who trades insults with gangsters as easily as he faces down tentacled horrors from beyond space-time. Sam’s ultimate goal is to track down the demon that killed his partner and gave him second sight. He hopes that he’ll not only have his revenge but a few answers about himself. Sam Eldritch is Dashiell Hammett meets H.P. Lovecraft on the mean streets of New York City. Anything goes. Vampires. Ghosts. Cthulhu-inspired horrors.

“Sam Eldritch,” says Palmer, “is my favorite character I have created, and I'm excited about turning him over to other writers. Pro Se is a leader in the New Pulp field, and regularly publishes attractive books and e-books, so I am thrilled to have found a home for Sam with them.”

James Palmer is an author and editor who has written for Pro Se Productions, Airship 27, and White Rocket Books. James is also the man behind Mechanoid Press, a New Pulp Publisher. He edited (with Jim Beard) the giant monster anthology Monster Earth and its sequel as well as the weird western anthology Strange Trails. His work appears in Gideon Cain: Demon Hunter, Blackthorn: Thunder on Mars, and Mars McCoy: Space Ranger Vol. 2. as well as various issues of Pro Se Presents and a collection of his short stories, published by his own Mechanoid Press. He is also the author of Slow Djinn, a Sam Eldritch ebook. A recovering comic book addict, James lives in Northeast Georgia with his wife and daughter.

Stories for Eldritch for Hire must be 10,000 words in length. A query showing interest is necessary. At that point, reference material for this project will be sent to the writers interested. If those authors choose to submit, a proposal of 100-500 words must be submitted to Authors not previously published by Pro Se Productions must submit a writing sample of at least two pages with their proposals. Authors whose proposals are accepted must submit the first four pages of their accepted stories as quickly as possible for review by Pro Se staff. Final deadline for completed stories is 90 days following acceptance of proposals.

Eldritch for Hire is scheduled for publication in 2015 by Pro Se Productions.

Any questions concerning this submissions call, please contact Morgan McKay, Pro Se’s Director of Corporate Operations at For more information on Pro Se, go to and like Pro Se on Facebook at

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Christabel's Tales -- New eBook from Lucy Blue!

If a guy pulls you safely from your burning SUV moments before it explodes, you pretty much have to fall in love with him.  Novelist Christabel McLaughlin is rescued by Bernard, a handsome scientist with a bone dry wit and messy curls that flop across his forehead, a sapiosexual’s dream.  His mansion in the mountains is the perfect place to be snowed in, a fully staffed refuge from the storm, and Bernard is much more than the perfect host.  But soon that magically efficient staff is acting rather strangely, particularly the housekeeper, Mrs. Sealy.  And Bernard shows signs of having secrets of his own.  Before the snow stops falling, Christabel finds herself in a very grown-up, real life fairy tale.  Only $4.99! Available from, 10/20/2014 wherever e-books are sold.

About the author: Lucy Blue is an author of contemporary and paranormal romance and gothic horror. Formerly a mid-list paranormal romance writer for Pocket Books, she has sold thousands of books and e-books around the world and seen her work translated into German and Italian. She lives in the deeply Southern gothic town of Chester, South Carolina, with her husband, artist Justin Glanville, and their shockingly spoiled Jack Russell terrier, Luke.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Small Press Publisher Celebrates Release of Paranormal Mystery, Collection of Local Ghost Stories with “Day of the Dead” Promotion

Corydon, IN: Just one month after launching their small press publishing company, Per Bastet Publications has released two new titles. To celebrate, they’re holding a “Day of the Dead” book giveaway at the end of October.

The first October release, Ghostly Hauntings of Interstate 65 by Joanna Foreman, was originally published as Ghosts of Interstate 65 in 2008. This new edition features a new cover and an additional story, making it a collection of 13 haunting tales based on fact and folklore from the local area.

The second release is a new novel from Marian Allen, A Dead Guy at the Summerhouse. Allen has been featured in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Sword and Sorceress and her previous works include the epic fantasy trilogy, Sage. A Dead Guy at the Summerhouse is a paranormal young adult mystery set in 1968 in the fictional town of Faelin, Indiana. While the threat of being drafted for Vietnam looms, a young man takes a job for a wealthy eccentric which might turn just as deadly.

To promote the launch of these two books, Per Bastet Publications will hold a giveaway October 27 through November 1, 2014. Winners of the “Day of the Dead Giveaway” will receive free eBook or paperback editions of Per Bastet books with “dead” (or undead) protagonists. Paperbacks will be available only to winners in the continental United States.

In addition to Ghostly Hauntings of Interstate 65 and A Dead Guy at the Summerhouse, the local small press publisher will give away copies of Sara Marian’s The Life and Death (but Mostly the Death) of Erica Flynn and Chicago Blues, book 1 of the Miller & Peale series by T. Lee Harris.

The contest will be conducted online via their Facebook page ( and Twitter account (, as well as their website (

About Per Bastet Publications
Per Bastet Publications is a small press publishing house based in southern Indiana. Our staff collectively have over 50 years experience in professional writing, editing, production and marketing. We publish books which don't necessarily follow popular trends, and might not get the attention they deserve at a larger house.

Per Bastet believes in a fair balance of responsibility and profitability between authors and house. We publish primarily speculative fiction, mystery and romance.


Airship 27 Productions locks all the doors and dims the lights as it prepares a deliciously twisted Halloween reading treat for pulp fans everywhere reviving a truly bizarre character. From the pages of the classic pulps comes the most frightening avenger of them all, the Purple Scar! 

The handsome, debonair Dr. Miles Murdoch was a world famous plastic surgeon.  His life was the stuff of dreams until it all turned into a heart-wrenching nightmare. Murdoch’s brother, a dedicated police officer, is brutally gunned down while on patrol.  Before dumping his body into the river, his murderers pour acid over his face as a final act of contempt.  When the body washes ashore days later, Officer Murdoch’s face is beyond recognition, a scarred, purple visage unlike any horror ever imagined.

It is the sight of this death grimace that transforms Miles Murdoch into an avenging angel. Vowing to bring justice to those responsible, the skilled surgeon molds a pliable rubber mask from that repulsive, mutilated face; a mask he dons to become the Purple Scar, the scourge of crooks and villains everywhere.  He has become the physical embodiment of their worst fears brought to fiendish life.

“The first time I learned of this character, I was bowled over by the horror aspects,” confesses Airship 27 Production’s Managing Editor, Ron Fortier.  “There have been other grim pulp avenger, but none of them can hold a candle to the Purple Scar.  This guy is just outright scary as hell.  Which is just the slant we wanted our writers to take.”

Airship 27 now presents four brand new adventures of the creepiest pulp hero of them all, the Purple Scar!  Jim Beard, Jonathan Fisher, Gary Lovisi and Gene Moyers have all stirred the witches cauldron deep to brew up a quartet of frightening mayhem as only the Purple Scar can deliver.  Add the beautifully grotesque art style of Richard Serrao, Shannon Hall’s amazing cover coloring and Rob Davis’s spooky design motif and you have a new kind of pulp thriller unlike anything ever seen.

Beware the shadows and dark alleys, the black cats and dancing skeletons as Airship 27 whips up a real Trick or Treat pulp chiller.


Available at Amazon in both hard copy and on Kindle.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Comic Book Kismet -- Writers and Artists Speak Out

It's time to revisit comic book writing since we haven't covered that in a bit. This week we're going to look at that particular kismet that happens between writer and artist, and how that is similar or different when the writer and artist is the same individual.

It's been said that the artist drawing the book is the primary audience for a comic book script writer. How does that change the way a writer approaches writing a story in that form?

Bryan J.L. Glass (Mice Templar): I write with an eye toward the visual. As my educational pursuit was to be that of a film director, I script my panel "shots" visually. Thus, I realize when I start writing any script that all of my visual descriptors are for the sake of the artist, who I must also allow the freedom of their own design sense (on MICE TEMPLAR and Furious, artist Victor Santos knows he has complete freedom to interpret as he will, knowing I only offer notes if I realize the script has been misinterpreted or an outright mistake applied).

Shane Berryhill (Sherwood, Texas): To write is human, but to pencil/ink/color is divine. Artists do all the heavy lifting in comics. So I try to make the job of of those I work with as easy as possible. You hear about comic book artists spending countless hours searching the web for art references. This is time they could have spent actually drawing. Therefore, I'm of a mind the writer should go the extra mile on the artist's behalf and scour the internet for them. I go looking for pics that capture the appearance/mood/feel of what I'm trying to convey with my words (After all, "a picture is worth...") and paste them directly into the script beneath the panel descriptions, labeling them as "art reference." I do this with the caveat that the pasted pics are simply to be a jumping off point for the artist.

Ron Fortier (Green Hornet): I totally disagree with the premise about the artist being the primary audience of any script I write. Sure, he or she is the first to read what I've put down, but I never consider them an audience. They are my collaborators in producing a finished product that is the story...both of us create with words...they with pictures. Together we work to entertain the PRIMARY AUDIENCE...OUR READERS.

Rob Davis (Star Trek): Artists are the FIRST to see the script, but Ron's right. It's the readers who are "primary." The best comics are a synergistic sum of what each creator brings to the final product, meaning the outcome is larger than what each brings to the project.

Roland Mann (Cat and Mouse): I'll be the one to jump in and disagree. (not viciously, just food for thought) I've always said that a comic script is different from all others (duh, right?): it has two audiences: first, the artist. When comic writers compose the PANEL ART DESCRIPTION portion of the script, it's TO the artists and no one else (editors, included here, of course). Only hardcore fans seek out and read scripts. As writer, when I know the artist I'm working with (which is often), I tailor that portion of my script so that it speaks direction to him (or her). I want that portion of the script to be so strong that it creates a shared vision of what the final product should be. Even when I was an editor, it wasn't unusual for me to see the writer directly address the artist in the script: "Hey Darrick, as we discussed on the phone..." blah blah. The 2nd part of the script then, is for the consumer/reader. I think, the idea it all works for a final product is correct...just a different way of getting there.

Percival Constantine (FemForce): I'm going to agree with Ron as well. I don't think of the artist as the primary audience, I think of them as my collaborator. Even if the characters and the story are completely my own invention, the artist is going to have to bring those things to life on the page, and so it's important to respect the collaborative aspect of it.

As a writer, how does one make the process of translating your words into pictures as smooth as possible? What are the pitfalls comic book writers should avoid?

Ron Fortier: How do I help the artist? By making my exposition as clear as possible, to be willing to entertain a better idea or approach from the artist...and most importantly providing my artist with all the photo reference material I can to help them get into my head and see what going on in there. If I say this actor looks like Patrick Stewart, I provide pictures of Patrick Stewart. If I say the character is driving a 1930 Spider automobile, I provide pictures of that car. Again, I have an obligation to give him or her tons of stuff...which they can then use to tell our story.

Bryan J.L. Glass: All dialogue and visuals are always with a mind toward how the collaboration will resonate upon the reader!

Percival Constantine: You make things as clear as possible. If you have trouble describing something in words, then try to provide some sort of reference, again like Ron said. But at the same time, there's the danger of tying the artist's hands and you don't want to do that, either. It's important to know how the artist works and to establish a good working relationship, so you can play to each other's strengths. Also, although this isn't related to the art, as a letterer I feel obliged to mention this: be careful with the amount of words that you intend to put on the page. I've lost count of the number of projects I've lettered where the writer has several paragraphs of captions and dialogue that would be enough to fill an entire page of panels, let alone a single panel. 

For an artist, what can a writer do to help you see the images he or she is envisioning as he or she creates the script?

Rob Davis: Well, "first audience" perhaps. A good writer sets up a scene in the first panel of the scene and then allows the artist to work within that scene. Any items of foreshadowing for later in the story ("if a gun goes off in the 3rd or 4th act, it must be shown in the first or second act.") and specific items that need to be there to tell the story well should be included in the description. The emotional state of each character should be clear and any specific actions the characters need to or should take should be there as well.

What do you do as an artist when you see a different vision for a page or part of a story that you know can improve the final product over what was written?

Rob Davis: If it's a radical change I talk it over with the writer. If it's just a compression or expansion of the number of panels I go ahead and do it without consultation. I find a number of artists take far too many liberties with a writer's script without consulting them- sometimes to the destruction of the "beats" and through plot of the story. "The play's the thing," the story should be what dictates how a scene is depicted not what would make a "cool" or convention sale page. Comics is melding of words and pictures where both create a whole greater than the sum of its parts—or synergy.

For you revolutionary do-it-all folks, how does the process change when you're the sole creator, both writer and artist (not discounting the work of inkers, colorists, and letterers, of course, but we'll slice those roles in a later article)? Do you find the process more or less stressful? More or less enabling? How so?

Steven Cummings (Wayward): It's less stressful because I don't have to over draw my pencils and can write to my strengths.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Nuggets #23 -- Hot Rod Girls and New Ideas

Sometimes I sort of back into a story, such as the time I was wearing a t-shirt with art for the movie Hot-Rod Girl on it, and someone asked me if Hot Rod Girl was my book, and I thought for a second, developed a core idea for a completely new story not related to the movie at all, and said, "Yes, it is now."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Dark Oak's Allan Gilbreath on Writing for Art and Money

We ran a roundtable a  few weeks ago about the differences between writing for the sake of art and writing to make a living wage. Several authors were able to take part, and it made for a fantastic roundtable article. 

However, a few folks had pressing deadlines and weren't able to take part then, but luckily now I'm able to present their responses here.

For starters, how about the toastmaster general of many conventions and publisher/writer/editor about town, Dark Oak Press' own Allan Gilbreath.

Is there a difference between writing for art and writing to sell? What is it (or what are they)?

No.  We write to tell and share a story.  We put ourselves out there to be found by others who enjoy our efforts.  If not, you are typing for self therapy.

Why do writers tend to divide into camps and support one over the other? Aren't both needed?

We naturally find those like us that we enjoy and support them.  I came to the realization a long time ago that there is no competition between writers - we need each other to survive and maybe even thrive.

What advice do you have for writers pursuing a living wage in art?

Understand that very few people actually make a living through the arts as opposed to being a waiter.  The job of waiter is clearly defined in the mind of the public.  The job of artist is not.  An artist must become a true brand and commercial entity and work to maintain and protect their brand just like any other business.

What advice do you have for writers pursing art in a commercial culture?

Enjoy both lives.  Life one is working for someone else doing what you love.  If you wind up in charge, a true bonus.  Life two is the art you make on your own time for your own ends.  Find the balance you need for your life and enjoy it.  Be blessed with both your talent and your personal life.

Anything else to add,  Allan?

Trying to make my fellow writers and artists money is a passion of mine.  We all work very hard and deserve to be rewarded for all that we do.  Getting that through to some people is tough some days.  Some times, tough to the point of not caring, then almost magically, along comes that next event or person or story that makes you realize that if you don't keep fighting, we can run out of people who will.

Monday, October 20, 2014

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #300 -- But Is That All They Can Do?

Why do you like teaching writing 
and talking about writing so much?

I know it's a bit of an insult to say that "those who can, do, and those who can't, teach." It's also translated in writing circles as "writers write, and people who talk about writing don't."

But, as someone how loves to write, loves to have written, AND loves to teach and talk about writing, I think these two statements are far too generalized and more than a bit unfair.

I would argue, and hope some would agree with me that I am indeed a quality writer of some merit, but also would argue that I have somewhere inside me a need to teach and train as well. I particularly enjoy talking about the act of writing with other writers and especially with those who are wanting to learn to write or write better. I think that's one of the reasons I started this blog, to have an outlet to do just that. I find that irons sharpens iron. I become a better writer by talking with and listening to other writers. 

Inversely, I also don't think it's fair to judge those writers who don't enjoy talking about the craft or doing panels, etc. for being less "into" writing. Some enjoy just the act of creating and prefer not to think about the "craft" in any analytical way. Some enjoy both the act of writing and the nature of the craft equally. Some enjoy the craft more. 

To discount any of those creatives is unfair. But your mileage may vary, as always.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

[Link] 10 Grammar Mistakes People Love To Correct (That Aren't Actually Wrong)

by Lauren Davis

Are you the sort of person who just loves correcting other people's grammar? Are you sure that you're doing it right? Some things that people have been taught are rules of English grammar are really not rules at all—and some of them are flat-out wrong.

There's actually a word for this phenomenon: hypercorrection. It's what happens when people learn that something that isn't a rule is a rule.

Now there are plenty of reasons for people to learn about proper English grammar; it can make you a more confident communicator and help you understand the way the language has evolved. But sometimes, when people correct other folks' grammar in a non-education, non-copyediting situation, they're not being helpful; they're asserting their perceived linguistic superiority. And while some who proudly wear the badge of "grammar Nazi" or "grammar police" see themselves as defenders of the language, they're not really enforcing grammatical rules; they're reinforcing personal peeves.

I am by no means a grammar expert; I just enjoy reading about grammar. These non-rules are backed up by various grammarians and linguists. You can also feel free to correct my grammar. I figure that if I write a post about grammar, karma dictates that it will contain no fewer than a dozen typographical and grammatical errors.

Read the rest of the article:

Editor's Note: I'm okay with all but two of these, and hate to see the editing standards change to reflect common usage in those two cases. "That vs. who" for personal pronouns, and "over vs. more than" for quantity. This is another nail in the coffin of usage that will on continue to get worse as we "adapt" to the point that we eventually start adding words from 'leet speak' as accepted usage for journalism. It's a sad day, and I can't believe the AP Style Guide has succumbed and fallen. Sigh.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

New Interviews With Yours Truly

If you missed this podcast earlier, here's your opportunity rectify that cosmic wrong. The Arm Cast podcat interviewed me at the Imaginarium convention, and I must say I was a dazzling guest. See for yourself.

Peter Welmerink interviewed me about Five Things I Learned writing for Of Monsters and Men.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Airship 27 announces The Bay Phantom--Confederacy of Devils!

For Immediate Release

Airship 27 Production announces the release Chuck Miller’s newest pulp thriller, The Bay Phantom – Confederacy of Devils.

Mobile Alabama in the early 1920s is a hot-house of history, tradition, political corruption and racial bigotry.  Amidst this landscape of both grandeur and depravity arises a new avenger to battle the forces of evil and injustice.  He is the mysterious Bay Phantom, a dark clad warrior willing to mete out justice with his blazing .45s.  But beneath this flamboyant mask is the often inept, naïve Joseph Perrone, heir to a commercial fisheries empire.

Perrone’s one amazing asset is his partner, the beautiful Mirabelle Darcy, a young black woman with the ninth highest I.Q. in the world.  An engineering genius, it is Mirabelle who provides Perrone with the guidance to see him through the deadly and macabre challenges that await them.  A secret Crime Lord is attempting to take over the city and has unleashed a blood-thirsty Werewolf and a bizarre assassin known as the Black Embalmer to carry out his insidious plans.

Now it is up to Mirabelle and the Bay Phantom to save their city with the help of an Austrian doctor named Sigmund Freud.  And that’s only the beginning!

“Chuck Miller possesses one of the most unique literary voices in New Pulp today,” declaires Airship 27 Productions’ Managing Editor, Ron Fortier.  “I defy anyone to show me something he has written that is not original, quirky and just plain weird in a totally fun kind of way.”

Miller was born in Ohio, lived in Alabama for many years, and now resides in Norman, Oklahoma. His interests include monster movies, comic books, music and writing. He holds a BA in creative writing from the University of South Alabama.  Miller received the BEST NEW WRITER OF 2011 Award from Pulp Ark. His first novel, the critically acclaimed Creeping Dawn: The Rise of the Black Centipede was published in 2011. He is currently working on a new Sherlock Holmes novel for Airship 27.

Art for The Bay Phantom – Confederacy was provided by Zachary Brunner, both moody interior illustrations and the stunning painted cover.  The book was designed by Art Director Rob Davis.

Says bestselling adventure fantasy author, Charles Saunders, “Move over Shadow – there’s a new cloak on the block.”

Now available in hard copy and on Kindle from Amazon.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Don't Suck. Okay, Well Can You Be More Specific?

As I mentioned here not so long ago, some awesome advice I got from a friend way back when was this: "Don't suck." That's all well and good, because I knew what Frank was saying to me when he said that.

But what does that advice mean to you? 

If a writing mentor were to tell you "don't suck," what would you understand that to mean?

Ralph L Angelo Jr: I'd have to think that means make sure you write something engaging and interesting. Something that presses all the right buttons with your audience, but also is true to yourself and not just a cookie cutter book or project. In other words, don't just go through the motions, but actually write something you would want to read and of course something you are proud to put your name on at the end.

Mark Koch: While producing something you are proud of, ensure that you consider how it will appear to the reader. Write only for yourself, and you will likely be the only one who appreciates your writing.

Mark Bousquet: To me, this means, "Don't be lazy." We all have those moments in a story when you know you need to do something you don't want to do because it's time consuming - maybe it's trying to find out the right handgun a Norwegian soldier should be using in World War 2, or going back through your story to provide infrastructure for a new subplot you introduced at the end of a draft. If you know something needs to be done, do it. Now or later is fine, but before publication.

Peter Welmerink: I believe if a writing mentor told me to DON'T SUCK, he'd be saying to make sure, when I am all done with letting my writing SUCK on that FIRST DRAFT, by simply writing without abandon or caring about if sentence structure, grammar, the rest, was all good and just GETTING THAT FIRST DRAFT DONE, by telling me to DON'T SUCK, he/she would be saying to go through that SECOND DRAFT with care and conscience and polish it to perfection.

Van Allen Plexico: Do your best work. Don't settle for less. Don't put something out for public consumption that reflects badly on you. Drink from the glass or cup; don't use a straw. You're a grown up.

Marian Allen: Be technically competent and respect your readers.

Violet Patterson: Tell an unforgettable story.

Ray Dean: In one of my writing communities a member complained that one of the first reviews she had on a self-published novel stated that she needed some editing for basic grammar and sentence structure. She lamented that she didn't have the money to pay someone to edit. We offered her ideas on how to get some help with editing or resources for her to help and edit her own work. Later that day she replied to the thread saying... "That's okay, I like my novel... my MOM likes my novel... haters gonna hate!" I'm not saying that her mother isn't able to identify good work when she sees it, but discounting that review as merely a hater probably isn't the best thing to do. We can always get better... learn more about plotting, grammar, characterization, etc. We can always improve and we should... to me "Don't Suck" means if you can make something better... do it. Don't get lazy.

Selah Janel: Don't write to a formula or what you think you should be writing about. Do what hasn't been done or try a different take on things. Don't write with the mindset to try to advance plan what the next new thing or big bestselling idea will be. Write what you know and be true to the writer you are. Definitely edit and pay attention to spelling, grammar, and formatting. If you're writing to a specific call or magazine, then write what the guidelines ask for. Stretch your wings and be original, but the editors definitely are asking for certain things for a reason. Keep going, keep reading, keep writing, keep pushing yourself to get better.

Lee Houston Jr.: "Don't Suck" to me means I make sure that everything I submit for publication is the best I can humanly create. The reader deserves no less.

Shelby Vick: It boils down to:  Don't cheat the reader. That applies to Western, SciFi, mysteries, etc.

Rebekah McAuliffe: Don't be afraid to bend the rules. Technique and methods should be important, but don't let them overshadow the actual writing of the story.

Tony Acree: Make sure you run spelling and grammar check at least once. Hmm. Twice. And never, ever, start your story with "It was a dark and stormy night."

Terri Smiles: Work at it, revise, revise revise, until it becomes what I intended. For me it was advice to blow deadlines if I needed to in order to create a product I was proud to have my name on.

H. David Blalock: Know your limitations, then push harder. Get outside your comfort zone and take the reader with you. Readers get bored with the same storyline over and over again. Show them something they, and you, have never seen before. Most importantly, don't leave them hanging.

TammyJo Eckhart: Don't be afraid to push the edges of what a genre should include or should be about. While you'll have a harder time selling your work, you'll be more satisfied with it and those readers and publishers who find you will appreciate that you aren't mundane.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Nuggets #22 -- Marriage and Bear Hugs

Writing stories is a marriage of so-called extremes. 
It's an embracing of two opposites and making them 
work for you, fusing commerce and art, combining 
plotting and pantsing, putting egotistical madness 
and diligent work ethics in a big bear hug and 
making them a happy, united couple made 
one through some kind of magic.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Nikki Nelson-Hicks and Her Boys in the Back Room

Part 3 of my series of “Cool People I Met at Imaginarium.”

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

I just finished the second story for Jake Istenhegyi: The Accidental Detective published in the Pro Se Productions Single Shot Signature digital series.

In a nutshell, the story is set in 1930’s New Orleans. Janos “Jake” Istenhegyi is a young Hungarian immigrant who is dragged into the gritty world of the private eye by his best friend, Barrington “Bear” Gunn, a WWI Vet obsessed with living the life of Sam Spade in, well, spades.

After Jake’s first adventure in A Chick, a Dick and a Witch Walk into a Barn (involving zombie chickens, trust me…it works), we leave him splattered in blood and chicken shit, watching as the hellish barn burns to the ground. In the second story, Golems, Goons and Cold Stone Bitches, Jake makes  his way back home just wanting a shower and to get hopelessly drunk but is pulled into a power struggle between sisters fighting over a inheritance that ends up being more than a curse and leaving Jake with a gift he doesn’t want.

Intrigued? It will be available for digital download in November 2014.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

Isolation and redemption. I’m a huge sucker for redemption.

What would be your dream project?

I am very proud to say that one of my dreams has been realized in that I have written a Sherlock Holmes novella to add to the expanding canon of the Holmesian universe. So, that is one thing checked off my Bucket List.

I would love to write a Doctor Who episode.

OR…ooooh, get involved with a group of super talented, sharp and horribly sick writers and create a universe where we play with each others' characters like they did with Thieves World back in the ‘80s. That would be awesome.

Or maybe just a book that sold well enough where I could buy everyone ice cream. That would be cool, too.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be and what would you do?

Ugh, the Creator’s Paradox. You are always better by the end of each story so that every story you have ever written is never as good as the one you are doing.

Yep. I have a character, Travis Dare, who is the main protag of a series of yet unpublished stories. He is such a fucking Mary Sue. Seriously. Heroes should never be boring. Ugh. I am going back, squeezing his nose shut and blowing into his mouth until his balls finally drop. The readers of that series are in for a surprise.

What inspires you to write?

I believe, in my heart of hearts, that all writers are trying to save…or kill…someone over and over again.
In my stories, I am a God of Action. I can right wrongs, save drowning people and heal the wounded and broken. I have power, tapping on this keyboard, I don’t have in real life. And, it has to be enough….for now.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

Harlan Ellison, Hunter S. Thompson, Stephen King, Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Yeah. I prefer to hang out with boys.

Where would your rank writing on the “Is it an art or is it a science continuum?” Why?

It’s kinda both….maybe? I don’t think I’m drunk enough to answer this question but I’ll try.

Look, years ago I would’ve been all “Fuck, yeah! It’s an art. It’s MAGIC. You either got it or you don’t.” Now, I’ve mellowed with age and while I still believe there is a certain amount of that Unknowable Something that imbues a story with a Voice, I think there must be something else to it. The will to sit for hours and carve out a world with words, it’s insane! I have seen so many authors come to my Fiction Group with more drive than natural talent and I have watched those bastards work, work, work so hard and DO IT. It’s brilliant, really.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

*Rolls up sleeves* Yes, thank you.

Okay, like I said before, Jake Istenhegyi: The Accidental Detective’s second story, Golems, Goons and Cold Stone Bitches will be out in November 2014. It’s a good story. So far all my beta readers have dug it. Now I’ve got my Boys in the Back Room (That’s what I call my muses. I envision four men in fedoras and rolled up sleeves, sitting at a square table, drinking whiskey and chainsmoking, cranking out idea on old school typewriters) working on story #3. Haven’t a clue as to what it will be yet. Isn’t that fun?

Also coming out in 2014:

Sherlock Holmes and the Shrieking Pits (humpbacked midgets, shillelaghs and Viking silver…what more could you want?) from Pro Se Productions.

I have a story in an anthology, Nashville Gothic, titled "Stone Baby," that made the publisher want to “bleach his eyeballs out.” I take that as a compliment. It is coming out in late October just in time for Halloween.

And I am currently working on a story that I am submitting to Capes and Clockworks Volume 2. The working title is "The Galvanized Girl." I hope it makes it in. It’s a cool story with time travel, trepanning and a six foot tall redhead.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #299 -- My Writing Goals (Or introducing Sean 2.0)

 What are you goals as a writer?

My writing goal for this year is to finish up all my short story and novella commitments and then next year not to write any short stories at all -- just to focus on novels and a few digest novels.

Why? Two reasons, mainly.

The first is that I have so much to offer on my table when I go to a convention that I'm crossing over into other writers' tables too. When five of us offer the same books, how is one to make any money to justify the trip to one's family? I plan to eliminate all the multi-table stuff from my convention table and then focus solely on work that is completely my own period. I'll still stock my short story collection, novels, and digest novels, but not the books in which I'm one of a group of writers. 

The second thing this frees me up to do is to work on crime/mystery novels for my own imprint with a mid-publisher and three mainsteam novels that I hope will be more marketable to the publishing business at large. (Or paying short story gigs. I'll always have a place in my schedule for a job that's pays upfront or even upon release -- just not so much space for back-end jobs anymore.) I enjoy writing for small and medium presses. I really do. And I will continue to do so as my time permits, but it's time for me to get serious about my career as an author. 

I have a vast network of connections and if I had the work ethic up to this point that I should have had as a writer, I should be a heck of a lot further along than I am now. In addition to the small and medium press work, I should have at least three books that I'm shopping around to mainstream publishers who can perhaps make my "brand" more profitable. 

A buddy of mine (thanks for the kick in the butt, Frank) posted something online the other day about how we get what we have worked for and that all the inspirational quotes in the world won't change that.
So this is it. This is me taking that advice to heart and making a change in my writing career. 

If I owe you a story, you'll have it before the end of the year, and many of you prior to that based on deadlines. But once that's done, I most likely won't be joining any anthologies for a while, except for a project that just really resonates (or characters that I own or co-own -- you know who you are, Rick Ruby and Spy Candy) and that I can work in to my paid and novel writing schedule. Of course, for those characters I'll most likely be working on novels or digest novels already, so that might be a moot point in all actuality.

Get ready for Sean 2.0 (or 4.0 or whatever we're up to now). He can't wait to be unboxed and let loose on the world.