Monday, October 31, 2016

The Halloween Rerun Show

It's Halloween again! This time of the year is one of my favorite seasons and holidays. A time to celebrate the ghoulish and ghastly, and enjoy the scares. In  honor of this time of the year, here are several of my favorite Halloween themed posts from this here little blog that could.

Cover up with a blanket if it makes you feel safer.


Classic Scares in Black and White

The Queens of Scream

Halloween Horror Goodness

Outgrow Horror Movies? Never.

Required Reading: 50 of the Best Horror Comics

Scare Me

Saturday, October 29, 2016

[Link] The Meaning of Bob Dylan’s Silence

Bob Dylan at a concert in London in 2011.
Credit Samir Hussein/Getty Images
by Adam Kirsch

In the summer of 1964, Bob Dylan released his fourth album, “Another Side of Bob Dylan,” which includes the track “It Ain’t Me Babe.” “Go ’way from my window/Leave at your own chosen speed,” it begins. “I’m not the one you want, babe/I’m not the one you need.”

That fall, the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre played a variation on the same tune in a public statement explaining why, despite having been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, he would not accept it. “The writer,” he insisted, must “refuse to allow himself to be transformed into an institution, even if this occurs under the most honorable circumstances.” Mr. Dylan was talking to an imaginary lover, Sartre to an actual Swedish Academy, but the message was similar: If you love me for what I am, don’t make me be what I am not.

We don’t know whether Mr. Dylan was paying attention to l’affaire Sartre that fall 52 years ago. But now that he has been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, he seems to be following in Sartre’s footsteps. Indeed, Mr. Dylan has done the philosopher one better: Instead of declining the prize, he has simply declined to acknowledge its existence.

Read the full article.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Dark Oak Press presents Ellie's Raine's debut novel -- Willow of Ashes!

Reapers vs Demons

When he saves the Death king's daughter from a yellow-eyed assassin, apprentice Reaper Xavier Devouh is thrown from a cliff and vanishes into the depths of the Ocean realm. His body, which may still be able to house life, is lost for years, while his soul remains trapped inside his twin.

Once the co-existing brothers surface in secret from Grim's underground caverns to find Xavier's missing mortal vessel, they find, in their absence, an ancient queen and her horde of demons have invaded. The Reapers find themselves unprepared and horrifically outnumbered in a foreign land that they are now unwelcome in.

One thing has not changed, they are Reapers!

Thursday, October 27, 2016


by Chuck Wendig

I write horror novels, mostly.

I just don’t call them horror. They’re urban fantasy. They’re supernatural suspense. They’re near-future sci-fi thrillers. But definitely, totally, super-not-horror. Wink-wink, nudge-nudge, a finger thrust up before my rubbery latex clown mask where I shush you long, low and slow, shhhhhhhhhh. Don’t worry! Not horror at all.

*squeaks clown nose to comfort you, honk-honk*

Except, psst: they’re totally horror. I don’t even necessarily mean they’re horror as a genre. Horror as a genre is a bullseye on the back of a galloping horse — sure, there are certain tropes and conventions that mark something as horror, but these usually mark it more as a subgenre of horror rather than an overarching convention. Horror, to me, is as much a mood as it is a convergence of tropes or ideas. That mood goes beyond merely invoking fright. It’s about traipsing into the dark, about shining a flickering flashlight beam on some nastiness, and probing fear and discomfort up and down the spectrum. From big stuff (surveillance state, religion, apocalypse) to little stuff (hey guess what there’s a guy in your closet covered in someone else’s skin and he has a camping hatchet covered in blood and hair). I love it. I grew up reading it. I write it. Zer0es is a wet-wired hacker thriller where the surveillance state is so intrusive it might literally be drilled into the back of your skull. Invasive is a fun thrillery Jurassic Park romp ha ha ha oh and did I mention it contains ants who will cut off your skin with their mandibles in order to farm your flesh snippets for delicious fungus? Miriam Black can literally see how you’re going to die, and people get eaten by flocks of birds and there are folks with no eyes and a guy gets chopped up in a garbage disposal. Doesn’t matter that nobody wants to call them horror — the Miriam Black books are horror novels from snoot-to-chute. Exuent will be apocalyptic in its scope, and though I’m sure it’ll be labeled a thriller, it is intentionally meant to be scary, creepy, unsettling in the same way you find The Stand or Swan Song. In other words: It’s horror.

Read the full article:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Nugget #83 -- We Need the Dark

We need to look long into the dark. It’s part of who we are. 
We like to be scared. It gives us context. It gives us control. 
It helps us take the horror of the real world and give it 
shape so that we can conquer it, if only a little. Out of 
discomfort we find comfort. -- Chuck Wendig

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

[Link] Novelist Walter Mosley Talks Luke Cage, Colorism, and Why Spider-Man Was the ‘First Black Superhero’

by Abraham Riesman 

Whatever you think of Marvel’s Luke Cage, you can’t say it's not literate. A bevy of books are either seen or name-checked throughout the latest Netflix superhero series, and one that gets a particularly bright place in the spotlight is Little Green, a novel by one of the most prolific and acclaimed living crime-fiction writers, Walter Mosley. In the second episode, two of the leads debate the comparative merits of Mosley and fellow African-American crime novelist Donald Goines — and the one going to bat for Mosley is none other than the title character. As it turns out, the feeling of respect is mutual: Mosley is a longtime superhero-comics geek and grew up reading Luke’s initial comic-book adventures in the early 1970s. We caught up with the author to talk respectability politics, the thorny issue of colorism, and why he thinks Spider-Man was the first black superhero.

Read the full article:

Sunday, October 23, 2016


by Sarah Mangiola

Creepy stories are as old as mankind, and the really good ones will continue to frighten generations to come.

We’re looking back through the scariest books of the past two centuries – from chilling gothic classics to post-apocalyptic tales of caution. These terrifying tales leave readers restless, never quite sure where fiction ends and reality begins.

Page through our master list below, and you’re guaranteed to stumble across a new nightmare in no time at all.

Read the full article:

Friday, October 21, 2016

Get your scare on from Dark Oak Press -- Introducing Ghost Stories!

Ghost Stories!
By Malice in Memphis
Edited by Carolyn McSparren

The ghost stories and the characters in this book are pure fiction, even if the locations in which they were set are not. The tales, written by members of Malice in Memphis, showcase some of the Mid-South's more interesting historical locations.

The geographical locations include the Mississippi River and the areas across from Memphis, as well as several of the villages and farms that survived the onslaught of Union soldiers. They've included graveyards and battlefields, some Memphis landmarks that survive and some that don't. Memphis has been touched by wars, the Yellow Fever epidemics, the flu epidemic, floods, tornadoes, murders, and other hateful occurrences. Plenty of misery for the ghosts to feed upon. Many interesting locations to attach themselves to.

Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, we hope that you'll enjoy these eerie stories of southern supernatural doings.

The Tales:
A Cry from the Ashes by James C. Paavola
A Grave Situation by Elaine Meese
A Very Worthy Human Being by Richard Warren Powell
After Hours by Richard Warren Powell
Noblesse Oblige by Carolyn McSparren
Cadence by Seth Wood
A Dance with the Devil by Juanita D. Houston
Drive-In Miss Daisy by Phyllis Appleby
Fallen Soldier by Susan Wooten
Ghosts of Ivy by Elaine Meece
Going Back Home by Barbara Christopher
An Indisputable Event by Steve Bradshaw
A Haunting in Midtown by Kristi Bradley
Kolopin by Seth Wood
Rainbow Lake by Kristi Bradley
Return to Russwood Park by Barbara Christopher
The Misadventures of Mama Lou: Victorian Mayhem by Angelyn Sherrod
The Adventures of Sonny Etherly: Special Powers by James C. Paavola
The Nature of Ghosts by Carolyn McSparren
War is Hell by Geoffrey Meece

For more information or to purchase, visit:

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


by Stanley Donwood

Thirteen years ago I wrote a novel as the result of a bet between myself and my publisher at the time. The result was Catacombs of Terror! I’m going to try to remember how this happened, although due to the passage of time and the vagaries of memory, much of what follows will be unreliable.

One afternoon in the pub, over several pints of cider, the eccentric publisher Ambrose Blimfield proposed that I write a novel. He promised he would publish it. But, he continued, lighting a cigar, I had to write it in a month. In fact, he said, to “encourage” me, he’d bet me five quid that I couldn’t do it.

“Don’t most publishers give writers an advance?” I asked.

“I’m not most publishers. Here’s the deal. I bet you five pounds that you can’t write a 150,000-word novel in one month. If you do it, you get the five quid and I publish the book. If you don’t, I get a fiver off you, and I have to go back to publishing local poets. I hate local poets. In fact, I hate all poets. And all poetry. I have a long-standing and deeply entrenched hostility to the form. Anyway. How about it? I’ll give you half the profits.”

At the time my finances were distinctly precarious.

“All right,” I said. “I’ll do it.”

Read the full article:

Sunday, October 16, 2016



An innovative publisher of Genre Fiction, Pro Se Productions proudly announces the release of THE CLOCKWORK CAPTAIN’S BRIDE, a steampunk powered tale of intrigue and love, written by Eve Milady. Milady’s debut novel is available currently in print and digital formats.

“Epic,” says Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, “is a word that gets thrown about rather freely when talking about books, particularly those poised to grow into series. But, in all honesty, it is a rare occurrence when a written work truly deserves the word. Eve Milady’s THE CLOCKWORK CAPTAIN’S BRIDE is simply that-epic. From steampunk infused panoramas painted with words to characters burning with life as they leap from page to page, THE CLOCK WORK CAPTAIN’S BRIDE is ready to set sail, taking readers on a journey like no other they’ve ever experienced. And the ride is well worth all the action and danger involved!”

In a place of airships and steam-powered machines, where electricity is the finest commodity and education determines the shape of a family's entire existence, a ruthless warlord has assassinated the king. He sits on the throne in the magnificent Citadel of Aelstron as he orders the rightful heirs hunted down and eliminated in secret.

Gail Cowell enjoys the quiet, predictable life of a hat maker, locking her heart away to spare herself an agony like her widower father's never-ending grief. When her father is suddenly arrested and charged with treason, the nameless sailor they sheltered for a night is revealed to be Marcus Declan, the world's most wanted sky captain! Brought into his dangerous world of airships, pirates, and stolen thrones, Gail fights to reunite with her father -- even if she must offer herself to Captain Declan to do it.

Captain Marcus Declan sails the Aether's Damnation, battling to exact vengeance on a betrayer that delivered him to a frozen hell. When his quest goes awry, he is rescued from the brink of death by a hat maker - leaving him honor bound to help his beautiful, well-bred daughter when he discovers her stowed away on his ship! Although her graceful presence kindles an irresistible desire and long-buried dreams, duty and rage compel Marcus to continue his blood-drenched efforts for justice.
Featuring an evocative cover by the author and cover design and print formatting by Antonino Lo Iacono, THE CLOCKWORK CAPTAIN'S BRIDE is available at Amazon and Pro Se’s own store for 15.00.

Milady’s stunning debut is also available as an Ebook, designed and formatted by Lo Iacono for only $2.99 for the Kindle at  for most digital formats via Smashwords.

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

Saturday, October 15, 2016

You Need Werewolves! (Dark Oak Press Announces LUNA'S CHILDREN: STRANGER WORLDS)

Edited by D. Alan Lewis

For countless centuries, mankind has watched as the sun goes down knowing that Luna will rise in its place, to rain her brilliant shards of light upon the Earth. But for the cursed and afflicted, that silvery orb brings horror and death.

LUNA'S CHILDREN: STRANGER WORLDS takes the stories of the werewolf and turns them on their pointy ears. From the American Old West to the Victorian-era streets of London, from the Far East to worlds undiscovered, from steampunk to Nazis, Stranger Worlds takes us on 21 horror-filled journeys from the twisted minds of some of the best writers.

The Tales:

Eagle And Wolf by Brad Ellison
Chimera by K.S. Daniels
Henge by Kimberly Richardson
The Hungry Stones by Josh Reynolds
The Shadow of the Wolf by Logan L. Masterson
The Perfect Present by Jodi Ralston
Bad Blood and Old Silver by Christopher L. Smith
The Were by Melinda LaFevers
The Artemis Gang by Jeff Provine
The White Tree by Jason Lairamore
January at Fort Wayne by Lucy Ann Fiorini
The Hand That Feeds by Ray Deen
You Can't Beat The Metal by Jonathan S. Pembroke
Wolfwere by A.B. Rinklin
Full Moon Man by Windsong Levitch
Have Gun Will Howl by Scott T. Goudsward
Ailsa by Michael Keyton
All That Glitters by Blaise Torrance
Burning Bridges by Aaron Longoria
Always Hungry by Zorknot Robinson
Another Solution by James C. Simpson

Friday, October 14, 2016


by Chuck Wendig

1. Story is, as I am wont to remind, the destruction of the status quo. A story begins when the expected course of events deviates — it’s like a bone breaking. Compound fracture, crack. The inciting incident is that break. High school is high school until a new teacher shows up and changes everything. The magical fantasy kingdom is doing its thing until the king is murdered by a murderous murdercorn (aka a once-innocent unicorn that turned super shitty). This isn’t hard to see in stories that exist: the original Star Wars trilogy has the Empire serving as the status quo, and then Luke, Leia and the gang provide the match-tip to the Rebellion powderkeg and boom, status quo shattered. This is true for the inciting incident and also true as the story progresses — any time the story threatens to return to a “new normal” or some kind of status quo, it is your job to once again break that bone just as it heals. Plot is born of this.

2. Plot is also born of agitation. Agitation is best served as conflict between characters — aka, drama. The drama llama is a storyteller’s best friend. Love the drama llama. Ride the drama llama. Make love to the — wait, no. Sorry! *sprays bleach on your brain* Characters with competing agendas, desires, and emotions agitate one another simply by dint of pursuing (or denying) these agendas, desires and emotions. It’s like putting a bunch of spiders and centipedes and beetles in a jar and shaking it up — they fight and crawl and try to escape or eat each other. Story basically starts to write itself once you’ve got these fundamental elements, because the characters will forever push the narrative forward. This isn’t magical, though, and you’ll still need to control the characters. Otherwise they will be literally born and you will wake up surrounded by them. They will have knives. Okay, maybe it is magic. Whatever.

Read the full article:

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

[Link] The Long Con: Conventions & Conferences

by Andrea Judy

I love conventions. I've been going to them for over ten years. I started at small anime conventions and graduated to DragonCon and GenCon in recent years. When many writers approach me for advice on what they can do to improve their craft, I usually tell them to find a convention with a good literary track, go to the panels and take notes.

Many fantasy and science-fiction conventions have a series of panels (a track) devoted to writing and publishing. You can learn a lot from listening to professionals talk about their craft and better yet, it can be a great chance to meet other writers and network. Many of the writers that come to conventions are happy to talk shop with you and answer any questions you have.

Now, there are also a lot of writing conferences, and I've been to quite a few of those and they are also a great resource for writers at many levels in their careers. I've found the main differences between a convention and a conference is...

Read the full article.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #351 -- Writers on the Writing Life (Bio-Journals)

What do you consider the best books about the writing 
life (not those about "how to" or that kind of thing)?

Excellent question. I love reading writers writing about the world as they experience it specifically as writers. (Hmm... I wonder if I can get the word "write" in that sentence one more time...)

For my money, Stephen King's ON WRITING is fantastic. It almost goes without saying to include this one is you are a contemporary writer. But that's only because it's such a great story of his life of crafting stories.

Another I absolutely adore is Eudora Welty's ONE WRITER'S BEGINNINGS. This one is as much a biography as it is a journal on becoming a writer. And trust me, it's prose is pure beauty.

Next would be one from my all-time favorite non-fiction writer, Annie Dillard. Here THE WRITING LIFE captures the beauty of creation through both the natural world and the internal world of imagination.

But perhaps no one understand the writing life better than that beagle of all authors -- Snoopy (with a little help from some of his biggest fans).

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Argosy, Black Mask, and Famous Fantastic Mysteries Return to Magazine Format


Featuring NEW stories by Frederick Nebel, Paul Bishop, and Kimberly B. Richardson

October 6, 2016 — Three of the most historic pulp fiction magazines of the Twentieth Century are set to return to magazine format.

This November, Altus Press will relaunch full-length magazines of ArgosyBlack Mask, and Famous Fantastic Mysteries in periodical format. These three pulp magazine titles were renowned for the high level of quality fiction which they published for decades.

ArgosyBlack Mask, and Famous Fantastic Mysteries will be composed of classic fiction from the backlog of The Frank A. Munsey Company, Pro-Distributors Publishing Company, Inc., and Popular Publications, Inc., along with all-new stories and articles.

Argosy features an ALL-NEW story by Frederick Nebel, along with stories by H. Bedford-Jones, Berton E. Cook, Ralph R. Perry, W. Wirt, Murray R. Montgomery, and Norbert Davis. Argosy’s focus will remain primarily on adventure fiction.

Black Mask is highlighted by a brand new story by award-winner Paul Bishop, as well as classic hard-boiled detective stories by Carroll John Daly, Frederick Nebel, Raoul Whitfield, T.T. Flynn, Merle Constiner, Richard Sale, and Norbert Davis.Famous Fantastic Mysteries is highlighted by a new short story by Kimberly B. Richardson. It’s rounded out by stories from G.T. Fleming-Roberts, Arthur Leo Zagat, Frederick C. Davis, High B. Cave, Paul Ernst, Wyatt Blassingame, and Wayne Rogers, among others. Famous Fantastic Mysteries will focus on the weird fiction genre.

Each of these magazines enjoyed decades-long publications by a variety of publishers, comprising several thousand total issues. Now owned by Steeger Properties, LLC, these titles will be published on a regular schedule and in print and e-magazine formats. These new magazines will be printed in black & white and each is heavily illustrated. Argosy, Black Mask, and Famous Fantastic Mysteries will available via the popular book and e-book vendors as well as at

Altus Press is accepting article proposals and advertising for placement in future issues. Please contact to be considered for future issues.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

The dead are rising to read the next installment in Howard Odentz's Dead (A Lot) trilogy!

The zombie apocalypse just got real.

Zombies rule. Almost everybody in the world has turned into one, thanks to a nifty little disease called Necropoxy. Sixteen year old twins, Tripp and Trina Light, however, are among the rare humans who are not only immune to Necropoxy -- they're super immune. Even a bite from a zombie won't infect them.

Great, right? Yeah, but...researchers are capturing every immune human they can find -- and experimenting on them like lab rats. Just yesterday, the twins and their friends narrowly escaped.

The researchers will do anything to get them back.

That means Tripp, Trina, and their small band of survivors are on the run from zombies, mad scientists, and who knows what else. What's worse, some people in their group are starting to act funny, which isn't funny at all.

This is so not how they planned to spend the beginning of their junior year of high school in Massachusetts.

Everyone is dead.

Everyone is wicked dead.

Available on Amazon.

Author and playwright Howard Odentz is a lifelong resident of the gray area between Western Massachusetts and North Central Connecticut. His love of the region is evident in his writing as he often incorporates the foothills of the Berkshires and the small towns of the Bay and Nutmeg states into his work.

In addition to the The Dead (A Lot) Series, he has written the horror novel Bloody Bloody Apple, the short story collection Little Killers A to Z, and a couple of horror-themed, musical comedies produced for the stage.

Visit BelleBooks online. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

The Power of Cautionary Questions: Neil Gaiman on Ray Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451,’ Why We Read, and How Speculative Storytelling Enlarges Our Humanity

by Maria Popova

“The important thing,” Ursula K. Le Guin wrote in contemplating the cultural role of speculative fiction and the task of its writer, “is not to offer any specific hope of betterment but, by offering an imagined but persuasive alternative reality, to dislodge my mind, and so the reader’s mind, from the lazy, timorous habit of thinking that the way we live now is the only way people can live.” In doing so, she argued, imaginative storytelling can intercept the inertia of oppressive institutions, perilous social mores, and other stagnations of progress that contract our scope of the possible.

Hardly any work of imaginative storytelling has stood as more enduring and full-bodied a testament to this ideal than Ray Bradbury’s 1953 masterwork Fahrenheit 451 — a love letter to books and to the people who care about them and, perhaps above all, to the very capacity for caring. This capacity was the animating force of Bradbury’s uncommon genius, and it finds a contemporary counterpart and kindred spirit in Neil Gaiman — a writer of firm conviction and porous curiosity, an idealist amid our morass of cynicism, writing to remind us over and over again who we are and who we can be if we commit to wresting goodness out of our imperfect humanity.

Read the full article:

Thursday, October 6, 2016

White by Default? A Character Assumption Roundtable

This new writers roundtable topic comes from a recent discussion on a Pulp Writers list of which I'm a member. I thought the topic a pertinent one, so I wanted to share it here as well. 

The key kernal for this discussion comes from an exchange my fellow pulp writer I.A. Watson had with one of his editors, and is as follows:

Editor: About this villain, Ms Zeuzi. Why is she White? Aren’t there enough White characters in your book? 
I.A. Watson: Where do I say she’s White? I don’t describe her appearance at all, except her business suit and mannerisms. 
Editor: You don’t say she’s not White. You could have mentioned she’s African American or Latino. You don’t. 
IW: There’s lots of characters in the book, some of whom are White, but I don’t say they are Caucasian or put in a description of their skin colour. Why do I need to specify that Ms Zeuzi is non-White if it doesn’t come up in the story? 
Editor: Readers default assume characters are White if you don’t say otherwise.

I’m really not sure about this. Advice?

Is this true in your experience? Why do you think that?

Lee Houston Jr.:  Only in regards to classic characters created before the late 1960s, and the writers of the day didn't dare challenge the "social norms" of their time.

Erwin K. Roberts: Before "enlightenment" came to the various media, there were occasional stealth minority characters. In his book,  Space Cadet, Robert Heinlein's three protagonists were a kid from Des Moines, a wild & wooly Texan, and a quiet fellow from colonial Venus. One presumes they all had white skin. After they finish training, the three spend a year or so on a spaceship with a crew of about a dozen. What is not revealed, until after they leave the ship, is that one of the ship's officers was "as black as the ace of Spades." Not exactly politically correct, but I'm sure a lot of younger readers circa 1950, or so, were shocked by the revelation.

Kristi Morgan: This is true, and applies to writing that has more than just humans in it too. I am in the middle of editing stories for a collection that contains humans, elves, dwarves, and kobolds. Every story started of with dialogue or what their characters were doing, but nothing about what they looked like. My mind assumed they were human and probably white unless the writer said otherwise, and most of them never did. Readers are not mind readers. Unless you describe the characters, we will make up our own descriptions in our mind.

Van Allen Plexico: I think readers consciously or subconsciously look for cues, even tiny ones, that tell them more about a character. Those cues can come via outright descriptions of appearance, yes. But also via tiny comments during dialogue, manner of speech, name, and so on. And those don't even have to be intentional or conscious decisions on the part of the author in some cases, I think.

So, no, I don't think all readers default all characters to white as long as there are any reasons not to... But likely some do.

Alan Lewis: In most cases, I'd say it is true. Or maybe, more to the point, we like to make the characters like ourselves, so we default many characters to our own race.

Lucy Blue: I know as a reader, i do this, and I always assumed that everybody just defaulted to their own race until told otherwise. But of course, that isn't true--readers of color have gotten so used to white being the "default setting" in fiction that they make that assumption, too. (May that someday not be so.) So yeah, as a writer, I struggle with this. I don't want to point out every character's race as soon as they're introduced, but if a character's race is important to the story, I want the reader to have a clear picture of them. That's one great thing about writing science fiction and fantasy; in those worlds, a lot of the time it doesn't matter what skin tone the characters have; readers can picture characters however they choose. But in writing any kind of contemporary or "realistic" fiction, it's definitely a concern.

Rose Johnson Streif: This is weird, but the characters tend to remain somewhat amorphous to me until they are described, or begin to take shape. I have a highly visual mind, but I want to see what the writer sees when I am reading someone else's work. I'll fill in the blanks as time goes by, but I want to see their world, not impose my own. (That's for my own work.)

And so, as to race, I'll pick up cues, wait until the author says it outright, or just not assume. But if it goes on for too long without description, I probably will default to white, because the author probably did too. (And I dislike not having descriptions. I don't need info dump, but show me these people you created, d@mmit.)

Marian Allen: I think it's true. If somebody's ethnicity doesn't matter to your third-person story or doesn't impose itself on your first-person narrator's consciousness, don't bother with it.
Herika Raymer: I usually default to the race of the writer, not sure who else does. It's usually the correct assumption, unless otherwise stated.

Gary Phillips: I once wrote a novel giving hints as to various characters' race -- she was a natural blonde, his name was Kurasawa and so on, but deliberately gave no indication of the main charater's race. And being black but with a "whitebread" name, left my photo off the back Of, and the anti-hero, the main guy is only called O'Conner, though plenty of black folks have Irish sounding last names.

How do you handles such descriptions of ethnicity or do you prefer to let the reader default to their preconceptions?

Erwin K. Roberts: I tend to sprinkle minority characters around my stories. But only if the story is not slowed down by explaining how and why the character happens to be there.

Sometimes there is a compelling reason for a minority character, or group, to be included, even it such a thing was not common to the period. In my Sons of Thor the first section is set in World War One. The French need a battalion of Infantry to provide security for a very important meeting. There can not, must not, be any German sympathizers or spies among them. Who they gonna call?

Well, there's this Regiment that the U.S. Army dumped on them. The Yanks just couldn't figure out what to do with the unit calling themselves The Men of Bronze. The 369th Infantry Regiment is best known as The Hellfighters From Harlem. How many Germans are in an all African-American (to include some of the officers) unit? This retired Missouri National Guardsman was proud to shine some fictional light on the former 15th New York Infantry Regiment.

Marian Allen: GENERALLY SPEAKING, I don't think of characters as being a particular ethnicity or race so much as I think of them as individuals OF a particular ethnicity, race, or background. I might specify this lady has milky skin and red-gold hair, or this guy might have tightly curled black hair, brown eyes, skin the color of bittersweet chocolate .... If there were no such thing as the concept of "race," or if we understood that "ethnicity" doesn't mean "everybody but white," how would we describe characters? That's what I try to do. It kind of pisses me off when writers don't describe characters unless the characters are people of color, or when writers do describe characters UNLESS they're people of color, in which case they're "black" or "Oriental" or some nonsense.

Lee Houston Jr.:  Unless I am writing either aliens in science fiction stories or contributing a story to an already established character, I usually don't mention ethnicity and let the readers judge/decide for themselves.

Alan Lewis: I only feel that the color of a character's skin should be important if it is a factor in the story.

For example, in my Black Wolf stories, the lead character is a black man, living in 1930's South Carolina. He lives in a predominantly black neighborhood and is always dealing with racist attitudes when he ventures into the white parts of town. He dates a young white woman, which was very taboo in those days. All these factors come into play in the stories, telling the daily struggles with racism while the man is simply trying to do his job.

Now take away the prejudice and time period and drop him into a contemporary setting, and those issues of race are greatly reduced. Therefore, the color of his skin isn’t an issue and doesn’t need to be made part of the story.

Van Allen Plexico: I will admit I do feel a responsibility to make the casts of my stories at least somewhat diverse in terms of race and gender, rather than monochrome and all guys. I don't do this out of any sense of trying to be "PC", but because it makes the story more interesting and more appealing to more people, and it's more logical in a world of diverse people, particularly one set in the future. The fact that it is the right thing to do is only a happy side effect.

To convey this, I try to provide as many cues as reasonably possible (short of doing any harm to the narrative) to make the characters "visible" in the minds of the readers as close to how I've imagined them as possible.

As a made-up example:

Hawk drew off his glove and stared down at his olive-skinned hand, flexing it carefully. 
Hawk glanced over at Falcon, then ran his hand back through his thick, black hair. 

I generally follow Roger Zelazny's rule that you should provide no more than three outright physical descriptions of a character when you introduce him or her (more than that and they get fuzzy in the reader's mind, rather than clearer), and then fill in any remaining visual blanks during the course of the narrative or dialogue later, as needed, as you go.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sean Taylor Shares the Skinny on THE NEW DEAL: MASKS AND MUTATIONS!

If you need someone to blame for this book, here I am. It’s simple math. A + B = C, with C being this book. If you’ll keep reading for a moment or two, I’ll attempt to explain.

A: What If

“What if” is a writer’s favorite game to play. It’s the basis of all stories. What if King Lear happened on a farm but from the POV of a “bad” heir? That’s Jane Smiley’s A THOUSAND ACRES, for the record. What if spiritual samurai tried to hold off imperialism from an invading and technologically superior force? That’s both history of Japan and the basis for a little space movie called STAR WARS. What it space were the wide-open West and we sent people out to explore it? You guessed it, STAR TREK.

“What if” keeps the fictional world from becoming stagnant. It’s the remix that word-artists use to create something new from something borrowed, something blue. “What if” is the glue (sorry for the cliché) writers make from the hooves of both classic and often forgotten literary steeds.

Now that we’ve established that, what about this one: What if the American public had a scapegoat on which to blame all the bad stuff from the 1920s and 1930s, such as the stock market crash, increasing crime, etc.? And what it that scapegoat weren’t a race but a whole new kind of people, a new generation of people born with amazing powers, some that could stay hidden in public and others that didn’t have that luxury?

B: Man Vs. Man  

Two super hero-themed books have always stuck with me as being important to the American cultural/creative landscape. The first is the X-Men adventure God Loves, Man Kills. It’s a masterpiece of Us vs. Them literature. The second is the Wildcards series edited by George R.R. Martin et al, particularly the first book with its crazy trip through American history with the added benefit (or detriment) of Aces and Jokers.

But this Us vs. Them theme sadly isn’t confined to books and movies. We all know that. Without racism, the X-Men wouldn’t have been so popular since that was their story to tell (only slicing it in a fantastical way).  The Wildcards books would have had little to say beyond mere escapist fiction without the realities of McCarthyism and anti-socialist and anti-communist politics at their core.

I’m not talking about simple man vs. man plot structures here. This is far deeper than the noble sheriff vs. the bad cattle rustler, or even the disillusioned copper vs. the vicious gangster. I’m talking about the propensity of human beings to focus on the things that make us different and use those very things at best to segregate the greater (us) from the lesser (them), or at worst the right and proper (us) from the evil and should be gotten rid of.

It’s one of the things that makes us rightly and truly suck as people, but it makes us great fodder for stories, fantastic fodder for compelling stories.

It’s the fodder at the heart of this collection of stories, which brings us to…

C: This Book

At its simplest, this book asks the question, “What if the X-Men happened in a generic way right around the Great Depression and took all the blame for, well, everything?” But it didn’t stay there. With the input of several writers I trust, value, and am jealous of, it became more than just a rip-off of the X-Men. It became something wonderfully and truly pulp, something that took the ideas of masked men with guns and fedoras from the realm of possibility into the realm of the fantastic, of superheroics.

The pulp era is filled with costumed do-gooders, but most of them were what my first super-fiction editor staunchly referred to as “mere vigilantes.” (A super hero, after all, had to have super-powers, according to him.) Men and women with guns. Men and women who were tremendous athletes, but nonetheless merely human.

This volume takes those men and women farther. But rather than putting the superhuman on a pedestal and seeing him or her as a god or goddess, it takes a more realistic approach. As I said above, we humans don’t have a good track record welcoming the new and different, especially when it frightens the bejeeszus out of us.

The title is an obvious riff on President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s political stab at rejuvenating the country. Only in this case the new deal is not what history tells us. It’s a new kind of human. The new and different. The thing no longer in the shadows that frightens the bejeezus out of us.

How the people involved “deal” with that new is what makes the stories in this collection worth your time and money.


I hope you enjoy your trip to the past that never was.

Sean Taylor
Creator of The New Deal: Masks and Mutations
September 30, 2016
Atlanta, Ga.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now #350 -- Fear the Future?

What is your biggest concern
about the future of publishing?

My biggest fear about the publishing world hasn't changed one little bit in the past fifteen years. It's the big houses' reliance on "epic" series that fill up the publishing schedules and leave new voices relegated to small houses where the largest percentage of readers are too lazy to look and will instead continue to take part sixteen of whatever epic series is being spoonfed to them.

I think the future of any kind of publishing of art (whether stories, music, movies, painting, mixed media, you name it, it counts) is ALWAYS dependent on new voices who bring change and growth and expansion and new ideas to the medium. ALWAYS.

It's the new voices that prompt old voices to listen and adapt. It's the new voices who push the envelop and seek out either romantic returns to old (i.e., new again) or mash-ups of what has gone before to create new out of old (something borrowed, something blue) or listening to current and changing viewpoints in culture to same something about the now, not just the then.

But with the guarrenteed sales of big, epic, "don't make me look for something else since I'm familiar with this" series, those new voices are far too often overlooked.

And if you ask me (which you did), I believe that the whole of the publishing world suffers for that.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

What do The Watchmen and Rick Ruby have in common?

Watchmen fans, check out Rich Handley's new WATCHING TIME book, which looks at the links between Watchmen and gumshoe Rick Ruby (created by Bobby Nash and myself), a detective familiar to pulp fans from our book THE RUBY FILES, illustrated by the amazing Rob Moran.

Saturday, October 1, 2016


Airship 27 Productions is proud to announce the release of their newest title, “The Towers of Metropolis,” a prequel anthology based on silent sci-fi movie.

In 1927 German filmmaker Fritz Lang brought to the screen one of the most ground breaking sci-fi melodramas of all time based on the screenplay he co-wrote with his wife, novelist Thea von Harbou. Set in a futuristic urban dystopia, the story follows the attempts of Freder, the son of the city’s ruler, and Maria, a citizen of the lower levels, to bridge the gulf separating the economic classes of the city. It is regarded as a classic and one of the first full-length movies in the genre.

“I first saw the film at the World Science Fiction Convention years ago,” reports Airship 27 Productions’ Managing Editor, Ron Fortier. “It simply blew me away. That a film this sophisticated and brilliant could be realized during the earliest days of movie making was astounding. Those images of that futuristic city and its underlying cautionary tale simply became a part of me. I never forgot them. To put together this anthology and revisit that world has been something truly special for all of us here at Airship 27. We hope our fans will enjoy our efforts here.”

Now five visionary new pulp writers have envisioned four dramatic tales which unfold in this amazing world prior to the events of that film. The book begins with a special introductory essay by author Fred Lang, Jr. and then William & Michael Maynard join forces with Michael Panush, Kevin Noel Olson and Erik Franklin to guide readers back to those vaulted, shining Towers of Metropolis in this new collection inspired by Lang’s masterpiece.

Award winning Metropolis enthusiast Michael Kaluta provides the cover with artist Pedro Cruz offering twelve amazing interior illustrations. All beautifully assembled by Airship 27 Art Director Rob Davis to create a book any fan of the film will want for their personal library.

“Metropolis is something truly unique in the annals of science fiction history,” Fortier concludes. “I believe we’ve done it justice with The Towers of Metropolis.”


Available at Amazon in both hardcopy and on Kindle.