Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Armand Rosamilia: The Fear of Pants Keeps Him Working

Armond Rosamilia is a force of nature -- a writing and podcasting force of nature. I met him at a literary convention a few years ago, and immediately liked him. I think you will too.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

Keyport Cthulhu is an expanded and new edition of this horror book, originally released in 2013. Author Chuck Buda loved this release so much he lobbied for me to keep it in print but I had a better idea: I asked Chuck to write a short story for a new edition. He wrote two and they were both great so I added them as well as a new short story I'd done for it.

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

I'm a big fan of writing characters who are broken and don't always get to redeem themselves. Like real life. I've expanded my writing away from just horror stories over the years but there is still the redemption (or not) of characters that flows throughout most of my work.

What would be your dream project?

Co-writing a novel with either Dean Koontz or Brian Keene. Koontz is the reason I am a full-time writer today and Keene is the reason I first wrote zombie stories, which led me to write full-time.

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

Tool Shed, a horror novella that was released only in eBook by a small press. It never found the right audience and it's still a great story I'd love to someday rewrite or find another press to release it. I'd expand it into a full novel since there was a lot of scenes I cut or revised to get it down to a shorter word count.

What inspires you to write?

Not having to put pants on each day and leave the house. If I stop making money doing this for a living I'll have to go back to retail management, which I hated every day of my life. So... fear drives me.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

Dean Koontz was the first author I dove into and never looked back. I was never a King fan. Still not. Robert E Howard was also a big influence when I was a kid and some reviewers have pointed out they can see the influence. Later it was Keene and Masterton, Laymon and Everson. Those just scratch the surface.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

Somewhere in the middle? I try not to think too hard on it. Writing is just another part of my life. Something we do when we can't help it. I consider myself a pulp fiction writer. Fun stories, even if they're horror. The story a reader hopefully won't put down or have to look up big words while reading. The books I loved reading and still do.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?  

Green River Blend 3, a supernatural thriller about coffee (yes, coffee) is now available from Devil Dog Press. It wraps the trilogy up nicely and it's easily my favorite book in the series.

For more information:


Keyport Cthulhu:

Green River Blend 3:

Monday, May 22, 2017

#MotivationalMonday (Hear the Music)

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dave Creek Releases THE UNMOVING STARS!

In the midst of a galactic war, a sneak attack leaves the starship Shen Kuo with half its crew dead and the ship itself crippled and adrift thousands of light-years from home. Now, with Captain Kiernan Taylor facing a return journey that could take decades, he must seek out a "shortcut" home even as he perceives the first glimmerings of a mutiny!

"THE UNMOVING STARS is a gripping tale of humans fighting against time and vast interstellar distances to return home. Fans of Star Trek Voyager and The Lost Fleet will enjoy this series." -- Jason Sanford, two-time Nebula Award finalist.

THE UNMOVING STARS is available in paperback and ebook editions on Amazon: http://amzn.to/2q9ct9Y.

Although THE UNMOVING STARS can be read as a stand-alone novel, it's also The Great Human War #3.  Anyone who wants to check out A CROWD OF STARS/Great Human War #1 and THE FALLEN SUN/Great Human War #2, can take do so at the links below.

A CROWD OF STARS: http://amzn.to/2qKz3CS
THE FALLEN SUN: http://amzn.to/2qBE7fS

Dave Creek is the author of the novels SOME DISTANT SHORE and CHANDA'S AWAKENING, along with the short story collections A GLIMPSE OF SPLENDOR and THE HUMAN EQUATIONS.

His short stories have appeared in ANALOG SCIENCE FICTION AND FACT and APEX magazines, and the anthologies FAR ORBIT APOGEE, TOUCHING THE FACE OF THE COSMOS, and DYSTOPIAN EXPRESS.

In the "real world," Dave is a retired television news producer.  Dave lives in Louisville with his wife Dana, son Andy, Corgi/Jack Russell Terrier mix Ziggy Stardog, and two sleepy cats -- Hedwig and Hemingway.

Stay in touch with Dave:




Saturday, May 20, 2017

[Link] From Katanga to Hiroshima; or the Pulp Fiction Author Who Was a Spy

by Tanth J. Graysmoke 

"In a book review last week, I mentioned that the uranium used to explode Hiroshima and Nagasaki (pictured above) came from the Belgian Congo.  Today, I’ll look more at that through Spies in the Congo (2016) by Susan Williams, with an audio book narrated by Justine Eyre.  The book is about how OSS agents and their “cut-outs” secured the American monopoly on the uranium from Katanga, a region in what is today southern Congo-Kinshasa. ...

"There are some great characters populating Ms. Williams’ narrative. The star of the book is Wilbur Owings “Dock” Hogue.  He seemed like a pretty normal dude to be chased around by Nazi agents.  He’s interesting to me, mainly because he was an amateur author of pulp fiction.  He published Adventure stories under his own name and Mystery stories under the name Carl Shannon, using his own experiences to write a thriller about a spy hunting Nazi diamond smugglers in Africa.  He seemed to have a promising little side career going before he died of radiation poisoning at age 42."

Read the full article: https://afeastknown.wordpress.com/2017/05/05/from-katanga-to-hiroshima-or-the-pulp-fiction-author-who-was-a-spy/

Friday, May 19, 2017




The Pulp Heroes saga is an epic adventure spanning two centuries in time and linking the incredible lives of history’s most popular Victorian Age adventurers of the 1800’s with the greatest action heroes of the 1930’s - 1940’s Pulp Era and an assortment of well-known, real-life figures. Two generations of heroes, one incredible destiny.

As the final novel in the Pulp Heroes trilogy, Pulp Heroes - Sanctuary Falls features the thrilling conclusion to the massive storyline. The main portion of the novel is situated in the year 1949. An extraterrestrial warning, originating from beyond the infinite gulf of space and time, is brought to the attention of Earth’s greatest pulp heroes, predicting the annihilation of the Earth. Even worse, if it cannot be prevented, this tremendous wave of Armageddon will expand beyond the solar system, encompassing the entire Multiverse; consisting of more than a hundred billion worlds.

While investigating the interstellar menace, the fellowship of Mystery Men (Doc Titan - The Ultimate Man, The Darkness - The Master of Shadows, Guardian - Steel and Ice Justice, and The Scorpion - The Deadliest Man Alive) band together for the final time and, along the way, unearth a succession of incredibly complex government secrets, interlaced with subterfuge, both foreign and domestic.
Pulp Heroes - Sanctuary Falls weaves an incredible tapestry, perfectly integrating dozens of outwardly random events, involving UFO’s, the 1908 Tunguska Event, the Cold War, the 1897 Aurora, Texas UFO incident, Majestic 12, Time Travel, CIA & KGB, Area 51, Nikola Tesla's Wardenclyffe Tower, the 1947 Roswell UFO incident, missing ships and planes in the Bermuda Triangle, Nazis in Antarctica, the 1908 New York to Paris Race, covert military operations, and much, much more.


As mentioned above, Pulp Heroes - Sanctuary Falls is the final chapter of this massive three-part trilogy. Earlier chapters in the careers of the astounding Mystery Men are chronicled in the highly acclaimed Pulp Heroes - Khan Dynasty and Pulp Heroes - More Than Mortal. Although each novel is a self-contained story, painted in bold sweeping strokes, this massive three-part trilogy is best read as a combined series.

The first book, Pulp Heroes - Khan Dynasty, is situated in the year 1938. In this epic novel, the world was initially introduced to the four greatest crime fighters of the 1930’s. These incomparable champions of justice were Doc Titan, The Darkness, Guardian, and Scorpion. Aided by their loyal agents and steadfast associates, this fearless quartet of Mystery Men banded together to fight evil and dispense justice, traveling to the farthest ends of the globe and clashing against dastardly villains and ruthless madmen.
Risking life and limb, the four heroes encounter the illustrious Asian devil-doctor Hunan Sun and the roguish, Victorian man-monster Edward Hyde. Beginning in Cairo, Egypt, nearly a century in the past, a series of seemingly random events lead to danger and intrigue, as two generations of valiant figures race to stop the diabolical duo from unleashing a devastating wave of death and destruction upon the Earth.

Volume two, Pulp Heroes - More Than Mortal, takes place in the year 1945, near the end of World War II. The heroes must stop the faceless Nazi mastermind Black Skull, and the satanic, anti-hero Victor Kaine, before the scoundrels can unleash a deadly force that will swing the outcome of the war in favor of the Axis forces.

This massive trilogy is reminiscent of the great action-adventure pulp hero stories of yesteryear. Our bold heroes travel around the world and, utilizing a series of well-timed flashbacks, voyage 150 years backward through time. And as the adventure continues, the heroes soon discover that there are many dark and dangerous secrets that have been kept from them and the world at large. Secrets that could destroy them all. And, perhaps, the Earth itself.

The Pulp Heroes trilogy of novels are fast-paced chronicles about relationships between bold, humorous, entertaining characters. It is a story about daring adventure. About fathers and sons. The passing of the heroic baton. Unexpected storyline twists. Long hidden secrets exposed. It is about how everyone is linked in some way and how actions in the past affect the present. It is not merely their abilities that show who these heroes are; it is about the choices they make. Above all, it is an action-packed thrill ride. And, most importantly, it is a story about great adventure heroes and daring heroines. Together, they face enemies unlike anything they have encountered before.

What will they have to sacrifice to succeed? Who will survive?

They were … PULP HEROES!!


In addition to being a great epic story, the three Pulp Heroes novels also function as the backbone of the much larger Infinite Horizons universe.

Infinite Horizons is an ongoing series of action-adventure novels published by Knightraven Studios, featuring the astounding untold chronicles, extraordinary exploits, and hair-raising escapes of the greatest adventurers and explorers in the history of mankind. These incredibly diverse stories explore two hundred years of legendary heroes and villains during the Victorian age, the Pulp era, and the Golden Age of comic books, tightly interwoven with real-world events and individuals, standing alongside history’s most interesting fictional characters.

In addition to the 1930's pulp heroes, these extraordinary stories also feature famous fictional characters from Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in 80 Days, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly's Frankenstein, Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes and Professor Challenger series, Chester Hawks' Captain Hazzard, J.H. Rosny’s Ironcastle, John W. Campbell’s Who Goes There?/Thing from Another World, H. Rider Haggard's Allan Quatermain, Robert Louis Stevenson's The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Philip Wylie's Savage Gentleman and Gladiator, and many more.

In terms of its sheer size, scope, and potential, Infinite Horizons is truly the ultimate crossover universe. It’s an endless, bottomless, literary Sargasso, linking together hundreds of novels, short stories, and characters, both real and imaginary. In 2011, the ultimate Gothic horror Steampunk novel, Modern Marvels - Viktoriana, joined the 'Steampulp' novels, Pulp Heroes - More Than Mortal, Pulp Heroes - Khan Dynasty, and Pulp Heroes - Sanctuary. Then, three smaller novels, the action-packed Hunter Island Adventure, the fantastic, center-of-the-Earth Inner World Adventure, and the Gothic horror novel The Cast Away added further depth to the ever-expanding Infinite Horizons universe. All the Pulp Heroes and Modern Marvels novels are written and illustrated by Wayne Reinagel, creator of the Infinite Horizons universe. Each of these epic novels feature incredible, full-length stories like nothing you've ever read before.


Knightraven Studios, an independent publisher, has been dedicated to serving Truth, Justice, and the American Way since 1980 and extends an invitation for you to explore the incredible Infinite Horizons universe!

Looking for thrilling, action-packed stories, with lots of fun? Pulp era adventure at its best? Lightning in a bottle? Novels guaranteed to knock your socks off? We highly recommend you climb aboard and enter the Infinite Horizons universe!! All of the aforementioned novels are currently available in print and digital formats. They can be found at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and book shops worldwide.

To order:

More Than Mortal
Khan Dynasty

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Wayback Machine: The Pulse Interview with Stefan Petrucha

This interview is an article I did more than 10 years ago
for The Pulse, a comics news and features magazine.


A Walk on the Weird Side with Stefan Petrucha
By Sean Taylor, special to The Pulse

He’s perhaps one of the most famous comic book writers whose name you mispronounce.

 Stefan Petrucha (Steh-fahn Peh-trook-ah) has been the writer behind two of the creepiest comic book adaptations of sci-fi and horror television series in the history of the medium. For longer than any comic book should be allowed the spot, his X-Files #1 (with artist Charles Adlard) was the most sought-after back issue in comic shops and online. He’s been involved in comics publishing as a writer in both the indy and mainstream scene. But not only that, he’s also a published novelist, and is most recently the creative voice behind a new Dr. Who-based novel series.

 For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, that’s who Stefan Petrucha is, and he was kind enough to spare a little time to talk with the Pulse about what’s been going on in his world.

 Pulse: So, you’re written for some of the world’s most popular characters, from Mulder and Scully to the cast from Doctor Who. What’s it like to have the futures of such well-known and well-loved characters at your fingertips?

 Stefan Petrucha: To clarify, Time Hunter isn’t a Doctor Who novel, it’s a spin-off series. Telos Publishing did a very successful series of novellas starring the good doctor, but Time Hunter begins where those end. The Time Hunter story gets its start in The Cabinet of Light, which does feature Doctor Who. It also introduces the time-hopping escapades of Honoré Lechasseur, an African American vet who stayed in London after WW II, and Emily Blandish, who appeared mysteriously in town one evening, wearing what everyone took to be her pajamas. Lechasseur’s a “spiv” -- a black market operate, which was most of London’s economy at the time. It also turns out he’s “time sensitive” -- he can see the past, present and future. Doctor Who puts him in touch with Emily, who is a “time jumper.” He finds coordinates, she takes them there. The Time Hunter series itself, The Winning Side, and now my own Tunnel at the End of the Light, feature the ongoing adventures of Honoré and Emily. And it’s a genre-hopping hoot if I do say so myself!

 Pulse: How did Time Hunter your gig come about?

 SP: Publisher David J. Howe reviewed and enjoyed one of my White Wolf stories. He was also familiar with my X-Files comic work, and asked if I was interested in pitching. Their proposal for the series struck me as
exciting and a lot of fun. After we batted around a synopsis a bit, I was on my way.

 The only problem was all the ‘Americanisms’ I wound up using, you know, being American, which they had to carefully cut out. I did have a lot of help from London resident Lesley Logan, my sister-in-law, who helped me out with selecting the appropriate neighborhoods for the various scenes. I think in the end it worked out pretty well.

 Pulse: Can you share a few examples of some of those ‘Americanisms’?

 SP: Oh, it was mostly spelling, like color/colour, realized/realised, candy/confectionary that sort of thing.

 Pulse: How is working on novels different than working on comic books?

 SP: Primarily one doesn’t have any pictures to rely on to tell the story. In the full comic book script, the writer pretty much describes all the pictures, and you can do that with some evocative flair, to get the artist in the mood, etc. but it’s not the same.

 Comic book production is also much more a partnership between the artists and writer, and you have to have a good match to do your best work. In novels, while the editor is certainly a partner of sorts, and incredibly invaluable, the writer is obviously more center stage. For me, there’s a terrific satisfaction in having a product that’s complete when I’m finished working on it -- something that I can’t say about screenplays or comics.

 Pulse: How is what you do for both mediums similar?

 SP: On the level of plot, characterization, themes, and so on -- all the structural elements are basically the same. Comics and film are inherently more ‘surface’ mediums, in the sense that they can more naturally show you what they mean, whereas novels and prose more quickly lend themselves to the internal, more naturally reflecting the inner workings of characters.

 Pulse: As a novel writer and a comic book writer, why do you think there is such a disconnect between readers of the two art forms, whether in reality or just the perception?

 SP: I think people in this country simply don’t read comics the way they do in much of the rest of the world, a state of affairs that, I think, can be traced back to Seduction of the Innocents and Frederic Wertham, which stigmatized the media not only as something that was directed toward children, but also as something ‘dirty.’

 I think they recovered a bit as a mass medium with a wider audience with Spider-Man in the sixties, but these days, they’re too expensive and too self-reflective. When they were cheap, they were a real “peoples” medium -- much the same way the Internet may be today.

 Pulse: While we’re discussing comics, how did you newest project for Shooting Star Comics come about?

 SP: “Roses Bedight” was a story I originally pitched to 2000 AD -- and honestly, I couldn’t believe they didn’t like it. Not edgy enough, or some such. But it stayed in the back of my head as something I wanted to do for the longest time, so you and I met at DragonCon, it seemed a natural opportunity to tell the tale.

 Pulse: How would you say the project has been influenced or inspired by other sci-fi that has gone before?

 SP: It’s a commentary on the over-consumptive society -- where everything exists to satisfy some personal urge -- starring the all-consuming parent and helpless child.

 Pulse: What would you say makes it different and new?

 SP: Technology simply brings that to a point where people can stay children all their lives, and have no need for the responsibilities of parenthood, which many happily drop with the same heedlessness with which one cuts down the rain forest to make more cattle for fast food hamburgers. I think that sort of social commentary runs through the best of science fiction, troped, of course, with fancy gadgets and wonderfully rendered dystopian backgrounds.

 Pulse: Why did you decide to release this story through Shooting Star Comics?

 SP: What I’d seen of the early issues gave me a great feeling about the company, so it seemed like a no-brainer. And I’m thrilled to be working with new artist Jeziel [Martinez Sanchez]. I think his art’s terrific, perfect for the story.

 Pulse: What are your plans for the characters after their appearance in Shooting Star Comics Anthology #5? Are you planning any follow-up appearances?

 SP: No, not really. I think it’s a one-shot. It makes its point and then you move on, but who knows?

 Pulse: What’s the difference, as you’ve seen it, between working with mainstream and independent publishers?

 SP: Same old, same old. Indies give you much more freedom, the mainstream gives you much more money.

 Pulse: Let’s look back for a moment at your work on the X-Files comic book. What was the most fulfilling aspect of being the writer for one of the hottest books in the world at the time?

 SP: When we started, the show wasn’t hugely popular, it was just a small cult hit, so it was great to be a part of that upswell in popularity. It was overall terrific, I was writing stories I loved and cared a great deal about, AND they were terrifically popular. An incredible amount of contact with readers was, I think, the chief reward, next to the overall fame and fortune. The series gave me some terrific opportunities, including doing TV and radio interviews and having my work appear in TV Guide.

 Pulse: Oh yeah, I had forgotten about the TV Guide story? How’d that one come about?

 SP: I believe TV Guide actually approached Topps about the whole thing.  The fun challenge was to try to tell an X-Files story in five pages -- reduce the show andcharacters into some sort of quick formula (something Chris Carter once claimed the show didn’t have.)  It helped codify that formula for me:

Something strange happens.
Mulder says, “Hey, something strange happened!”
Scully says, “Did not!”
Then something else strange happens.  The End.

I was pretty pleased that I was able to pull it off.  That story got the single fastest approval from Fox and 1013 -- probably because it had to be so simple, by virtue of its length.  TV Guide’s done comics since, but ours was the first, and I was terribly proud to have my work in front of millions of peoples.  Didn’t hurt sales on the comic, either!

 Pulse: What were some of the hassles of writing a book about characters that were coming from such a popular TV show?

 SP: Everyone seemed to enjoy my work, except the creators of the show. As of the second issue, we were constantly butting heads. I was trying to do different things, material more appropriate to the medium, and
they were interested, naturally, more in replicating the series as much as possible. It was an increasingly painful process -- and the more popular the show became the less yielding they were. I’m happy I made it through 16 issues!

 Pulse: What did you think about the X-Files movie a few years ago and the series ending? What would you have done differently had you been writing it?

 SP: I think early on the X-files started a long spiral down. By the time they made the decision to keep the original back story going, without seemingly having a clue as to where it was headed, I think, aesthetically they were doomed, forced to make it more and more incoherent, leading to the mediocre film and the deeply embarrassing final episode.

 Since you ask, I would have run it much the way Buffy was done in her heyday, one large arc per season, surrounded by standalone stories. Each season the arc gets resolved, and you move on. For the film, I would have done a single, great standalone mystery starring Mulder and Scully, bigger budget, bigger effects, etc., but nothing whatsoever to do with the mythos.

 Pulse: If you were offered the gig again today, would you be up for it, and what would you do to make X-Files a hot comics property again?

 SP: Pretty much what I’d been doing -- exploring paranormal mysteries across the globe -- the stuff that might be real -- go back to the core believer/non-believer dialect that made the characters tick, and let Scully be right more often!

 Pulse: Let’s talk Moonstone and Kolchak. Some might say that your work on The Night Stalker isn’t far removed from your work on Mulder and Scully. Do you think your successful run on X-Files helped you land the Kolchak book because of their similar directions?

 SP: Oh sure, in fact Topps was considering a Kolchak book as a companion to the X-Files, which I was going to write -- it just never got off the ground.

 Pulse: Granted, the two are very similar, but what do you think makes the two properties different and unique?

 SP: Kolchak is more noir -- focused on his narrative voice, his moralistic, Chandler-light, worldview, where he faces the monster to save the day, but gets put down by the Man because of it. The issue isn’t whether the monster is or not, but simply that it exists. The strength of the X-Files, when it was good, was in the dialogue between Mulder and Scully about what is and isn’t real -- in other words, whether the monster is or not. There’s a lot of overlap there, and I think ultimately the differences are more about which elements are more to the fore.

 Pulse: What are your future plans for Kolchak?

 SP: Right now I’m doing an original ten-page Kolchak story for an upcoming trade paperback collection. The plot hasn’t been approved yet, so I don’t think I should discuss it here.

 Pulse: Out of all the comics work you’ve done, what have you found to be the most fulfilling?

 SP: Oh, that’s tough to say, many offer different rewards and I’ve enjoyed practically all of them. My own material is always special to me; Squalor, Meta-4, Lance Barnes, The Bandy Man -- but the X-Files and Kolchak still stand as some of the best writing I’ve done, plus they’ve had wider exposure. I also write Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck comics for Egmont in Denmark, and get a terrific, but completely different, kick out of them as well.

 Pulse: What’s the difference for you between working on your own concepts and working on characters that belong to other companies?

 SP: When I’m working on my own stuff, editorial feedback goes directly to the quality of the story and the characterizations. With licensing, there are all sorts of other character rules and such that must be obeyed. When you’ve got great partners, either can go well -- when you don’t, either can go badly.

 Pulse: After being in comics for so long, what haven’t you been able to do yet that you’d love to have the opportunity to do?

 SP: Earn a steady living!

 Pulse: What else should Stefan Petrucha fans be looking for in the months ahead?

 SP: Lance Barnes: Post Nuke Dick, a mini-series I did for Epic in the early 90’s, has been reassembled into a trade paperback, out this June. It has an all-new cover and a new prose story starring Lance, by yours truly. Meanwhile, Director Rick Friedberg (Spy Hard) is working like the dickens to assemble a budget for a feature film. Past that, I’m currently trucking around a paranormal novel that I’m very excited about. And, of course, I can’t wait to see how “Roses Bedight” comes out!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Nugget #98 -- No Rule But the Feels

Regarding action vs. character, I don't think there's a 
rule of thumb as much as a what feels right to you 
as the person creating the tale. In general a pulp tale 
should be a fairly straightforward adventure story 
with a linear, easily progressed and followed plot.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017



With PulpFest moving to the Steel City of Pittsburgh (July 27th to July 30th), the New Pulp Community has joined in the promotion by holding two separate book signings in the Pittsburgh area during the con weekend.

On Friday evening, 28th July, starting at 7 p.m. Barnes & Noble located in the Monroeville Mall, 200 Mall Circle Dr. Monroeville, PA will host New Pulp writers Fred Adams, Jr., Wayne Carey, Jim Beard and Tommy Hancock.

On Sat. morning, 29th July, beginning at 10 a.m. at the Rickert & Beagle Books, 3222 W. Liberty Ave, Pittsburgh, PA, will host writers Barbara Doran, John Simcoe, Fred Adams Jr., and David White.

These seven writers are among the finest in New Pulp Fiction and are only a few of the dozens of talented pulp authors and artists who will be in attendance at the PulpFest Convention. Created to continue and preserve the legacy of this unique literary form, the convention is open to the public and information regarding ticket prices, guests and panels can be found at (http://www.pulpfest.com/)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

[Link] Know You Are a Writer

by Emily Vieweg

1. Know you are a writer. Some people are strong enough to know it intrinsically - others, like me, need outside feedback to remind us we are writers at heart. I have a quill tattoo on my right wrist to remind me that no matter what job I have in this life, I am, at heart, a writer.

2. Denials are normal. Out of my 128 submissions on my Submittable account, only 11 are "Accepted." 81 are "Denied."

3. Be daring enough to look inside yourself for inspiration. Sit in a quiet room and feel your pulse. Search within your memories to create inspirational prompts and stories.

For more info: http://www.writeandauthor.com/2017/04/know-you-are-writer.html

Saturday, May 13, 2017

[Link] 875 Words (More or Less) About Getting Caught Up In Researching

by Derrick Ferguson

Now we fast-forward to the Internet Age where I can now simply Google any information about anything at all and do my research in my pajamas in the comfort of my home because now the library comes to me. And that’s a good thing. Maybe too much of a good thing.

Let me explain: the current project I’m working on is set during World War I during what was one of the most important conflicts in the history of warfare: The Battle of Cambrai. Cambrai is a town in France that is distinguished due to the fact that it was first time tanks were used in large numbers in combat successfully. Now, I know as much about The Battle of Cambrai as I do about the dark side of the moon. But that’s where things get interesting.

I go ahead and Google up The Battle of Cambrai and there’s a whole lotta good articles and information on the battle. I breathe a sigh of relief and dig in. The trail of research even leads me to YouTube as there’s a goodish number of documentaries from the History Channel about The Battle of Cambrai. I’m encouraged now, y’see? I hungrily absorb everything I’m learning and putting into the story as now I feel much more confident being armed with dates, names and maps to give my story a solid foundation.

So what’s the problem?

I re-read the first three chapters of the book and it occurred to me that what I had actually done was bury the story under the weight of the dates, names and maps. So intent had I been making sure I had the historical stuff right I sacrificed doing the stuff that I know how to do: dialog, characterization, action. Y’know…the stuff I had been asked to do on this project as that was the reason I had been engaged to work on it in the first place.

Read the full article: https://dlferguson-bloodandink.blogspot.com/2015/06/875-words-more-or-less-about-getting.html

Friday, May 12, 2017

Edisto Stranger by C. Hope Clark is available for pre-order!

The 4th book in The Edisto Island Mysteries publishes Friday, May 26th!

A cold case heats up...

A dead man in Big Bay Creek, spring break, and a rogue FBI agent would be enough to drive Chief Callie Jean Morgan to drink...if she hadn't already quietly crawled inside a bottle of gin to drown her sorrows over a life ripped apart by too many losses.

When her investigation into the stranger's death heats up an unsolved abduction case, Callie finds herself pitted against the town council, her son, the agent, and even the raucous college kids enjoying idyllic Edisto Beach.

Amidst it all, Callie must find a way to reconcile her grief and her precious taste for gin before anyone else is killed.

C. Hope Clark is the award-winning author of the Carolina Slade Mysteries and now the Edisto Island Mysteries. During her career with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, she met and married a federal agent-now a private investigator. She plots murder mysteries at their lakeside home in South Carolina when not visiting Edisto Beach. Visit Hope at chopeclark.com.

Continue reading for an excerpt!


Chapter 1

UNROLLING LAST month's police report in her hand, with two dozen residents assembled behind her, Police Chief Callie Morgan spoke to the Edisto Beach Town Council. Not the best way for a girl to spend a Saturday evening.
     But this was a command performance. Even without the council meeting, her son Jeb being home for spring break prohibited her usual six o'clock routine. She hadn't had a drop of Bombay Sapphire in - what? Three days?
     She read from her sheet-the council holding copies of their own - listing her tasks for the past month, her thoughts on the hurricane contingency plan, and the general performance of the force after receiving two additional officers the council so graciously approved for hire five months ago.
     Thank God for the last one. Kept her from traffic duty. Kept her from people...
     Finally, the end. Smile for the camera. She flashed a professional show of teeth at these five people who expected her to be beholden. Unfortunately, that included Councilman Brice LeGrand. Then she gave a nod to the mayor - who was nice to her face, neutral in public.
     They'd made her the last item on the evening's agenda. Not that she was on trial, but she made certain her report included the accomplishments of her department, details the council seemed to take more interest in of late.
     The report was complete. Competent. But her heart wasn't in it this evening. Her heart wasn't in much of anything anymore. Muscle memory, work ethic, and an office manager named Marie kept Callie running the Edisto Beach PD, but heart? That was asking too much. She left passion in a rainy ditch on Pine Landing Road last September. Everyone had seen Mike Seabrook as invincible, never thought he could die, but he did...attempting to save her.
     "Well," Brice drawled at the front of the room, glancing at his casually dressed peers to his left, then his right. "She's obviously no Seabrook, but we can check off the police department."
     The words slammed her like a mallet. A female gasp came from behind her in the audience. A councilwoman covered her mouth, and mumbles arose around the stuffy meeting room reeking of overcooked coffee, the confinement too tight for whispered words not to be heard.
     Everyone watched Brice, the supporters and the opponents, both sides equally intimidated. "Y'all remember those jokes he'd tell? Mike could make these meetings more of a social. He'd bring donuts, Snickers bars, even sang his report that one time." Brice managed a hound-dog look of sadness while giving no condolences to the police chief at attention before him.
     Blood rushed in Callie's ears. With an embarrassed board frozen before her, stunned citizens behind her, Callie stiffened in defense. "Excuse me?" She crushed the papers in her hand, but she wasn't sure she had the strength for Brice's challenge, or the focus to handle it properly. Not without getting fired on the spot...or being arrested for murder.
     And God knows there'd been ample murder on the island.
     She'd been exonerated by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division in the shootout. But that fact paled in the shadow of Mike Seabrook's death. The community had adored him. And he'd been the man she'd professed to love just twenty-four hours before he succumbed to a bullet and a knife on a muddy, desolate, rained-out road.
     The room had gone silent. Silent! How many people still held her accountable?
     Did they expect her to brawl, retaliate? Surely they sensed she couldn't take a single breath without the memory.
     Or was this a test as to what she could handle?
     Then, Sophie Bianchi, wearing her more formal black yoga pants, leaped from her seat, jeweled hands on tiny hips, her black pixie hair shaking with rage and a hundred-dollar highlight job. "Well, I'll sure as hell say something if none of you will. What's wrong with you people? And Brice, you're a gold-plated jackass and do not represent the voices of everyone here, regardless how big and bad you think you are! Don't you remember the price this woman has paid for us?"
     "How about the price we've paid?" he yelled. "Not all of us wanted her as chief!"
     One councilman gave a soft "Yeah." The councilwoman nodded, then seemed to catch herself when Sophie gave her a glare. Grumblings traveled the room.
     Callie was mortified. Were they doing this now? Formally, they couldn't launch into judgment of her without the issue being on the agenda, but the mention this month meant a formal discussion the next.
     Her phone vibrated in her pocket. As Sophie continued dressing down the council despite Brice's hard, heavy-lidded, and challenging gaze, Callie peered at Jeb's caller ID. No message and no urgency. She refused it and turned her focus back to Sophie. Jeb had probably forgotten her town-council meeting obligation.
     "This woman"- and the yoga mistress gripped Callie's hand -"has saved this beach more times that you've peed in the ocean, you pompous dolt."
     Snickers rolled around the room. Brice's cheeks reddened.
     A text came through Callie's phone. 911, Mom. Call me.
     Callie spun her back to the council and strode to the back of the room, redialing his number. He picked up after one ring.
     "What's wrong? Where are you?" she whispered, a hand covering her other ear to hear better. Jeb had never cried wolf in his life. She glanced over at the government-issue wall clock. Quarter to eight.
     "Chief Morgan," Brice said into a microphone the small room really didn't need.
     She held up a stiff arm, finger pointed, indicating one moment.
      "We're kayaking up Bay Creek," Jeb said, his voice quivering. "Oh my gosh, Mom. We were coming back and..." His words turned softer, his mouth away from the phone. "It's all right. Mom will take care of it."
     "She's on the damn phone, Brice," Sophie scolded. "Probably an emergency. It's what you hired her to do."
     Callie pressed her ear harder to hear better with the other. Was that Sprite crying? Instinctively, Callie glanced at Sprite's mother. Sophie was still giving what-for to Brice.
     "Jeb?" Callie spun back, head tucked down. "Is Sprite okay?"
     Panic still laced his tone. "She's fine. And I'm fine, but this floating body hung up in the grass isn't."
     Callie stiffened, then held a hand in front of her mouth and whispered, "Give me one second." She scooted back up the aisle and patted Sophie's arm. "Gotta go. Police emergency."
     The board deserved the yoga mistress's spitfire temper, and her ire would distract them from this new issue long enough for Callie to escape and reach her son.
     Jeb's voice rose. "What do I do, Mom?"
     Knocking a chair in passing, Callie barged toward the door to the hallway, heart pounding. "I'm moving to where I can hear you. Are y'all alone?"
     Night insects chirped and called in the phone's background. "Yes, ma'am. We're the only ones out here."
     That he could see.
     As she passed the audience, some mumbled at her abrupt departure, but Jeb was the only person left in Callie's life who could keep her going. Humidity smacked her as she burst outside, praying the phone signal held. She barely heard Brice calling after her.
     The fire of dusk heightened the tension of the what-ifs playing in her head. It would soon be dark. She heard Jeb soothe Sprite again.
     "Okay," Callie said, reaching the parking lot streetlight. "Talk to me." She jogged toward her car, fobbed open the cruiser, her black shoes making divots in the sand and gravel lot.
     "We found him a half mile north of the public dock near the state park."
     She ran to her trunk, extracted a cap, flashlight, and windbreaker. The Zodiac rescue craft was ever ready for use, but she'd never called on it before. Firefighter Bobby Yeargin was the designated driver of the boat.
     The thought of her son with a dead man chilled her to her core. "Are you sure he's dead?" She cranked up the engine and left.
     "Trust me, there's no doubt about that."
     "Do you know him?"
     "Jesus, Mom, I'm not rolling him over to tell!" She heard him catch his breath. "And I thought that would be tampering with evidence."
     Adrenaline coursed through her like a rain-swollen river. Was this a drowning, a slip in a boat, a drunk who fell in - too inebriated to find his way out? Jeb probably had the same thoughts, but what he might not think of was murder. And he wouldn't wonder if the murderer watched in hiding.
     God, make this all an accident.
     "Okay, listen to me, son." She forced a calm, steady tone to override his fear...and hers. "Does the scene appear safe?"
     "What do you mean?"
     Without being there, Callie had no idea if the body was fresh, old, just dumped....Jeb and Sprite maybe having interrupted something at the hour of day when the grays of nightfall beckoned someone with equally dark plans. Jeb didn't need to touch the corpse to determine any of this, either. "Without upsetting Sprite, Son, scan the area. Look nearby first. Then do a three-sixty. See anyone?" She swallowed. "While you're doing that, I'm ordering the boat to come out there. Be right back."
     As she turned left on Lybrand, she placed the emergency call on the radio, which would alert the first responders for water rescue. Clipped words, directions, and an order to meet her at the dock.
     Then she returned to her son. "Jeb? See anyone?"
     "No, ma'am."
     She released half the breath she held. "Now, scour the distance, up and down the creek. Any boats? Anybody on the land watching? Any cars running? Look for lights."
     More seconds, with water sounds against the fiberglass kayak telling her he moved to follow her directions. A thump from his oar. "No, Mom. Nobody."
     Thank God. She tore past the Wyndham resort entrance and shot a small, desperate prayer up that the body wasn't a local, in spite of the fact a tourist could be worse.
     As she moved her cell to the other ear, her fingers gave a slight tremble she wished hadn't surfaced. She fumbled the phone, but recovered it. "Damn it," she whispered before she caught herself.
     "Mom, you okay?"
     "I'm fine," she said, almost angry at him for asking the routine question he'd asked for every day of the four months leading up to his departure for college - and in every weekly phone call since. Synonymous with Have you been drinking?
     Sure, she sometimes ended her days by smoothing the edges, but she hadn't today. You'd think he could tell the difference.
     "Okay," she said, her cruiser making a small slide into the marina parking lot. "Stay there. Stay alert, and keep this call open. I don't care who tries to call in, don't hang up. I won't be long."
     At the dock, she saw from a distance that someone already prepped the boat. Two divers, locals, readied another boat a few slips down. The emergency call also directed the coroner in Walterboro to send someone ASAP. By the book. Per the plan. Without fanfare or interruption of the council meeting in the administrative building she'd just left. It was April, spring break, and the last thing Edisto Beach needed was street talk about a death...or another of Brice's lectures, hammering her inability to keep Edisto safe. Again.
     A gust tossed her hair and made its way across the bay, the tide incoming. She donned her cap.
     "Chief? You ready?" hollered Yeargin.
     She waved her okay and headed toward the watercraft. Calm settled over her. "Jeb, we're about to head your way. You'll see our lights. I'm hanging up now. We'll lose signal over the water."
     She remained police chief of Edisto Beach because of her ability to manage trauma without spilling it onto everyone else. She'd been hired originally because she "walked the walk" due to her Boston detective experience and "talked the local talk" having been born and raised in these parts. But Officer Seabrook and Officer Francis's deaths last fall bit a huge chunk out of her self-assurance. She never wanted to pull a firearm again after she'd shot the killer that night, with relish and way more bullets than needed.
     But this wasn't about the cop in her. It was about the mother. She'd find a way to do whatever needed to be done. Jeb had no idea of the ramifications of finding a body.....particularly if he'd run across a body not meant to be found.


Want more? Click below to pre-order Edisto Stranger by C. Hope Clark!  

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Baby Makes Her Back Cover Talk (With Apologies to Dr. Hook)

What sells books? Covers? Yes. Big advertising budgets? Well, most likely you don't have access to that. What sells you a book in a bookstore or online when the cover has already caught your attention? That's right... The back cover blurb. 

What makes a back cover blurb effective?

Perry Constantine: You have to approach it as a sales pitch, not a description. Entice the reader just enough to want to find out more about the book.

Amy Leigh Strickland: What would entice you to pick up this book? You’ll want to make a list of the essential plot elements, the core bits of the conflict. I don’t want to hear every twist and turn. I’ll read the book for that. Those twists are only interesting in the context of the story when I’ve gotten to know the characters. I don’t want to know every subplot at this phase of the purchasing process... If you’re rambling on about multiple characters, telling me every twist and turn of your plot, you’re doing it wrong. If you’re giving me the entire history of your world, you’re doing it wrong. If I hear the phrase, “but it turns out, she’s the chosen one,” you’re definitely doing it wrong.

Looking for a few good... examples of back cover copy.
Bobby Nash: The back cover copy is important because it is the 2nd look a person has at the book to decide if he or she wants to pick it up. In a bookstore, a potential customer sees the cover, it grabs their attention. The reader picks it up, turns it over, and reads the back cover. If that grabs them, they might open it up and read a few lines. In on-line sales, the same is true, except that information is all on the screen.

L. Andrew Cooper: A back cover blurb is one of a book’s most important pitches -- the pitch to the audience who doesn’t know what they might be getting and needs help to decide. It has to have a hook, a sense of character and story (or subject and thesis, for nonfiction) in a short enough sound bite to grab attention and say, “This is the kind of book you like to read, but not so much like those books you’ve read that it’ll be too familiar!” It’s also got to say something about the author, something to make the reader think the author has what it takes to sustain interest for however hefty a time the weight of the book suggests. A snippet from a bio or a review to go along with the tempting sound bite… everything short, neat, packaged, glittering and beautiful. Good blurbs are hard work!

Bill Craig: The back cover blurb has to work in conjunction with the cover to grab the reader's interest and imagination.

Kristi Morgan: What makes a back cover blurb effective? Keywords that explain the genre and content effectively. Short, engaging. Not a long blocky paragraph with too much description. Just enough info to tell what the book is about, build some interest and intrigue but don't give away any spoilers.

For the changing, highly ebook-driven market, is back-cover copy as important as it used to be?

Kristi Morgan:  I think so. Most people use the back cover blurb as the Amazon listing description, so it's important.

L. Andrew Cooper: Blurbs are as important as ever, if not moreso, because the copy from the back of the book usually ends up being the copy that sells the book on Amazon and other sites, too, so it’s going to support the “product” across formats. For e-books, buyers might not be able to hold the book and do a flip test, but they can read whatever blurb information the authors and/or publishers have provided, so a lot of pressure falls on a small amount of text.

Bobby Nash: Absolutely. It may not be on the back cover in this scenario, but that information is still relevant and helpful to the reader so it becomes part of the description on the page.

Bill Craig: I would say the back cover copy or description is even more essential in the field of e-books because there are so many out there. That copy is an essential hook to grab a reader and get them to buy the book.

Perry Constantine: If by the text you put on the back cover of a paperback, then no, that's not important because most of us won't be in bookstores to begin with. But if you're talking about the description on your book page, then that is crucial. The first thing that will get someone to click on your book is the cover. If the cover gets them to click on it, the very next thing they'll look at is the description. It's the second most important tool in your marketing arsenal.

The back cover of The Ruby Files Vol. 1. 
What advice do you have for those writers asked to help create back cover copy or self-publishers looking to improve their blurbs?

Bobby Nash: Look at the type of books you like to read. Look at how those publishers handle back cover copy and blurbs. Use that as your starting base. Remember, tease the readers so they want to buy the book. Don't spoil your secrets or get bogged down in details on back cover copy. Just give it the pitch. Blurbs may or may not help. I don't have any real data there. If the reader trusts the opinion of the person giving the blurb, then it probably helps.

Kristi Morgan: It's not just the content that matters. The layout is important, too. I have seen some really great front covers with poorly designed back covers. Don't skimp on the back or the spine. Choose a color scheme and font that looks professional.

Perry Constantine: Approach it as a copywriter, not an author. Look at other successful books in your genre and see what they're doing with their descriptions. Compare them to yours to see what you're doing wrong. Libbie Hawker's Gotta Read It! is a great resource for writing effective descriptions.

Bill Craig: Lead with action! You want a hook to grab potential readers and make them want to read it!

Amy Leigh Strickland: If you’re at a loss for how to write a book description, get your butt to the DVD section at Target and walk around reading the backs of movie boxes. What catches your attention? What drives you away? What tense are they writing in? What tone? How long are the blurbs?

L. Andrew Cooper: A big mistake is confusing a blurb with a synopsis—you’re not summarizing the story, or even giving a rough overview of how the story gets going. Some story orientation might be part of a blurb, but a blurb might also be a snippet from a scene followed by very brief commentary about how the qualified author has opened up a new world of adventure/horror/romance/whatever. A blurb is not what the author wants to see shown off about what’s inside the book. It’s whatever you can say about the book that makes sense on its own and still grabs a reader to say, “Let’s go.” Also, publishers will (in this writer’s experience) often ask you to write potential blurb copy and then use it as one of several sources for the final blurb. Use the opportunity: find something genuinely fetching about your book, highlight it with your best prose, and turn in the best blurb you can. Your good work is likely to give you more control of what your marketing (your blurb and everything related to it) looks like.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Nugget #97 -- Evolving Language

Words and grammar change. And we as 
writers should welcome and understand that 
change. Or at least that's what I believe.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Gordon Dymowski -- Don't Kill HIS Darlings!

By day he's a mild-mannered blogger. By night he's a dashing and daring creator of high-octane adventure. He's Gordon Dymowski, the man whose last name I've misspelled in the labels section of the blog more than any other name. It's been a while since we've talked with him, so I figured it was time to give him the floor all to himself. 

What are the books that made you want to be a writer? What are the reasons they "got" you like they did?

When I was in grammar school, I read everything that was available – old Tom Swift and Hardy Boys books, but the series that led me to want to write was the Three Investigators – they were my age! They lived in a trailer in a junkyard! And of course, I could create my own adventures…

…but my real writing impetus came in college, when my reading diet consisted of Raymond Chandler, Robert B. Parker, Jim Thompson, Harlan Ellison, and Mickey Spillane. They all had the kind of prose that looked easy to write…until I actually tried to write in that style. But I think all of these writers have great, straightforward prose with little pretensions – they tell a story, and they don’t wear their major themes on their sleeves.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

One of my biggest weaknesses as a writer is staying committed to the story – personal issues can often be distracting, and I often want to write tons of purple prose….and then, I have to edit.

I’m not a big fan of authors who advise younger writers to “Kill your darlings” because many of those same authors don’t follow their own advice. (I’m looking at you, Stephen King). For me, I’ve learned to counter that weakness with an attitude that I’m removing stuff that doesn’t make the story work. If I kill all my darlings, I would never get anything written, but if I eliminate the more self-indulgent prose, I find that my writing is that much tighter, more evocative, and more pleasing to read.

How do your writer friends help you become a better writer? Or do they not?

Some of my writer friends help simply by encouraging me to move forward, as well as by putting out some great stuff. Others act as sounding boards…sometimes; I need advice on writing characters of color, or insight into certain aspects of life that I have never experienced myself. Even when I think I’m doing it right, I need a double-check, and I’m glad I have many friends who keep me honest in my writing.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Setting aside time to concentrate and write…it’s sometimes easier when I’m doing other writing and freelance work. However, I’ll often need to concentrate on a professional deadline and really have to focus in order to free up writing time. Of course, the other difficult part – having the ideas flowing in my head and being too tired to type or write them out.

What does literary success look like to you?

Simple – my books and stories sell, and people enjoy them. Making a living from my writing would be nice; however, I think mixing my pulp writing with freelance and other work assignments would be a good mix, allowing me to live comfortably without having to compromise one for the other.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

My most recent story was “Cowboy of the Dakotas” for Pro Se Productions’ Pulpternative, a series of pulp-tinged alternate history tales.

In 1885, after his mother and wife die on the same day, Theodore Roosevelt went west, settled in a ranch outside of Medora, ND, and became a cowboy, returning to New York (and politics) three years later. My story asks the question, “What if Theodore Roosevelt decided not to return to New York?” There’s also another historical figure in the story, but he’s also in a different mode. (I won’t spoil, but let’s just say that he had a history before the event that we best know him for. And yes, it’s a him). It’s a really cool tale that I think is my best story… yet.

(I’m always working towards writing my best story…and you can read my other efforts in Pro Se’s Moose & Skwirl and Tall Pulp, Airship 27 Productions’ Black Bat Mystery Volume 3 and Legends of New Pulp, and Space Buggy Press’ Dreamers Syndrome: New World Navigation)

Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book or story?

I haven’t really started any series of books (although I’m in contention with…but that would be telling). However, most of my stories are more about building a central world that others can play in….I may create the occasional Easter egg, but otherwise, I believe they should stand alone.

However, I’m working on creating my own characters and universes….in that instance; I may opt to create shared universes. Part of my reluctance is that I’ve always been a fan of done-in-one stories. However, having growing subplots throughout a series of books – much like The Destroyer series in the 1990s – is something I would love to try at some point. But for now, I’m more than happy to craft one-shots and single stories.

Any other projects you would like to plug?

I’m really looking forward to my recent work for Last Ember Press, The Crimson Badge, being released as a web comic. Ray Hutchinson is crushing it in the artwork, and it’s….well, the best way to describe the story is “Sunset Boulevard meets Leverage.” Or “Raffles works for MGM in the 1930s.” You’ll just have to read it yourself – check out http://www.lastemberpress.com (and be sure to support them on Patreon – they’re putting out some really cool stuff).

Keep an eye out for my story “In the Frame” in Pro Se Productions’ Hollywood Mystery, two stories for Airship 27 Productions (including a Masked Rider novelette).

If you’re interested in learning more about me (including other publications), check out my website:
http://www.gordondymowski.com or my Amazon.com page at http://bit.ly/GDymAuthor.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Dark Regions Press Announces Lovecraftian Noir Tribute to C.J. Henderson!

We are very happy to announce our new C. J. Henderson tribute anthology: Arkham Detective Agency! Edited by Brian M. Sammons, this anthology features all-original noir weird fiction stories by Joseph S. Pulver, Sr., Sam Gafford, David Dunwoody, Don Webb and many more with multiple reprint stories by the late great C. J. Henderson.

This volume will be available for preorder in both ebook and paperback in our upcoming May 2nd 2017 Cthulhu Mythos Books Campaign!

Read more: https://darkregions.com/blogs/news/may-2nd-cthulhu-mythos-books-campaign-up-to-six-new-titles-from-dark-regions-press

Saturday, May 6, 2017


Brother Bones FCBD issue. 8 black and white pages retelling the 
origin of the Undead Avenger. Interior art by Flavio Silva with a 
new Rob Davis cover. 

Free download at www.luckycomics.com
Saturday, May 6th!

Friday, May 5, 2017

[Link] 50 New Pulp Books To Get You Started

by Derrick Ferguson

I get asked a lot of questions due to my affiliation with New Pulp and I'd have to say that the #2 question I get asked about it is: “Where do I get started? What should I read first just to see what it's all about? What writers should I be reading?”

I can understand the confusion. More than you know. There is a whole lot of New Pulp out there. Some of it is excellent. Some of it is downright astonishing. Some of it is good, some of it okay and a seriously depressing amount of it just plain flat out no good at all. And those of us who write/read and/or review New Pulp feel the crush of recommending books and writers to those of you unfamiliar with the genre but are desperately eager to know more.

That's why back in June of 2014 I put together a list of “25 New Pulp Books To Get You Started.” The purpose and intention of the list was simply to give New Pulp virgins a place to start getting their brains wet and see if they liked these waters.

Since then, a lot more New Pulp books have been written and I saw the need to add more books to the list and so I did, continuing to add to the list each succeeding year, with assistance from my Advisory Board consisting of Lucas Garrett, Barry Reese and Andrew Salmon.

Read the full article: http://dlferguson-bloodandink.blogspot.com/2017/04/50-new-pulp-books-to-get-you-started.html

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Nugget #96 -- Tell It Again, Sam... er, Sean

I'll tell him about the rigors of bettering the craft 
and self-editing. I'll tell her about the constant 
need for building a better and more connected 
network of writers, artists, and publishers. I'll tell 
him about the traps that accompany neglecting 
submission guidelines. I'll tell her about the joy 
of seeing your first byline in, well, anything 
from a local newspaper to a book of short 
stories. And I'll tell every asker that I wish 
I could go back and recapture that 
moment of asking for myself.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Happy birthday to me!

In honor of me living to the ripe old age of 49  as of today, I'm taking
the day off. See you tomorrow... same blog time, same blog station. 

Saturday, April 29, 2017


by Len Levinson

I live in a small town (population 3000) way out here on the great American prairie.  Therefore I have little contact with the wider world of publishing although I’ve written 83 published novels to date.

Last Sunday (4/23) I attended the Windy City Pulp and Paper Convention in a Chicago suburb called Lombard, and became aware of the future of fiction publishing.  Many of you probably have come to this awareness already, but it was a major revelation for me.

I realized that there is a huge, growing indie publishing movement fully underway, and has come into being because traditional publishing has narrowly focused on conventional “safe” fiction, and tends to reject anything new, weird, crazy or bizarre.

This policy has left a huge vacuum now being filled by the new indie press which operates under a different business model.  They don’t have offices in Rockefeller Center in NYC like Simon and Shuster.  They operate out of home offices, barns or other low-cost spaces.  Everything is handled over the internet.  And they don’t pay advances.  Authors receive royalties only, as in the early days of publishing.  And they produce GREAT eye-catching covers that are works of art on their own.

During the convention I spoke with Ron Fortier, publisher and editor-in-chief of one of the larger indie publishers, Airship 27.  He said that famous authors sometimes call him about books of theirs that were rejected by their usual publishers, because those books were considered too far out.  But nothing is too far out for today’s indie publishers who market, among other items, novels about vampire cowboys, lesbian werewolves from Mars, hard boiled crime fiction, other action-adventure novels including traditional Westerns, and all kinds of sci-fi, fantasy and sword and sandal fiction.  They also publish new novels about characters in the public domain such as Sherlock Holmes.  It’s called “the New Pulp Movement."

I also spoke with Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, which also is a major indie publisher marketing hundreds of titles.  He told me that the big five publishers are buying up some indie publishers, because they can see where the business is going.  But Tommy isn’t interested in selling out.  His main interest is exciting new fiction.

Evidently there’s a whole new publishing world out there of which I was unaware, although some of my old books have been republished by indie publishers such as Piccadilly, Destroyer and Blackstone.  But I never realized how important this New Pulp Movement is becoming.  It is wildly creative, fully energized and intensely ambitious, the new kid on the block fighting for a bigger slice of the pie.  The welcome result is more choices for readers, and hopefully more income for writers.

Friday, April 28, 2017


Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to announce the release of “Sherlock Holmes – Consulting Detective Vol 9.”

Once again, hidden on the fog shrouded streets of London are heinous criminals set upon their nefarious schemes. All that stands in their way are two men, stalwart and unafraid to take on villainy in all its insidious disguises; Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

“Every single time we put out a new volume, our Sherlock Holmes fans are delighted,” says Airship 27 Production’s Managing Editor, Ron Fortier.  “Honestly, they devour each one and then within weeks of a new release, I’m getting mail asking when the next one is coming out. The popularity of these characters appears to be as strong as ever to readers around the world.”

In this, the ninth entry in this bestselling series, the crime solving companions tackle five brand new mysteries that are totally unique from any of their previous adventures. Among these; an entire crew of a shoreline light house vanishes during a raging storm, one of Watson’s old army colleagues is accused of murder and a former Baker Street Irregular seeks out their aid on behalf of his crippled father. These three cases and two others are brilliantly delivered by writers I.A. Watson, Fred Adams Jr., Erik Franklin and Aaron Smith. Proving once again there is only one Sherlock Holmes, Consulting Detective.

Airship 27 Productions’ Art Director, Rob Davis provides the black and white interior illustrations as he has done with all previous volumes and Adam Shaw delivers a truly striking cover.  Sure to be another winner from the leading publisher in New Pulp fiction.


Available now from Amazon in paperback and soon on Kindle.

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Why Diversity? It's Just Fiction. What's the Big Deal?

by Sean Taylor

Quick! What’s the biggest buzzword in modern fiction? Everyone together on the count of three… 1,2, 3…DIVERSITY!

“Way to go, Sean,” you’re probably thinking. “Way to piss off most of the people who might ever be likely to read your blog.” (And to be honest, you might be right.)

But if you’ll bear with me a moment, I want to guide us all to think about diversity as something deeper than a mere buzzword, something that gets beyond social politics and political correctness, and something that relates more to creating great fiction rather than trying to change the world.


What if Che Guevara had
written The Grapes of Wrath?
Writers are revolutionaries. It’s true. There’s no way to get around that. But first and foremost (pardon the cliche) writers are writers.

By that, I mean that writers are committed above all else to the story. But when writers surrender stories to the express purpose of changing the world through social and cultural order, they become propagandists and they pollute the very nature of telling stories.

Most every great piece of fiction that has helped to create change in the world has been an aftereffect of the story the writer wanted to tell. It began with story, not with revolution.

 Bear in mind, I’m referring only to fiction for this article. Non-fiction lives by different rules in this regard.

My take on this is simple: If you want to change the world as a writer, write great stories that change people. If you want to change the world through activism, go build someone a house, march in a parade, or work a crisis hotline. If you want to do both, do both, but don’t confuse storytelling with activism.

“But what about the history of stories, you know fables and fairy tales that taught morals? And what about books like the Narnia stories or The Fountainhead that were basically just thinly veiled religious or political primers?” you ask.

And you’re right. Fables and fairy tales were told primarily to encourage safe and “better” behaviour in children. But I’d argue that C.S. Lewis and Ayn Rand were wanting to tell stories to entertain and intrigue readers first and foremost and didn’t really give a damn about whether they picked up the religious or political symbolism or not as they read it (that could be something they learned later if the entertaining story stuck with them well enough and caused them to ponder).

But let’s go back in history a little earlier than that. Let’s look at myths and legends. They tried to explain the world, to put people in a place that made some kind of sense. They tried to uncover some truth about the human condition.

That’s my calling as a writer and my understanding of the craft. And I’m willing to bet I’m not the only one. I want to put stories in a context to understand the world and its people, even if I do it under the goal of entertaining readers. If I somehow contribute to changing the world or its people in the process, that’s just icing on the cake. The cake is the body of work, the stories themselves. Did they entertain? Were they worth sharing in the first place?

All that said, don’t mistake writing less diversely for the sake of story with the idea of setting out intentionally to offend by ignoring diversity. Just as the heads side doesn’t add up for me, neither does the tails side. If you choose not to be as diverse, it should be from a commitment to craft, not from being an obstinate jackass to further your own viewpoint, which is (you could call it) a sort of reverse propaganda by way of intentional absence.


Perhaps I should have given this section the subheading “What Not To Do” instead.

Sadly, the first place beginning writers (even more sadly, some experienced writers) turn when trying to make their work more diverse and accessible is to the paint-by-numbers approach. It’s a method seen most obviously in the cartoon Captain Planet and in Power Rangers.

Pink is for girls. Yellow is for Asians?!
And black is for... Wait... really?!
It works like this: “Okay, we need our main white guy. Right. He’s there. Sure. But we need to make sure there’s a black guy too or people will think we're racists. Oh, and we need a girl. Or how about two? Let’s make one white, and for the other let’s go Latina or Asian, since we already have African-American checked off. No, no, it doesn’t matter if it makes sense for the story or not. We can work around that. We just have to check all the boxes or we’ll never sell this book.”

Obviously, that description is a bit over the top, but the mindset is pretty spot-on. I can’t tell you how many writers I’ve talked with at conventions who see this as the most efficient approach to create multicultural casts in their works. Even those who'd never admit it to anyone can't still be found out by the way it shows up in their work. It's the kind of lowest-common-denominator "diversity" that turns people off from writing better diverse casts in the first place.

The problems this approach creates are fairly obvious, but in the interest of complete transparency, I’ll outline them here.

  1. It kills otherwise good stories with characters that don’t belong. If you need to tell a story about a solo adventurer or a pair of thieves, forcing a larger starring cast for the sake of diversity only weakens your story. Better to save that for your background cast and your "world-building" cast of extras. 
  2. It kills characterization. That’s how you get characters who seems as flat as the pages on which they’re written, at best -- or are offensive as stereotypes and caricatures at worst.  
  3. It’s demeaning to your readers. You’re telling them as a writer that they did this to you, that it’s their fault you have to write like this. You’re also telling them they’re too dumb to enjoy your work if it didn’t include all the right plug-n-play pieces. 
  4. It builds a story from the wrong foundation. If you’re a long-time reader of the blog, you’ll know that I believe strongly that story is that magical baby that happens when a plot and great characterization meet and start a family. (And if you’re a new reader, well, now you know too.) By forcing characters to fit an arbitrary model of inclusion, you end up shoehorning them into your plot. And any writer worth his or her inkjet cartridges will tell you that’s only a prescription for trouble further along the creative process. 

So, if that’s “bad diversity,” then what is “good diversity”?

  1. Good diversity is a natural outgrowth from story and character. It is part and parcel (as the saying goes) of the storying process. 
  2. Good diversity begins when you start to create a story. It is there with you at the inception, and it stays with you throughout the telling of your tale. 
  3. Good diversity relates to your setting. Does a multicultural group make sense in terms of when your story happens in history and/or where in the world it happens? If not, what is the plausible (in terms of the rules of your story, as this can change based on genre) reason to have an unconventional character or cast of characters inhabit your story?
  4. Good diversity enters a story because it’s part of what the story needs. Put simply, it “works” because it a necessary turn of events or addition without which the story couldn’t take place successfully. 
  5. Good diversity comes from the hard work of plotting. It’s something that a lot of thought and effort is put into. It is never an add-on. It is never a list of check marks you can review after the fact or fix in “easy edits.”
  6. Good diversity makes sense in the context of your fiction. Good diversity will never rip your readers out of a story. It helps to create the immersion experience for a reader, rather than to create a greater suspension of disbelief to be accepted no matter how out of place.

Because this is apparently what
it means to grow up white.

Believe it or not, I still hear this often, and yes, mostly from old white guys in my age range. But for any writer with the drive to remain relevant and continue to tell stories about the world as it is, was, and will be, I find it to be a huge cop-out.

In my experience this excuse comes from either writers too lazy to learn different habits to improve their storytelling or from writers who, to quote the speaker from one of the conversations with a old guy in my age range, “don’t give a damn about that multicultural shit.”

Either way, for any practicing and publishing author, it’s an empty excuse in this day and age.

The good news is that you don’t have to be White, Black, Latino, Asian, Male, Female, Gay, Straight, Trans, etc. to write a greater diversity of characters. You can be an anything and still write an anybody. Why? Because you’re a writer. It’s the nature of what you do. Period.

The axiom of “write what you know” still applies. Do you have friends? Are they all one gender? One race? Bleed them onto your pages. Use them as reference material. Use them for research material. Ask questions. Pay attention. Understand them.

While the Internet isn’t a perfect research tool, it does contain thousands upon thousands of resources for understanding history and cultures other than your own. Need to learn about slang or jargon? (Just be careful with that. Can I get a “Sweet Christmas”? Anybody?) Need to know what race relations are like in the country of Rwanda of even the state of Rhode Island? What about videos of places and people you’ve never been? It’s all there.


This is the crucial point of this article for me as a pulp writer. Historically, the world of the pulps is a very whitewashed world, much like the movies and radio drama of the time. It’s not that people of color didn’t exist to inhabit stories of The Shadow, Secret Agent X, or Philip Marlowe. It’s that they didn’t have the social power to prove they mattered to the narrative.

And that’s something that I can do differently with my stories today, but not because I want to be a social justice warrior (not that there’s anything wrong with that, thank you, George and Jerry) but because I think the stories can be a lot more compelling when they include the whole of the truth of history instead of only the white parts.

That is is why when Bobby Nash I and created Rick Ruby (of The Ruby Files series) for Airship 27 Productions, it was important to us that the world he inhabited included blacks, whites, Chinese, etc. Rick’s world is primarily a black world, and that helps to define why he is who he is. A more realistic portrayal of the racial issues of the 1930s made the stories that much more interesting to me both as a reader and as a writer. They give the tales more weight, more gravitas, and they provide a far more interesting backdrop than just a bunch of white good guys and white bad guys.

But it had to be believable. Having a black-white buddy cop drama just wouldn’t have worked -- not without a damn good reason for readers to buy it other than just “because I wrote it that way.” But Rick being a white man who found refuge in a black world did work, because it was part of his character, and not just part but the core of his DNA as a more authentic person, albeit a person of fiction. And it was something that I as a writer could relate to. After all, I grew up with a caregiver named Sarah, a black woman who helped to shape me as a child and still ultimately as a man long after she had passed on.

It’s too easy to assume that the world was whiter back then just because that’s what the bulk of our media of the time shows us. But the world then had just as much color on its palette. It had just as much variation of rhythm to its music. We can enjoy the stories the media of the time tells us, but we can’t let ourselves believe those stories are the “real” truth of the world at that time.

Are you writing a 1790s historical romance? Are you writing a WWII battle epic? Are you writing a Roman tragedy? The world was diverse, even then. If you don’t know to what degree, then do your job as a researching writer and find out. Then tell the truth of your story in all its fullness. Build your world on a more honest model.

Like with so many issues we writers face, it comes down to research. If you don’t know the truth of the time period you plan to write, then look it up. Find out the hues of that world. Then paint with all those shades.


Why diversity? Does it matter?

Yes. Clearly it matters, or else I wouldn’t have just devoted 2000+ words to it. Nor would so many other writers give their opinions and advice on the matter. (See the links at the bottom of this article.)

Not only is it an important issue for the world of fiction to consider, it’s also important that we get it right.

And that means thinking about diversity like writers, not politicians... like authors, not activists... like storytellers, not philosophers. There’s a place for all that, sure, and if it’s something we’re passionate about, believe me, it’ll come through in your work. You don’t have to force it and turn your stories into causes.

Yep. I said that, and I meant it. 
It’s also important for you even if it’s not something you’re passionate about. Why? Because it’s only going to make your work that much better, that much more “real” (not in the non-fiction sense, but in the deeper reality that is the human experience).

Reality is diverse. That’s a narrative truth we must understand in order to create the best stories we can. And no matter how out-there or weird or horrific or super-hero-ish or sci-fi or fantastic or vampire-y our stories can become, they still owe allegiance to the things that are intrinsically true.

It’s just fiction. Sure. But even “just fiction” is always more than mere fiction.

We write to put stories in a contextual narrative to understand the world and its people, but we do it under the goal of entertaining readers. We create the illusion of reality into order to help readers escape to a safe place that feels enough like home in all the true things that ultimately matter.

But we only do that by becoming better tellers of our own special lies called stories, and we only do that by somehow basing them on a foundation of truth about the world and its people.


NOTE: Clearly, this is a passionately debated and crucially important subject for writers. Obviously, I’m neither the first nor last to tackle it. These are just a few of the links I’ve found helpful or interesting while researching for this article.