Sunday, April 23, 2017

Airship 27 presents MORE NEW MYSTERY MEN (& Women) Volume IV

Airship 27 Productions thrilled to announce the release of our latest volume of Mystery Men (& Women) Volume # 4.  As in previous editions, the volume offers up another quartet of new, original pulp heroes by today’s finest pulp writers.

Ron Fortier, Managing Editor of Airship 27 Productions reminds fans of the series’ beginnings. “After a few years of publishing new adventures of the classic pulp heroes from the 30s and 40s, many of our writers started asking if they could offer up tales of their own, new creations. We thought it was a great idea and a natural evolution of what we were doing.”

In this new volume, you’ll find “A Waltz in Scarlet.” From the pages of the Shadow Legion, comes the Ferryman; a blind man who sees through the eyes of ghosts. Created by Thomas Deja. “Cult of the Stranger.” The popular Eel and Adder, aided by another mystery man ally, must take on a gang of modern Thuggees lose in the city. Created by Joel Jenkins. “The Cult of Kali Kill,” is another rousing adventure starring Chicago’s most unique avenger, the bumbling hero the Bagman as invented by B.C. Bell. And rounding out the book is “The Grey Mantis Strike,” wherein a masked martial artist races the clock to save a group of kidnapped children. Created by C. William Russette.

“We couldn’t be any happier with this volume’s action packed stories,” says Fortier. “Then add interiors by Rob Davis and a beautiful evocative cover of the Ferryman by Zacharay Brunner, and we think Mystery Men (& Women) Vol 4 is sure to delight our loyal readers.”

Four thrill-a-minute tales of suspense, mystery and action that keep the true spirit of the classic pulps alive!!

AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS – PULP FICTION FOR A NEW GENERATION!

Available now in paperback from Amazon and soon on Kindle.

(https://www.amazon.com/dp/194618313X/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1492002166&sr=1-4&keywords=mystery+men+%26+women+airship+27)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Apex Magazine’s New Reprints Editor

Apex Publications
Contact: Lesley Conner, Managing Editor
lesley@apex-magazine.com

Apex Publications is proud to announce that author/editor Maurice Broaddus has taken on the role of reprints editor for Apex Magazine. Apex Magazine publishes one reprint in each issue. Maurice will be responsible for finding those reprints beginning with issue 98, July 2017.

Maurice Broaddus and Apex Publications have a long history together going back 10 years. He has been published in several of our anthologies, including most recently in Upside Down: Inverted Tropes in Storytelling edited by Monica Vallentinelli and Jaym Gates. He has also had several books published through Apex, including Orgy of Souls (co-written by Wrath James White), I Can Transform You, and the anthologies Dark Faith and Dark Faith: Invocations which he co-edited with Jerry Gordon. Most recently, Maurice Broaddus guest edited an issue of Apex Magazine—issue 95 (http://www.apex-magazine.com/issue-95-april-2017/), which included original fiction by Walter Mosley, Chesya Burke, Sheree Renee Thomas, and Kendra Fortmeyer, poetry by Linda D. Addison and LH Moore, and nonfiction by Tanya C. DePass.

We are extremely excited to see what reprints he will bring to the magazine each and every month, and to have Maurice be part of the Apex Magazine team.

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

Friday, April 21, 2017

Redbuck Studios nounces Simon Pryce!

Veteran comics writer Ron Fortier and newcomer Bill Gladman, have created an old fashion hero straight out of the paperbacks of the 60’s and 70’s and deliver up three stand alone mysteries wonderfully illustrated by Brian Latimer, Rob Davis and Barry McCalin Jr.  Welcome to Motor City and its newest hero, Simon Pryce, Private Eye.

Note, Amazon misspelled the character’s name in their listing. You can find the book at this link. 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Visceral, Visceral, Visceral (to the tune of Marcia, Marcia, Marcia)

by Sean Taylor

On their way to New Orleans...
More than once or twice, and if you’re a long-time reader of this blog you’ll have noticed, I’ve talked about what I consider one of the most important parts of writing strong genre fiction, particularly when that genre fiction ventures into adventure fiction.

What do I mean by that? Well, genre fiction has a sliding scale of tone, just like all other fiction. There’s a world of difference between the literary tone of much of Bradbury and Vonneguts’s sci-fi and the political satire of Heinlein and the straight out action of Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey or Deathworld by Harry Harrison. If you’re looking to make your mark on literary fiction with your genre work, you might at first feel this may not exactly be the article for you, but...

I would argue that the principles here don’t hurt any tone, from literary to pulp and all points in between (thank you, ZZ Top). In fact, the skills you learn in writing visceral descriptions only make your better at your writing game -- whatever court you choose to play on.

Still with me? Good.

Let’s all settle in on our starting point. What is visceral writing?

Visceral:
1.  felt in or as if in the internal organs of the body :  deep a visceral conviction
2.  not intellectual :  instinctive, unreasoning visceral drives
3.  dealing with crude or elemental emotions :  earthy a visceral novel
4.  of, relating to, or located on or among the viscera :  splanchnic visceral organs
From: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/visceral

To keep it simple for the sake of this tutorial, visceral writing means to me writing that seeks to bypass the brain and aim straight for the emotions and a tight feeling in your gut. That means that visceral writing triggers responses a reader can’t help but feel automatically, sort of the storytelling equivalent of a doctor tapping your knee with that annoying rubber mallet.

Why Visceral?

As an English major, I’m usually the last person to tell you to go for a lowest common denominator engagement. I hate seeing concepts reduced to bumper sticker slogans, and I particularly detest strawman arguments in politics and culture. But, when it comes to grabbing a reader’s attention, I have to change my stance.

Visceral writing, while I wouldn’t call it lowest common denominator thinking, does however go straight to the feelings and reactions most human beings have in common. It goes for the sensation of queasiness from pain, the warm glow of a lover’s touch, the hunger in the stomach for one of grandma’s fried apple crumbles. When done well, it’s the closest a book (which is, at best, let’s just agree here, a series of words and has not real impact outside the imagination) can come to creating a physical sensation in the reader -- a knot in the stomach, a quickening of the blood to the nethers, perhaps even salivation.

No seeing dead people here... Only five senses...
Well-crafted visceral storytelling can reach every kind of reader, from the Oprah book club zombie to the Doc Savage collector. After all, even literary readers enjoy a little gut clench with their cerebral exercise.

Why Does It Work?


It’s not just a writer’s hocus pocus. It’s science. You see, our brains are hardwired by years of history, and we are automatically triggered by certain stimuli to react with an appropriate sensation.

As writers, if we want to be effective (and better yet, profitable, popular, able to remove the stigma of our chosen vocation from our parents who still don’t get it), we need to bring some science to our writing desk.

Though we humans have large, sophisticated brains, and like to see ourselves as thinking, feeling creatures, deep inside the basement of our minds there still lurks the brain of a reptile that continues to behave not by logic or emotion, but gut instinct. When triggered, this visceral brain still has the primal power to override all higher rationality. This is why otherwise calm and intelligent persons can panic when in danger or be driven to violence if strongly provoked. The visceral grips the mind in an excited, irrational state – a sensation not unlike what we feel when held in the grip of a great movie. Though our rationality should tell us the film is fake, our hearts still pound, our blood pressure rises, and we cannot tear our eyes from the screen. A great film makes us slaves to our reptilian minds. 
Great storytellers manage to exploit the power of the visceral by presenting situations that trigger the primal instincts that remain hardwired into our brains. But what are these instincts? If one observes animal behavior, it becomes clear that life revolves around one thing: survival. Nature is harsh, and death is always around the corner. This forces creatures to be forever preoccupied with either the search for food, successfully mating before one dies, or running for one’s life. To put things simply, the survival of the fittest has honed animal instincts down to either LUST or FEAR. “Lust” here does not necessarily have a sexual connotation. Though the urge to procreate is among these instincts, lust can be defined as any undeniable urge to fulfill a physical or deep-seeded behavioral need. We have all heard of a “lust for food,” a “lust for power,” and even a “lust for life.” All are expressions of irrational impulses to fulfill a deep, primal, often unexplainable craving. “Fear,” as used here, hardly needs definition. It is the compulsion to avoid personal harm.  
(From: https://creativescreenwriting.com/gut-reaction-visceral-storytelling-part-i/)

In other words, we still startle when an unknown someone taps our shoulders from behind because somewhere in our brain, we know that could be a man-eating beast ready to pounce. We still react sexually to a person we find appealing because we somewhere in our brain, we remember the importance of carrying on our tribal group.

See? Science. Like I said.

Cool, But How?

Story narrative is based in what characters see and hear. There’s almost no way around that. Those are the foundations on which you build the frame. And that’s okay. But remember, nobody lives on just the concrete slab. You actually have to put up walls.

(For a cool drinking game as you read this, take a swig every time I switch over to a new metaphor. You’ll be reading the final paragraph from a ditch somewhere with a missing liver.)

a) Get in touch with your feelings.

What makes you cringe? Not just the image of it, but the very thought of it.

What sounds make your eyes squint and get that tiny sliver of headache along the edges of your brow?

What smell makes you both afraid and compelled to turn to see what’s behind you?

What kind of touch makes your skin crawl or gives you excited gooseflesh?

What taste turns your stomach? What taste creates a hungry nostalgia?

Okay, but I can still write about shooting things, right?
b) Now go deeper.

Think about your “metaphysical” senses. While visceral writing is designed by nature to affect the physical body, don’t forget that the brain is still a part of that body.

What ideas create longing for you? (Remember, not just the idea of longing as an intellectual exercise, but the actual sensations of longing within you.)

What type of sensual experience makes you feel at peace?

What does “home” feel like to you?

What comes to your mind when you feel lost, even in a place you know well?

These are all feelings just as valid as a gut punch or a tasty pie. Each of them creates a physical connect somewhere between your brain and some nerve ending inside you.

c) Don’t confuse visceral stimuli with visceral reactions. 

What do I mean by that? Well, creating an emotionally empty list of ways your protagonist responded to something, regardless of how “visceral” he or she did so, isn’t the same thing as triggering that same response in your readers.

Make no mistake -- while using the idea of gut reactions to help you character react more authentically is a fantastic way to improve your characterizations, it isn’t visceral writing. It’s only better character writing.

The goal of this article is to help you create those sensations in readers, and keep their eyes glued to your story, not to make your characters more realistic (although that can be a wonderful added-on value as you master the techniques).

d) Visceral doesn’t mean gross. 

Sure, the feeling of needing to vomit is a visceral reaction, but just as the saying goes, “All poodles are dogs, but not all dogs are poodles,” visceral writing isn’t limited to the realm of the painful or the gross.

This belief tends to lead to one of two errors in thinking:


  1. I don’t write crime stories or horror stories, so visceral writing doesn’t concern me.
  2. I only need to think about this when I’m writing some kind of fight or heavy action sequence.


Wrong. And wrong. As you’ll see below, even literary fiction benefits from connecting with raw emotional response. Not only that, but one of the least bloody genres out there, romance novels, has been a bastion for years for writing that gets a physical response.

It’s not just for headless corpses and fist fights.

e) General Pointers to Improve Your Gut Punches (and your work period)

Use concrete, to-the-point word choices. Don’t slow down your readers with concepts. Let your nouns be the most accurate noun possible and your verbs be the most accurate verb possible.  For a useful list of strong verbs that convey both action and emotion, click here: https://julieglover.com/2013/07/17/visceral-verbs-for-writing/

Have a K! And a P! And another K! And here's a D!
It’s a common thread here on this blog, but I’ll add it here too. Listen to the sound of your words. Punches sound better with hard, stopping sounds like k, p, d, etc. Running moves faster with the sounds of soft letters like s, z, m, and n.

Watch your pacing. Let a fight have a dance and flow. Let a moment of passion vary from slow to fast. Let the scent of baked macaroni and cheese linger in the reader’s nose then chop off into short wisps of scent with sentence fragments. Let form meet function.

Putting It All Together

Here are a few examples to help demonstrate how it all works inside the framework of your story (or, inside the framework of other people’s stories, since I probably haven’t seen your story yet).

From Raymond Chandler, THE BIG SLEEP:

The main hallway of the Sternwood Place was two stories high. Over the entrance doors, which would have let in a troop of Indian elephants, there was a broad stained-glass panel showing a knight in dark armor rescuing a lady who was tied to a tree and didn't have any clothes on but some very long and convenient hair. 
The knight had pushed the vizor of his helmet back to be sociable, and he was fiddling on the ropes that tied the lady to the tree and not getting anywhere. I stood there and thought that if I lived in the house, I would sooner or later have to climb up there and help him.

Why is it effective?

Chandler could have left the description of Sternwood Place to just the eyes, but he was better than that. The detail of the knight and the naked women not only set up his worldview, but also appeal to lustful affectations of a male reader of the time, but not just lust, no, lust with a side of chivalry, that good feeling in the heart to accompany the happy feeling in the groin. And… for the really astute readers, even the name of the place creates a sound of disgust in the the throat. It has no flow. All stops.

From Ray Bradbury, “The Veldt”:

And he  marched  about  the house turning  off the  voice  clocks,  the stoves,  the heaters, the shoe  shiners, the shoe lacers, the body scrubbers and  swabbers and massagers, and  every other machine be could put  his hand to. 
The house was full of dead bodies, it seemed. It felt like a mechanical cemetery. So silent. None of the  humming hidden energy  of machines waiting to function at the tap of a button.

Why is it effective?

Ray counters the clean efficiently of clocks and stoves with the introduction of “dead bodies.” The words carry a smell and a sight, but not only that. It also has an emotional context, particularly when combined with the silent “mechanical cemetery.” And listen to the “hidden, humming energy of machines,” which ironically contains the very hum the reader has just been told he or she can’t hear, creating conflicting feelings.

From Toni Morrison, THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD:

The men noticed her firm buttocks like she had grape fruits in her hip pockets; the great rope of black hair swinging to her waist and unraveling in the wind like a plume; then her pugnacious breasts trying to bore holes in her shirt. They, the men, were saving with the mind what they lost with the eye. The women took the faded shirt and muddy overalls and laid them away for remembrance. It was a weapon against her strength and if it turned out of no significance, still it was a hope that she might fall to their level some day.

Why is it effective?

Because it doesn’t even matter for the work pugnacious means. We’re already worked up by grape fruits and a rope of black hair. To top even that, Morrison gives us the tinge of sadness by noticing the fleetingness of such a heavenly view, “saving with the mind what they lost with the eye.”

No blatant advertising here. Nope. This
actually relates to that paragraph right there.
And, because this is my blog, after all, here’s one from my own work. This one’s from the story “Lucky Strikes” in my collection SHOW ME A HERO:

The Senator’s death was a textbook shooting. Muldaine had taken one slug in the temple and died instantly. His body slumped in the leather desk chair, and his head lay back, eyes still open, staring in vain at the office’s high ceiling. 
The intern wasn’t so lucky. His body lay in the doorway, arms and legs spread out like a stomped spider. He had taken eight rounds, three in his chest, one in his right kneecap, two in his face, and the remaining two in his right arm. The bullets that had disfigured his face had done most of the damage. One had taken his left eye and left a bleeding, empty socket in its place. The other had shattered his jaw, exposing the muscle and bone of his cheek. The three chest shots were clean—though none of them had pierced his heart. The shot to the knee had made walking away impossible. With any luck, he had passed out before he died. But judging by the pained grimace on his face, that hadn’t been the case. 
And there was the matter of the word “Atlanta” he had scrawled in his own blood on the hardwood floor.

Why is it effective?

Which body do you immediately care more about? The Senator? No. The intern. He doesn’t even have a name, making the death that much more “forgettable,” but the words won’t let the reader forget someone seemingly unimportant. The language of “stomped spider” and “exposing the muscle and bone of his cheek” and “bleeding, empty socket” have visuals that immediate create a picture in the mind, a picture most find anything but soothing. And hopefully, if I’ve my job write, you want to walk around the word “Atlanta” drawn in blood on the floor.

Take Me Home, Daddy

Feel free to post some of you favorite visceral examples below in the comments. I’d love to see them.

Until next time.

======================================

Note: For more information about this topic, visit the roundtable article, “Pow! Right in the Viscera! -- Writing Prose with a Gut Punch.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Nugget #95 -- Team Sports and Solo Sailing

Comics is my team sport, but prose is my solo
sailing journey. They’re both very important to
me, and having them both as outlets helps me
to be fully me instead of just half of me.


Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Exploring My First Novel -- Meet Stephen Ramsay!

I'm always happy to share interviews with new writers, but I'm particularly happy to share this one. Why?

Because this one features Stephen Ramsay. I met Stephen when he was a card gamer at the comic book and gaming story I used to manage. I only discovered later that he was a writer, and I'm pleased to announce that his first novel, Shadowgrave, is finally available. 

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

My latest work is the story of the young necromancer Abaddon Delekran who, after nearly being killed by his master for a power he cannot possibly understand, is forced into a new and unknown world. He seeks power in any way and place possible to stop his former master, Radax, for when he returns. Along the way, he learns of his dark origins and what the possible ramifications of those same origins could mean for those around him.

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

Recurring themes and subjects? For this work, I’d say the loss of innocence, the sense of adventure amidst the constant of tragedy in life, and finding friends despite danger and death.

What would be your dream project?

My dream project is to write a full-blown epic. A saga that spans several books and can potentially even inspire others.

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

I have no former projects as of right now that I would revisit to improve. Perhaps that might happen later in my literary career. Heck, maybe later down the road I would say that I would improve my first work (Being this one).

What inspires you to write?

Well I’d have to say that I’m inspired by all the authors I’ve read over the years as well as my time that I was submitting to the literary magazine at my old college. And of course, playing a few years of Dungeons and Dragons helped a little too.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

As far as writers are concerned, influences for me would include authors such as Stephen King, T.A. Barron, J.R.R. Tolkien, and J.K. Rowling just to name a few. I grew up with these authors and it’s thanks to their works I even began reading novels in the first place.

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

I’d say writing is more of an art than anything. While there is a science to it, that part of it mostly involves what you could learn in school. Now it’s an art in the same sense that an artist paints. Works of art that hang in galleries are an artist’s vision of the world. Well books are the same for writers, it’s an art, creating a new world for themselves as well as the audience they pander to.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?  

As far as upcoming projects are concerned….I do have 2 more longer-length novels planned for the Shadowgrave line over the next few years. And after this series is done, I do have another longer, untitled series in the works.

================================

For more information and to pick up a copy of Shadowgrave for yourself, click here.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Award-Winning Ghost Stories from Dark Oak!

CONGRATULATIONS!!!

For the 2017 Darrell Award for Best Short Story, the winner is The Nature of Ghosts by Carolyn McSparren.

First Runner-Up is Drive-In Miss Daisy by Phyllis Appleby. (Both of these short stories appeared in Malice in Memphis: Ghost Stories).

http://www.darkoakpress.com/ghoststories.html

History and Hauntings

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

Friday, April 14, 2017

AUTHOR JIM GILLENTINE SIGNS WITH PRO SE PRODUCTIONS-‘HEART OF THE BEAST’ DUE IN 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

An independent Publisher of Genre Fiction, Pro Se Productions proudly welcomes author Jim Gillentine to the company. Gillentine’s HEART OF THE BEAST, which is a massive novel drawn from three smaller books, one previously unpublished, will debut in late 2017 from Pro Se Productions.

“Jim Gillentine,” says Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, “has a storytelling style that is steeped not only in his own unique voice, but also bears echoes of great Southern writers to come before him. Terror, both subtle and shocking, resonate through Jim’s work, and in all of that, he not only finds the story to be told, but he latches onto it and wraps it around the reader. Pro Se Productions is beyond proud to be the home for HEART OF THE BEAST, a seminal work of Jim’s career.”

The only thing that Andrew Bane ever wanted was peace.

Instead, he found love in the arms of Angela. She was the only woman he had ever met who loved him, even knowing his true nature.

But peace was something he could never truly have. Within Andrew’s chest beats the heart of the Beast, full of rage. When the rage is awakened, a price must be paid. A price of flesh and blood. What does it mean to be a monster that can feel love? And what does the government want with the Beast, that it hunts Andrew and Angela around the world?

Follow the story of Andrew and Angela’s horrifying journey, from the dark streets of Memphis to the cold reaches of Alaska, from faraway places to deep within each others’ souls, seeking peace and freedom to love one another - if only the world would let them. HEART OF THE BEAST, due in late 2017 from Pro Se Productions.

Jim Gillentine was born and raised in Memphis, lending a southern flavor to his creatures of the night. His debut novel, OF BLOOD AND THE MOON, was a finalist for the Darrell Award in 2009. Jim is currently pursuing his bachelor’s degree in English literature and philosophy at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville. He is married to author Elizabeth Donald, and they live in a haunted house in Illinois.

To learn more about Pro Se Productions, follow Pro Se on Facebook or go to www.prose-press.com.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

I'm featured in the current issue of Violet Windows!

I've published the first poetry I've written in years, and it appears in this quarter's issue of Violent Windows, the online literary zine published by the "gothic librarian," Kimberly Richardson. Also features lots of other fantastic writers, artists, and photographers.


It's called "A Rock and Roll Story." Check it out: http://violetwindows.weebly.com/sean-taylor.html

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The Role of Descriptions in a Literary Text

by Lucy Adams


Descriptions require full dedication, masterful treatment of the language (stylistics, dynamics, means of expression, etc.), and deep understanding of the text structure. Roughly speaking, they are a litmus paper for any writer.

Any part of the text, including descriptions, always performs a specific function, and sometimes more than one. So let’s shed some light on the moments that any novice author should pay attention to when working on descriptions.

#1 Bright and Relatable Picture

The first challenge that you’ll face is arranging the text in such a way that the reader can navigate it and imagine the events, places, and people. If you are able to create a colorful movie in the reader’s imagination while saving the proper sequence of actions and using emotionally meaningful words, your book will likely be in demand.

#2 Atmosphere

As most readers are looking for new experiences rather than knowledge, the emotional component of your writing is crucial.

You may think that descriptions have little to do with this, but they are extremely important for creating needed atmosphere. Moreover, that’s the atmosphere that attracts readers so much is some literary genres such as horror.


#3 Anchors of Perception

I often read books in which authors use a large number of characters. Let’s take, for example, in "A Song of Ice and Fire," George R. R. Martin uses up to a thousand characters that allow him to achieve a colorful and believable picture of events.

However, if it’s done clumsily, the reader will be constantly confused. Note that unlike you (who know the plot perfectly), the reader meets the characters for the first time. Here the biggest challenge is to create unique descriptions for characters by attaching at least one bright detail to each one. This detail is the anchor of perception that catches the reader's attention and ideally, should be deposited in the subconscious, creating the needed connection "the detail – the character."

#4 A Few More Pages

Vivid descriptions will help you to increase the number of pages of your book, which is always necessary to fit the requirements of the publishing house. Once you have invented an idea, you can develop it up to a needed volume, getting the desired fee.

Many pen wizards just fill the gaps with descriptions of towns, people, weather, nature, etc. Take and adopt this technique, as that will fill the number of pages for your book that your publishing house requires.

Long empty descriptions may decrease the quality of the narrative. Note that different scenes have different dynamics (for example, scenes of chases and fights are fast; scenes of conversations are slow). There are some exceptions, as always, but by extending the description, you can control the dynamics of the scene.
   
Descriptions without Clearly Defined Functions

There are many examples of descriptions that are not clearly defined. Although this is typical for beginners, below there are two issues with this that we can observe in the texts of already established authors.

Let me begin with the descriptions of nature. They appeared in oral folklore and literature. It’s nothing against cool breeze and squirrels bouncing on the branches – sometimes that’s quite to the point. But when I read about a group of brave heroes moving away from the pursuit and stumble upon the description of cool breeze and warm summer sun, I’m out at sea.

Such inconsistencies occur if the author doesn’t really feel the mood of the scene. For sure, evil can happen in good weather, but the laws of drama demand a different approach. Also, monotonous descriptions of the fields, meadows, and undergrowth are so clichéd that they are hardly perceived. Then I say to myself: "Well, here the author didn't know how to start the scene and so he put in this wonderful description of nature. Well done!"

The second unpleasant thing is the description of the appearance. Of course, if I were sitting on the porch of my estate two hundred years ago, I wouldn’t wonder about a three-page description of a noble lord. But the pace of life in those days was much slower than it is today! Alas, today’s novices often imitate the manner of good old writers. Let me remind you of the fact that actions, reactions, and emotions – not the detailed description of the nose – contribute to the authenticity of the character.

I wish you all the best in your writing endeavors and hope that bright and unique descriptions will help you to stand out.


Bio: Lucy Adams is a blogger and essay writer. She’s always looking for new acquaintances and cooperation. Lucy is a generalist, and that’s why she never has problems with covering a wide range of topics, from psychology to hi-tech. Share your ideas with the blogger, and soon you’ll get a high-quality article or a few for free.

Monday, March 27, 2017

#MotivationalMonday (Mind your commas)

Lack of comma sense ignites debate after ruling in $10M suit
By Patrick Whittle

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - It all came down to a missing comma, and not just any one. And it's reignited a longstanding debate over whether the punctuation is necessary.

A federal appeals court decided this week to keep alive a lawsuit by dairy drivers seeking more than $10 million in an overtime pay dispute.

It concerned Maine's overtime law, which doesn't apply to the "canning, processing, preserving, freezing, drying, marketing, storing, packing for shipment or distribution of" foods.

There's no Oxford, or serial, comma in the "packing for shipment or distribution" part. The drivers said the words referred to the single activity of packing, which the drivers don't do. The defendant, Oakhurst Dairy, said the words referenced two different activities and drivers fall within the exemption.

Circuit Judge David Barron wrote: "For want of a comma, we have this case."

The court sided with the drivers.

"Comma sense ain't so common," Jeffrey Neil Young, an attorney for the drivers, said Friday.

Read the full article: http://www.wthitv.com/story/34939772/lack-of-comma-sense-ignites-debate-after-ruling-in-10m-suit

Sunday, March 26, 2017

PRO SE PRODUCTIONS OPENS SUBMISSIONS CALL FOR WORLD OF BIG DADDY COOL ANTHOLOGY

 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MORE ACTION AND MADNESS FROM THE FLIP-SIDE!
PRO SE PRODUCTIONS OPENS SUBMISSIONS CALL FOR
WORLD OF BIG DADDY COOL ANTHOLOGY


IN 2015, Pro Se Productions released TALES FROM THE FLIP-SIDE-THE ADVENTURES OF BIG DADDY COOL AND THE BOMBSHELL KITTENS. This first volume in THE WORLD OF BIG DADDY COOL imprint from Pro Se was written by John Pyka, the stage and performer who embodies the lead character, Johnny Dellarocca, former gangster, current magician and time traveling savior of worlds known as Big Daddy Cool.

Pro Se proudly announces an open submissions call for the second book in the imprint-ADVANCE THE SPARK: TALES FROM THE WORLD OF BIG DADDY COOL. This short story collection can and will feature not only tales starring Big Daddy and his Bombshell Kittens, but also a variety of other characters created by Pyka that people the universe that Big Daddy spends much of his time saving.

“It’s time,” says Tommy Hancock, Pro Se Productions Editor in Chief, “to not only revisit the world of Big Daddy Cool, but to bring other voices to the choir as well. John has created such a rich fabric, a really varied universe that just begs for others to put their spin on it and his cast of characters. And ADVANCE THE SPARK, hepcat speak for being prepared, will open up even more windows into the World of Big Daddy Cool.”

Stories for ADVANCE THE SPARK must follow the bible for The World of Big Daddy Cool imprint, which will be provided at the request of interested writers, and must consider TALES FROM THE FLIP-SIDE, which will also be provided, as canon for the imprint. Both the book and the bible can be requested by emailing submissions@prose-press.com. All proposals will be first approved by Pyka, then by Pro Se Productions before being accepted.

Stories for ADVANCE THE SPARK must be minimum 5,000 and maximum 10,000 words in length. A proposal of two to three paragraphs must be submitted to submissions@prose-press.com. Authors not previously published by Pro Se Productions must submit a writing sample of at least two pages with their proposals. Final deadline for completed stories is 90 days following acceptance of proposals. This call will close on April 30, 2017 or when all story slots are taken. This is a royalty based project, royalty to be determined when all stories are accepted, ranging from 5% to 10%, depending on number of accepted stories.

ADVANCE THE SPARK: TALES FROM THE WORLD OF BIG DADDY COOL is a part of the Pro Se Anthology Project, THE PRO SE OPEN, and is scheduled to be published in August 2017.

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

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

Saturday, March 25, 2017

SCIMIDAR RETURNS!

Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to present the first novel based on the action packed, adult comic book “Scimidar” created by writer R.A. Jones and artist Rob Davis. Between 1986 and 1994, Eternity Comics, a label of Malibu Comics, published creator owned, offbeat titles and none was more original than “Scimidar” first released in 1988.

Set in a post apocalyptic world of the far future, Jones & Davis’ series told the story of a beautiful, sexy mercenary who would do whatever it took to survive and protect those she loved. “Scimidar” pushed the envelope in regards to fast-paced, action orientated adult fare for its time and is to this day fondly remembered by its legion of fans.

“I was a huge fan of the comics,” says Airship 27 Productions Managing Editor, Ron Fortier. “It was the first series that I remember seeing Rob’s work in and eventually let to my reaching out to him as one comic creator to another. Now, decades later he’s our Art Director here at Airship 27.” Fortier continues to explain how he and Davis often talked about their past comic careers and those projects that remained special in their memories.
Thus “Scimidar” kept coming up over and over again. Eventually Fortier contacted writer R.A. Jones with the idea of his writing a Scimidar pulp novel. “I was ecstatic when R.A. replied that he’d love to do such a book and of course no one was happier than Rob.”

Now R.A. Jones tells, for the very first time, the secret origin Scimidar in this exciting new, pulp infused novel, while Davis returns as the book’s illustrator. “It was a great pleasure to draw Scimidar again,” Davis adds happily. “It reminded me that I have never had quite as much fun as a storytelling artist as I did with those comic book stories.” Finally, popular Canadian artist Ted Hammond provides the gorgeous cover of this lethal beauty.

There was never another character like “Scimidar,” before or since. Open this book and find out why.

AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS – PULP FICTION FOR A NEW GENERATION!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Weirdbook Magazine Wants You to Bewitch Them with Your Submission!

Submissions for our  Themed Annual this year will open up on the 1st of April 2017 and close on the 30th of April 2017.

The Theme is WITCHES (and Warlocks) of ANY CULTURE or SETTING!

6,000 words is the maximum story length to be accepted.

No cover letters or bios.

Simultaneous submissions are allowed as long as you let me know.

Publication date is October.

I’m looking for original (no reprints) well-written (duuh, I guess that that’s fairly obvious) weird stories. My tastes are broad and I’m looking for any of the following: fantasy, dark fantasy, sword and sorcery, ghost, horror, heroic fantasy, science fantasy or just plain odd.

But don’t forget, this is for our 2017 Annual and the theme is WITCHES!

One Story Submission at a time please!

In the subject line of your email, please put Weirdbook WITCHES/Story title/ Your last name

Important:
Please include your name, address, email address, the title of your story and its word count in your  email. Preferably attach your story as a doc, docx or rtf file. Please send it in a standard format; if in doubt check here for guidance: http://www.sfwa.org/2008/11/manuscript-preparation/

Current payment is $5 per thousand words  and two printed contributor copies. Only one copy for poetry.

(That’s $0.005 per word)

Please send your submissions to: weirdaether(AT)t-online.de

And lastly, if you want to  impress me then you need to ENTERTAIN ME!!

Regards.
Douglas Draa
Editor

(See original post.)

Thursday, March 23, 2017

What's your favorite opening line from your own work?


What's your favorite opening line from your own work?

Deborah Brown: "Old ladies packed quite a punch."

Ed Erdelac: "The rain beat down on 115th Street like it was owed money."

Patrick Giles: "Well crap!"

Elizabeth Donald: "It really was a dark and stormy night." Well, I thought it was funny...

David Gallaher: "This is not a monkey."

Michael Bracco: "The birth of every story is conflict."

Tom Waltz: "Killing my wife hadn’t been as difficult as killing my great grandchildren."

Ralph L Angelo Jr.: "Another when, another now." -- Redemption of the Sorcerer.

Alexandra Christian: "If desperation had a smell, it would be dusty felt, old wood and stale alcohol."

Cynthia Ward: The first sentence is not my long suit. "'You've picked a posh meeting spot,' I tell M as I walk into the cell." -- The Adventure of the Naked Guide

Valerie Finnigan: "I have arrived here on 31 August, '90 after an eventful flight across the Atlantic and Mediterranean." -- Tiger on the Storm

Larry Young: "No real writer gives a shit about anything than PAY TO THE ORDER OF... Anything else is just masturbating."

Jessica Fleming: "They had hung her on the tree without so much as a trial."

Kendall Nye: "The old cat had curled up like a fat black question mark on the couch where my wife used to sit."

Danielle Procter Piper: "The glass trembled in his hand as he lifted it, not really wanting the pale colored liquid in it anyway, but needing it to steady his nerves." --The Fruit of Eden

Tony Acree:
"It was 6 pm when the Devil walked into my office and had a seat."

Mark Bousquet: "The Bandolier filled the deputy’s gut with buckshot, the sheriff’s heart with four .32 caliber rimfire bullets, and then locked himself inside a cell to wait." -- from the forthcoming Gunfighter Gothic: The Bandolier.

Patrick Tomlinson: "That's not supposed to be there."

Andrew Salmon: I was so excited to dust off my hardboiled voice that I went to town on my Rick Ruby tale. And it all began with this line: "The grey pall of early twilight muffled the city’s raging at the gradual dying of the light."

Kathy Messick: "Ladies and Gentleman, the one and only, Jimmy Durante!"

Bill Craig: "Her head felt like her brains were leaking out as she opened her eyes."

Whit Howland: "Huey Dusk knew he was dressed to kill..."

Darin Kennedy: "Freshly turned earth. Ammonia."

Nancy Hansen: "On a muggy summer evening, a young woman’s piercing shrieks of agony echoed all through the midnight temple grounds." ~ from the yet unpublished THROUGH A DARK GLASS, which continues the Greenwood Cycle books.

Shelagh Watkins: "Do you wake on Sunday mornings feeling bright and cheerful before you step out to buy your favourite Sunday newspapers, and spend the next four hours reading the print off the page?"

Milton Davis: "This was not the way for a prince to die." -- Changa's Safari

Van Allen Plexico: "Hawk awoke naked and screaming in the heart of a shattered galaxy."

Brian Hill: "A filthy mist rolls down the grimy street, the yellowing vapour reminiscent of the smogs of my grandparents' childhood days."

Bobby Nash: "Abraham Snow knew he was about to die and the thought of it pissed him off to no end." (Opening line from SNOW FALLS.)

Bill Cunningham: "It began, as with all things, in a storm."

Keyser Soze: "My meatloaf sandwich was delivered cold, and I was trying to coax the blonde waitress into giving me an extra slice of pecan pie, but she was having none of it."

Whitt Pond: "If the dead gripe in the ears of the living, do we make a sound?"

Laura Rucker: "My dad was an asshole."

Brian K Morris: "Christmas was a time of joy ... somewhere else." (SANTASTEIN)

Kay Iscah: "I broke a mirror today"

Deborah Brown: "Miss Norton's shower was leaking blood. Again."

Victoria Oliver Rutherfurd: "What do you do for a living? No, really, I'm genuinely curious. Because unlike me there's a good chance it doesn't involve any dead people."

Doug Davis: "Black and white, and sepia brown. A borrowed wedding gown. Dried orchids pressed with ribbons, pink and white..."

John Bruening: "It was early August, and the summer had not been kind to Union City." -- The Midnight Guardian: Hour of Darkness

Lance Stahlberg: "Reese always wondered how he'd react looking down the barrel of a gun."

Lucy Blue: "To make the black cat bone, you have to boil the cat alive." Opening line from "Black Cat Bone."

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

PRO SE SINGLE SHOT SIGNATURE SERIES SCALED BACK-SEVERAL SERIES MOVING TO BOOK FORMAT

In 2013, Pro Se Productions began a digital only line of stand alone short stories known as Pro Se Single Shots. In 2014, Pro Se announced a new imprint within the line, this one aimed at producing series that would have episodes/stories released on a schedule suitable to the author. Over 40 writers signed on initially and Pro Se’s intent was to focus on turning this program into a subscription service, offering this variety of titles.

Today, Pro Se Productions announces that due to a variety of issues, The Pro Se Single Shot Signature Series line will not continue on in its original form and will be massively scaled back.

“In all honesty,” says Pro Se Editor in Chief Tommy Hancock, “the responsibility for this change of plans in regards to the Single Shot series falls wholly on me, as does any fault for why the line did not reach the goals we originally set. It was an overly ambitious project that still might have reached its original goals had I not become ill, a condition that I dealt with for a large part of the last three years. I had built the Single Shot line to be one that I would handle exclusively and when I was unavailable, it left no one to keep it going.

“Even though,” Hancock continues, “I am healthy now, there were still issues with the concept as originally conceived. Finding a formatter who can essentially do thirty some odd titles monthly as well as building or finding a subscription plan we felt comfortable with has proven difficult. The biggest reason, though, is we have multiple series that simply have lingered on too long without new issues or have not started at all, and I just won’t have that any longer.”

The series that will continue as Pro Se Single Shot Signature Series are Chuck Miller’s Fabulous World of Zenith, Ian Watson’s limited series Byzantium, Tommy Hancock’s The Adventures of Doc Daye, and the as of yet to debut mini series, Tai of the Ebony Jungle by Philip Athans.

Series that will be ending with either their next or next two issues being released in March and April are Strikeforce Falcon by Richard C. White, Shadows Over America by Aaron Smith, Vengeance: The Cutter Series by James Hopwood, From the Pen of Adam L. Garcia, From the Pen of Greg Norgaard, From the Pen of J. Walt Layne, The Gatekeeper Chronicles by Terrence McCauley, and The Dark Gentleman by Barry Reese.

Friends of Fortune by Derrick Ferguson will not continue as a series. However, Ferguson will continue to produce Friends of Fortune stories as stand alone Single Shot releases in the future, released as they are completed by the author and edited.

Corpus Vile: Death In The City by Jim Beard will continue in some format with Pro Se in the future, either as a re-added series to the revamped Signature Series line or as a novel.

Bobby Nash’s From the Pen of series ended with the most recent story published, with Nash having plans for the characters from those stories in the future. Likewise, Percival Constantine’s Luther Cross series ended with the recent release of the latest episode, but Constantine plans to continue the adventures of Cross in 2017 via self publishing.

Series that will be coming out from Pro Se as novels and/or story collections are Brad Mengel’s Australis Incognito, Van Allen Plexico’s Alpha/Omega, Terry Alexander’s Empress Debbie and The Caves of Destruction, David White’s Magee, Nikki Nelson Hicks’ Jake Istenhyegi, the Accidental Detective, Teel James Glenn’s The Adventures of Dr. Shadows, H. David Blalock’s The Velvet Wasp, PJ Lozito’s The Revenant Detective, Frank Schildiner’s Johnny Rich, Gary Phillips’ as of yet to be released Nefra Adams, E. W. Farnsworth’s yet to be released The Secret Adventures of Agents Salamander and Crow, Sean Taylor's yet to be released Spy Candy, and Ralph Angelo Jr.'s yet to be released Tales of Torahg.

Some of the series that are to become books will have Single Shots released in the next two weeks under the Signature series line, as they are already prepared. These will serve as previews to the future volumes.

Any of the books announced that are in the possession of Pro Se Productions in first draft form by August 2017 will be released before year’s end.

Regardless of continuing as a series, as a book, or simply as Single Shots, the cover art originally designed for each title will be utilized.

“I can’t thank everyone involved enough,” says Hancock, “for the work done on this ambitious project. The Pro Se Single Shot Signature Series idea is not dead, just simply being rebooted in a way to make sure that when it can handle over forty authors again, it will be done right without fail.”

For more information on Pro Se Productions, go to www.prose-press.com and like Pro Se on Facebook.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

John C. Bruening's Pretty Ambitious Target

Meet John C. Bruening!

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

I’m not sure if I can cite specific books as turning points, but I can point to certain authors who held my interest for many books over the course of many years:

I started reading Robert B. Parker’s “Spenser” series right after college (about 30 years ago). When he was at the top of his game (his first 15 books, give or take), he was a master. But even afterward, when his plotting may not have been as solid, his dialogue was still extremely clever. I was really drawn to that. I traced that thread backward to Raymond Chandler, who was one of Parker’s primary influences, and found more of the same.

Ed McBain’s 87th Precinct novels also made a big impression on me. McBain (aka Evan Hunter, aka Salvatore Lombino) took the tedious grind of police detective work – the interviewing of witnesses, the long hours of chasing leads that often went nowhere – and somehow made it all interesting. With the help of the colorful cast of characters he created for the Eight-Seven, McBain did a great job of taking readers inside the day-to-day experience of street-level detective work and law enforcement.

I also read a lot of Edgar Rice Burroughs stories – about half of his Tarzan novels, and the entire John Carter of Mars series – starting in grade school and all the way into my early thirties. As far as I know, Burroughs had little or no formal training in fiction writing. And yet by sheer instinct, he figured out what worked in terms of plotting, character development, pacing, etc., and he delivered it consistently. Most of his stories come down to one man pitted against ridiculous odds, with his chances for survival and success depending almost entirely on his ability to use his brains and his will (and probably some muscle) to their fullest capacity.

Finally, I have to mention Lester Dent, the author of most of the Doc Savage pulp stories of the 1930s and ‘40s. Dent was writing at a time when technology was really becoming a powerful force for the betterment of humanity – but also a potentially deadly weapon in the wrong hands. It was a time when the world teetered on a precipice between advancement and annihilation, and Dent’s Doc Savage stories capture some of the precariousness of the era in an entertaining way.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Nothing can lock me up like a blank screen, a ticking clock and no raw materials. I better have something in my head and ready to type before the I/O button even gets pushed and laptop starts booting up. If I don’t, I get anxious, and then I get discouraged, and then I start asking myself why I’m even doing this in the first place. It’d be great if the inspiration were to magically hit me every time I sat down in front of the computer, but that’s not how it works for me. Ideas come to me in the least convenient places: in the shower, in the car on my way to the day job, out in the yard when I’m pushing the lawn mower. All of these are times and places where a notebook and a pen just aren’t practical. So I do my best to hold ideas in my head just long enough to get to the nearest dinner napkin, Post-It Note pad, half-torn electric bill envelope, etc. That way, I have some scrap of an idea to work with when it’s time to start writing. If I sit down to write with a head devoid of ideas and expect something to come at me from nowhere, I’m setting myself up for disappointment.

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

There are a couple people who have been enormously helpful over the years, each in different ways.

Fellow Clevelander Richard Montanari (SHUTTER MAN, THE DOLLMAKER) has been writing crime/suspense novels for more than two decades. His books have been translated into about a dozen languages, he’s a best seller in the UK, and The New York Times listed his SHUTTER MAN as one of the 10 best crime novels of 2016. Richard and I have been friends since the late 1980s, and for all of his success – and all the demands that come with that success – he’s always found time to give advice and share war stories about the publishing business. I’ve shown him some writing samples along the way, and he’s always been supportive. Uncomfortably honest at times, but always supportive. I am eternally grateful to him.


 Jim Beard is founder and editor of Flinch Books. He launched Flinch in 2013 and brought me on board as a full partner about a year later. Jim’s a Toledo native, and I think we met somewhere around 2010, one of the first years after PulpCon morphed into Pulpfest and moved its annual convention to Columbus (although it’s relocating to Pittsburgh as of this summer). My novel, THE MIDNIGHT GUARDIAN: HOUR OF DARKNESS, was still taking shape when I became part of Flinch, and he lit the fire under me to get it finished in time for a 2016 release. It was a challenging deadline, but it was what I needed. Jim and I are pretty close in age, so we grew up with the same pop culture touchstones and influences. He’s been a great sounding board for ideas, and he has likewise trusted my judgment and input about writing projects he’s worked on. I think we’re both always pleasantly surprised to discover that we’re on the same wavelength about Flinch-related decisions. Partnering with him and being connected to his energy and enthusiasm has proven to be a big boost for my writing.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Plotting, without question. Everyone’s process varies, but I need to have at least a rough story framework in place before the serious writing gets under way. That can be challenging enough when everyone and everything in the story is on the up and up, but I generally try to weave in some measure of mystery along with the action, adventure, drama and occasional humor. That means there are likely to be certain characters and/or circumstances that are not who or what they appear to be, which just makes it that much harder to construct a plot that’s airtight and consistent. Much of writing is about explaining, but mystery, by its very definition, requires that something remain unknown or unclear for as long as possible. So in a sense, I’m revealing and concealing at the same time. It is, by far, the hardest part of the writing process for me.

What does literary success look like to you?

Well, I would never complain about having a bestseller or two (or more) on my resume, but that’s a pretty ambitious target. And the truth is, bestsellers are often (not always, but often) the result of very good marketing as much good writing. Those who self-publish usually don’t have the resources to launch and maintain the kind of marketing campaign that creates broad mainstream awareness. So having said all that, if I can build a modest but consistent audience that A) is willing to spend the money and the time to read my latest book, and B) derives enough of a sense of entertainment and enjoyment when they get to the end of it that they want to go out and repeat the process with the next book, then I’d consider myself a success. It remains to be seen whether I could actually make a living writing fiction. People who have been at it far longer than me aren’t there yet. But if I could, then anything beyond that would just be icing on the cake.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

My short story, “The Warrior and the Stone,” is one of six tales appearing in RESTLESS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF MUMMY HORROR, published by Flinch Books in January 2017. The protagonist is Jake Bennett, a Cold War-era historian, archaeologist and soldier of fortune in search of a precious stone hidden in the mountains between China and Tibet. An ancient legend from the 7th century claims the stone is powerful, but neither Bennett nor his adversaries understand the magnitude of that power until it’s unleashed.

In addition to contributing a story to RESTLESS, I also co-edited the anthology with Jim Beard. The other writers in the lineup are Barry Reese, Teel James Glenn, Nancy Hansen, Duane Spurlock and Sam Gafford. We invited each of them to tell a mummy tale, but we tasked them with setting their stories in various locations around the world. Ancient Egypt is in the mix, but so are South America, Russia, China and other exotic locales.

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?

Yes and yes. At this writing, I’m plotting the second MIDNIGHT GUARDIAN novel, which takes place about a year and a half after the first one. It definitely builds on some loose ends that were intentionally left unresolved at the end of the first story, but generally speaking, it will stand on its own. The reader would probably have a better sense of context by reading the first book first, but he or she could get something out of the second book regardless. Right now, I envision the MIDNIGHT GUARDIAN story arc to span four or five books, with a thread of continuity that runs through all of them and ties them all together.

Further out, there’s the possibility of another series that could have some tangential connection to the MIDNIGHT GUARDIAN saga. A secondary character introduced in the pages of a MIDNIGHT GUARDIAN novel might spin off into an entirely different series of his or her own, but that’s far-off and big-picture thinking. The book I’m working on right now is my primary focus.

Along those same lines, I think there’s more that could be done with a character like Jake Bennett, the protagonist of “The Warrior and the Stone.” If circumstances allow, he may show up in other adventures in other Flinch anthologies, or maybe he’ll warrant a self-contained collection of his own stories at some point. Again, that’s far enough down the road that the details are still pretty sketchy.

Any other projects you would like to plug?

Well, I’ve already mentioned THE MIDNIGHT GUARDIAN a couple times. The first book in the series, HOUR OF DARKNESS, was my debut novel, published in July 2016. It’s a Depression-era crime story of Jack Hunter, an assistant district attorney who protects his city by night with the help of a high-tech mask (or at least a 1930s version of high tech) that heightens his reflexes and his senses. His target is a sociopathic crime boss named Nicholas Diamond (aka Nicky Dynamite), who killed Hunter’s father – a police officer – fourteen years earlier in a late-night shootout. I’ve described the story to others as a cross between Brian DePalma’s The Untouchables (1987) and The Green Hornet. Ron Fortier at Airship 27 called it “a Republic serial set to prose,” which was pretty much the vibe I was going for.

As I mentioned earlier, the next MIDNIGHT GUARDIAN book is in the works and scheduled for release in the second half of 2018. The story arc of the overall series is working its way through the late 1930s and eventually toward World War II.

There are other projects in the pipeline that I can’t really talk about because they’re fairly early in the planning stages. Suffice it to say that Flinch Books is developing another anthology with publication scheduled for some time in the latter half of 2017. We’re planning to announce the theme and the lineup of writers for that project at Pulpfest this summer.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

HOWLING HORROR AND MURDER WITH A BITE! ‘THE WOLVES OF WILLIAMSON COUNTY’ DEBUTS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Pro Se Productions presents Author Robert Crow’s innovative take on a horror genre staple in the company’s latest digest novel. THE WOLVES OF WILLIAMSON COUNTY is now available in print and digital formats.

“Pro Se,” says Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, “is not only always looking for different spins on stories and tropes and such. We also seek those writers who can deliver such tales well and effectively, telling stories that capture both established and new fans of the genre. Robert Crow is that author if You’re into horror and THE WOLVES OF WILLIAMSON COUNTY is that book.”

A man murders his family. A month later, he is shot and killed by police following a spectacularly violent jailbreak. Case closed.

Or is it?

An independent journalist retraces the killer's steps to find that sometimes there is more than madmen and murderers to fear by the light of the full moon. Horror and mystery collide in THE WOLVES OF WILLIAMSON COUNTY by Robert Crow. From Pro Se Productions.

With an evocative cover by Rick Johnson and logo design and print formatting by Antonino Lo Iacono, THE WOLVES OF WILLIAMSON COUNTY is available now at Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Williamson-County-Robert-Crow/dp/1544222831/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1488988288&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Wolves+of+Williamson+County and Pro Se’s own store at www.prose-press.com for 10.00.

This unique horror digest novel is also available as an Ebook, designed and formatted by Lo Iacono for only $2.99 for the Kindle at https://www.amazon.com/Wolves-Williamson-County-Robert-Crow-ebook/dp/B06XG1MM11/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1488988288&sr=8-2&keywords=The+Wolves+of+Williamson+County and for most digital formats via Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/709031.

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

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

Saturday, March 18, 2017

FROM PESTILENCE RISES GOTHIC SUPER HEROES-‘THE ORDER OF THE BLACK SILK’ DEBUTS

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Noted author Kimberly Richardson weaves her unique dark magic as a writer with the first volume in a trilogy introducing what may truly be a new subgenre-Gothic Super heroes.  THE ORDER OF THE BLACK SILK is available now in print and digital format.

“What Kimberly has done,” says Tommy Hancock, Editor in Chief of Pro Se Productions, “is basically come up with one of the most wholly original concepts I’ve seen in a long time.  And, it’s just possible she’s at least a pioneer, if not the inventor of Gothic Super Hero Pulp.  Her five central characters are definitely Gothic in nature, and unlike others who might be listed as such, like Batman or The Shadow, The Brothers of the Order have their roots in so many aspects of what is considered Gothic in all sorts of ways.  This is the best work Kimberly Richardson has ever done and Pro Se is proud to have this series.”

Once Pestilence walked the Earth with impunity…and Her five monstrous generals led Her charge, spreading sickness and devastation before Her. Then She created the Black Plague, and no longer could these men turned powerful abominations stand their Mistress’ actions. They betrayed Her, with assistance from Her brother, Death, and She was imprisoned, but not before cursing Her five minions. No longer did they cause destruction. Their eternal damnation was now to heal.

The five became known as The Order of the Black Silk and found their way to the Other Side of the Veil, the world existing within and outside our own at the same time. There, they established the city of Cinis and creatures of all sorts came to be wondrously healed by the hellish beings. And many stayed, settled in Cinis, and found peace in the shadow of The Brothers.

But now, something depraved has come to Cinis. Things once living and robust, now nearly dead and emaciated, all with the same foreboding warning-That She is coming and with Her comes Salvation. The Order of the Black Silk is now faced with uncovering what evil has been visited on their city and dealing with the one fear all of them have harbored forever…the possible return of Pestilence.

THE ORDER OF THE BLACK SILK is the first in a trilogy of digest novels from author Kimberly Richardson, exploring how darkness can be made light and even in the brightest moment, darkness can fall like a death shroud. With artwork by Rick Johnson, this volume will take You places You never dreamed existed, or may have found only in your nightmares.

With a fantastic cover and stunning interiors by Rick Johnson and logo design and print formatting by Marzia Marina and Antoino Lo Iacono, THE ORDER OF THE BLACK SILK is available now at Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Order-Black-Silk-Kimberly-Richardson/dp/1544267037/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1489245748&sr=8-3&keywords=Order+of+the+Black+Silk and Pro Se’s own store at www.prose-press.com for 10.00.

This first book in a new trilogy is also available as an Ebook, designed and formatted by Marina and Lo Iacono for only $2.99 for the Kindle at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B06XJPPW5J/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1489245748&sr=8-1&keywords=Order+of+the+Black+Silk and for most digital formats via Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/710247.

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

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

Friday, March 17, 2017

NOT EVEN DEATH STOPS A HERO- ‘THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME SIX’ DEBUTS!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

NOT EVEN DEATH STOPS A HERO- ‘THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME SIX’ DEBUTS!

THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY appeared to end in the aftermath of GOTTERDAMERUNG with Lazarus Gray making the ultimate sacrifice, but all may not be as it seems. Pro Se Productions and its author centered imprint Reese Unlimited proudly announce the release of THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME SIX, now available in print and digital formats.

“Lazarus Gray,” says Tommy Hancock of Pro Se Productions, “is one of the most popular characters New Pulp has yet to produce. Combining all the necessities a classic Pulp hero should have with the emotional weight and modern relevance the writing of Barry Reese brings into play makes Gray a staggering figure in genre fiction today. And this sixth volume of tales only ups the ante that much more, bringing a focus on not only Gray’s companions, but really centering on the importance of a single man to the battle for justice.”

The only clue to his identity was a small medallion with the words ‘Lazarus Gray’ stamped upon it. He took that name and became one of Sovereign City’s greatest heroes, and formed an alliance with other lost souls like himself. Together they were Assistance Unlimited…and now they face their greatest loss ever!

As the remaining members of Assistance Unlimited resume their lives, they find new allies and old who intend to honor the memory of the man who brought them together…

…but as they plunge into a new mystery, they find themselves facing the possibility that the death of Lazarus Gray may not have been the end for him after all…

Prepare to walk the shadowy worlds of death and life as a new chapter begins in THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME SIX!

Featuring a fantastic cover by Ted Hammond, wonderful interior illustrations by George Sellas, and print formatting and cover design by Sean E. Ali, THE ADVENTURES OF LAZARUS GRAY VOLUME SIX is available now at Amazon and Pro Se’s own store for 15.00.

The sixth volume of hardcore New Pulp is also available as an ebook, designed and formatted by Antonino Lo Iacono and Marzia Marina for only $2.99 for the Kindle and 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 directorofcorporateoperations@prose-press.com.

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

Thursday, March 16, 2017

10 Methods for Crafting Better Story Openings



(i.e. It's not just about your first sentence anymore, McFly.) 

by Sean Taylor

I used to be a big fan of having a catchy opening sentence, and I'll admit, sometimes one will still zing by as I'm reading and maybe really make me stand up and take notice. Okay, figuratively, not really. I'm a writer, not a Zumba instructor. Even so, a lot of those hooks fall flat only a sentence or two later, as if the writer had a limited amount of zeal or gumption or whatever you want to call it, and he or she spent it all before the first period of the story.

I used to be a real hard-nose about it, proud of the fact that sometimes all I wasted my time on was an opening sentence to determine if I wanted to read the book or not. I thought at the time that made me a great critic of all things literary, but I've learned since then. The only thing that made me was a [censored].

LIFE'S STILL TOO SHORT, THANKS TO TUCK

Don't get me wrong. I still live by the axiom I learned from my friend James R. Tuck: "Life's too short to read shitty books." And I still draw a hard line in the proverbial sand after a few paragraphs. I haven't learned to have more patience with bad stories, just that like a tasty bite of apple could be the sole good spot on a bruised piece of fruit, sometimes I need more than a mere sentence to get the true feel of a story and its writer.

That said, if a writer can't grab me in the first few paragraphs, then I go back to being the same ol' [censored] I used to be and put the book away.

I don't know what's in the water lately in the world of writer-dom, but this week alone, I have seen three current blog articles about story openings, one from Jerry Jenkins' and his writing lessons online, one from a moderately selling mid-lister, and another from an indie self-pubber. Maybe's it's that time of the year, when Winter is beginning to settle away (well, outside this last big storm, I hope) and the opening of Spring waits to announce itself. Or maybe they all got inspired by the same article elsewhere and it was all a grand happenstance.

Regardless, I wasn't really happy with what most of them said, so (vanity of vanity that I am) I figured I needed to spell out my thoughts on the matter.

So, story openings. What are they good for? Absolutely everything. (Say it again.)

You're singing now, aren't you? That's because that line, as hackneyed and overparaphrased as it is, still says something to your inner brain if you're a pop music fan. It (and here's the key big) TRIGGERS something, in this case a melody.

But for your stories, you should shoot for triggering something else, the desire to keep reading.

So that's rule #1 and rule #Only. A good story opening should trigger something in the reader that makes him or her want to keep reading. It has no other purpose. You can tell me that it's about characterization and moving the plot forward and establishing tone until you run out of words, but the simple truth of it is that your story opening is a trigger. If it can trigger AND do all that helpful, craft-worty stuff like build characterization and move the plot along and establish tone, then already one hell of a writer, and you probably earned every cent of your royalty check this quarter.

But let's look at the flip side. Even if you did all that groovy writer stuff and did it like the Artiste you are (notice the capital 'A,' of course), but readers put your book back on the shelf after giving it a few seconds of reading time, you failed. No trigger. No reader. Bingo, bango, bongo.

Luckily there are more ways to write a trigger than there are sinus issues during a Spring in Georgia.

THE TEN THINGS THE TITLE OF THIS ARTICLE BAITED YOU ABOUT

1. Make 'em sing. 

I don't mean to use a song lyric like I did above (but if that works, then, hey, go for it), but pay attention to the sounds of vowels and consonants in your word choices. Stop readers when you want them to stop (with hard sounds like k, p, g, t, or d). Don't let them stop when you want them to flow through without slowing down (with soft sounds like s, m, n, l, and r). Don't let readers set their own pace. You tell when and where to control the speed. Even if you have very little to say, if you say it well and in a way that makes a reader's brain happy to read it, you've got 'em hooked.

2. One, two, "BANG!" Right in the gullet.

Go for the visceral. This doesn't just mean blood and guts. It means make it make readers feel what you're writing in the body, not in the mind. A torn fingernail or a crotch shot are the low-hanging fruit here. What about a smell that turns the stomach? What about a sensation that chills the spine? Write for physical stimulation. Visceral can go way beyond just making the stomach churn.

3. Come out of left field.

No clock can strike 13, but that didn't stop Orwell. The only way to do this one is to just shoot for the moon. Take that risk to go too far. A good variation of this is to begin with the normal and then save your "strike 13" until paragraph number 3 or 4 (as long as it still hits on the first page). She was a mother, just like any mother, wait... what do you mean she was made out or pure diamond? You get the point.

4. Get sensual.

No, I don't mean trigger a climax from readers. I mean to write for the senses. Put phantom scents and tastes in their brains. There's a smell that makes me think of a hospital. There's a taste that reminds of being a kid and sucking on a nail when I was bored. But be careful to avoid the obvious here. Get beyond your steaming apple pie and your delicious cake. (No, those aren't euphemisms, you bunch of perverts.)

5. Shock 'em.

Toni Morrison shot the white girl first. Who do you shoot? Make a hamburger of a sacred cow. Burn a priest in the name of peaceful protest. Do that thing that just should never be done. It's okay. They're not real people (or even real six-eyes aliens from Bettemhauer 11-X in the Greater Hooten Nebula). They won't even be able to hate you for it.

6. Give readers a question they're dying to get answers to.

Who is the dead man and who killed him? How does the supermodel race car driver win races with a wooden leg? This approach works for more than just mystery books. It's why those books that begin with a first person narrative about the main character's own death can still work and hit the best-seller lists -- because readers want to discover all the secrets that lead to that death.

7. Introduce a character so compelling readers can't turn away.

I'm sure you can rattle of enough of these to use all your fingers (and many of your toes). Open up at the funeral of a dead superhero who demanded that everyone wore orange flowers to his funeral. Meet the sexy German operative through the eyes of your private eye. Say hello to the girl who knows she's about to die, but still wants to save her killer's life before the cops shoot him. Paint a word picture of the chain-smoking drunk who saves kittens from trees and gets paid for it by the city.

8. Dazzle 'em with the most overblown shovel full of BS they've ever read.

This can work, but it has to be intentional. Almost ironic, but not hipsterly so. Get purple. Get florid. Cram adjectives next to nouns in ways that shouldn't work but somehow does. The danger is to go farther than you think you should, or else you can come off as somebody who just doesn't know any better, not someone who has chosen to ignore all the rules for your own zany but necessary reasons.

9. Drop in right in the middle of things.

This one is my favorite. If your story is about a killer walking up the path to a victim's house, knocking on the door, and waiting politely for it to be opened, skip all that and start at the open door, knife brandished. In other words, start after what you think is the beginning. Let something be going on, something happening. Have somebody or something doing something.

10. Don't bore the reader.

This one's obvious. Right? But what does it really mean. Don't be mundane. If at all possible, avoid weak verbs. Use interesting characters. There are thousands of ways to bore a reader from the beginning. In my opinion the worst offender out there (particularly in fantasy) is the infodump. (Call it "world-building" if you like, but you know the truth as well as I do, Buttercup.) Don't give readers and essay... Give 'em action.

STABLE FLOORS AND JUMPING INTO NOTHING

So there you go. I've said my piece.

Now it's up to you. Get serious about making your openings strong. It's important. It's the reason you get to be the first or last story in an anthology rather than crammed in the middle somewhere. It's the reason you novels demands to be taken to the register and then home rather than returned to the shelf.

This is why I can't write any story until I have my opening settled. Sure, I can go back and edit it a bit, but I have to know where I'm started to know where I'm going. A lot of my writer friends don't get this and ask why can't I just barrel through and then redo the opening later. Well, maybe they can, but I can't. Just like you can't build a house without a stable base, I can build a tale without a stable opening. If I'm going to jump out into the great, big fictional nothing in search of words and actions and characters, I need to jump from something solid to have the best footing.

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

That's the goal, the bottom line, the "every other cliche the world can throw at this example."