Chances are if you read a lot of books within the romance or erotica genres (or any sub-genre), then you've come across more than a few bad sex scenes. And there's a really good reason for that: writing about sex is hard. Especially for the first time. Writing those steamy sex scenes requires a whole different set of skills than writing just about anything else. It's uncomfortable and embarrassing and makes you believe you can't write at all. And it's easy to fall into some bad traps. This was not something I knew before getting hired for one of my first ghostwriting jobs – to write a romance novel. I hit the keyboard running, fingers flying and words pouring out. Then I came up to the first sex scene and….
The characters stopped talking. My motivation was gone. The scene tripped over itself and all I could do was stare at the previous scene and pull my hair out. What I ended up with was a paragraph loosely describing missionary style…I was frozen — a point that showed to my client when my client asked me about editing that particular scene later. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't the worst sex scene ever written — not by a long shot. I've read some pretty horrific sex scenes.
Just a little housekeeping heads-up to let you all know that I've updated and revamped my core website, The Taylorverse, to version 6.0. Feel free to pop over and bookmark the site if you're not already a regular popper-overer.
Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to announce the release of “Barry Baskerville’s Marvelous Memory,” the fifth in its children’s book series about the young Boy Detective.
In this new tale, Barry, besides his usual games and riddles at school, manages to save his parents from a pair of unscrupulous con artists posing as insurance salesmen.
Once again Dr. Richard Kellogg, professor emeritus of psychology at Alfred State College, spins a fun, informative story that young and old will relish while Hawaiian based artist, Gary Kato, provides the beautifully colored illustrations.
“Barry Baskerville’s Marvelous Memory” shows children how close observations, adequate repetition, and mnemonic techniques can enhance their memorization skills. The hero of the adventure is a precocious youngster named Barry Baskerville who has dreams of becoming a famous detective just like Sherlock Holmes.
“We have tons of fun with this series,” admits Airship 27 Productions’ Managing Editor Ron Fortier. “To date we’ve done one book a year and believe the audience for Barry Baskerville is growing in leaps and bounds. This is a perfect series for parents and grandparents wanting to get children hooked on reading.”
AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS – PULP FICTION FOR A NEW GENERATION!
Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to present the second in Fred Adams Junior’s thriller series featuring World War II vet C.O. Jones.
It’s 1949 and army veteran C.O. Jones is living in Los Angeles working as a private investigator. When he’s hired to find a missing starlet, he soon finds himself embroiled in a sophisticated conspiracy which not only includes kidnapping but high-profile blackmail as well.
All of which would be enough to keep any honest, hardworking P.I. busy but when it’s Jones, there is also the added element of magic to consider. Possessing an uncanny ability to recognize arcane abilities in others, Jones begins to uncover even deadlier shadows in the background. Never mind one of them may actually be a real werewolf with his own personal interest in the case.
“C.O. Jones is one of the most original tough guy heroes ever invented,” claims Airship 27 Production’s Managing Editor Ron Fortier. “Set against the background of post-World War II America, Adams has given us a rugged, weary character with just a smidgen of the occult mixed in. This is really a fun pulp series not to be missed.”
Award Winning Art Director Rob Davis provides the cover and book design while Florida based art/teacher Javier Lugo turns in his first assignment for Airship 27 with nine marvelous black and white interior illustrations. Thus action in the series shifts to Tinsel Town and with C.O. Jones, often times the monsters aren’t only up on the big silver screen.
AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS – PULP FICTION FOR A NEW GENERATION!
Now available from Amazon in both paperback and on Kindle.
Bad Girls, Good Guys, and Two-Fist Action would like to welcome one of pulpiest comic book creators around to the site -- Scott McCullar, the warped brain behind Thrill Seeker Comics and characters like The Yellow Jacket: Man of Mystery, The Emerald Mantis, and The Chrononaut.
And coming out soon you’ll be able to get your own paws on the new, all-color special graphic novel that collects all the Thrill Seeker stories from the fan-favorite Shooting Star Comics stalwart.
Thanks for sitting in with us, Shaft (to those in the know, that’s Scott’s other way of being addressed). Let’s get to it then. Why don’t we start with you telling us about the formation of Thrill Seeker Comics back during the days of Shooting Star Comics?
I actually had the germ of an idea for the creation of this comic book series going all the way back to when I was a young teenager in middle school when I drew pictures of a martial arts character in my school note books that would become the Emerald Mantis during the age when Snake-Eyes and Storm Shadow debuted in G.I.JOE comics and cartoons in the early-to-mid 1980’s.
I revived the idea of writing and drawing my own comic book in the early 1990’s as I was finishing college. I had an idea for a story that took place in New Zealand and would transition to a make-believe city in the deep south of the United States. One of the characters was a female hero called the Tricrüsta, originally based on my ex-wife all those years ago when we were newlyweds. The fictional southern city was named St. Franҫois de Port which exists halfway between Memphis and New Orleans on the Mississippi River where Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana meet on the map.
I never got around to writing that story, but the fictional city was further developed by me when I began to play the VAMPIRE: THE MASQUERADE roleplaying game sessions in the early 1990’s after I had graduated. By late 1997, I began to create a squad of characters called THE OUTCAST SEVEN which I was going to feature in this fictional series in my own independent comic. I began writing scripts and sketching concepts for the comic, but it got put on the backburner as I was also starting to do some work for DC Comics and West End Games working on writing for the DC Universe Roleplaying Game as well as Green Arrow projects, acting as a writing consultant for Kevin Smith and Brad Meltzer, and eventually writing a Green Arrow comic of my own.
I was looking for a vehicle to launch THRILL SEEKER COMICS featuring the Emerald Mantis, but just didn’t find the right time until SHOOTING STAR COMICS ANTHOLOGY came along…
And all that good stuff from SSC… how did all that get started anyway?
My recollection is that by late 2001, I was approached by some friends online who were also aspiring comic book writers that included folks like John Morgan Neal and Erik Burnham to join them on a venture to create an anthology comic book that would showcase our new talent with us all writing and drawing our own creator-owned stories. Many of the new collaborators on this project were regulars on Chuck Dixon’s message board called The Dixonverse at his website. This was the perfect place for me to launch what I would call THRILL SEEKER COMICS and I would feature the Emerald Mantis.
Except, I also created at the last moment for my first story what I thought would be a “throwaway” character that would prove to be more popular than what I had imagined. I introduced a pulp character with a trenchcoat, fedora, and attitude that began to take on a life of his own named the Yellow Jacket: Man of Mystery.
Just who is The Yellow Jacket, and what went into his creation?
The Yellow Jacket: Man of Mystery is what I would call a poor man’s version of the Green Hornet who is instead from the Depression era Deep South. He was inspired by just about every other comic book and pulp fiction book trench coat and fedora wearing vigilante toting a pair of smoking .45 pistols but being a southerner was my twist.
While influenced by characters like the Green Hornet, the Crimson Avenger, the Shadow, the Spirit, and even The Punisher… he was actually inspired more by George Clooney’s role in the Coen Brothers film O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU? with his portrayal of the character Ulysses Everett McGill. He does have a bit of influence from Clark Gable in some of his roles in films like MOGAMBO and SAN FRANCISCO as well as a few others. Maybe slight touches of Bruce Willis and Humphrey Bogart are in Yellow Jacket’s DNA as well.
There is even a bit of my own Uncle Junior or my late Granddaddy mixed into Yellow Jacket as I sometimes imagine his southern mannerism and his way with the gift of gab in how he structures together his words in a southern dialect and context. The character originates from yonder down there in the South. Same territory as George Clooney’s Ulysses Everett McGill or even Brad Pitt’s portrayal of Lt. Aldo Raines.
Yellow Jacket is a tragic figure of sorts. He faked his death during World War One and took on someone else’s identity. After the Great Depression, he became a wanted vigilante in the 1930’s on the run getting into adventures and mishaps. His is a story of redemption. He is humorous, tragic, deadly, yet heroic in the end. He has acted as judge, jury, and executioner yet has a heart of gold. By the tales that take place in the 1940’s and beyond with him, he embraces a rebranding of sorts in becoming one of the masked mystery men fighting the Axis forces during World War Two and other evil doers beyond.
I have many more adventures planned with him and his earliest adventures are showcased in the THRILL SEEKER COMICS ARCHIVE VOLUME ONE.
What can you tell us about the rest of the Thrill Seeker Comics universe?
In the pages of the SHOOTING STAR COMICS ANTHOLOGY, I was able to tell stories from different time periods with characters mainly focused on Yellow Jacket and different family generations of men who were the Emerald Mantis. You got to peek at a few other heroes like the Sacred Scarab. The Thrill Seeker Universe was conceived to be an alternate world in the multiverse that could easily crossover with characters you might find at DC Comics or Marvel. I do have my own fictional cities and other thrilling locations, but it is a variation of our world with heroes and villains.
I showcased a few heroes, but in my mind and in my sketchbooks and plans, it is a rich universe with many characters and stories to tell. I confess that part of my creation of this universe was that while I was just getting a chance to work for DC Comics when I began working on THRILL SEEKER COMICS, I was sort of frustrated that I couldn’t fully play in DC Comics’ sandbox with their toys.
I took archetypes and shook them all up with my own spin so that I would have my own toys to play with and break if I wanted to do so. Fifteen years later, now that I’m older, I’m actually much happier to play in my own toy box now and plan on reviving the series after more than a decade to write and illustrate new tales beginning next year.
I’d like to think that my Thrill Seeker Universe is where The Coen Brothers meets Quentin Tarantino meets Bronze Age Comics. My entire pulp universe inspired by hard-boiled noir tales, 1970’s kung-fu flicks, war films and grindhouse movie hijinks mixed with the feel of classic comic book sensibilities. While it isn’t intended for young kiddies, THRILL SEEKER COMICS is a frenetic mix of humor, bloody violence and reclamation of the soul aimed at mature readers that love blood and guts-style brutal action.
Tell us about this new book of Thrill Seeker Comics you’re putting together.
Friend and former Shooting Star Comics collaborator Erik Burnham encouraged me just over five years ago to collect all my Thrill Seeker short stories and put them into a collection. Originally, they were all drawn black and white. I admit there were a few panels that were rushed that I was not happy with that I wanted to redraw. I also had an unpublished story that was unfinished in what was going to be SHOOTING STAR COMICS ANTHOLOGY #7. With those tales and one published in a one-shot called JOB WANTED as well as an online comic web strip, I cleaned up the art and stories, colorized everything, and put in a sort of “DVD Commentary” in the back of the book along with some pin ups by artists. It is a really nice 128-page book that is completely finished and is currently running a crowdfunding campaign at Kickstarter that I hope many of your readers may check out and support.
Now, You know and I know how you got the nickname Shaft from your lifelong enjoyment and involvement with DC’s emerald archer, but your business dealings with him went deeper than mere fandom. What’s the skinny on that?
I broke into comics in the late 1990’s with the Internet being a new sensation due to my fansite dedicated to Green Arrow. Somewhere along the line, I got the nickname “Shaft” as you mentioned because of my love of Green Arrow, but also because I was a message board moderator at some sites for Chuck Dixon and others… and I was a hard-hitting no-nonsense guy.
When I was the Art Director at Shooting Star Comics when we were publishing independent books, there was a moment when one outside comic creator who wanted to work for us tried to bulldoze his way into something and I had strong words with him. I guess some of the other guys saw me take on a very superfly TNT and guns of the Navarone approach with him in my retort and thus I was “Shaft” forever after…
I later had a wallet given to me that said “Bad Mother Fucker” on it as I’m sure it was a nod to my love of Samuel L. Jackson… and somewhere along the line… many of the comic fans on Dixonverse and elsewhere gave me the nickname. It stuck.
Almost 20 years later, it still sticks in certain circles. But I’m much more chilled now in life.
Things were happening for you all those years ago. At one point, WIZARD MAGAZINE spotlighted you after Kevin Smith said he wanted you to take over writing GREEN ARROW comic for him at DC Comic. Then, not too long after that, you kind of disappeared on the scene. Glad you're back, but what happened?
I was always around on the peripheral, but a lot like John Lennon did in the late 1970’s before he came back with DOUBLE FANTASY album (um… and unfortunately was murdered), I sort of walked away from things too in order to deal with matters in my personal life.
To be frank, life threw me some curveballs with the end of Shooting Star Comics in 2006.
From there, I’ve spent my time raising kids, played bass guitar in a bar band, went to grad school to earn my master's degree, continued with my studies in martial arts and earned a few degrees with my black belt, went through a messy separation and divorce, lost a job when downsizing hit, lived in Japan for a while to figure things out, fought ninjas, got back on my feet here in America and found a new job, bought a home that I’m currently restoring, courted many fair maidens since I’m single now, and just going about and doing all sorts of other things.
I admit the separation, divorce, and aftermath took a huge toll on me. There was even a while there that THRILL SEEKER COMICS property was caught up for over a year in the legal proceedings of the divorce and frozen where my ex-wife would have owned half of this. Our lawyers worked out a deal and it actually states in my divorce decree that I traded the family dog and turned the pet over to her in order to keep full rights to THRILL SEEKER COMICS and be able to publish. I'm glad my kids got the dog and I got my intellectual property unfrozen and back.
It is true that life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans. My son Mitch was born in 2000 when I was helping Kevin Smith on GREEN ARROW. When I began working with SHOOTING STAR COMICS, my son was just a year old. Now my son drives, has whiskers, is about to earn his black belt, and is in his senior year of high school planning on going off to the University of Michigan in 12 months.
How the heck did Shaft, Jr. grow up so fast? Not to mention that I have a daughter who is now 21 years of age.
Well, after this decade of preoccupation with other things, I'm now looking to get back to writing and drawing brand new comic book stories featuring my characters from THRILL SEEKER COMICS.
I miss working in comics and look forward to returning with new stories. And I look forward to the release of this archive collection that you can order now with a pledge on Kickstarter.
How can readers get involved in the Kickstarter and get copies of the TSC book?
I truly appreciate it once again if anyone is interested in buying the archive book, you please head over to Kickstarter website and pledge in one of the brackets fitted for you to order the book. We have a goal that we’re trying to hit by the last day of September but would love to hit it now and provide some stretch goals with cool items to be offered that you can find out about now if you take a look.
Airship 27 Productions and Captain Action Enterprises LLC, are thrilled to announce the release of the third volume of Captain Action’s new pulp adventures.
1969 -- Something mysterious is happening in the depths of the Yucatan jungle and Miles Drake, aka Captain Action has been sent to investigate. His superiors believe their main nemesis, the alien criminal known as Dr. Evil, is hunting something called the Sky Rock; a supposed fallen meteor containing strange energies. But as soon as Drake arrives on the site, he’s met with two other unexpected characters that may or may not be involved with Evil’s nefarious plans.
One of these is a beautiful female Mexican agent named Selena Rubio, whereas the other is a strange masked figure woven from local Mayan myths called the Gibbon, the Protector of the Jungle. Whose side are they on and how does Evil’s actual scheme involve the forthcoming Cape Kennedy space rocket launch? The deeper Captain Action delves into the affair, the more dangerous it becomes with death awaiting him at every twist and turn along this deadly verdant path.
Writers Jim Beard and Barry Reese weave a face paced, new pulp thriller filled action galore, exotic locales and larger than life characters to offer up a great new chapter in the exploits of one of the most iconic heroes of the 1960s, Captain Action. Miles Drake is his name but Action is his game!!
“This entire series was writer Jim Beard’s idea,” Airship 27 Production’s Managing Editor Ron Fortier recaps. “It was Jim who initially hooked us up with Ed Catto and Joe Ahearn of Captain Action Enterprise LLC. Generally, most small publishers avoid working with licensors, but in this case our partnership has been a great working relationship for both companies. No doubt because both Ed and Joe, and their new partner, Michael Polis, are still fanboys at heart.”
The original plan was to have Beard write all three books solo but when scheduling conflicts arose, he turned to another popular New Pulp author, Barry Reese, for assistance. A long time fan of Captain Action, Reese was happy to sign on and contributed the bulk of this third original book. Canadian artist Ted Hammond provides the stunning cover and Airship 27 Production’s Award Winning Art Director Rob Davis the interior illustrations as well as book design.
About Captain Action Enterprises
As Retropreneurs, Captain Action Enterprises, LLC specializes in taking old properties and rejuvenating them for a new generation. Captain Action’s appears in comic book series, lithographs, statues, action figures, books, T-shirts, model kits and more. Additional
properties include Lady Action, Captain Action Cat, Dr. Evil, Khem, Destiny Zero and Savage Beauty. For additional information, please contact Ed Catto at email@example.com.
AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS – PULP FICTION FOR A NEW GENERATION!
Available now from Amazon in both paperback and on Kindle.
Book marketing for authors is still a widely unknown phenomenon. And as such, a lot of authors still don't quite get how book marketing should work. Most of the posts, tweets, and pins you make advertising your new book for sale go largely ignored by a lot people — even bookworms and friends like me. Oh sure, you may get the occasional retweets, shares, and a few people may even go ahead and make a purchase. It's not that the rest of us don't want you to succeed; on the contrary, most of us want to see you succeed. Most of us can't wait until we see that announcement that you've made it onto a best seller's list. Any best seller's list. So why isn't it working?
So, if all your friends and family members want to see you succeed, why are we ignoring your advertising? Here are some of the top reasons I have actively ignored pleas on social media.
That's not why we're on social media.
No one joins social media because they want their friends to sell stuff to them. No one created their Twitter accounts hoping all the authors would start tweeting about sales and book releases. And no one ever hopped on Instagram hoping to see photo after photo after promotional photo of every book ever about to be released.
And I'm pretty sure you didn't join social media just so you could try to market that book. Right?
We're there to see what you're up to, to get to know you better, and to follow along with your journey. We signed up so we could stay in touch with our friends and family, and make new friends. We followed your fanpage on Facebook or Twitter so we could connect with you. So if you want us to pay attention to you, pay attention to us.
It's shaming or guilting us for not buying.
I'm sure you've seen those posts flying around. “You should be buying local instead of buying from major retailers,” or “why would you support major publishing houses instead of your own friends?”
I'll tell you why we make purchases from major publishing houses — because they are selling books we're interested in. Not that we wouldn't be interested in your book, but we don't like being judged for our buying habits.
Past Promises Can a proper lady coax a rugged cowboy into surrendering his heart in this delightful historical romance? Prim and proper Jessica Stanbridge is a brilliant woman who hides her beauty behind a pair of thick, wire-framed spectacles. She travels to the Wild West in search of historical artifacts, but instead finds an ornery - but gorgeous - cowboy who agrees to serve as her guide. Rory Burnett hides his passion in his secret poetry, but he can't disguise his growing desire for the determined young beauty...or his fear that Jessica's quest might lead her into deadly danger. As the spark of passion between them flares into an irresistible flame beneath the sizzling kiss of the desert sun, Rory and Jessica must decide if the promises of the past are going to lead them to destruction...or to a future in each other's arms... Click here.
The Orchid Hunter Can an English lady raised as a "wild orchid" ever be truly tamed? When Trevor Mandeville leaves behind the drawing rooms of London and journeys to an island paradise in search of a rare orchid, he comes face-to-face with an even more shocking treasure. Stolen from her family at a young age, Joya Penn has spent most of her life running wild and free. Trevor tries to resist her charms, but soon finds himself captivated by the deliciously innocent - yet wildly seductive - young creature with eyes as blue as a mountain lake and blonde hair rippling down her back in an untamed mane. Given her first taste of desire by the handsome adventurer, Joya believes all her dreams have come true when Trevor agrees to escort her back to London. But her uninhibited ways quickly throw his entire household-and his heart-into delightful chaos. As Joya despairs of ever being the sort of "proper lady" Trevor could love, Trevor begins to wonder if he's finally found the treasure he has been hunting for his entire life...in the forbidden paradise of Joya's arms. Click here.
Can a mysterious beauty win the heart of the most eligible bachelor in San Francisco in this tender western romance? Jade Douglas is a determined young woman who risks it all to travel to San Francisco in the late 1800's to learn the truth about her father's mysterious death. J.T. Harrington is a handsome, rugged rancher who has just inherited a vast estate. When he finds the radiant beauty on his doorstep, he is tempted to ignore his vow never to love again and offer Jade both his name and his heart. Before their scandalous wedding can unveil the secrets of the past, J.T. and Jade find themselves torn apart by a dangerous deception, but brought together again by a desire too powerful for either one of them to deny... Click here.
Can two yearning hearts learn to beat as one? Dake Reed is a jaded soldier traveling home from the Civil War when he stumbles across an ambushed wagon - and a helpless newborn in need of a mother. The last thing Cara James expects to see is a lean and handsome stranger riding across the lonely prairie with a baby in his arms. She's nothing but a backwoods girl with sky-blue eyes living on a Kansas homestead, making rag dolls...and dreaming of a better life. Desperate to find someone to share his burden, Dake uses his sweet-as-molasses drawl to coax Cara into leaving everything behind and joining him on his journey. As Dake and Cara travel to a place they both hope to call home, Cara dares to dream it's not just the child who needs her tender touch...but the man. Click here.
by Now Novel Suspense is a critical aspect of writing crime fiction. All the elements outlined below can help to increase suspense over the course of your novel: Conflict Suspense arises from conflict. Before you can effectively create suspense throughout your crime novel, you need to have a handle on its central conflict. The main question of your novel might be answering who the murderer of a character was. You can use this question and the tension it creates as a starting point for building suspense. Branching out from your major conflict, there may be smaller conflicts that also create tension. The investigator may interview two suspects, for example, who hate one another. Each might imply that the other may have been involved. Suspense may be built around efforts to cover up unsavoury facts about the deceased. Suspense may also be generated as the investigative protagonist gets closer to the answer since this places her life in danger. Time Unfolding your novel within a tight time frame is one of the best methods for building suspense. Whether your protagonist is in a 24-hour race against time like Robert Langdon in The Da Vinci Code or has all of 61 hours to save the day like Jack Reacher in the Lee Child novel 61 Hours, putting your protagonist on a ticking clock will likely make readers turn pages. Read the full article: http://www.nownovel.com/blog/writing-crime-fiction/
Surely your intrepid heroine knows better than to rely on the petals of the daisy to tell her the truth - the answer to her question is standing right in front of her.
Bodies rarely lie.
Your heroine looks beyond the words and judges whether this is a future love interest or this is a waste of her time.
The first rule of thumb is never assume. Making a determination is based on an accumulation of body language information. Some of the body language gestures that your heroine is looking for may be personality quirks that do NOT inform the communication. As an example, I have often been called out for playing with my hair - many a man has read that a woman touching her hair is a sign of sexual desire. And I'm not saying that this is incorrect in every instance of my playing with my hair - I'm just saying that in general my hair gets in my way, and I am constantly touching my hair. So this would not be a good "tell" for me. What you want your heroine to see is what changes, where does the character act differently.
A tell is a body language signal that is produced without thought. It signals information to a recipient. Some people are more dexterous in reading body language than others.
Throne of the Bastards by Brian Keene and Steven L. Shrewsbury
Apex Publications is proud to announce the release of Throne of the Bastards by Brian Keene and Steven L. Shrewsbury. Sword and sorcery collides with horror once again in this sequel to the award-winning King of the Bastards!
Learning that his family is in danger, Rogan returns to his former kingdom, now under siege from foreign invaders and supernatural forces led by his bastard son. With time running out, the aging barbarian and his trusted companions, Javan and Akibeel, must forge an alliance of new friends and old foes, mustering an army to retake the kingdom. Surrounded by savages, soldiers, demons, and dark magic, it will take all of their cunning, skill, ruthlessness, and courage to survive the slaughter and determine once and for all who shall sit upon the Throne of the Bastards.
Title: Throne of the Bastards by Brian Keene and Steven L. Shrewsbury
Release date: August 22nd, 2017
Price: $14.95, print. $6.99, digital.
STEVEN L. SHREWSBURY lives, works, and writes in rural Illinois. Over three hundred and sixty of his short stories have been published in print or electronically, along with over one hundred poems. His novels include Godforsaken, Overkill, Thrall, Bedlam Unleashed, Hawg, Tormentor, Stronger Than Death, Hell Billy, Bag Magick, and many more—all running the gamut from sword and sorcery to historical fantasy to horror. A husband and father, he loves books, British television programs, guns, movies, politics, sports, and hanging out with his family. He looks for brightness wherever it may hide.
BRIAN KEENE writes novels, comic books, short fiction, and occasional journalism for money. He is the author of over fifty books, mostly in the horror, crime, and dark fantasy genres. His 2003 novel, The Rising, is often credited with inspiring pop culture’s current interest in zombies. He has won numerous awards and honors, including the 2014 World Horror Grandmaster Award, 2001 Bram Stoker Award for Nonfiction, 2003 Bram Stoker Award for First Novel, 2004 Shocker Award for Book of the Year, and Honors from United States Army International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan and Whiteman A.F.B. (home of the B-2 Stealth Bomber) 509th Logistics Fuels Flight. The father of two sons, Keene lives in rural Pennsylvania.
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.
If you follow me on Facebook you'll know already that I'm a big proponent of mocking up cover designs for books I haven't written yet.
Here are a few of the mock-ups I've done to help me stay motivated just so you have an idea what I'm talking about (or don't follow me on FB).
This is a designed I built solely from a title, and by the time I was finished with the design an entire mysteries series had developed from it. Obviously inspired by seedy, sleazy 60s crime novels, this one will feature a lady of the 80s who gets drawn into the underbelly of city life in Atlanta.
A man holds up the office of a private detective. Why? I don't know yet, but when I do, it'll be because this mock-up has been constantly playing in the background of my brain.
This one will feature a serial killer who specializes in neo-burlesque dancers. Clearly a fetishist at work.
This one will be for a line of "Extreme" line of crime novels, all pretty clearly inspired by sleazy 60s pulps. Boy meets girl. High school ends. Boy becomes detective. Girl becomes hooker. Girls gets killed. Boy owes her this one and must solve the crime.
And to answer your question, yes. I've heard it lots of times: "Why waste time on those when you could be actually writing the book instead?"
That's actually a darn good question, but I think I have a darn good answer for it.
1. It creates an image that will rekindle the inspiration later when I'm ready for that book. Just looking at it again will bring all those feelings of excitement I had initially about the concept, and it will also remind me of the plot ideas I was playing around with in the pre-pre-pre-pre-writing phase.
2. It helps me practice the design side of my brain. It's a different way to think about a story, image rather than verbal, and that keeps my brain exercised and more trained for I sit down to write.
3. It keeps me motivated. I never have to ask, "What can I possibly work on now?" because I have a ready-made project eagerly awaiting my attention.
Would I recommend this practice to other writers? Sure, especially if you are the kind of learner who responds to and thinks in images. If so, there's no better way to trigger memory and excitement for a project, at least that I've found. If you're not a writer who also has to exercise that design side of your brain, the side that tries to speak to you in pictures just as much as words, then mock-ups probably going to be helpful to you, and you might as well just stick with your .doc file with a short write-up about the project.
But... before you completely turn your nose up at the idea, why not give it a shot and see if it helps? You might be surprised the kind of ideas that releasing some visual creativity can give you.
There are lots of great resources online so you don't have to pay for expensive design software. Serif Drawplus is one, and so is Inkscape. Both of those are vector based (meaning anything other than the bitmapped images can be scaled up or down without loss of quality). For more traditional free image software, both PaintNet and Gimp are favorites of mine. All four of those can be downloaded and run offline. If you're looking for something you can do online for free, try either Canva or SVG-Edit.
If you decide to give it a shot, send me some of your mock-ups, and I'll share them in a future post here on the blog. Happy mocking up... er, mockupping... er, playing with fake book covers!
Horror is the one of the toughest genres to write. That is why so many horror writers today have resorted to gritty violence and gore. writing horror is to write about something most people would like not to think about. True horror takes something of a personal touch, in that it has to crawl into the audience while staying separate. I can’t tell you how to write the perfect horror story, but I can give you some tips to enhance the level of horror of any story you write.
Write Horror for the Senses
Darkness is scary. Tons of horror writing takes place in the blackness of shadows, and it is not wrong to rely on darkness for horror when you write. Though, people forget there is sound, smell, hearing, and touch just waiting to sneak it's way into your horror writing. Don’t start to write about the dark house alone, but write in some new horror sensory latches as well.
Write away the character's sight. Write the character in darkness with just the sound of tapping on metal. Writing horror is about making the character, and reader feel vulnerable.
“Clink, clink, clink. A loud crash. She looks, but sees nothing. The clicking is coming from everywhere and nowhere. It is all around. The smell of wet cement sticks in her nose. She can feel something cold, but what? Concrete or sandpaper beneath her? Clink, clink, clink. The sound rattles closer: chains shaking? Could it be him?”
You can write you horror as “she saw a ghost in chains, the same ghost that had left her in the darkness of the warehouse.” You can write a large horror description about how "the black smoke poured from beneath his cape and sheets," but senses as a whole are more powerful than just sight when you write horror.
Battles for the Night is a 10-book box set about planetary conquest by some of today's best storytellers!
Comrades in Arms By Kevin J. Anderson
Europa Nightmare By Wayne Faust & Charles Eugene Anderson
The Final Survey of Andrei Kreutzmann By Stefon Mears
Mars: The Machine War By Joseph Robert Lewis
Only Sheepdog on the Moon By Stefon Mears
Archer of Venus By James Palmer
Stealing from Pirates By Stefon Mears
Blaster Squad #1 By Russ Crossley
Athena Setting By Sean Monaghan
Five by Five 3: Target Zone By Kevin J. Anderson
From the Files of Her Majesty's Clandestine Service
This book brings together for the first time the steampunk adventures of Sarah Frost, agent of the Queen! Clockwork robots, a despotic superhuman intelligence, and a spring-loaded attacker await you.
The Clockwork Conundrum:
Sarah Frost is beautiful, wealthy, intelligent, and bored out of her mind!
Subjected to a life of parties and dances and mindless chatter when she'd rather be running her missing father's factory, Sarah is intrigued when a strange fog descends over London that leaves chaos and missing people in its wake. With her long-suffering valet/bodyguard Wednesday in tow, Sarah vows to get to the bottom of it, but what she discovers is something far more earth-shattering. It will take all her genius and resourcefulness to untangle a plot by inventor Charles Babbage and Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace to destroy the British Empire, and uncover the bizarre purpose of the secretive Voyeur Society. Victorian spies, mad scientists, and other-dimensional entities cross swords in this wildly pulpy steampunk romp that will leave you asking for more.
The Drood Enigma:
Charles Dickens is Missing!
Sarah Frost has just settled into her role as an agent for the Queen when she gets her strangest assignment yet. A man has been found wandering the London streets, naked and delirious. He is none other than Wilkie Collins, writer, friend and confidant of the reclusive author Charles Dickens, whom Collins claims has been kidnapped by a shadowy foe no one has ever seen. A man known only as Edwin Drood.
Sarah takes the case without hesitation, dragging her valet and bodyguard Mr. Wednesday deep into the poverty-stricken East End to find clues to the famous author’s whereabouts. What she finds is a powerful force that can ensorcel anyone into doing its bidding, a cadre of chimney sweeps busily building something in a moldering warehouse, and a superhuman intelligence with designs on the British Empire. It takes a woman’s touch, as Sarah Frost must once more do her best for Queen and country in this latest tale from the files of Her Majesty’s Clandestine Service!
Don't miss the exciting follow-up to The Clockwork Conundrum!
The Spring-heeled Jack Affair:
In this never before published adventure, Sarah must come to the aid of a group of women suffragists who are being attacked by a spring-footed fiend. But it will take all of Sarah's fortitude to overcome the malevolent foe when she becomes Spring-heeled Jack's next target!
Continuing in our series on diversity in literature, today we are talking with Katie Mettner and her use of physical challenges as a character quality.
Katie, I introduced myself to you from social media after I learned about your book Liberty Belle. First, could you give us your book blurb; and second, can you talk about why you decided to write about a character with physical challenges?
Main Street is bustling in Snowberry, Minnesota, and nobody knows that better than the owner of the iconic bakery, the Liberty Belle. Handed the key to her namesake at barely twenty-one, Liberty has worked day and night to keep her parents’ legacy alive.
Now, three years later, she’s a hotter mess than the batch of pies baking in her industrial-sized oven. Photographer Bram Alexander has had his viewfinder focused on the heart of one woman since returning to Snowberry. For the last three years she’s kept him at arm's length, but all bets are off when he finds her injured and alone on the bakery floor. Liberty knew falling in love with Bram would be easy, but convincing her tattered heart to trust him may be impossible. Armed with small town determination and a heart of gold, Bram shows Liberty frame-by-frame how falling for him is as easy as pie.
In the opening scene you meet Bram Alexander, who is at the bakery to pick up the baptism cake for his niece. His sister-in-law Snow and his brother Jay are both in wheelchairs. Snow is very prevalent in Liberty Belle because she is a researcher for MS where Liberty is being treated for MS. Snow is married to Dully Alexander, Bram's older brother, and Dully is a special education teacher. They foster a boy with Down Syndrome.
All of my characters have some form of disability or special challenge. When I write a new character I internally know, by whatever power is telling me, what their name is and the condition they will have. The rest is up to me to figure out and carry out.
MS is a disease that is so varying and runs a different course for each patient that it was very easy to focus on just one or two parts of the disease for this character physically, but really explore the emotional and social aspect of the disease and how that affects the whole being.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Guys, gals, and green tentacle beasts from the planet Yyyyarchazaick... this is hands-down one of the best articles I've seen on how to trim the fat and cut words to tighten your prose, fiction or non. You owe it to your career to read this article.
by Paul Bishop
The experience of editing over fifty books and repeatedly slashing red ink across the same words and phrases, has made me hyper aware of the same issues in my own writing. I now mercilessly try to eliminate all of the same fat in my manuscripts I’ve scalpeled from others.
To write leaner more impactful prose, you must not only be willing to eliminate flabby sentences and fat words, you need to be able to recognize them. To help with this process there should be a self-help program for writers to join—Word Watchers: Lose 10% Of Your Manuscript In 10 Days...
Members of the writers’ group I mentor know I am on a quest to eliminate the word that from the English language. As an editor, I’ve found the dreaded word to be riddled unnecessarily through almost every manuscript I review. My rule is, if you can remove that from a sentence and the sentence still makes sense, run the word out of town on a log.
Compare the following:
•She needed to tell him that the car wouldn’t start.
•She needed to tell him the car wouldn’t start.
•I was glad that she was doing better.
•I was glad she was doing better.
In both examples, the sentence becomes stronger by removing the weak link of the word, that.
Use a word search to see how many times that appears in your manuscript. You’ll be shocked. It’s especially overwhelming when you realize 95% of thats could be excised. Removing this scourge will strengthen your sentences without changing the integrity of your prose.
Of is another overused word I can guarantee is cluttering up your manuscript like a bad case of acne.
Compare the following:
•He examined the damaged paw of the dog
•He examined the dog’s injured paw.
You decide which sentence is stronger, leaner, expressed more concisely. Now think about how many sentences in your manuscript are being blemished by the of virus.
Yesterday I announced our ‘How To…’ group writing project and issued readers of ProBlogger with the challenge to go away and write a ‘How to‘ post for their blog.
On Twitter a number of people told me that they were having a little trouble with writing a ‘how to…’ post because it wasn’t their normal style of writing on their blog so I thought I’d jot down a few tips for writing ‘how to…’ content (something I’ve been creating for 10 years now on my blogs).
How to Write ‘How to’ Content on your Blog
What follows is how I personally tackle writing ‘how to’ or ‘tutorial’ style content. By no means is it the only way to do it – if you do it another way, please tell us about how you approach it in comments below – I’d love to learn from you! 1. Start with a Problem
Perhaps the best advice I can give on writing effective ‘how to’ posts on a blog is to put some time aside to identifying the problems that your readers have because the most effective how to posts are written about actual challenges that your readers might face.
As I’ve already written 11 tips on how to identify reader problems I won’t rehash them all here again – read this post!
2. Break it Down
With a problem or challenge that you want to solve for readers identified now is the time to break down the process for solving that issue.
With a problem in mind I generally take a little time before I start writing to come up with a list of steps to overcome the problem. I personally do this usually but jotting down some bullet points in a notepad (retro of me I know) or in a text document on my computer).
If the problem I’m writing about is more complex I also occasionally will break down the process for solving it using a MindMap (I use MindNode either on my iPad or computer).
I find by identifying what I want to write about before I start writing that I’m much more effective in writing the post because I know where I’m headed!
I also find having this helpful because as I’m actually writing I will often have other ideas for the post (or for followup posts) on the fly and I jot these down on the list so I don’t lose them.
Airship 27 Productions is thrilled to present the fifth book in their continuing new adventures of that classic pulp hero, Jim Anthony – Super Detective.
Jim Anthony had battled all manner of evil and villainy in his illustrious career as a globe-trotting adventurer. But now he finds himself challenged by three unique criminals, each with devastating weapons of destruction; the Flame Wizard, Baron Strum and Prof. Meteon. Each is determined to wreak unimaginable havoc on the world and vanquish the Super Detective in the process.
The hero soon comes to suspect there is a fourth nemesis; a super Mastermind orchestrating these other villains in a cunning, deadly plot for reasons he is unable to fathom. But the Super Detective is never alone thanks to his various allies ala pilot Tm Gentry and British butler Dawkins and along the way he is joined by the beautiful Maria Flores and her All-Girl Squad.
Writer Adam Mudman Bezecny has plotted a fast-paced, action-packed novel in four parts creating some of the most dastardly pulp villains ever to challenge the Super Detective. “This is a really interesting collection,” explains Airship 27 Productions’ Managing Editor Ron Fortier. “Although each of the chapters works very much like a stand alone adventure, ultimately they create a longer narrative plot leading to the Super Detective’s newest arch-fiend, Mastermind.”
Artist Richard Jun provides the marvelous black and white interior illustrations and Adam Shaw delivers the stunning cover based on one of those pieces. All of which are assembled under the guiding hand of Airship 27 Art Director Rob Davis.
“Jim Anthony is one of our favorite pulp heroes,” Fortier adds happily, “and we hope to continue this series of new books for as long as our readers enjoy them.” So buckle up for a wild ride, pulp fans, this is adventure with a capital A …for Jim Anthony!
AIRSHIP 27 PRODUCTIONS – PULP FICTION FOR A NEW GENERATION!
Now available at Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.