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:

Sunday, March 26, 2017



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 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 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

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

Saturday, March 25, 2017


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.


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

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:

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)

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

Douglas Draa

(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?

Barbara Doran: "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


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 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



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 and Pro Se’s own store at 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 and for most digital formats via Smashwords at

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

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

Saturday, March 18, 2017



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 and Pro Se’s own store at 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 and for most digital formats via Smashwords at

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

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

Friday, March 17, 2017




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

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

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].


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.


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.


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."

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Nugget #94 -- Inspired or Not, Trudge On

Quite often I simply have to trudge through the stuff I simply 
don't feel like doing. It doesn't make for the most inspired
fiction, but it does make fiction take shape. And sometimes
that's the best you can get, and all that you need in that moment.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Meet TammyJo Eckhart!

Hey, folks. Meet TammyJo Eckhart.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

Right now I'm waiting for my literary agent to sell one of two projects.

While she is doing that, I'm working on book four in for one of those projects, a science fiction series that is similar to the feminist science fiction of the 1970s.  I'm also finishing up a collection of short stories focused on the what I fear is the real possibility of the creation of debt slavery in the USA in the next generation if we continue following the same political trends.

The last published book I was part of is a history anthology that came out in the fall of 2016 entitled Our Lives, Our History. I wrote the chapter on ancient Greece and Rome.

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

I look at power, authority, and the fact that all relationships and anything worth having in this world takes work, ongoing work. I don't pull my punches with sex or violence but I also don't just add those in for shock value.

What would be your dream project?

Honestly if my agent can sell the science fiction series I mention above, that's a 10+ book series that I have been writing parts of since I was in the fifth grade. Yes, the fifth grade! It is the project of my life.

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

I think I could probably improve any short story or novel I've written but I learned a long time ago that you have to let go and give it your publisher and editor. If you just pick, pick, and pick at something you never get it out to others to read. Perfection is a killer to creativity.

What inspires you to write?

Generally I set myself a challenge to tackle X. X can be inspired by my relationships or events I see in the world around me. Then it is a matter of which idea my muses feel like working on and making time every weekend to do that work.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

I don't think I've been influenced in terms of style or technique. But in terms of topics and not pulling  my punches, I love Octavia Butler who left us far too soon and Laura Antoniou who is arguably the biggest kink author in the world for the past decade. Readers have said that I remind them of the "good" books from Laurel K. Hamilton and Joey W. Hill but I require my readers to think more. *grin*

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

I think it is 70% art and 30% science. I do not believe that you can teach someone creative writing. You have the ability to be a storyteller or not, to be creative or not. But if all you do is keep those thoughts in your head or struggle to put the thoughts into understandable sentences, you'll never share your creativity with others. So you need to learn how to manage your time, how to write coherently, and how to accept editing and publishing guidance.

 Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug? 

Only that I hope folks come see me when I'm at conventions and that they heck out my website.

Monday, March 13, 2017

#MotivationalModay -- A Writer's Treasure Chest

by Paul Bishop

Every writer should have a treasure chest—a place to store golden nuggets of brilliant ideas, keeping them from being forgotten and giving them a place to mature. Ideas are very different from stories. Stories have a beginning a middle and an end. If a story doesn’t have all three of those elements, it’s a story fragment—not a story. To become a story, an idea often needs to be strung together with other seemingly unrelated ideas before sparking the inspiration to becomes a fully formed story.

For my idea treasure chest, I use cheap composition books—those stiff cover, lined-paged, 9x7 notebooks I used in college (back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth). Over the years, I’ve collected a bookshelf’s worth of these invaluable resources. Whenever I am beginning a new writing project of any kind, I plunder these notebooks for inspiration.

First let me explain what kind of ideas I put in my treasure chest. Recently, I was driving to a writing conference while listening to Weekend Edition on my local NPR station. Before the first hour of the show was finished, I had to pull over and scribble down four ideas sparked by the profiles and interviews to which I’d been listening (you can’t consider yourself a writer if you don’t keep a pen and paper handy at all times). I later transcribed these scribbled notes into my current composition book.

Read the full article:

Sunday, March 12, 2017



Musketeers. The word evokes so many images. Heroic, roguish, handsome, dashing. Pro Se Productions takes an imaginative trip to the past in its latest collection, revealing the true mission of a special troop of Musketeers.

HAUNTED BLADES: TALES OF THE BLACK MUSKETEERS is now available in print and digital formats!

The Musketeers-Men That Lived and Died and Legends in their own time. But some fought valiantly and never received the notice Alexandre Dumas and others have brought to their brothers. Many wore a different mantle, posing as a special guard, when in fact their lives…their very souls…were dedicated to a different battle, waging a war against the supernatural and evil from beyond.

HAUNTED BLADES: TALES OF THE BLACK MUSKETEERS pulls back the bloody curtain on a secret organization within the most well known fighting force of rogues and warriors known to history. Enemies beyond human ken demand a different sort of man to confront them. Men willing to never be known for their work. Men prepared to die and be forgotten so evil will not triumph. These men are remembered in HAUNTED BLADES: TALES OF THE BLACK MUSKETEERS, featuring swashbuckling tales by John Simcoe, C. William Russette, and Ralph Angelo Jr. From Pro Se Productions.

Featuring a thrilling cover by Jeffrey Hayes and cover design and print formatting by Antonino Lo Iacono, HAUNTED BLADES: TALES OF THE BLACK MUSKETEERS is available now at Amazon at Pro Se’s own store at for 10.00.

The supernatural adventures of the Black Musketeers are also available as an Ebook, designed and formatted by lo Iacono for only $2.99 for the Kindle at and for most digital formats via Smashwords at

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

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

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Belle Books introduces Jeremiah Willstone and the Clockwork Time Machine (Jeremiah Willstone Book 1)

"Steampunk is...a joyous fantasy of the past, allowing us to revel in a nostalgia for what never was. It is a literary playground for adventure, spectacle, drama, escapism, and exploration. But most of all it is fun!"
-- George Mann

Anthony Francis's newest title, JEREMIAH WILLSTONE AND THE CLOCKWORK TIME MACHINE, is now available!

Get your copy today!

From an Epic Award winning author comes a sprawling tale of brass buttons, ray guns, and two-fisted adventure!

In an alternate empire filled with mechanical men, women scientists, and fantastic contraptions powered by steam, a high ranking officer in the Victoriana Defense League betrays his country when he steals an airship and awakens an alien weapon that will soon hatch into a walking factory of death.

Commander Jeremiah Willstone and her team must race through time in a desperate bid to stop the traitor's plan to use the alien weapon to overthrow the world's social order. With time running out, Jeremiah may have to sacrifice everything she is to save everyone she loves.

About the Author: 

Dr. Anthony G. Francis, Jr. is a science fiction writer and computer scientist who started writing urban fantasy because he likes it. The Dakota Frost series combines Anthony's love of hard science, fantastic magic, alternative culture, and strong, feisty women.

Even though the siren call of computing eventually pulled him out to the San Francisco Bay Area, he still chose to set the Dakota Frost series in Atlanta, Georgia, where he spent nearly half his life and which he has learned to love like no other place on Earth.

When not making computers smarter or writing science fiction and fantasy, Anthony blogs about his life, his writing and his research at The Library of Dresan. He also writes an occasionally updated webcomic, f@nu fiku. He currently lives in San Jose with his wife and cats.

For more information, visit:

Friday, March 10, 2017

[Link] #AmWriting: How to Get the Writing Done

by Jeri Walker

Need help writing that book blurb, bio, or newsletter? Give your book the attention it deserves. Book your copy edit, manuscript critique, or proofread today. Promotional discounts change monthly.

“Writing is the way to get the writing done.” Thus ends Donald Murray’s aptly titled article “How to Get the Writing Done.” The author offers nineteen suggestions that put a different spin on how to tackle the daunting task of putting words on the page. The tone of the piece is admittedly tongue in cheek, but each time I reread it, I feel inspired. I’m gearing up to submit short pieces for publication on a regular basis in 2017, so no more excuses for not getting the writing done!

  1. Write Now
  2. Rewrite
  3. Delay
  4. Rehearse
  5. Consult
  6. Plan
  7. Attitude
  8. Habit
  9. Deadlines
  10. Purposeful Interruption
  11. Change Your Working Style
  12. Count Words, Pages, or Hours
  13. Work Within the Draft
  14. Answer the Reader’s Questions
  15. Make What Works Better
  16. Make Use of Failure
  17. Write in Chunks
  18. Write with Force; Unleash the Draft
  19. Write.

The text of Murray’s article isn’t available online, but it does appear in the book The Craft of Revision. It’s advice that I’ve played over and over in the back of my mind through the years as well as using the article in the creative writing class for secondary students that I taught for three years.

Read the full article:

Thursday, March 9, 2017

The Worst Advice Ever About Writing Dialog

Lots of articles and writing books teach how to more effectively create dialog that just "sings" to readers. But enough about that. Let's look at the flip side of that. What's the worst advice you've ever received about how to write dialog? And did you take? How did you learn just how wrong it was?

Desmond Reddick: To listen to how people REALLY talk and mimic it. Ugh. That would create unreadable nonsense. Ha! I think the trick is more to approximate real dialogue but rather boiling it down to its purest, most plot-driving core while still leaving room for characterization and distinction.

Robbie Hilliard: Tagless dialogue. Sure, it has its place, but I once ran into a writing group that uniformly insisted that all dialogue tags must go! How insane is that? You know, the 'he said' and 'she said' speech attribution tags? Yeah, well I think there are times when they are just fine. They can help give the reader a hint at the pacing of 'spoken word' in the story. Just like you don't want to twist sentences due to grammar rules to the point that they don't sound natural (e.g. "Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put."), you don't want to find yourself creating dialogue that is twisted and unnatural just so your reader will clearly know who is speaking. Sometimes a 'he said/she said' is exactly what you need in order to preserve the natural flow of the dialogue.

So when to strive for tagless dialogue? When the scene is close, the tension is high, and the action is tight and flying by so fast you don't want the reader to have to slow down for anything. That's a great time for tagless dialogue!

C.E. Martin: Oh, I am all over this one... Back in 2012, when I started my first Kindle Direct book, I read a lot of advice from authors at They were blasting the use of dialogue descriptors, like "Stay back" he growled. They claimed "Said" was always better.

Even though it went against my grain, I went ahead and followed the advice. By my second book, I decided that was stupid, and went back to trying to avoid having "said" appear twenty times on a page. I think "said" takes a reader out of the story when used more than once a page.

I also don't like that Hemingway-way of never identifying who is talking. Sure, if it's two people in a scene, then yes, your readers should be able to tell who is who, but in a crowded room, you need to spell out who's who.

Gordon Dymowski: Worst advice: try to capture a local dialect by spelling. Tried it in one of my stories, and rereading it....hoo, boy, was it bad.

Now, I tend to write dialogue the same way that Tommy Lee Jones once described his method for scripts - people tend to talk in sentence fragments. So I tend to write very fragmented, lyrical dialogue. (Plus, best advice - listen to *how* people people. Find rhythms)

Paul Mannering: Dialog should speak directly - people talk shit in real life. We hesitate, mumble, stumble over words, say things in a round about way. Listening to most people talk is like listening to Donald Trump -- it's bizarre.

In a story -- off the cuff comments should sound like they were carefully thought out - because they were - but they make your characters look cool.

Avoid dialect and specific slang -- it never reads well.

D. Alan Lewis: I was once told in a critique group that we all speak English and we talk the same. So, write your dialogue that way. Don't try and make everyone sound unique because it will confuse the reader. I didn't follow his advice.

Richard L. Altstatt: Most words are monkey noises. Ignore them...or, learn to spell....other good advice.

PJ Lozito: Potential agent: "No, don't set STING OF THE SILVER MANTICORE in 1942. World War II would make the events in it sort of a side show...." forgetting there were plenty of novels and stories happening during WWII.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Nugget #93 -- Verbing & Nouning

I have no problem verbing a noun. Nor do I have any 
issue nouning a verb. (See what I did there?) I think 
it's an amazing facet of language that it can be versatile 
enough to adapt in the face of changing culture.

Verb... That's what's happening.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

C.E. Martin and His Stone Soldiers

It's been a long time since I ran my series of interviews with authors I've met at conventions or online. In fact, it's been too long... way too long. So, let's get the party started again with C.E. Martin

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

My latest release, Shadow Raiders, is sort of a spinoff/continuation of my main series I've been writing since 2012, Stone Soldiers. It's the first in what I would like to expand into a new series (if sales support that).

In Stone Soldiers, the modern military fights supernatural threats with a little assistance from the magical world: supersoldiers and psychics work alongside one another, with scientists and conventional forces. The 11 books out in that series so far have kept the action small-scale, with the elite unit squaring off against this or that threat. In Shadow Raiders, the unit, Detachment 1039, travels off-Earth by means of an ancient, arcane portal, to the home of the "gods," Asgard. There they fight evil on evil's own turf, trying to prevent an invasion of Earth and the start of Ragnarok. It's sort of equal parts Hellboy and Stargate.

If I do get to continue the series, I have a number of similar missions planned to other worlds, all populated by other mythological entities.

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

Evil is REALLY evil, and the good guys always win. I hate tragedies, and I hate depictions of the military as the heavies or incompetent; possibly because I'm a veteran myself. I always try and make our real heroes (military members) into super heroes in my stories.

What would be your dream project?

I'm already writing it--unfortunately not enough people are reading it. I'd love to be able to churn these out monthly, but without enough readers I have to keep going to a day job and find time where I can to write. My dream is to secure a good 10,000 steady readers and to keep them supplied with red-white-and-blue, over-the-top, two-fisted tales on a regular basis.

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

When I was in the USAF, I came up with several premises for novels, and one really grabbed me, but I never wrote it because back then as there was no self-publishing. The story was a scifi adventure about two detectives in a world similar to our own, but significantly improved. They stumble across a murder scene and eventually discover the killers are from an alternate reality--our reality. The big reveal is that the story takes place in a carefully-engineered alternate timeline, and that someone wants to eliminate that timeline and return the world to a less-than-perfect version where good rarely wins out over evil. I like to think of it as religious time travel murder mystery.

What inspires you to write?

Good stories. And royalties--those are fantastic. When I don't sell much, I get discouraged. Not because the money is important, but because royalties I can spend on my family help me to justify the time I spend writing instead of spending time with them. Nothing has been greater than that extra money to indulge my kids in a shopping spree, buy my wife something extra nice, or take the family on a vacation we otherwise wouldn't have taken.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

Style-wise, I'd say that at first, I was most influenced by Warren Murphy and Richard Sapir and their ghostwriters from The Destroyer series. As the years have progressed, I've worked in a lot of cliffhangers taken from films and developed my own fast-paced style.

As for technique, I like Jackie Chan's the best. I once heard Mr. Chan say that he imagines a scene first, then builds a story around it. A kind of what-if process that has worked fantastically for me. I get an idea for something I think would look great on-screen, then work out how to incorporate that into a story and then how to tell it in written form. In other words, I start with action, rather than concept or premise.

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

Definitely art. The problem with so much writing today is the sciencing of it. Writers tables brag about how they collectively work on TV shows, and I think it hurts their story telling. You don't have a committee of Directors on films, so why should more than one writer be needed to tell a story? I think communicating your story is indeed a matter of art and skill far more than rules and precise "beats". Too many authors now follow the rules and their writing is like mass-produced, artificially-sweetened foods, rather than the carefully prepared cuisine of the literary chefs of just a few decades ago. if i can predict how a story is going to end, or even how it's going to progress as I read it, that takes me out of the story. I want stories I can completely immerse myself in, forgetting that I'm reading a book or watching a movie/TV show. All a reader/viewer should be thinking about is "What happens next?!"

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

I'm currently working on two more products for this year:

The first is a continuation of a new series (also a spin off of Stone Soldiers) called Spectral Ops. It's a series of adventures with the supernatural military fighting spectral forces around the globe. I like the idea of being able to wage war on the written page but not have to kill anyone (the bad guys are already dead!). Last year I did the first book, Spectral Ops, which had the team going to France to fight an army of angry spirits accidentally dumped on a small town. I could have called it Stone Soldiers #12, but given that Stone Soldiers has always been about soldiers turned to living stone, and now I've got a vampire, werewolf, and psychic on the team, I thought a name change was called for.

My other project is a major departure for me. I've been very intrigued by post-apocalytpic fiction of late, and am going to try a bit of it myself: Defenders of the Faithful (a working title for now) will be a story set in middle America just a few months after a major event that changes life as we know it. The story won't be supernatural or science fictiony, but rather a more satirical, men's adventure tale about a group of regular Joes who "cling to their guns and their faith" to survive in a new world. I'm doing a lot of research on it, and am looking forward to finally get to do something that will be considerably more humorous than what I've been writing for the past five years.

Links: -- my supernatural military thrillers page -- my author blog -- a link to Shadow Raiders