Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Nugget #99 -- New Voices

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

Sunday, May 28, 2017

[Link] Wisdom from the Fedora on the Mountain -- Egos Checked At The Door, Please...

by Tommy Hancock

I have been accused of wearing many hats.  

In theory, that may be true. In reality, I typically only wear one, although I do have a backup fedora and a ball cap or two for bad hair day rush trips out and about.  But, usually, that appellation is given to me because of the fact that within the Pulp/writing world, I do many things.  I am a writer.  I am an editor, not just for Pro Se Productions, my company, but others as well. I am also a publisher, a partner in the aforementioned Pro Se Productions.  

In each of those roles, and we’ll be lumping editor and publisher together this time around, I experience many things.  Ups and downs. Successes and failures and all manners of things in between.  There are moments of sheer happiness, sometimes bordering on a creative ecstasy of sorts. There are also periods, unfortunately lasting too long often to be considered moments, of depression, sadness, that ‘give up and walk away’ feeling.  What is funny is that although I know that both groups I’m addressing here have a collective narrow view of this, that only they feel this and the other side of the line doesn’t, the issues and feelings that writers and editors/publishers experience are often very similar, if not exactly the same.  They only differ in which side of the creative room the person happens to be standing on.

What I’m about to write is not intended to anger, incense, or push anyone away, although it might.  I made a commitment to myself when I renewed this blogging endeavor that I would use it in ways that would be useful to me, first and foremost, and hopefully to others as well.  What you’re about to read is useful to me in that it allows me to get things said that I feel need to be in a cumulative manner, all at once, and off my chest and out of the way.

It should also be noted and remembered as You proceed through this, that I am guilty of everything I am about to spout against and attack.  I am no better than those of you who may do some of what is about to be listed and in part, this is an exercise to exorcise some of those things from me.

Is this a Pet Peeves post? Yes, in a sense.  But it’s also about some of the biggest stumbling blocks that writers and editors/publishers have in building relationships that can be mutually beneficial.  But, yeah, these are things that get under my skin and scratch like a burr buried deep beneath a newly broken mustang’s saddle.  And, again, I have done and even at times still find myself as the example of every one of them.

It must be noted, creatives of any brand are a passionate, emotional lot.  That happens to be the best thing about us. We invest ourselves fully and wholeheartedly in all we do, if we are doing it right, and we give a chunk of our very being into the work we produce.  That is writer, editor/publisher, sculptor, dancer, and the list goes on.  But, that also means that oftentimes feelings are worn on their sleeves and we sometimes look for any reason to be offended, or to think someone is being thought of better than us, or whatever thing we need to justify the sudden onset of creator doldrums we all go through.  To hopefully limit that before probably inciting full on episodes of it, let me say that I am beginning this discourse by focusing on writers, only because that is where the process between these two sides of the same coin begins.  Editors/Publishers would have nothing to do if it were not for writers, so writers get to go first, only for that reason.

A few thoughts for Writers, first.  You are a big part of the reason that there is even a publishing industry to begin with.  The fact that people feel it is their job, destiny, and/or disease to string words together and get them put on paper, either the print or digital page, so they can be consumed by the ones, hundreds, or millions that might read them makes you a pretty important cog in the literature machine.  

But don’t forget, especially in the way the market has evolved today - You are a cog in a wonderfully colorful rainbow and storm producing machine.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Submission: Fireside Fiction: $500 for Short Stories

Fireside is a short story magazine that has two goals in mind: Publish great stories, and pay writers well. They pay above normal rates for their category of magazine: 12.5 cents per word, up to 4,000 words.

They aim to publish 10,000 new words of fiction each month – paying writers for every word published. They do have a strong preference for stories that are 1,000 words or shorter, because of their limit of 10,000 words a month. A longer story must be quite strong in order to be accepted. They previously accepted stories up to 5,000 words in length. They have changed their policy to just 4,000 words, capping the maximum pay at $500.

They are currently accepting submissions of Flash Fiction until March 25th. On April 16th, they will accept short stories and flash fiction.

According to their submission guidelines:

“Fireside’s goal is to publish great storytelling, regardless of genre. What do we mean by great storytelling? We want stories that go somewhere, with plot and a beginning, middle, and end. We’re not looking for character studies or metafiction or hallucinatory visions. (We LIKE those things; it’s just not what we publish in Fireside.)”

To get a sense of what they publish, browse their back issues.

To learn more about submitting, read their submission guidelines.

Friday, May 26, 2017

A New Book Release from David Alastair Hayden -- Announcing Rogue Starship!

Welcome Back to the Benevolency Universe!

For over three thousand years a superintelligence called the Benevolence guided humanity through an age of unprecedented peace, prosperity, and technological advancement. Now, a century after its collapse, our enemies multiply as we struggle to maintain our starfaring civilization and recover technology we once took for granted. But the Benevolence kept many secrets to itself, secrets that could shape the future of humanity.

When renowned archeologist Gav Gendin finds an Ancient starship, and a stasis chamber with a living member of the extinct alien race inside, he knows something strange is going on. Visions and dreams aren't the normal way archaeologists uncover artifacts, but that's what guided him to the Ancient ship.

The discovery should be the greatest triumph of his career. Instead, it ends in disaster and leads to his son, Siv, being placed in cryogenic sleep.

A century later, Siv wakes to a world in decline, a world where you do what you must to survive. With the help of Silky, his father's old neural-interfacing AI companion, Siv becomes the best procurement specialist on the planet. But his services belong to the criminal Shadowslip Guild who owns him. After a job goes sideways in the worst way possible, the last thing Siv expects is to be offered his freedom. But there's a catch. His target is so hot that rival criminal guilds, foreign governments, and religious extremists will risk war to get it.

The Outworld Ranger series packs all the action and sci-fi fun of the stories that inspired it: Star Wars, The Fifth Element, and Guardians of the Galaxy. It has sentient AI’s, alien mysteries, starship battles, quirky robots, and a space messiah.

>> Read Now <<

Thursday, May 25, 2017

No Writer Is an Island

Thank you, John Donne, for allowing my paraphrase. 

Every writer can look back to someone who either inspired him or her to start or to stick with it. With Mother's Day all around us, and folks still in a mood to express thanks to those someones who helped make us who we are, let's keep it going this week by honoring those folks who inspired us to write and to write better.

Who was it who helped you have the faith to begin writing? What they that person do to encourage you? 

Sean Taylor: I'm going to jump in on my own roundtable this time, if just to honor those folks who so deserve it. I have to credit three people with instilling in me the courage to write. The first is my high school English teacher, Geraldine Warren. I didn't remotely enjoy "school literature" until she made it fun and helped me to understand what it actually consisted of and how I could interpret it through my own experiences. The second is my wife, Lisa Taylor, who encouraged me to give it a try and see what happened, though she may likely regret that decision now. The third is Frank Fradella, who was there to encourage me at just the right time in my writing life and help me begin the network of writers I would need to have around me to succeed and become both better and published.

Brian K Morris: My mother, probably to spite my boring, uncreative father as much as nurture me. She initially taught me to read then encouraged me to read "real" books along with my comics as well as how to use a dictionary, an encyclopedia, and a library to supplement what I didn't know.

Bobby Nash: There were a few who helped a lot. Wilma Clark was an English teacher in high school. She caught me drawing/writing comics in class one day. Instead of scolding me for it, she asked to read it and then encouraged me to continue... so long as I continued doing well in her class. Harriette Austin was a great cheerleader and friend. I took her creative writing class at UGA's non-credit adult education center. I learned a lot about writing, but also about reading and talking to groups, a skill that still serves me well to this day. Sandra Gentry was also very helpful with that as well. She refused to let me hide behind my paper to read and forced me to look at the rest of the room. Jeff Austin also gave me some good advice that helped me move my writing in a direction that helped me a great deal.

Bill Craig: My parents and friends that I showed my stuff too were always encouraging but Mark Howell, then an editor with Gold Eagle gave me real encouragement and started buying some stories as fillers for short books.

John Morgan Neal: My homeroom teacher Mrs. Meyers at Crutchfield elementary. My high school English teacher Mr. Needham. My school buddies Chris Sakowski, Jeff Criger, Steve Walker, Kenny Maxwell, and John Bock.

Who was it who helped you keep going when you felt like stopping and just "settling" into some other plan? What did that person do to keep you going? 

Sean Taylor: Before I had a strong network or writers to help keep me going, I had my wife, as I mentioned earlier. She was my best cheerleader, and read (and edited) all my stuff up to a point. After I had built a better network of writing compatriots, I noticed that she was able to spend more time on herself, and I was able to lean on folks like Bobby Nash and Tommy Hancock to be my new "cheerleaders" and keep me from settling for something else, particularly when I was going through some dry and dark time for my writing career.

Brian K Morris: My wife, who knew writing was my dream, and when I lost my job five years ago, she encouraged me to follow my bliss.

Bobby Nash: I mentioned quitting once to my mother, just an offhand comment. She reminded me how much work I had put in and how far I had gotten and that she would hate to see me throw that away. I have friends who are also creators that I talk to when the stress of things gets to me. I won't name names here (although Sean and I have had several discussions about being a writer). Talking with someone who shares the same job and same job stresses helps.

John Morgan Neal: My Shooting Star buddies Sean Taylor, Scott McCullar, Erik Burnham, Scott Hileman and etc. Sarah Beach who has been invaluable as a sounding board. Becca Sue Upson has been a constant supporter and believer in me. Chuck Dixon has been incredibly generous and vitally important to me as a writer both in inspiration from his work and work ethic and belief in my talent and support of it.

Bill Craig: Through Mark Howell, I met Jerry Ahern and Don Pendleton, both were great mentors when it came to encouraging me to continue writing and because of that I now make a living at it.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Nebula Award Winners Announced!

The annual Nebula Awards awards were presented at the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America’s 51st Annual Nebula Conference at the Pittsburgh Marriott Center, on May 20, 2017.

The Nebula Awards are given every year by the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Along with the Hugo Awards, they are the most prestigious prizes recognizing excellence in science fiction and fantasy. The Nebula Awards for 2016 were announced last night at the 51st Annual Nebula Conference in Pittsburgh.

Here are the 2016 Nebula winners and nominees. The winners are in bold text.

Best Novel

All the Birds in the Sky, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor; Titan)
Borderline, Mishell Baker (Saga)
The Obelisk Gate, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit US; Orbit UK)
Ninefox Gambit, Yoon Ha Lee (Solaris US; Solaris UK)
Everfair, Nisi Shawl (Tor)

All the Birds in the Sky is also nominated for a Hugo Award.

Best Novella

Runtime, S.B. Divya ( Publishing)
The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson ( Publishing)
The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle ( Publishing)
Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire ( Publishing)
“The Liar”, John P. Murphy (F&SF 3-4/16)
A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson ( Publishing)

Every Heart a Doorway is also nominated for a Hugo Award.

Best Novelette

‘‘The Long Fall Up’’, William Ledbetter (F&SF 5-6/16)
‘‘Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea’’, Sarah Pinsker (Lightspeed 2/16)
“The Orangery”, Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam (Beneath Ceaseless Skies)
‘‘Blood Grains Speak Through Memories’’, Jason Sanford (Beneath Ceaseless Skies 3/17/16)
“The Jewel and Her Lapidary“, Fran Wilde ( Publishing)
‘‘You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay’’, Alyssa Wong (Uncanny 5-6/16)

Best Short Story

‘‘Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies’’, Brooke Bolander (Uncanny 11-12/16)
‘‘Seasons of Glass and Iron’’, Amal El-Mohtar (The Starlit Wood)
‘‘Sabbath Wine’’, Barbara Krasnoff (Clockwork Phoenix 5)
‘‘Things With Beards’’, Sam J. Miller (Clarkesworld 6/16)
‘‘This Is Not a Wardrobe Door’’, A. Merc Rustad (Fireside Magazine 1/16)
‘‘A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers’’, Alyssa Wong ( 3/2/16)
‘‘Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station│Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0’’, Caroline M. Yoachim (Lightspeed 3/16)

Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation

Arrival, Directed by Denis Villeneuve, Screenplay by Eric Heisserer, 21 Laps Entertainment/FilmNation Entertainment/Lava Bear Films/Xenolinguistics
Doctor Strange, Directed by Scott Derrickson, Screenplay by Scott Derrickson & C. Robert Cargill, Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures
Kubo and the Two Strings, Directed by Travis Knight, Screenplay by Mark Haimes & Chris Butler; Laika Entertainment
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Directed by Gareth Edwards, Written by Chris Weitz & Tony Gilroy; Lucusfilm/ Walt Disney Studio Motion Pictures
Westworld: ‘‘The Bicameral Mind’’, Directed by Jonathan Nolan, Written by Lisa Joy & Jonathan Nolan; HBO
Zootopia, Directed by Byron Howard, Rich Moore, & Jared Bush, Screenplay by Jared Bush & Phil Johnston; Walt Disney Pictures/Walt Disney Animation Studios

Arrival is also nominated for a Hugo Award.

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy

The Girl Who Drank the Moon, Kelly Barnhill (Algonquin Young Readers)
The Star-Touched Queen, Roshani Chokshi (St. Martin’s)
The Lie Tree, Frances Hardinge (Macmillan UK; Abrams)
Arabella of Mars, David D. Levine (Tor)
Railhead, Philip Reeve (Oxford University Press; Switch)
Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies, Lindsay Ribar (Kathy Dawson Books)
The Evil Wizard Smallbone, Delia Sherman (Candlewick)

Additional awards presented:

SOLSTICE AWARD: Peggy Rae Sapienza (Posthumous), Toni Weisskopf

The Nebula Awards are voted on, and presented by, active members of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. Founded as the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1965 by Damon Knight, the organization began with a charter membership of 78 writers; it now has over 1,500 members, among them many of the leading writers of science fiction and fantasy.

Since 1965, the Nebula Awards have been given each year for the best novel, novella, novelette, and short story eligible for that year’s award. The Award for Best Script was added in 2000.

An anthology including the winning pieces of short fiction and several runners-up is also published every year.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Armand Rosamilia: The Fear of Pants Keeps Him Working

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

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

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

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

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

What would be your dream project?

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

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

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

What inspires you to write?

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

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

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

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

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

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?  

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

For more information:


Keyport Cthulhu:

Green River Blend 3:

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Dave Creek Releases THE UNMOVING STARS!

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

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

THE UNMOVING STARS is available in paperback and ebook editions on Amazon:

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


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

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

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

Stay in touch with Dave:




Saturday, May 20, 2017

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

by Tanth J. Graysmoke 

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

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

Read the full article:

Friday, May 19, 2017




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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

They were … PULP HEROES!!


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

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

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

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


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

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

To order:

More Than Mortal
Khan Dynasty

Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Wayback Machine: The Pulse Interview with Stefan Petrucha

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

 Pulse: How did Time Hunter your gig come about?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 Pulse: What are your future plans for Kolchak?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 SP: Earn a steady living!

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

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

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Nugget #98 -- No Rule But the Feels

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

Tuesday, May 16, 2017



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

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

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

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

Sunday, May 14, 2017

[Link] Know You Are a Writer

by Emily Vieweg

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

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

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

For more info:

Saturday, May 13, 2017

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

by Derrick Ferguson

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

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

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

So what’s the problem?

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

Read the full article:

Friday, May 12, 2017

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

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

A cold case heats up...

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

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

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

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

Continue reading for an excerpt!


Chapter 1

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


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

Thursday, May 11, 2017

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

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

What makes a back cover blurb effective?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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