Sunday, February 28, 2021

Introducing The Big Book of Spy Trivia by Bernadette Johnson!

Discover the fascinating true stories of spies and secret agents throughout history in this ultimate collection of espionage trivia.

Whether you’re a wannabe 007 or just a fan of subterfuge, the fun facts and legendary stories in this big book of spy trivia are sure to shock and fascinate. Discover how the most infamous spy organizations like the CIA and the MI6 came into existence, how they recruit citizens into their fold, and how they have shaped some of the world’s largest and most memorable historical events. You’ll even learn real tactics that spies use on missions, from escaping zip ties to reading the body language of a stranger. This collection spans centuries and countries, including:

  • One of history’s first and most iconic spy operations: the Trojan Horse in ancient Greece
  • America’s first spy organization: George Washington’s Culper Ring
  • Real-life KGB spies from the McCarthy Cold War era: American citizens Ethel and Julius Rosenberg
  • And much more!

Perfect for any person who has been fascinated by the shadowy world of espionage, this fact-packed book quizzes readers on their spy knowledge, from pop culture icons to unsung heroes that history books have forgotten.

For more info...

Saturday, February 27, 2021

[Link] 100 New Pulp Books To Get You Started

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

I can understand the confusion. More than you know. There is a whole lot of New Pulp out there. Some of it is excellent. Some of it is downright astonishing. Some of it is good, some of it okay and a seriously depressing amount of it just plain flat out awful. And those of us who write/read and/or review New Pulp feel the crush of recommending books and writers to those of you unfamiliar with the genre but are desperately eager to know more.

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

Since then, more New Pulp books have been written (a lot more!) and I saw the need to add more books to the list and so I did, continuing to add to the list each succeeding year. My goal was to keep adding to the list until I get up to 100 and then call it quits. And as of this year, that goal has been reached. The way I see it, if you can’t find something you like in a group of 100 books then there’s a good chance that genre isn’t for you.

Read the full article:

Friday, February 26, 2021

Airship 27 Production Presents EXECUTIVE GAMBIT

Airship 27 Production, one of the leading publishers of New Pulp Fiction, is proud to announce the release of a thrilling new spy novel by writer Wayne Carey.

America’s greatest fear is realized when President Trent’s personal helicopter, Marine One blows up with him aboard. At the same time, across the Atlantic, Air Force Two carrying the Vice-President Duncan McNeil explodes while landing at Rome’s international airport. Within hours a Palestinian radical fringe group called Vengeance claims credit for the assassinations. A shaken Speaker of the House, Oliver Holstein, is immediately sworn in as the new President.

Every intelligence agency of the free world is tasked with finding Husam al Din, the mysterious mastermind behind Vengeance. Then Italian officials report that the Vice-President’s personal Secret Service agent miraculously survived the crash and is recuperating in a Roman hospital. What does he know? Can he provide intelligence that might uncover the inside agents responsible for the twin terror attacks? More importantly, is he still a target of Vengeance?

The stakes have never been higher as a cunning, ruthless foe prepares to unleash a nuclear holocaust on America’s allies in the final Executive Gambit.

“When first starting Airship 27,” Managing Editor Ron Fortier recounts, “Art Director Rob Davis and I agreed we would welcome any and all genres as long as the writing was of a professional caliber. To that end we’ve published everything from classic golden age masked avengers to horror, fantasy and even children’s books. With Wayne Carey’s Executive Gambit we’ve now entered into Tom Clancy country. This book is as gripping and exciting as anything on the mainstream market today and would sure make one hell of a movie.”

To package the new espionage thriller, Fortier assigned Davis to do both the interior illustrations and design the cover. “Happily, upon reading Carey’s manuscript, Rob was equally excited about this book and delivered a truly gorgeous all around package that effectively targets the thriller fan base. Once in readers’ hands, I predict word of mouth will soon make the name Wayne Carey one to look out for.”


Available at Amazon in paperback and on Kindle.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Bobby Nash's Summer of Snow

Bobby Nash isn't just a fantabulous writer -- he's also my brother in every sense of the word other than biological. He's also a prolific beast when it comes to putting words on the page. Pro. Lif. Ic. (As you'll see when read his interview below.)

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

2021 is #TheSummerofSnow for me and BEN Books. Not only will SNOW DOWN, book 6 of the Snow series be out soon, but I am also working with a group of talented authors (including some guy named Sean Taylor) to launch SNOW SHORTS, 10,000 word short stories focusing on Snow characters. In January, we launched with Snow Flies by me. In February, Gary Phillips’ Thieves’ Alley premiered, a tale featuring Snow’s friend, Big John Salmon. The plan is to release a $0.99 ebook each month then collect them in paperback, ebook, and audio. So far, we’re off to a good start.

Here’s part of the official Snow Shorts announcement: SNOW SHORTS are, as the name suggests, short stories set within the Snow universe. BEN Books has reached out to a host of fantastic writers to join Snow creator, Bobby Nash in crafting tales featuring Abraham Snow and his companions. Writers involved include Gary Phillips, Bernadette Johnson, Milton Davis, John Hartness, Beverly Conner, Sean Taylor, Charles F. Millhouse, Brian K. Morris, Mike Gordon, Barry Reese, and more. Covers will be provided by Jeffrey Hayes of PlasmaFire Graphics.

You can keep up with all things SNOW at

What happened in your life that prompted you to become a writer?

I am a glutton for punishment with delusions of grandeur. Or something like that. Ha! Ha! I’ve always been fascinated with stories, how they are told, how they come together, and the characters that populate them. It started with TV. I would become invested in the characters and then started coming up with my own stories set in those worlds, not written down, but when I went outside to play, I became a crewman on Captain Kirk’s away mission or I went on a dangerous mission with Colonel Steve Austin. That sort of thing. As I got older and discovered comic books, I found a new outlet for that creativity. Later, came short stories, then novels, and it’s been a rollercoaster ride ever since.

What inspires you to write?

The stories keep coming. They’re inside my head. The characters won’t shut up until I write their adventures down for others to read. It’s crazy. I think I may be crazy. I dunno. Thankfully. The voices in my head are entertaining as they go on their myriad adventures. I also love putting the work out there for readers to hopefully enjoy. I get a thrill when someone tells me they read something of mine and liked it. That inspires me to do it again.

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

I am a big fan of character growth. I like it when my characters discover something about themselves in the course of the story, both good and bad. I like to root for the underdog and many of my stories have an element of a character struggling against overwhelming odds to do the right thing. That’s heroic. Primarily, my job is to entertain. I don’t get preachy with my work. Messages sometimes work their way into stories based on the characters, but my main purpose in telling stories is to entertain the reader. First and foremost, I want the reader to have a good time with the story. Everything else is secondary.

What would be your dream project?

There are characters out there that I would like to write officially at least once. Captain America, Thor, The Fantastic Four, Buck Rogers, Star Trek, Six Million Dollar Man, things like that. I may never get the chance, but it’s good to dream.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

Oh, so many. It’s hard to name them all. I find influence everywhere. One author writes a type of scene one way that makes me rethink my approach. Another does great characters, so I study how they do it. I also learn a lot by watching other authors at conventions and social media. I can learn a lot about promotion, interacting with fans, etc. by observing. So, yeah, influences are everywhere. I’ve been influenced by you, Sean, as well. 

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

That’s tough. I try not to look back that way lest I go mad. Ha! Ha! It’s not so much stories I would like to change, if I could, but there have been situations I’ve found myself in as part of the publishing process that I kind of wish I could do differently. It’s tricky. My first novel, Evil Ways, was originally published at a truly terrible publisher. Horrible situation. There’s a part of me that wonders how things would have gone if that had not happened. On the other hand, despite the behind the scenes woes, I had a published book in my hands and I used it to talk to other publishers, which resulted in getting more writing gigs. Would Lance Star or Domino Lady, two characters I am pretty well linked to, have happened without Evil Ways? It was sharing Evil Ways that helped land those gigs. 

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

Good question. I don’t think I’ve ever considered that before. I think, for me, writing is an art, first and foremost. When a story develops and flows out of me, I’m not thinking about anything except the story and characters. I’m not considering style or grammar, length or technique. I’m living in the moment of that story. Afterward, that’s where the science comes in. I take this piece of art and mold it into something that can be sold to a reader.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

The hardest part is getting started. There’s a joke that writing is 3% talent and 97% staying off the internet. This is an absolute truth. We as writers are often our own worst enemies. I certainly am mine. I spend more time finding things to do other than writing all the while feeling guilty because I’m not writing. It reminds me of another joke. “I am a writer. Today, I will write. But first…” and you can fill in the blank with “clean my office” or “mow the lawn” or “do laundry” and on and on… Once I put my butt in the chair and start writing, I’m usually good to go. It’s just getting me focused that’s the hard part.

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

They absolutely do. I am amazed by the talented writers I’ve met over the years. They are a great bunch or creators and I learn so much from all of them. Plus, we understand the same issues when it comes to writing. When a story isn’t working, I can tell my family and they look at me like I’m speaking a foreign language. My writer friends understand and can be a shoulder to cry on, a sounding board for ideas, and a cheerleader. 

What does literary success look like to you?

Right now, success would be making a living as a writer. That’s what I’m working to achieve. In the future, success looks like “New York Times Bestselling Author Bobby Nash.” After that, success if adding “As Seen on TV” stickers on my novels. Success is very much a sliding scale. There was a time when my idea of success was finishing a novel. I did that. Then, success became getting published. I did that. Success is an ever-sliding scale.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

Oh, so many. I mentioned above Snow Down and Snow Shorts. I’m pushing Snow hard in 2021. Published by my imprint, BEN Books. Remember, in #TheSummerofSnow every day is a #SnowDay! Ha! Ha! Other books in production includes the 4 book Hunter Houston: Horror Hunter from Falstaff Books, a couple of as yet unannounced novel for Pro Se Productions, a novel sequel to Dante’s Tenth, my story in The Devil’s Due anthology for Valhalla Books, Evil Intent for BEN Books, a short story for Moonstone Books featuring The Lone Ranger, more Lance Star, more Sheriff Tom Myers, more Snow, more Domino Lady, more Nightveil, and more. 2021 is shaping up to be a big year.

For more information, visit:

Yes, that's Bobby as "Disco George
Martin" in the hit show Doom Patrol.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Movie Reviews for Writers -- The Nesting

This haunted house thriller features a house that used to be a brothel and is now haunted by the ghosts of the former prostitutes. One that level it's a serviceable flick with plenty of scares. 

But what I'm interested in is the story of the agoraphobic writer who rents the house because the city is too terrifying for her and it is affecting her ability to complete her new manuscript. 

The biggest statement about the writer's life in The Nesting is that of the environment needed for a writer to work. Outside the ghost story, Lauren is unable to write in the wrong environment. Too much stimulation and her task becomes far more difficult and sometimes impossible. But when she moves away from other stimuli and rents the lonely house in the middle of nowhere, she can relax and let the words flow. 

This is something I've experienced myself. When I needed to really pound out a 40k word count for a deadline job, I took a week off from work and traveled to the house that used to belong to my MeMe and set up my laptop in the bay window. Or on the front porch. Two bottles of my dad's Dragon's Blood wine and a week on the keyboard in the country and 40k words flowed like I'd never seen them flow before. 

Still, most writers I know tend to have places where they write best, be it at a coffee shop, libray, home office, back porch, etc. -- without having to take off on a vacation to the middle of nowhere. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Writing Period Culture -- What's Your Style?

Yes, I sat down with my wife and binged Bridgerton. Yes, me, who is the most anti-Austen viewer and reader you could ever meet. But  couldn't tear my eyes away from it. Why? Because all I could think about was how different it's approach to period culture was to my approach in The Ruby Files. 

So, let's talk about that for our new roundtable. 

Let's get your thoughts on what I'm calling the "Bridgerton model" or "alternate past model" of period culture -- the idea of ignoring historical racial and/or societal truths (though not necessarily altogether) to create an integrated world period. (This is not to say it's a bad thing, just a way of approaching fiction.) Is it effective? Does it have its drawbacks?

Bobby Nash: History is history, both good and bad. When I write a period piece, I sometimes play with those societal truths. When Domino Lady meets The Woman in Red, for example, I make it a point to showcase the obvious “boys club” mentality of the police officers Peggy Allen works with and how they view her as less of a cop than they are, even though she’s a better detective than anyone around her. When she teams up with a detective who recognizes her analytical mind, he is quick to partner up with her and solve murders. He takes the ribbing from “the guys” for it, but to him, it’s worth it to close cases and get justice for the villains. As for Peggy, she knows that her male partner will get all of the credit, all of the promotions, and all of the attaboys, but she accepts it because it allows her to do the job she wants to do. She’ll change their minds about her, hopefully, with each case they solve. In that case, the societal norms of that time period play into it. With Lance Star, it is not as prevalent because we’re focused on the weird and wacky action going on around them and less at the real world of that era. I say, do whatever works for the story you want to tell.

Nancy Hansen: I don't mind watching or reading something that sort of transcends actual historical fact as long as it's done well and believably, because I consider it a altiverse version. 

Bill Craig: As a writer who has been complemented for using an authentic voice for a rough period in the 1960's and the early days of civil rights. I used old terms that are highly offensive today, but were period-accurate for the time. Ignoring history does nothing to improve the story.

Sean Taylor:  I can certainly see the appeal of that, particularly in something that's clearly a fantasy (like Carnival Row, for example), but for something that the historical setting is vital to the plot and story, I prefer to start with the history and work from there. The biggest drawbacks I can see are when a creator is trying to create a historically accurate work and then muddles up the cultures because of a need to be diverse and gets called out by astute readers or critics. But, it still doesn't make it wrong, but it does create a sort of fantasy world or an alternate history in my eyes. 

Let's look at the other side, the "true to history model" -- the idea of using the racial, social, etc. truths to create the plots and subplots based on actual history. For arguments sake, we'll even loop time travel stories in with this, such as Antebellum. Is it effective? Does it have its drawbacks. 

Nancy Hansen: When I write something that has a historical backdrop, I want it to reflect the times it was set in. So I will work in the prejudices and the disparaging language and attitudes of the era. That doesn't mean that a character of what would be considered an underclass can't succeed in a starring role, it just makes it more of a challenge and shapes that individual's life. I don't shy away from the social/racial/sexual slurs either. These are terrible things to have to live with and to me it adds another depth of reality to the story. I'm not preachy, nor am I apologetic. I'm just writing what I have found in my research and hoping it's striking enough to move the reader to rooting for the characters they actually like.

Bill Craig: No matter how you handle it, some folks just are not going to be happy. IMHO you have to let the story speak for itself.

Sean Taylor: This is definitely my preferred method. I'll use the Rick Ruby stories as an example. I was so tired of writing "white guy" stories in my 30s pulp stuff, and when Bobby Nash and I created The Ruby Files books, I saw that as a wonderful opportunity to really touch on the racial issues of the 1930s. Even the story bible calls out the fact that Rick is a white man living in a black man's world, but he has the freedom because of his skin to interact in the white world as he wishes. All of my stories have come out of that tension between Rick's two worlds and his love for Evelyn, his lover that they both know can never really have each other in that "to have and to hold" way. 

The drawbacks of this approach is that it can limit your story. If you want to tell a story that would be better served in a more progressive era, then your plots and characters from a time period may not be the way to proceed with that particular story. 

Kay Iscah: I think there's a lot of history we could unwhite wash, and would almost rather see that than ignoring the historical demographics completely. I would love to see some efforts at historical dramas from different cultures. No reason you couldn't set a court drama in an African castle (yes they had/have castles). Cleopatra was ethnically Greek, but we have plenty of Egyptian history to pull from. Aztecs weren't great neighbors, but they had great cities, which could make for interesting backdrops, etc.

There are/were black cowboys and other heroic characters.

Bobby Nash: If that works for your story, do it. If it doesn’t, that’s okay too. As the writer, I get to decide what kind of story I want to tell. Is it effective? That, I leave up to the readers to decide.

Which method is your preferred way of approaching period culture when writing? Or is it something that changes based on the theme and tone of your story?

Bobby Nash: It all depends on the story I’m writing, the plot, the characters, and sometimes even the publisher. You have to take all of these things into account. Maybe your publisher isn’t interested in getting away from the action for social commentary. Maybe they want the social commentary. It also depends on me as the writer. What kind of story do I want to write? Once I answer that question, then I decide how to proceed.

Sean Taylor: I tend to look into the actual history to find compelling tales that highlight gender or race issues. But I like to begin from history first and not just paint a different time period with our modern ideals. Of course, if I'm writing a future sci-fi, or even a fantasy, then the sky is the limit in terms of cultural diversity. I get to be god (small g) for that particular universe.

Bill Craig: I do my best to try and accurately portray the time period in an accurate fashion because my job as a writer is not to gloss over the bad, but to tell the story in a fashion that is as historically accurate as possible.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Motivational Monday -- Authors Are Not Your Competition [Link]

by Angela Ackerman

Most industries are competitive. Athletes go head-to-head for the medal or trophy. Car companies vie for market share as do grocery stores, restaurants, and delivery services. Reality TV show contestants duke it out for prize money, prestige, and in some cases (ugh) roses. And our favorite retail Godzilla, Amazon? They compete with everybody.

Know who isn’t your competition? Authors.

Sure, on the surface, it appears a competition is taking place. After all, look at the sea of books on the market, the sky-high submission piles. Think about how we need to list comparable titles when we pitch our work to agents and how past book sales and current platform numbers carry weight acquisitions decides which author will receive a contract offer.

Is it true that agents only take on certain clients and publishers only publish certain books? Yes. But the “I’m competing against other authors” idea is a sacred cow leftover from a time when keeping authors divided suited a publishing monopoly (that has thankfully been broken).

Other authors aren’t competition, they’re ASSETS.  Here’s why.

Read the full article:

Sunday, February 21, 2021


After the success of Sherlock Holmes & the Occult Detectives Volumes I and II (Belanger Books, 2020), we are back, dear listener, to announce that we are now open to story pitches for a new anthology, Sherlock Holmes and the Occult Detectives III! So do read on for everything you need to know…


Last year I had the pleasure of editing the two anthologies mentioned at the start, in which we presented almost 200,000 words of brand new stories from a host of contemporary writers, all based on the possibility that Sherlock Holmes chose, or had of necessity, to work with those figures of the time who called themselves occult detectives, psychic investigators and the like.

Sherlock Holmes and the Occult Detectives III

Sherlock Holmes and the Occult Detectives III will once again be about detection, logic and mysteries. It will concern an authentic Sherlock Holmes, but with the same simple twist:

Perhaps Holmes is already privately aware that there may be supernatural elements in the world, but has tried to close off such thoughts, finding them too illogical. Or perhaps he is disturbed to find something quite inexplicable affecting his resolution of a particular case, and has to step beyond his normal boundaries. He may, of course, still be highly sceptical.

And maybe Dr Watson was never allowed to include any such explicit references when he wrote up his friend’s adventures, but now these instances can be brought into the light.

Does this ruin the core of Holmes’s original position? Not necessarily, for as we have oft said, Holmes’s most quoted comments on the supernatural are not quite as definitive as some might believe. Do you remember ‘The Sussex Vampire’? That particular Conan Doyle tale contains the famous lines, where Holmes tells Watson:

“This agency stands flat-footed upon the ground, and there it must remain. The world is big enough for us. No ghosts need apply.”

In ‘The Hound of the Baskervilles’, what he states is that normal investigative techniques and logical deduction would be of no use in supernatural cases.

“If Dr. Mortimer’s surmise should be correct, and we are dealing with forces outside the ordinary laws of Nature, there is an end of our investigation. But we are bound to exhaust all other hypotheses before falling back upon this one.”

We could therefore say Holmes’s concern is that none of his peculiar intellectual talents can be of value in a situation where normal ratiocination is overthrown. He has dismissed that which will not yield to him.

If there are such cases, genuine ones, who will take them on? More foolish, credulous or cash-hungry ‘consulting’ detectives? Fraudulent psychics? Or, now and then, the true occult detectives, those who have developed a different blend of investigative skills and knowledge of matters apparently ‘outside the ordinary laws of Nature’…

Will they come to him for advice, will they cross his path during a case, or will he, however reluctantly, turn to them when only the impossible can explain what has happened…?

You may be able to tell us.


A Belanger Books Project, edited by John Linwood Grant

Core concept: A 5,000–10,000 word story featuring the canonical Holmes/Watson which has them encountering and working with, or even working against, an occult detective/psychic investigator. Existing literary characters or your own inventions both welcome. Period: c.1880-1925. English language, no reprints.

Your pitch must be accepted for your completed story to be read. 

Pitch Deadline: 16 April, 2021.

Final Submission Deadline: 31 August, 2021.

Payment: Authors shall receive a payment of $100 or $50 plus 1% of the Kickstarter net profits, whichever amount is GREATER, and a paperback copy of the anthology.

For more information, visit:

Saturday, February 20, 2021


By Timothy Miller

What’s a mystery all about? The ending? Well, of course, you say—the denouement, the unraveling of the clues, the big reveal. If it’s too easy to guess the ending before that very moment, or if the ending doesn’t seem to mesh with the clues provided by the author you’re disappointed with it. It’s a lousy mystery, right?

Really? Ever re-read a mystery? Even though you know the solution? (If you’re like me, of course, you can re-read it a year later because you’ve forgotten the solution, but that’s another matter.) But what’s the pleasure in re-reading if the entire pleasure is in the solution dangled like a carrot before you? Tom Stoppard, the great British playwright, opines that a play which depends on keeping its secrets isn’t worth viewing twice—which he found out the hard way. Which brings us to the mystery of Sherlock Holmes. If you’ve read a Holmes story, chances are you’ve read another, and if you’ve read two, you’ve probably read them all and re-read them all, and chances are you’ve picked every bone of that corpus clean, with a great deal of relish. Why on earth would you do that? Where’s the mystery in that? I’ll spill my solution up front: the mystery is in Holmes. It’s been said that next to Jesus and Hamlet,  Sherlock Holmes has had more ink spilled about him than any man, real or fictional. Holmes is the black box of literature. Doyle’s genius is not in what he reveals, but what he conceals. The rue depth is not in the notes, but the silences.

Read the full article:

Friday, February 19, 2021

Author Nicholas Stanosheck, the best-selling author of the epic fantasy novel, Vhaidra & the DESTINY of Nikodemos, returns with his sequel, Vhaidra & the DRAGON of Temple Mount, continuing the highly anticipated stories of THE VHAIDRA SAGA published by Notion Press International!

Paperback Release: 1 February 2021

eBook Release: 8 February 2021

The War of the Dragons begins here...

What secrets lie in Sicyon's mysterious Temple Mount? Who are ATHIE, DAMIANOS, and KOSMAS, and what is their connection to the orphaned half-dragon MIKHAIL? Are the forces that are purportedly working for a better tomorrow in Sicyon truly what they say they are?

After the devastating Battle of Sicyon in Vhaidra & the DESTINY of Nikodemos, House Iroas ascends as VHAIDRA the dark elf monk and NIKODEMOS the human cleric raises a powerful house of half-drow warriors in the overworld. Meanwhile, the young half-dragon, MIKHAIL, his human milkmaid and astonishing ranger, MIRIAM, and the flirtatious dwelf dancer, TI'ERRA, change the ascetic half-orc wizard, ELDER DIONYSIOS, forever, as his hidden history intersects with his future, whether he likes it or not. 

The obsidian half-dragon grows from a baby to Sicyon’s powerful stylite and protector, but will his abilities be enough to stave off both the imminent threat of the mighty white dragon from the north or will Sicyon get a long cold winter that it can never wake from? Will the diabolical forces within Sicyon that conspire against ARCHON JUSTINIAN and his allies be able to exploit VHAIDRA, NIKODEMOS, TI'ERRA, ELDER DIONYSIOS, MIRIAM, and MIKHAIL to create the civil war that they so desire? Find out the answers to these questions and more in the exciting adventures of Vhaidra & the DRAGON of Temple Mount! 


Nicholas Stanosheck, besides being a best-selling author, is a father, a world traveler, a volunteer Scout Leader, an Orthodox Christian, and a Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt from Lincoln, Nebraska, USA who currently resides in Dallas, Texas, USA. His novels come from his lifelong love of role-playing games, fantasy novels, video games, and world travels. His first novel started as a short story that he had in his head for years, and once he committed it to writing, the characters spoke to him and started telling him a series of stories about THE VAHIDRA SAGA that will continue as a paperback and e-book series for years to come. 

The author’s previous novel, VHAIDRA & THE DESTINY of NIKODEMOS, was the #1 New English Literature at Barnes & Noble in August 2020. You may contact him at

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, eBay, Flip Kart, Notion Press, and Bookstores everywhere!

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Twenty Authors Who Have Influenced Me as a Writer and Reader

If you ask me, any writer worth his or her or their salt as a creator is only as good as the blending of influences that served as the ingredients in the mixing bowl. Take a pinch of each of these key parts and pieces, mix on high, and you will see how I ended up the writer I am. 

So, here they are, the twenty most influential writers who made me who I am and the books they wrote the had the biggest impact on me. 

#20 Christa Faust -- She's the quintessential "Veronica in a world of Betties" and she has a crisp and clear but also violent and kinda dirty style that I love. She's the encourage to cut loose a bit and let my characters have fun in their less than perfect world where the clay in "feet of clay" can more often be just mud to track in all over the carpet. 

#19 Lawrence Block -- I discovered Lawrence through my fascination with Hard Case Crime, and Borderline his me hard. His writing is almost as direct at Carver and Hemingway but with a more direct and to the point narrative that doesn't hide anything. 

#18 Stephen King -- I wasn't always a Stephen King fan, and I'm still not a big fan of his novels. But I'll tell you this -- you'll have to look hard to find a better living short story writer than the illustrious Mr. King. In all the ways his novels disappoint me with their often forced endings, his short stories absolutely overwhelm me with their succinctness and tightly paced action and horror. 

#17 Donald Westlake -- If Raymond Carver wrote thrillers, he'd be Donald Westlake, but then... we'd have two of them, and that'd be okay too. He's the best modern noir-ish writer post-Hammett and Chandler, if you ask me. 

#16 Robert Heinlein --  Heinlein blending a lot of social commentary in his sci-fi but not at the risk of becoming "literature" or "high-brow" (unlike much of Vonnegut's work, at least if you listen to critics). As such, RH was able to related more to the average sci-fi reader with his tales of science and culture gone mad. 

#15 Annie Dillard -- Perhaps the best modern essayist ever, Annie Dillard's Pilgrim at Tinker Creek was required reading in college and I was hooked. From there, I discovered Teaching a Stone to Talk, Holy the Firm, and the rest of her amazing catalog filled with looking to the natural world to understand the longings of the human heart. 

#14 John Fischer -- I discovered John Fischer from his column on the back page of CCM Magazine. He had a way of helping me out of the subculture of religion into the actual world of human beings and learning to be a person of faith rather than a person of irritation. 

#13 Langston Hughes -- Not only an amazing poet, Hughes knew his way around a short story too, and The Ways of White Folks is one of the best short story collections in the canon of American Literature. Reading this one when I did made me face a mirror of baggage I grew up with and helped start me on the path to change. 

#12 Walter Mosley -- Easy Rawlins is the best modern detective series still being published. Mosley's voice and style blows away the bestseller, summer reading thrillers by light years. 

#11 Dashiell Hammett -- The Maltese Falcon. The Thin Man. The Continental Op. Along with Chandler, Hammett invented the language of the modern detective story in the same way Will Eisner invented the language of the modern comic book story. 

#10. C.S. Lewis -- Even though it was his Narnia books that I discovered first, it was his other fiction and his raw honesty that made him a favorite, particularly his essays on fantastic worlds, his real-time accessment of grief, and his retelling of the Cupid and Psyche myth. 

#9 Shusaku Endo -- Endo is a writer most of you probably haven't heard of. If you haven't read any of his work, start with The Final Martyrs. It's a brilliant short novel about how even chance encounters can affect peoples lives for the long run.

#8 Zora Neale Hurston -- Her characters are some of the deepest and richest I've read. Her style feels more like listening to someone tell a story rather than reading it. THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD should be required reading for anyone.

#7 Edgar Rice Burroughs -- ERB is still the best at Interplanetary Fantasy. A Princess of Mars alone would earn him a top spot, but then you throw in the Pellicudar books and the jungle fantasy of Tarzan, and ERB has  legacy of adventure not even closely rivaled by anyone except MAYBE Haggard or Farmer.

#6 Ed McBain -- one of my best friends' wife (at the time) turned me onto McBain when I was solely a lit snob. And I'm so glad she did. For me he bridged the gap creatively between popular fiction adventure and literary style and quality. Memorable, well developed, human characters and excellent procedural dramatic plots.

#5 Kurt Vonnegut -- satirist, social prophet, sci-fi absurdist, and one of the few literary voices to truly pave his own style in recent history. His "Harrison Bergeron" found me at a young age and I was hooked.

#4 Raymond Chandler -- Chandler is as much a master of literary style as he is a master of mystery and detective fiction. His heroes all have feet of clay, and he used stereotypes with exemplary skill to build characters whose truth lay beneath those surface types. He is often imitated, but none have yet to duplicate him.

#3 Ray Bradbury -- R is for Ray. B is for Bradbury. Other writers may have been the brains and science of sci-fi, but Ray has been and will always be the character-driven heart of the genre.

#2 Flannery O'Connor -- I discovered O'Connor thanks to Steve Taylor's song "It's Harder To Believe Than Not To." Then we studied "A Good Man..." and "Everything That Rises..." in my lit class at KSC, and I was hooked. A writer of faith who didn't sugarcoat people or their reactions. A writer who understood the horror behind Southern Gothic veneers. There is something raw and painful and honest in her characters and plots that no other author I've read can match.

#1 Ernest Hemingway -- If you don't understand his influence on modern prose style and the de-fancying of American fiction, then sadly, I can't help you. I know of lots of folks who appreciate his influence but don't enjoy his actual writing, and I find that sad. He's the most direct and to the point linguist I know of who isn't as direct and to the point in his narratives. And that's a near perfect style in my book.