Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Sky People

Finally finished S. M. Stirling's The Sky People. I thought it was fun, though I'm somewhat easily amused. I'll admit that while I have read Tarzan and the first five Mars/Barsoom novels, I have not read E. R. Burroughs Venus tales - so I don't have the a measure of comparison.

I liked the alternate timeline of the Cold War and an inhabited solar system - though having to explain it all and make it part of the mystery tied down the action in some spots.

Good stuff, I'll be checking out In the Court of Crimson Kings sometime.

For now, I think I'll take a break from novels and read some short stories from various sources until the new year.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

'6 random things about me' meme

From Charles - Like Charles, I usually don't go for these things but I'm bored and feel like rambling.

1.) Baseball. I really don't follow other sports, and I don't follow much outside of the Red Sox. I was in Little League for one season. Ironically, I wound up on the 'Red Sox' and, like the real team at the time, we tied for first place in our division but lost in a playoff tie-breaker. But thinking back now, it was a neat thing when our coach told us mid-season that we were competing for first place. None of us knew until then. It was a real "Wow!" moment.

2.) Shirts. I really enjoy a comfortable casual shirt. I look forward to cooler weather when I can put on the flannels. A few years ago I discovered VermontFlannel. They are more expensive but they are made in U.S.A. so if you're interested in one for Christmas, by all means stop by and support them. I've been acquiring one shirt per year but missed this year because usually instead of ordering online, I buy one at the Topsfield Fair. We couldn't go this year because it was too close to Linda's due date. Maybe Krampus will bring me one.

3.) Books. Not only do I read, but I collect certain books. Not first editions of Mark Twain or anything, mostly paperbacks. I have nearly all the Conan books - Howard originals and pastiches alike. I am three short. I have all the Ian Fleming James Bond novels. Complete sets of some S&S series - like, Flashing Swords and Swords Against Darkness. One thing you might not suspect is that I am a Joseph Heller (Catch-22) fan, too. I have hardcover copies of all his books except one. I was fortunate enough to have some generous friends who bumped into Joe annually and secured me two personally autographed books from him. I only regret that we never found a way to get me to the annual party to meet him in person.

4.) Guns. I grew up with guns but I don't own any. (I do own some rapiers and a Maori warclub, though, so be careful when you come knocking. ;) ) We weren't a hunting family so I rarely fired guns but I knew where the ammo was and how to load and unload. As Charles said, it's about respect not fear. Or, it should be.

My father and I ordered a flintlock Tower Pistol (1750 British Colonial pistol) kit from Connecticut Valley Arms back in the day. (Apparently they don't do recreations anymore, and that is a shame.) The finished product still hangs over the fireplace back home.

5.) Hobbies. Speaking of that pistol, if I had extra time (and money - be careful what you wish for in this economy ;) ) to indulge in more hobbies, black powder shooting would be one. Not with modern muzzle loaders but with historical pieces/kits as I have an interest in that. Aside from the hobbies that I currently attempt to keep up with (reading, writing, guitar, old Xbox games I've barely touched.) I would add to the list - tabletop miniatures (Warhammer/Warhamer 40K), more video gaming with a new system (PS3, maybe?) and I'd love to try an organized RPG - preferably find someone running a Solomon Kane campaign!

And I'd really like to get back to hiking. For me it's more about seeing wildlife than conquering mountains, though, so just walking through the woods is fine, too.

6.) Writing. I started this blog to make posts about writing and fell off that wagon (as evidenced by this self-indulgence) as I fell off the writing wagon. For any who wants to read more about writing, hang in there. I do have plans for a historical novel. My hope is to thumbnail the outline and characters sketches in December and start writing again in January with a New Year's resolution.

We'll see how that pans out with the baby and all. ;)

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Of all the gall

So, apparently it's not unheard of to have a gall bladder attack as a result of pregnancy/delivery.

Linda's okay now but we lost a few days in the hospital last week. She will have surgery next month to remove her gall bladder.

Luckily, both sets of grandparents are relatively close-by and were able to round robin. The baby had no issues switching temporarily to a bottle with formula.

At least I got some reading done at the hospital. Finished Witch Finder and started S. M. Stirling's The Sky People.

Over-and-out for now.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Full Metal Elves

Because I have a twisted sense of humor, I find this extremely funny.

NSFW language.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Mathias Thulmann

Taking a break from fatherhood and work to discuss Mathias Thulmann, Witch Hunter of the Empire (of the Warhammer novels.)

There are three novels, and I am reading the second one now, Witch Finder. They are great fun, and if you like Solomon Kane, they are worth checking out. They are like reading a Hammer horror movie from their heyday.

As they often do, the Black Library are reissuing all three novels in an omnibus edition; due in November. The edition will include two previous short stories and a brand new tale. I guess that's kind of like a band releasing a greatest hits album with a single new track to entice fans to buy a collection they already own.

But, it is a sweet cover...

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Been a little busy ...

.. our daughter Gwyneth was born on Friday morning. :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Kane is back

Just when I thought I was done with comics...

Well, not "done". I still buy plenty of graphic novels and collections but I had stopped buying monthly issues.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Post Road Pumpkin Ale

I can't rip the image from the animation, but here's the webpage.

Brooklyn Brewery's Post Road Pumpkin Ale.

It was good. Not as heavy on the spices as the last, but the nutmeg was still a little strong.

Speaking of pumpkin, Dunkin Donuts seasonal Pumpkin Spice Muffins and Donuts are now available.

This morning's breakfast was iced coffee, pumpkin donut and AC/DC's "Whole Lotta Rosie" on repeat.


Wednesday, September 24, 2008

E tu, Stratego?

I'm not sure why - I guess it's because of those Sharpe novels - but I really wanted to pick up the game Stratego. Do you remember that game? I never had it as a kid but I think one of my friends did.

Well, just this month, the basic version of Stratego has gone from Napoleonic armies to fantasy motif with knights, wizards and dragons. It is an admitted attempt to appeal to a wider strata of people.


Why can't they leave the base edition as Napoleonic and make a fantasy edition as a special?

What's wrong with piquing a kid's interest about history?

Yeah, get off my lawn. ;)

Friday, September 19, 2008

Raccoons bring the funk.

(ok, it's really a pheromone thing, but still very funny)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Thoughts from the slush pile

Jason (von DarkMoor) said we were free to post in generalities about our slush reading, so I thought I would.

The single failure I see with nearly every story is the pacing, and the lack of getting to the heart of the story. In the case (genre) of heroic fantasy, I think that is very important.

Personally, I'm not one for pure action and plot. I like to get atmosphere and setting - but that can be imparted while action occurs.

Nearly all the submitted tales (that I have read - I only receive a portion of the pile) introduce the characters, have dialogs (or info dumps) about who and what their backstory is...then we get the monster...then the monster is dispatched.

I guess no one wants to show their hand early. I suppose some might be trying to build suspense. But the first thing I would do is start with the monster and someone battling it from the first word. "In medea res" - that is one thing screenwriting taught me. You can't waste film and budget getting the story going. The same can apply to prose - especially where action/adventure are the focal point.

Maybe it's a high bar, but I always go back to Robert E. Howard's tale, "The Black Stranger". That story had such a breathless violent opening - Conan hunted by and battling the Picts. While the following excerpt is not from the very first word, by the third paragraph or so (after Conan is described stalking through the woods, even though he is supposed to the hunted, not the hunter) we get this...

..the Cimmerian bounded into the path behind them and plunged his knife between the shoulders of the last man. The attack was so quick and unexpected the Pict had no chance to save himself. The blade was in his heart before he knew he was in peril. The other two whirled with the instant, steel-trap quickness of savages, but even as his knife sank home, the Cimmerian struck a tremendous blow with the war-axe in his right hand. The second Pict was in the act of turning as the axe fell. It split his skull to the teeth.

That is how you open a story in this genre, my friends!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

And the first pumpkin ale is...

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, from Delaware (not MD, as I misreported last time.)

This was one of the ones I would consider over-spiced. The nutmeg and allspice were overpowering, and the alcohol content was high. Not the smoothest or pumpkin-est.

Aside from that taste test, we had a quiet weekend with beautiful weather. Made sure to get some A.O.D. time with a book and a guitar. (Ass On Deck - our new deck that was built this summer - want to ensure I do more than just cook on the grill out there!)

Sunday, August 24, 2008

But it's not even September

Yeah. I was supposed to keep this blog about my writing, but...

I was at the liquor store yesterday. I was grabbing some beer for our summer cookout. (For those who live in a state where beer is at the supermarket and liquor is a separate store, that's not how it is in Massachusetts.)

The Pumpkin Ales are out already. There were at least five different microbreweries with Pumpkin Ale on the shelf.

I enjoy Pumpkin Ale. I love autumn when Dunkin Donuts carries pumpkin muffins and pumpkin donuts.

But, come on, summer ain't over yet!

I like most Pumpkin Ales but it is a seasonal special and usually has spices and some brands overdo it. I think I'll note which ones I prefer this time around. I just wish I could buy one of each instead of a six-pack each to find out. And for those who say a six-pack shouldn't be an obstacle--well--spiced ales really aren't for bludgeoning brain cells en masse.

Yeah, I'm a beer snob.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Into the Ages?

I had much fun reading Captain Alatriste and listening to two Sharpe audiobooks this year.

I wonder if I should try writing a straight historical action adventure novel. No supernatural, no sci-fi - just some hard hitting warfare at some point in human history.

Thursday, August 7, 2008


I've joined the slush readers over at Rogue Blades Entertainment. Seeing as how I haven't been writing much, maybe I can do something from the other side of things.

I was reminded of all the used book hunting I have done (and continue to do) searching for 'heroic fantasy' and lamenting that new stuff wasn't coming out (with very few exceptions.)

I wanted more, more, more Bran Mak Morn, Solomon Kane and Cormac Mac Art (Andy Ouffutt's CMA series notwithstanding) and I still want more.

Maybe RBE can address that hankerin' jones.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Added LibraryThing

Yeah, I know that's obvious if you're here, but if you're reading a feed, you won't see it unless you click over to here.

Monday, June 30, 2008


Yeah, I know. Dull blog, eh?

Well, there's been nothing on the writing front and need to get-on-the-wagon, get-off-my-ass, favorite-expression-for-getting-out-of-a-lazy-funk.

I'm a bit tired of short stuff but I don't have the impetus to write a novel yet. I have some ideas - but who doesn't?

I think I'm also at a storyteller/writer crossroads. I can write, but can I engage readers with stories?

Don't mind me - I'll snap out of it eventually.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Lono and the Little Gods

"Lono and the Little Gods", Sword's Edge, Issue 24, Winter 2007

Bytarian Nights

"Bytarian Nights", Fear and Trembling, Issue 2, July 2007

The Glass People

"The Glass People", Ray Gun Revival, Issue 09, November 01, 2006

The Repairman

"The Repairman", The Sword Review, Issue 19, October 2006
(issue available in print at -

Queen of the Sepulcher

"Queen of the Sepulcher", The Sword Review, Bonus Feature, November 2005

Starting over

Felt the need to consolidate. I'll try to keep this mainly about my writing - trying to motivate myself back onto the wagon.

I'll be making a handful of posts with links to previously published stuff.