Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Lost Empire of Sol, sword-&-planet anthology

This anthology of sword-&-planet stories has been a long time in the making. I won't bore you with details. It started, floundered, picked up, floundered again. Jason Waltz finally grabbed the project for his refurbished Rogue Blades Foundation/ Rogue Blades Entertainment effort.

So, here we are. THE LOST EMPIRE OF SOL, available for pre-order. (includes my story, "A Gate In Darkness.")

Press release and ordering information can be found here;




Friday, December 13, 2019

Not Far From Roswell, Kindle edition available

Edited by Kelly A. Harmon & Vonnie Winslow Crist

My latest published story, "Heirloom," is available now in the Pole To Pole Publishing anthology, NOT FAR FROM ROSWELL. (Kindle available now, print to follow soon)

Despite the friendly cow, this is part of the Dark Stories Series. They wanted dark and I delivered. I have not read the other tales, but I suspect the tone of the anthology is dark fantasy & horror. You've been warned...

Friday, December 6, 2019

recent read; The Cunning Man

If you are a fan of occult detective/dark fantasy/folk magic stories along the lines of Manly Wade Wellman’s John the Balladeer, David Drake’s Old Nathan, and Brian Keene’s Levi Stoltzfus, there is a new novel you need to read; Dave Butler & Aaron Michael Ritchey’s THE CUNNING MAN.

Hiram Woolley easily joins the ranks of such heroes.

Let's look at the tease;
It’s the depths of the Depression, and a mining town in Utah is shut down. Something has awakened underground, and now a monster roams the tunnels. Along comes Hiram Woolley ... a man with mystical abilities derived from the commonsense application of Scot-Irish folk wisdom and German Braucher magic. ... Behind the played-out farms and failed businesses are demons, curses, sorcerers, and unatoned wrongs. Bags of groceries and carpentry won’t be enough this time.The job will take a man who has known sorrow. A man who has known war. A man of wisdom. A man of magic. The job will take a Cunning Man.
This is a fantastic premise which Butler & Ritchey deliver on. The characters are three-dimensional. The setting pops off the page. Hiram's inner conflicts are as well-drawn as his outer conflicts. There are tense, thrilling scenes as good as any horror suspense you'll read. 

THE CUNNING MAN should be on your reading list—near the top.

Sunday, November 24, 2019


Bringing something new to the superhero genre isn't always easy. Making superheroes pop off the page in prose is a tall order, too. And then, if an author wants to bring a proper measure of reality to their superhero story without taking a "tear it all down, this could never happen in real life" deconstruction attitude, that writer needs a deft touch.

Errick Nunnally can do all that. His new novel, LIGHTNING WEARS A RED CAPE, proves he can.

From the city to the statehouse, a quartet of super-powered criminals are pushing the power of their gangs' influence as far and as high as it will go. At the street level, altruistic heroes--super-powered and merely human--find themselves pulled into the widening conflict. 

Nunnally's love of comics and superheroes comes through. His superheroes show roots and have their own angles. Atlas, the super-cop. Thunder, the Puerto Rican Amazonian Wonder Woman and her speedster sidekick, Lightning. Shade--the space war veteran who just wants to live in peace and help his community thrive--like a skewed reflection of Green Lantern John Stewart.

And Shango, the unstoppable wildcard, an African god of thunder.

Other heroes in the shadows, discovering new abilities, waiting for their time to shine.

Nunnally keeps the reader engaged throughout. The action scenes flow. The downbeats push the plot along exactly as they should. When novel rockets into the climax, the action does not let up.

I recommend you read this excellent book. It's an important genre novel--it opens windows on the minority experience woven flawlessly into the narrative. Something Errick Nunnally does extremely well.

LIGHTING deserves a sequel, and I can't wait to read that, too!

Monday, November 4, 2019

Back to the Valley of Gold


Publicity still. (the movie is in color.)
I've been revisiting the late 1950s through 1960s TARZAN movies with my son. Yesterday we watched TARZAN AND THE VALLEY OF GOLD. (which I've touched on before)

It's a crazy mix of modern world Tarzan, James Bond pastiche, Tarzan pastiche. On the 007 side, the main baddie is pure Bond villain. Tarzan first appears in a suit, fighting assassins in Mexico City. The jazzy soundtrack. For Tarzan moments, we see Tarzan suiting 'down' to the loincloth and requesting a knife and a length of rope. His use of the animals (leopard as tracker, chimpanzee as scout, lion as his army) has echoes of original Tarzan novels (Beasts of Tarzan, Tarzan the Untamed.)

The sum of the parts never really adds up. The story's scope & vision far exceed its budget. The climax drags on too long.

But it's a favorite. Maybe because Mike Henry is a physical cast perfect for Tarzan--and Nancy Kovack is quite fetching. Or maybe I just enjoy the audacity of what they were trying to pull off.

I think it's a fun way to spend a ninety-minute weekend matinee.

The Fritz Leiber novelization was recently re-released. It takes the story where it could have gone and adds a lot to it. Maybe not worth the current collectible hardcover price for casual fans but when it comes out in paperback or ebook, you might give it a read, if you're a pulp / action adventure fan.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

NECON is moving!

I suppose most people already learned this exciting news via other mediums, but in case anyone out there only goes by my blog updates;

NECON, the NorthEastern Writers Conference, has a major change coming for NECON 40, in July 2020. After holding 39 NECONs in Rhode Island, the conference is moving to Salem, MA. This also allows them to move the cap from 200 attendees to 250.

You can read all about the hows & whys here;

NECON is moving to Salem!

What do I think?

I think it looks great!

Yes, my ride will be much shorter. Believe it or not, I'll kind of miss it. I liked getting away to Rhode Island annually. I will miss all the osprey sightings. But the new arrangements look amazing. I'm really glad there will be lots more common spaces to cluster and hang out. That was definitely a limitation of the old location.

Often during NECON at some point, people will take a break and head into Providence or other destinations, and that usually eats up a half-day. With downtown Salem so near, quick breaks can be taken to visit sites without taking a chunk out of the conference programming.

Speaking of the programming, if you didn't know, historically NECON spun out from World Fantasy Con. NECON's focus is usually the horror genre. In recent years, "horror" has been dropped from the official name (the 'H' was never included in the NECON abbreviation, anyway.) Lots of the guests write across genres. A handful or more of crime & thriller writers have been attending in recent years. The conference is more for speculative fiction now, though many of the panels are still horror oriented.

It will be a great time!

Thursday, September 19, 2019

recent read; SGT JANUS RETURNS by Jim Beard

I will try to avoid spoilers, but the big one can't be avoided. If you're reading SGT JANUS RETURNS, then you know Jim Beard killed off Roman Janus in the previous volume. (Or, more precisely, made him disappear with near certainty of death.)

Though Beard shifts to a single, Watson-esque, narrator for this book, if you're expecting a straight "Hurrah! He's back!" (a la THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES) in the opening pages, Beard wisely creates further mystery instead.

An amnesiac woman appears in a small village and solves a ghost problem. Thereafter, she whisks young Joshua Hargreaves into a life of adventurous "spirit breaking." As time passes, "Lady Janus" adopts more of Janus's habits and manners. Who is she? Is she possessed by Janus? Is she Janus reincarnated? Will we ever truly learn the nature and details of Roman Janus's disappearance?

These stories are much more tightly linked than the stories in the first volume. Beard builds a great sense of mystery and suspense as the stories stack on top of each other, creating further complications, rushing toward a thrilling conclusion.

With SGT JANUS RETURNS, Jim Beard has created the best kind of sequel. The book is its own story, with a familiar feel, but not falling to routine or re-treading the first volume.

Highly recommended for fans of pulp mystery and occult detectives. Just be sure to read SGT JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER first!

Monday, September 9, 2019

recent reads; Joseph Payne Brennan

Dover have reissued two hard-to-find horror collections by Joseph Payne Brennan. I'd been waiting to get a hold of THE SHAPES OF MIDNIGHT for a long time. Happy that NINE HORRORS AND A DREAM showed up, too.

These collections are a master class in writing short fiction. The stories contained in NINE HORRORS AND A DREAM are not flash fiction but with a few exceptions, they are short shorts. Brennan gets in, gets to the core of the tale, and gets out. The stories are lean and trim. The stories in THE SHAPES OF MIDNIGHT are slightly longer but still short overall.

Each volume is short. NINE HORRORS AND A DREAM is 106 pages. THE SHAPES OF MIDNIGHT is 124 pages.  (And they are printed in a decent sized font, too.)

My favorites were "The Willow Platform," "Canavan's Back Yard," and "The Mail for Juniper Hill."

If you are a horror or classic pulp horror fan, you owe it to yourself to add these to your collection and read them.

A few notes on these editions;

These are bare-boned editions. There are no introductions. Given that Stephen King wrote an introduction for the original THE SHAPES OF MIDNIGHT, and the fact that Brennan passed away in 1990, an introduction to the writer and his work would have been a value--especially for readers discovering him for the first time. (There is a Wikipedia page for Brennan, if you're curious.)

There is no information about the original appearances of the stories (where and when.) This might be the case with the original editions, I don't have them to compare. Not a deal breaker but I'm always curious about that.

Originally these collections appeared decades apart, so two stories overlapped. They have been cut from this edition of THE SHAPES OF MIDNIGHT but are included in NINE HORRORS AND A DREAM

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

recent read; SGT JANUS, SPIRIT-BREAKER by Jim Beard

Yup! Another entry from Derrick Ferguson's 75 New Pulp Book To Get You Started list. (which, you should keep handy.)

If you enjoy occult detectives, like Carnacki, Sgt. Janus needs to be added to your reading list.

Janus is a mysterious character. His use of rank title and manner of dress suggest a military background. Some people are convinced he is a charlatan. He tangles with ghosts and other occult manifestations.

Beard has a clever twist on the presentation. Rather than sticking with a single chronicler (e.g.; Doctor Watson,) Janus requests that his clients provide written reports of the incidents. This allows different points-of-view and adds variety to the tales.

Further variety is provided by Beard's plots. Some cases are undertaken in the field. Others take place in Janus's sprawling house in the country, where clients come to him.

The stories have wonderful atmosphere. Each story works alone, though there is a definite arc threaded through the collection. Clearly, this is a set of stories written to be presented together.

I'll be rushing to read the sequel, SGT JANUS RETURNS!

Friday, August 23, 2019

recent read; GREEN LAMA UNBOUND by Adam Lance Garcia

Another entry from Derrick Ferguson's 75 New Pulp Book To Get You Started list. (which, you should keep handy.)

I've not read any original Green Lama tales, nor have I read Garcia's Green Lama tales leading into this story. (It's the third in a series.) But that did not matter. I got hooked into the story. I had no problems locking in and going for the ride.

I don't want to give away too much. The plot, in a nutshell; Nazis ally themselves with cultists of the Old Ones. They are preparing to awaken Cthulhu when the stars align and R'lyeh rises from the sea bottom. The Green Lama and his companions, of course, are the ones who must stop the cataclysm.

I don't know how much of the original tales told of the Green Lama's origin. Garcia threads an in-depth origin story via flashbacks as the plot unfolds. He does a good job of tying the Green Lama's power and fate to the fate of Cthulhu and the Old Ones.

There are even a couple of pulp Easter eggs, with certain heroes being described but not named, who have crossed the Green Lama's path. And a few Lovecraft story title nods along the way, too.

I enjoyed this novel, a lot. It is done well.

In fact, I enjoyed THE GREEN LAMA: UNBOUND so much, I will be reading Garcia's two previous volumes. And I will need to try some of the original Green Lama pulp stories, too.

Friday, August 9, 2019

WICKED WEIRD available now!




(Well, kind of. The Kindle edition is available for pre-order. It appears the print edition can be ordered now.)

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

recent reads

No full reviews here. Just thought I'd highlight books I've read lately that I really enjoyed (that I have not yet mentioned on the blog.)

Damballa by Charles R. Saunders
Saunders's take on The Shadow & 1930s pulp heroes. Plus, he gets to bring his boxing reporter chops to the page, too. (Good voices narration on the audiobook.)

Nobody Lives Forever by John Gardner
First non-Fleming James Bond I've read. Bond has a price placed on his head. He must get to the mastermind before various spies and criminals assassinate him first. (Audiobook was great.)

Gates of the Dead by James A. Moore
The finishing novel of The Tides of War trilogy. This grimdark story, though certainly epic in fantasy scope, has plenty of horror and sword-&-sorcery chops. Brogan McTyre is one of the most (Robert E.) Howardian characters I've read in a long time. Brogan will stand to the last, swinging steel at the gods themselves.
 (Also of note; James A. Moore is battling cancer. The prognosis is good. But medical costs will be steep, even with insurance. This month (Aug 2019) Angry Robot will pass through all the money from sales of their catalog of Jim's books [Seven Forges series, Tides of War trilogy] directly to Jim. So--good time to buy the books if you were thinking about it.)

Grim Death and Bill the Electrocuted Criminal by Mike Mignola & Tom Sniegoski
Another take on The Shadow, this time from the weird minds of Mignola & Sniegoski. Grim Death is a vigilante, a servant of Death, carrying out capital punishment where justice has failed. But now one of the ghosts who haunts him needs him to prove a man's innocence. This story is pure pulp with humorous and macabre touches only this team of creatives could deliver.

 (The Best of the) Bolos: Their Finest Hour edited by Hank Davis, created by Keith Laumer

Sentient battle tanks. 'nough said!

Monday, August 5, 2019

Current writing goals & miscellanous publication news

Social media has definitely eaten into posting. Quicker to share news that way than to take the time for a post. But, I should be better about it--even if I'm not sure who comes by here anymore without a social media prompt.


Over the past few years my writing goals have shifted from the calendar year to a more natural rhythm of NECON to NECON for me. That is July to July. Attending NECON gives me a push like nothing else. And this year I really needed it.

I've got my goals laid out now. I need to stay on track and see where I end up next summer.

Other news;

My story, "The Painted Girl," will appear in the New England Horror Writers anthology, WICKED WEIRD. They will debut the book at NecronomiCon Providence in a few weeks. It should be available through Amazon after that.

Doug Draa accepted my story, "The Toll Taker and the Troll," for WEIRDBOOK. That will be appearing sometime in 2020-21. (Yes, Doug has filled out the issues all the way until then!)

Bryce Beattie accepted my story, "Makani and the Vulture God," for STORYHACK. It should be appearing in issue 5. Issue 4 should be out soon. I encourage you all to support the 'zine.

I have another acceptance on short story for an anthology but I am not at liberty to divulge information at this time. I hope it will come out this year, too.

I have one other bit of news but--also unfortunately--that appears delayed so I'll wait to announce anything there. Hopefully I won't be waiting too much longer.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

recent read/listen; Bass Reeves, Frontier Marshal, Volume 1

Bass Reeves, Frontier Marshal, Volume 1

I'm on a kick to read a lot more new pulp. I'm using Derrick Ferguson's list, 75 New Pulp Books To Get You Started, as a starting point.

I've already read a few titles from the list. I'd been building up my Audible credits again, so I grabbed some titles from the list. The nice thing about the pulp titles is that most of them are on the shorter side (8hrs or under,) so I can knock them off faster.

Bass Reeves was a real person. A black man, a former escaped slave who worked the Indian Territories (Oklahoma & Arkansas) as a U.S. deputy marshal. He had an amazing career.

The stories in this volume are fiction, not history. The palate of the Old West and Reeves's exploits serve as a cauldron to mix facts of the man's life with Western tropes to produce enjoyable tales.

Here's the t.o.c with log lines;
"Ride from Three Devils" by Gary Phillips
While chasing the notorious outlaw, Alamosa Bill, Bass Reeves stumbles into a plot to rob a government silver shipment on a west-bound train.

"Whiskey Road" by Mel Odom
Bass must infiltrate a gang of vicious horse thieves to find a kidnapped child.

"No Master But Duty" by Andrew Salmon
Reeves and his posseman collar a wanted man only to have the citizens of the small frontier town he is hiding in refuse to give him up.

"A Town Named Affliction" by Derrick Ferguson
When an old lawman turns outlaw, Bass Reeves and his possemen must hunt down the Chance brothers and bring them to justice.
There is also an introduction from Ron Fortier with suggested histories of Bass Reeves for further historical reading, and each author has an afterword with their story.

I'm not a Western expert. I've read a few. I've seen a fair number of western movies though I still feel like I've only scratched the surface. That said, I thought these stories were solid and entertaining. They were well narrated, too.

Worth your time.

I'll be getting to Volumes 2 & 3 sooner rather than later.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

recent read; three from Edmond Hamilton

I've been itching to get back to science fiction reads for a while. Of course, I am seeking out action & excitement oriented stories, not cerebral deep-thinks. I've been remiss in my reading of Edmond Hamilton. So, I picked up this omnibus and started reading.

I thought this was an okay story but I wasn't moved to keep reading Captain Future adventures. The team of characters are fun (a brain in a box, a metallic robot, and a plasticine android support Captain Future.) In this debut adventure, Future is hunting down a villain who is stirring up trouble among the natives on Jupiter. Imaginative elements keep this light fun.

A running adventure of trouble after trouble, influenced by PRISONER OF ZENDA. Gordon, a man from Earth, trades bodies with a prince from the far flung future. Trapped in the future, Gordon falls deeper and deeper into political intrigue as the galaxy teeters on the brink of war. As described in the biography at the end of the omnibus, Hamilton was best known for his "extravagant, romantic, high-adventure style of SF" and this novel is a prime example.

Hamilton wrote a STARWOLF trilogy in the 1960s. He brought his chops to the table for a different era of space opera readers.

Morgan Chane is an Earth-born, Varnan-raised space pirate (a Starwolf). He flees into exile and falls in with a mercenary outfit. Their latest job is to stop one world from acquiring and using a super-weapon against another world.

This is the story I'd been waiting for. This tale has a lean bite compared to the other novels.

The trilogy was reprinted in an omnibus by ACE. I'll be reading the other two novels.


Monday, April 22, 2019

Another tale in StoryHack

Now that I have signed the contract, I can announce my short story, "Makani and the Vulture God," will be appearing in StoryHack later this year. If plans stay on track, the story will be in issue #5.

This will be my second appearance in StoryHack. This will be the third published story featuring my sword-&-sorcery duo, Lono and Makani. (Perhaps I should call it spear-&-sorcery. There is no metallurgy among their people.)

I enjoy StoryHack. I enjoy working with editor, Bryce Beattie.

I am pleased :)

Monday, April 8, 2019


Though contracts have not gone out, the official t.o.c. was announced for WICKED WEIRD.

WICKED WEIRD is the next anthology produced by the New England Horror Writers group, following on WICKED SEASONS, WICKED TALES, WICKED WITCHES, and WICKED HAUNTED.

The original plan was to launch the book this August at Necronomicon Providence 2019. I don't know if that is still the plan, or if it will slip to their traditional October launch.

As you might guess from the title and launch plan, the theme this time around is 'weird' and 'cosmic' horror. My story, "The Painted Girl," is among the nineteen. Some intriguing titles and good writers here. I'm happy to be included.


Editors - Amber Fallon, Scott Goudsward and David Price

(In Random order - Not book order:)

Jeffrey Thomas - Your Emergency Response Guide
Lauran L. Soares - The Sweetness and the Psychic
Ken Vaughan - A Long Walk to the Ocean
John Goodrich - The Promised Death of Zebediah Dewey
Matthew M. Bartlett - Strange Haze
Barry Lee Dejasu - The Night and all its Visitors
Morgan Sylvia - Salt Cave
Errick Nunnally - A Song of War and Death
Jason Parent - Starry Night
William Carl - Reclaimed
Frank Raymond Michaels - Please Stay Dead, Aunt Marnie
Paul McNamee - The Painted Girl
Peter Dudar - Perfect Parent
Victoria Dalpe - Those beneath, devour
Steve Van Samson - A Feast of Flies
Rob Smales - Pet Shop of the Gods
John Buja - Lost Mine of St. Eloi
Trisha Wooldridge - The Mass of the Greatest Sin
Steven LaCroix - Better Late than Never

There you have it 19 original stories - 93K (pre-edits etc)

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

On the subject of book reviews

The other day on Facebook, a writer friend asked;
What’s a guy gotta do to get book reviews around here? Seriously. All answers appreciated.
 Most everyone replied they had no idea anymore.

I certainly don't.

I am more focused on Amazon reviews in this post, though there are certainly other venues; goodreads, blogs, etc.

Not complaining, just observing; the anthologies I've appeared in barely have reviews.

Personally, for me, the notion of reviewing just isn't on my radar much anymore. It started with backing off any negative reviews. As a writer myself I feel uncomfortable doing that. It might just not be smart as a 'career' move, either.

But now I'm kind of burned out on reviewing anything--even if I like something.

Maybe it's the fact I come from a Pre-Internet world. Pre-Internet, if I enjoyed something I just enjoyed it. I'd tell some people maybe, or it would come up in conversation, but I didn't need to announce it to the world.

I know, we live in a new paradigm. I know authors need the help--I'm one of them.

Amazon's back-&-forth 'policies' on pulling reviews--especially if you are friends with writers--haven't helped. And it is disturbing behavior. How does Amazon determine you are friends? Clearly they must be trawling our social media.

On the flip side of that, Amazon hardly police unjust one-star reviews. Ones that are done out of spite, or "I never read this genre but I'll review this anyway."

I also wonder if Amazon reviews mean anything lately. Other than occasionally hunting up some non-fiction cold, I don't read Amazon reviews to influence my purchases. Most books I buy are on recommendations from other sources--and most of those are recommendations, not reviews.

Also seeing as how nearly every book on Amazon--if they get enough reviews--end up with such a mix from one-star to five-star that the reviews aren't even useful.

I have no evidence that anyone else feels the way I do. But I do wonder.

How about you? Have you burned out on posting reviews, even short ones? Do you feel like the weight of Amazon reviews don't matter to you as much as they did?  Did they ever?

What about reviews from sources other than Amazon?

Thursday, January 17, 2019

recent read; the DARK GATE novels by John Jakes

DMR Books are launching 2019 by having guest bloggers all month. I was invited to participate. (thanks Deuce & Dave!)

I'd been meaning to read two planetary adventure novels by John Jakes: MASTER OF THE BLACK GATE and WITCH OF THE BLACK GATE. I thought a post about them would be a nice change from examining Jakes' sword-&-sorcery tales of Brak the Barbarian.

You can read the blog post here.