Monthly Archives: February 2016

Family Matters

melancholyI’m back from a long drive back and forth to Pennsylvania to see a good man put to rest.

Any of you frequent visitors know that I don’t talk too much about my family, especially my kids, for privacy reasons. But my daughter put together a video for history class that I thought I’d share. She was determined to get the extra credit points awarded for the best project… and she got them.

Not being up on much modern music, I didn’t know the original song (“Hide Away”). My daughter wrote new lyrics and sang them, then filmed and edited and everything else for the short video. I make a brief cameo as a guy with a sword.

Anyway, here’s the video.

Link Day

link hogthrob 2First, Broken Eye books has released a new anthology of Cthulhu mythos stories, Tomorrow’s Cthulhu, set in the future. If you don’t know Broken Eye, you should — they put together quality products, and it was my pleasure to have a story in their collection Ghosts in the Cogs earlier this year.

Second, The Science Fiction Writers of America has launched a new speaker’s bureau: “Institutions and event planners can find SFWA members representing a wide range of writers and publishing industry professionals.” Seems like a good idea, and I’ve been thinking about re-joining anyway.

Why it's Link Man, defender of safe, interesting, and quick loading internet content! And he's here to stop the menace of The Spinner!

Why it’s Link Man, defender of safe, interesting, and quick loading internet content! And he’s here to stop the menace of The Spinner!

Third, while digging up information on Adventure magazine writer Georges Surdez I found a treasure trove of pulp French Foreign Legion stories. This link will take you to one by Surdez, but if you look around on the site you’ll not only find more by him, you’ll find a host of others. I haven’t had time to read this particular one yet, so I hope it’s a good sample of his work. If not, try another — he usually gets mentioned as one of the best writers Adventure had.

Winter Dregs

IMG_4643I wouldn’t go so far as to call the last few days craptacular, but they’re far from splendid.

A few days ago one of my wife’s uncles passed away. In my own family that would be distant enough I probably wouldn’t know the fellow very well, but in her family I’ve met the man numerous times and stayed at his house. He was, simply, a fine human being and it’s terrible to lose him.

I discovered a different kind of loss a little more recently — my truck won’t turn over. A warning light with a lightning bolt is on, which informs me that the Electronic Throttle Control has a problem. The shop can’t tell me what that might mean, apart from the fact it means I’ve just had to call a tow truck to drag the truck away. I’m not a praying man, but I do have fingers crossed that it’s not going to be an expensive repair, as it’s been a while since I had either a royalty check or an advance.

Readers Wanted

hulk thinkWhile I was growing up in the ’70s and ’80s, video games were in their infancy, and most television shows were pretty bad.

It could be argued that most television shows are pretty bad today, as well, and while that would be true, there are so MANY more to choose from that it’s much easier to find some that are entertaining. I’ve honestly lost count of how many channels we have, not to mention the number of online venues, and when you contrast that to the 3 and occasionally 4 channels I had while growing up, the difference is obvious.

Identity Thievery

good editorRight before the end of the year in 2014 my wife and I went shopping at a department store and took advantage of an after Christmas sale to get her a necklace. It wasn’t tremendously expensive (I think it was under 50 dollars) but when the clerk asked if we wanted to save fifteen additional percent by opening up a store credit card, we said sure.

And that was our mistake. We weren’t to learn about the mistake for many months, and we’re still paying for it.

An employee at the department store’s call center had a very similar name to my wife’s, which apparently led her to believe she could steal my wife’s identity. With my wife’s information this stranger proceeded to buy two new cars and then went on a credit card rampage, signing up for whatever she could lay hands on. I was a little confused when I started receiving phone calls during the day in early 2015 asking if we had opened credit cards, but they sounded so much like phishing attempts (they usually asked for our personal data) I didn’t think the people I was speaking with were real company representatives.

Conan RPG

conanrpgI’m really torn. Have you seen this? It’s already blown through its initial funding AND a couple of stretch goals and it’s just launched.

The trailer looks great. The people involved are top-notch, and some of them are my friends. Given my love for the Hyborian Age, it seems like a no-brainer… but I have SO many game systems already, some of which emulate a sword-and-sorcery vibe quite well, AND while I would love to play in such a game, I’m not sure that any of the people I game with are even half in love with the setting and character as much as I am, particularly my wife. I love her madly, but she has little appreciation for Conan or REH. And that means this game would probably end up as a glorious shelf decoration.

My other worry is that If I do sign on just so I can have this great looking book on my shelf, I’ll feel compelled to buy all the other books as well, and I’m  leery of falling into that particular pit.

Have any of you out there played the system it’s using? I’d be curious to hear your opinions on it.


Board Game Bonanza

forbidden islandWell, not a bonanza, really, but my wife and I picked up Forbidden Island and Pandemic this weekend, and I’ve been researching other board games. We don’t have too many of the modern ones, as we’ve continued role-playing games over the years. A lot of the modern board games people rave about are sort of like “role-playing lite,” like Defenders of the Realm, and I figure if I want that feel I can just run a paper and dice role-playing game.

But there are scads of great looking modern games even apart from those. I’m most drawn to games with ancient civilization building and war themes, as you might expect, and other tactical games. I’ve heard wonderful things about Tigris & Euphrates for years but haven’t picked it up — I don’t imagine my wife would like the conflict aspect of it. (One of the reasons I have gotten into solitaire games is that I can play tactical scenarios that way.)

Rare Treasures

lybeck 1I’m still moving forward at a fast clip into the rough draft of my next book, although I’ve had a slow start this morning. Now that I’m not reading a long Conan story every week, and that the season is over for my daughter’s high school swim team, I have a little more time to read. On the docket soon are some books by friends and acquaintances, the first being an e-book I’m long overdue getting back to (sorry, Peter!).

First, though, I’m finally finishing a read through of an anthology that’s a little like a mixed tape. I discussed my collection of one-of-a-kind pulp anthologies a few years ago if you want a little more information. Each was created, compiled, and hand sewn by pulp collector Al Lybeck. The one I’m reading right now includes several short novels:

Full Tilt Wednesday

hulk computerDrafting this new, eh, draft, is going so well I didn’t want to take too much time out to create a post for the day, but I did want to stop and thank all of you who joined in the Conan re-read. Bill and I enjoyed sharing our thoughts with all of you, and exchanging opinions.

I also want to thank Bill, who’s simply a brilliant writer. His insightful comments were a huge factor in the success of this re-read. But then he’s a brilliant guy and it’s a pleasure to name him my friend. He’s been talking about getting back to fiction writing, and I’ve been trying to encourage him in that route. The rest of you should as well. The problem with being named “Bill Ward” is that there are apparently a whole lot of creative folks with the same name, which makes it hard to launch your writing career. If you perform a search for his work, you’re apt to turn up someone else. He may have to start drafting under a pseudonym.

Conan Re-Read: Conclusion

conquering sword conanBill Ward and I have just finished a re-read of every complete story of Conan the Cimmerian written by Robert E. Howard.

Howard: It’s hard to believe it’s been six months since we started this re-read. But then it’s hard to believe it’s over, and it’s hard to believe that there aren’t any more Conan stories. Such a fantastic character practically begs to have more adventures told about him, which is probably why the regrettable Conan pastiche industry popped up. Well, maybe not entirely regrettable, because I’ve read some I’ve really enjoyed. What’s regrettable is that for a long time they were packaged on equal footing with the real thing, or made available even when the real thing was out of print.