Monthly Archives: February 2017

Quick Update, Now with Conan

elephanttower5I’ll keep this brief. In my limited spare time I’ve been working on a couple of projects that I can hardly wait to reveal… but must. One of them is going to be of great interest to sword-and-sorcery fans, and the other is research for a genre I’ve never written in.

Most time, though, has gone to the creeping progress towards the conclusion of the revision of book 1 of my big new series. And darned if I can’t really talk too much about that, either. I just hope all of this hard work is going to pay off.

It’s probably no fun to read such a mysterious entry, so let me point you towards something fairly cool. Hocking noticed this a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been meaning to share it. Here’s an essay about Conan and Robert E. Howard that manages to see things from a new and insightful perspective. I especially like the part where the writer calls out the perception of “failings” in the execution of “The Tower of the Elephant.”

Right — back to the salt mines.

Link Day

gate in the seaLast Friday Black Gate posted a mini-interview with me about my upcoming Pathfinder novel. While John was asking me questions it reminded me just how much I love the characters in these two most recent books.

…and there’s not a great deal else to report. I’m still putting finishing touches on a major rewrite on my longest novel yet. I’m working on a couple of secret projects on the sidelines. While those projects are back burnered, I’m researching them a bit with some World War II research that has included re-watching Band of Brothers, reading the book (I’d previously read Major Dick Winter’s memoir, Beyond Band of Brothers, and reading some of Sven Hassel’s novels about the German side of the war. And here’s a thankful hat tip to Chuck Dixon for recommending those books to me, because they’ve been highly enjoyable, and another hat tip to Chris Hocking for pointing me towards Dixon to ask, because he’d sure he’d heard about a series some years back but couldn’t recall the author’s name.

Bear Power

voytekMy wife had “Mysteries of the Museum” on in the background last night. Usually I’m typing away or researching or reading while she runs the television in the evening, but I perked up during the story of Voytek the soldier bear. The details were so preposterous I had to stop what I was doing and look him up. I discovered that not only was the account true, there were even more stories about how awesome Voytek was. The bear so distinguished himself in the line of duty that his Polish unit actually changed their emblem to the image you see on the left.

I read several accounts of his life and adventures, and this was the most entertaining even if it employs ungentlemanly language. I think that’s the secret of some of its humor, but I’ve been kind of down on ungentlemanly conduct lately, so I thought I’d warn you. Here’s another article with a few additional details.

There’s apparently a documentary about Votyek as well. I swear, if I put this stuff in a story people would laugh at me for the sheer absurdity… But since it’s true, it’s pretty danged cool.


Thinking of Poul

The-Golden-Slave-Poul-Anderson-smallI was exchanging notes with Scott Lynch about a grand short story he’s got coming out soon, and he happened to mention how much he’s been enjoying some Poul Anderson. And that got me thinking just how much I sometimes like Anderson’s work. I’ve never listed him as a favorite author, but he’s written a number of books on my “keeper” list. There’s The Broken Sword, or course, a great take on some of the same mythic material that inspired Tolkien. Ryan Harvey did a great job discussing the text back in 2007 at Black Gate.

More recently Gabe Dybing covered another of my favorite Anderson novels, The Golden Slave at Black Gate (along with The High Crusade, one I haven’t read).

It wasn’t too long ago that works like these were hidden secrets. Sure, they’re not widely known anymore, but it seems like word is out about the good ones. And I’m pretty sure that they’re still fairly cheap to lay hands on if you go through a used book search site like Addall. It would be pretty swell if someone would collect Anderson’s best historicals in an omnibus. Not me, though. I have enough on my plate as it is…



Writing Musings

BlackgatewithBook-2.jpgIt seems as though all of my time is consumed with painstaking revisions of the work in progress. I’m usually not this late, but, well, I’d thought to have it turned over to my publisher by the end of November and here it is the first week of February. Page by page it’s getting there, and this problematic secondary arc is getting more and more flesh on it.

I’ve been trying to figure out what I can learn from this slow-down so I don’t make the same mistake next time, and I’m scratching my head a little. I’ve written before about my new outlining process, which was certainly a success, because it allowed me to get the initial draft down. None of the major beats have changed, which means the process worked. Where I failed myself was in properly fleshing things out moving forward from the outline phase, and I’ve had to go back again and again to get everyone sounding right, to string the events together more tightly, and to punch up the action scenes.

I’ve been saying I was close to turning it over for months now, but I think this time I may finally be only a week or so out. Then I hope to finishing sorting a bunch of junk in the basement — which won’t be much fun — and playing some of those great solitaire boardgames in the evenings, which will be.

Chandler Collected

chandler collected storiesI became a Raymond Chandler fan only a few years ago because I’d seldom wandered beyond the genre walls I threw up for myself — historical fiction, history, fantasy, the occasional space opera or hard science fiction novel. As I’ve mentioned previously on this blog, I fell for Chandler’s prose, so it was only natural that I explore his canon.

On my birthday last year my friend Brad gifted me with a copy of Chandler’s complete short stories. They include a slew of tales Chandler never wanted reprinted during his lifetime, perhaps because he wasn’t as fond of them, but more likely because he had cannibalized them in the construction of many of his Phillip Marlowe novels. It also includes a final Marlowe short story.

My thoughts? Well, first, there are some great short stories in here that any fan of mystery fiction might have heard of, like “Gold Fish” and “Red Wind.” If you don’t already own a Chandler short story collection that contains these tales — and some other strong ones as well — then this collection is a must have. But that other stuff? It varies. “The Pencil” is the last Marlowe story and it seems somehow faded and removed and tired. It has some of that famed polish, but it’s not written at the height of Chandler’s game and is probably only worth a look for completists.