Monthly Archives: May 2017

In Thanks

airborneOn Memorial Day I woke early, fully intending to play some of my solitaire wargames, probably Heroes of Normandy. But I turned instead to the revision of a World War II short story I’d been working on, the second of two I’ve written about the United States Airborne.

As I’ve grown older and grown a little wiser, I’ve come to appreciate the sacrifices of our veterans, many of whom were not as fortunate as my father, who made it back home (to be clear, he wasn’t in the airborne). I’ve been thinking about these men and women a lot more in the last year as I’ve been researching World War II, and as I spent a pleasant day with my family yesterday, I tried to savor all the things that I might once have taken for granted. Including the simple joy of all four of us being together and having fun. Even that is a freedom that I might not once have appreciated, and one that might not have been available without enormous risks taken by men and women whom I have never met.

Thank you, veterans.


Hardboiled Monday: The Mammoth Book of Private Eye Stories

mammoth book private eyeWhen Chris Hocking and I set out to talk hardboiled fiction every Monday it turned out we (or maybe it was just me) were a little too ambitious. It was hard to keep up the steam, and to keep reading NOTHING but hardboiled for months and months. But we’re returning to discuss great hardboiled fiction as an occasional feature of this web site.

Originally we were discussing all books from this list in order. From here on out we’ll be skipping around. We’ll be trying to cover one subject a month, and I’ll also be trying to provide advanced notice. If you want to see our previous hardboiled discussions, you can access the master list here. Today we’re discussing the well-named Mammoth Book of Private Eye Stories.


Howard ZebrasI’ve been trying to clear off my spinning plates before things get REALLY busy. I haven’t really managed it completely yet, owing to the fact I think I’m a little worn down from all the frantic stuff. It’s as though my mind is insisting on a longer break than I think I need. I keep letting my attention wander or focusing on the wrong things.

But after some downtime over the last few days my batteries feel a little recharged. Hocking and I are putting finishing touches on a new Hardboiled Monday article, and Bill Ward and I are talking about doing a Harold Lamb re-read of the first book of Khlit the Cossack stories.

I also got my finalized schedule of events for GenCon this year. I’m on some pretty nifty panels. And I need to sign up for some more conventions near year’s end and the start of next because lo and behold I’ll have a new book coming out next spring. Looking forward to getting notes from my editor on it this week.

In other, more mysterious news, both of my mystery projects are coming along, and man, am I excited about the sword-and-sorcery one. It’s all I can do to keep that one under wraps. I do look forward to sharing the details about them both with all of you.

For now, apple in hand (because I haven’t finished breakfast) it’s time to get to work.


Pulp and Sundry

driscollI do like to write quickly and to be able to report vast thousands of words written, but as I think I mentioned, for me at least that may not be the best way to approach drafting. At least not novels. I had SO MANY revision passes and revisits on the last book that I’m just trying to take my time with this new one. I suppose I’ll find out soon from my alpha reader if going slowly means fewer revision passes will be required. I think it might. If not, I may start losing more hair.

My short story outlining project went far better than I expected. I’ve already got outlines or thumbnail outlines for all but the final tale in the proposed new Dabir and Asim collection, and I do have a solid idea for that final one — I just have to write it down. After that I’ll convert all of them into detailed outlines and then, as time permits, I’ll start turning those into short stories.

Over the week I finally finished the last few stories in The Mammoth Book of Private Eye Stories, and Hocking and I have begun the exchanges that will eventually be transformed into an article. I also read an excellent short story collection by Australian writer Peter Corliss, and I’m sure Hocking and I will be talking about him eventually as well.

Word Count Musings & Hardboiled Thoughts

mammoth book private eyeAs I’ve only just now finished the final story in The Mammoth Book of Private Eye Stories, I’m moving the official discussion of it out another week so that we’ll be talking about it on Monday, May 15. Given the size of the book, maybe that’s a good thing for those of you who’re interested in hearing what we have to say about it and the even smaller number of you who might be trying to read along.

Writing’s been slow but steady this week, a combination of revision and writing from scratch. I’m not sure how many words per day it officially is and I’m mostly beyond caring. I guess my opinion on word count per day or even week has changed. It’s good to measure yourself against some kind of scale to see how much progress you’re making, but last year I wrote a lot that ended up having to be changed. Now I’m going slower as I revise the new book, hoping that I won’t have to revise each chapter eight times. Instead I’m trying to punch up a chapter until it sounds pretty good, advance into the next one, then come back and punch up that first chapter some more, etc. Hopefully by the time any of the chapters get to my alpha and beta readers they’ll find a lot less to worry about.

Looking forward to seeing my first-born again as he comes home from college today for the summer. Looking forward to some gaming over the weekend. Looking forward to it stopping raining, eventually…


Hardboiled Treasures

paperbacksLook what turned up in the mail the other day! And it wasn’t even Christmas!

The Mighty Hocking had some duplicate hardboiled paperbacks lying about (as well as another Elmore Leonard western) and generously sent them on to me. Feast your eyes upon them.

These things are usually packaged in a tawdry way, often with ludicrous back cover copy that might have sold them in the old days but don’t do much to promote them to a modern audience because you have no idea how good the actual prose inside might be. Here’s an example, from the back of Million Dollar Murder:

A living dead man, tortured beyond recognition. A suitcase crammed with a million dollars in fresh, green currency. An eerie island. A sadistic millionaire. An exotic girl who knew all the answers, but whose lips didn’t look like they had been kissed as often as her manner indicated.

That’s what Sam sailed into. That, and murder: murder and more murder.