by Howard

Hardback Copy

The update is nearly complete, and the new face on the web site is working smoothly, thanks to MeanThemes, who supplied this great new look and helped me get it up and running.

I’ll write more about them soon, but for now I wanted to share the brand new copy of For the Killing of Kings. I’ve been showing the paperback advanced reader copy around, but this is the first actual hardback I’ve had in my own possession, and it is a nice thing to have. Here’s hoping many other people think so as well!

Here’s a new review that came in last week, as well.

Behind-the-scenes, much prep work is underway for the book’s debut on February 19th. Revisions are afoot on its sequel, and I’m making copious notes on a brand new idea I had the other day that might turn into a follow-up series of books. Once I finish revising book 2 and writing book 3, I mean.

Update at Work

In the coming days there are apt to be some curious changes underway on the web site. Colors will be changing, as will typeface, organization, and so on — a lot of it’s up for grabs. Hopefully I’ll have it all straightened out in just a few days, so bear with me… The intention is to make the entire web site a lot more user friendly.

Horror

I’m not entirely sure I “get” the purpose of a pure horror story. I usually feel like my enjoyment of it is one level removed. Oh, sure, there are some great horror stories I really like — a handful of Lovecraft’s, and maybe a dozen by other writers (like Bierce’s “The Damned Thing”), but I always feel like I’m not quite the target audience.

The odd thing is that I love some horrifying monsters and dreadful, dire spells and have them in the tales I write. They frequently turn up in the stories I most enjoy. But in sword-and-sorcery and heroic fiction the characters can fight back, or, at the least, flee.

I mention all this because I’ve been watching Hill House with my daughter. We just finished watching the 6th episode last night. Let me share some spoiler-free observations.

Howard’s Birthday

Robert E. Howard

Not THIS Howard, but the mighty Robert E. Howard. I’m planning to sit down and read one of my favorites by him this evening.

I have found myself defending my take on of his stories in some private message exchanges earlier today. Sometimes it seems like the work never ends…

It’s super busy here, as is usual lately. The launch date of my new book is less than a month away, and while I ready for various promotions I’m head down over book 2, punching problem areas into shape. I did steal some time this weekend to play some Ambush! and to put finishing touches on the outline for a new short story. Meanwhile I continue to poke a little bit at book 3, and the series work I’ll begin when THIS series wraps up — although I have a back up plan to do more with this particular world if things really take off.

My wife is still after to me to finish the third Dabir and Asim novel. Maybe I’ll try to make time for that. It seems like Arabian fantasy is suddenly selling again, and maybe there will be a big boost for the genre when the live action Aladdin comes out. But the first two books didn’t exactly fly off the shelves, so who knows.

Anyway, this Howard plans to celebrate the last name Howard with the re-read of one of his best tonight. Are any of you going to be doing the same? And if you are, what story will you choose?

State of the Tower

Things go well here in the Tower by the Sea of Monsters. Before I get into my “state of the union” round-up I thought I’d point you to some links.

First, here’s a great review of Roy Thomas’s new remembrance of his years writing Conan, penned by my friend Charles Rutledge. Sounds like I may need to add this to my wish list. Too bad my birthday and Father’s Day are both so far off!

Second, check out this detailed digital reconstruction of the palace of Tiberius!

Third, sad news. Brian Garfield passed away a few weeks ago. I’ve read a number of enjoyable novels by the man in just the last two years, all written in the late 60s. He’s probably most famous for Deathwish, which became a Charles Bronson movie that took some liberties with Garfield’s intentions. I know him for his westerns, which are always quite good. At least one, The Night it Rained Bullets, is great. I expect to find more that are as I explore deeper into his catalog. Here’s where you can find a copy of your own.

For those of you who are interested in such things, I have an Ask Me Anything coming up over at Reddit Fantasy on February 19th. I am likely to give a way a few book copies on or around that same time, so watch this space for more details.

Link Day

Two quick links for you today —

First, here’s a nice essay from the Paperback Warrior on the excellence of another Marvin Albert title. You may recall that Albert is now one of my preferred 50s-70s era writers. Heck, his ’80s work may be good as well, and I intend to find out.

Second, in case you didn’t know, the new Conan comic from Marvel is on the stands and getting good reviews. Some even mention, favorably, the start of the new Conan novella by John Chris Hocking that is printed in the back. That’s the start of the serialized novella, one of the first things I edited for Perilous Worlds. Here’s a link to one review, and there are plenty more to choose from.

I’ll have more info soon!

Holiday Update

I hope all my visitors have been having a good holiday weekend. It’s been (mostly) relaxing here.

First though, here are two links you might find of interest. Andrea over at Little Red Reviewer was kind enough to interview me about my upcoming books, and you can find the link right here. And if you’re unfamiliar with her site, you ought to look around because it’s loaded with interesting, entertaining content.

Second, here’s a link to The Skull’s holiday card.

Here in our tower by The Sea of Monsters all of our minions returned in time for holidays, and they were celebrated with great abandon. First this required a great deal of cleaning, and then my enchantress concocted some delicious food.

For ourselves, our biggest present this year was the basement. As I think I mentioned, with the basement finished, I can now leave my games set up for long stretches. So while I did receive two new boardgames, with the basement what I really received was an entire cabinet full of games, for I can finally play all those that I own. I must have played seven games of Falling Sky in the last week, and I’ve finally got a handle on the rules. It’s much more fun to conquer Gaul this way than I’m sure it was in real life.

The Skull Will Return

You probably already knew that, but I’ll reiterate the fact that a new Kickstarter will launch early next year for the next two issues. Contents for issue 3 are already set and heading into layout. Man, I love working for the Skull. I’d really like to take the magazine quarterly, but I still haven’t seen much feedback on the second issue, so I’m starting to believe if people haven’t had time to read TWO sword-and-sorcery issues in a year that four might be a real glut. It’s a shame, because I know we could keep readers supplied with some great stuff. There’d be even more authors, and more continuing characters.

In other news, I’ve finally wrestled the outline of the third book of the new trilogy into decent enough shape that I’ve begun drafting. So far it’s just a few pages long, but it will grow from there. My goal was to get all of the major plot arcs figured out before my editor got back to me about book 2. Perhaps you know what it’s like to step away from a really complicated project for a long while — it can be really hard to remember what you were planning to do.

Right now all of the big points are worked out. The book’s divided roughly into three acts. Act I is the most solid, and I know how I write well enough at this point to not sweat the little stuff in Act II yet. Act I is likely to change on me as I work through it, and it would have a ripple effect if I had everything in Act II set in stone. I think I really am growing more efficient with this whole book drafting process…