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…

I finished Brood of the Witch Queen appreciative of Rohmer’s strengths and curious about Fu-Manchu, but fully aware of the author’s weaknesses as well. On the one hand, bloodless, humorless heroes and unconvincing love interest. On the other, great sense of the macabre and powerful descriptive chops that sometimes had me immediately re-reading paragraphs or entire scenes to see how he did it. I read some moments aloud to my wife, a big Arthur Conan Doyle fan, and like me she loved the cadence and vocabulary and rhythm of the words. I can definitely see Rohmer’s influence upon REH, which will likely be more apparent when I try Fu-Manchu — though I elected not to jump right away into another Sax Rohmer novel.

Instead, I’m now reading another Gold Medal western, this one by T.V. Olsen. This is the second or third I’ve read by him and he always plots well, with engaging characters and a good pace. I was curious to learn if I’d just lucked out with the first two, but this one is good as well. I’ll have more details later.

Now that the basement is all set up for gaming, while my wife and son are playing video games in the evening, I’m a few feet back playing a board game.  I have Falling Sky on the table, and I’m battling for control of Gaul between the Romans, the Belgians, and two Gaulic tribes. It was a bit of a head scratcher learning the rules at first, but it started clicking. I’m much more of a tactical guy than a strategic one, but I’m starting to enjoy the game.

I’m so busy that I’m finding less and less time to blog. And I wonder sometimes how many are really out there listening. I was speaking with St. Martin’s publicist Kristopher Kam earlier this week and he said many readers just aren’t seeking out blog posts, but hanging out at reddit fantasy, and that I really ought to go where the readers are.

So as an experiment, yesterday I posted, and sure enough, within a few hours I was getting a lot more interaction. As a result, I think I’m going to keep the updates here down to once or twice a week, and be over at Reddit a lot more often. Here’s a link to the Reddit thread, where I asked questions about the best Conan story to start with and brought up the viability of modern fantasy short stories.

Things are really moving behind the scenes at Perilous Worlds. Any week now you’ll be able to see the first issues of the new Conan comics, and at the back you’ll be seeing a serialized novella first from John C. Hocking and second by Scott Oden. I like both of them an awful lot. And then if you visit the web site (you HAVE done that, right?) you’ll start seeing more and more content, because Ryan Harvey and Bill Ward have continued to draft excellent articles and will keep doing so.

That’s all for now. I’ll return next week some time to provide further updates, or to share holiday cheer!