Jun
26

Author:

1 Comment

L’Amourapalooza

Lamour

My wife’s Aunt Judy, fellow bibliophile, gifted me with her entire L’amour collection. Thanks, Judy!!!

You can see it there in stacks and stacks of  its glory. In all my years I’ve read but ONE L’Amour. You folks out there have any suggestions on where I should start?

Jun
23

Author:

6 Comments

One Sword for Love

one sword for loveI finished another Gardner Fox historical earlier this week, and it was a cracking good one. Any of you who love a good Harold Lamb swashbuckler would have seen some familiar features, enough that I couldn’t help thinking that Fox must have read some Lamb. That’s fairly likely, actually, given that Lamb was one of the most popular writers in one of the two magazines best known for historical fiction (Adventure and Argosy — Lamb wrote primarily for Adventure).

As a matter of fact, the whole thing read rather like an R-rated version of a Harold Lamb Crusader story. So you get the gritty, tough, man-at-arms, but you also get some far racier moments that happen on-screen. That sword he’s holding, by the way… you don’t get much of that, because our protagonist’s preferred weapon is a spiked ball on the end of a chain with which he’s frighteningly proficient.

You’ll note that there’s a lovely blonde woman on the cover, and you don’t get much of THAT, either, because the romantic lead is a Persian Princess.

Read More

Jun
19

Author:

Comment

Woman of Wonder

wonder womanWe finally slid away to catch Wonder Woman this weekend and it was far better than I expected. Some people talked about rough dialogue and others complained about special effects (I never understand that, really – how do those people get by when they’re seeing old movies, or attending the theatre?). Others said it wasn’t as good as the hype.

I figured I’d end up coming away in agreement with all three, because A.) most science fiction/fantasy shows end up with slavish devotees regardless of a show’s quality, and B.) people wanted to like it. But I found it an enjoyable and exhilarating and sometimes moving summer blockbuster. It achieved everything that the first Captain America managed occasionally to do (or, more fairly, throughout its first half and sporadically thereafter) and did it over the course of its entire run.

Read More

Jun
16

Author:

2 Comments

Reviewing

gardner fox bastard orleansI finished Gardner Fox’s The Bastard of Orleans the other day. It sure started strong, and in the first 40-60 pages I thought I might be reading another one as strong as The Borgia Blade. It turns out that despite surface similarities (great action scenes and some old-style “spice”) that it was designed with different effects in mind.

As I contemplated this review I remembered to consider what I always wish other reviewers would do and thought about the novel on its own terms. I believe this book was intended to achieve a different effect than the one I enjoyed more. It was a historical intended to have great action scenes and titillating sex scenes, or scenes with sexy descriptions of women. Fox delivered these things very well, and if that’s what you went in looking for, you’d be very happy. Read More

Jun
14

Author:

5 Comments

Pacing and Drafting

gardner fox bastard orleansFollowing up on my post about the strengths of hardboiled fiction I come to the strengths of some of these old historicals. I’m about halfway through Gardner Fox’s The Bastard of Orleans. Maybe the characterization isn’t anything for the ages, but man, am I being swept along by the pace and the surprising turns. Scenes of great color and action, lots of momentum, and plenty of lovely ladies. By page 40 more stuff had already happened than what often happens in a hundred pages or more of modern fantasy stuff. Will I love it as much as I loved The Borgia Blade? I’ll know by the end. Right  now I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next.

I had it in mind as I was thinking about pacing. I’m always thinking about pacing, but I’ve found myself contemplating it even more in the last few weeks. I’m wrestling with the middle section of my novel and wondering why it’s not fast enough to please me.

I think one of the problems we’ve gotten into is, as I mentioned, a market demand for big fat novels. I tried to buck that trend but the market didn’t like it, so now I’m trying to write novels that, if not fat, are still longer. But I’m also trying to give them the only kind of pacing I can tolerate.

Read More

Writing

The Perfect Pocket Writing Notebook, Part 1: Purpose

Monday, May 4, 2015

Writers write; they don’t just compose when it’s convenient for them, when the stars are in alignment, or when they happen to be sitting in front of their…

Rabbit Holes and Writing Notebooks

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Most of us can be defined in part by our obsessions, those things we’ve spent immense amounts of our lives practicing or researching or observing or collecting. The older we get, the…

Return to The Desert of Souls

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Every once in a while nice surprises float up from the ‘net. I just read an enthusiastic new review of The Desert of Souls from a mystery review…

Sword & Sorcery Musings

Monday, March 30, 2015

It seems that all I do with my writing anymore these days is revise. Back when I was writing in my teens and twenties I used to just…

On Conan and Writing

Monday, March 16, 2015

Following on a great post by Fletcher Vredenburgh about Karl Edward Wagner’s Bran Mak Morn novel (over at Black Gate), I decided to update my own post on Conan pastiche….