Apr
30

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Chainsaw and Corris

So this weekend I fired up a chainsaw and wielded it for the first time. I have the power! Also, I had protective chaps and gloves and helmet and face shield.

I have been binge reading the Australian mystery writer Peter Corris. He and Lawrence Block are among  the closest modern writers I know to hardboiled. I’ve loved Block’s Matthew Scudder’s detective novels, and I’ve discovered I love the different landscape and atmosphere of the Corris novels, which are all set in Australia.

There are about 40 books, and some of them are short story collections, and I’ve probably read 10 of them now, although not all in the last few days. The mysteries are strong and he’s great with characters. So far I’ve just been reading the ones he wrote in the ‘80s rather than the ones he’s written most recently, so maybe they drop in quality. Or maybe they get even better.

The other morning I finished The Marvelous Boy and I saved this bit of prose for you as our hero Cliff Hardy is walking into a weight lifting club to seek information: Read More

Apr
26

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Flamehair

For years now I’ve been hearing about the adventure fiction of H. Bedford-Jones, a pulp historical writer famed as being one of those guys who wrote an astonishing amount of prose. Some people love him. Until now, though, everything I’ve read by the guy has been… competent, and I figured maybe that’s what you’d get out of a guy who mass produced his fiction — high competence but maybe not a great deal of characterization or sophisticated plotting, maybe a guy who recycles plots, or who doesn’t really revise much.

But after talking with Tom Roberts of Black Dog Books at Windy City, he reminded me again of that H. Bedford Jones book he’d given me a few years back, and I pulled it off the shelf — and man, does it start with a bang. It’s far and away the best thing by the writer I’ve ever read. Will it hold up as I get deeper into the book? I dunno. Are there other good stories by H. Bedford Jones? Maybe so. I wonder who’s done the digging through his immense catalog to discover which by him are the very best?

Any of you out there Bedford-Jones fans? I’d love to hear if there are other fine tales out there by him.

And here’s a link if you want to pick up a copy and read along with me.

Apr
23

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Link Day

On link days I usually point my visitors towards a whole slew of sites, but today I’m only sharing one, Paperback Warrior. I’ve just started poking around there and already I found it necessary to comment in two of the most recent posts, most recently, Fargo, and the post before THAT on a Harry Whittington title I haven’t tried but now want to. It looks like a site just chock full of info on cool old titles.

I’m a huge fan of Ben Haas, the guy behind the Fargo books, and have written about him at length previously. Here you can find how to get to the books, and here you can get my own ringing endorsement of the writer himself.

As long as I’m discussing ringing endorsements, let me AGAIN mention how fine that Howard Browne Paul Pine collection was from Haffner Press. Dang, but those were good mysteries in the Chandler style, and DANG, but that final complete novel in the collection is one fine book. They’re all really good, but the fourth one is a masterpiece. Highly, highly recommended not just for anyone who likes a good mystery, but for anyone who likes great storytelling. Get your copy, pronto!

Apr
16

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Windy City Recap

I arrived in Chicago on Thursday, on the way visiting my cousin Lisa from my mom’s side and my Aunt Carol on my dad’s. It had been more than a quarter century since I’d seen Lisa, and three or four years since I’d seen Aunt Carol, so it was an immense pleasure to reconnect.

The drive to Windy City was a long one, but I amused myself by listening to what had been an impulse choice from the library, the audio book Rogue Heroes by Ben Macintyre. The history of Britain’s secret special forces outfit in WWII  ended up being so gripping that once I arrived at the hotel I sat in the car for a few more minutes letting the chapter finish before I headed inside.

I met up with John O’Neill for supper. It was the first time in four or five years that we’d been in the same place, and it was a real pleasure to see him. We treated ourselves to a great sushi meal, then carried in a few dozen boxes to John’s booth in the dealer room. I looked around for my contact on the Dungeon Crawl Classics team, Deiter Zimmerman, and realized then it would have been clever of me to have gotten his phone number beforehand. Then I visited with John and I crashed in his room. I slept poorly and got up early for a little writing, a habit that continued throughout the convention. The sleeping poorly, I mean. Eventually I slept so badly I wasn’t up for much writing. Read More

Apr
13

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Friday Update

I’ve finished the prose part of my Windy City recap now and just have to transfer the photos in from various electronic devices. I’ve received the preliminary pass of Tales From the Magician’s Skull issue 2 and am reviewing that, and I’m addressing some final changes in my novel. I’m also getting ready to paint the ceiling of our basement.

In other words, it’s a busy week!

I wanted to point all my visitors over to some nifty things I think they’ll find of interest…

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Writing

The New Year Begins

Friday, January 1, 2016

Bill Ward and I will return next Friday with a look at one of the most famous Conan stories of all, “Beyond the Black River.” For now, here’s…

Link Day & Hard Writing Lessons

Monday, November 16, 2015

I’ve gotten a late start today so I’m going to have to keep things short. That doesn’t mean I’ll waste your time, though. I have a couple of…

Hard Writing Lessons 3

Monday, November 9, 2015

I’m moving some older posts over from my original LiveJournal blog to this one, and ran across a long list of Hard Writing Lessons from 2007! Apparently I’d…

Hard Writing Lessons 2

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

If it bores you, it’s probably going to bore your readers. While this is absolutely true in my experience, I’ve only recently developed a good strategy to fight…

Hard Writing Lessons 1

Monday, November 2, 2015

This being the first full week of National Novel Writing Month, I thought I’d start posting some of my hard learned writing lessons. One of these years I…