Sep
25

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Monday Heroic Fiction

Tales 1 smallerWork continues behind-the-scenes with Tales From the Magician’s Skull as Joseph finalizes the Kickstarter preparations. I can hardly wait to point the way, but you’ll have to wait just a couple more weeks. There are many things about working with Joseph that I like, and one of them is his careful preparation.

I haven’t been reading nearly as much the last month, as my wife and I discovered Parks & Rec, and have been watching it in the evenings. We don’t usually binge watch television like this, but it’s nice to have a positive show about people you like. It kind of feels like the 2nd-5th seasons were the best, but we’re watching to the end. In the shortened 7th season I’m finding myself laughing out loud several times an episode again, even if some of the main plot lines feel a little forced and sometimes indulgent.

But that’s not heroic fiction. I wanted to share something that was, and that’s the Blades books by Kelly McCullough. I’m most of the way through one of them, Bared Blade, and it reads something like Zelazny and Chandler co-writing a fantasy detective story in ancient China. Except that by “detective” I mean that there’s a problem to be solved and a sort of professional trouble-shooter who’s a former assassin for the goddess of justice. That means that, unlike so many other blokes in cloaks, he was only offing the bad guys. Aral is a force for good, or at least strives to be, the fantasy equivalent of Chandler’s knight in the battered trench coat working his weary way through a corrupt but beautiful city.

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Sep
20

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Farm Life

Big RedOne evening this spring while I was finishing up some yard work I spotted a fox slinking through our pasture. If you don’t keep chickens you might not know that foxes love chickens. When we first got started raising chickens we lost a number to clever foxes, who are in on the secret that chickens are delicious. Our birds are free range, but we keep a dog in part to protect the chickens, and we keep the birds inside a coop in the barn except when it’s full daylight.

As it happened, though, dusk was on the way and I hadn’t yet done anything with the chickens because I’d been trying to finish some work on the fence. The dog was inside because she hadn’t been keeping far enough away from the mower. My wife ran to get the dog and I sprinted to find the chickens, only to discover that our rooster was already rounding them up and herding them into the barn.

Roosters really only have one job, and that’s to watch over the chickens. Most roosters don’t manage even that. They just stand around crowing, constantly, and just as constantly mating with the hens. Big Red, though, actually took pride in his job. In my experience there’s not a whole lot of personality difference between chickens, and I haven’t really formed many attachments with them. Big Red was far and away my favorite. You can’t help but respect someone who’s good at their job, even if he’s a chicken. I saw him herd the chickens several times when stray dogs wandered onto our property. Read More

Sep
18

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Writing Tests

Jake Parker "A Fireside Story"

Jake Parker “A Fireside Story”

A while back I talked about one of the questions I ask myself to make sure I’m on the right track, and that’s the Doctor McCoy test. 

Sometimes I think about another one, though, and that’s the “Grandparent at the Fireside” test. The idea is that the grandparent is at the fireside telling a story. As he or she is telling the story, there will be questions from young listeners. Sometimes, of course, young listeners have an agenda or want to take over the story, so for the sake of the test I pretend that the questions are coming from an intelligent listener.  Read More

Sep
15

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Linking to Brackett

Matthew, this is a Gorn. Note opposable thumbs.

Matthew, this is a Gorn. Note opposable thumbs.

Hocking pointed me towards something of a celebration of Leigh Brackett the other day on a site titled Glorious Trash. Seems like it’s a pretty cool site to poke around at, too. Joe Kennedy sat down to read both versions of “The Secret of Sinharat,” which is something I always meant to do, and then compared them in an essay, which is something I always meant to do. And he loved them, which is something I’ve always done.

Even if you haven’t fallen in love with the work of Leigh Brackett, you can get a sense of what a great writer she was if you swing by for a visit. And poke around a while there, because there’s other cool stuff to be found as well.

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Sep
13

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Catching Up

sleestakBehind the scenes work on the first issue of Tales From the Magician’s Skull continues, and continues to please me. I can hardly wait for the Kickstarter to launch, but there are a few pieces still sliding into place. I’ll keep you posted.

Work continues on the book, and I’ve seen the initial draft of the cover, and boy am I mightily pleased. It’s so good I will one day change my site header.

Bill Ward and I are finally starting work on our Corum re-read, so if any of you regular visitors want to get in on the read with us, I hope you’ve found your copies of Michael Moorcock’s first Corum trilogy. As busy as things are here I’m still not sure when we’ll start that read through, but it will be soon.

Also, watch out for sleestaks. Lately they’ve been sighted on the edge of my property. Sometimes they send spam offering to write articles for my site that will link back to theirs, but who wants to be involved with that, right? In the end they’ll just want my pylon crystals, or maybe they want to devour human flesh. I was never entirely clear on that.

And now, I must away. Those words aren’t going to write or edit themselves.

Writing

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….

Writing Updates

Monday, February 16, 2015

I’m still learning, and that’s good. It means I’m not dead. Yes, my new outlining method has really helped speed my writing process along, but I’ve still ended…