May
5

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Word Count Musings & Hardboiled Thoughts

mammoth book private eyeAs I’ve only just now finished the final story in The Mammoth Book of Private Eye Stories, I’m moving the official discussion of it out another week so that we’ll be talking about it on Monday, May 15. Given the size of the book, maybe that’s a good thing for those of you who’re interested in hearing what we have to say about it and the even smaller number of you who might be trying to read along.

Writing’s been slow but steady this week, a combination of revision and writing from scratch. I’m not sure how many words per day it officially is and I’m mostly beyond caring. I guess my opinion on word count per day or even week has changed. It’s good to measure yourself against some kind of scale to see how much progress you’re making, but last year I wrote a lot that ended up having to be changed. Now I’m going slower as I revise the new book, hoping that I won’t have to revise each chapter eight times. Instead I’m trying to punch up a chapter until it sounds pretty good, advance into the next one, then come back and punch up that first chapter some more, etc. Hopefully by the time any of the chapters get to my alpha and beta readers they’ll find a lot less to worry about.

Looking forward to seeing my first-born again as he comes home from college today for the summer. Looking forward to some gaming over the weekend. Looking forward to it stopping raining, eventually…

 

May
2

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Hardboiled Treasures

paperbacksLook what turned up in the mail the other day! And it wasn’t even Christmas!

The Mighty Hocking had some duplicate hardboiled paperbacks lying about (as well as another Elmore Leonard western) and generously sent them on to me. Feast your eyes upon them.

These things are usually packaged in a tawdry way, often with ludicrous back cover copy that might have sold them in the old days but don’t do much to promote them to a modern audience because you have no idea how good the actual prose inside might be. Here’s an example, from the back of Million Dollar Murder:

A living dead man, tortured beyond recognition. A suitcase crammed with a million dollars in fresh, green currency. An eerie island. A sadistic millionaire. An exotic girl who knew all the answers, but whose lips didn’t look like they had been kissed as often as her manner indicated.

That’s what Sam sailed into. That, and murder: murder and more murder.

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Apr
28

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Hard-Boiled Monday Returns

mammoth book private eyeSort of an ironic thing to post on a Friday, isn’t it?

I’ve had numerous requests for the return of the ongoing column, and I’ve spoken with Chris Hocking, my Hard Boiled Monday pal, and we’ll be getting back to it in a little while. I’ve given up trying to read stories in the order of the original list, though, and it may not be EVERY Monday. I’ll get a schedule up in a little while.

For now, I wanted to tell anyone who wanted to read along that the first book we’ll be discussing is an exceptionally fine anthology titled The Mammoth Book of Private Eye Stories. It’s considered a landmark volume and now that I’m most of the way through it I definitely see why. Arr, there be great fiction in here, matey’s! Said the pirate…. Who apparently reads hard boiled detective novels. Who are you to stereotype?!

Anyway, not this coming Monday, but Monday May 8th I hope to start discussing the very best out of this greatest hits anthology. If you like (or at least are curious about) private eye stories, this is an excellent place to go. If you’re looking for a copy, try here for paperbacks, or go to the other usual places. For once, copies seem plentiful, though I have no idea why. I can’t imagine why someone would want to part with this volume, because I definitely plan on reading from it again. It’s a great introduction to the work authors I’ve already started exploring.

Apr
26

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Max Latin

max latinI’ve been reading a lot of short stories lately. Any of you out there read some Norbert Davis? Particularly the Max Latin collection from Altus Press?

Man, there’s no one like Norbert Davis. Sly, with great elements of humor at the same time he’s delivering a strong mystery and great action.

The only thing I haven’t enjoyed about the collection was John Macdonald’s introduction, which didn’t much discuss the fiction and instead sideswiped the author a little.

You can find the book here.

Apr
24

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Field Commander Alexander

fc alexanderI spent a good chunk of the weekend cleaning and organizing various things around the house. If you’re a home owner sometimes it feels like the weekend is so busy that the week itself is more relaxing.

I did manage to get in, finally, some playing of Field Commander: Alexander, and tried to launch an expedition into Persia. I won the first time but didn’t quite get the rules right, so I tried again and got trounced, alas. But it turns out I still missed out on some rules intricacies. I’m looking forward to a re-match against those wily Achaemenidians next Sunday morning.

I’m a big fan of Field Commander: Napoleon from the same company, DVG, and I’ve been curious about this earlier game for years. Read More

Writing

Vance, Robert E. Howard, and the Role of Women

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