Celebrating Leigh Brackett

Leigh-BrackettThe 100th birthday of the late, great Leigh Brackett is coming up next Monday, and to celebrate, Bill Ward and I our doing a read-through of one of her great stories set on a Venus that never was.

Brackett was a phenomenal writer. She’s been called the Queen of Space Opera, but I think a better-named crown was probably Queen of Planetary Adventure.

She wrote screenplays with Faulkner  AND mentored Ray Bradbury AND wrote the first draft of The Empire Strikes Back. She was writing about heroes who would have been comfortable plying the space lanes beside Han Solo and Malcolm Reynolds decades before those characters were ever conceived. Most importantly, though, she was simply an incredibly gifted adventure writer who wrote with fantastic atmosphere, wonderful pacing, and dynamic characters. She’s one of my very favorite writers, and she’s had a tremendous influence that (unfortunately) has often gone unsung.

We hope you’ll join in our re-read. To make things extra simple, here’s a link to an extremely affordable e-collection of her work from BAEN, The Swamps of Venus. From that collection Bill and I will be reading “The Moon that Vanished.”

This e-book is only $4.00, and I have to say, if you’re going to invest that, you probably ought to simply get Brackett’s Solar System collection for $20.00 so you can read her even more (and justly) famed stories set on Mars. Bill and I are reading “The Moon that Vanished” because it’s a great one that gets passed over because she has so many more stories set on Mars.

Anyway, hope to see you here, and I hope you’ll trust my recommendation if you’ve never read Brackett.





Conan Re-Read: The Hour of the Dragon, Part 1

conan blooddy crownBill Ward and I are continuing our read through of the Del Rey Robert E. Howard collection The Bloody Crown of Conan. This week we’re discussing the first nine chapters of “The Hour of the Dragon.” We hope you’ll join in! Read More




Conan Re-Read: “The People of the Black Circle”

conan blooddy crownBill Ward and I are starting our read through of the Del Rey Robert E. Howard collection The Bloody Crown of Conan. This week we’re discussing “The People of the Black Circle.” We hope you’ll join in!

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Link Day & Hard Writing Lessons

Linkman Copyright Darian Jones

Linkman Copyright Darian Jones

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 writing links I thought would be of use.

First, Mary Robinette Kowal has a doubly interesting post. First, it breaks down that whole “why am I not writing” question and then diagnoses it by symptom. It’s dead-on accurate, including solution.

And then she goes on to discuss diagnosing depression. Seeing as how it’s a common problem amongst us artistic types, this, too, bears a close look.

Second, J.H. Moncrieff take a look at the problems behind the simple saying “Writer’s Write.” Well, yeah, if you’re going to be a writer, you have to write. Except sometimes you don’t. Even as enormously prolific a writer as Robert E. Howard didn’t write ALL the time, as much as it seems like he must have, given the tremendous amount of stories he wrote in his short life time. Every now and then he’d stop writing and read or research voraciously, or go off and do other things. He called this “filling the well” because he knew writers didn’t create in a vacuum. The well has to be replenished.

Moncrieff suggests that we need to be kind to ourselves when we’re not meeting our own impossible expectations. Here’s to that.





Conan Re-Read Plans

comingofconanBill and I have been exchanging notes about what to read next following The Coming of Conan. After tackling a whole pile of Lord Dunsany texts and a big stack of Fritz Leiber’s Lankhmar adventures we were struck both times by fatigue from reading work by just one writer. We’re not sure we’ll feel that way with REH because many of those Conan stories yet before us are the most sophisticated and polished.

And that’s why we’ve decided to keep on going through the rest of them, even though, as Bill pointed out in one of our recent reviews, most are a LOT longer. We might try splitting discussion of some of the lengthier yarns up over the course of a couple of weeks, but we’ll try not to do that. If the real world gets super busy, we might have to have a catch-up week where we discuss Conan comics or movies or something as we’re reading the next story. Read More


Signing the Contract

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Last week I wrote about obtaining my first book deal. Over the next few months I thought I’d talk from time to time about what happens next. As…

How to Get a Book Deal

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

In late July of 2009 I got an offer for a historical fantasy novel from St. Martin’s imprint Thomas Dunne featuring my series characters, Dabir and Asim. The…