I’d intended to tell you about a nifty new sword-and-sorcery novel I read last week, but I’m away from home and short on time today and won’t be able to give the book the time it deserves. Look for details next week.
Today I wanted to remark upon how enjoyable the pulps can be. I’ve mentioned the wonderful collection I bought off of pulp scholar Alfred Lybeck 15 years ago. There are 14 of these volumes in all, and until recently I’ve just been reading an occasional story. This year I started selecting volumes and reading them, slowly, straight through. They’re more enjoyable that way, because Al knew how to pace a collection. A shame he never got to be a professional anthology editor.
Speaking of writers who don’t get their due, I’ve been reading one of Bill Ward’s short story collections over the last few days and really enjoying it. My reading of it is long overdue, given that I’m a fan of Bill’s fiction and non-fiction. Honestly, it was his observations that really brought the a-game to our entire Conan re-read sequence. He’s got a great gift for insight and critical analysis.
But I’m not here to praise his non-fiction, no matter that it’s more than worthy of that praise, I’m hear to talk about his short story collections, starting with Mightier Than the Sword. Bill can have a hard time standing out because there are any number of guys out there with the same name. A couple of artists, more than a handful of additional writers, etcetera.
You’ll know Bill, though, because he writes grim and gritty and exciting sword-and-sorcery stories. They’re grand and vivid and crammed with action. And if you find one that isn’t quite to your taste, well, it will be over soon enough and you’ll be on to reading another you think is grand. Get thee to the kindle or nook and get to reading! His complete catalog can be found here.
For the first time in the last half dozen years I missed GenCon. Between the excellence of the Writer’s Symposium — which is growing at a phenomenal rate — the friends and fans to meet or reconnect with, and the sheer size of the game room stuffed full of wonderful things to see, it has become one of my must stops. Especially since it’s the only large convention that’s only a few hours away.
Alas, a perfect storm of events crowned by a family wedding made it impossible for me to attend this year. I did swing through Indianapolis the weekend of GenCon on the way to that wedding, but didn’t get anywhere close to downtown.
Here’s another grand adventure novel that any lover of such really ought to read, or keep on the shelf to read again. My own copy’s so frayed I’ll probably pick up another, because it’s one I intend to revisit.
You can find a lot of praise about just how fine The Long Ships is, and I could throw in my own weight and say, yeah, it’s a great adventure novel and thereafter provide detail, but I have books to write and a house to clean, and besides, here’s Michael Chabon. Check out what he has to say.
A movie was made in 1964 based upon the first third of the book, starring Sydney Poitier and Richard Widmark. I seem to recall it was both pretty good and fairly faithful. The book, though, is where you ought to go first.
The other day my friend Mick swung by the site and asked if I had any advice about character design. Specifically, he was curious about how I: “find a character’s voice to begin with? Just feel it out? Or focused, prescribed exercises?”
I’ve offered advice about character creation before (here, where I discuss character design, here, where I added an addendum, and here, where I talk about loving your character.) But looking over all of that I see that I’ve never really discussed how I find a character voice. Everything I’ve written about is advice to use AFTER that point.
So I gave the matter some thought. I’m not sure how other writers do it, or what works for them, but I can tell you what works for me. Read More
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