Saturday, August 25, 2012

Creating Things the Old-Fashioned Way

Scott D Parker

For about a month now, I have had a crush on Kevin Smith. I have known about him the better part of 20 years, but never really paid attention to him. I've never seen one of his films, never listened to any of his podcasts (didn't even know he podcasted), and never read anything he's written.* And I would have likely continued on that trajectory for, well, ever if I hadn't happened upon another podcast over at SF Signal, THE site for all things science fiction and fantasy related. In episode 139, the discussion moved to include Batman (there's your crime fiction reference for you) and one of the panelists mentioned how ever good Star Wars fan needed to listen to the Kevin Smith podcast where he interviews Mark Hamill. Being such a fan, I searched out said podcast.

Kevin Smith and I, it turns out, share an abiding passion for Batman. His love of the Dark Knight is so great that he has created a unique podcast, Fatman on Batman, where he discusses Batman with a special guest. The Hamill episode, the first I listened to, was so good that the two of them talked for nearly three hours broken out into two podcasts. Now, to be honest, as much as I love Batman, based on the tip from the SF Signal podcast, I was expecting some great Star Wars anecdotes.

What I got was something completely different. The Hamill episodes barely touched on his days as Luke Skywalker. I didn't care, however, because what I learned is that one of my boyhood heroes is really a comic book geek like me. Throughout the two episodes, Hamill and Smith wax poetic about the life of a comic book and Batman fan in the pre-internet days. So engrossing were these two episodes that I've now listened to them twice.

And, joy for me, the new listener, Smith has posted an additional 9 podcasts. The interviews range from Paul Dini and Bruce Timm, the creative forces behind Batman: The Animated Series, to some of the other voice actors on that show, a friend of Smith's, Walt Flanagan, and Ralph Garman, a long-time fan of the Adam West Batman TV show. Aside from the sheer, unadulterated joy these folks derive from their shared love of Batman and comics is something that's so obvious for a creative type that it's easy to overlook.

At the beginning of each episode, Smith has the guest basically give their origin story. That is the chain of events that led them to their moment in Bat-History. Every one of these folks, no matter if they are artists, writers, or actors, all paid their dues, Smith included. In these days of "overnight" successes no matter the field, it's great to see that normal folks who have dreams and talent, can, after a lot of hard work, make their mark on the world.

So many potential authors have, as their secret dream, the desire to write The Book, the surprise hit that will vault them to stratospheric sales and monies. I don't think that some authors want to write More Than One Book. I do, and I work at it. And that's why, in listening to the stories of the Bat-Folk I'm reminded that good, hard, consistent work while not always being flashy can, in the end, pay dividends.

If you love good discussion about the creative process, have an affinity for Batman and comics, and are not bothered by profane language, I cannot recommend Smith's Batman podcasts highly enough.

*In these past weeks, I have not only listened to all of Smith's Batman podcasts (some twice), I've read his first Batman book, Cacophony, checked out his next Bat-Book, The Widening Gyre, and two of his Green Hornet comic trade paperbacks from the library, got a copy of his first film, Clerks, and started the audio version of his non-fiction book, Tough Sh*t: Life Advice from a Fat, Lazy Slob Who Did Good. Yeah, I'm infatuated, but I'm loving what I'm consuming. Anyone have any recommendations?

Album of the Week: John Mellencamp's The Lonesome Jubilee

I read that yesterday was the 25th (!) anniversary of this album's release. While I tend to prefer his 1985 album, Scarecrow, as a whole, Jubilee has my all-time favorite Mellencamp song, "Cherry Bomb." For a young man who had graduated from high school that summer of '87, this tune spoke to a longing for a place I never knew. And in that crucial summer when I moved out of the house and off to college, that song captured the closing of one phase of life and the opening of another coupled with the knowledge I had at the time that life, for all that may be ahead, would never be quite so simple again. At the age of 18, when I listened to his words "...seventeen has turned to thirty-five...", I could not comprehend being in my middle thirties. Now, from a vantage point beyond the age of 35, I'm listening again to this album a quarter century removed from that summer and welcome the nostalgia. I am content with my life as it is and have few, if any, regrets. Life has been good to me and, as Mellencamp sings, "When I think back about those days/All I can do is sit and smile."

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Solitary Confinement

By Jay Stringer

The Solitary life of the writer. I hear that phrase a lot. There are numerous variations on it too. They all add up to the same thing- we are a lonely bunch who work alone and, frankly, probably forget to eat or wash.

I can understand where the idea comes from, and sometimes I do all I can to encourage it. I don't go to festivals, I've had a knack lately for missing friends book launches, and I'll often turn down invitations to social events with the excuse that I've got writing to do. I know one of my fears has been that if I were to go full time as a writer (which I don't plan to) I would become a hermit, only speaking to my wife and my cats, probably growing a beard and drinking blood.

I've had quite a few different jobs in my 32 years. I've worked in a number of different professions. In some of them I've worked as part of a large team, in others I've managed people, and sometimes I've worked alone. And here's the thing- this whole 'writing' thing has been the most collaborative thing I've ever done.

That's even as a 'solo' writer. I sit and write on my own, typing away at books and stories that come out under my own name. There are no co-writers to share the blame, no writing partners to argue with. In theory I should be locked into the solitary life of the writer as I sit and write Miller 3.

However, despite being sat alone at my computer, I'm plugged into a huge network. There are the people who see chunks of my first draft as I write it, there are people who see the first draft once it's complete. There's my agent who will read and edit the first full draft that I send, and who is giving nudges and suggestions along the way before that. There are the people I use for research and fact checking, and the experienced crime writers I talk to when I need to be put back in my place. And it works the other way, too. There are writers who are sending me their first draft as it's written, and writers who send me a completed first draft for my thoughts. And we all share ideas, add them to the recipe.

Just this past week Dave White (in a break from his secret undercover assignment) took a look at a problem that was stalling my writing and suggested a fix. And based on his suggestion I came up with another, which not only got me writing again but gave me the in to a character that I'd been unable to find. Something similar happened with McFet earlier in the draft, when I asked him his opinion on a half baked idea and his answer improved on it.

I have conversations with my publisher and we will soon be ramping up again the the epic collaboration that is putting a book together. I go on (or live on) Twitter and talk to other writers, editors and publishing people. I have a few groups on facebook that I'm a part of. I shout out around a thousand words a week here and join in the ongoing conversations of the DSDerati. DSDista? DSDettes?

So I'm really not sure where this lonely or solitary thing comes in. Maybe I'm doing it wrong.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Weird Tales of Blackface and Black Eyes

By Steve Weddle

You may have heard about Saving The Pearls, a book about white folks (Pearls) and black folks (Coals) and, uh, something something dystopian.

Others have been weighing in on the running and the not-running.

Weird Tales Magazine faces a boycott after endorsing a “thoroughly non-racist book”

Weird Tales editor has insulted us all

Book's author in HuffPo

Weird Tales backtracks on support of “ridiculous and offensive” novel

YA Series “Save The Pearls” Employs Offensive Blackface And Bizarre Racist Stereotypes

This is how my Monday morning began: with a slap in the face, courtesy of new Weird Tales editor Marvin Kaye

I would like to tell our community that Weird Tales will NOT be running an excerpt from Victoria Foyt’s novel in our upcoming issue.

So many issues to unpack.

The protag is called "Eden Newman." Sounds like nearly every name terrible, piece-of-crap author Nathaniel Hawthorne used. (Young Goodman Brown, et al.)

The books is YA, but seems targeted to those adults who like to read children's books.

The book benefited from flash and pizzazz, a website unto itself, screens and screens of what looked like praise, etc. WEIRD TALES, the mag, perhaps was duped, a la QR Markham.

And, of course, the use of race. Or the handling or race. (ProTip: Blackface = Not Good.)

Look at all the free coverage the book has gotten? Does that equate to sales? No idea.

But what we have here is a book people are talking about, and I figured maybe now would be a good time to mention how folks are handling race.

Speaking of racism, this week was H.P. Lovecraft's birthday. Some folks point out Lovecraft's racist comments. Some folks say, well, everyone was racist back then in the olden days.

Is racism more subtle now?

Recently, there was some discussion somewhere (Twitter, Facebook) about whether a racist character in a book is supposed to say racist things. For example, can a "bad" person in a book use the N-word to show that he's a racist? This use of language upsets some folks. For me, personally, I'm not a big fan of racist language in the books I read. (Oh, you don't mind the F-word and the C-word and characters who are murdering child rapers, but if someone says something racist, you get your panties in a wad? Um yeah. I do.) If some character hates someone of another ethnicity, fine. A four-letter word (or six-letter) is so often used as a clumsy short-hand, standing in for what a good author would develop as a character. But racial slurs in books tend to stand out when they're not handled well. The use of a racial slur is unsmooth, drawing attention to the word instead of the story, the character. And, mostly, they're not handled well.

Which kinda brings us around to what the author of PEARLS says she was trying to do, which was turn racism on its head and something, something dystopian. The author has said she wanted to use the Pearls/Coal to get to the environmental implications of the story. Yeah, I don't know, either.

As the links about will tell you, WEIRD TALES has backed off its endorsement of the PEARLS book.

Being a racist has never been a barrier to publishing any more than its been a barrier to a lifelong career as a politician.

I think there are probably a thousand thoughts you can follow out of this SAVING THE PEARLS mess. If you want to go to it in the comments, grab whatever part you want and let's go.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Almost Published Blues

By Anonymous-9

A couple of days ago I had a near-death experience on the freeway. I was driving west on the 91 in Los Angeles County, when a giant dump truck blew a tire in front of me. The thing went off like a bomb, and as debris and swaths of rubber whipped toward me, I thought, "Noooo! I can't die before my novel is published!"  I guess that lets you know where my mind's at these days.

HARD BITE, THE NOVEL is my first full-length noir, and will be published by Blasted Heath this fall. I'm already hand-over-fist on the sequel, since I have a 2-book deal with BH. The time counting down to drop date is so excruciatingly slow I don't think gestating a real human could be this trying. I want to be busy cutting a trailer, but I can't cut a trailer until I have a book cover. I won't have a book cover until JT Lindroos gets around to rendering it. Could I get a cover designed faster from somebody else? You bet, but it wouldn't be a Lindroos cover. He's been in the biz for decades and designs for Edgar award-winning books. So I'll wait for Lindroos, thank you. Even though it's killing me.

Now let's get to the edit.  "Hard Man" and literary badass Allan Guthrie saw something in my manuscript and said he'd get back to me with changes. Allan wears many literary hats. He's not just a principal at Blasted Heath e-publishers, he's also a seasoned literary agent, a crime writer, and an Edgar nominee for his noir thriller KISS HER GOODBYE. Hoo boy was I ready for Allan to have at it! Every word of critique would be burned into my brain for reference and comparison. All my nasty mistakes and misfires were ready to get their butts whooped but good. I was ready to take my crit "like a man" and kill all my darlings, as Falkner said—whatever it took to whip that manuscript into shape.

Finally the day came. I opened the doc.x with Allan's Track Changes notations and... he found about twenty typos. One scene was too abrupt and needed padding. Another scene was briefly queried. That's it. My dreams of a Guthrie-punched manuscript that would forever cast golden guiding light on my career in crime writing fled faster than Chandler at a dry book signing.

Truth is, I pretty much beat my book to death before I sent it out for a second time, after extensive re-plotting and a rewrite.  15,000 words that I loved with all my heart (pronounced dull and boring by beta readers more objective and level-headed than I) were chopped out of the 50,000-word manuscript and replaced with 12,000 words of action and surprise. It took four years, but when it went out, it was ready. I could have self-published a whole year ago but I wouldn't have had JT Lindroos, or Blasted Heath, or Allan Guthrie. I figured the wait was worth it.

I started writing noir short stories in 2007 and the turning point was winning Spinetingler's Best Short Story on the Web competition in 2009. That encouragement, made possible by Brian Lindenmuth and Sandra Rutton who are guardian angels to crime writers in my opinion, inspired me to arrange life and work around writing. It's been an investment of five years to transform HARD BITE the short story into HARD BITE, THE NOVEL.

As I simmer and stew with the impatience of waiting for five years of work to be realized over at Blasted Heath, I ask myself if I'm willing to invest five more. Will another five years deliver the success and satisfaction I'm dreaming of? Will I ever see any money? I push those questions aside in favor of, "What else would you rather be doing?" And the answer is, "Nothing. I just wish I were writing more."

Conclusion: If what I wish I were doing is what I'm already doing, then the time is well spent. If that dump truck had taken me out on the freeway, then I'd still have steered my life as far as I could in the direction I wanted to go, with the time that I had. That's as much as any writer can do, I think.

Patience is a virtue.

Monday, August 20, 2012

2012 Novellas - Doin' Just Fine

Earlier this year when I launched the Spinetingler Award for Best Novella of 2011 I said that if novellas were going to continue to be published then I would consider folding them into the main awards.  Two-thirds of the way through the year it looks like 2012 is shaping up to be another great year for novellas. 

I spent Sunday afternoon updating my list of novellas published in 2012.  I also looked at some of the publishers that have put out novellas in the past.  It looks like Pulp Press is no longer around and that Five Leaves hasn't published anything beyond their re-launch of the Crime Express series.  (If I'm wrong about either of these or if you have any information to share please do so below and I'll update accordingly.)

These are the 2012 novellas that I am aware of  so far.

*A note about the below books. This is a broad list and it's possible that those listed may fall outside of the word count and may fall outside of the crime fiction genre. This post in no way constitutes a nominee for a Spinetingler Award.* 

Blue Eyed Death in Okinawa by Okamoto

A razor sharp 11,000 word hardboiled crime story featuring the deadly but melancholy woman assassin Molly Vance, code named "Akiko." It contains some extreme violence and erotic descriptions so is not suitable for younger readers.

Ishmael Toffee by Roger Smith

Ishmael Toffee's knife put him behind bars and kept him there for twenty years as a prison gang assassin until he lost his taste for blood. Paroled, he finds himself with no money and no family. And no knife in his hand.

He gets a job as a gardener at the luxurious home of a prominent lawyer and makes an unexpected friend--Cindy, the lawyer's six-year-old daughter. When Ishmael discovers that Cindy is being raped by her father he must choose: abandon the girl and walk away, or do what he does best . . .
Clown in the Moonlight by Tom Piccirilli

CLOWN IN THE MOONLIGHT is based in part on the true story of Ricky Kasso, the so-called Acid King, who murdered a friend in the Northport woods back in '84 claiming Satan told him to do it, then proceeded to bring high school classmates to view the mutilated body for days afterward. Occult, hardboiled, and noir matters enter the mix as a nameless drifter teaches Ricky and friends what the true nature of hell is really all about.
The Hunted by Dave Zeltserman

Will you be able to figure out the mind-blowing secret of THE HUNTED?

From the author of the groundbreaking 'man out of prison' noir trilogy (Small Crimes, Pariah, Killer) comes an exciting new novella series mixing hardboiled crime with government conspiracy. In this first explosive novella, THE HUNTED, Dan Willis is unemployed and desperate when he is recruited by The Factory. Trained to hunt down and kill insurgents hellbent on destroying the country, Willis methodically and efficiently performs his job. But there's a dark secret behind The Factory, and when Willis discovers it no one is safe...
The Dame by Dave Zeltserman

In this explosive followup to THE HUNTED, Dan Willis finds himself a fugitive and on the run from The Factory. When a misfit group of criminals recruits him to steal a priceless Dutch painting titled The Dame, it looks easy enough, at least until another dame gets into the picture. Then all hell breaks loose as double crosses pile up fast and furiously.
The Man on the Bench by Robert Smartwood

In the summer of 1922, nine-year-old Ethan's only worries are chores, having fun, and keeping out of trouble.

But a shadow soon falls over the tiny backwater town of Benton, Pennsylvania that threatens to change everything.

First the cats disappear.

Then the little girls.

After that, the real horror begins.
 McGrave by Lee Goldberg

Los Angeles cop John "Tidal Wave" McGrave is an unstoppable force of nature who always gets his man...even if it means laying waste to everything around him, including his own career...which is exactly what happens in his pursuit of Sebastian Richter, the ruthless leader of an international gang of violent thieves.

When Richter flees to Berlin, McGrave chases after him...even though the cop doesn't know the language, the laws, or the culture. But McGrave doesn't care...he speaks the universal language of knee in the groin and fist in the face...and he won't let anything get in his way.
Party Doll by Steve Brewer

Bubba Mabry returns in a new novella guaranteed to thrill and amuse fans of the series featuring the Albuquerque, NM, private eye.

Bubba bumbles back into action when he's hired to find a missing stripper who goes by the stage name Joy Forever. Joy's boss says business has been off since she disappeared, owing him money. He wants Bubba to find Joy and find her fast.

But there's more here than meets the eye. A federal prosecutor is interested in Joy as well, and Bubba's wife, newspaper reporter Felicia Quattlebaum, is working on a crusade that seems to be entangled with the case.
Adversary by Mark Wheaton

When an industrial spy is captured in a multinational’s Berlin skyrise, the company's lead counsel, Annie Bennett, is sent to interrogate him while they await the police. She soon learns that the man isn’t a spy at all, but a mysterious scientist who accuses Annie’s company of kidnapping his wife and holding her in a laboratory. As a series of murders erupt throughout the building, Annie discovers that her company has been attempting to accelerate human evolution to adapt man to extraterrestrial environments. Only, instead of testing on humans, they’ve been using tens of thousands of scientifically-harvested ghosts. As the intruder prepares to release all of the vengeful ghosts at once to slaughter the building's employees, Annie must decide who the real enemy is.
Own It by E.R. White Jr.

The first tale is a novella that introduces private dick Jay Dafoe. He’s in a dirty business, and cold hard cash has always made up for twinges his conscience might occasionally feel, or so he thought until he’s hired to find a missing daughter. How does the amoral Dafoe handle the horror he unwittingly becomes entwined with? 
Brother's Keeper by Glen Krisch

Growing up, Jason and Marcus Grant were close as only brothers can be. As they reached adolescence, they started to drift apart, taking opposite paths into adulthood. Jason went to college before getting a job at for the local newspaper. Marcus chose a path littered with drugs, violence, and self-destruction.

Now adults, Jason has cut Marcus from his life and considers himself an only child.

Clean and sober, Marcus finds his true calling when he joins the Arkadium, a secret society dating back millennia. They plan on setting history back ten thousand years by unleashing a world-wide calamity that will destroy modern man's domination of the planet. As the Arkadium set their plan in motion, Marcus reaches out to his brother, wanting him by his side to record the new prehistoric era. Jason is forced to make a choice, join his brother in the time of humanity's descent, or die like so many others.
Road Gig by Trey Barker

Kinney Fahey has been on the job for six months. He's not focusing his efforts on the paperwork and it's gonna bite him…real bad.
RIP Robbie Silva by Tony Black

Jed Collins, fresh from jail, is struggling to go straight when he hooks up with wild child Gail. Before long Jed is back to blagging ― with Gail in tow.

But Jed has a past, and Gail has a secret about her gangster father that she wants to keep under wraps.

One week in the Scottish capital for Jed and Gail turns into a bloody rollercoaster ride that leads straight to Hell.
Saved by the Moll by Bill Raetz

Sometimes a dame can get you OUT of trouble!

The call girl said huskily, “I must have the wrong room.”
I said, “You’ve got the right place—and perfect timing.”

Bryce Attewelle is no stranger tovtight spots—or getting out of them. When he goes after a notorious gun-runner, getting in isn’t the problem. Finding himself in need of an exit strategy, he grabs the first thing to come along...THE GIRL.
Six Bullets by Simon Dunn

Six bullets.

Seven terrorists.

Everyone else on board was dead.

The Bjørg Istad is the world’s largest container ship, and she’s on her maiden voyage. Trond Nystrand has stowed away, running from a terrible secret. Halfway to his new life, Trond wakes up to the sound of gunfire, heralding the arrival of seven terrorists intent on wreaking havoc.

A rip-roaring quick-read novella adventure across the high seas.
Bottomland by Curtis Hox

A writer instructor challenges his students to spend the night in an abandoned house in the mountains. He just wants to see if they can do it, maybe help with their writing projects, maybe scare them a little. He never expects real trouble to follow.
A Marine at the Door by Eddie Vega

When a U.S. Marine shows up at the Brooklyn home of Rad Cordoba, a graffiti writer, it is to relay the news of his Marine brother's death in Iraq. As his parents struggle with the loss, Rad takes to the streets and the dark byways of the subway tunnels with his graffiti bombing crew known as The Alien Nation. He has something to say. None of it pretty.
98 Minutes to Paris by Marko Peric

As a loyalist Irish paramilitary fighter, Patrick Corrigan used to operate on the wrong side of the law. He now works in law enforcement hunting terrorists and mercenaries. An anonymous email tip has brought him to board the TGV high speed train to Paris, seeking an old foe and an opportunity to find closure on a dark chapter of his past.
Without a Trial by Maxwell Cunningham

What would you do to save the ones you love?

When the police commissioner of Edinboro suddenly retires after a raid gone wrong, hardball cop, Todd Williams, finds himself in the middle of a dangerous game that threatens the safety of those he loves the most. His morals are put to the test when he must act as executioner to suspected criminals who are condemned to death...without a trial.
First Case by Roger Stelljes

Award winning author, Roger Stelljes, delivers a mystery NOVELLA (12 chapters/25,280 words) that is the prequel to the McRyan Mystery Series. First Case provides an introduction and backstory to the lead character, "Mac" McRyan and his fellow detectives. Stelljes' knack for GRITTY and REAL DIALOGUE (slang/jargon/behind the scenes dialog), as well as his uncanny sense of place and time, will put you in the middle of the action allowing you to feel the desperation of Mac McRyan and his fellow detectives.
Tomato Can Comeback (Fight Card Series)

Tom Garrick had a heart of gold, a jaw of iron, and heavy artillery in both fists. This orphan from the Windy City returned from the Korean War to battle his way up the welterweight ranks, inspiring speculation about a title bid. Then he slugged it out with a top contender who humiliated him over eleven rounds and cut short his victory march.

Popular opinion was he had been exposed as a lucky pretender. The newspapers dubbed him "Tomato Can" after watching the blood splatter around the ring like tomato juice from a tin can being battered by a tire iron.

Now, for some mysterious reason, 'Tomato Can' Garrick is lacing on the gloves again, hoping for a shot at redemption. He has no promoter, no manager, not even a sparring partner. The only one in his corner is a buddy from the war who has never been inside the boxing game before.

There's a punch-drunk pantheon of bums, brawlers and cutthroat contenders just waiting to pound him into Palookaville ... a lonely war widow with her claws in his heart ... and a regimen of dubious training methods which may do more harm than good to his chances. But Garrick isn't going to go down in history as "the Tomato Can" without a fight.
King of the Outback (Fight Card series)

Outback Australia 1954

Two rival tent boxing troupes clash over a territorial dispute in the Outback town of Birdsville. In the sweltering heat, tensions simmer, tempers flare, and as things reach boiling point, a boxing tent is burned to the ground.

Fighting men know only one way to solve their disputes, and that’s in the ring. The solution, a show-down, smack-down, winner take all bout between the two rival outfits.

In the blue corner, representing ‘Walter Wheeler’s Boxing Sideshow’ is Tommy King, a young aboriginal boxer with a big heart and iron fists.

In the red corner, representing ‘Arnold Sanderson’s Boxing Show’, is ‘Jumpin’ Jack Douglas, a monstrous wrecking machine from the city – a man who’ll do anything to win.

The fight – brutal. In the world of Tent Boxing, in the harsh Australian Outback, weight divisions and rules don’t count for much. It’s a fight to decide, who is indeed, King of the Outback!
Hard Road (Fight Card series)

Atlantic City, 1957

Professional boxers Roberto Varga and Michael Boyle were once pals growing up at St. Vincent’s Asylum for Boys in Chicago. Under the guidance of Father Tim, the fighting priest, they learned values, respect, responsibility, and how to fight fair.

But those lessons didn’t stick with Boyle. Two years after leaving St. Vincent’s, Boyle and Varga face-off in the ring with Boyle pounding out a bloody, lopsided decision, Varga swore wasn’t on the up and up.

In the seven years since, their careers have taken different paths. Guided by unscrupulous manager Tommy Domino, Boyle is positioned for a title shot against Sugar Ray Robinson. Varga, however, has struggled in a career still haunted by the bloody loss to Boyle.

When the boxer scheduled to fight Boyle in Atlantic City breaks his hand two weeks before the fight, Domino scrambles for a replacement. He finds Varga toiling in a Philadelphia gym and offers him the rematch Varga has been waiting years to get. For Varga, it’s a chance to finally even the score, a chance to get the title shot he’s always dreamed about. But Boyle is not the only formidable foe aligned against Varga.

Redemption comes at a bloody price – a price perhaps too high for Varga to pay …
Counterpunch (Fight Card series)

Danny Dugronski has been a fighter all his life.

As an orphan at St. Vincent's Asylum for Boys, he first learned the "sweet science" of boxing from Father Tim, the battling priest. Then the Marine Corps taught him far more lethal fighting tactics before shipping him off to do battle in the hell of the South Pacific.

Now, with World War II over, Danny "The Duke" has returned home and earned a respectable ranking as a regional heavyweight in the Milwaukee area. But his record, free of KO losses, is jeopardized by a mob front man who tries to push him into a series of rigged fights.

When Danny refuses, hard push comes to deadly shove, and he must call upon all his fighting skills to stand his ground. And when Danny comes out swinging, he’s determined to put the mob down for the count.
In the Frame by Michael D'Asti

Eddie Deuchar is a young cop that thought he knew the dark side of London’s streets. But he has a lot to live up to. His dad was number one at the Met before him and when gorgeous TV presenter Carol Boarding asks him a leading question about his father it starts Eddie down a road he doesn’t know at all well.
What is the meaning behind Carol’s curious question? And where does an old Victorian painting come into the picture?

He has to confront a dangerous underworld villain and suffer some harsh character assassination along the way before finding a resolution. Even his dad’s old crew come under suspicion in the violence that erupts on the city’s streets. Chasing the answers takes Eddie into dark places in his hunt for the true nature of not only his own past but Carol’s as well.

To save a good name and salvage a fortune, Eddie must walk some mean streets of his own.
Driving Through the Desert by Donna Lynch

In the aftermath of a violent occurrence, a young girl named Kam and her friend Henry flee through the Nevada desert in a stolen car. Desperate to reach the coast, they find the terror, sorrow, and pain has traveled with them, twisting their realities until they are lost in a place far worse than the cold, isolated desert.
Unchronic Tales: The Horn by W. Peter Miller

Uchronic Tales: The Horn follows Clark Tyler, an investigator for the Ace Insurance Company, as a simple job spirals toward an Earth-shattering conclusion. This story is set against the backdrop of the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles.

What is the Horn and why do some distinctively nasty visitors want to get their hands on it? What would happen if someone decides to give it a blow? Clark is there to stop that from happening. Clark is joined in “The Horn“ by a daring aviatrix, a charming archaeologist, and a strange mercenary from Clark’s past.

Join us for the mysteries, the thrills, and the startling conclusion of…
The Horn.

In the months ahead, danger will put Clark in middle of many Uchronic Tales. Look for stories featuring the classic days of Hollywood, earth-shattering danger, lost civilizations, and bizarre visitors from the unknown aether.

Welcome to Uchronic Tales

Things To Do Before You Die by Roz Southey and Bang, Bang, You're Dead! by Nick Quantrill (Best of British series)

Have you read any of them? Plan on reading any of them? Have I missed any?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Making it better

By: Joelle Charbonneau

I’ve said it before and I’m sure I’ll say it again – I love revising.  The process of taking something and making it better.  Writing the story is enjoyable.  Since I don’t write with an outline, I learn where the story is going along side the characters.  Writing the first draft is like riding a roller coaster.  Sometimes the story turns out the way I think it’s headed.  More often than not it takes a turn for the unexpected and I am both entertained and panicked as I hope it all makes sense in the end.  There are lots of loop-da-loops and sharp dives along the way.  Some make me scream with joy others…um…not so much. 

But once the book is finished I get to rewrite and tweak and polish.  To me, that is where the real fun begins.  I examine my characters’ story arcs, the plot points and the word choices I’ve made.  Then, when I’m done, I say a small prayer that the book isn’t crap and send it off to my agent.  Once the manuscript hits her inbox, I try to pretend I’m not nervous as I wait to hear her verdict.

Some authors don’t want their agent to weigh in on the quality of a book that has already sold.  They are more than happy to ship it directly to their editor and wait to see what the editor thinks.  Not me.  I want my agent’s feedback.  In fact, I can’t imagine doing without it.  Each person that reads the book with a fresh, knowledgeable eye is instrumental in making the story stronger.  And I want to make the story as strong as possible.  Will it be the best book I’ll ever write?  Who knows.  But if I really consider each point my early readers and editors make and look at the story in new ways, I ‘m doing my utmost to make it the best book that I can write at that moment.

Last week, I received editorial notes from my agent on Independent Study.  My gut instinct is always to dive right into the comments and begin to make changes.  However, I have learned that, for  me, it is best to read all the comments in the manuscript, reread the editorial letter, then let the commentary bop around in my head for a few days.  Giving the comments time to simmer means giving me a chance to really think about the way the story pieces need to fit together to strengthen the elements that are working and eliminate those that are not. 

Today, I embark on that process.  I always think it will take me a few days.  Sometimes I’m right.  Other times it takes far longer.  I always have to tell myself that the process can’t be rushed.  I mean, the book took more than a couple days to write.  Cutting corners now is just silly.

When I’m done layering in more depth and tweaking some scenes, I’ll reread the whole book then send it off to my fabulous agent again in the hope I’ve done the right work.  Trust me, she’ll let me know if I went astray.  If so, we’ll do another round of revisions until we agree it is as strong as we can make it.  When that moment comes, we’ll ship it off to my editor who will pick and prod and poke at the story some more all the while pushing me to make it better.

I can’t wait.

Am I crazy?  Maybe.  But I wouldn’t change this part of the process for anything. 

Revisions, here I come!