Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Who is Porter Rockwell

Just who is Orrin Porter Rockwell?

I enjoy thinking of him as a decidedly unique alternative compared to what most people think Mormons are like.

A hard-drinking, gun-fighter, scout, frontiersman, and sometime lawman - Porter Rockwell is to me the quintessential weird western hero.

Sometimes its hard to separate fact from fiction and I may have only muddied the waters with these newly found yarns in my collection of weird western tales starring the infamous Porter Rockwell in  Cold Slither! But you gotta do what you gotta do.

Born in Belchertown, Massachusetts on June 28th 1813, Rockwell was a friend to Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon Church. He was the youngest person baptized into the church upon its founding.  (Thanks Paul for the pic!)

Following the Church as they moved west to Nauvoo, Illinois, he was always a tireless supporter and helped whenever possible during the tumultuous years.

It was after eight months in prison on charges that he was the attempted assassin of Illinois Governor Lilburn Boggs, that Porter was exonerated and found himself back in Nauvoo. Haggard and unkempt, he made his way into Smith's home during a Christmas party.

At first thought to be an unruly attacker, it was then realized he was the prodigal friend returned.
It was here that Joseph Smith prophesied and blessed Porter that if he never cut his hair, no bullet nor blade could harm him. So was born the legend of the Destroying Angel.

Many a dime novel or embittered tell-all novelization featured a bloodthirsty Porter wreaking bloodthirsty ruin upon folk traversing through the Utah territory whilst shouting his terrible curse of "Wheat!"

[Awesome pic by Ryan Wood]

Porter has more murders laid at his feet as a member of the Danites - the church's rumored bloodthirsty enforcers - than any other gunman I can think of. The Salt Lake Tribune tabulated his kills at well over 100! Nobody else is even close. The author of In Mormon Circles, James Coates, says the number has to be closer to 50 to 100.

Of course the Salt Lake Tribune's numbers cannot possibly be true, but even a smaller percentage is still higher than the other infamous gunslingers.
Wild Bill Hickock = 6 or 7?
Billy the Kid = 8
Wyatt Earp = 10?
Doc Holiday = 16 (and the report said that was likely exaggerated)
John Wesley Hardin = 27

Fact and fiction take hard turns in the wild west and as I said its difficult to separate them, the actual accounts from men like Sir Richard Burton have Porter as a congenial fellow, warning the esteemed traveler to beware of white Indians (bandits disguised as Indians) in the mountains. They hit if off so well that Burton upon his return to England later sent a bottle of Brandy to Porter.

In the end, Porter died in bed without a scratch on him at the age of 64. The prophecy had come true despite all the scrapes, Indian wars and gunfights he had been in. The Salt Lake Tribune declared that "the gallows were cheated" but I see it as proof of something divine that defies materialist expectation.

Here's a final quote that I liked so much I had to put it in the book,
 “In his build he was a gladiator; in his humor a Yankee lumberman; in his memory a Bourbon; in his vengeance an Indian. A strange mixture, only to be found on the American continent.”
 — Fitz Hugh Ludlow on Orrin Porter Rockwell

Grab a copy of Cold Slither in print or kindle and I'll be signing copies at Salt Lake Comic Con next week too! 

Monday, August 22, 2016

A Dent In the Summer Reading Pile

The Death of Kings, by Bernard Cornwell

The Saxon series, following Uthred of Bebbanburg is one of my all time favorites. I even got my wife to enjoy watching The Last Kingdom with me. I highly recommend it.

Death of Kings is the sixth book in the series -yes, I'm a little behind for something I enjoy so much but there is an element of savoring it here. Overall I would say the pace is slowed on this one compared to Sword Song and The Burning Lands. It is a big watershed in the sense that King Alfred passes in this one too. The whole Alfred/Christian vs Uthred/Pagan was a big drive for the previous books - and that is going away but nobody is going to fill Alfred's shoes. And that is part of the problem with the politics in this book - the Dames are going to be that much worse for the English.

So Death of Kings is slower book in many ways and I have to say its been the least enjoyable of the series so far - that said - the finale was a great climax and was most excellent, its was just a little more of a wait to get there than Ive been used to in the series.

Dead Pact, by Craig Nybo

Caveat, Craig Nybo is a friend of mine and I truly enjoy his work! He has a wonderful imagination and does some of the most far out concepts of anyone I know!

Now about Dead Pact which is a stand alone kindle selection from Craig's bigger anthology - Terrifying Lies. This tale is a gritty weird western in the grandest tradition.  Nybo throws some great loops and douses the reader in dark shadows before bailing them out again. We're thrown into the action of Galen Waite investigating some demonic possession near the town of Bannack. Think cross between possession and the Walking Dead. This one had me on my toes. And as always I look forward to more from Craig!

Murder at the Kinnen Hotel: A Powder Mage novella, by Brian McClellan

I've heard good things about McClellan's Powder Mage series and I've been meaning to get to it, so when I saw that he posted this novella for free I snagged it.

But I think it was a bad place to start. It is set years beforehand and while I could see that interesting world building was being set up and such, I didn't feel the grasp of what all of it meant nor was I impressed with some of the characters even though I was told they were intimidating. I'm sure I missed things that would be a thrill IF I had read the trilogy already, but as a standalone tale I thought it went a little weak. The climax especially felt limp for something that is a mix of mystery and fantasy and I just would have liked a little more punch.

I still intend to read the trilogy and I'm sure I may have new found appreciation for this prequel tale of sorts afterward, but as a starting point for me it was too shaky.

Pride of the Traveler, by Bryce Beattie

This is another short - I read all three of these at work -shhhhhh.
This low magic fantasy follows Key, a young swordsman who goes to a carnival of sorts and to fortune teller to ask about his destiny. She tells him pride will be his downfall. He also gets a warning about the possible collaboration of dark magic and vampires with the powers that be in the city. So, he goes into town and joins in the dueling matches therein. He isn't humble and promptly defeats all comers until he has to take on the captain of the guard who has some of that dark magic on his side.

It is a predictable enough tale but it is enjoyable and really feels like a prologue to something greater. I would definitely read that follow up of Key's adventures because I like Beattie's storytelling and prose.

The Adventures of Tom Stranger, Interdimensional Insurance Agent by Larry Correia

Larry always has a good dose of humor in his works and with this one he really lets loose, firing off all guns at the usual suspects. Poking fun at all the social justice warriors, Fox execs who cancelled Firefly, and Joe Biden is almost too easy. The R. Lee Ermey type secretary of defense was also welcome touch.
For just sheer entertainment this novella is good, not too long, not too short its in the just right size for this type of tale - any longer might be a bit much. But its nice to see a place where you can still poke fun and throw in the planet destroying aliens side walled by a smooth talking Insurance adjuster.

As yet this is only available as an audio book and Adam Baldwin's reading knocks it out of the park.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Preparing to Pimp Thyself


My weird west collection COLD SLITHER print copy is up over on Amazon - though I'm not doing the real launch push just yet - I've got the kindle set for pre-order and I'm hoping to push that on August 30th for the sake of rankings etc. In fact I don't think as of this post the kindle slot is even up yet.

I'm excited that the book is finally done- considering I had wanted to release it on my birthday two months ago. But I think its an amazing book that a lot of people will get a kick out of. I was tickled pink that one of my friends said he thought the first Porter tale = Cold Slither itself reminded him of a Conan type yarn.

I made a banner for use at the upcoming Salt Lake Comic Con - it was fun trying to come up with something that I hope will grab attention at our booth and hopefully entice some book buyers. I used the Horror Flick font - same thing I used on my new business cards - gotta love that retro pulpy look.

I do know I'm on at least one panel each day at SLCC
The Rocketeer on Thursday
Mental Health in Popular Culture/Entertainment on Friday
and a Choose Your Own Apocalypse game with the Space Balrogs on Saturday.

I've got a lot more book reviews lined up shortly that I'll be trying to post up on before summer is over.

Oh and I finally put together a mailing list newsletter because I've been hearing how necessary that is for self-promotion etc - so there's that BURNT OFFERINGS - https://tinyletter.com/DavidJWest

Now back to work on just novels for the foreseeable future this year.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Salt City Steamfest!!!

It's that time of year again - the gears are rolling and I'm going to be a guest at Salt City Steamfest.

I'll be talking on the Steampunk vs Weird Western panel and after that we'll be doing another of our infamous Choose Your Own Apocalypse games in a steampunk setting - last time I was Air Pirates and I won!

I'm not actually sure what else will be happening yet but it promises to be a good time with a lot of really cool people.

I'm looking forward to all the trippy costumes and retro steampunk items that will be there.

More details here!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Coming of LONE CROW

The Coming of Lone Crow, by Joel Jenkins

I am so glad that my friend Paul McNamee, gave me a heads up on this one. I was intrigued by the cover sporting a few well-known (and not so well known) western historical persons - among them my own weird western incarnation of Porter Rockwell.
I gave the kindle sample and look-see and was hooked. I bought it and have thoroughly enjoyed the 14 odd stories enough that I will have to buy a print copy for my collection - I'm going to reread it and I know I'll want it in paper.

So about the stories - Lone Crow himself is the last surviving member of his tribe who had been taken in and raised by Mormon foster parents giving him a Christianized white mans world view which is also mixed with his mystic Native American side. He is a taciturn type who is well aware of the racist backlash of the times he lives in and yet he has become infamous enough for his supernatural exploits that he gets hired on by the prestigious Miskatonic University for a number of projects.

One of the items that helps him survive these mind bending encounters is his blessed-by-a-prophet eagle butted peacemaker. Being imbued with a sacred blessing allows the gun to actually harm strange creatures that otherwise might be immune to earthly weapons - creatures like the Hounds of Tindalos or the recurring Ulutoth a Lovecraftian old one akin to Cthulhu.

I loved the action and esoteric historic cameo's and all I could think while reading this is WOW! Joel Jenkins is my kind of writer! Several of the stories loosely relate to each other and we are teased with quite a number of references to interesting sounding tales that we never do get a glimpse of - it make for a world we know is much bigger while still retaining a pulp infused rip roaring good time!

I've since chatted with Joel and was told another collection of Lone Crow's stories are coming and I anxiously await that!

I recommend getting a copy here!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Coming Soon: Porter's Weird West Collection

Things always take longer than you'd like.

I sincerely wish and strive and hope to get things to a point wherein I can accomplish all I'd like to in a day but that is still a ways out.
In the mean time I'm still plugging away and trying to keep up the good fight and get my creative demands met.

Cold Slither which I had hoped to release late last month couldn't make it for July either - but I'm in the home stretch and it will be out sooner than later in a couple weeks - I think I will experiment and have it available for pre-order too and see how that fares.

Part of what happened was the collection of Porter Rockwell tales were mostly already written - I was only going to do one new novella Cold Slither itself - but then a few more inspiration points took hold and I came up with one more new piece - so the book closes with a new ghostly, vampiric, M.R. James inspired tale - Striding Thru Darkness. The cover much more resembles that story than Cold Slither too.

I'm doing edits now and have already formatted what I think will be a very handsome stylish book. With great native monsters like the one beside us here: I always think the print copies trump the ebooks even if that is what people usually buy - I hope I can keep some of those formatting treasures intact for the ebook but am not sure just yet.

In any case here is the cover and backside - much thanks to Nathan Shumate for his support and help in the endeavour. And to Jason King among others for some editing and suggestions. And of course to anyone else who looked the previously published tales over too - Theric Jepson, William Morris, Jaleta Clegg, John Palisano, etc.

Here is the TOC:


Oh and Keith - I hope you know your Amazing Stories quote means the world to me - hence it being on the actual back cover - I purposefully left your name off though just because of the Amazon thinking we're related nonsense - I sincerely hope there is no offense at that. Let me know.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Some Reads of Late

I'm awful behind in posting reviews (so I'll limit this to 5 or so) and such, but I have been reading quite a lot this summer - mostly on my kindle and at the day job. . . shhhhhh

Ego is the Enemy and The Obstacle is the Way, by Ryan Holiday

I was bookshopping for my birthday at B&N and saw Ego is the Enemy and glancing it over, noticed the Steven Pressfield blurb and then once inside - the author (Holiday) is namedropping Marcus Arelius left and right - always a good sign so I was intrigued enough to read further on and see just what he was trying to say.

I ended up with the audible version and then noticed that my wife, Melissa already had Holiday's previous book The Obstacle is the Way. Each represents positive attitudes in overcoming our daily problems with self mastery and humble yet determined drive.

I don't normally go in for books like these but have to say I really enjoyed them because of how much Holiday uses historical examples as the benchmark of being an outstanding person - so while Holiday is an impressive person in his own right, these really aren't about him so much as other great examples we could all strive to be similar to. And I love reading a mix of historical examples that I know and don't know further reaching into the noble of human character. We need more that this wretched political season.

That Way Lies Madness, by James R. Tuck

I really enjoyed the title story of this two tale collection. The mixture of space and Lovecraft is one I am especially fond of. While it started just a little slow for me, I was soon captured, racing through the pages to see what happened next. That Way Lies Madness is an edge of your seat, nail biting thrill ride for anyone who loves Alien, Outland, The Thing, Space Eldritch or other Lovecraftian type monstrosities in the isolation of space. Bravo Mr. Tuck!

The Life Eaters, by David Brin and Scott Hampton

I've got mixed feelings about this one. It is the first Brin I have ever read and I have heard great things from a few of my online friends. I LOVE the concept of alternate history with Norse Gods being involved with the Nazi's and finding out the real reasoning behind the mass genocide to satiate the gods need for blood and sacrifice and with Loki in the mix thwarting plans of course. All of that is genius and it is a concept that I have thought about many times myself- so I am absolutely on board, being a number one target audience member. But as the story wound on, I found myself disinterested in its execution.  The framing device protagonist didn't grab my interest and a nuke as an answer for dealing with bad guys is kinda blase. Most of the side characters and gods didn't really have any punch to me either.  I found myself very underwhelmed overall. Hampton's art however is great and atmospheric. I think the most damning thing is now that its been a little while since I read it, I'm having a hard time remembering it.

The Curse of Lono, by Hunter S. Thomson

I'm a big fan of Thompson, having read his Hells Angel's before I had any idea he was cult favorite. That reading predated the Depp/Gilliam film too! I've since enjoyed quite a lot of his work and this was the latest I have indulged in.
I imagine that like so much of his other work this is a slightly fictionalized memoir of himself and it bounces all over the place dealing with his trip to Hawaii, fishing and making an ass of himself.
But IF you enjoy Thompson you'll enjoy the dark absurd humor herein - if you don't like Thompson (Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas) I don't imagine you'll like this one either. It is rather open ended as life goes on etc, but still it a fun trip.

The Wendigo, by Algernon Blackwood

I've been meaning to get to this one for some time and while it is slow and brooding, it is enjoyable in that old school atmospheric (there I 'm using that word again) mood. In a lot of ways it seemed to me this could have been shorter - even though its really not that long - maybe its our modern day attention span - but even with setting the mood etc it seemed rather drawn out - but when it gets downn to it - the mystery, the horror, the terror was wnderful. As someone who has camped far out n the wilderness many times, it was easy to feel myself lost n that situation, to feel the claustrobic lonliness and confusion of someone going missing and the lack of answers. Recomended.