Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Retrospecticus 2010

Looking back 2010 sure has been good to me. My first novel was published, quite a number of short stories were accepted for publication by a half-dozen different houses-though we'll be waiting until next year to share those.

In reviewing my favorites of the year I'll look first at music-apparently I'm getting old enough that even when I try to say what my favorite stuff released this year was-I come to find out 'they' were released in 2009. Oh well, Delain's second album April Rain was still my favorite new stuff of 2010. I'll also mention The Crystal Method's: Divided By Night (another favorite album released 2009) I listened to it all year writing action scenes & Goldfrapp's bizarre Head First was actually (released this year) its good, although not as moving as 2005's Supernature.

I didn't see too many movies in theaters, I usually wait for DVD - but of new films I saw this year I probably liked...this is even harder than current music...nothing is coming to mind that's how dreadful the year was. I remember TV better, I enjoyed The Office and Community and the History Channel when they actually air history instead of reality Tv-for movies, I do have high hopes for True Grit and Season of the Witch.

Bookwise-this was a new kind of year for me-I didn't read too many popular novels (Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton and The Burning Lands by Bernard Cornwell-both were good but neither author was at the top of their game either-Crichton for obvious reasons) Instead I read, reviewed and thoroughly enjoyed a lot of books by folks I'd like to call friends.

Charles Allen Gramlich
: Swords of Talera, Bitter Steel,

Tamara Hart Heiner: Perilous, Abby Arington: Precession, Dan Wells: I Am Not A Serial Killer, John Brown: Servant of A Dark God,

Daron Fraley: The Thorn (which was graced by a blurb of mine on the back cover).

I read a lot of history the standouts being Wayward Saints by Ronald Walker, Pirates and the Lost Templar Fleet by David Hatcher Childress, and Fortune is A River by Roger D. Masters.

I also reread a lot of favorites like The Mothman Prophecies by John Keel, Night Winds by Karl Edward Wagner and The Black Stranger collection by Robert E. Howard, oh and his huge Collected Poetry.

I come away from all of it grateful for the new friends I have made, the prose I have enjoyed and the influence of excellent writers. It turns out that I cannot say any one book was my favorite of the year. That's not a cop-out so much as an admission that I just can't nail it down.

We lost my two of my all time favorite artists this year: Frank Frazetta


Arnold Friberg

Their gifts will be missed.

Looking forward, I believe 2011 will be even better for me and my family-see you there.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, One and All.

I have gone the last 48 hours plus without writing anything and it feels kinda weird, like I'm incomplete and missing something-I'll make up for it hardcore the rest of the year, got a lot of last minute submissions to catch up on.

On the gifting side, my kids made out like bandits one way or another and it was a lot of fun watching that magic happen.

For myself-thanks especially to my bro & sis-in-law for the pair of Elven War Swords-beauty's. And to my Mother-in-law and Aunt & Uncle-for the Spartacus DVD, and those gift cards are getting a lot of books.

Now to go watch Spartacus: Blood and Sand and see what I think.

Happy Holidays.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Six-Shooters & Sorcery

My novella "Fangs of the Dragon" has been accepted into the forthcoming Monsters & Mormons anthology. I'm pretty stoked for that, its one of the tales I have had the most fun writing ever.

I would classify it as a weird western or even a sword and sorcery tale taking place in 1869, 'six-shooters and sorcery'? Part of the fun was the historical research I did, the idea that based off what we 'don't know' and what might have happened ~ and all of this could still fit together. I only outright made up one major character-the rest are real.

Fantastical as many things within the story may sound-the bulk of them did happen-I came away from the experience with the personal feeling that it is at least 66% true and it was exciting to help reveal those true macabre events in such an entertaining fashion. I believe we are looking at an October 1st release date.

In addition to this Porter novella, I have several other yarns starring Port coming soon. 2011 could be a great year for the long-haired gunslinger.

And just in case I don't feel like posting again-Merry Christmas

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Bitter Steel: Book Review

Bitter Steel by Charles Allen Gramlich, is one of my favorite reads of the year. A collection of previously released short stories and poems, Bitter Steel throws down a gauntlet of both action and tribute to the pulp fantasy masters of yesteryear.

From the back cover~
"So come! Gather with me around the fire where the smoke stings our eyes. We’ll listen to the drums beat in time with our hearts. We’ll drink from the common bowl as it passes among us. The darkness whispers outside our camp, but we have no fear. There are heroes among us. Let us hear their tales."

Charles prose and poetry throughout the collection is visceral and enticing. With the first paragraph of the first tale "A Gathering of Ravens" I found myself taken away, wandering the battlefields beside his heroes. It granted that magical feeling that I suppose most writers feel at one time or another of "I want to write something like this..."

The next half dozen tales of Thal Kyrin (and Jys) were even better and I especially enjoyed the climactic fight of "Dark Wind" the resonance of "The Evening Rider" and the originality of ""Wine and Swords" because as Charles mentions, he wanted to write a Sword & Sorcery tale without any sorcery in it. The twists and encounters were well drawn and felt real. I found myself hoping Charles will write more tales of the Earth that has become the planet known as Thanos.

Three humorous stories followed, and while I didn't really care for "Worms in the Earth" (great ending however) and "Mirthgar". I loved "Slugger's Holiday". A pastiche based on Robert E. Howards, brawling sailor Steve Costigan on holiday in Hawaii. As far as pastiches go I thought it was spot on-a real gem. The voice and story would make REH proud.

I'm glad Charles included a little about each tale and poem, I like to know about a short stories genesis and inspiration whenever I like them as much as I did these. You can get a copy HERE.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Latest Interview

Here is the link to Dan Harrington's blog where he just posted a great interview of yours truly. Much appreciated Dan!

I will also be reviewing Dan's book "Who's at the DOOR?" first of the year.

Only Vista's???

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


I've been gone a lot doing the dayjob and writing at night-so we haven't spent as much time together as we ought as of late. So I want to see how long until my wife reads this mash note of how much I love her.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Alt-Christmas Song

I like that Captain Sensible, a member of "The Damned", even has some Narnia through-the-wardrobe resonance.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Love, Blood, & Rhetoric

I have to laugh that the LDS Church owned bookstore/publisher Deseret Book won't carry James Dashner's latest YA juggernaut "The Scorch Trials" despite Dashner being one of their more successful authors with a different YA series-"The 13th Reality"

Big Deal, they won't carry my book either.

It was cited that because of violence and swearing - "damn" and "shuckface"??? Scorch Trials might be too much-though the book could be special ordered through the local monopoly, I mean bookstore, for that fan that just can't find the bestseller at B&N's I suppose.

What about my book? Mine is a potential Whitney Award Nominee (LDS Author awards) I'm in the running very strong and the novel is Book of Mormon historical fiction. I've been getting good reviews-I was even stunned to find out that author/reviewer Jennie Hansen gave me 5 Stars! on Goodreads. I was very surprised because I thought she would hate it. Guess you never know-now if she would just mention that in Meridian Magazine.

But Deseret Book doesn't (won't?) carry me. And I have never once used the word "Shuckface".

Perhaps its the bloody violence, though I have only ever read one review mentioning the bloodiness (and that reviewer seemed a little squeamish in my opinion)- especially considering the Book of Mormon is a pretty bloody book-I stuck close to the source in that respect. Maybe its the love, or the lack thereof would be closer to the truth. Perhaps its the rhetoric-I did my best to write a book that would entertain and elaborate based on my peculiar cultural background, but not preach.

Remember for good drama, you have to have a combination of - love, blood & rhetoric - whether love and blood OR blood and rhetoric - but in my writings I have to have the blood - blood is compulsory.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Smells Like Victory

I'm much farther behind in what I hoped to accomplish this year, than I ever meant - (even if it seems I mention new stories every couple weeks)
in any case I am plugging along, though I am trying to prioritize and not bite off more than I can digest.
BLOOD OF OUR FATHERS is behind - I've been thinking it would be done for months now, and yet I keep feeling a little blocked on story elements that cannot be avoided (they have to be included, but in the right way) - my personal guess is for whatever reason - something needs to come into my life - and then into the book to make it just so - I just wish whatever that thing was it would come soon...very soon...its what I want for Christmas.

Self-doubt creeps up on artists of every type and field, I have been able to laugh off any of the more inane critiques, its the ones that you know are dead on that cause the "oh crap, I suck" moments and its back to the humble pie table for a big slice.

In any case we need to remember the success's of the past and to soldier through this and keep honing our craft and plotting the coming victory.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Books Read Of Late

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (and other poems,)by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Sitting down on a Sunday night to read the title poem and I was thrilled by Coleridge's descriptive and quotable prose.
"Water, water everywhere, - Nor any drop to drink"
I also enjoyed the long poem 'Christabel' which enchants but unfortunately was never finished. It opens the door of eerie possibilities and leaves us hanging. 'Kubla Khan' also dazzles with its luxurious (but not confusingly unpronounceable *see below) language. Part of the appeal for me beyond the prose was Coleridge's intent of making the supernatural seem tangible. These are deserved classics.

Tros of Samothrace
, by Talbot Mundy

This was a strange one for me, in that I love historicals, druids battling Caesar is right up my alley-and while each chapter opens with a fragment of the High Druid Taliesin's wisdom (excellent snippets) and there were great characters and twists for some reason it took me forever to get through it-and it is a relatively short book. Something I can't put my finger on kept making me put it down and grab something else. (I started in June) I wonder if Tros is too self-righteous or if Mundy's prose is clever but sleep inducing? I've finished but still unsure of why this was such a difficult book to get through. I want to figure it out, because I need to be sure I don't ever write like Mundy. Great concept-sleepy delivery.

The Catilinarian Conspiracy, by Sallust

Sallust was a Roman praetor under Julius Caesar and the first governor of Numidia. As a Roman politician, he of course had friends and enemies and among them was Lucius Cataline a would-be usurper of the Roman republic (not long before Caesar himself-wink)
What I found most fascinating was the parallels (as Sallust tells us) between the oaths and conspiracy of Cataline and the Gadianton Robbers as I envision them in my own work. Cataline (like Akish-Antum, Lenin, Mao, Hitler, etc) surrounded himself with multitudes of the young, desperate and impressionable-I labeled the formula the "Lost Wolf Protocols" in Heroes of the Fallen.
Among the oaths he bound his followers to himself with was the drinking of bowls of human blood mixed with wine-that they would all be united to each other in solemn ritual and share the guilty knowledge of a dreadful deed-likely murder to begin with.
After an unsuccessful first attempt not unlike Hitler's Beer Hall Putsch, Cataline regrouped and went about after another route to power-manipulating the Roman Senate-when that failed-he went back to the politics from the barrel of a gun/sword philosophy.
After a number of battles and political maneuverings he was finally slain in battle-the similarities to men such as those listed above as well as Zerahemnah, Amalickiah and Giddianhi from the Book of Mormon are uncanny.

Black Colossus: CONAN graphic novel adaption, by Robert E. Howard, Tim Truman, Tomás Giorello

Among my favorite Conan tales are any with the color "Black" mentioned in the title. Truman's adaption takes a few liberties, but I don't recall anything that would upset the purists too much. I like Giorello's art, it is visceral, bloody and even risque at times-it captures the essence of the tale perfectly. Overall I think it is one of the better Dark Horse collections-but that might also be because it is one of my favorite stories anyway. The Conan movie is coming up next year-its too bad they didn't just film this instead of whatever nonsense they will cobble together.

Elric of Melnibone, by Michael Moorcock

I have meant to read Moorcock for years upon years, you would think I would have but no, never had until I read the Elric novella Red Pearls, last month in Swords and Dark Magic.
So I went back to start at the beginning and read the first Elric novel. I had a very hard time getting into it. The first few chapters were so much laboring and luxurious descriptions of Melnibone (Elric's kingdom) and not enough action. I was sorely tempted to put the book down numerous times, it wasn't until about chapter 4 or 5 that I really started enjoying it. The novel kept a good pace from then on and had wonderfully inventive magics and settings, BUT I still would not class Moorcock on par with so many other S&S authors. (even if Moorcock coined the term)
Because Moorcock's prose can be too much, the names are too exotic and confusing, I kept thinking he was trying too hard to be different, the unpronounceable names slowed a story that was already shuffling along.
I will still keep reading (I believe I have every Elric story in my library) but I am sure I am gonna read Howard, Leiber, Wagner and Gemmel before I get back to Moorcock.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Serpent's Root

My second Saphir tale, "The Serpent's Root" made the grade for Rogue Blades Entertainment's Challenge anthology. The theme was Discovery and of course being an RBE title it had to be of a Heroic nature.

Here is the released Table of Contents

•“A Fire in Shandria” ~ Frederic S. Durbin
•“In the Ruins of the Panther People” ~ Daniel R. Robichaud
•“The Serpent’s Root” ~ David J. West
•“Fire Eye Gem” ~ Richard Berrigan Jr.
•2nd PLACE: “Cat’s in the Cradle” ~ Nicholas Ozment
•“Some Place Cool and Dark” ~ Frederic S. Durbin
•“The Ash-Wood of Celestial Flame” ~ Gabe Dybing
•“Witch with Bronze Teeth” ~ Keith J. Taylor
•“Inner Nature” ~ John Kilian
•1st PLACE: “Attabeira” ~ Henrik Ramsager
•Honorable Mention: “Songs of the Dead” ~ Eric Magliozzi
•Honorable Mention: “The Golden Maiden” ~ Michael Navarro

I originally wrote the tale for Sword & Sorceress 25, but it was turned down as being too different from the rest, though they did encourage me to keep shopping it around.
Part of the Challenge for the judged anthology was to adhere to the cover art by V Shane, so I looked at it again, pondered how to put a panther and ruins into the yarn and modified and twisted it up again. Also thanks to Bruce Durham for his input in making the tale stronger=great advice.

In any case, I wanted to write about a daring female thief and thus Saphir was born on the mean streets of Zarahemla. I blended a number of odd influences for the story. Here for example is a pic that was a huge inspiration for the story. Known as Squaw Rock, it has unfortunately been defaced and vandalized- the face and breasts chipped away - but ever since I saw pic's of the riverside relief carving I wanted to write a story about it.

The anthology should be available for Christmas.
So let me know if y'all want more Saphir stories. Here is the first one, "Song of Saphir". Oh yeah and for what it's worth I pronounce it Sa-Fear. I found the name in my Strongs Dictionary of Bible Words-it means 'beautiful'.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

...And Then Winter Came

Had a blast last night at the multi-author signing. I even received a sketch from Howard Tayler author/illustrator of Shlock Mercenary.
Thanks Howard it was a great surprise. (I even heard it captured my shifty eyes incredibly well.)
I enjoyed discussing writing business with Daron Fraley, Berin Stephens and Jaleta Clegg. I am especially taking some of the things John Brown said to heart. I will make it to some Con's and get more novels out this coming year!

After the signing at Dragon's and Fairytales bookstore, we went around the corner to Village Pizza-thanks to Eric James Stone = he bought!

We discussed most of the ways we have all the broken the law one way or another-usually with explosives. Larry Correia also had some great tales of pranks and road kill. We had a lot of laughs and then noticed the snow was falling, thick as a shut-ins dandruff.

Winter came with a vengeance.

We bid our goodbyes and I drove home slowly through the blinding snow grateful for good friends.

Friday, November 19, 2010

BIG BOOK Signing Saturday

There will be a big book signing Saturday,

November 20th

at Dragons & Fairytales

located at

3535 E Ranches Parkway Suite A

Eagle Mountain, UT 84005

Phone number is: 801-789-5014

from 5 pm to 7 pm.

Those present will include-

Serial killer-in denial Dan Wells,

NY Times bestselling Monster Hunter Larry Correia,

cultist John "Servant of a Dark God" Brown,

collector of Dragon War Relic's Berin Stephens,

Shlock Mercenary Howard Taylor,

Jake Black-Ender's Biographer,

the always biting Eric James Stone,

The "Thorn" in my side Daron Fraley,

Chef Jaleta "Nexus Point" Clegg

and finally me, self-crowned king of LDS-S&S David J. West
yeah, I just came up with that.