Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy New Year!

   Well, here we are. The last post of 2013. All and all this has been a decent year. My second novel, Congregations of the Dead, written with my buddy James A. Moore, was published. I also had a story in an anthology and made it into Alter Ego magazine. A good year for writing. Looking over at my bookshelves, I actually have my own spot now, with two novels and two anthologies. Four books. I have to say that's a kick.
   I attended my first writers conference in 2013, heading to Shadow Haunted New England for NECON, and I plan to return there in 2014. Met a lot of great folks and had many adventures. Have other possible travel plans for the new year. More on that later.
   As I've mentioned in other New Years posts here on the blog, I don't make resolutions. I do have some goals I want to accomplish, but that's always the case. Anyway, I just wanted to mark the passing of another year. The blog is still going strong and I actually beat last year's post total by a couple of posts. So, Happy New Year to all of you and to all the ships at sea.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Big Time

  Blind Shadows, the novel by me and James A. Moore, on the shelves at the library in the small town where I grew up. The big time, folks. Photo by my dad.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Weird Writings of Robert E. Howard

   One of the niftier Christmas gifts I received this year was from my buddy Cliff. It's the two-volume WEIRD WRITINGS OF ROBERT E. HOWARD, a huge pair of books that reproduces, in order of publication, all the stories by REH that appeared in Weird Tales Magazines, shot from the magazines themselves and including all the original illustrations. When you read these you're seeing exactly what a reader of the magazine would have seen in the 1930s. (But on nicer paper.) Published by Girasol Collectibles, this is as close as I'm likely to get to actually owning the original magazines.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Carnacki: The New Adventures Now Available.

This just in. Carnacki: The New Adventures, featuring all new stories of William Hope Hodgson's occult detective is available now in paperback at Amazon. It features my story, 'How They Met Themselves' and a lot of other tales that I'm looking forward to reading.

http://www.amazon.com/CARNACKI-The-Adventures-Sam-Gafford/dp/0615943004/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1387903855&sr=8-6&keywords=carnacki

Monday, December 23, 2013

Conan the Collected

This is the shelf where I keep my Conan Comics Collections. At this point, I think Dark Horse Comics should be subsidizing me...

A Christmas Card From Middle Earth


Sunday, December 22, 2013

Matters of Style

   When I wrote my Carnacki story 'How They Met Themselves' I decided not to emulate the style of the Ghost Finder's original writer, William Hope Hodgson. Hodgson wrote his stories in an odd variation of first person within someone Else's first person, which I didn't care to copy, so I wrote my story in third person past tense.
   At the moment I'm writing another Carnacki story for the hell of it, and I decided that I would try and write this one in first person, but still not exactly like Hodgson. I'm writing this one as a letter from Carnacki to Hodgson, telling of his adventure at a Christmas house-party at a country manor house, where Carnacki runs into not only the supernatural, but a mysterious man named Kharrn.
   I had actually written a good chunk of the story in third person, but I felt like I was repeating myself. I read a quote from a writer (and I can't remember who) which basically said that if you find your writing coming too easily you're probably just covering old ground. I think there's some truth in that, so succeed or fail, I decided to challenge myself a bit. We'll see what happens.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Pure Kirby Conan!

   Jack Kirby penciled the cover for Giant Sized Conan issue #5, but when the comic was published, Conan's face had been redrawn by Marvel art director John Romita Sr., presumably to make it more 'on model' with the way Conan looked in the monthly comic. If one wants to get technical, and one does, Jack's version of Conan's face and hair were more 'on model' with the character inside the comic. Issue #5 featured a reprint of the two-issue crossover between Conan and Michael Moocrock's Elric, drawn by Barry Smith, and Jack drew the Smith version. Romita's changes made the character look more like the John Buscema version. In any case, here is the power packed pencil version of the cover. Pure Kirby.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Acquisitions

You could say it was a good night at the Comic Book store. The second volume of the collected Russ Manning Tarzan Newspaper strips, a new issue of Doc Savage with interior art by comics great Bob Powell, another volume of the collected Savage Sword of Conan, with stories by Chuck Dixon, DC Strange Adventures Showcase with nutty 1950s-1960s SF stories, and an annotated edition of my favorite Jane Austen novel, Northanger Abbey. Looks like I'll have plenty of good reading for the Holidays.

Christmas Schedule

Last night was my first official Christmas function, the annual Christmas dinner of the Dr. No's gang. (In case you've forgotten, Dr. No's is the Comic Book store that belongs to my buddy Cliff.)There was much laughter and carrying on. I got some nifty gifts and people seemed pleased with the things I gave them, so Christmas is off to a good start.
   Next week, I'm only working Monday, then I'm off the rest of the week. Technically I'm off until January 2nd, but I plan to swing by the workplace on Monday the 30th, just to make sure there are no drafting emergencies.
   I have one get together on Christmas Eve and One Christmas morning, then I'm free the rest of the time. Looking forward to a lot of chilling out. Given the amount of books I acquired in the last two days I've got plenty to read. More on that later. Anyway, the holiday season is shaping up nicely.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Carnacki Cover!

Check out the nifty cover for Carnacki: The New Adventures, which contains my short story, 'How They Met Themselves', and a lot of other cool new Carnacki adventures! Looks pretty snazzy.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Guest Post by Andy Remic

   Well, it's Monday, but here's something that hopefully will take some of the sting off. A Guest Post from author Andy Remic, talking about his new book from Angry Robot, The Iron Wolves. If you've been reading this blog for a while then you know that I really liked Andy's Clockwork Vampire Trilogy, so now that he has a new series, I'm looking forward to giving it a try. The book will be available as of Dec 31st.
   Andy's giving a Blog Tour to help promote the book. When Caroline Lambe At angry Robot asked what I'd like Andy to talk about on his stop at Singular Points, I suggested he tell us a bit about his influences as a writer. So here's Andy Remic. 

My influences have been far and wide ranging, from novels to films, music and real life people – my dad included. :-)  From a very early age I was inspired to write by Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and C. S. Lewis – whom I admired for their rollicking adventures and creepy mysteries. I then moved on to the Great Tolkien – who dropped me headlong into Middle Earth and gave me a love of fantasy which inspired me beyond words. Because of Tolkien I sought out other fantasy authors, namely Raymond E. Feist, Michael Moorcock and then Terry Pratchett, Peter Morwood and David Gemmell – whom I’ve cited previously as being a massive influence. I read Iain Banks for mainstream, and his SF for high adventure. All of these authors went into the gestation pot inside my skull, and then my literature degree opened up a much wider world of fiction, from Hemingway to Suskind, Orwell to Gide.

However, for fantasy I always went back to Gemmell, may he rest well in the Hall of Heroes; and in my new novel - The Iron Wolves - amidst the chaos of many nasty, evil characters, Kiki, leader of the Wolves, a honey-leaf drug peddler and addicted to her own foul narcotic; Narnok, a violent whoremaster with a razor-sliced face; Prince Zastarte, a decadent gambler who burns people alive; Dek, a nasty, thug-like pit fighter; and Trista, originally a woman of wealth, nobility and religion, who has devolved into an assassin who kills married couples on their wedding night – so that their love can never die – well, it was Dave nagging me in the back of my mind to create the honourable, noble General Dalgoran whom must pull all these bad people together and seek to find them some kind of redemption. So yes. I am still influenced by those early fantasy authors whom inspired me.

Nowadays, after fifteen novels, I think my writing is very much my own. I am locked into my own style and I enjoy writing in my own little worlds, and try my best to deliver high-action and diverse entertainment for the reader. Ideas and concepts can still influence me, as can people, conversations, dreams and memories, but then that’s how all writers, film makers, musicians, artists etc work. Life is an inspiration. :-)

Check out my publisher’s Iron Wolves page over at Angry Robot - http://angryrobotbooks.com/books/the-iron-wolves-by-andy-remic/ and of course, my own website www.andyremic.com for more news and information. Oh yes, and I have a little indie horror movie which I’ve just completed, for anybody remotely interested – www.impuritythemovie.com.

Finally, if any nice reviewers out there review the book and post it to a blog/review site, they’re eligible for the “Wolf Pack” (geddit? heh) – a little pack containing an Iron Wolves t-shirt, 3 x book marks, a signed author photo and a lolly pop.

Cheers!
Andy Remic, December 2013.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

So Long Billy Jack

   When I was just a kid, starting my journey in martial arts, there weren't many martial arts films. Enter the Dragon was the big one, and Chuck Norris was just getting started. And there was Billy Jack. I don't know how many times I watched Billy Jack for the few karate scenes it contained. The one everybody remembers of course, is the fight in the park after the kids from the Freedom School are humiliated in the ice cream parlor and Billy Jack... just... goes... BERSERK! Probably seen that a million times and after I post this I'm going to go and put the DVD in and watch it again, because this week Tom Laughlin, the man who portrayed Billy Jack has died at age 82. Rest in peace, sir. I promise not to hate my neighbors or cheat my friends like the song says. So long Mr. Laughlin and Billy Jack.

Swedish Savage Sword of Conan

I don't remember where I got these. Stumbled on them today while hunting something else.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Rattled

   Jude Hardin's short story RATTLED is sub titled 'A 30 Minute Thriller' and it'll probably take you about that time to read it, but let me tell you, there's a very dark little tale jammed into that space.
   It's Nicholas Colt's birthday, so when his wife sends him out to the store he figures it's just an excuse to get him clear of the house so she can spring a surprise party. The ex-musician, ex-private eye plays along and everything's wonderful until he picks up a hitchhiker.
   You will not believe how fast things go bad and how bad they go. This is a nice little espresso shot of Noir and I guarantee it will get your heart rate up. It's free for the Kindle right now, but I don't know how long that will last. It's well worth the .99 cents it normally goes for though if it goes off sale. Recommended.

http://www.amazon.com/Rattled-A-Nicholas-Colt-Story-ebook/dp/B00AKOIQHU

Sexton Blake: The Affair of the Black Carol

  "A seasonable story of detective adventure, animated throughout by the gladsome spirit of Christmastide."

   As some of you may recall from last Christmas, I picked up a collection of Sexton Blake Christmas stories. I read and reviewed one novella last December, and I'm back this year with another. This one originally appeared in the Dec. 10th issue of Union jack Weekly for 1927. It's exactly what the blurb above promises. A detective story with plenty of Christmas spirit.
   At the beginning of Black Carol, Sexton Blake and his young assistant Tinker are hanging around Blake's rooms in Baker Street, (Just a few houses down from 221B, one suspects) discussing plans for Christmas eve, when they receive a visit from an old friend, the American cowboy turned detective, Ruff Hanson. A giant of a man, Ruff sports a stetson and a pair of six guns as all good American detectives should. Seems that Ruff has been employed by a ex-pat Brit who's made a fortune in the movies in the US. The man wants Ruff to bodyguard his young son, a fragile, lame boy who's doting father has brought him to the homeland for a real old fashioned British Christmas.
   The movie magnate has rented an estate in the country where he plans to host a Dickens style Christmas party for the local children, including the orphans under the care of the village Vicar. And as it turns out, the young boy hero worships the great Detective Sexton Blake and wants him to attend the party. Blake agrees and he and Tinker, along with reporter friend Splash Page, and the stolid Scotland Yard man Inspector Coutts, head down by old fashioned carriage.
   This is where author Gywn Evans, who was known for his Christmas Blake tales, really gets a chance to pour on the Christmas trappings. Everyone is supposed to wear Dickensian garb to the party, so Blake and the gang are decked out in 1860s fashion, each of them portraying a different character from the works of Charles Dickens. As our heroes ride through the snowy evening in their carriage, they stop at rustic Inns for fresh horses and sample the fare. Yule logs pop and crackle in glowing hearths and the lads even sing a few carols as they go. It's all very innocent and nifty and gave me a nice Christmas buzz.
   At the estate there's more of the same as the father has spared no expense for the party. As it turns out, Sexton Blake has brought a big bag of toys for the kiddies too. Evans gets such a happy, warm Christmas glow going that when we are suddenly reminded that Sexton Blake lives in a world of criminals, it hits especially hard,
   See, Ruff Hanson (great name that) had been hired as a bodyguard for the lame boy because some of his father's rivals, who had connections to the underworld in America, were making threats. Little do our heroes know that the bad guys have hired local talent in London and just as the party winds down, Blake and company find that the lame boy has been kidnapped from the estate.
   The second half of the story is a grim and desperate race to save the lad before the kidnappers decide to cut their losses and kill the kid. They show they mean business by sending a phonograph record (the titular black carol) of the kid being tortured. Beside himself with fury, Blake swears that he will bring the low lifes to justice if it costs him everything and if there's anything worse than getting on Sexton Blake's bad side, it's doing so while he has the Two Gun Bob of detectives to back his play. Justice will be served, you can bet.
   This is just a great, unapologetic pulp yarn full of colorful characters and thrills and chills. Plus all the trimmings of an old fashioned British Christmas, where the spirit of Dickens is never far away. I enjoyed it tremendously. I can see why Sexton Blake was such a popular figure back in the day. He's kind of like The Doctor, in that you know as long as he's there, there's always hope. Blake never gives up.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Congregations First look

   My comp copies of Congregations of the Dead haven't arrived yet, but Cliff called to let me know he had the copies for his store, so I buzzed over and got one. I'm still new enough to this to get a thrill out of holding the actual book for the first time.

You can get one for your very own here:

http://miskatonicbooks.wordpress.com/2013/11/27/new-rare-and-interesting-items-this-week-at-miskatonic-books-19/

Friday, December 06, 2013

Tarzan, Conan, and the Dragons


 I was rereading one of my favorite Edgar Rice Burroughs novels, Tarzan the Terrible, and I happened across a scene that I didn't remember but suddenly realized might have been an influence on Robert E. Howard when he was writing the classic Conan yarn, Red Nails.
   The scene occurs when Tarzan and a Waz-Don (one of the races of the lost land of Pal-Ul-Don) woman under his protection are attacked by a gryf, a carnivorous form of triceratops. Tarzan and the woman take refuge in  huge tree, where the dinosaur can't reach them. Tarzan says that they can wait until the gryf goes away or escape through the treetops, but the Waz-don woman tells him:

   "You do not know the gryf," replied Pan-at-lee, gloomily.
   "Wherever we go it will follow and always it will be ready at the foot of each tree when we would descend. It will never give us up."

   That reminded me of a scene in red Nails where Conan the Cimmerian and Valeria of the Red Brotherhood have been trapped on a rocky outcropping, and a dinosaur they refer to as a dragon waits below. Valeria says the thing has to leave sometime and Conan replies.

   "That thing must be a dragon, such as the black people speak of in their legends. If so, it won't leave here until we're both dead."

   And later Valeria says:

   "Can't we get into the trees and get away, traveling like apes through the branches?"

   Conan explains that the trees near the rock won't hold their weight, but I find it interesting that Valeria suggests the same escape plan Tarzan had thought of. Of course in Tarzan's case he probably could have escaped the way, but he had someone else with him and he wouldn't leave her.

   I knew Robert E. Howard read a lot of Burroughs but I wasn't sure about Tarzan the Terrible, so I checked the list in the back of the book The Dark Barbarian of books he owned, and sure enough, Tarzan the Terrible was listed.
   So anyway, no way of knowing if the scene in the Tarzan novel was the inspiration for the scene in Red Nails, but I think it likely. Of course Howard took it in his own direction as any good writer would.


Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Carnacki: The New Adventures Contents



The table of contents is up for Carnacki: The New Adventures, featuring brand new stories about William Hope Hodgeson's occult detective, Thomas Carnacki. Check about halfway down the list and you'll see I have a story in this collection. I see the names of several other writers whose work I enjoy too.

http://williamhopehodgson.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/contents-for-carnacki-the-new-adventures/


Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Free Sexton Blake Christmas Story

  The redoubtable Keith Chapman (aka Western author Chap O'Keefe) was kind enough to let me know that the website Comic Book Plus has put up a Sexton Blake Christmas story, originally printed in Union Jack Weekly in 1924. I haven't read this one, so it's an early Christmas present for me. And now it's for you as well, if you're so inclined. A complete Christmasy Detective story, available right here.

http://comicbookplus.com/?dlid=38746&b=I

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Chistmas Season Reading Material


   Time to start gathering books and comics and such for the Christmas season. I happened across the various Christmas comic book collections the other day when I was looking for something else, so I retrieved them from the box. A couple of the books above are new and others are collections I've had for a while, so new reads and rereads this year.
   If you were reading the blog last year you may remember the huge effort I put forth to have a better Christmas than in recent years past. Not sure I can work up the enthusiasm again this year, but what they hey. I'll give it a go.