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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Doc and Monk and Ham and Rennie and Long Tom and Johnny.....and Lamont

Pulp. I love pulp. I remember when they began publishing the reprints of the Doc Savage novels. I read one and was hooked. Of course, I'd already known and loved H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard, plus many many many of my favorite science fiction and fantasy writers started out in pulp.

For many readers today, pulp means the golden age, the 20s, 30s, 40s, cheap but engrossing entertainment before TV and gaming and comics. The old heroes: Tarzan, Buck Rogers, The Spider, The Shadow, Doc and his Fabulous Five and all the rest.  

But there are new pulp heroes being created every day. And the brilliant dean of pulp historians, Tom Johnson, and his wife, the equally knowledgeable Ginger--friends of mine, I'm proud and happy to brag--have produced a new book on the new pulp heroes called, you guessed it: NEW PULP HEROES. It's only available from Tom himself under his imprint, Fading Shadows, and, if you're lucky, he might even autograph it. My own copy is in the mail as we speak, since I ordered it as soon as I found out about it.
 
So if you love pulp as much as I do, then do yourself a favor: Go ye forth and do likewise.

 Here's the cover and ordering information:

 NEW PULP HEROES now available in 280-page paperback from FADING SHADOWS, $12.00, plus $3.99 postage (US). Tom& Ginger Johnson compile 56 essays on new pulp characters, plus 2 essays on villains, plus much more data. Also included are new pulp fiction stories by grandma & grandpa Johnson: “The Mind Master” by Tom, and “The Origin of Mr. Minus” by Ginger. This will only be sold through FADING SHADOWS. This is very likely the first of several books that will chronicle the history of new pulp heroes, and their creators. Order from Tom Johnson, 204 W. Custer St., Seymour, TX or contact fadingshadows40@gmail.com   
 
 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

2014 Untreed Reads Reading Challenge

Just got the below from one of my publishers, Untreed Reads. It sounds like an awesome deal to me...and if you'd like to check out some of my work there--for free!--I'd really appreciate it!
 
Here's the info:
 
 
Hello, everyone!
January is typically the month where people set all types of goals and challenges for themselves. One type of very popular challenge is to read a certain number of books over the course of the year.
We think reading is pretty essential to a happy life, and challenging yourself to read more over the course of a year will keep your brain as healthy as giving up chocolate cake or soft drinks. So we want to make it even easier to help you meet that goal.
We've setup The 2014 Untreed Reads Ebook Challenge to get everyone's brains all fired up. If you'd like to participate, all you need to do is the following:
1. Send your name and email address to 2014Challenge@untreedreads.com . If you're participating in another reading challenge on the Internet, be sure to let us know that too. We won't EVER share your info with anyone else, but we'll add you to our New Releases newsletter so you can see the great new books coming down the pike...plus get even more coupons!
2. Each month we'll send you a coupon good for a free download from our store (http://store.untreedreads.com). You can choose any title up to $5.99 and in any format you prefer: EPUB, PDF or Kindle.
3. Read the book and leave a review in our store and as many other places you can, such as Amazon and Goodreads. Please leave an honest review! You'll also need to include in your review that you received a free copy of the book in exchange for a review. The government requires that. Darn red tape!
Don't break your resolution to stop procrastinating! We're only accepting sign-ups through January 31st, so be sure to take advantage of this great opportunity!
 

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Both Beauty and Beastliness are in the Eye of the Beholder

We all love fairy tales as kids, and some of us continue to love them forever. Good old Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were onto something when they started collected the dark and creepy stories from the past. But 'Beauty and the Beast' wasn't from the Grimm boys. This is a truly French story: gorgeous girl falls in love with frighteningly ugly creature, entirely against her better judgment, thus breaking a curse and turning him all pretty. Happy ending, yay!

But when Greta Garbo saw Jean Cocteau's 1946 movie version of the fairytale, La Belle et la Bête, and the star, Jean Marais, turned from delicious, desirable, delectable, deadly Beast to wimpy guy, she famously said: 'Give me back my beautiful beast.'

Right there with you, girl. The Beast, at least in that movie, won hands down for style, charisma and general awesomeness against his 'human' counterpart.

 When I wanted to write something fairy tale-ish, I decided to retell this story with a bit of a gender switch. I wanted to see how a young man, smart but a little naïve, would deal with a strong woman who hides her face from him at all times. The result turned into a tragic love story with magical interludes and lots and lots of books.

In my opinion, every story should have lots and lots of books. And then some more.

So if you love fairytales, I'd appreciate it if you'd give 'The Beauty in the Beast' a read and let me know how you liked it. It's free for a short time at Smashwords. And here's the cover:
 
 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Review: THE DARDANELLES by Richard Freeman



I review books for Endeavour Press, which publishes a lot of history. I love history, and World War I aka The War to End All Wars, is one of my favorite time periods.

Recently, I read THE DARDANELLES by Richard Freeman; here's my review:

Gallipoli. The Dardanelles. In many ways, these names evoke one of the most disastrous events in an entirely new kind of disastrous war. But who was to blame for the tragedy of the Dardanelles campaign? In Richard Freeman's fascinating, detailed and downright horrifying book The Dardanelles: Brilliant Conception and Tragic Failure, it's clear that nearly everyone involved must share culpability.

Churchill was blamed for forcing the idea of invading the Dardanelles on a reluctant War Council, though in fact he didn't agree with Kitchener about the importance of the campaign.

Lord Kitchener, for all his popularity, was used to a far different sort of war.

Vice Admiral Carden, Commander of the Mediterranean Squadron, was ordered to bomb the Turkish forts to submission in order to clear the way for ground forces; the admiral was weak, elderly and sent vague reports about the Turkish resistance being 'reduced', though in fact little damage could be done from guns created to fight other ships and not forts situated high in the hills.

Sir Ian Hamilton, the general in charge of the ground forces, was sent out from London at a moment's notice, with no plans, out of date maps, no staff, and a supply system that was ludicrously inadequate. When he begged—again and again—for more troops and more ammunition, Kitchener and the War Council ignored his pleas, or else responded with too little, and far too late. And as the casualties mounted, horror grew back home.

Freeman's prose is clear and eloquent as he demonstrates again and again how badly things were managed…and how hideously British and ANZAC soldiers suffered due to this mismanagement.

A powerful, intense, almost day-by-day description of one of the most famous and bloody campaigns of The Great War. Highly recommended.    

~K.G. McAbee

Fritz Leiber: Father of Sword and Sorcery

I've loved Fritz Leiber's work—specifically his stories about Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser—since, well, forever. Fafhrd was a huge, muscular bulky Northern barbarian draped in furs, with a massive sword he named Graywand. You'd think he'd be the practical, no-nonsense sort, but he tended to be a bit romantic. The Gray Mouser, on the other hand, was a small, sneaky former thief, who dressed in gray, obviously, and called his sword Scalpel and his knife Cat's Claw. The Mouser came across, indeed was, cynical and businesslike, but with a sneaky sentimentality that was endlessly endearing. In many ways, they reminded me of the immortal Monk and Ham—Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Blodgett Mayfair and Theodore Marley Brooks, to introduce them formally, though we Doc Savage fans have no need to be so formal. Both relationships seemed to be endless squabbling intersected by fights—but the love and respect between the characters was always there.

Both Fafhrd and the Mouser had been apprentices to wizards, and who could not love the wizards' names: Ningauble of the Seven Eyes, with eye stalks that kept sneaking out of his hood; Sheelba of the Eyeless Face, on the other hand, was, as his nom de sorcier clearly states, optically challenged.

Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are rogues, of course. Most of their time is spent wenching, drinking, wenching, brawling, wenching, gambling, wenching, stealing and I seem to recall a bit of wenching as well. Their swords and many other talents are for rent to the highest bidder, but they have a deep rooted humanity, and Fafhrd liked kittens. But their most constant and intense love was for pure, true adventure, back to back against the world.

 My kind of guys.

So when I first started writing, as we all do when we first begin, I wanted to write something Leiber-ish and Fafhrd/Mouser-ish. So I wrote 'Jewels of a False God' which I recently dusted off and published at Smashwords. Cover is below.

Just wanted to say thanks, Fritz Leiber, for so much enjoyment.