Saturday, December 24, 2011

Guess Who’s Coming to Town?

Yeah, that’s right. You know who.

Merry Christmas, y’all. I hope you have a wonderful holiday season. 2012’s just around the corner. Don’t be afraid of what those Mayans said. It’s going to be just fine.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

‘What Influences Me’ by Ty Johnston

Ghosts coverFantasy author Ty Johnston’s blog tour 2011 is running from November 1 through November 30. His novels include City of Rogues,Bayne’s Climb and More than Kin, all of which are available for the Kindle, the Nook and online at Smashwords. His latest novel, Ghosts of the Asylum, will be available for e-books on November 21.

To find out more, follow him at his blog: tyjohnston.blogspot.com.

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Whenever fiction writers write about their influences, they almost always refer to literary influences. This is expected to some extent, and makes a certain amount of sense. Writers are influenced by what they have read, by other writers. It’s logical.

Less often will writers talk about other media that have influenced them. Sometimes favorite movies and musicians are mentioned, but not so often as having a direct affect upon a writer or his or her writing.

I’ve yakked ad nauseam at one place or another about my literary influences. Here’s the short list: Stephen King, Alexandre Dumas, Steven Erikson, Robert E. Howard, Hemingway, Capote, Gaiman. Those are just the majors. Plenty of others have affected me and my writing.

But here, today, I’d like to look outside of literature and glance toward movies and music that I feel have affected, possibly infected, my writing.

Concerning cinema, I’d have to say the film The Good, The Bad and The Ugly has been instrumental in my own thoughts about writing and the writing process. Directed by Sergio Leone and starring Clint Eastwood, Eli Wallach, and Lee Van Cliff, this spaghetti western brings to my mind notions of ancient gods walking the Earth while in the guises of mortal men. The writing here is not extraordinary, and often the dialogue is weak, though sometimes poignant in places as well as comical. It is the directing, Leone’s vision for this film, that truly makes it stand out. Here is epic storytelling at its finest, a trio of ruffians caught up in the middle of a war while trying to steal a shipment of hidden gold.

Raiders of the Lost Ark is another great film that I feel has influenced me. Whenever I think of pulp fiction cinema, I first think of Quentin Tarantino (for obvious reasons), but then comes to mind Indiana Jones and his tales of seeking lost treasures. To my way of thinking,Raiders of the Lost Ark is the perfect pulp movie. The first fifteen minutes alone contains so many tropes from pulp literature and earlier films, it makes this film stand out as the penultimate pulpy story. At least to me.

Jaws I find influential for its excellent building of tension. and The Godfather is a great film for studying characterization.

When it comes to music, my tastes tend toward guitar rock, basically classic rock and some hard rock. Within this mixture can also be found punk, grunge, the various forms of heavy metal, and sometimes softer rock music. These are generally my preferences, though I’m not above falling for some pop music and other tunes.

Since I grew up in the 1970s and became a teen in the 1980s, and because my literary tastes fall toward the fantastic, it should be no surprise Led Zeppelin has influenced my writing, sometimes directly. A short story of mine is even titled “Deep in the Land of the Ice and Snow,” which is almost exactly a line taken from Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song.”

Other musical influences have been Soundgarden, Rage Against the Machine, and Counting Crows. Lesser influences have been The Rolling Stones, The Beatles and The Doors.

I get a lot of short story ideas from music. I’ll hear a line from a song, or sometimes what I think is a line from a song, and it’ll take me off into story land where I come up with a plot. Other times, I’ll listen to a song and imagine what a particular character of mine would think about it; this, too, has given me plenty of story ideas.

All forms of media influence us, sometimes even when we don’t want them to. But it can’t be helped. We’re human, after all, and we soak up our environments to some extent or another. As a writer, I try to direct my influences, hopefully for the benefit of the readers, who are the final judges.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

R.I.P. Anne McCaffrey

Thanks for the memories, Miss McCaffrey. You made my teenage imagination soar.

Fly with dragons.

Batman-News reports: ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ has wrapped

The third and final installment in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy is entering post-production according to Batman-News.com. Yesterday, Empire posted some snippets of their recent interview. The magazine is on sale Thursday, November 24th, but you can get a sneak peek here.

Also, they report, “A trusted source has alerted /Film that Warner Bros. plans to attach an eight minute prologue to ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ to all IMAX prints of ‘Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol.’ If this rumor turns out to be true, you’ll be able to watch the first eight minutes of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ at your local IMAX theater beginning on December 16th.

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Heads Up: Tomorrow will feature guest blogger, author Ty Johnston, who is known for such novels as City of Rogues, Bayne’s Climb and More than Kin, all of which are available for the Kindle, the Nook and online at Smashwords. He’s stopping by during his November blog tour to talk about what sorts of things influence his writing. You’ll be here, right?

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Dark Heroes released by Pill Hill Press, Did Someone Say ‘Excerpt?’

After all the excitement of getting my first ebook out, I should have mentioned by now that I also had a short story published in September in Pill Hill Press’s DARK HEROES anthology, available through all the usual sales channels. I’ve read a few stories in the pages of DARK HEROES (other than my own, of course) and must say that editor Jessy Marie Roberts did a fine job of selecting some quality talent. I specifically enjoyed tales by authors J. Leigh Bailey, Christopher Heath and Darin Kennedy.

Anyhow, here’s a snip of my story. Perhaps one of you will like it enough to order the entire antho! You never know.

HE FROWNED, PEERED DOWN at the large wolf. It laid still, on its side, a stark heap of brown and red and gray against the snowy forest floor. Four ash wood shafts jutted out of its thick fur—four dark-quilled arrows. The man took care to look around, slowly, his intense gaze ranging out from the cowl of his worn woolen hood of gray, scanning the trees high and low for a long quiet moment.

He sniffed the frigid air, then sucked his own teeth, his frown refusing to leave its perch above his whiskered chin. The man had his black bow in hand, leaned on it as he squatted, silent and sullen. He looked the wolf over from just a foot or two away, his gaze moving back and forth. He saw its blood still wet, not yet congealed, not yet turned to frost. Leaning closer, inches from the stilled creature, the man saw the arrows bore small carvings, a crudely etched design to a pair of arrows each and he knew them for what they were: hunter’s marks.

He looked around the woods again, stock-still, his gray cloak splayed about, his face in shadow. It was early winter—Brooding Rise it was called in the lands without, in the High Kingdoms and the nearer parts of the Empire—and the forest floor was blanketed white.

The undergrowth and the surrounding somber aspens and cocked-crown elms, though mostly leafless, had not yet taken on their mantles of ice. No flakes fell, yet it was a misty morning, and good for hiding.

After a bit of silence, the man resigned to set his bow on the ground, reached to his belt and drew a single-edged knife with a curved point, its grip fashioned from deer antler, its blade from cold-quenched iron with a keen bright edge. He grasped the nearest arrow, buried deep between the ribs of the beast and poised his knife to cut the shaft loose. The wolf jolted and yawped, went rigid, then twisted its head back to snap at him. The man let go and straightened, barely avoiding those dire, gnashing teeth.

“Still alive…” The man settled back at a somewhat less intimate distance, small puffs of white air issuing from between his blue-tinged lips.

He and the wolf crossed stares briefly, wet golden eyes sweeping through the frigid air locking longingly unto the man’s earthy brown, then the wounded creature laid its shaggy head down again, and the man watched now the slight rise and fall of its chest. “Killing you would be a mercy, eh, wolf-brother?” his voice came soft and low with a tinge of kinship. “Would you welcome such comfort, though, without taking off my hand?”

A rumbling came from somewhere behind, and the gray-cloaked man’s head turned toward it just slightly before the snapping of brush made him seize up his black bow and roll forward rather than stand. He sheathed his knife into the ground as he rolled, procured a shaft from his quiver, whipped around, still low, and brought arrow to bowstring, all in one smooth motion. At the same time, a dark blur sprang from a tangled thicket of snow-clumped bushes and weeds, issuing a deep throaty growl that was anything but human.

A beastly thing it was, a hybrid of wolf and man, leaping lightning-swift on powerful haunches, its elongated torso upright, with man-like arms fitted with long claws at the ends of each extended finger. Above its dark mane a vicious snout bared a mouthful of canines behind black lips drawn back in a deathly glare. In its baleful eyes, black and shining gold—much like the wolf that lay dying—there abided an alliance of the primal instinct of the beast and the cunning intelligence of man…[END PREVIEW]


READ MORE by getting your copy of DARK HEROES today!

DARK HEROES
Publisher: Pill Hill Press
Pages: 228
Format: Trade Paperback
ISBN: 1617060879
Price: $15.99

Also available for your Kindle for just 99 cents!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Remembering David Gemmell, the Undisputed King of Heroic Fantasy

I started reading David Gemmell again this week, after a five-year hiatus. He passed away in 2006 and I’ve not been able to read the remainder of his works (specifically the TROY series) because the sadness of my favorite author’s death hit me that hard.

Fantasy writers James Barclay (“Chronicles of the Raven,” “Legends of the Raven”), David Alastair Hayden (WRATH OF THE WHITE TIGRESS) and myself began discussing the Legend himself on my Goodreads review thread and such nice things were said I felt compelled to share it here.


JAMES BARCLAY: I loved this book… [TROY: SHIELD OF THUNDER]. Troy is a brilliant series from Dave - tragic that he died when we was writing so well. I hope you enjoy it.

ME: Certain moments stay with us forever. Some in my generation were hit hard the day Kurt Cobain died. They remember where they were when they heard the news. More recently for some, Michael Jackson. For me, I was hit hard by David's passing. I discovered his work in the '90s and he fast became my favorite author, bar none. Late July 2006, when I read the news online, though I'd never met him personally (I understand you knew him rather well?), his stories had mingled within my heart and soul and I remember actually gasping "no!" with tears welling in my eyes. My first thought was no more Gemmell books?!; my next was mourning for the passing of a legend whose work, in my opinion, wasn't appreciated nearly enough. Today his legions have steadily grown and his work has garnered much of that missing esteem, thanks in part to the efforts of people like yourself and the DGLA folks. After he died, I put his books on the shelf -- the unread ones -- and haven't touched them for five years. I haven't been able to bring myself to indulge in his work, knowing soon I'll be finished with it all, but I'm finally picking them up and losing myself in his world. When I finish the Troy series, I will have read everything David wrote. That's going to be rather bittersweet, I do believe.

Thanks for the message, James. I intend to read your work very soon! I love Pyr and you're in great company with the likes of Lou Anders and Joe Abercrombie.

DAVID ALASTAIR HAYDEN: I really must comment here.

a) I just started reading DAWNTHIEF [by James Barclay].

b) Lou Anders is a buddy of mine.

And most critical...

c) I love David Gemmell. (Second favorite author after Michael Moorcock. I like to think of my books as a paler shade of a cross between the two.) My experience was exactly the same as yours, J.M.

David's death hit me hard. Unexpected. Too young. When you read enough books by an author, you get to know them, or at least one inner side of them. And though I never met him, David seemed more than most to share himself through his writing. I loved him for that.

When he died, I'd read everything he'd written except the first two Troy books. They're still sitting on the shelf. Waiting. Because I know there will never be more. One day I will take them down from the shelf and bask, but I'm not ready yet.

ME: David, that is well said (or typed). Most certainly too young to have passed at age 58 [My mistake: He was 57 at his passing].

But, yes, this is why he resonated with me too, how, like you said, he shared himself through his characters, a paragon of a man who could be strong yet gentle, brave yet wise, a mentor and a defender. He was a role model who imparted lessons to young men (and women) through his stories. I loved that and needed it during my twenties.

I feel a kinship with you! It's neat to have found someone else who felt the loss deep enough he couldn't bring himself to finish Gemmell's last remaining work just yet.

DAH: Agree with all that you said. I discovered his books just before a time in my life when I dealt with a lot of depression. They were immensely helpful to me. Think I read WAYLANDER three times one year.

I read an interview once where David referenced how important Marvel Comics had been to him in his youth, reading about flawed characters being heroic despite everything wrong in their lives. He took that and turned it up to 11. I have yet to see anyone achieve quite the same heroic drive, and so consistently, in their fantasy fiction.

JB: Dave was a great man. He was a good friend and a peerless mentor. One of the most wonderful things about him was the way he found so much time for other people.

His signings went on for ages because he'd chat to everyone - and that was because he genuinely cared about his fans and never ever forgot it was fans that allowed him to do the thing he loved the most.

We spent long hours chatting about writing and other authorly things and I credit him with rescuing my book 'Shout for the Dead' - the second Ascendants book. I was stuck fast and one day and long into the night at his house, he picked the problems apart and reassembled them as solutions. I miss him to this day and always try to think 'What would Dave have done?' when I'm in a hole.

He'll live on in the hearts of his fans forever and that is a truly great legacy. A great among authors in any genre and the undisputed king of heroic fantasy.

I hope all who read my work enjoy it - I'm always happy for constructive criticism, would obviously prefer unadulterated praise.

DAH: It does not surprise me in the least that David would make so much time for his fans. I very much wish that I'd had the chance to meet him. And yet I feel in many ways like I have.

And I prefer to give unadulterated praise, though I'm good with constructive criticism.

The first chapters of DAWNTHIEF are wonderful, by the way. I had to put it down because I realized book club was a week sooner than I thought. And it's a Pyr book we're reading. And I'd end up sitting across from Lou Anders having not read the book... But I'm definitely returning to DAWNTHIEF as soon as I finish this book.

ME: That's a wonderful rule of thumb for a fantasy writer, James: WWDHD! If I'm honored enough to meet any of you gents at a con someday, we must raise an after-hours ale in memory of those who've guided us, who have honed our skills, and especially to one of the greatest writers of all time.

JB: I look forward to raising that ale, JM. And three more after it. Then perhaps another two.

David - thanks for your early feedback. Lou'll be glad to hear you're enjoying DAWNTHIEF. Hope the book club book entertains...


For more information about David Gemmell and his works, Black Gate has an excellent article by Wayne MacLaurin and Steve Tompkins.

Also: Become FANS of James Barclay and David Alastair Hayden on Goodreads!

*Some c0mments from the original thread have been omitted.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Review: Tisarian’s Treasure

TT_cover_thumbA review of my novella by David J. West at his blog, “Nephite Blood, Spartan Heart.” He has some cool things to say, particularly: “…I was carried along and every time I thought I knew what would happen Martin turned the tables.

For more, read the full review.

The Case of the Stolen Superman Collection

What kind of jerkhole takes advantage of a mentally disabled dude, stealing thousands of dollars of their personal stuff? In this case, a scum-sucker named Gary and his loser girlfriend, Sara, took advantage of 48-year-old Mike Meyer of Granite City, IL. Gary was a former co-worker of Mike’s, who distracted and deceived him as he stole 1,800 of his SUPERMAN comics and other memorabilia, some of it dating all the way back to the ‘50s. Instead of me telling you more, here’s a Fox News clip reporting about the incident (below):

 
Superman Comic Books Stolen (2:23)

Here’s also a link for the story on Newsarama.

And, finally, the Facebook effort to help the guy out.

It’s just sad the lows some people will sink to. What goes through a person’s mind, where they come up with a predacious plot like this? I hope Granite City police (the place even sounds like a comic book metropolis) can catch this loser and his sidekick/strumpet and give them both the ol’ whut-fer!

My heart, however, is uplifted by how many good people have responded to the news.

UPDATE (09/16/11): Gerry Arville busted for theft of comic collection, comics returned to Mike Meyer of Granite City. This story has a happy ending after all.

Friday, September 2, 2011

“Gods, what was that thing?” – A Novella Excerpt

An excerpt from Tisarian’s Treasure for your reading pleasure:


…Marshall had been continuing to scream as he was tossed about, but all at once, with a grotesque cracking noise, he warped into a red nightmare. Blood and gore showered the Albiyan, yet he managed to shear off one of the creature’s forelimbs before it submerged with what remained of Boatswain Marshall. In the water to his knees, Hamish took one last thrust at where he thought the beast might be lurking just beneath the surface. Stabbing nothing, he growled and spouted a litany of curses in his native tongue.

Meanwhile, I searched for Katalin and found her standing alone on a moss-covered rise. She met my horrified gaze with a sad one of her own.

Don’t let the boatswain near the water...

“Where’s bloody Teag?” Hamish rapped out fiercely. He rushed toward us, claymore in hand, and a feral gleam yet in his eyes.

Oberon Teag had evidently decided to make the most of Marshall’s death by fleeing into the jungle.

“There.” Katalin pointed. “He ran that way.”

“Wait!” yelled Lieutenant Hensley, but the Albiyan was already dashing off into the trees. The first mate turned to me and said imploringly, “We can’t abandon the captain,” as if he thought I, too, was planning to give chase—which I most assuredly was not; though, I didn’t relish staying near the monster in the lagoon either, lest it decided to surface again.

“No, of course not,” I said, and strode over to where he and Dominy stood. I peered back at Katalin just as Hensley spoke again: “M’lady, please, come away from the water.”

“As you please, Lieutenant,” she said slowly.

“Gods, what was that...that thing?” asked Dominy, his eyes still wide with fright.

“Not for sure, lad,” Hensley answered, “but I’ve seen the like years ago on the Galleon Coast; all kinds of giant crabs and insects and other mutations. No way for a man to go. Poor Marshall. It’s no way at all. May he rest in the morning tide with his lady love.”

We stood quietly for several long breaths, a sullen mist rising in the sweltering heat as the tropical forest darkened. I felt the eyes again, and soon a commotion in the jungle drew up our heads. Something moved toward us through the underbrush.

Katalin looked at the ground beneath long-lashed drooping lids. She reached out and took my hand. Her words came fraught with a menace that stole my next breath: “They are here.”

A crowd of shadows moved in the jungle, and Hamish stepped into view at the fore, his taut, suffused face set in a grim mask. Behind him came Thadieus Drake, tall and wide-shouldered, a crimson bandanna tied beneath his cocked hat, the brim of which partially shaded his grizzled face, yet not quite enough to hide those protean eyes, sometimes blue, sometimes gray, sometimes green, always deep-set and beaming. A broadsword with a gold basket-hilt hung in a scroll-worked baldric at his waist, and two burgundy gold-chased pistols were housed in a cross belt over his ruffled silk tunic. He bore another pair of black silver-chased pistols, one cocked in each hand, pointing them at the Albiyan’s broad back. Upon seeing us, his black-whiskered lips imparted a feral grin like that of a hungry leopard’s. He swiveled one pistol in our direction.

“Ho, what fortune!” the pirate captain greeted us in his off-putting, self-possessed baritone. “Doubly so that we should renew our acquaintance, good Doctor.” Then Drake smiled at Katalin. “Ah, an’ a flower of womanhood, as well? Truly, the gods are fine.”

He moved into the clearing, prodding Hamish ahead of him with a pistol barrel. The dimness of the jungle had grown thicker, the sky above no longer blue but the color of slate, gray and heavy. From the darkness of the undergrowth, more men came into view, some nine or ten of them, with Oberon Teag among their numbers. Pirates, they were, every steely eyed one, with metallic rings in their ears, noses, some even their lips, and armed to the teeth with blades and pistol butts of every sort, their very bearing threatening murder.


Tisarian’s Treasure is available right now in ebook format for 99 paltry pennies at:

Print version forthcoming on Amazon.com. I’ll announce it here. You can order the print version on the CreateSpace store if you’d rather not wait for Amazon to go live.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A Slim Chance is Better than None

I'm really excited for this to start, in just six more weeks. My favorite series on television right now, with GAME OF THRONES a close second.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My Novella’s Cover

TT_coverA_interior

Click picture to view larger.

Hello, everybody. I finally have a decent cover for Tisarian’s Treasure. In the beginning, before I had artist Peter Ortiz commit to putting his painting on the cover, with the aid of author Sara Reinke I put together a cover using stock and some liberal application of fonts and filters, but now that Peter is on board, here’s the wonderful cover to the novella! Enjoy.

More news on the release of the book, as soon as I get verification from my sales channels at Amazon (for the Kindle) and Barnes & Noble (for the Nook and NookColor).

 


TT_cover_01

Click picture to view larger.

P.S. I’m considering leaving the “red” cover on the Smashwords edition (which is available now for download if you don’t want to wait for Amazon or B&N) as sort of an alternate version. What do you think?

Monday, July 18, 2011

Submission accepted by Pill Hill Press

Yessireebob. A pleasing thing greeted my bearded face when my wandering fingers clicked my mouse and caused the ol’ e-mail to open up before my big fat lazy eyes this afternoon. Ya like how I make it sound as if my body parts are all independent of one another? Anywhat, one of my recent submissions I ranted about in the June 30th post has been accepted! That’s right, peeps!

Here’s the official word from Jessy Marie Roberts, Pill Hill Press’ Editor-in-Chief, posted today on the Pill Hill Press forum regarding the DARK HEROES anthology:

Sorry it took me so long to get out those final responses... there were some FANTASTIC stories to choose from and I couldn't take them all. But, all responses have been sent out to all authors, and the final TOC is listed below. Dark Heroes is now in editing, then it will go into formatting, and then I'll get out a galley to all contributing authors for a final proof read. This anthology should be published in August (mid to late).

Thanks!

DARK HEROES - Table of Contents

  • The Twelfth Monster of Chaos by J. Leigh Bailey
  • Just Waiting for the Sun to Set by Phil Wolters
  • Cat Got Your Tongue? by Gary Buettner
  • Nothing Personal by Scott M. Sandridge
  • It’s Medicine; Not Magic by Jennifer L. Barnes
  • Monster Hunter by Mel Obedoza
  • The Ease of Evil by Aaron Renfrow
  • La BĂȘte by Anita Siraki
  • Azieran: The Crypt of Shaddis’zzam by Christopher Heath
  • Their Last Escape by Alexis Hunter
  • The Widow and the Scythes by Chloe Stowe
  • Solstice by Darin Kennedy
  • Eaters of Meat and Hunters by J.M. Martin
  • Ordinary Folk by Kat Heckenbach
  • The Dream Eaters by Tony Wilson

There I am, third up from the bottom. My story is called “Eaters of Meat and Hunters” and involves some unusual shapeshifting types in a deep dark wintry forest. The general theme of the story is ‘family.’

So, pretty exciting? I think so. And it looks like I’ll have a galley to proof in the next couple weeks. I’ll be sure to post here when I know for sure when DARK HEROES will be hitting shelves. It’s available through all the usual channels.

That’s DARK HEROES from Pill Hill Press. Ask your local retailer to order a copy or two.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

What? An actual update? Get. Out!

Just hitting some quick bullet points to summarize my month.

  • I was bummed when Vistag Media’s Kickstarter project didn’t hit its target for funding the SECRETS, LIKE DRAGONS novella project. I was looking forward to writing a novella (or novelette) and eventually seeing it in a book alongside Ed Greenwood’s name, a fella whose work I’ve admired and whose campaign setting (Forgotten Realms) gave me countless hours of enjoyment back in my gaming days. But, I’m still happy to know that Steven E. Schend hasn’t given up the fight and is continuing to explore avenues for his publishing company and the Kharndam fantasy setting.
  • I took on some editorial duties for Jason Waltz’s Rogue Blades Entertainment (RBE) on a heroic fantasy anthology called CHALLENGE! DISCOVERY, and I gotta say, based on the stories and authors I edited, this is going to be a great antho worth every penny. I thoroughly enjoyed this project. Plus, I had a little bit of a fanboy moment when I found out Keith J. Taylor was one of the entrants. I read his BARD series way-back-when and abso-smurfly loved it.
  • Another anthology project came to my notice this month: Pill Hill Press’s DARK HEROES. They’re calling for stories where the main character is a monster of some sort acting in heroic fashion. When I read those guidelines and saw the July 2nd deadline, I just knew I had to give it a shot. So, I steepled my fingers. I massaged my brow. I cracked my knuckles. And then I let those fingers fly! I wrote a 6,400 word short story in about a week, then fired off drafts to my test readers—thank you Kenny, Tracy, and Bill for the suggestions—incorporated some of their thoughts and feedback, and sent the final draft off just a few hours ago. If you watched the teaser for”Brave” I posted a couple days ago, that bear in the trailer is almost exactly what I pictured in my mind when writing my story for DARK HEROES (in my story there’s a really bad-ass were-bear).

So, that’s my June as far as writing and editing. It’s weird. Seeing it summarized like that I’m trying hard not to chide myself for not being more productive. I think I should have written another short story or put more time in on my novel…man, a true writer’s never satisfied, I guess.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pixar teaser for next film: Brave

Pixar + fantasy? Yes! Pixar + fantasy + Billy Connolly + Craig Ferguson + Emma Thompson + Kevin McKidd? YES PLEASE! Check out the following trailer (1:06) for an advance peek at Pixar’s latest animated film project.

Here’s the official synopsis:

The film [Brave] features Kelly Macdonald as the voice of Merida, a skilled archer and the daughter of King Fergus (voice of Billy Connolly) and Queen Elinor (voice of Emma Thompson). Determined to carve her own path in life, Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to the uproarious lords of the land: massive Lord MacGuffin (voice of Kevin McKidd), surly Lord Macintosh (voice of Craig Ferguson) and cantankerous Lord Dingwall (voice of Robbie Coltrane). Merida’s actions inadvertently unleash chaos and fury in the kingdom, and when she turns to an eccentric old Wise Woman (voice of Julie Walters) for help, she is granted an ill-fated wish. The ensuing peril forces Merida to discover the meaning of true bravery in order to undo a beastly curse before it’s too late.

Brave, which will be released in the U.S. on June 22, 2012, has the voice cast of Kelly Macdonald, Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd, Craig Ferguson, Robbie Coltrane, and Julie Walters.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Are you LinkedIn?

I updated my LinkedIn Summary and thought, "’What the heck, I’ll put it on yonder blogspot, too. Fancy that.’ So, here we goes…

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JOE MARTIN’S SUMMARY

Late '80s: This skinny, pimply, mulleted youth, straight out of high school, fell into the publishing biz as an illustrator, designer, writer, and editor. Didn't finish college, to his parents' chagrin. Music of choice: U2, Guns N' Roses, R.E.M., Depeche Mode, INXS, Journey, Queen.

The '90s: Got my ears pierced, got glasses, gained some muscle, lost the mullet, and created and/or headed up many successful projects, primarily in toys, games, and magazines. I wrote comic books and had a lot of fun. Music of choice: Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Green Day, Foo Fighters, Rage Against the Machine, Smashing Pumpkins, The Crystal Method, Loreena McKennitt.

The '00s: I lost the earrings and most of the muscle, gained some flubber, continued to edit (magazines mostly), and wrote stories on the side, getting paid for a few of them. Got married and started a family. Started college (finally). Music of choice: Radiohead, The White Stripes, Audioslave, Tenacious D, System of a Down, Flogging Molly, The Zutons.

The '10s: Finished college, acquiring a degree as an Occupational Therapy Assistant. Still write. Still edit. The rest remains to be seen. Music of choice: The Decemberists, Muse, Apocalyptica, Arctic Monkeys, Ray LaMontagne, Jack Johnson, Soundtrack and Score Music.

Okay, so now the plan (this decade) is to diversify financial support for my growing family by working in both the health care and publishing settings (as much as I can take it), while also continuing to indulge my need to write stories and have them published, an unyielding infatuation that simply refuses to go away. Maybe lose a little weight, too.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Conan the Jazzerciser? An article by Bill Ward

"...for [Poul] Anderson Conan was an adventurer, for [Robert E.] Howard he was the truth."

Go to the Rogue Blades Entertainment site and read an insightful article by genre writer, editor, and blogger, Bill Ward: When Realism Isn’t Real — Conan the Jazzerciser.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Gary Reed Talks About Caliber Comics

“In the last year, there has been a growing groundswell regarding creator owned comics.  In many minds, the Big Two are just now corporations making comics purely for exploitative purposes and the comics limp along... lifeless even though every year the characters are reinvented.

“This movement has coincided with a renewed interest in my former publishing company, Caliber Comics. Part of this interest of course, is the availability of...”

Read more: Gary Reed: Regarding Caliber

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Kickstarter Update and Drakesfall Teaser by Steven E. Schend

If you haven't checked it out yet, please do. Just one day remains for this Kickstarter project to meet its goal. Any fan of fantasy, gaming, or action adventure should dig it. Bear in mind that this project is loaded with Forgotten Realms writers, including FR creator, Ed Greenwood (as well as Rosemary Jones, Jaleigh Johnson, Steve Schend, and me—yes, me!).

Here's a link to Steven Schend's blog where he's been dropping some awesome teasers to supplement the project: 

Kickstarter Update & Drakesfall » Steven E. Schend

Also, don’t forget to visit the SECRETS, LIKE DRAGONS Facebook page and click “Like.”

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Movie News: New ‘Conan the Barbarian’ Trailer Released

Remember John Milius’s 1982 “Conan the Barbarian” film? It pretty much launched the movie career of a beefy Austrian-born dude by the name of Arnold Schwarzenegger, and also starred James Earl Jones as the evil Thulsa Doom. It was based on the works of ‘30s pulp writer Robert E. Howard, dubbed by many as the father of a genre of historical fantasy called “sword & sorcery,” and a huge influence on my own writing, as well as the birth of a genre called “heroic fantasy.”

Last year, German filmmaker Marcus Nispel was given a reported $90 million to make a new “Conan the Barbarian,” which has recently endured a lot of intense, shall I say, “emotion” from fans after Lionsgate released a one-minute teaser in March. I have to admit, they have good reason, with the trailer’s weird, gnashing, ambiguous faces rising up on wisps of CGI smoke without really giving away anything but a whole lot of cheese.

On May 4th, 2011, Lionsgate released a second CONAN trailer (2:19), and I think the studio should have rolled out with this one in the first place. Though I’m not sure it holds true to Conan creator Robert E. Howard’s vision of the barbarian, I’m still sold. It’s the first glimpse of the film’s actual look and made me a lot more hopeful for Nispel’s interpretation, especially since the guy’s film credits so far aren’t something that instills a lot of confidence.

What I can tell from this latest trailer is Nispel’s put those 90-million clams to pretty good use with some very cool set designs, excellent wardrobes, and top notch CGI character designs and cinematography. Let’s all agree to give them a pass on the initial teaser and have a look at this one.

Click the image below to go to examiner.com’s host page for the trailer.

conan-hot-trailer

Full-length trailer for the 3D remake of 'Conan the Barbarian' courtesy of Nu Image Films/Millennium Films/Lionsgate Films (c) 2011. More official image releases below.

“Conan the Barbarian” stars Hawaiian actor-model Jason Momoa (“Stargate:  Atlantis,” “Game of Thrones”) in the title role, and co-stars Stephen Lang (“Avatar”) and Rose McGowan. It opens August 19th, 2011.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Secrets, Like Dragons… Are Tales Untold: Or, The Coolest New Kickstarter Project Ever.

Fans! Readers! Moviegoers! Fantasists of all shapes, sizes, ages, etcetera, I sound this clarion call to thee! If heroic fantasy is your most cherished fare, then heed my rallying cry, for I sound my large flipping horn to thee! Spread the word! Unlock thine coffers! For a Kickstarter project hath swooped ‘pon us swift and true, one of great verve and pith, one that ushers in a powerful new order, one that will—pardon the clichĂ©—shake the very foundations of the earth! Or, in this case, of Kharndam!

So, uh… what?

Okay, here’s the dilly. In case you've been living under a rock—you know, with those fellas who just found out how they can save up to 15% more with Geico?—you’ve likely heard of Kickstarter, the largest funding platform for creative projects in the world. Right?

Well, author STEVEN E. SCHEND (Blackstaff, Blackstaff Tower, and numerous gaming credits) has envisioned the world of Kharndam and gathered about his e-person a jaunty group of fellow creators and writers to be his creative braintrust. Among them:
The “uncontained” ED GREENWOOD (Elminster in Hell, Elminster Must Die, The City of Splendors, The Band of Four, the Falconfar series), creator of the popular Forgotten Realms settings for Wizards of the Coast and, according to Amazon.com, “best-selling author of hundreds of novels, game products, and articles.”
ROSEMARY JONES, writer of novels for Wizards of the Coast including City of the Dead (an adventure set in the graveyard of Waterdeep) and Crypt of the Moaning Diamond, with short fiction in numerous anthologies.
JALEIGH JOHNSON, yet another excellent Wizards of the Coast writer, credited with Unbroken Chain, Mistshore, and The Howling Delve, as well as short stories in Realms of the Dead, Realms of the Dragon II, and Sails & Sorcery anthologies.
And rounding up this announcement there would be, well, me… J.M. MARTIN, if I must remind you! In addition to sharing space between the covers on Sails & Sorcery with Jaleigh Johnson, you can see the rest of my bibliography here.

So, about that Kickstarter project—now that you know the principle folks involved—Steven plans to launch Vistag Media, a new publishing house. To get things off the ground he’s trying the creative funding route via Kickstarter (link below). I’ve taken about three minutes of your time (if you’ve made it this far), and now I’m asking for just a few more. Watch Steven’s video at the project page where he talks about his plans and aspirations.

More from the Kickstarter page:

How is this book different from other fantasies currently on the market?

1) There are no longer any elves, demons, dragons, or dwarves in this world. Secrets, like Dragons… is just a simile title to speak to readers looking for good fantasy tales. It's not a matter of disliking any of those fantasy tropes, but we wanted Kharndam to feel different from the start.

2) The focus is on characters and their stories, not overused plots or hoary stereotypes. You won’t read about stable boys destined for royal thrones, and you shouldn’t expect grand quests by motley parties of heroes or villains driven to save or destroy the world either.

3) There are no moral absolutes pointing out which are the good guys or the bad guys here. Each character believes himself or herself in the “right” at the heart of things, and it’s up to readers to decide how they view characters and their actions.

Point #3 is the one that especially intrigues me, and I look forward to tackling a project writing a morally ambiguous anti-hero type! If this all intrigues you to the point where you want to learn more or are convinced you can part with at least one dollar, visit Secrets, like Dragons...are Tales Untold now!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Comic Book Database Profile Discovered

I just came across this Web site called comicbookdb.com and I’m tickled to see they’ve logged pretty much my entire comic book career! Here’s a chronological listing of nearly every comic that I took part in to some degree, either writing, art, editing, lettering, or otherwise. I see a few things missing, among them several issues of ARENA MAGAZINE (of which I was the editor, designer, reviewer, interviewer, press liaison, you-name-it!), some un-credited works I did layout and/or design work on (a couple issues of DEADWORLD come to mind), and some comics I did artwork on, the absence of which I don’t mind one bit!

Visit the ‘Joe Martin – Main Profile’ or, more impressively, see the ‘Joe Martin - 'J.M. Martin' - Chronological Listing.’

If you’re curious about the covers here, the cover on the left is of a one-shot called HELLGIRL: DEMONSEED (Knight Press, 1995), mainly to take advantage of the “bad girl” phase in the industry (yeah, call me a sellout, if you will, though I took the character and storyline just as seriously as I do all my work). The other cover is FRANK FRAZETTA FANTASY ILLUSTRATED #6 (Quantum Cat Entertainment, 1998), which featured a story I wrote called “The Horned God: Boudicca’s Tale,” with art by Philip Xavier and colored by Richard Isanove.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

QuickPortraits by Joe!

My PortraitBasically, I got this new Wacom tablet and I’ve gone absolutely jack-nutty! After doing a couple of quick portraits yesterday, the feedback I received inspired me to offer “QuickPortraits” as a service! I mean, why not? I have the tablet. I have the skillz. Do I have the time? Hmmm… well, if I start getting orders, I’ll make time, by gum! May as well strap it on and see what happens, right?

I’ll be adding more samples as I go (likely another one or two later tonight).

Go check it out! And, of course, feel free to place an order. Heh.

No, really.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Rogue Blades Entertainment launches the ‘Home of Heroics’

Excerpted from Adventures Fantastic:

“Hey, everybody, just a quick word to let you know that Rogue Blades Entertainment is about to launch a new feature at their website.  Tomorrow morning, April 4, at 8:00 a.m., Home of Heroics makes its debut.  This will be a page focusing on heroics in any and all forms, fictional and historical, reviews and analysis, and general discussion. 

“There are 26 regular contributors, posting Monday and Friday, with guest contributors posting on Wednesdays... Jason Waltz has assembled an impressive lineup of writers and an aggressive schedule of new content…

“Also, he's got some upgrades and changes to the RBE website that will be going live over the next week or so.  Check it all out.  You'll be glad you did.  As much variety as Jason has planned, you're sure to find a number of things that will appeal to you.”

Saturday, March 26, 2011

John Calipari and the #4 Kentucky Wildcats headed to the Elite Eight

I’ve stated here more than once that I’m a Kentucky Wildcats fan. I grew up about 25 miles from Lexington, KY, and my mom raised her sons to bleed blue when it comes to basketball. I’m proud of the CATS for pulling one out yesterday against Thad Motta and his favored 1-seed team, the Ohio State Buckeyes. It was a great game and I would have tipped my hat to OSU win or lose.

Wow. Josh Harrellson played the game of his career, going mano-a-mano against the incredible Jared Sullinger, who still managed to have a great game but was setoff by Harrellson’s equally amazing effort. Charles Barkley was quoted as saying, “This is crazy. This isn’t turr-ible, this is Kentucky basketball.”

Analyst Kenny Anderson flip-flopped just seconds previous to the start of the game, saying he had analyzed both teams and decided that Kentucky’s guards would consistently beat OSU off the dribble, which they did. He also predicted a big game for Terrence Jones, which didn’t happen, but that’s okay, DeAndre Liggins made sure Jones wasn’t missed too much.

Here’s what I have to say to Liggins:

Latest Game of Thrones Trailer: “Power”

“When you play the game of thrones, you win… or you die.”

I am beyond ready. Have I mentioned that?

Coming to HBO on April 17th.

Monday, March 14, 2011

FUNNY T-SHIRT : Zombie Response Team Kill Or Be Eaten

"Want this shirt. Must have this shirt. Someone get me this shirt."
FUNNY T-SHIRT : Zombie Response Team Kill Or Be Eaten

30186.10911.full

Friday, March 4, 2011

Trailer: Game of Thrones, 03/04/11 preview

Let’s just say, the wait is driving me crazy!


First Reads Winner: The Unremembered by Peter Orullian

The Unremembered: Book One of The Vault of HeavenThe Unremembered: Book One of The Vault of Heaven by Peter Orullian


Woohoo! I'm a First Reads winner with this copy of Peter Orullian's THE UNREMEMBERED! Over 1,300 people entered, but just 25 received copies. Can't wait to get mine.

Look for a review here in the coming weeks! The premise sounds very interesting.

Thanks, Goodreads, for your giveaway program! And thanks to TOR books, as well, for furnishing the reviewer copies. 

View all my reviews

Assassins’ ToC Unmasked! | Rogue Blades Entertainment

Back a little less than a month ago, Rogue Blades Entertainment's publisher, Jason Waltz, posted the table of contents for the upcoming ASSASSINS: A CLASH OF STEEL anthology and I'm in it. Click the link and scroll down... see? There. Right near the end of the contributors, #20 out of 21 authors. I don't think the order is indicative of quality and/or placement in the book. At least, I don't think so! I'm just tickled to be in it. My bibliography grows!

Assassins’ ToC Unmasked! | Rogue Blades Entertainment

Monday, February 21, 2011

Clarion Writer’s Craft: How Much to Craft the Draft? « Clarion Blog

So, O Writer Friend o' Mine, do you write your first draft as quickly as possible, without delving into any revision until you're close to the end? Or is it better to get each paragraph and scene as tight as possible as you write? I posted this in response to today's article by Lynda Williams on the Clarion SFF Writers' Workshop site:

I'm a revisionist-pantser, so I tend to write as tight a final draft as possible, but with just the barest trace of a plot in mind (the characters tend to lead me by the nose through a scene). I just can't bring myself to throw together a s**t draft, but I envy those who can, and I can only point to which method works best for me.

I'm also a very visual person, so an odd habit of mine is to actually write in Word within a template of my own design, spec'd out to resemble a mass market paperback (6.88" x 4.25", with margins, fonts, paragraphs, chapter headings, etc. "just so"). This ends up creating a little extra work before submissions when I convert it to manuscript format, but that's what works for me. It's very satisfying to tap along with my words dropping into a format that is already "book-like" in appearance. Maybe in my own mind it legitimizes my words more. It definitely helps me compose structurally pleasing passages, I think. And it also helps when I convert each chapter to a PDF and drop it onto my wife's NookColor for proofing!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Movies I plan to see in 2011

Alright, so let's see if I have my movie-viewing wish list for the first half of 2011 straight.


All the links will take you to that movie’s movieinsider.com overview page, where you can see stills, cast and crew, trailers, etcetera.


12453THE EAGLE is this Friday. Check.

RANGO on March 4th

PAUL on March 18th

SUCKER PUNCH on March 25th

YOUR HIGHNESS on April 8th

32944THOR on May 6th

PIRATES: ON STRANGER TIDES on May 20th

KUNG FU PANDA 2 on May 27th

GREEN LANTERN on June 17th

CARS 2 on June 24th

31183CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER on July 22nd

COWBOYS AND ALIENS on July 29th

That there's more movies than I've seen at the theater in probably the last two years combined. I'm gonna have to start a movie fund right now. At least I get a break in April, unless I decide to see SUPER (Ellen Page, Liv Tyler, Rainn Wilson), since I dig its lineup of actors/actresses, and director James Gunn wrote the 2004 version of DAWN OF THE DEAD, which I did not think was horrible – it was no SHAUN OF THE DEAD, but it was fun.

38068Now, I can tell you a couple of studio reboots I will most likely not being seeing. The first is ARTHUR (dumb idea; Dudley Moore will always be Arthur to me and not, I repeat, NOT Russell Brand!) and the second is  X-MEN: FIRST CLASS unless, by some miracle, the latter movie far surpasses the stills, because they look abso-smurfly horrid. And I really dig Michael Fassbender, too! But, no. Or as Thor might utter: “I say thee nay.” Honestly, if I was forced to buy an advance ticket and given the choice between the X-reboot and FINAL DESTINATION 5 (yes, that’s the number FIVE), I’d probably flip a coin.

No. I’d say “eff it” and buy a ticket to THE GREATEST MUPPET MOVIE EVER MADE (heck, it has Zach Galafalakanizzle, that little bearded drunken monkey, and Jason Segel in it, after all).

21820Alas. But, hey, doesn’t the lineup above seem super duper solid? It makes the past two summer movie seasons look totally lame. I’m feeling kinda excited. And it all starts this weekend, as I have some fairly high hopes for THE EAGLE (hell, I enjoyed CENTURION—another Fassbender flick with much the same premise).

What do you guys think? Did I miss something above that you’re really looking forward to seeing this year?

37099

Monday, January 31, 2011

Book Review: Daredevil: Lowlife by Bendis!

Daredevil Vol. 6: LowlifeDaredevil Vol. 6: Lowlife by Brian Michael Bendis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Portions of this review are copied from the review on my Goodreads profile.

Summary: When Daredevil’s secret identity is publicly exposed, blind attorney Matt Murdock must deal with the problems and legal ramifications that have reared up as a result. Matt has little time to dwell on these problems though, as an intriguing new love interest appears in his office and sweeps him off his feet, and the Owl, “one of Daredevil's most dangerous foes” (really?) has set his berserker butt down in the empty throne formerly sagging under the enormous weight of the exiled Kingpin and is making all sorts of trouble.

My thoughts: Back in the nineties, I was on staff with Caliber Comics and had the opportunity to work with Brian Bendis firsthand on certain projects (and, boy, do I know some funny stories). He always impressed me as someone who could write damn good dialogue, and that's no different now than it was then, but where Brian has truly improved over the years (of cranking oodles of comics out for Marvel) is his plotting and pacing, and it shows in DAREDEVIL: LOWLIFE. The dialoging and pacing are both phenomenal. The only reason this graphic novel falls shy a star is due to its predictability. There are no surprises in this book whatsoever. But, it's still a damn fine read and well recommended to comic fans of all stripes and colors.

My rating: four stars (out of five). Technically, it's 4.25 stars. Highly recommended.

--

Next up in the series:

Daredevil Vol. 7  Hardcore

View all my reviews

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Four-Year-Old with Questions.

This morning…

Son: “Daddy, do I have a heart?”

Father: “Yes, of course.”

Son: “You have a heart, too, right?”

Father: “Yes, I do.”

Son: “Do toys have hearts?”

Father: “Uh, no. Toy’s don’t have hearts.”

Son: “But don’t hearts mean love?”

Father: “Uh, well, yes. Hearts do a lot of things, but yeah, hearts can stand for love.”

Son: “…well, how do toys love us? Like Woody?”

Father: “Oh, boy.”

Later…

Son: “Daddy?”

Father: “Yes?”

Son: “Why do vampires eat just blood?”

Father: “Uh… well, how come you only eat cheeseburgers?”

Son: “Daddy. That’s doesn’t answer my question.”

Father: “Oh, boy.”

Later still…

Son: “Daddy?”

Father: <sigh> “Yes?”

Son: “I love you.”

Father: “I love you, too.”

Thinking back…

Man, it’s deceivingly icy out there today. A coat of crusty ice slathers the pavement and parking lots, which makes walking your kid into his preschool more of an adventure than expected. I was on the way back home this morning after dropping him off and going to the grocery when I stopped at a red light. The intersection’s in front of my old high school, so I sat there at the light, looking at the building and thinking back.

justin-bieber-varsity-jacketA teenage boy jogged through the crosswalk toward the high school, and I found myself thinking, be careful there, kid. You know, because of the ice.

And I remember, like it was yesterday, running across the ice toward that very school.

I looked up at it again—it’s on a small hill overlooking the road—and then I looked at the boy and I thought, someday he might be sitting right where I am, just like me, 40-years-old and saying the same thing, “What the f—k, where did it all go? Time. Just… wow.”

And I’ll be 63 and saying, “I don’t know. I feel just the same.”

And then, bemusedly, I thought, someday that boy will be 63 and there will be another 40-year-old fella sitting there (who isn’t even born yet). And he’ll say, “What the f—k, where did it all go? Time. Just…wow.”

And the 63-year-old boy will say, “I don’t know. I feel just the same.”

…and then I’ll be sitting there, age 86. And I’ll say, “Eh? Did you young fellas say somethin’? Where are we?”

Monday, January 24, 2011

David Gemmell: A Short Story Exclusive

When writer David Gemmell passed away in July of 2006, just days shy of his 58th birthday, I felt like I had been punched in the face. It was one of those moments for me like the death of Elvis might have been for folks of the previous generation. That’s how much impact Gemmell’s work had on me. I remember reading about it online that very morning and yelling, “NO!” out loud and quite explosively. Hearing this and seeing the stunned look on my face, my wife asked, “What? What is it?”

I shared the news with her and, although she wasn’t a Gemmell reader, to her credit she understood and offered her sympathies. Wow, writing this, I remember the day so very clearly. I remember sitting there, feeling a sudden collapse in my gut and a surprising upsurge of emotion throughout the rest of my body. I remember feeling bowled over, and surprised by my own reaction, at the tears welling up. I looked at my wife and said, “Wow, I actually feel like crying,”which she knew was a big deal because I’m one of those men who has to fight the conditioning that tears are a weakness. Gemmell would have scoffed at that notion, I imagine. Although he wrote a type of fantasy where his warriors were masculine and hardcore, he was even more of a champion of the depths of humanity itself, and what it means to be a TRUE warrior and champion, tears included. I spent a good part of that day telling my wife more about the man I didn’t know personally but who I came to know through his words, and whose death had made such a striking impact on me.

You see. Like I said, he was only 58. So, one, I felt shortchanged. I was counting on dozens more Gemmell novels over the next two decades, at least.  And, two, I hadn’t discovered David Gemmell’s work until 1998. His writing career began around 1984, I think, so it was like finding a treasure within my midst, and I had a wealth of books to read since there were roughly 20 Gemmell novels published by then. Not since Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Michael Moorcock, Lloyd Alexander, and the discovery of comic books had I been so literarily blasted away.

David Gemmell’s work was not only an escapist’s romp through the adrenaline surging nuances of heroic fantasy, but it also imparted lessons to its readers; despite undergoing criticism by some—who thought they knew better—of stories like LEGEND, WAYLANDER, and SWORD IN THE STORM for lacking plot and being based on archaic fantasy tropes (the Sword & Sorcery genre went through a definite low period in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but I’m happy to say it’s on the upswing again). What those critics missed, however, were Gemmell’s life lessons on: depth of character, on redemption, on fighting for what you believe in, on protecting those who are unable to fend for themselves, and the value of friendship and love and the lengths one should go to in order to preserve one, the other, or both. These were lessons that resonated with me as a man in his late twenties then, who was often still seeking a role model to cleave to; I found them in the pages of David Gemmell’s novels. They fashioned and molded me as a man, as well as a writer.

Thence, thus, and therefore(!), it’s a joy for me to have recently uncovered another Gemmell “gem.” In 2010, the folks at Fantasy Book Critic arranged with Mrs. Stella Gemmell, David’s widow, to reprint a short story that appeared years prior in a magazine called “Games Master.” That story went live on the 4th anniversary of Gemmell’s death (July 28th, 2010), and it’s called “The Birth of a Legend.”

Fantasy Book Critic summarizes thus:

This excerpt can be read as a preface to chapter 1 in The First Chronicles of Druss the Legend. As it’s the first three pages that detail Druss’s wedding day [which has not been seen in any of Druss’s books] and pages 4 and 5 deal with the first true fight Druss faces [parts of this are already found in the book. Think of this excerpt as a first draft of that scene].

You can READ IT HERE or by clicking the fantastic Luis Royo cover artwork to IN THE REALM OF THE WOLF (above), one of my all time favorite D.G. novels. Enjoy!

And long live Gemmell, the original Druss the Legend!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Game of Thrones: "Throne" Tease

Yet another awesome GAME OF THRONES update.

Ology.com states: It's looking increasingly less Harry Potterish and more adult… one of the stars, Emilia Clarke, just spoke about sex scenes in Game Of Thrones, saying the nudity was "scary."

Which is why this is on pay-cable, I imagine. It allows it to be more true to the actual novels. The first installment will premiere on HBO April 17th.

GAME OF THRONES is based on NY Times best selling author George R. R. Martin’s set of novels, “A Song of Ice and Fire.”

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Book Review: The Weight of Blood by Dalglish

The Weight of Blood (The Half-Orcs, #1)The Weight of Blood by David Dalglish
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Readers of David Dalglish should be drawn to label his novel, THE WEIGHT OF BLOOD (TWoB), as RPG fiction, or gamer's fiction. At least this reader will. And that's not a bad thing, in my opinion.

Early on, Dalglish's straightforward storytelling and his choice of main characters made me wonder if the author was a gamer. Harruq and Qurrah Tun are half-orc brothers (they soon find out the other half of their blood is elven rather than human) eking out a living in a humano-centric world, and the details of their plight, as well as how Dalglish treats his characters and the setting around them, took me back to a wonderful time in my life when I couldn't get enough Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms fantasy. For those not in the know, these were some of the first novels released by TSR (now Wizards of the Coast) in the mid to late '80s, the very first offerings that launched a major publishing house based on their Dungeons & Dragons worlds. I ended up contacting the author online while reading this book and wrote that TWoB is conjuring up memories of early Weis, Hickman, and R.A. Salvatore, to which Dalglish responded, "Ding, ding, ding!" So, I assume I nailed it.

I enjoy TWoB for what it is, a dark and gritty fantasy spent with races of the D&D sort -- Harruq as a fighter, Qurrah as a necromancer -- who are faced with some hard decisions. Actually, not so bad for Qurrah, the more oppressed of the two and, hence, the more ambitious, who obviously has a low empathy "stat" and doesn't hesitate to grab for power when it's offered to him, despite it meaning he must fully give in to his evil nature. Harruq is much less evil than his brother, obviously having more of the elven blood in his veins than the orcish, but goes along with Qurrah out of love for his twin (so, yes, I got some of the old Caramon and Raistlin Majere nostalgia here, and you Dragonlance fans will know what I mean).

I don't want to give away any spoilers, but you might imagine the direction Dalglish is taking this in, as we have the dark and selfish Qurrah, and then Harruq, who is much lighter in nature and can see more good in the world. Indeed, Harruq even manages to find love.

The author and I agreed on a book swap, so I'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of a signed copy of THE COST OF BETRAYAL, which is book II in "The Half-Orcs." I'll be sure to keep you updated right here when I finish this next installment.

Four stars (out of five). Quite recommended for fantasists in general, and highly recommended for gaming enthusiasts or those who like their fantasy served dark with no cream and very little sugar.

--

Some other books in David Dalglish's "The Half-Orcs":

The Cost of Betrayal (The Half-Orcs, #2) The Death of Promises The Shadows of Grace


View all my reviews