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Thursday Chatter — And An Indiana Jones Tribute!

headphones01As we head into the weekend, I have a few quick things that I wanted to share:

Finished off an editing job for Radio Archives yesterday. They’ve been sending me lots of weird horror lately and I have to say that I’ve really enjoyed some of them. Not the kinds of pulps I would have sought out on my own but they’ve been great fun.

Closing in on 50,000 words on Lazarus Gray Volume 4 — I’m currently writing a scene where Lazarus is fighting a giant monster in the African jungle. How sweet is that? Gotta love pulp.

Reaction to The Shadow Fan Podcast continues to be great — I really enjoy doing the show and having the opportunity to promote pulp’s greatest crime-fighter. The most recent episode (# 16) featured my rant about the need for new Shadow novels, a review of “The Wasp Returns” and Rick Lai’s “Chronology of Shadows”, as well as a look at Dynamite’s upcoming comics for April 2013.

Big news coming about the Bestseller either later today or tomorrow — hopefully you guys will like it.

Below you’ll find a tribute to one of my all-time favorite movies, Raiders of the Lost Ark. You just don’t get any better than Indiana Jones and Marion Ravenwood!

Wednesday Ramblings

mellisa_clark_unmaskedThings continue to hop along for the Reese Unlimited imprint, as we gear up for for several months’ worth of new releases soon. I had a nice email conversation with George Sellas yesterday, catching up with what the future schedule looks like. George has been so essential in defining the looks of Gravedigger, Lazarus Gray and The Rook… combined with the design work of Sean Ali and the entire imprint has been very solid in appearance.

I’m closing in on 47,000 words on Lazarus Gray Volume Four and it’s going swimmingly. Once I’m done with that, I need to start really looking at the Sherlock Holmes digest I’m supposed to write for Pro Se. I also need to decide if I want to start on Gravedigger 2 soon or maybe even do something totally unrelated to my little pulp universe. Suggestions or requests are welcome.

Haven’t heard any feedback about the Liberty Girl book from the Heroic Publishing side of things. I know that Pro Se likes it so if Heroic does, too, then we’re good to go. If they don’t… might be more rewrites at some point. I’m hoping for the former.

On the podcasting front, episode 42 of Ubergeeks went live the other day and episode 16 of The Shadow Fan was uploaded today. So get your downloads going! I got a little opinionated on this week’s Shadow Fan – probably more than I should have done. But I am passionate about The Shadow and couldn’t help myself.

Continuing my slow immersion into Judge Dredd — I’m about to read the entire Necropolis storyline, which I’m really excited about. I’ll let you guys know how it turns out!

Stay tuned for an announcement in the next day or two concerning the New Pulp Best Seller List.

Barry’s Reviews: Mike Baron’s Helmet Head

Baron Helmut HeadI’ve been a Mike Baron fan for a long time. My first introduction to his work was Nexus, though I soon followed him over to The Badger & DC’s The Flash. I’ve often found his writing to be character-based with a rather wry sense of humor. So when I heard that he was moving into prose and that his first release was going to be the oddly named Helmet Head, I took notice.

This is pure Grindhouse and I mean that in the best possible way. When I was a child, I would go to the local drive-in and be exposed to a whole series of films that psychologists everywhere would advise against showing to a boy of my young age — and now you know why I turned out like this. I’ve always loved grade-b horror, as a result, with all the over-the-top blood and sex that accompanies those kinds of things. Helmet Head fits in perfectly with that, telling the story of a good copy named Fagan who ends up involved with not only a gang of tough outlaw bikers but with an urban legend involving a motorcycle-riding, katana-wielding undead Nazi with a penchant for beheading people.

Yep.

The story moves at a brisk pace and is very well told. The characters are easily understandable, with the possible exception of Helmet Head himself – his back story is doled out slowly through most of the book.

If I had a criticism, it would be that some of the Helmet Head stuff felt almost like a “everything but the kitchen sink” kind of thing. I don’t want to give away too much but the presence of Nazi magic & super-science, a possibly magical sword, resurrections and brain transplants, plus all the usual sex & violence made my head spin at times.

If you like the sleazy feel of 1970s exploitation films, then you should really pick this up. I read it on my Kindle in about four days and at the end, I couldn’t look away from the screen. An action-packed tour-de-force that really makes me want to read more from Mike Baron in prose.

Highly recommended.

Put The Rook & Lazarus Gray on the shelf!

Ever wanted to have your very own Lazarus Gray or The Rook figure? Well, now you can! The wonderfully talented folks at Marshall Made Collectibles are now offering custom-made figures! Buy one or get the set of two, instantly making you the envy of your New Pulp friends!

These are collectibles and are priced as such but the high-quality more than makes up for it! Check out the photo gallery at the Marshall Made site and then contact Jase about placing your order!

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My Favorite Comics of the Moment

allnewxmen_5_coverEveryone knows I love comics just as much as I love pulp novels. So what are my current faves? Read on! The list is broken down by publisher, ’cause I roll like that.

Note: I actually buy more than just these titles… but these are my favorites.

DC Comics
Aquaman
Batman
Batwing
Green Lantern
Supergirl
Worlds’ Finest
Legion of Super-Heroes

Marvel Comics
Scarlet Spider
Iron Man
Uncanny Avengers
All-New X-Men
Superior Spider-Man

IDW
Mars Attacks
Judge Dredd

Valiant
X-O Manowar
Bloodshot
Shadowman

Abstract Studios
Rachel Rising

Dynamite
The Shadow
Masks

Not out yet but I’m looking forward to: The Shadow Year One, Judge Dredd Year One

What are you guys reading?

From the Vault: Just Write, Stupid.

snoopy_writingPeople often ask me for advice about writing. I’ve even given talks about writing to would-be writers. But I don’t think people really like what I have to tell them. You see, a lot of them are members of “writer’s groups” where they swap stories, critique them and go into re-writes. I don’t really believe in those because they’re an example of why a lot of people never manage to finish that novel they’ve been working on for twenty years: they spend too much time talking about writing and not enough time writing. I once infuriated a room full of folks by saying that nothing was scarier to me than somebody with an English degree and a passel full of “How-To” writing guides.

Because that English degree person is probably never going to write a damned thing. They’re going to spin their wheels, talking about this and pondering that, instead of sitting down at the keyboard and pounding the keys.

Look, I’m not the world’s greatest wordsmith. But I write. I write a lot. I don’t sit around on my ass and say “Boy, I’d love to write a book.” I wrote a book. And then I wrote another one.

There’s no “one way” to do it, either. If you like to do 80 page outlines and that works for you, do it. If you like to have a swig of beer, unbutton your pants and then start writing without any clue where you’re going with the story, do it! Never ever, ever, let someone tell you that you’re doing it wrong. Hell, if you’re in a writer’s group and it helps you (ACTUALLY WRITING), then do it. It doesn’t work for me and I can count on one hand the number of folks I’ve met that it did work for, but hell, there are exceptions to every rule.

And by all means, DON’T FEAR WRITING CRAP. Even if you write the worst novel of all time, you’ve still written a novel. That puts you way ahead of all the Charlies and Nancys who spend their lives saying, “I always wanted to write a book!” Besides, you won’t be the first person to write crap and you won’t be the last. Enjoy the fact that you completed a project and then get to work on the next one, so you can move up to mediocre the next time around 🙂

But my main advice to wanna be writers is this:

1. READ. A lot. Look at how things are written and dissect them. Think to yourself, “I like how writer x does that… HOW does he do that?” and try to learn from it.

2. WRITE. A lot. You get better the more you write. You really do. But don’t navel-gaze so much. Finish a damned project and then do some revision but then MOVE ON. Keep going forward. It will never be perfect. Accept that.

3. NETWORK. You need to meet other writers and make friends with them. You never know who might help you someday. How did I become a professional writer? Because a friend of mine worked for Marvel Comics and recommended me for a job. I didn’t submit anything to them — Marvel emailed me, on the basis of my friend’s recommendation. It went from there.

So… here’s my suggestion for today. Stop reading this blog. Stop flipping through that Stephen King book on writing. Stop over-analyzing the act of creation.

And then go CREATE.

Question & Answer Day!

QASo I get asked a lot of questions over Twitter, Facebook & Email — usually I dash off a response and that’s that. But I got the idea the other day to save up some of them and answer them here on the blog. To protect the innocent, I’m not listing the names of those who asked the question. If it’s yours, you’ll certainly recognize it. So — let’s begin!

Who would you cast in a new Shadow movie?

Wow. That’s actually a pretty hard question since I never do well with these casting things. I’m one of those folks who hear other people’s cast lists and go “oh, yeah!” or “no way!” but I can never think of actors beforehand. For The Shadow, it would have to be somebody who can both be suave & handsome as Lamont Cranston but also believably brilliant and cold as The Shadow. It’s inevitable that Margo Lane would be a major character in the film, so I’d want someone pretty but capable as I’d like to see her treated as a strong agent/ally of The Shadow. Since the movie studios would want stars young enough to base a franchise around, how about: Michael Fassbender as The Shadow, Summer Glau as Margo Lane and Ryan Gosling as Harry Vincent? That’s a a trio of good-looking folks who have the charisma to carry off the roles, I think. Or not. Hell, ask me again tomorrow and you’d get three completely different answers.

Where do you get off attacking the Pulp Factory Awards?

Well, I don’t think that I did. I pointed out some actual facts about the Awards the other day. I think the mailing list is a great way of giving writers a way to interact with each other. Airship 27, which is linked to the awards but not entirely the same thing, is a quality publishing company. My opinions and viewpoints don’t always have to please everyone — sorry if you or anyone else took offense. This is my blog, though, and I share my viewpoints here. Don’t like’ em, you don’t have to read ’em.

Do you ever get tired of writing The Rook or Lazarus Gray?

Sure! Anyone who writes any kind of series gets tired of the characters and settings eventually. Doesn’t mean you can’t step away and come back to them later. I would definitely say that my main attentions have been focused on other characters than The Rook in the past few years but I did write “The Killing Games” last year and had fun with it. I also recently wrote an animation script for The Rook and enjoyed that. So it’s not like I’m never writing Max Davies again — heck, I he appears in Gravedigger, too! But I try to follow my muse when possible. So with regards to getting weary of the same series, it happens. You have to find ways to keep it fresh for you and for the readers. Comes with the territory since there are great things about writing series and also some drawbacks.

What’s your least favorite Shadow story by Walter Gibson and why?

That’s another hard one for a couple of reasons – 1) I generally like Gibson’s writing a lot and 2) If I really dislike a story, I tend to just move on and forget about it while remembering my favorites. But, since you asked, let me wrack this tortured mind of mine and come up with: The Shadow Returns. This is actually the 326th novel and was written in the 1960s as part of the Belmont line. It was the only one of that series written by Walter Gibson and actually has his name on the cover rather than Maxwell Grant. It’s not hideous by most writer’s standards but it’s just… it’s just boring. I’m also not a huge fan of The Yellow Band (8/15/37). The Yellow Band features a lot of Kent Allard, which I generally like, but it’s set in Miami and the plot just never grabbed me. I remember getting quite bored in the middle and having to really push through.

Would you be willing to give up control of your characters in order to get them made into a movie or tv series?

Well, if you mean give over authority as to how they’re portrayed, yes, I probably would. I’d love to have a say in it but I’d love to see Lazarus Gray on tv, even if they took some liberties. I would always want to retain control over their print incarnations.

Do you listen to music when you write?

Almost always. I like to write to up-tempo music. Makes my fingers dance across the keyboard 🙂 I was listening to “Rumour Has It” by Adele while writing Lazarus Gray this morning.

Hope you enjoyed this Q & A session, guys. If it proves popular, we might do it again sometime!

The Avenger: Roaring Heart of the Crucible!

THE AVENGER: ROARING HEART OF THE CRUCIBLE NOW AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER

Moonstone Books’ third anthology collection chronicling new tales of pulp hero, The Avenger is now available for pre-order on Amazon. Titled, THE AVENGER: ROARING HEART OF THE CRUCIBLE, the book is scheduled for release in April 2013 in both softcover trade paperback and limited edition hardcover.

The Avenger: Roaring Heart of the Crucible features stories by New Pulp Authors Matthew Baugh, James Chambers, Greg Cox, Win Scott Eckert, Joe Gentile, CJ Henderson, Nancy Holder, Michael May, Matthew Mayo, Will Murray, Bobby Nash, Barry Reese, Chris Sequeira, John Small, and David White. Edited by Nancy Holder and Joe Gentile. Cover art courtesy of E. M. Gist (soft cover) and Jay Piscopo (hardcover).

The greatest crime-fighter of the 40’s returns in a third thrilling collection of original, action-packed tales of adventure, intrigue, and revenge. Life was bliss for millionaire adventurer Richard Henry Benson until that fateful day crime and greed took away his wife and young daughter… and turned him into something more than human. Driven by loss, compelled by grief, he becomes a chilled impersonal force of justice, more machine than man, dedicated to the destruction of evildoers everywhere. A figure of ice and steel, more pitiless than both, Benson has been forged into an avatar of vengeance, possessed of superhuman genius supernormal power. His frozen face and pale eyes, like a polar dawn, only hint at the terrible force the underworld heedlessly invoked upon itself the day they created… The Avenger!

Exclusive HC BONUS material: An Avenger timeline by Rick Lai, a story by John Small, plus solo tales of the Avenger’s aides by Howard Hopkins!

Coming April 2013 from Moonstone Books. You can order the softcover trade paperback and limited edition hardcover now.

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The Devil’s Paymaster

Howard Chaykin's The Shadow
Howard Chaykin’s The Shadow

Episode 15 of The Shadow Fan Podcast is now live! This time around, I review another episode of the classic radio series and then dive into a spirited talk about “The Devil’s Paymaster” and its impact on the epic Prince of Evil series. It’s definitely one of the high points of The Shadow’s history so if you’re unfamiliar with the Prince of Evil stuff that was written by Theodore Tinsley, I encourage you to find the stories & then enjoy my discussion of them. You can find reprints n the Sanctum reprints, volumes 60-63 and I talk about the various novels in Episodes 3, 7, 12 & 15.

Still loving the work I’m doing on Lazarus Gray Volume Four. I’m now over 44,000 words into the book and I think it will be another great entry into the series. I really love Lazarus & his allies — so many great story possibilities and I can see many more down the line. That’s when I know something is really good — when just thinking about the characters, entire novel ideas spring forth. I know I’ll never get to them all so there’s obviously something special there.

I tweeted last night that I’m not sure which I’m more excited about you seeing in print — Gravedigger of Lazarus Gray Volume 3. That’s true. Both are the best things I’ve written so far and both feature incredible work by artist George Sellas, with Will Meugniot also chipping in with some gorgeous interior work on Gravedigger. They’re going to look fantastic and I think you’ll enjoy the stories, too.

Currently reading Helmet Head by Mike Baron. I’m really enjoying it, as it feels very “grindhouse.” I’ve liked Mike’s work in comics quite a bit (especially Nexus & The Flash) so I fully expected to enjoy this prose story and I have. I’ll post a full review when I’m finished.

Wednesday Chatter

keanuPushing hard towards the 50,000 word mark on Lazarus Gray Volume Four. I think this book is going to be a good one! I think it might be a little funny if I can finish Volume Four before Volume Three is even published. I know that people still think of The Rook first when it comes to my New Pulp work but I think that eventually Lazarus Gray will take that spot in their minds — I like to think it’s more polished and well-crafted. Gravedigger Volume One rocked and as I add to that character, hopefully she’ll move up to really make it a triumvirate of characters that I’m known for.

Yesterday was the last day to make nominations for the Pulp Ark Awards so I hope everyone managed to get their emails in. I’ve been honored to win a couple of awards in the Pulp Ark voting in the past but this year, anything can happen. There are so many New Pulp books out there, being done by so many talented writers & artists that I expect a lot of close races and maybe some new folks picking up awards for the first time. I’m really hoping that George Sellas will get recognized for his work on the Lazarus Gray series, though — George is amazingly wonderful to work with and he routinely makes my books some of the best-looking on the market.

Over on the Pulp Factory list, Ron Fortier unveiled the list of short stories that have been nominated for their awards. Now, I’ve never done well in those awards, which are voted upon by Pulp Factory members only. In order to become a PF member, you have to be nominated by another member and then Ron has to approve you. Then you have the right to nominate and vote on whatever you want. I’d estimate at least 90% of the list are writers for Airship 27 and the awards conform to the same rules for stories that Airship 27 has: namely, that only stories set prior to 1940 or in the far future are eligible. Thus, most of The Rook series would not be eligible, for instance, given that they’re set in the 1940s. Anyway, in this year’s awards, I noted that I wasn’t nominated at all in the short story category — even though, for instance, every other story besides mine in Monster Aces got a nod. I found this a bit strange — even the year I won Best Author in the Pulp Ark Awards, I wasn’t even on the final ballot at the PF Awards. Now, with the Pulp Ark Awards, anybody can vote. Anybody.

I seem to do a lot better when the fans are given a say and it’s not more of an “industry” award (I call the PF ones that because they’re almost entirely voted upon by writers). That’s why I push for the Pulp Ark Awards — they’re for the people who read New Pulp. That’s not to say that folks on the PF list aren’t doing that but I’ve found that in the writing community, there are a lot of people who talk up other books or writers when they don’t really read them. And since the guidelines for the awards match up exactly with what Airship 27 publishes and almost everyone on the PF list is published by Airship 27, it’s not surprising that Airship 27 usually cleans up at those awards. I don’t think there’s any conspiracy afoot — it’s just the way it’s set up leads to that result more often than not.

Tomorrow I’ll be recording a new episode of The Shadow Fan so stay tuned for that! We’ll be talking about “The Devil’s Paymaster” which is the final book in Theordore Tinsley’s Prince of Evil series.