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It’s My Birthday!

So today I turn forty-one years old. As always, such an event makes you want to look back on where you’ve been and also cast an eye on where you hope to be going. I was pretty happy with the words I wrote last year on this date so here they are once more. They’re just as applicable now as they were then:

I’m thankful that my birth father introduced me to pulp when I was a young kid. I love that stuff.

I’m thankful that my parents allowed me the freedom to pursue my own interests and to be a little bit weird. My father (really my step-dad but he’ll always be a father to me) passed away a few years ago and I still miss him. He was a great man and he taught me that you should always be able to laugh, no matter what the situation. I honestly think if you can do that, you’ll never be sad for long. His humility and grace are standards I’ll never be able to reach. My mom taught me that you love with all your heart and you don’t give up on the people that really matter, even if they disappoint you.

I’m thankful for my wife, who has stood by me through thick and thin. It hasn’t always been easy but our love remains firm — she’s my friend, my lover and my partner. She puts up with me when I’m being annoying and she’s with me through the triumphs and the tribulations.

I’m thankful for my son, who entered my life a little over seven years ago. He’s so smart and tries so hard to be good… I wish I could protect him forever. He’s reminded me of the fun of being a kid and how precious those first few years really are. I remember being his age and thinking I’d always live with my parents and always be safe with them watching over me. I’m sad he’ll have to learn that won’t be the case but I hope that he’ll end up having a happy life and be a good man. He’s off to a good start.

I’m thankful to Gary Dreslinski and Eric Moreels, who helped me get my job at Marvel. Because of them, I’ve had so many wonderful opportunities in the years since. Thanks, guys.

I’m thankful to the editors at Marvel, Moonstone, Pro Se, Wild Cat Books, West End Games and all the rest, for trusting me again and again. I’ve been able to work on The Avenger, The Green Hornet, G-8 and lots of other wonderful characters. I’ve been able to put my small stamp on them and that means I’ll live forever.

I’m thankful to my collaborators, like George Sellas, Anthony Castrillo, Tommy Hancock, Will Meugniot, Chris Batista, Tom Smith and so many others, all of whom have helped me along the way.

I’m thankful to you, my readers. I know I’m not the best writer out there but you keep coming back and trying my new projects. Thank you.

And most of all, I’m thankful to Life itself. Whatever force is out there, be it random bits of science coming together or some all-powerful entity that I’ll never comprehend, I’ve been here. I’ve smiled, I’ve laughed, I’ve made love and I’ve made my mark. I’ve made my share of screw-ups but all in all, it’s been a good life. Hopefully, I’ll get another 41 years to improve upon the first.

I Don’t Like Mondays

Lazarus_cvr_smallActually, I’m okay with Mondays – but it’s the title to a great song by the Boomtown Rats and I never miss the opportunity to borrow a great title!

Anyway, I’m still working on my Box Thirteen story and it’s going fairly well, I think. It’s always weird to handle a property for the first time — never quite sure if you’re veering too close or too far from what the editor will want.

Got a great idea for the opening to my next Lazarus Gray story and I might break down and write that opening chapter soon. I’ve also been doing research on another writer’s pulp hero as I’ll be guest-starring that character in a Lazarus Gray adventure. I’ll reveal all soon enough, I promise, but I will say it’s a character that I’ve been reading for years and who has a loyal following. In fact, a new adventure of the character was just published recently.

Sadly, I can’t focus much time on Lazarus Gray, despite the muse pounding on the door to my brain. After I finish Box Thirteen, I need to start work on my Pulse Fiction story for Pro Se Productions and *then* I need to work on my Sherlock Holmes novella and *then* I owe Pro Se another Thunder Jim Wade tale. I think. Hell, I’m starting to have trouble remembering all my obligations! As for Pulse Fiction, the newest episode of the Pro Se Presents Podcast features an interview between Tommy Hancock and Paul Bishop as they discuss the origins of that project.

Reading-wise, I just finished a history of the Vietnam War and now I’m reading an old Doctor Who novel from the early 1980s. I also read a great comic called Downward Spirals this weekend, written and drawn by John Simcoe. It’s a comic book about hockey-playing opossums. Yep, that’s what I said. It’s a gag strip, with each “daily” strip printed on a page, along with the results of that night’s game. Over the course of the book, you follow the Downward Spirals through their season. It’s great fun for fans of humor comics and/or hockey! If you’re interested in it, you can find John on Facebook at facebook.com/thejohnsimcoe.

Here’s the inspiration for today’s blog title, by the way — enjoy! It’s a classic.

‘Tis Tuesday! Huzzah!

lg04_walther_lunt_smallWent to the Georgia Renaissance Festival this weekend – my family goes at least once a year and it’s always fun. Definitely have to recommend that you check out the Tortuga Twins if you get the chance. Hilarious every time.

Continuing to write away on Lazarus Gray Volume Five – yep, I’m working on volume *five*! This one will return to the format we had in volume one, with a handful of shorter stories. Books 2-4 featured two novellas in each volume, all with an overarching storyline that tied them into a trilogy. With Volume Five, I’m loosening up and just having some fun stories for the team — in the first tale, we have a lost pirate treasure and a zeppelin crewed by beautiful (and dangerous!) women. I can tell you’re excited already!

The past few weeks, I’ve been recording The Shadow Fan’s Podcast a little earlier than usual, as my schedule has forced me to move the show to Tuesdays. This week, we’re returning to our traditional Thursday… so expect a new episode to be released on April 25, 2013! Should be another exciting one.

This weekend is Pulp Ark 2013 in Arkansas — sadly, I won’t be there. But I hope that you’ll be able to make it. It’s the world’s biggest and best New Pulp convention and this year’s schedule is truly packed! My novel Die Glocke won Best Novel, Best Cover and Best Interior Art (those last two awards were given to the amazing George Sellas!) so I wish I could be there to accept the awards on mine and George’s behalf… but it just wasn’t possible. Still, I hope it’s a HUGE success and that I’ll be there in 2014!

Waiting on the last story to roll in for Tales of The Rook Volume Two. This one will be the last in the series – but probably not the end of The Rook. Tommy Hancock is still supposed to write volumes 7-9 of the series and the plot he’s come up with is an epic one. Not sure when I’ll return to write more Rook, though. Most of my focus is definitely on Lazarus and Gravedigger at the moment. Pro Se’s formatting and design guru Sean Ali is currently working on The Rook Volume Two Special Edition – you can expect that one very soon! We’re slowly working on getting all these books back into print and I appreciate the patience you guys are showing!

By the way, Jen Broomall is doing a Gravedigger image for me so I’m very excited to see what she will come up with!

In other artistic news, George Sellas is working on finishing up the Lazarus Gray Origins pages – as I’ve mentioned before, we trimmed the original script down to just the two page Lazarus sequence. Samantha, Morgan, Eun & the Assistance Unlimited team will all have to wait for their respective days in the sun.

Our art today is by George Sellas and features the evil Walther Lunt, who fought Lazarus repeatedly in the first two volumes. He met his demise in Die Glocke but his shadow still looms large over volumes 3 & 4.

Thursday Stuff

lg_v3_darkling_vs_silver_wolf_smallThe weekend is getting nearer and nearer… just have to keep hanging in there! Last night, i was surprised to receive a phone call from Shadow expert and all around good guy Anthony Tollin. We chatted for almost an hour about all kinds of things and Anthony is full of fascinating insights and stories about The Shadow. I’m definitely going to try and get him onto The Shadow Fan’s Podcast because he’s just too valuable a resource not to share with everybody.  A very pleasant time, at least on my end 🙂 I’m sure I wasn’t nearly as interesting.

Got a call from GC360, which is a televised news program put on by the students of the local university. They say they’re interested in setting up an interview with regards to my writing and, specifically, the fact that Die Glocke won Best Novel in the Pulp Ark Awards. I’ll talk to them today and see what we can set up — I’m not too keen on a visual interview but we’ll see, lol.

Work is moving briskly on with Lazarus Gray Volume Five – it’s off to a very good start! The Lazarus story I’m currently writing is a good example of the intertwined nature of my pulp adventure universe. A pirate by the name of Hendrick Van der Decken was introduced in “The Phantom Vessel” (The Rook Volume Four), in which the undead pirate is freed from his watery grave in 1943. I really enjoyed his character, so when I wrote Guan-Yin and the Horrors of Skull Island, I used Van der Decken as one of the villains of that story, which was set in the 17th century. Now, Lazarus Gray Volume Five (set in 1937), Van der Decken’s lost hordes of treasure are referenced again, though the undead pirate himself won’t be appearing (after all, he can’t be freed until 1943, remember?). Now, these three stories are all unrelated, except for the way our villainous pirate crosses into each but it’s a set of fun Easter eggs for those who read them all.

Speaking of Lazarus Gray, Volume 3 should be out before too long — expect me to start pimping that one really hard soon. Volume 3 is the middle chapter of the huge epic that spans books 2-4 and it introduces a couple of major characters to the universe: Eidolon and The Darkling. Both of those folks will return for Volume 4, as well. The image that’s running with this blog post today comes from Volume Three and shows The Darkling squaring off a villain by the name of The Silver Wolf. I’ll leave it up to you to figure out which character is which! 😉

I continue to get great feedback from folks about The Adventures of Gravedigger and I’m thrilled by it all! I was really proud of the book and think that George Sellas did the best cover of his career (which is really saying something!). Don’t worry, there will be more Charity Grace coming in the future.

Tales of The Rook — I’m still waiting on one more story. The first four that have been turned in are being edited now. All are winners so far! I hope to get this one out to you before the end of the year. While the first book was a breeze, with pretty much everyone turning in their stories early, this one has been more problematic. Writers have come and gone on the project multiple times and the whole experience has just been a bit of a headache. As such, I think Volume Two will be the last in that series. Tommy Hancock is still scheduled to write a trilogy of Rook novels (which would be volumes 7-9 in the main series).

Yes, I’m Rambling Again. What of it?

mellisa-clarke900x675Another day at Ye Olde Blog and I have to confess, I’m feeling a bit sleepy this morning. Definitely one of those days where I wish I could have stayed in bed, snuggled under the covers. Ah, well. Gotta go make the doughnuts — or the literary equivalent, anyway.

Splitting my time between re-reading The Duende History of The Shadow Magazine (for this week’s The Shadow Fan Podcast) and the new Doc Savage: Skull Island book. Both are quite enjoyable.

Yesterday, I finished Lazarus Gray Volume Four… sent the files to my artistic collaborator George Sellas, too. George is going to do a couple of pages from the aborted Origins project, too. If you’ll recall, Anthony Castrillo was going to do a six page set of vignettes, detailing the origins of each member of the Assistance Unlimited team. That fell apart in spectacular fashion, though Anthony did turn in some mighty fine thumbnails. Anyway, the project as it once was has been set aside but George is going to be taking the Lazarus Gray portion of the set and doing those — the plan is for them to appear in The Adventures of Lazarus Gray Volume 3 and each volume thereafter, though I might beg & plead for Tommy Hancock to also include them in one issue of Pro Se Presents, just so you can see them at a larger size than you would in the novels.

I will, of course, share them here as well – especially since the Pro Se eBooks don’t include all those lovely interior illustrations. You guys are really missing out on those, though I do share most of them on the blog at one point or another.

I have to confess that I’ve had some stirrings about offering to take over All Pulp, now that Tommy Hancock has announced his retirement. If I did… and it’s still a mighty big if!… I would move the site over to WordPress, which I prefer over blogspot quite a bit. I’d also make a few changes here and there to streamline things and make it something that I’d enjoy updating daily. That would be the thing that might keep me from taking it on — I do daily updates here. If I know I’m going to be out of town or busy, I schedule a post and let it automatically update. I’d want daily updates for All Pulp, too, at least on a Monday-Friday schedule, if not 7 days a week. Do I want to spend *more* time blogging? That’s the question. What say you, faithful readers? Should I do this… or should I stand aside and hope someone else rides in on the white horse?

I haven’t done any Marvel Heroic writeups in awhile… nobody’s requested any, for that matter. I still adore the game system but the lack of print product is killing it for me. They’ve released several things as PDFs but only two of them have made it into the print format, which is my preferred method of rpg delivery. Yes, I could have an iPad at the gaming table with me but I like carrying around the books — and, yes, I know I’m old.

So… what’s next for me in the writing world? Well, I need to finish off my own entry for Tales of The Rook Volume Two. We ended up with fewer stories than we expected at the beginning but that’s okay — the ones we do have are great ones. I do think this is the final volume of this series, though. There are reasons why I’m not a publisher — I can’t stand hunting down people to make deadlines. Anyway, my story brings back and obscure villain from The Rook series and features some ideas given me by George Sellas.

After that, I need to do a Weird Western for Mechanoid Press.

And then…

Then, it’s either Gravedigger Volume Two or something completely different (cue the Monty Python music!)

New Pulp Farewells

fiction_writerWow.

So this morning, I get up and check my email — where I immediately see a letter from Tommy Hancock, announcing his resignation from All Pulp. Now, I’ll be honest — I’m amazed that Tommy put this off as long as he did. He’s an incredibly busy guy and All Pulp is one of the many things that he’s done that benefits the New Pulp community a lot more than it benefits him and his own company. It’s a lot of thankless work. Still — seeing him announce that he’s leaving makes me immediately think that All Pulp in general is probably going away. Oh, sure, someone will step up most likely… but my experience tells me that someone who inherits something rarely has the same level of commitment as the person who founded it. I hope I’m wrong. If I had more time, I might step up myself… but I know better!

Thanks for all the work you’ve done on the site, Tommy!

Then I head over to Facebook and see a posting from Ronna Hanna that Wild Cat Books is shutting its doors in a few days. WCB has been publishing pulp stuff since 1997 and was instrumental in kicking off the whole New Pulp craze. More personally, Ron Hanna accepted my story submissions and gave The Rook a home for five volumes, plus all the other stuff I did there (Rabbit Heart, The Damned Thing, Ki-Gor, etc.). WCB had been growing more and more quiet in recent years and I’d pulled most of my own titles so they could be repackaged elsewhere… but I’m still damned sad to see WCB gone for good. They say they’ll continue publishing limited edition works and I hope so – but given heir recent output, I wonder if that’s more wishful thinking than anything else. I hope Ron (and, by extension, WCB) the very best, though — without them, my own writing career would be quite different… and the New Pulp movement might never have gotten off its feet. From WCB eventually came Airship 27, which inspired still more companies and publishers. Ron Hanna has contributed a lot to the pulp field and I hope he’s recognized for his contributions.

On a more positive note, I finished going over the Gravedigger edits I got from Pro Se and sent those back in. We’re steadily moving closer to its release date. I’m currently putting the final touches on the Lazarus Gray Volume Four manuscript, as well. It’s been a fun ride but I’m very close to typing THE END on this storyline, which has spanned books 2-4. I’m happy and sad at the same time, as I always am when I finish a major project.

Head over to All Pulp or the Wild Cat Books facebook group and commend Tommy & Ron for all their hard work, why don’t you? I plan to!

 

Just Another Manic Monday

Gravedigger shortly after her rebirth.
Gravedigger shortly after her rebirth.

Busily going through the edits I received from Pro Se this weekend — making changes here and there to the Gravedigger manuscript. We’re still hoping to get this one out there before the end of the month so I need to put this on the front burner for now. If I get a chance, I can also wrap up the first draft of Lazarus Gray Volume Four today. I’m in the final major chapter now but there will probably be a wrap-up scene or two to follow, plus a little essay I’d like to include.

Very proud of my partner George Sellas’ strong showing in the Pulp Ark Awards. He’s still up for Best Interior Art in the Pulp Factory Awards, too, so maybe he’ll pick up even more hardware before Awards Season is over this year. Fingers crossed!

I’ve talked before about the differences in the two major pulp awards and this year shows it off again — Die Glocke wins Best Novel in the Pulp Ark but wasn’t even nominated in the Pulp Factory! Bizarre.

Anyway, I’m reading the new Will Murray Doc Savage book right now and I’m about six chapters in. I’ll do a full review of it when I’m done but so far, so good. I still loathe the “Stormalong Savage” name that Doc’s grandfather has been saddled with but overall, I’m enjoying this quite a bit. I think it’s refreshing to see more of Will Murray’s natural style showing through — I find that preferable to the Lester Dent pastiche that he normally does. If it stays this level of quality, I think it’s the best Will Murray Doc by a mile and a half.

Of course, I have a lot of book left to read! 🙂

This week’s The Shadow Fan should be a packed episode — I’m expecting another installment of Calling Burbank from Tommy Hancock, plus I have some Shadow news to share — along with reviews of The Ghost of the Manor, the first issue of ACG’s Pulp Action and a long look at the Duende History of The Shadow Magazine! Should be lots of fun.

Take Care, Everyone!