Writer Wednesday – Carl R Moore

WRITER WEDNESDAY

 

1. Tell us who you are and a little bit about what you write.

I grew up in rural Maine, and though I’ve been into horror and fantasy novels all my life, I spent my early years mostly writing song lyrics and poetry.

2. What is something that your fans would be surprised to know about you?

Some folks find my brand of horror to be on the extreme side, but I am as into symbols as I am thrills. I won a poetry scholarship to the Stonecoast writers conference my senior year of college for a surreal poem about a Frida Kahlo painting.

3. What made you become a writer?

I spent afternoons in a school library waiting from my father to get out of work. He was a high school teacher and there was about an hour after school that he’d stay late and I would just pluck books off the shelf and read. I remember picking out versions of The Odyssey, The Bible, The Arabian Nights, and stories from Arthurian and Greek mythology. I think it was the mythologies that really got me going.

4. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

More like a concepter—profiles the characters and the situation—like my latest—hunters versus werewolves—get them drawn and see where they take me.

5. What is the biggest mistake that you’ve learned not to make while writing?

I kept Hemingway’s bullshit detector on full strength.

6. What is the last book you finished reading? What did you think?

Aside from those I’m reviewing for my interview series, Author’s Own Words, I recently read The Saga of Grettir the Strong (Scudder translation). Amazing read, medieval prose that reads like a contemporary novel.

7. Would you like to pimp a specific project?

My novella, Slash of Crimson, which appears in my collection Slash of Crimson and Other Tales, published by Seventh Star Press is available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Slash-Crimson-Other-Tales-Moore-ebook/dp/B0712293QP/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1518902924&sr=8-1&keywords=slash+of+crimson+and+other+tales

8. Is there a URL or social media account you’d like to share?

All the latest can be found at www.carlrmoore.com

 

Slash of Crimson

When someone asks me to describe Slash of Crimson, I always start with the characters, Drew Aldrin, the young heavy metal guitarist making his way in a small seaside city, along with Sondra Deeps, the mysterious red-haired beauty who saves him from drowning in the novel’s opening.

But I can’t talk more about the story without emphasizing the importance of its setting. It takes place in a stylized version of Portland, Maine, containing some of the city’s recognizable features, and other features that are less so. The conflicts of interest among the characters, the deranged preacher, the rough-around-the-edges hard rock musicians, can be seen reflected in their surroundings. The rotting wharves and narrow streets around the dockyards, for example, do exist in the real city, though there are fewer than described in the book. I wanted to describe a certain perceptual reality—the sense one gets of a labyrinth of commerce, ideas, and lifestyles, not all considered legitimate in our culture. I wanted to show how these characters blend in among the bars and dockyards of a North Atlantic working waterfront.

When it comes to world-building, we can make an interesting distinction between building fully, or near-fully, fantastical worlds such as Tolkien’s Middle Earth or Martin’s Westeros, and that of real worlds that mix-in fantasy elements, such as Neil Gaiman’s London in Neverwhere, or arguably William Gibson’s “Sprawl” in Neuromancer. Slash of Crimson, and all of my Crimes of Heaven and Hell stories, including the collection’s second novella Torn from the Devil’s Chest, fall into the latter category. I find the mix of the real and fantastic to be an interesting combination, and invite readers to experience it for themselves when reading my collection.

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Book Review – The Dark Man

TITLE: The Dark Man
AUTHOR: Stephen King
ILLUSTRATOR: Glenn Chadbourne
FORMAT: Hardcover
PUBLISHED: 2013

The Dark Man is a poem that Stephen King wrote years ago for an assignment in college.  He wrote it as a poem.  In this edition, it’s illustrated with pen drawings.  Also, the edition is laid out in the rather unconventional 7×5 inch (yes, landscape) format.

So, the poem is interesting, but as I read it, I found myself wishing I could just read the damn thing and not have to see the illustrations.  Sometimes I felt like having to flip the page every couple words took away from the flow the words should have had.  Fortunately, I got my wish at the end of the book.  Reading it in a crap format, I assumed it would be beautiful, but the flow got lost in the illustrations.  Reading it in a normal format, it actually was beautiful.  Hauntingly sad. Scary in a very human way.

The illustrations are interesting.  Some have things hidden (like the scratched form of a face coming out of a tree branch), some do not.  But some would very much have benefitted a larger format or being in color.

Which brings us to the review, and for that, I am torn.  The poem gets a very different rating than the book.  But this is a book review site.  We’re reviewing the whole package.  For that I give it 3/5 pages and a piece of advice.
Read the poem first, then start from the beginning.

Writer Wednesday – Steven Shrewsbury

shrews

Who are you?
Steven L. Shrewsbury, I’ve written a slew of small press novels and had over 300 short stories published. There’s a rumor I’m Robert E. Howard reincarnated, but that’s just crazy talk.

What type of stuff do you write?
Hardcore S&S, fantasy and horror tales.

What do you want to pimp right now?
BORN OF SWORDS my latest novel from Seventh Star Press featuring my 700 year old merc Gorias La Gaul. It’s a kick ass S&S tale with a killer punchline. Also, WITHIN a horror novel from Black Bedsheet books featuring my albino spook agent Dack Shannon. AND…my collab with writer Brian Keene called KING OF THE BASTARDS., another hardcore S&S work from APEX Publications.

What is your favorite book? (or three)
Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Hour of the Dragon by Robert E. Howard, Bloodstone by Karl Edward Wagner, Best Served Cold by Joe Abercrombie

Besides the author hat, what hats do you wear?
Dad, worker, smart ass advisor to the world

Where can we find you?
https://www.facebook.com/authorstevenshrewsbury
https://sshrewsbury.wordpress.com/

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Just Write.
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Just write.

Tell your story. Don’t try to impress your buddies or whoever you think will be reading this in 200 years. Get over yourself. Write. Don’t preach. You aren’t going to convert the masses to your personal belief system no matter how liberated or righteous. Just write. Tell your story and entertain. Make things happen, even it’s romance or mystery, don’t bore the be-Jesus out of folks. If you like the sound of your own voice that much, folks will figure it out and move on. Perhaps you think you’re special. Maybe you are. Please have others figure that out don’t announce it.

Be yourself. Don’t be Stephen King, Victoria Holt, George R R Martin or whoever writers the best smut out there. Be the next YOU. Figure out who you are. Find your voice. Keep it prisoner.

And then just write.

Book Review- Necroscope by Brian Lumley

Title: Necroscope

Author: Brian Lumley

Format: Paperback edition by Orb Books

Published: originally 1986, Orb Edition 2008

lumley-necroscope

I must confess.  The Harry Keogh/Necroscope books are somewhat legendary amongst readers of horror/occult type works. That’s not the confession.  What I must reveal is that, while an avid reader at the time the series debuted and was initially popular, I did not read it until recently.  Not really sure before why I didn’t, it always appealed to me when I’d see it in stores, something else would just win out over it.  Now that I’ve finally read it, I can say that I can now offer several reasons I didn’t finish it and likely won’t read the remainder of the series.

For those unfamiliar, Necroscope is the first in a series from Brian Lumley. The book is billed as focusing on one Harry Keogh, a rather adventurous individual who has the ability to essentially mine the memories and minds of the deceased and utilize information gathered in said way.  The crux of the story is there is an evil being that is wheedling its way back into existence by using Dragosani, a Soviet agent who also has the same abilities Harry does, called necromancy.  The book is essentially the origin story of both Harry and Dragosani and the conflict that will arise between Harry and those known as Vamphyri that I am assuming is at the core of the entire series.

This book proved not to be a good read for me on more than one level. While Mr. Lumley seems to be an accomplished, even poetic writer, even conjuring connection to some of my favorite Pulp writers as I read, Necroscope on the whole is entirely too long.  Also, although the build up is that readers will get to see Harry Keogh develop and grow into this powerful necromancer, and you get that, that’s really a misdirection.  The majority of the first volume focuses on Dragosani and his origins and his connection to the beastie in the ground. And when I say focuses, I mean to the point that the majority of the first half to three quarters of the book is aimed solely at clearly defining Dragosani.  The snippets we get of Harry are short and instead of painting someone who has potential to be an occult warrior, the Harry we get to meet is rather a distracted dullard that seems to be sort of caught up in the everyone else’s world, his life being shaped by those around him due to his abilities more than himself at all.  I had very little investment at all in Harry and had wanted to read the book, the entire series, to get engaged in this great hero, not an issue ridden Soviet agent with mother country issues.

Combined with the skewed focus, the sections concerning Dragosani, and even the shorter sections focused on Harry, also tended to drift into boredom inducing, providing far more facts and minutia than was necessary to make these characters full and robust.   Also the framing structure used for the book, that of an individual in a clandestine agency being visited by a flickering ghost from the future and sharing the events of the book, may not have been cliche when the book was originally published, but it seemed heavy and pointless and forced upon my reading it today.

As mentioned previously, I did not even finish the book.  Having said that, I can see how this novel would appeal to some people.  I went into it expecting one thing and seeking that one thing as that is the sort of book I like to read, one with a hero who, though flawed, is clearly defined and engaging, and this book did not present that within the first 260 pages.   So, although I won’t be reading more Harry Keogh, I can honestly say that Lumley’s ability to write and the fact that this series has been so popular proves that this is someone’s cup of blood.  With that in mind, I give it a 3 out 5 pages.  Definitely not for everyone and I’m not the person to ask what I think about it.  Using my own personal gun associated measuring stick, This gets a 2 out 6 Bullets from me.  Worth the reading if it catches you in the first fifty pages, a waste of time if it doesn’t.

Book Review – Raising Hell

TITLE: Raising Hell
AUTHOR: John G. Hartness
FORMAT: Paperback
PUBLISHED: 2015

Okay, full disclosure because I believe in that kind of stuff. I happen to know John because we travel in the same extended circles. So when I stepped up to his table at Con Carolinas to say hi to him, he told me to buy a book, I told him to give me one to review, and after pimping the blog, I ended up with a copy of this in my hot little hand. Mostly his choice, although I did request something short.

This is a novella that follows around a demon hunter named Quincy, who happens to know Dracula. Yes, that Dracula. From what I gather, it’s the 2nd in the series, but I didn’t really need the first one to understand anything happening here.

In this book, Q has to get a demon out of a teenage girl who is too far gone already and then gets revenge for the girl by the frat boys that turned her and their uber rich father who lets it all happen.

I’m not a huge fan of horror (which is funny because the story I finished writing not 24 hours ago was a horror story for a charity anthology), but this one wasn’t bad. I liked the length, which I guess means less novels and more novellas or even novelettes for me, mainly because my brain is often mush after work and I liked being able to read this in a short amount of time and actually get through it unlike the book I’ve been reading since January and am still not halfway.
There was some gore in this one because, well, exorcism and demons and the like, but it wasn’t too over the top (Side note – all gore feels over the top to me. I really am not into that sort of stuff), and it all felt necessary. For the most part, it was more about a bad dude versus a badass, so I was okay with that.

I think there are a few places that could be polished, and I’d like a few things fleshed out a wee bit more. Even for the length, there were a couple places that I seriously wanted to have a few more paragraphs added in. I think 500-1000 more words over the course of the book would have made it awesome.

But, if horror is your genre or you just really like seeing frat boys and their rich daddies get their just desserts, you should check this book out. It’s good for what it is. And for that, 4/5.

Book Review – Maplecroft

I might have enjoyed the story more had I been able to sit and read it in one sitting, as I was continually being interrupted and therefore unable to immerse myself into the world. As it stood, though, the story bothered me because it felt like the characters were constantly chasing their tails, unable to solve the mystery and unwilling to work together (until the doctor finds out, and even then there’s very little of them working together).

Like I said, I can see how this book would appeal more to people who really enjoy the horror end of things, and the writing was easy enough to read. For me, however, this book came out as a low 3/5 and I have no interest in reading the sequel.

Writer Wednesday – Mark Taylor

  1. Who are you?
    Mark Taylor, author of the macabre.
  1. What type of stuff do you write?
    Um…the macabre. I jest. I started my writing career in short stories, having many published over the years. Eventually the work got longer, and now I boast novels out with a couple of different publishing houses and some more self-published work. Mostly it’s horror, a little fantasy, and some science fiction for good measure.
  1. What do you want to pimp right now?
    Small Cuts to the Psyche. It’s a collection of some of my previously published materials as well as a few unpublished surprises. It’s chock full of the dark brooding horror that anyone that knows me expects to find.
    The special edition is available on Lulu in paperback: http://tiny.cc/1wfgsx
  1. What is your favorite book?
    Nope. I can’t answer that. But I’ll name an author. Richard Laymon. The man was a genius. His twisted work inspired me when I started writing, and still does today. I’ll admit though, Nicholas Grabowski reminds me of him.
  1. What other hats do you wear besides the writer hat?
    I’ve proofed many novels and novellas and formatted more books than I can count. I’ve also done a good number of covers for other authors.
  1. What link can we find you at? (One or two please; don’t go overboard here!)
    My website: www.authormarktaylor.com
    And of course Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Mark.Taylor.Author

 

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Pantsing it…

 

The hardest lesson I’ve learned as a writer? Well, the mistakes keep coming, so all the while the lessons do too, I guess all is going right.

At the moment? It keeps rearing its ugly head with me, and many others too, I expect. It’s the old plotting vs pantsing. I’m a pantser. Have been since the day I sat at the keyboard. Working with tales of less than say, ten thousand words, it’s fine. I have no qualms about being a pantser with novella’s or shorts.

But I took my pantsing with me when I started writing novels. I thought I had learned my lesson after two novels, where my own blood was shed banging away at the keyboard in the wee hours trying to make head or tail of what I had written.

I decided on the vague outline of my third novel, and then started to plot. It was hard. Harder than I had imagined. But I did what I thought was going to work. I mean, who researches how to plot a story, right?

I have never been so wrong.

I plotted vaguely. Too vaguely, I know now. It sprawled, out of control. I had plot points bouncing around all over the place. I expected a pulp novel, sixty to seventy thousand words, maybe, and following my “plot” I hit nearly fifty thousand still in the first act. And there were new plots being raised.

Sheesh.

So I did some research. I’m still working on the third, so I don’t know if what my research told me is right or not, but I learned that a plot should be detailed. Pretty much every plot point covered. And stick to it. One piece I read suggested the plot outline be roughly ten percent of the length of the finished work. So my plot should have been six thousand words.

I think it was about six hundred.

Lesson learned.

 

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