Cover Reveal

Here is the cover reveal of the latest anthology in our Atomic Gods and Monsters series. It will be published on June 17th, though it is already available for pre-order.

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Laughing, Literally

I often include humor in my writings. I can’t help it. Usually it is subtle, sometimes brazen. But I like to break tension and provide contrasts when in the midst of battle, or skulking in a darkened alley, or confronting some nameless horror. I think it does a body good.

There are numerous antecedents I could name, but one powerful influence was Lester Dent. He was, among other things, the author of the Doc Savage adventure series that ran through the 1930s-40s. He includes a lot of humor in his pulp tales, because they were written to entertain. Though sometimes it is raw, slapstick, vaudevillian humor featuring the antics of Doc’s aids, often it was very subtle. Dent played a lot of language games and would pun or allude, often in other languages, to further disguise the joke.

Sometimes it wasn’t a joke, but a wry smile or a knowing wink between author and reader. For instance, in the Doc Savage novel Meteor Menace, the tale begins in Chile (as the action picks up immediately from where the former tale The Man Who Shook the Earth was set, in Antofagasta, Chile) and then moves to Tibet for the main story. Thus the tale moves from the Land of Llamas to the Land of Lamas. I like that.

It is the little things that make me happy. Thus, I include a lot of asides/jokes/puns/allusions that may do nothing more than entertain myself, but they are there for everyone. Hopefully they make some people laugh or smile along the way.

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Blackstone Begins

I wrote the first Blackstone mystery for a new anthology last week. This story is important in two ways: 1) It is the origin story for the character. 2) The story was written for a memorial anthology in honor of my late friend, Derrick Ferguson. It has already been accepted and will soon appear in the anthology We All Rise.

This short story is titled “Raise Her Heavy Eyes.” The protagonist is Fergus Blackstone, a Jazz Age drummer with a troubled past who plays in a big band in the French Quarter in post-World War II New Orleans. The city is corrupt, violence and racism afflict every day life, and Blackstone decides to stand up and fight back.

This character was created in honor of and named after Derrick Ferguson.

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Imadjinn Awards

Great news!

Our Dreampunk anthology, Mirrormaze, was named a finalist in the 2021 Imadjinn Awards for Best Anthology, from the Imaginarium. The winners will be announced on July 10, 2021, at the Imaginarium Convention in Louisville, Kentucky.

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Twenty-Seventh Anniversary Poem

Every anniversary I write my wife a poem. This was the 27th Anniversary Poem:

Just as curves soften
Hair turns silver
And photos fade
Time moves on, changes us
Fills in the gaps and wrinkles the rough spots
So that all that is left
All that matters
Are the soft hugs and warm kisses
Our song, the musical laughter
Surrounding your heart
With each passing day, month, year
It just gets easier to love you

(TCF. 5/5/21)

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Deep Sea Mining and Diamond Sharks

Now that the new Deep Sea Dawson tale, “The Marmoris Mystery” has been published in the next Atomic Gods and Monsters anthology, Tiger By the Tail, I can talk some about the story. I love to learn things and often the most fun I have in writing a tale is researching the story behind the story.

In the case of the “Marmoris Mystery,” I wanted the story to follow on the heels of the last adventure, yet move Dawson around the globe and explore more of his world. One thing that I had to cut out of the former story “The Castle in the Deep,” was his sidekick, the rescued and adopted seal Battler. Battler always appeared beside him in the old comics, but the danger of extreme radiation poisoning for the seal in the waters of Bikini Atoll following the nuclear bomb blasts in 1954 was too extreme. So I kept him safely out of the story. I definitely wanted a return of Battler, but I also wanted new scenery. So I decided Dawson should move to a new ocean for a wholly new adventure.

In looking around at seals, I discovered a fantastic seal colony off the coast of Namibia due to the Antarctic currents flowing by the coast. Also, there was the blood diamond trade out of South Africa. Plus, the stormy seas off the shore of the Namibian Desert creates a bleak coastline for hundreds of miles that is graveyard to hundreds of ships. It is so terrible and lifeless–with the decaying remnants of ships filling the waters and the beaches strewn with the sun-bleached white bones of victims– that the region is called the Skeleton Coast. Could there possibly be a better location for a thrilling adventure? Thus we ended up in the South Atlantic off the coast of Africa.

Once I knew where I was going I simply had to concoct a good mystery for Dawson to solve. I decide early on to have this one be a pure, stand alone adventure rather than another lost civilization or earth-shattering event, so that we could get a sense of Dawson’s day-to-day life. Dawson is a famous oceanographer and global adventurer and I wanted to clearly show that. I also wanted to show a wee bit of the humanity in this character, so I explored both sides of being a hero. On the one hand, he just wants to relax, take a vacation, and save some sea animals. On the other hand, when he uncovers injustice or stumbles upon a mystery, he cannot help himself and must act.

Being that this is a Deep Sea Dawson adventure, it can’t be as simple as saving animals from poachers and stopping some illegal diamond trade. Nope. So of course we kicked it up a notch. I wanted to introduce some villains, which I will return to in the future, and also “superfy” the villainy. So it’s not simple diamond smuggling or illegal trade. These are not your mother’s mafia. This is titanic technology and vile villainy on a global scale. I went the extra mile deep in the ocean and provided all the action you might desire with a Diamond Shark of a smile. I hope you enjoy.

But, all this action would kill the normal guy. I really feel for Deep Sea Dawson. The guy can take a real beating. Especially because this started out with him just needing a vacation. But, I wanted the lesson here to be the old saw, “If you get knocked down ten times, then get up eleven.” Dawson will never quit.

Dawson is like a force of nature. Just like the sea he admires, he is relentless. Once engaged he will not stop. Regardless of the danger or threat, he will rise to the task and keep fighting until the day is won. I wanted this story to show how his everyday life has a tendency to end up in the most amazing action. It’s exhausting being Dawson–but also extremely rewarding. He may always be one step from death in overwhelming odds–because he is just a man with no super powers–but he also gets to save men, women, and animals, to right some wrongs and balance the scales of justice every single day.

You can’t just beat that Deep Sea dynamic.

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The Chronicles of Doggerland

This is an adventure fantasy action series based on an actual historical place. Doggerland is the name given to the lands exposed during the last glaciation and now covered by the North Sea. During this time the islands of Ireland and England were connected to Europe via Doggerland.

Doggerland is a now submerged, but in the past during the Ice Age is was exposed land. After the Vistula-Wurm glaciation from about 120,000-11,000 BCE, the area warmed and remained exposed (albeit ever shrinking) until it was eventually submerged in historic times, probably between 5,000 and 3,000 years ago. The chronicles tell of the peoples of Doggerland and their battles. Though it is in the vein of a Conan pastiche, it is written in a slightly more historical fiction way.

I love history. I have been working on this off and on for a few decades. It arose from studies of the Ice Age and the fascinating occurrence of the continental shelves in many areas being exposed. Just as with Sundaland in South-East Asia, this is one of the more extensive areas exposed during the low sea levels of the Ice Age. I grew up reading my grandfather’s National Geographic collection and loved studying their fantastic maps. My brother and I used to make up alternate histories/tales and play games on these maps. These kinds of tales come from that fun past we shared having adventures.

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