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Monday, April 28, 2008

Just Back from the Nebulas

and boy are my arms tired.

I am worn out, but I will have a full report in a day or so.

In the meantime some highlights were:

The incredible thunderstorm Friday night, viewed through the 15 story glass lobby of the Omni hotel in Austin.

A two-hour BS session with Joe R. Lansdale and others in the bar.

Mike Moorcock's speech, about the struggle through the years to make SF/Fantasy respectible--- his line about the mainstream critics thinking SF geeks had slide-rules for genitals had people falling out of chairs.

Doing the live blog, an honor I have had before but still is a great thrill.

Looking down during the live blog at the entree in front of me to find a 2 pound slab of steak--- Texas, baby, Texas.

Spending a very pleasant couple of private hours chatting with Mike and Linda Moorcock in their room just after he arrived, about mutual friends and shared interests, and complaining about the restaurants in our respective home-towns.

And after the ceremony helping Joe Landsdale clear a path through the crowd so Mike and Linda could get his wheelchair through, rear guard provided by John Picacio. We made our way to the largest table in the room, and sat to chat. To my left was John Picacio, with Boxcar Sanford and Kirryn Eis-- two of Michael's friends next to him, and then across the table from me Mike. Sanford is a musician and all-around good guy and Kirryn is a high-risk armed body guard-- a real-life woman of action. To my right was Joe Lansdale's daughter, a blond stunner whose impending marriage is the source of great wailing and gnashing of teeth by heart-broken young men throughout Texas, and next to her Joe. We were soon joined by Walter Jon Williams, and shortly by Michael Chabon. At this point I realized that no one would ever believe me when I told them who I was talking about writing with (believe me, I was not doing a lot of talking, there was far too much accumulated wisdom at that table for me to waste a moment doing anything but listening---) I told John Picacio that I felt like the world was a tuxedo and I was a pair of brown shoes, and at that moment a compact fellow wearing a black leather hat appeared to congratulate Mike and shake hands all around. Steven Brust was a bonus for all, as he seldom appears at such events, and was the final straw. I kept my James Bond cool, but it was a near thing :)

Breakfast lunch and dinners with many old friends and a few new ones--- Vera Nazarian, Lee Martindale, Peter Heck, Jane Jewell, Robin Baily, John Moore, Elisabeth Moon, Diane Turnchek, Sean Fodera, a very funny conversation about boxed wine labling with Joe Haldeman, and a crowd of others to be named later when I am less beat-up.

Keith has the first few photos up at North American, here:

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Join the Nebula Awards live chat with Michael Ehart and Lee Martindale this Saturday!

Just like being there, only not as good!
Join hosts Michael Ehart and Lee Martindale as they preside over the live chat of the 2008 Nebula Awards. Chat room opens Saturday April 26th at 6:30PM Central near the cash bar and continues through the finish of the awards ceremony at 10:00 PM.
Martindale and Ehart hosted a similar chat at the 2005 Nebula Awards in Chicago, and though demand has been high, this has been the first opportunity to reprise what many people felt was the very finest and most entertaining live major writing awards chat that evening, anywhere on the web.
Cheer as your favorite author takes home the lucite!
Cry as Michael Moorcock's lifestory is inaccurately recalled!
Gasp at our description of this year's version of.... the Dress!

Just go to and upload the chat engine--- just takes a second and you too can enjoy the 2008 Nebula Award ceremony--- in your underwear if you like. We promise we won't tell!

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Ghost of Nebulas past

Mike Resnick is a very approachable guy. He saved my life once--- I was 13 and trapped with my mother and two younger sisters for the summer in a unkown town with no friends and miles and miles from the library. I walked to the corner grocer, who had a small paperback rack. There, under a stack of romance novels and westerns, right on the bottom row, was a fly-specked and shop-worn copy of "Goddess of Ganymede"--- I plunked down my 35 cents, and dashed home, hiding from my mother as best I could the lurid cover. I read it at least six times that summer.
When I told this story to Mike, he cried "I was only 16! It was a pastiche!" a reaction driven, no doubt by stern demands for an explaination for such derivitive stuff. Well, his career survived, and thanks to the slim, derivitive volume written by a 16 year old, so did I :)

Friday, April 18, 2008

"Bloodshed and pathos, my friends."

Kind words from Wes Lambert:

“To Destroy All Flesh,” by Michael Ehart: Further compelling adventures of Ninshi, from The Servant of the Manthycore. If you like heroic fantasy—and I’m assuming you do, if you’re giving this review the time of day—then I highly recommend Mr. Ehart’s book. Bloodshed and pathos, my friends.

Oh, and a review of the rest of Return of the Sword here:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

"To Destroy All Flesh" gets some love

Very kind review from Brian Hitchcock of "To Destroy All Flesh" from The Return of the Sword:

This story has a lot of humanity in it. That's the best word for it. From the agonizing deaths to the moral question at its core, this story looks at the human costs of the magic, mayhem and pure human malice that make up heroic fiction. The hero, Ninshi, is Ehart's titular hero from the novel Servant of the Manthycore. In this tale, a group of mountain bandits stand between her and the herb she must have to free herself from the Manthycore's arcane shackles.

Thank you Brian!

Everything you were afraid to know about Michael Ehart...

R. Schuyler Devin was kind enough to ask a few questions and post my answers as a part of his 6 Sided Q&A--- the entire interview is here.

He has kind things to say about my book, too, so give him a hit and check it out!

Monday, April 14, 2008

"Memorable Characters" up at The Book Connection

As a part of the promo for Return of the Sword, The Book Connection has posted a small article I wrote on Creating Memorable Characters--

Most new writers understand this, but many make the mistake of confusing a character with a bunch of character traits. Deciding that your detective walks with a limp, has a deep southern accent, has a peculiar scar on his forehead and drives a 1957 Vovlo sedan does not make him real to the reader. That might be a start, but unless there are real reasons for each of these things, they will remain what they are; a bunch of random things decided at a whim.

The rest of the article is here.

So where is S&S going? Joining a discussion

If you aren't regularly visiting SFReader, you might want to give them a try. Some very interesting discussions there, from folks at a variety of experience. This topic has been going on for several weeks at my forum there. You might want to take a look---

Its not like an Andy Hardy movie-- "Hey Pablo, let's throw us a new movement! I'm thinking we can call it Cubism... you in?" We can self examine until we disappear into our own navels, but the truth is we all need to be taking chances and thrashing away as we write what we write. For me it means leaving behind many tropes that seem fuzzy. I find it very unlikely that you will see me writing anything with elves, dwarves, half-anythings, Dark Lords, farmboys of destiny, a "noble" nobility, or using the word "mage" or using any setting that seems even vaguely "jolly old England" or some twice removed derivitive.

I want fantasy that kicks my butt, that has me standing in the backyard looking at the stars with tears on my face and my heart thumping, like The Ship of Ishtar did to me when I was 11 years old. I want stories about heroes, who will do what ordinary men wouldn't or couldn't, who do what they must and pay the price, where the last man standing tells the tale of his fallen comrades, and weeps because he failed to join them. I want the moral ambiguity of poor choices and the fight every step since to rectify them or die in the attempt. I want a hero who, like Conan, will grab the girl and let the jewels fall, but curse into his cups every night that follows for the missed treasure. I don't want to read about pure, knighly Elves--- I want Long John Silver with a cutlass in one hand and the other outstretched, asking me as a true shipmate to sign articles and come aboard.

I write fantasy about big, dreadful, human choices, and that is what I want to read. The heroes I want to read about wave as the Farmboy of Destiny rides off to face the Dread Lord of Despair, far away in the Dark Lands, and while FoD is saving the world sleeps with his girlfriend, absconds with Parish Library fund, and fast-talks his way into the Bandits Local 410 and, after stealing an election via 2 slit throats and a stuffed ballot-box, becomes the Bandit Cheif in time to lead them to save the village from the marauding Huns so that FoD has something to come back and look down upon.
Or through greed and ignorance, give up any chance of happiness and instead wanders bitterly looking only for hope or an end to pain, blighted and alone, until some small thing allows them to find redemption, not for themselves but for others, in some small way.

The difference between King and the spatterpunks was that King forgot to make it hurt. Same for the Cyberpunks--- Gibson remembered that the real thing that unites us is not wonder or hope, but the universality of shared tragedy. It has to hurt, somewhere. Your characters must need to be at a point where some true human pain is revealed, and through that examination of the human condition, some answer given, while acknowledging the fact that when the story is done, there was a price paid by the characters as well as the reader.

Friday, April 11, 2008

"Without Napier" in top 25 at EDF

Check it out! And thanks to everyone who read, commented, or voted!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

"Without Napier" up at Every Day Fiction

I had so much fun writing this French Noir pastiche. Please check it out, I think you'll like it!

More Nebula photos from the dawn of time

This scruffy looking guy was allowed a shot as MC that year--- I remember him writing a comic book or something--- he seemed harmless enough. I hope he manages to find some sort of success as a writer.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

More Nebulas past

Here are a couple of guys who are both great to hang out with, and as you can see they have been hitting the caffiene pretty hard. Mike Moscoe Shepard had a short that was up for the Neb that year--- I see Mike around a lot, and often share panels with him. He is a fixture of NW conventions, and just an all around great guy to hang out with. His Kris Longknife stories just keep getting better and better.

Gardner Dozois is another great conversationalist. Gardner sent me one of my favorite rejections, over 20 years ago. It was so kind, and so careful that it made me re-read the story and I realized that if I were to send this out to other editors, I would be blighting my writing career for decades to come. I drove a stake through the blamed things heart, and buried it at midnight at a crossroads wreathed in garlic.

Gardner has never bought a story from me, I am guessing just on the basis of that one dreadful piece of writing I sent him, even though I have fixed his computer for him a few times.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Counting Down to the Nebulas

I am thrilled to be going to this years Nebulas in Austin--- especially since Michael Moorcock, who was kind enough to write the foreword to The Servant of the Manthycore is being honored as Grandmaster--- plus my good friend Lee Martindale may very well be a presenter and we are reprising our stint from 2005 as official Live Bloggers of the ceremony, plus Vera Nazarian, who was kind enogh to write a blurb for Servant is up for a well-deserved Nebula award.

In celebration I am posting some photos of the last Nebulas I attended, in 2005. I'd post from the year before, in Seattle, but I can't find the photos :)

Let's start with my favorite, me with Janis Ian and Anne McCaffery. Anne was being honored as GM that year.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Kind words from Jeff Draper about "To Destroy All Flesh"

Thanks, Jeff!

This is the story I was really looking forward to and it definitely does not disappoint’ve just got to love the props in this one. Doesn’t everyone have a huge ancient boat just laying about the place?

Full review here:

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Nice words about The Servant of the Manthycore from the Harrow

Thanks, Dru!

Servant of the Manthycore is an accessible and intelligently written heroic fantasy that is inevitably reminiscent of Conan's adventures through Cimmeria, but with a darker edge and more appealing protagonist. Ninshi is a Cain damned for love rather than envy. With luck, we'll read more of her adventures elsewhere.

Read the whole thing here.