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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

P&E Final Results

Thanks to all who voted for me. The Servant of the Manthycore finished 16th, which amazed me as it was out for six weeks in 2007. Even more amazing was this:



Flashing Swords had one issue, and "Stand, Stand Shall They Cry" was in it--- FS finished 9th in magazines, and "Stand" was number five.

Thanks to all who voted for me!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

New flash to EDF

As part of a conversation a few weeks ago, someone commented that flash and pulp were incompatable, and I disagreed. To prove my point, I promised Jordan Lapp at Every Day Fiction that I would send him at least three classic pulp styled stories, each less than a thousand words. The first was a French Noir detective story, and tonight I sent him the second, a boxing story "Only His Name" --- I think the third one will be a sword and planet pastiche that has been stewing in the far reaches of my imagination. We shall see...

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Manthycore update

I started tonight on the first little bit of a new Servant of the Manthycore tale, with the working title of "The First Trial of Jermaish the King"--- yes, everyone's favorite loutish young king is back, with a problem that only Ninshi can fix.

The story is in direct following sequence to "To Destroy All Flesh" which will be appearing very soon in the "Return of the Sword" anthology coming from Flashing Swords Press. I am extremely excited about being in this anthology, as its TOC reads like a Who's Who in upcoming fantasy writers. I am equally excited about the story, for a number of reasons. First, I was able to find some interesting things about the character of Miri, and her changing perception of her terrifying adopted mother. As she grows, her reactions to Ninshi change, and I am finding that perspective very rewarding to explore. Second, the story did some things that I have been slowly working toward with the stories from the start, stylistic things that I have been groping at and have slowing been able to find.

This might be a good place to discuss those stylistic things. For quite a while, the Fantasy genre has been dominated by Jordan-like Tolkien derivatives, massive tomes of castle drama chunked into 500 page doses. I have no problem with that, because of course for the longest time that has been what sold best, but I think that it also has ghettoized an already fairly isolated genre even further. That people read less is not in question, but the fact that Harry Potter openings had to have security guards and Dan Brown's dreadful piece of hackwork sold more copies in five years than Catcher in the Rye has in 40 tells me that people will still buy books, if you give them a fantasy that they actually want to read.

Now, if I knew the secret to what that actually might be, a lot more than the 80 or so people a week who read this blog would be tuning in. But I do know what I'd like to see, what I have spent money on the last 40+ years of my reading life, and a part of that is what drives me to write what I write, in the fashion that I do.

Fantasy has been dominated by the Brits, with even the most American of writers writing Brit tropes, in imitation of Brit writers. I am an American, and while I love me some Tolkien, I also have a taste for American pulp fiction.

It would be ridiculously pretentious of me to say that I really know what I'm doing here, but what I'm trying to do is write Fantasy in a distinctly American voice, with American sensibilities and expectations. I have some thoughts for myself that may be useful for someone else who may have had that nagging little desire to write something different, but hasn't quite figured out what. Not saying anyone else needs to follow Michael's ideas, but they might give you something to think about.

1. As much as I appreciate the term Sword and Sorcery, I'm not certain it applies anymore. To most people it means bad Conan rip-offs on late night TV and Xena the Warrior Princess. Originally it applied to some pretty gritty stuff, including Howard's original Conan, Lieber's anti-heroes Fafred and the Grey Mouser, and Moorcock's very dark Elric stories. These were not written for kids, they were hard-core pulpy works of sock-you-in-the-eye fiction. I'm not certain what we should be calling it, but it is probably time for a re-branding.

2. With that re-branding should come a re-thinking. The genre came from the pulps. They were adventure stories, some with historical basis, many without. In fact, many were closer to westerns or hard-boiled detective stories than the high fantasy of the multi-volume doorstop type. I had a critic call one of my stories "Castle Noir", which I thought was pretty cool. I am thinking that good heroic fantasy might do well to forget the anglophile Tolkien tropes, character types and the whole idea of "races" and concentrate on mood, character, plot and atmosphere rather than the too-often seen half-elf on a quest to partner up with a dragon-rider and a trusty wood ranger.

3. So for this post, I'm going to call the stuff I have been trying to write "Hard-Boiled Fantasy", because those distinctive American forms of the Hard-Boiled Detective and the film noir feeling of failed moral choice and struggle for redemption has guided some of the best, or at least most enjoyable reading and movie-going I have experienced, from High Noon and Shane to The Maltese Falcon and the Long-Legged Fly.

There will be more of this, as I can work it out. As I said, I am groping toward something here, something that I hope will make what I write better for me as the writer and more interesting and alive to you as the reader. I may be miles off base here, but that problem is self-correcting: if people stop buying my stuff or writing me to tell me they like it, then I will know.

In the mean time, feel free to tell me what YOU think in the comments.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Time to do some site work

Clearly, as some things are out of date, and some things just not there. I need to update the publication page, add a page for appearances, and certainly add a page just for The Servant of the Manthycore. The "Read me in 2007" column needs to be archived, and maybe that should be the format for the publication page, going by date rather than catagory.
As always, squeezing out the time is the problem. Any suggestions or things you would like to see? Let me know in the comments!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Preditor and Editors Poll

I have been honored again this year with nominations in the annual Preditors and Editors poll, one for Best Novel for Servant of the Manthycore, and for Best SF/F Short Story, "Stand, Stand Shall They Cry" which appeared in Flashing Swords.
I am once again shameless--- if you haven't already read them, please do so, and if you liked them, please vote for them!
The link is here: http://www.critters.org/predpoll/
Voting ends the 15th of this month.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

This year's first sub

There was a very stimulating conversation over at sfreader a few days back about the basic incompatability of pulp styles and flash. The arguement went that pulp in all its forms was character driven and the constraints of the short form wouldn't allow for it.
I disagreed: one of the prime skills of the greatest of pulp writers, including Lester Dent, Louis L'amour, and even later pulpsters like Stephen King is the ability to create a believable, real-seeming character in just two or three lines.
So I gave it a shot. I went for the pupliest of pulp styles, the French hard-boiled crime story. I set the story in Marsielles in 1960, with an aging thug protagonist lurking through the shadows like Jean-Paul Belmondo in Breathless.
999 words to finish under a thousand, and off to Every Day Fiction. I really had fun writing this noirish pastiche, "After Napier" and I am excited to see what the folks there think of it.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

A Reminder

If you haven't checked it out, Residential Aliens has an anthology. One of the cool things about ezines is the free sample aspect. I have several times discovered some very good stuff by reading the ezine behind the anthology. Gives you a great idea of the editors taste before shelling out for the book form. The anthology is here, and from the reading I have done on the site, the anthology looks like a winner.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Rustycon 25 Schedule

Rustycon 25 is next weekend, locally. Light schedule, but some fun stuff, and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough is the GoH, so we will be harassing her as much as possible:

Itinerary for Ehart, Michael
Moderator in Bold

Sun Jan 13 1:00:pm Sun Jan 13 2:00:pm Christian Fandom
Yestler Boardroom Join others of like mind to discuss Christian Fandom.
Michael Ehart Mir Plemmons J. Spyder Isaacson Janice Clark

Sat Jan 12 8:00:pm Sat Jan 12 9:00:pm Autograph Session With Michael Ehart
Yestler Boardroom Authors & Artists gather to sign their works for you
Michael Ehart

Sat Jan 12 1:00:pm Sat Jan 12 2:00:pm The Joys of Research
Beacon Hill Room - West How much detail is enough to sound credible without bogging down the story. How to avoid "facts" that are irrelevant or inaccurate. How to become an instant expert in time to meet an editorial deadline. How to know that your research is not full of BS because your source (the internet) might have been written by so many idiots?
Jesse Brocksmith Michael Ehart Irene Radford & P.R. Frost Ted Butler Kevin Radthorne Andrew Nisbet

Fri Jan 11 11:00:pm Sat Jan 12 12:30:am Midnight Horror Reading
Yestler Boardroom Bring your favorite horror stories and read them with the group. Share those bloody, gory, nasty moments!
Michael Ehart Douglas Cooper Julie Hoverson

Fri Jan 11 4:00:pm Fri Jan 11 5:00:pm Characters are People Too
Queen Anne -TOP What small details, idiosyncrasies, weaknesses, or foibles have helped bring this or that r protagonists and antagonists to life in books you’ve written ... read? (And what writer isn’t glad that their characters can’t take them to court for intentional cruelty.).
Michael Ehart Julie Hoverson Janice Clark Cynthia Ward Rob Vagle

Their website is here:

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2008

A new year, and plenty to look forward to! Sales of The Servant of the Manthycore are strong, I have stories in at least 2 anthologies coming out soon, as well as a story in a magazine, so I am starting out the year with a handicap of 3 :) I had 14 stories appear in print in 2007-- perhaps I will exceed that in 2008.

Tons of conventions coming up, starting the weekend of the 11th with RustyCon, where my pal Elizabeth Ann Scarborough will be Guest of Honor, then one a month until summer. We are planning on the Nebulas in Austin in April, with a visit planned with Michael Moorcock while we are there.

The plan is to finish the second Manthycore book, The Tears of Ishtar, by mid-year. I will keep you posted on that, too.

Please have a wonderful 2008, will you? Prosperity, peace and publication to all!