Halloween Reading

book jack o lanternI had hoped to have more read and reviewed by now.  There should be some posts coming in the next few days.  Once again there are several books I’ve been intending to read for the last few years that I won’t get read by Halloween.  This year I’m just going to read them no matter what, even if Halloween is over when I do.

The picture is from the blog Displays for Small Academic Libraries.  Check them out.  They have some impressive Halloween themed displayed made of books, including a skull and Dracula.

Meet The Winter People

The Winter PeopleThe Winter People
Jennifer McMahon
Anchor Books
MMPB, $7.99
ebook  $7.99

If you’re in the mood for a creepy ghost story that provides plenty of chills, and who this time of year isn’t, then you might want to check out The Winter People. You may have the book. It’s on sale at a lot of the big box stores, such as Wal-Mart. Don’t let that stop you.

Set in the countryside near a small town in Vermont called West Hall, this is the story of Sara Harrison Shea, who died under mysterious circumstances 1908, not long after her daughter was found at the bottom of a well.  Sara’s ghost is said to haunt the area, and she’s something of a local legend.  Her secret diary has even been published.

Or what pieces people have been able to find of it.  But don’t worry.  The missing pieces are included here.  Much of the story takes place in modern times and concerns 19 year old Ruthie.  She lives off the grid with her mother and younger sister in what used to be Sara’s farmhouse.  Ruthie returns home late one night to find the lights on and her mother missing.  This isn’t typical of her mother, especially not in the dead of winter.  While trying to find some clue about where her mother could have gone, Ruthie discovers a copy of Sara’s diary in a secret compartment of her mother’s room. Continue reading

Three Classic Pulps Begin Publishing Again

argosy-front fall 2016There will be a review of a really good ghost story novel posted in the next day or so, but I wanted to pass this tidbit of information along to you.

Mike Chomko announced earlier today via his email list that three classic pulps, Argosy, Black Mask, and Famous Fantastic Mysteries will resume publishing next month.  Mike will have the first new issues premiering at Pulp Adventurecon in November.

Here’s the press release:

Argosy, Black Mask, and Famous Fantastic Mysteries will be returning to magazine format featuring NEW stories by Frederick Nebel, Paul Bishop, and Kimberly B. Richardson. That’s right! Three of the most historic pulp fiction magazines of the Twentieth Century are set to return to magazine format.

This November, Altus Press will relaunch full-length magazines of Argosy, Black Mask, and Famous Fantastic Mysteries in periodical format. These three pulp magazine titles were renowned for the high level of quality fiction which they published for decades.

blackmask-front fall 2016Argosy, Black Mask, and Famous Fantastic Mysteries will be composed of classic fiction from the backlog of The Frank A. Munsey Company, Pro-Distributors Publishing Company, Inc., and Popular Publications, Inc., along with all-new stories and articles.

The first issue of the new Argosy features an ALL-NEW story by Frederick Nebel, along with stories by H. Bedford-Jones, Berton E. Cook, Ralph R. Perry, W. Wirt, Murray R. Montgomery, and Norbert Davis. Argosy’s focus will remain primarily on adventure fiction.

The first issue of the new Black Mask is highlighted by a brand new story by award-winner Paul Bishop, as well as classic hard-boiled detective stories by Carroll John Daly, Frederick Nebel, Raoul Whitfield, T.T. Flynn, Merle Constiner, Richard Sale, and Norbert Davis.

ffm-front fall 2016The first issue of the new Famous Fantastic Mysteries is highlighted by a new short story by Kimberly B. Richardson. It’s rounded out by stories from G.T. Fleming-Roberts, Arthur Leo Zagat, Frederick C. Davis, Hugh B. Cave, Paul Ernst, Wyatt Blassingame, and Wayne Rogers, among others. Famous Fantastic Mysteries will focus on the weird fiction genre.

Each of these magazines enjoyed decades-long publications by a variety of publishers, comprising several thousand total issues. Now owned by Steeger Properties, LLC, these titles will be published on a regular schedule and in print format. These new magazines will be printed in black & white and each is heavily illustrated.

The cover price of each is $15.

Mike is taking orders now, so if you want to make sure you snag a copy, contact him at mikechomko at gmail dot com.

I’m hoping this venture is a wild success.  The magazines have a long and important history

Gemmell Award Winners

The David Gemmell Awards were announced over the weekend.  (Yes, I’m behind and getting further behind every day.)  Congratulations to all the winners and nominees.

The winners are:

The Legend Award for Best Fantasy Novel

The Morningstar Award for Best Fantasy Newcomer

The Ravenheart Award for Best Fantasy Cover Art

  • Jason Chan for the cover of The Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence (Harper Voyager)

The winners were announced September 24, 2016 at Fantasycon. Winners received trophies based on David Gemmell’s novels and characters.  Go here for a complete list of nominees.

The only one of the nominees I’ve read is The Vagrant, and I’m not quite finished with it.  I will say that it’s deserving of the award.  Hopefully I can finish it and get a review up soon.

Return to Sharakhai

Of Sand and Malice MadeOf Sand and Malice Made
Bradley P. Beaulieu
Daw Books
hardcover, 240 pages $18.00
ebook $9.99

I’d like to thank Bradley P. Beaulieu for providing me with the review copy.  I found reading the book to be rather frustrating, not because of any flaw in the story or writing.  Just the opposite.  Life has been chaotic for a number of reasons which are worth getting into.  I’ve been reading the book in snatches, with many interruptions.  I’ve wanted to simply dive in.  Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happened.

But I did manage to carve out some time to read most of the second half over the weekend and finished the last twenty pages tonight.  Of Sand and Malice Made is an excellent fantasy adventure.

It’s also a great introduction to the world of Shattered Sands, which we saw in the first volume of the series, Twelve Kings in Sharakhai (reviewed here).  You don’t have to have read that volume to enjoy this one.  Of Sand and Malice Made is a prequel, telling an adventure of Ceda before the tale of her quest for vengeance against the kings begins.  In fact the kings are hardly mentioned. Continue reading

About Armadillocon

Future Potentate NamebadgeSo, yeah, about Armadillocon. You know, the one that was held at the end of July. While it’s a little late for a con report, I’m going to post a brief one. I’m home waiting on a service technician, who will be by sometime between noon and 5:00. I thought this would be a good time to kill one of the items on my Should Have Already Done List. It’s better than killing someone, such as the person who called at 10:45 wanting to know if I was available because the rest of the service calls are out of town. (No, I thought I made that clear when we talked last week. I have office hours and appointments with students in a few minutes.)

Anyway, I wasn’t planning on going this year, mainly due to distance and money.  Then I learned that Bill Crider, who is a regular, had been diagnosed with cancer.  I thought I had missed the con but found out it was a week later than I’d thought, namely the upcoming weekend.  I looked at the guest list.  None of the headliners appealed, but there was a long line of folks I hadn’t seen in years.  I used to hit Armadillocon just about every year, but since I moved to the other side of the state in 2010, I hadn’t gone.  The summer of 2009 was the last time I was there.

It was a last minute decision, but I was able to make it work.  Armadillocon was one of the first conventions I attended, and it was back at the hotel where it was held the first few years I went.  Nostalgia won out.

Because I literally didn’t register until a few minutes before the preregistration deadline and make my room reservation, I didn’t get the basic room but one a little fancier, at the end of the hall with a balcony.  I came in, noticed a few balloons tied to pieces of candy on the bed, and hit the restroom.  When I came out I saw some items that had been out of my field of view when I got in the room.  A bottle of bubbly on ice with two fluted glasses.  A card in an envelope with a woman’s name on it.  A cupcake alongside a smaller card containing the same same woman’s name.  A bouquet of birthday balloons.  Clearly the front desk had made a mistake. Continue reading

Guest Post by Bradley P. Beaulieu

The good folks over at Ragnarok Publishing are running a Kickstarter for a new anthology featuring female protagonists, Hath No Fury, which ends in a few hours.  They asked me to help get the word out and offered suggestions that would help to do that, including possible guest posts by some of their contributors.  One of the authors with a story in the book is Bradley P. Beaulieu.  His contribution features the protagonist from his current series, The Song of the Shattered Sands.  I reviewed the first volume, Twelve Kings in Sharakai here.

So without further ado, here’s Brad:

I was recently at a convention—GenCon down in Indianapolis—and I was doing a short video interview where we got to talking about the state of the field and how quickly (or not) it changes. My basic take was that it’s a field, much like most of the entertainment industry at large, that’s pretty slow to change.

Why? Well, it’s complicated, but I think a lot of it boils down to how editors (and these days more and more, purchasing panels) decide what a publisher is (and isn’t) going to buy. For the purposes of this conversation, I’m just going to call these folks “editors”, but know that these days it’s almost never a single person that’s making the call, but rather a number of people, including sales, marketing, and other executives—especially if we’re talking about a hot author or property—but it all starts with the editors, so let’s be reductive for the time being. Continue reading

The Last Night of Summer

Well, tonight is the last night of summer.  Yeah, I know that officially summer doesn’t end until the equinox, which is still a few weeks away.  And in the US, Labor Day, which is a week from tomorrow as I write this, is traditionally considered the end of summer.  But classes start in the morning, and my days of at least theoretical flexibility are pretty much gone for the next three and a half months.  In reality, I’ve been back at work and hitting it pretty much full steam since early July with only a few moments here and there to slip away.

Back at the beginning of the summer, I wrote this post, in which I outlined some changes I was implementing over the summer, along with some plans I had.  How did I do on accomplishing the plans? Continue reading

A Review of Datlow’s The Best Horror of the Year Volume Eight

Datlow Best Horror EightThe Best Horror of the Year, Volume Eight
Ellen Datlow, ed.
Night Shade Books
Trade paper $15.99
ebook $14.99

Since this is a review of a horror anthology, I’m going to run with that theme and say August has come from one of the circles of Hell. Just which one, I’m not sure. I need to brush up on my Dante. I finished this book two (three?) weeks ago, and I’m just now getting a relatively quiet and uninterrupted moment when I’m not too wiped out to put coherent sentences together. (The previous post doesn’t count. A careful reading will show I wasn’t in a good mood, and I don’t write reviews when I’m cranky crankier than usual.)  The only part of the process that went the way it should was requesting the book and the quick response.  Thanks to Brianna Scharfenberg of Night Shade Books.  Delays in reading the book and posting the review are entirely mine.

Datlow is one of the most accomplished editors in the field.  I know that any project, whether reprint or original, will have a top-notch selection of stories.  That’s the case here.  Not every story was to my taste, but then I don’t expect them to.  The only anthology that will be completely to my taste will be one I’ve edited, and maybe not even then. Continue reading