Slight Change of Plans

In addition to the book signing on Saturday, there was some other excitement in our world.  My son is in the band, and the Area marching competition was Saturday in Odessa.  It was successful.  For the first time in decades, the band from his high school is going to be competing in the state competition.  It’s just after the World Fantasy Convention, and like the WFC, it’s also in San Antonio.

Because Texas has so many high schools, only half of them are eligible to compete at the state level in any given year.  I don’t understand all the details, but it’s based on the size of the school.  From what I understand (and I may be wrong), 1A, 3A, and 5A compete one year and 2A, 4A, and 6A the next year.  Or something like that.  All I know is  that he only gets two chances to go to state while he’s in high school.

Needless to say, my wife and I will be attending.  Yes, I’m going to come home from San Antonio and return two days later.  Because I need to get a lot of work done in advance of both trips rather than one, I’m going into radio silence on the blog for a bit.  The Halloween reviews will resume in November.  I might post a short item or two while I’m at WFC.  If I don’t, then the after convention report will be delayed by about a week.

Signing at Burrowing Owl Books

Photo: Dallas Bell

So yesterday I headed to Canyon, TX, for a signing at Burrowing Owl Books.  I’d like to thank the proprietor, Dallas Bell, for hosting the event.  I had a great time.  Burrowing Owl Books is a welcoming, cozy place.  I wish it weren’t so far away; it’s the sort of place I would hang out in on a regular basis.  They have a great selection of new and used books; I intend to return when I can spend more time.  The selection of regional books looks especially interesting.

The signing was for Road Kill Volume 2Summer Baker was the other author in attendance.  That’s her on the left in the picture below.  The crusty looking guy next to her is me, in case you were wondering.

Summer Baker (l.) and Your Intrepid Blogger (r.) Photo: Dallas Bell

We were sitting at a table just inside the door.  There had been a hard freeze the night before, but the afternoon had warmed up nicely and the door to the shop was open.  Business was brisk, and the first hour flew by.  While we didn’t sell out, most of the books were gone by the time we were done.  Summer and I signed a some stock for the store.  I don’t know if Burrowing Owl does mail order, but you can contact them and ask.

Summer and I had not met before.  We had a chance to chat a bit during the second hour when things slowed down some.  I found her to be a charming and interesting young lady who is very serious about her writing.  She’s a member of a rather large writer’s group.  If I understood her correctly, this was her first professional sale.  I don’t expect it will be her last.

Everyone seemed pleased with the signing and thought it was a success.  I’d like to thank Dallas again for hosting us.  I had a wonderful time.  If you’re in the area, do stop in.  Burrowing Owl Books is on the square in Canyon.  The square is a groovy place with a great coffee shop (I stopped by before driving home) and a tavern (if I hadn’t been driving) along with some shops I’m sure my wife will want to visit.

 

Fiction River Asks Us to Feel the Fear

Fiction River: Feel the Fear
Mark Leslie, ed.
Dean Wesley Smith and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, series ed.
WMG Publishing
Ebook $6.99
Trade Paper $15.99

If you’ve hung around this blog for long, you will probably recognize the name of the anthology magazine Fiction River.  It’s been a while since I reviewed one of the issues.  (No, I won’t look up how long; it will just depress me.)  I’ve dipped into them (I have a subscription), but I’ve not managed to finish any.  That statement shouldn’t be taken as a reflection on the quality on the contents but on my available time.

Anyway, I couldn’t resist reading the current issue given the theme.  (All issues of Fiction River have a theme.)  Editor Mark Leslie has put together a top-notch anthology.

The stories contained herein aren’t all stories of a fantastic nature.  Some are, and those tended to be the ones I liked the most.  Every story deals with fear in its many forms.  Some didn’t work for me, because the things the author dealt with don’t scare.  Spiders for example.  I’m not scared of them.  Snakes, on the other hand.  That’s not to say the stories weren’t well written and even effective.  Just that those particular fears are not ones I share with the authors.

Here’s a look at some of my favorites. Continue reading

Rogue Blades Entertainment is Back!

Rogue Blades Entertainment published some great anthologies but went on hiatus a few years ago.  See my reviews here.  Other than Writing Fantasy Heroes (reviewed here), we’ve not heard much from RBE.

Well, I’m glad to say the silence has been broken.  One of the projects RBE was working on before it went on hiatus was a challenge anthology.  The premise was simple writers were to write a story around both a piece of cover art and a theme.  Kind of like the habit some editors had of commissioning stories based on a finished piece of cover art. Authors contributed their work, which was evaluated blind by a panel of judges.  The top ten stories were selected.

The first Challenge anthology, entitled Discovery, is now available.  The ebook edition is on sale for $5.00.   The print edition will be available within a couple of weeks for $11.00.  I had bought a bundle from RBE, sort of a preorder, but I don’t recall if there are any titles left or if I’ve gotten them all.  No matter.  I’ve bought the electronic version.  Readers of this blog will see some familiar names on the ToC.  (No, I’m not one of them.)

And a personal note to Jason M. Waltz, the publisher of RBE:  It’s good to have you back, brother.  You’ve been missed.  I hope you’re around for a long time, and I wish you all the best.

A Look at Halloween Carnival Volume Two

Halloween Carnival Volume Two
Brian James Freeman, ed.
Hydra
ebook only $2.99

I’d like to thank Brian James Freeman for the review copy of Halloween Carnival Volume Two.  As anyone who has read many of Mr. Freeman’s anthology will know, he puts together a good set of stories.

This is the second of five Halloween themed anthologies, each released on a Tuesday, with the final volume becoming available on Halloween. You can read my review of the first volume here.  I’ll attempt to review as many as possible by then.

Here’s a quick survey of the contents of this volume: Continue reading

When Alice Walks, Alice Stalks

Alice Walks
Michael Aronovitz
Cemetery Dance
ebook $4.99

Alice Walks is one of the best ghost stories I’ve read in quite a while. I bought a few weeks ago and managed to read it last week.

Mikey Fitzsimmons’s father used to be a respected English teacher until a scandal cost him his career. Now he’s the caretaker at the cemetery.  One winter night, Mikey steals his father’s keys and sneaks into the maintenance shed with a couple of friends to smoke a little pot. The conversation turns to Alice Arthur, a girl their age who drowned the previous summer.

Alice is buried in the same cemetery Mikey’s father works for.  Due to a problem with a new embalming process, her coffin is currently sitting open in her mausoleum.  Mikey makes up a story about Alice’s ghost.  One thing leads to another, and the soon the boys are sneaking into her crypt.  After all, what’s a little teenage grave desecration?  Continue reading

A Look at Halloween Carnival Volume One

Halloween Carnival, Volume One
Brian James Freeman, ed.
Hydra
ebook only $2.99

I’d like to thank Bryan James Freeman for the review copy of Halloween Carnival, Volume One.  This is the first of five volumes.  It was published on October 3 of this year (2017).  The remaining volumes will be published a week apart.  As of this writing the third volume dropped yesterday.  I hope to be able to read and review all of them before Halloween.

If the packing on the book reminds you of the Dark Screams series, that shouldn’t be surprising.  They from the same publisher and have the same editor. If you’ve read any of that series, then you know they are going to contain some quality fiction.

Here’s what you get with this volume. Continue reading

Road Kill, Texas Horror by Texas Writers Vol. 2 Now Available

Road Kill, Texas Horror by Texas Writers Vol. 2
E. R. Bills and Bret McCormick, eds.
Eakin Press
Trade paper $19.95
ebook $7.95

Texas is a big place, and it can be pretty scary.  Last year, the first volume of Road Kill made that pretty clear.  You can see my review here.  That volume was 226 pages long.  This year you get 344 pages, a 52% increase in thrills and chills.

I’m honored to be included in this volume.  Here’s what the email sent to authors had to say about events over the next few months:

In the meanwhile, we’ve also already set up several RK2 appearances/signings at some of the best book venues in the state:
October 21 (BOOK LAUNCH): Fleur Fine Books, Port Neches
October 28: Burrowing Owl Bookshop, Canyon
October 29: Book People, Austin
November 4: Fort Worth Restaurant of the Mind
January 23: Brazos Books, Houston
If you’re in the area for one of the launches, please try to stop by and say hello.  I’ll be attending the launch in Canyon, and I’m looking forward to it.
And if you happen to pick up a copy, please leave a review.  It will be much appreciated.

Rough Week

I’ve got several reviews I’m been intending to write, but this week hasn’t been that week.  I hope to have some up by the end of the weekend.

Monday we got word that one of our graduate students who had left the country to present an invited paper at a conference had been denied readmission.  Our TA assignments were already stretched to the breaking point, and now we have to fill another hole in the schedule.  Then Monday evening a student with an illegally obtained handgun fatally shot a university police officer when he was picked up on a drug related incident.  To top the day off, an acquaintance was killed in a collision that night, leaving a young wife and children.

Tuesday there was a fire in one of the dorms, and yesterday a student with no history of health issues had a major seizure in class.

Not the best week for blogging.  By the time I’ve been able to sit down and write anything, I’ve been to brain dead and fried to put words together.  Hopefully next week will be quieter.

Tales From the Magician’s Skull Kickstarter Launches

The Kickstarter for a new sword and sorcery magazine has launched.  Tales From the Magician’s Skull will be edited by Howard Andrew Jones and promises to be one of the top venues for short S&S fiction.

I’ve been excited about this ever since Howard announced it.  This is a print periodical that harkens back to the days of the pulps.  I’ve pledged it.

The table of contents for the first issue has been posted on the Kickstarter page. Check it out.  This is gonna be fantastic.