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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy 2016

2015 was a great year, and 2016 will be even better


My modest goals as a writer: Write and sell two novels and two short stories every year. I started that practice in 1982, and I completed two novels and ten short stories that year while working a full-time job as a hotel manager. I also served thirty days on active duty as a Chief Warrant Officer with the U. S. Army Reserve. I sold one of those two novels the following year, and the other novel sold in 1985. Four of the ten stories saw print by 1984, and the other six were gobbled up by small press magazines before 1990.

I continued writing two novels and ten short stories each year through 1994. I sold eight novels and fifty-six short stories during that twelve-year period. All eventually appeared in print.

Most went out of print before the start of the new Millennium, although several of my short stories continued to be reprinted in anthologies from Pinnacle or in translations appearing from foreign publishers in various European and Asian languages.

When I returned to writing fiction in 2012, I had the same goal: write two new novels and two new short stories each and every year. I completed Abandoned and Deviants in 2012, Winds and Darkness in 2013, Light, Icepick, and Spilled Milk in 2014,and Meat Cleaver, Axes to Grind, Running Out of Time, and Pinking Shears in 2015. I sold Abandoned and Deviants both in 2014 (Eldritch Press published Abandoned in March 2015 and Damnation Books still hasn’t set a definite pub date for Deviants). Crossroad Press brought out new digital editions of The Devil Made Me Do It, Claw Hammer, and Daddy’s Home in 2014, and they published Pickaxe, Icepick, Pinking Shears, Axes to Grind, Meat Cleaver, and Running Out of Time in 2015.

Three of my short stories appeared in print in 2015. “Dolls” was published in Weirdbook 31 in September, “After the Fall” was published in the Fall 2015 issue of The Horror Zine, and “Who Knows What Evil Lurks” was revised for the August 2015 issue of Pulp Adventures 18.

2015 was very good year.

2016 promises to be even better.

The Devil Mad Me Do It Again and Again, a new short fiction collection containing twenty stories previously-published in anthologies and magazines,  should be out by March.

I’m putting final revisions on Sledgehammer, the latest novel in my Instruments of Death series. Impossible is an sf thriller, part of my Under the Gun series. I’m working on sequels to Spilled Milk, Winds, and Daddy’s Home. Come Hell and High Water is a supernatural thriller about the End of Times. And Final Exam is an exciting forensic science novel with an aging female pathologist who is teamed with a retired detective to teach criminology at a State University. When faculty members become targeted by a serial killer, two over-the-hill sleuths and a handful of students must track down the killer before they become victims themselves.

I’m also experimenting with first-person present tense in short fiction.

2015 was a busy year for public appearances and autographing, and 2016 promises to be even busier. I’m already committed to attending MidAmericon II in KC, Thrillerfest in NYC, Bouchercon in New Orleans, Stokercon in Vegas, and Wiscon, World Fantasy Con, and Windycon in the Midwest.

I wish all of my friends and fans the world over a very Happy New Year. I look forward to seeing you in person in 2016.






Saturday, December 26, 2015

Winning the Numbers Game

Winning the numbers game


Writing is a numbers game. The more you write, the better you get at writing.

The more you write, the more stories you have to submit for publication. The more stories you submit, the better your chances of being published.

More is better. The more mistakes you make, the more chances you will have to correct them when you write new stories. We all learn from our mistakes. It takes some us longer than others to learn from mistakes. But, eventually, we will learn if we keep writing. The more you write, the better you will become at writing. Period. End of sentence.

Reading helps. The more you read, and the wider the scope of your reading, the more you learn. You can learn from the mistakes other writers make. And you can learn from the models they provide when those other writers finally learn to avoid making mistakes and do things right.

To become a best-selling author, you must also build an extensive readership of your own work. Building a readership, like most things in life, is a numbers game. Each editor, each reader, who reads your stories will remember your name if you show any talent at all. They will want you to succeed and they’ll watch for your next work and the one after that and the one after that. As you progress as a writer, they will not only spread the word about your talent but they’ll buy much of what you write. You see, editors and readers love good stories and they are always watching and impatiently waiting for good stories to appear. They know the more you write, the better your stories become. Therefore, the more stories you have in print, the better the chances are that your latest yarns are worth a read.

See how this game is played?




Wednesday, December 23, 2015

On Fiction Awards

I’ve been the chair person of the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker Award (R) Long Fiction Jury for two years and a jury member for another two. Each year I read hundreds of stories between 7500 and 40,000 words and select ten to nominate for superior achievement in long fiction.
Being a jury member is like being an acquisitions editor for a magazine or an anthology. You read through submissions and select the stories that appeal to you and nominate those stories for further consideration by the editorial board. Other editors have also selected their favorites from slush and make their own nominations. A good editor advocates for his or her own selections, and all editors eventually must agree on (or acquiesce to) which selections should be included in the final product.

The Stoker Jury Chairs are not the same as senior editors or editors in chief who make the final decisions. Chairs have only one vote, as do all jury members. The duty of the chair is to ensure the rules are followed and a list of ten superior stories will be presented by January 15th of the following year.

This year I have had the pleasure of reading many outstanding stories that should all receive recognition.I had to re-read several before making my decision which ones I liked best. I narrowed down my selections and sent my list to the other jury members. Now the jury deliberates and decides which to send to the HWA for inclusion on the preliminary ballot. The entire membership gets to vote and select the stories for a final ballot. Then we all get to vote again and the winners receive awards at the annual award ceremonies in May.

Reading great stories is a joy. It is also a very humbling learning experience for a writer in the same genre. Instead of saying “I could have written that” I find myself saying “I wish I had written that” or “I wish I could write like that.”

I have harbored mixed feelings about the value of awards. Award-winning stories can act as role models for other writers and give us something to strive to attain or possibly to surpass. When awards mean more than merely a popularity contest, they can motivate us to achieve our absolute best. Because the HWA Stokers have a juried component, they avoid being only a popularity contest.

Sitting on a professional jury is time-consuming and takes time away from one’s own writing. It’s especially hard when one also has a day job and a family demanding attention. But it is important work and somebody needs to do it.

I want to thank all of the other jury members and the HWA Awards co-chairs, as well as the HWA officers and board members, for volunteering their time. The Stokers are, and always have been, a labor of love.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Win 30 Crime Novels - Crime Writer Sue Coletta

Win 30 Crime Novels - Crime Writer Sue Coletta

Joe McKinney is a great writer

Joe McKinney is a great horror writer and a really nice guy. I was out of the horror industry when Joe burst on the scene with Dead City a decade ago, and I’m only now catching up on all of the great stories and novels Joe’s written since. The Savage Dead (Pinnacle, September 2013) breaks from Joe’s usual “everyman” (average person caught up in extraordinary events) archetype and features three extraordinarily capable characters. Juan Perez and Tess Compton are Secret Service agents assigned to protect Senator Rachel Sutton, an anti-drug crusader in Congress. Pilar (aka Monica Rivas)works for Mexican drug cartel czar Ramon Medina. Juan and Tess foiled two earlier Medina plots to kill Senator Sutton, so Medina goes all out and unleashes a bio-engineered zombie plague aboard a cruise ship where Sutton and her husband, guarded only by Tess, try to save their failing marriage. Medina places Pilar on the same ship with instructions to disable the ship and ensure Sutton dies.
Juan, while investigating the Medina cartel,discovers the zombie plot. He pulls strings at the White House and gets priority to lead a Delta Force SOG rescue of Sutton and Tess. But Juan’s rescue teams are killed by the zombies, and Juan must face the zombie hoard and Pilar’s guns in a desperate race against time. Two F-15s are coming to blow the ship out of the water within minutes. The tension mounts, each chapter is literally a cliff-hanger, and the big-bang finish caps a well-told story that’s a thrill a minute.


Sunday, December 6, 2015

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz is an entertaining thrill ride

The Passenger by Lisa Lutz (Simon & Schuster, March 2016) is a first person narrative by Tanya Dubois aka Jo aka Tanya Pitts aka Jane Green aka Amelia Keen aka Debra Maze. Tanya/Amelia is on the run after her husband Frank Dubois dies. Did Tanya kill Frank? Or was Frank’s death an accident? One mystery leads to yet another as Tanya flees from lie after lie, life after life.
Tanya meets Blue in a bar in Austin, TX. When Mr. Oliver sends 2 men to question or kill Tanya, Blue and Tanya kill the men and escape. They begin visiting funeral homes to steal identities of deceased women. When Blue tells Tanya she’s killed her abusive husband, Jack, Tanya helps Blue bury the body. Blue suggests, since they can’t find a suitable cadaver look-alike, they simply switch identities. Tanya becomes Debra Maze, Blue’s real name, and Blue becomes Amelia Keen.

Tanya seems most at home in a bar. As she moves from town to town, changing identities on the fly, she keeps meeting men in bars. From Austin she flees to Recluse, Wyoming, where she kills the real Jack Reed in self-defense. She flees Recluse for upstate New York.

I won’t tell you Tanya’s real name. I won’t tell you about Ryan nor Mr. Oliver nor why Tanya went on the run in the first place. I don’t want to spoil the mystery.

I will mention Dominick because he’s a recurring figure in Tanya’s life. He’s the one genuinely nice and honest guy in her life, but he’s a cop and he suspects she’s not whom she claims to be and that she might be a wanted murderer.

The Passenger is a well-written mystery story with a compellingly strong female character who grows on the reader as complication after complication screws up Tanya’s life even more. There are so many wonderful twists and turns in this book that you won’t stop reading until you have read all of the story. Despite all of the foreshadowings, the ending comes as a real surprise.

My hat’s off to Lisa Lutz for an entertaining thrill-ride that made me hold onto my seat.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

I Love a Good Story


I bought my daughter a Kindle for Christmas. Tammy was less than enthusiastic when I told her. Like me, she has a house full of books. Neither of us have room left to add new shelves and new books. So I thought a Kindle would be a great gift.
I own a couple of Kindles myself. Plus a Nook. I love being able to carry an entire library with me wherever I go. I love being able to buy a title online from home (often for much less than a paperback or hardback) and have instant access to the book. I love my Kindle. I love my Nook.
But I love the feel of holding a real book in my hands. I love the smell of pulp and ink and glue. I love physical books as much as I love the words printed on their pages.
So does my daughter love to own physical books. She loves to move them around on shelves. She loves to leaf through the pages to pick up bits and pieces of new knowledge. And, when Tammy reads a novel, she loves to become totally immersed in the tactile kinesthetic experience as well as the intellectual experience. She needs to touch the paper to give the experience full meaning. She needs to have real books at her fingertips, not plasticized digital images.
You may have heard that physical books are making a comeback. New independent bookstores are springing up all over the country, and even Amazon has opened its first brick and mortar store filed with real books. Publishers Weekly reports increases in hardbound and paperback sales, and decreases in e-book sales.
And the Book Industry Study Group (BISG) published a study this week proving that library patrons prefer physical books and audio books on CD to digital versions. Library circulation data confirm the BISG findings.
That’s both good news and bad news for writers. The good news is physical books in bookstores and libraries reach real readers who want to buy and read everything a writer writes. The bad news is writers get paid a smaller percentage of hardcover and paperback retail prices than the percentage they’re paid for e-books. Of course, the retail prices of hardbounds and trade paperbacks are usually much higher than e-books. I guess it all comes out in the wash.
Lately, I’ve found myself buying the hardbound or paperback versions over the Kindle or Nook versions, though sometimes I buy both. When Light and Winds and Spilled Milk came out in trade paperback, buyers of the paperback could also purchase a Kindle version for only 99 cents.
A good book is valuable in any form or format. Some folks find it easier to read digital versions. Some find it easier to read print copies. Gretta loved to listen to audio books on tape or CD.
I’m glad to see books are still viable, and I’m happy to see so many people reading or listening to stories in whichever form is most comfortable for them. I also read graphic novels and watch movies based on novels or short stories. I love a good story. Don’t you?

 

 

 

 

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Debt to the Small Press


Many of us sf, suspense, and horror writers owe a debt to the small press.
Those of us who began our careers in the last half of the twentieth century—specifically, the 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s—honed our craft by writing short stories. We had grown up reading pulp magazines and paperback anthologies, and what we aspired most to be in life was a paperback writer who wrote short stories and fast-paced serialized novels sold on newsstands or through subscriptions.
Our heroes had ascended the ladder of success via early short stories published in the pulps: Ray Bradbury, Robert Bloch, Robert Heinlein, Henry Kuttner, C. L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, Andrea Norton, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Fritz Leiber, Fredrick Pohl, Isaac Asimov, H. P. Lovecraft, and countless others. Zane Grey, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Max Brand, Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett, and even Faulkner and Hemingway and Stephen King wrote many short stories for magazines. Seeing one’s own name on a by-line in a magazine was the gold-standard of success.
But television killed most of the markets for short stories, especially pulp-style stories. Smart writers migrated to screenwriting (Richard Matheson, William F. Nolan, Harlan Ellison, C. L. Moore, Leigh Brackett, William Faulkner, and Raymond Chandler were only a few of the more successful screenwriters who got their starts in the pulps). Motion pictures and television shows were really only short stories in disguise. I view television as the modern reincarnation of pulp magazines
As the number of magazine markets dwindled, new writers sought alternate ways to get their stories into print. Fan fiction thrived, and Amateur Press Association APAs—mimeographed or photocopied hand-stapled magazines—achieved significant circulations. Distribution or sales in the hundreds and even thousands provided ways for new writers to get their fiction into print and their names known.
Some amateur publishers became semi-pros, paying ½ cent or a penny a word, almost as much as early pulp magazines had offered half-a-century earlier.
Semi-professional publishers became known as “The Small Press” because their distributions and pay rates were too small to attract professional writers.
Today many of those small presses are called “Independent Publishers” because they aren’t owned or controlled or distributed by one of the Big Five International media conglomerates.
Cemetery Dance Publications, Dark Regions Press, Gauntlet, American Fantasy, and 2AM Publications began as small press publishers of magazines. David B. Silva began The Horror Show as a small press magazine in the 1980s. Dave was a writer himself, and he created a vehicle for new writers—as well as a place for big names like Dean Koontz, Robert R. McCammon, and up-and-coming Joe R. Lansdale—to showcase short stories. Dave achieved newsstand distribution, a consistent quarterly publication schedule, and professional-quality covers and print production. When the First Gulf War glued Americans to their television screens to watch play-by-play CNN or Fox News coverage of the war, sales of newspapers, magazines, and books declined and didn’t recover. Dark Regions, 2AM Magazine, Weirdbook, Pulphouse, Deathrealm, and The Horror Show folded. Only Cemetery Dance survived as a continuously published magazine.
The digital revolution in publishing has seen a rebirth of the small press. Dark Regions Press, Cemetery Dance, and Gauntlet produce exquisite numbered and lettered hardbounds and trade paperbacks. They publish short story collections and novels. I support all of them by buying and reviewing many of their books.
I have supported the small press since the 1970s. I reviewed the small press under my own name and under my Irwin Chapman pseudonym for three decades. I served as the Grievance Officer for the Small Press Writers and Artists Association in the 1980s. I have contributed stories to most of the small press magazines over the years, and many of those stories (along with some of my stories that appeared in anthologies from major publishers) will soon be collected into a new short story collection entitled The Devil Made Me Do It Again and Again.
When Eldritch Press announced in the HWA newsletter that they were actively seeking novels and would pay a professional advance and royalties, I sent them a proposal for Abandoned, the first novel in my Winds-series of Supernatural Thrillers. They replied immediately, and I sent them the full manuscript. They accepted within a week and sent me a written contract that was more than agreeable. In exchange for an advance, royalties, and a one-year reversion or renewal agreement, Eldritch would publish Abandoned as a trade paperback, a hardcover, an e-book, and an audio book. They hired a pro artist to design a dynamite cover.
I informed my then-agent who was very displeased. Two professional publishers had expressed interest, but both were taking their time to make an offer. I withdrew Abandoned from consideration, and my agent and I parted ways.
Michael Randolph, the publisher of Eldritch Press, agreed to hurry the trade paperback into production so the title would be available at the World Horror Convention in Atlanta in May. We agreed on a March 1, 2015 publication date. Abandoned actually appeared on March 3, 2015, and copies were for sale at WHC. Michael said he wanted to wait to release the e-book, hardcover, and audio book until we could get advance publicity into place.
Eldritch Press never did do any publicity, nor did they publish a hardcover or audiobook. I did push Michael into publishing an e-book version at the end of summer.
I recently heard from other Eldritch authors that Michael closed Eldritch Press on November 18. The Eldritch Press website has vanished, along with the Eldritch Press Facebook page. Copies of Abandoned are no longer available for sale on Amazon.com.
I know from experience that the time, money, and energy required to sustain small press operations makes it impossible to live one’s own life. The burden can seem unbearable. If the small press publisher is also a writer, he or she has no time for his own creative writing. Family life goes to hell. Constant demands from authors and distributers destroy perspective. There is simply never enough time for one person—or even a small part-time staff of several people—to do everything required to acquire, edit, format, publish, market, distribute, and publicize multiple books. Necessary accounting for taxes and royalties eat up time and money. Communicating with authors and artists, negotiating contracts, and marketing published and soon-to-be-published works can become a real nightmare.
I don’t know if that happened to Michael Randolph at Eldritch Press. I only know that Michael is no longer communicating with me and Abandoned has gone out of print.
Over the years, I have had 43 stories and novels accepted by small press publishers that never made it into print. At least Eldritch Press actually published Abandoned, and they did a decent job. If I had waited for a major publisher to produce Abandoned, it would still be in production. At my age, I can’t afford to wait.
So, thank you Michael Randolph and Eldritch Press for publishing Abandoned in a timely manner. I wish you well.
And thank you Crossroad Press for wanting to produce a new edition of Abandoned. As soon as I have it edited and I’m certain the rights have reverted to me, Abandoned will be available as an e-book.
I will continue to support the small press whenever and however I can. Despite the temptation of large advances, I can’t afford to wait years for major publishers to bring out my new titles. I owe a debt to the small press for rushing many of my titles into the marketplace. I intend to pay that debt.

 

 

Monday, November 16, 2015

Paul Dale Anderson Writer: SF Conventions

Paul Dale Anderson Writer: SF Conventions: I had the pleasure of appearing on panels and at book signings at Windycon, the ISFIC Science Fiction and Fantasy annual convention in o...

SF Conventions


I had the pleasure of appearing on panels and at book signings at Windycon, the ISFIC Science Fiction and Fantasy annual convention in or near Chicago, Illinois, held this year from Friday, the 13th of November, through Sunday, November 15, in Lombard, Illinois. Windycon is a place where I always connect with old friends, make new friends, and buy a lot of books to get autographed. Regional cons like Windycon and Wiscon and Capricon and Odyssey Con are easier to attend and navigate than Worldcons like Sasquon, MidwesternconII, Bouchercon, Stokercon, World Horror Con, or World Fantasy Con.  

 

As many of you know from previous blog posts here and elsewhere, I attended science fiction and fantasy conventions regularly between the North American SF Convention held at the Galt House Hotel in Louisville, KY in 1979 and the 1993 World Fantasy Con in Chicago. Gretta and I did attend Chicon, the world Science Fiction Conventions, in Chicago in 1982, 1992, and 2002 (and I attended by myself in 2012). We also attended the Nebula Awards in 2005. But from 1996 through 2011, Gretta and I stopped attending sf and fantasy conventions to primarily attend American Psychological Association, American Psychological Society (now called the Association for Psychological Science), Illinois Counseling Association, American Society of Clinical Pathologists, Mid-American Hypnosis, and National Guild of Hypnotists annual conferences instead. As a degreed Educational Psychologist, Board Certified Hypnotist, and NGH Certified Hypnotism Instructor, I presented papers, appeared as a panelist, and earned CMEs. I wore a suit and tie instead of Jeans and T-shirt. I learned a lot and met lots of fascinating people, but I did absolutely nothing to advance my career as a novelist and short story writer.

 

After Gretta died in January of 2012, I began writing new fiction and I gradually began making the sf convention circuits to promote my novels. I continued my successful hypnosis practice until the lease ran out on my office, and I fulfilled my commitment to teach and mentor cohorts of hypnosis students through 2013. Then I closed my practice, and turned my clients over to my newly graduated students. I did attend the NGH and Mid-American hypnosis conferences in 2012, but I also attended Wiscon.  Like Doctor Who, I invited a companion to join me on out-of-this-world fascinating fantasy adventures. Elizabeth Aisling (Lizza) Flygare has been my companion at SF and Fantasy conventions since Wiscon in 2012.

 

Lizza is a mainstream writer and retired Librarian Assistant and not into sf and fantasy. She does appreciate psychological horror and police procedurals, and I’m introducing her to noir. She loves to dress up and she loves to peruse books in the hucksters’ room, but sf and Lovecraftian fantasy isn’t her thing.

 

This was my schedule at Windycon this year:

Saturday 10:00 Autographing: Hallway: Paul Dale Anderson, Bob Garcia, M. Oshiro, K. Wynter

Saturday Noon: Beyond Adams and Pratchett: Junior A: What Humorous Science Fiction/Fantasy Do You Love? Paul Dale Anderson, Alice Bentley (Moderator), R. Garfinkle, C. Johns, Jody Lynn Nye

Saturday 2:00 Is World Building Necessary?  Lilac C: Fritz Leiber, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and others created their worlds as their works evolved.  Can that technique be used by modern authors whose readers have modern sensibilities? Tim Akers, Paul Dale Anderson, Rebecca Frencl, Tom Trumpinski, Gary Wolfe (M)

Saturday 9:00-9:25 Reading: Cypress A: Paul Dale Anderson

 

It was wonderful to reconnect with old friends like Bob Garcia, Steven Silver, Richard Chwedyk, Jody Lynn Nye, Bill Fawcett, Jim Frenkel, Eric Flint, Mike Resnick, Gary K. Wolfe, Glen Cook, Alex and Phyllis Eisenstein, and Blake Hausladen. I was sorry that Gene Wolfe didn’t make Windy this year. Gene was a guest of honor at WFC in Saratoga Springs last week. People of my age find it difficult to attend cons the way we used to. I had to cancel my appearance at WFC in order to make Windycon. There is never enough time and energy to do everything.

 

I am rethinking my scheduled attendance at cons next year. So far I am committed to the following:

April 28-May 1 2016, World Horror Conention, Provo, UT

May 12-15, 2016, Stokercon, Las Vegas, NV

May 27-30, 2016, Wiscon, Madison, WI

August 17-21, 2016, MidamericonII (World SF Con), Kansas City, KS

September 15-18, 2016, Bouchercon, New Orleans, LA

October 27-30, 2016, World Fantasy Convention, Columbus, OH

 

I do plan to attend Windycon 43 in November, but I don’t know the dates.

 

To be honest, that’s more than I can handle at my age. Add signings at bookstores and libraries throughout the year, and I feel overwhelmed.

 

But the thrill of seeing my own novels on display in the dealers’ room, the joy of having strangers come up to me at the autographing table to buy my books and get my scribble, the desire to stay in touch with old friends and make new friends of like-minded people, the pure pleasure of reading my tales to people who listen and ask questions, and the love of discovering new authors and new books drives me to overcome my introversion and participate in even more conventions. I have already signed up for Bouchercon in 2017, and I’m seriously thinking of going to Helsinki Finland for the 2017 World SF Con.

 


 

 

Thursday, November 12, 2015


Ever have a bad day at black rock? Today is mine.

 

An arctic cold front moved in to shake the last leaves off trees and scatter them willy-nilly. Dangerous thunderstorms last night left many residents without power. The winds are so vicious that Chicago has closed the Skyway until further notice. Wind gusts of 60 to 90 miles an hour rip shingles from rooftops and tear down powerlines.

I wrote about killer winds in Winds: A Novel (November 2015, 2AM Publications, ISBN 978-0-937491-16-4), and today I feel like a character from that novel. I feel hunted and haunted and targeted. I’m running for my life in a vain attempt to escape.

 

It’s a perfect day to make revisions to Impossible, the second novel in my Under the Gun series of thrillers. I love the four main characters in Impossible. I don’t want any of them to die. Unfortunately, each of them is hunting the others and it seems impossible that all of them—or any of them—will make it through the entire novel alive.

 

When I’m having a bad day at black rock, the only escape is to write.

 

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Paul Dale Anderson Writer: Back Blast by Mark Greaney is highly recommended

Paul Dale Anderson Writer: Back Blast by Mark Greaney is highly recommended: Back Blast by Mark Greaney (Berkley Books, February 2016, ISBN 978-0-425-2879-3) is an exciting and authentic thriller that reads like a Was...

Back Blast by Mark Greaney is highly recommended

Back Blast by Mark Greaney (Berkley Books, February 2016, ISBN 978-0-425-2879-3) is an exciting and authentic thriller that reads like a Washington Post expose. Back Blast is the best thriller I’ve read in a long time, and I make it my business to read them all.

Court Gentry, “The Grey Man,” is one of the CIA’s top assassins. Court has no idea why he been targeted for termination by Denny Carmichael, Director of CIA National Clandestine Services. When Court sneaks back into Washington, DC, to clear his name or get revenge on Carmichael, all hell breaks loose. Everyone from his former team mates to the US Army JSOC to foreign agents masquerading as DC cops to the POTUS wants Court’s head on a platter.

The story and backstory are tightly told in third person from various POVs. The descriptions of DC locations, weapons, armaments, and aircraft are highly accurate. And I cared about every one of the characters, despite their personal flaws, because their motivations seemed believable.

Back Blast is very highly recommended.

—Paul Dale Anderson, author of Running Out of Time, Spilled Milk, Axes to Grind, and Icepick

Wednesday, November 4, 2015



I have never before asked for reviews nor submitted works for awards. I have never before asked another author for a blurb.
This year is different. This year I turned seventy-one. Most of my friends and many of my acquaintances have perished from this earth. People I depended on to review my works or edit them or recommend them or nominate them for awards are no longer able to do so.
When Gretta, my wife of nearly thirty years, died suddenly of a massive heart attack in 2012, I began writing again from scratch. In essence, I started life over. Writing was all I had to keep myself sane in a world turned upside down. Writing gave new purpose to my life and allowed me to mix fantasy with reality in healthy ways. I completed novels I had started thirty years ago and I began new novels in a variety of genres.
This year—2015—some of those novels appeared in print for the first time. Two new short stories—“Dolls” and “After the Fall”—were published in magazines. Several of my out-of-print novels and short stories were reprinted or appeared as e-books. 2015 has been a marvelous year, and 2016 appears to be even better.
Fame and fortune are fleeting. Some of my titles became momentary best-sellers, then dropped in rank like a rock hurled over a cliff. A few readers were kind enough to write reviews on Amazon or Good Reads. One or two favorable reviews also appeared in magazines or on blogs. I’m grateful for each of those unsolicited reviews, and I hunger for more.
Nelson Algren told me once that a writer needs to ask everyone—friends and strangers alike—to buy his books. “Buy my books and the autograph is free,” he said. “No one will buy your work if you don’t ask.”
Algren was right. Writers must first ask agents or editors to buy their works in manuscript, and then they must ask readers to buy their published works.
It goes against my grain to ask for anything. I was raised to be an independent person, totally self-reliant. If I couldn’t do it by myself, I didn’t bother to do it.
But now I’m asking. I ask you to buy my books and read them. I ask you to leave reviews on Good Reads and Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. I ask you to review my works in print and on blogs. I ask you to talk about my works with anyone who might be interested.
Frederik Pohl used to tell me, when we chatted in con suites at Windycon or Chicon, that a writer is always too close to his own works to judge if they’re good or bad. That’s why we need editors. And reviewers. And awards.
And, I might add, why we need blurbs from other authors. People really do judge books by their covers and cover blurbs from names readers recognize.
Up until now, I have been scrupulous about not allowing burbs on my books. Personal letters from Karl Edward Wagner, Richard Laymon, Mort Castle, Jerry Williamson, Dave Silva, and others who have read my stuff and took the time to tell me nice things about my writing are personal. I treasure them and never asked if I could share them in print.
Nor do I brag about awards I have won or the nominations for awards I haven’t won. I did not solicit those awards and was pleasantly surprised when I received them. I keep the certificates and trophies in the basement where I store old trunk stories, ARCs, page proofs, and thousands of books I have read and cherish. All of my papers and books will pass to the sff archives at Northern Illinois University when I die. I expect the awards will end up there, too.
But I’m alive and well and still writing, and now I’m asking friends and fans and readers and reviewers to consider my latest works for review and for awards. There will be more Paul Dale Anderson novels and stories appearing in print next year and the year after next. I’ll be asking other writers for blurbs to put on the covers.
If you’re an author who wants readers, you’ve got to think long term. No one lasts long-term in this business without a little help from his friends. So, at long last, I’m asking my friends and followers and fans and fellow fiends for help.
If you like my stories, say so. If you don’t like them, say that, too. Let me know if you want to see more of what I write. If you think my stories or novels are worthy of awards, nominate them for a Stoker or a Nebula or a Hugo or an Anthony. But do it only because you want to, not because I asked.



I have never before asked for reviews nor submitted works for awards. I have never before asked another author for a blurb.

This year is different. This year I turned seventy-one. Most of my friends and many of my acquaintances have perished from this earth. People I depended on to review my works or edit them or recommend them or nominate them for awards are no longer able to do so.

When Gretta, my wife of nearly thirty years, died suddenly of a massive heart attack in 2012, I began writing again from scratch. In essence, I started life over. Writing was all I had to keep myself sane in a world turned upside down. Writing gave new purpose to my life and allowed me to mix fantasy with reality in healthy ways. I completed novels I had started thirty years ago and I began new novels in a variety of genres.

This year—2015—some of those novels appeared in print for the first time. Two new short stories—“Dolls” and “After the Fall”—were published in magazines. Several of my out-of-print novels and short stories were reprinted or appeared as e-books. 2015 has been a marvelous year, and 2016 appears to be even better.

Fame and fortune are fleeting. Some of my titles became momentary best-sellers, then dropped in rank like a rock hurled over a cliff. A few readers were kind enough to write reviews on Amazon or Good Reads. One or two favorable reviews also appeared in magazines or on blogs. I’m grateful for each of those unsolicited reviews, and I hunger for more.

Nelson Algren told me once that a writer needs to ask everyone—friends and strangers alike—to buy his books. “Buy my books and the autograph is free,” he said. “No one will buy your work if you don’t ask.”

Algren was right. Writers must first ask agents or editors to buy their works in manuscript, and then they must ask readers to buy their published works.

It goes against my grain to ask for anything. I was raised to be an independent person, totally self-reliant. If I couldn’t do it by myself, I didn’t bother to do it.

But now I’m asking. I ask you to buy my books and read them. I ask you to leave reviews on Good Reads and Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com. I ask you to review my works in print and on blogs. I ask you to talk about my works with anyone who might be interested.

Frederik Pohl used to tell me, when we chatted in con suites at Windycon or Chicon, that a writer is always too close to his own works to judge if they’re good or bad. That’s why we need editors. And reviewers. And awards.

And, I might add, why we need blurbs from other authors. People really do judge books by their covers and cover blurbs from names readers recognize.

Up until now, I have been scrupulous about not allowing burbs on my books. Personal letters from Karl Edward Wagner, Richard Laymon, Mort Castle, Jerry Williamson, Dave Silva, and others who have read my stuff and took the time to tell me nice things about my writing are personal. I treasure them and never asked if I could share them in print.

Nor do I brag about awards I have won or the nominations for awards I haven’t won. I did not solicit those awards and was pleasantly surprised when I received them. I keep the certificates and trophies in the basement where I store old trunk stories, ARCs, page proofs, and thousands of books I have read and cherish. All of my papers and books will pass to the sff archives at Northern Illinois University when I die. I expect the awards will end up there, too.

But I’m alive and well and still writing, and now I’m asking friends and fans and readers and reviewers to consider my latest works for review and for awards. There will be more Paul Dale Anderson novels and stories appearing in print next year and the year after next. I’ll be asking other writers for blurbs to put on the covers.

If you’re an author who wants readers, you’ve got to think long term. No one lasts long-term in this business without a little help from his friends. So, at long last, I’m asking my friends and followers and fans and fellow fiends for help.

If you like my stories, say so. If you don’t like them, say that, too. Let me know if you want to see more of what I write. If you think my stories or novels are worthy of awards, nominate them for a Stoker or a Nebula or a Hugo or an Anthony. But do it only because you want to, not because I asked.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

I'm in Ecstasy!


Today was the official publication date of Winds: A Novel, and I’m ecstatic.

I began writing Winds (working titles “Whispers on the Wind” and “Written on the Wind”) in 1979. The first draft featured Philip Ashur, the main protagonist of a planned series of supernatural fantasies I tentatively titled “Cast Away Stones”. Over the next 35 years, Philip Ashur evolved into the villainous behind-the-scenes manipulator you’ll meet in Winds.

Ashur could astral travel. He learned the precious secret more than 8,000 years ago in the Indus Valley. Philip Ashur wasn’t originally a bad man. In his own way, he was quite heroic. Like all mortals, however, Ashur wanted a way to not only prolong his life but to accumulate incredible knowledge and wealth he could take with into his next lives. Ashur’s fatal flaw was he didn’t care what he had to do nor whom he had to hurt to accomplish his goal. I sought to follow Ashur’s quest for immortality, omniscience, and omnipotence through multiple reincarnations. I think I have done that in Winds. Spoiler alert: Ashur will return next year in Stones.

I pitched the idea to my agent Barbara Puechner in 1989. Barb said she thought Stones and Winds would be my break-out novels. She encouraged me to continue developing those stories. But, she said, editors wanted me to also produce the kind of horror and police procedurals I was already known for, and that’s what I did.

I worked on Winds and wrote a few short stories for anthologies and magazines while Barb took time out to deal with family and personal health issues. Gretta, my wife, also had family and personal health issues in the early to mid 1990s, and I experienced my own health crisis and close brush with death in 1996 and 1997. I didn’t try to find another agent nor attempt to market any of my novels on my own when Barbara Puechner died. I had nearly fifty novels—science fiction, fantasy, horror, westerns, and mysteries—in various stages of completion when Gretta died in January of 2012. If I wanted to see any of those novels in print before I also died, I needed to get busy. I completed twenty 100,000 word novels and began work on several more between January 2012 and November 2015.

4 agents and six respected editors expressed interest in my work, but none wanted to tackle the Winds series. David Niall Wilson at Crossroad Press agreed to reprint my previously published horror novels and short story collections, and David said he also wanted to publish all of my original horror and police procedural novels. I revised those manuscripts and Crossroad Press has been successfully publishing them as e-books for the last two years.

Eldritch Press published Abandoned, the first novel in the Winds-series, in March 2015. I pitched Abandoned as a stand-alone novel to several small presses, and Eldritch was the first to offer me a contract. I wanted to see how Eldritch marketed the book before I offered them the rest of the Winds novels. I’m glad I waited.

Because Eldritch Press did little or no marketing, I revived the 2AM Publications imprint Gretta and I had founded back in 1985. 2AM published Darkness in June, Light in September, and Winds in October. Winds was still in the hands of a traditional publisher in May 2015. The editor loved the novel but the publisher saw no place in their list for a novel with a reincarnation theme. When I received their rejection, I was thrilled. 2AM would publish the novel. If Eldritch Press does not renew their contract for Abandoned, 2AM will publish a new edition of Abandoned late next year.

Likewise, the editors who have considered Spilled Milk for nearly two years without offering me a contract, are out of luck. 2AM Publications will publish Spilled Milk in November 2015.

Some people have cautioned me against publishing too many titles in a single year. When you’re 71 years old and have been writing novels for fifty years and few of your titles are in currently print, you don’t want to wait. And you sure as hell don’t want to use pseudonyms. Been there, done that. I want all of my new books to be published with my byline.

I write every day from 9 AM until 2 PM, and again from 10 PM until 2 AM. I produce at least a thousand words a day of fresh fiction. I write four novels a year with time to do revisions and minimal marketing. Writing has taken over my life.

Although I have had ten new novels appear in 2015, those novels were written long ago and recently revised. I have another forty novels—some in first drafts, many in second and third drafts, and a few in partials with detailed outlines and synopses—in progress. And I have one or two brand new novels on the drawing boards.

I also have a couple of hundred trunk stories I’ll get around to revising for magazines or short story collections.

I have no idea when Damnation Books will publish Deviants. That novel has been under contract for more than a year and no publication date has yet been set.

I have news for all the agents and publishers who said reincarnation doesn’t sell: Reincarnation is the next big thing, bigger even than zombies. During the twenty-plus years that I was a professional hypnotist and past-life regression therapist, I regressed thousands of people who discovered their own past lives. I was completely booked up at conferences, and even today I get people requesting past life sessions every week (I tell them to buy my books instead). True, there are many people who are turned off at the thought that their karma will follow them even after death. The main selling point of Christianity is forgiveness for one’s sins. The fact that one is responsible for one’s actions and must suffer the consequences for everything one does is reprehensible to those people. They’re entitled to their beliefs. I pity them when they stand before their God and must account for what they have done with their talents. They’ll be up the proverbial creek without a paddle. Crying “Forgive me for I have sinned” just ain’t gonna cut it.

Winds is fiction. It’s a suspense thriller. You can read Winds as a stand-alone novel or as part of a series. The same is true of Abandoned, Darkness, Light, Time, and Stones.

I did something completely different with Spilled Milk. Part of that forthcoming novel is written in first person from a female’s POV. Part of Spilled Milk is written in third person from male POVs. Like the rest of my novels, Spilled Milk is not for everyone. It’s filled with graphic depictions of rape, murder, and mutilation and is meant as a cautionary tale. If you’re offended by graphic violence, please do not read Spilled Milk.

Read Winds instead. Then read Darkness, Light, and Abandoned. You’ll be glad you did.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

A Writer's Heaven


Rockford isn’t known for much that’s good. It’s called “Screw City” for a reason.

 

The Stockholm Inn is very good, and Maria’s Restaurant used to be good. The Ratskeller used to be good, too, and so was the Sweden House. The Stockholm Inn is still in business. The others aren’t.

 

Rockford is known for having an exceptionally high crime rate. It’s also known for having an exceptionally low literacy rate. Anyone see a connection?

 

Rockford used to be known as the “Second City”, second only to Chicago in size, culture, and amenities. Now Rockford has diminished to the fifth or sixth largest city in Illinois. Intelligent people abandoned the town in droves, and more leave every day. Rockford is going downhill rapidly, and no one knows how to apply the brakes.

.

 

Rockford used to support a viable community of writers, poets, artists, and musicians. Most have gone elsewhere, although Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick and poet Christine Swanberg still remain in town and only God knows why. New American Theater closed. The only live theater in town is at the local community college during summer months and at the restored Coronado Performing Arts Center when roadshows come to town. The big box Metro Center—excuse me, the renamed BMO Harris Bank Center—has become a venue for ice hockey and religious festivals and no longer includes a regular schedule of musical performance by big name artists.

 

The annual 3-day and 3 raucous night Labor Day “On the Waterfront” music extravaganza fizzled out and exists only in memory.

 

Rockford used to have one of the finest public libraries in the state. Instead of investing in maintaining the library and increasing its collections, the city chose to build golf courses and sports complexes. Soon the main public library building will be torn down while a new indoor mega-sports center appears on the opposite bank of the Rock River.

 

 

Rockford has no new bookstores other than a few Christian booksellers and one pint-sized children’s bookstore. Borders closed and Barnes and Noble moved out of town to nearby Cherry Valley. Toad Hall, one of the best record and book memorabilia shops in the country, is still on Broadway, but it has deteriorated into a ghost of what it once was. Tomorrow is Yesterday has become more of a gaming haven than a comic book emporium and changed its name to Top Cut Comics and then to Top Cut Central. There is a Half-Price Books discount outlet that opened a few years ago. But they carry only remainders and inventory acquired from bankrupted bookstores.

 

 

I left Rockford and I came back. I left the first time when I went away to the University, but I came back to attend Rockford College when John Bennett and Mary Dearing Lewis and Donald Walhout were teaching there. I left the second time to enter the army and complete my formal education. But, eventually, I came back.

 

Declining home values makes Rockford affordable for low-lifes like me. Rockford’s escalating crime rate provides daily inspiration for crime writers like me. Paranoia and superstition and religious fanaticism fuel the fires of horror fiction. Rockford, Illinois, is a wonderful place to observe entropy in action. In short, Rockford is the perfect place to write.

 

Although I miss brick-and-mortal bookstores, Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com make it easy to buy new and used books from the same computer I use to craft my own fiction. Facebook and Skype allow me to stay in touch with other writers throughout the world without leaving my computer. I can easily access library databases and do research on the internet from the comfort of my own home.

 

Because “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown and among his own relatives and in his own household,” I do leave Rockford to make personal appearances and do book signings all over the world. My novels and stories sell well in England and in Europe and Japan and China. I can hop a commuter bus or airline in Rockford and make connections to anyplace I want to travel. Or I can drive to Chicago’s O’Hare and be there in less than two hours.

 

But I return to Rockford to write. No one here knows or cares that I’m a writer. There are too few venues here to bother about doing local autographings, and the local newspaper and radio and television stations prefer to report on true crime and not the imaginings of home-town boys and girls.

 

Crime runs rampant in Rockford. Gunshots are a daily occurrence. No one here pays any attention to the voice of one person crying in the wilderness.

 

Rockford is known as one of the ten worst places to live in the nation. For a crime writer, it’s one of the best.