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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.