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MEANWHILE … Pro Se Presents: THE SALE!

MEANWHILE … across this great nation, the long Labor Day holiday weekend is marked by end of summer barbecues, home-made ice cream, and one last dip in the pool. But once the sun sets, what is there to do?

Might I recommend … reading? And if your looking for something new to read, my friends at Pro Se Productions may have just what you’re after ..,great books from my friends, colleagues, and even a mysterious stranger or two. And they are ON SALE!

pro se sale

Pro Se Productions, a leading Publisher of New Pulp and Genre Fiction, announces its first PRO SE PRESENTS: THE SALE!  From August 29 through September 1st, 2014, select digital titles, regularly prices $2.99, will only be 99 Cents at http://www.Amazon.com!

Read the best Authors in Genre Fiction! Explore Action, Mystery, Horror, and more in a variety of stories that only Pro Se Productions can provide! 20 novels and/or anthologies, every one less than a dollar!

Thrill to the following Pro Se Titles:

A Week In Hell by J. Walt Layne

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Badge of Lies by Jason Kahn

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Ravencroft Springs by Logan L. Masterson

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Vionna and the Vampires by Chuck Miller

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The Bone Queen by Andrea Judy

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City of Smoke and Mirrors by Nick Piers

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Companion Dragons Tales : A Familiar Name by Nancy A. Hansen

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Dramatis Personae: Public Domain by Joseph Lamere

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Fortune’s Pawn by Nancy A. Hansen

fortune

Just the Facts: True Tales of Cops and Criminals by Jim Doherty

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Monster Aces by Jim Beard, Barry Reese, Van Allen Plexico, and Ron Fortier

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Project Alpha by Lee Houston, Jr.

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Rabbit Heart by Barry Reese

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Savage Noir by Greg Norgaard

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Sensible Redhorn by Tim Holter Bruckner

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Snatched! A Kate and Craig Suspense Story by Charles Boeckman

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The Adventures of Peabody Rich by Donna Smith

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The Bishop of Port Victoria by D. Alan Lewis

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The New Adventures of Jim Anthony, Super Detective: The Death’s Head Cloud by Joshua Reynolds

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Young Dillon in the Halls of Shamballah by Derrick Ferguson

DILLON

The Best in Heroic Fiction can be Yours for 99 cents each through September 1, 2014. Pro Se Presents: The Sale!

 

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10 Books with Lasting Impact

MEANWHILE … instead of writing what I was supposed to be writing, I was hanging out on Facebook and Twitter. Yeah, I know “hang out” is a Google+ thing, but we are still allowed to hang out other places, aren’t we? The Google lawyers can’t be everywhere, right? Right?!?

Anyway, if you are doing something vaguely akin to, but not exactly, hanging out long enough, someone is going to challenge you or nominate you or tag you. And that is just what happened.

I was asked what 10 books have stayed with me in some way. Not “what are the best books I have ever read?” Not “what are my favorite books?” But what books have had a lasting impact. The idea is not to give it too much thought. Because really, if you have to think about it, how much impact did it really have?

Here, in no particular order, are my ten:

  • The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

thethreemusketeers-1

  • The Rolling Stones by Robert Heinlein

rolling stones hb

  • Strange Wine by Harlan Ellison

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  • Watership Down by Richard Adams

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  • The Ghost Light by Fritz Leiber

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  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

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  • The Compleat Enchanter by L. Sprague de Camp & Fletcher Pratt

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  • On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers

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  • Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny

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  • Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

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The only rule I self-imposed was only one title per author. I have already written about about The Rolling Stones here at MEANWHILE … I think, as time allows, I will elaborate a bit more on each of these books over the next few weeks.

MEANWHILE … what are your ten?

A Cold Day in Florida – An Ice Cold Day – An #IceBucketChallenge Cold Day

ice-bucket-challenge-fb-user-cover

 

MEANWHILE … it was a cold day in Florida. Ice cold.

Truth be told, I am no Benedict Cumberbatch. But, then who is?

My wife challenged me to the ALS Rice Lice Ice Bucket Challenge. Who was I to refuse? But I wasn’t going down alone.

Watch the video, and after you do, please go to ALSA.ORG and send them a few bucks. If your name is Gary Colabuono, Steve Hockensmith, or John McCarthy … the clock is ticking and the ice is cold.

Like a Rolling Stone …

MEANWHILE … in homes all across America, impressionable young minds were heavily influenced by THE ROLLING STONES. Of course, I am not referring to the bad boys (or should that be grandpas) of rock-n-roll. I mean THE ROLLING STONES by Robert Heinlein.

rolling stones hb

THE ROLLING STONES is one of a baker’s dozen novels that make up Heinlein’s “juvenile” output that started in in 1947 with ROCKET SHOP GALILEO and ended in 1963 with PODKAYNE OF MARS. I am not going to argue that it is Heinlein’s best book or even his best juvenile, but I will claim it as my favorite.

Originally published in 1952 by Scribner’s and serialized that same year in Boy’s Life as TRAMP SPACE SHIP, I discovered it circa 1976 in an Ace Books paperback edition. Now 1976 was probably as different from 1952 as it from 2014, but I maintain that the book is as readable and meaningful now as it was then.

rolling stones pb

It is a hopeful novel, not of a dystopian future as we tend to see dominating today’s YA literature, but of one where there is opportunity for everyone who possesses a touch of intelligence and an industrious streak. It is a tale of adventure with no violence. It features strong female characters. And, while some may scoff or belittle the importance of this, it is a wholesome novel.

THE ROLLING STONES is the story of the Stone Family, several of which show up in later Heinlein works.

Hazel, the grandmother, is the pistol-toting matriarch who supports the family as the writer of an entertaining science fiction serial “The Scourge of the Spaceways” – a role she actually takes from her son.

Roger, Hazel’s son, is an engineer and former mayor, who tries to reign in his family as “captain of the ship” in the sometimes ineffectual but ultimately loved and respected manner of the typical 50’s sitcom father.

Edith, Roger’s wife, is a doctor who is also a master manipulator. She cherishes her family but understands, even if her husband does not, that being a physician is a sacred calling to which she is fully committed.

Meade, the eldest daughter, is being trained in astrogation by her grandmother even though there seems to be the assumption, despite the accomplishments of her mother and grandmother, that her career options are minimal and her best course of action is securing a husband. Not to belabor the point as this really is an enjoyable and entertaining book, but based on the other female characters, I think that Meade is meant to represent the plight of most girls in the 1950s as opposed to the future for which Heinlein hopes.

Buster, the precocious 4-year old of the family, is a chess prodigy and sometimes plot device.

Last, but certainly not least are the twins, Castor and Pollux. They are would-be entrepreneurs of the get-rich quick variety. They are not scammers, but they are certainly schemers. It is those schemes that drive much of the action in the book.

Oh, and let’s not forget the flat cats. If you never heard of flat cats, let’s just say that without them, there would be no tribbles. Of course, without guinea pigs, there would be no flat cats, but those are both different stories entirely.

The story opens in Luna City, a colony on the moon, with the twins looking to buy a used spaceship to become traders. Dad puts the kibosh on that idea, but quicker than you can say, “have spaceship, will travel,” the family buys a second-hand ship and sets out for Mars. Then, as they say, hijinks and bureaucracy ensue.

The tale combines the schemes of the “unheavenly twins” with a hybrid of the westward expansion of America & the post WWII family road trip and plops it into the solar system that the 1950s expected to be explored and colonized by this day and age. Add in a fairly detailed look at how space travel might work (compete with challenges), the commercialization of exploration, and the need some will always have for more elbow room and you have a delightful tale that is a refreshing look at the future that never was.

MEANWHILE … is this on the record?

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Recently I had the pleasure of being interviewed over at the Infinite House of Books as part of the Summer of Pro Se. I encourage you to visit and check out the myriad author interviews, blog tours, book events and more. Shannon Muir runs a great website, Actually I should say websites as you might find these of interest too: Discover Words, Spontaneous Choices, and The Willowbroos Saga.

Following is the interview in its entirety. I plan to elaborate on same of my answers here at MEANWHILE in the foreseeable future.

author interview

Shannon Muir: What initially got you interested in writing?

Greg Daniel: Reading begets writing. Do enough of the former and eventually you start thinking about the latter. I was a voracious reader.

One day after consuming more than my fair share of the Three Musketeers or the Three Investigators or a Robert Heinlein juvenile or a pile of comic books, new characters and new stories rampaged through my mind with enough strength and vigor that I had to do something about them. Next thing I knew, I was a writer.

SM: How did you decide to make the move into becoming a published author?

GD: Honestly, I cannot imagine why anyone would write fiction without intending to publish. From the day I transitioned from ruled notebook paper and pencil to my dad’s old Royal manual typewriter, I wrote to be published.

That does not mean that everything I wrote was publishable – far from it! But if I finished it, I tried to get it published. As a teenager, I accumulated rejections letters from Ben Bova and George Scithers, Paul Levitz and Jack C. Harris, and others. If I bothered to sit down at the keyboard, it was to write something that I wanted to publish.

My problem was there were some very, very, very long stretches when I did not sit down at the keyboard. I read like a writer and I thought like a writer, but I did not write like a writer.

One day I finally realized that I cannot paste the days back onto the calendar or pour the hours back into the clock. If I was a writer, I needed to write and I needed to do so now. A couple of years later, my work is starting to appear in print with more waiting in the wings.

The most recent is “Mike Fink and the River Round-Up” in TALL PULP (Pro Se Productions).

Tall Pulp logo typeset cover

SM: What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?

GD: My goal is to entertain. I am not a prophet, priest, or philosopher (actually I have enough credit hours to be the latter, but that’s another story). I am a storyteller. I tell stories to entertain.

Entertainment can educate, elucidate, encourage, or simply provide escape. But unless it entertains, no one will stick around long enough to realize any other benefits.

SM: What do you find most rewarding about writing?

GD: There are three things that thrill me equally.

One is when I am writing and hear a character’s dialogue in my head and the voice is unmistakably theirs, not mine. At that moment, I know I got them right and if I got them right, there is a good chance, the rest of the story will be right too.

The second is seeing my name on the cover or the table of contents. As I mentioned earlier, I write to be published. Seeing my name is proof that I accomplished that goal.

The third, and the one that I hope never gets old, is hearing someone say they enjoyed my story.

SM: What do you find most challenging about writing?

GD: Writing is like exercise. It takes time and consistency to see results. But if you do it regularly, you will not only realize the benefits, you will enjoy the process. You will look forward to doing it. But miss a day and it can become a week or a month. Then you dread it. You know you need to do it, but you have grown lazy and lethargic.

When you do get back to it, you find you are neither as limber nor as strong as you were and it is frustrating to have to work hard and long to just get back to where you were before you skipped that day.

There are very few full-time writers. Most of my peers, present and past, juggle job(s) and family and other daily demands. If they can find the time and consistency, then I have no excuse. Still, I find it a challenge.

SM: What advice would you give to people wanting to enter the field?

GD: The standard answers are still the best: READ and WRITE.

But let me elaborate by saying:

Read broadly. If all you ever read is within the genre or subgenre in which you wish to write, you will bring nothing new to the reader. To use an antiquated analogy, your writing will be the equivalent of a photocopy of a photocopy. Eventually it will fade to nothing.

Write regularly. I am not saying that you have to write every day and I am not saying that you cannot take breaks. But I am saying that if you establish some sort of regular schedule and adhere to it, you will be a better and more productive writer.

SM: Is there anything else besides writing you think people would find interesting about you?

GD: In the “Brush with Greatness” category: I’ve had afternoon tea with Neil Gaiman, tossed darts with Garth Ennis, and taken Chris Claremont and Dan Jurgens to a haunted house.

In the “More Closely Related to Writing than You Might Think” category: I used to be an avid backgammon and poker tournament player and actually cashed on the World Poker Tour.

In the “Interesting to Me” category: I am happily married to the love of my life and best friend, Judy. We have two amazing children, Alec and Kylie, who are growing up much too fast.

SM: What are the best ways to connect with you, or find out more about your work?

GD: I invite everyone to friend/follow me at the usual social media haunts.

Facebook: Greg Daniel

Twitter: @GregDanielWrite

My blog (Meanwhile … ) is updated semi-regularly at: GregDanielWrites.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

 

How You Doin’?

opening lines

MEANWHILE … Opening lines set the stage. Whether it is a first encounter in a dimly lit club or a meeting with clients in a dark paneled boardroom, the first few words can make all of the difference.

The date or the deal depends largely on whether or not those initial words and sentences elicit a spark of interest. A kind or desperate soul might be patient enough to wait through a mangled start, but most lack the patience. It is either catch them at the beginning or never catch them at all

As a writer, I always strive to create an opening that gets the reader to turn the page. Whether or not I am successful, I suppose, is up to the reader. Assuming that you have read this far … I thought I would share some openings with you and let you tell me if I am successful.

Following are 6 story openings: 2 from published stories, 2 from stories that should be published soon, and 2 from works in progress. Let me know what you think.

 

Doc Claus

Doc Claus

“The Chop Chop Chang Adventure from DOC CLAUS:

With the maiden voyage of the Space Shuttle Columbia only a couple of days away, Ramon’s Restaurant, like the rest of Cocoa Beach, was eager to relive its glory days.  While fresh paint and polished woodwork tried to turn back Father Time, one thing had never changed. There was no question that Ramon’s Caesar salad was still the creamiest, most amazing in the land just as it had been years ago when Alan Shepherd and Gus Grissom were regulars at both the restaurant and Ramon’s Rainbow Room.

But Norman Latham, Doctor Norman Latham, PhD, was not thinking about the Caesar salad. He needed a drink, a drink to still the voice in his head, and Ramon’s was the only place he remembered from the old days. He found a booth in the back where he could talk with some privacy and had that drink and then a few more.

Had it really been over twenty years ago?

“Harvey,” Latham slurred slightly, “Your name is Harvey, isn’t it? You look like a Harvey.  Anyway, Harvey, as I was saying, my team was ready to go before Shepherd.  Before Glenn.  Before any of them. At least Chop Chop Chang made it. Even after everything that happened.”

Tall Pulp logo typeset cover

“Mike Fink and the River Round-Up” from TALL PULP:

Back in sweeter times, back between the wars, travelling men would often stop at this little river town in Kentucky.  Some claimed to come for the waters and others for the peace and quiet.  But, these were travelling men and, truth be told, they came for the poker game that could always be found in the back of Dodd’s Barber Shop.  The amount of money that changed hands in that room was the stuff of legends.  Literally legends, as more than once, the likes of Titanic Thompson or Nick the Greek or someone with a similar reputation sat around that table stacking chips, tossing cards, and spinning yarns.

But that was a generation ago. Oh, there is still a poker game in the back of Dodd’s, but it’s only a couple of times a week now, the players are a lot older, and the travelling men don’t pass through any more unless they are on their way to visit grandkids. The bankrolls and bets tend to be smaller and the stories larger.

It was a crisp winter evening, coming up on Christmas 1961, when Coot Dillingham arrived about twenty minutes into the game shaking the snow from his coat and hat. Coot was spry for seventy-two, with a full head of wavy white hair and mischievous blue eyes.

Meanwhile

 

A soon to be published story featuring Dix Delacorte, a private investigator in Saint Louis, Missouri circa World War II:

In an alley a few blocks away from Sportsman’s Park, a penny clattered to rest no more than a quarter inch from the exterior wall of Bergmann’s Bakery. My penny. I gleefully snatched it up along with the three pitched by the losers. Hard to imagine that there was a time when I would not bother to stop to pick up a penny from the sidewalk. These days, I had no trouble taking pennies from twelve year olds. In this case the three twelve year olds were Johnny Davis, Skeeter Randolph, and Mickey Lowe, part of a group that called themselves the Knothole Gang. As they floundered for excuses for losing to an old man, their emphasis, certainly not mine, I made some reference to candy and babies just for their edification.

What I had neglected to tell them was that I was flush from a nice night at Vic Doyle’s and with flushness came generosity. In my pocket were tickets for the Knothole Gang to the Cardinals doubleheader against the Phillies which would be starting in less than an hour. Actually my gesture was not entirely altruistic; the tickets were more a payment for services rendered. The Gang was a great source of information and errands. And in my business, you can never have too much information or too many eyes and ears.

Right on cue, Cotton Masters and Boo Radcliffe came skidding around the corner. Alternating phrases as they waited for their breath to catch up with them, they spilled the latest news.

“Dix … Dix …” Cotton started.

That’s me. Dixon Delacorte.  Once upon a time I would have followed that up with “of the Saint Louis Delacortes.” For the last eight years, I have followed it with the words “Private Investigator” instead.

Meanwhile

A soon to be published story featuring a character that I cannot discus … yet:

Despite what some may say, I like the quiet life. that’s one of the reasons I left Saint Louis for the Middle East some years ago. The pace is slower. The people are patient. It is an ancient land and an ancient culture and with that comes an appreciation for the simple things in life.

Sure, the cacophony of sounds from car horns to camel bleats and the contrasts of bespoke suits with Bedouin burnooses might strike some as crazy. The bartering in the Bazaar and the incessant demand for baksheesh can appear chaotic to visitors. But from Istanbul to Marrakesh and back to Cairo, I have enjoyed the company of these proud people who seek little more than to provide for their family and please Allah.

These days I have carved out my own quiet little corner in Cairo.

Meanwhile

From Work-in-Progress #1:

As the Great Depression ravaged America, humbling even New York City, and the expanding economic plague wreaked havoc on the great cities of Europe as well, one city in the Orient rose above them all. For those seeking wealth or those already prosperous and seeking only the pleasures their riches could buy, an intoxicating pearl emerged from the Whangpoo River.

Shanghai beckoned the dreamers and the decadent, the rich and the refugees, the adventurous and the artists, along with the criminals and confidence men that congregate wherever money and opportunity meet. There were many Shanghais and occasionally one bled into the other, but it was possible it live in Shanghai as a Westerner and never experience the Orient or as a Chinaman in Old Shanghai eternally avoiding the foreign devils. But for most it was an exotic blend of East and West, an Occidental Babylon.

Meanwhile

From Work-in-Progress #2:

Glorianna Hastings stood with her hands on her hips, wearing nothing but a step-in, as she scrutinized the last two items left hanging in her armoire. One was an empty hanger still swinging from when she pulled the dress free and let it drop to the ground. The other was a gorgeous Coco Chanel number that she just could not cast onto the floor with the others. It was a Christmas gift from her father, just a little over a year ago, in 1928, back when they both thought the party would never end.

Her bottom lip pooched out into a pout, as much out of habit as anything, she stomped her bare foot in frustration. She had business to attend and somewhere amid her myriad of flapper dresses and co-ed ensembles there had to be something to wear. With her toes she poked and prodded the garments on the ground, wrinkling her nose at the options available. She moved to the bed and rustled through the clothing there finding nothing that even earned a second glance. A sigh turned into a soft, almost silent giggle, as she grabbed the Coco Chanel and pulled it on.

 

MEANWHILE … I need to get back to those works in progress ….

 

 

Things are Getting Weird and Wonderful for TALL PULP

weird wednesdays

MEANWHILE … weird and wonderful things lurk over at Shawn Vogt’s weird and wonderful blog — Weird and Wonderful Reads: Rants and Reviews. Take a peak and you will discover great reviews of some marvelous books, comics, and graphic novels.

Recently Shawn reviewed TALL PULPTALL PULP, an anthology from Pro Se Productions, features Tall Tale characters in Pulp-style adventures by authors D. Alan Lewis, Gordon Dymowski, Nancy A. Hansen, Phillip Drayer Duncan, David White, and, I am sure you know by now, me.

Shawn not only provides an outstanding 5-star review but he also shares background material on several of the characters. Check out what he has to say:

Tall Pulp logo typeset cover

Well, I finished reading Tall Pulp the other night, and I was quite impressed! Published by Pro Se Productions, and clocking in at 172 pages, this short story collection was definitely a fun read. I’m from Texas, and I’ve been thrilled with tall tales since I was a small child. The stories contain a mix of historical and fictitious characters, each with their own unique exploits in American folklore. Six heroes. Six authors. Six tales of derring do, and of standing up for what is right. Tall tales filtered through the fast paced, action-packed style of the pulp genre. What more could you ask for? Thrill to the adventures of Mike Fink, King of the River! Fall victim to the charms of Anne Bonny, the Pirate Queen! Marvel at the feats of Joe Magarac, the Man of Living Steel! For fans of the original characters, this is a must have. For those of you who are new to these exceptional characters, you’re in for a treat. Sit back, relax, and lose yourself in the adventure(s). With that, let’s get to my review. As usual, I’ll concentrate on my three favorite stories from the collection. This isn’t meant as a slight to the other authors involved, as they all have wonderful entries in this collection, and choosing a top three was rather problematic on my part. These are the three stories that touched me the most. Here’s the synopsis of my favorite tales…

The collection hits the floor running, with the exciting tale Anne Bonny’s Revenge, by D. Alan Lewis. Anyone who’s not familiar with Anne, here’s a link that contains her known history, and some speculation. You don’t need to read it to enjoy the story, but it does add a bit of extra spice to the adventure, and gives you a clearer picture of her motivation. At the start of this tale, Anne has been incarcerated by the British, on charges of piracy. Her husband, Calico Jack Rackham, and most of the crew of the pirate sloop Revenge, have been sentenced to death, and the sentence has been carried out. Obviously, the pirates have been betrayed, and were rounded up while sleeping off a drunken revel. Only Anne and her friend Mary Read stood fast against the British, and were eventually overpowered. Both women escaped the hangman’s noose by ‘pleading their bellies’, but Mary has since perished in this hellhole of a prison. Anne decides to fight her way clear, and picking a new guard as her prey, comes close to freedom, utilizing her unconventional fighting style. Unfortunately for our heroine, an officer arrives unexpectedly, and puts the kibosh on her escape attempt. Things aren’t quite what they seem, as the two know each other in a rather intimate manner. Whisking Anne away to visit the Governor (of this particular hellhole), a new plan is hatched, which will bring the official a great deal of wealth, put an end to a threat to the British Empire, and gain Anne her freedom. Anne and her lover have a different plan in mind, and hope to win it all on one roll of the die. Fortune favors the bold, after all…

The second of my favorites is Crossing McCausland, by Gordon Dymowski. It features Joe Magarac, the steelworker’s hero who has sprung, fully formed, from a pool of molten steel (here’s a link for those who want to delve into the character’s history). Ever since, Joe has been traveling the highways and byways of America, righting wrongs, and swiftly moving on to his next task. Along the way, he has instructed malcontents on becoming true supporters of the idea, the ideology behind this great country. Mainly, that everyone is free and equal, and that any who cross this principle are treated accordingly. Everyone has to contribute to the greater good, and as such, there are certain people that are inherently unsuited for this role. In this story, Joe has been drawn to the small town of Appleton, Missouri. He’s saved a young child that has been trapped in the local sewer system. Approached by the Town Administrator of Appleton, who is very grateful for the legend’s heroics. Joe is looking for nothing more than a bit of rest, before he moves on to where he is needed next, but things take an unexpected turn. Joe is confronted by Don and Seamus MacKelly, and accused of being a Soviet super-spy, who most likely engineered the event of the lost child himself, to bring publicity and fame to his heroics (and promote the Commie cause, apparently). The absurdity of the situation is evidently lost on the MacKelly brothers, but anything involving independent thought doesn’t seem to be there strong suit. They are, of course, just mindless pawns in another man’s game. Said mastermind is revealed as Robert McCausland, Mayor of the nearby town of Pitchford. He’s got his fingers in quite a number of pies, and Joe’s presence is throwing a monkey-wrench into his well thought out plans. McCausland isn’t at all what he seems, and Joe needs to step lightly…

Last up is my absolute favorite of the collection, Mike Fink and the River Round Up, by Greg Daniel. Some of you may remember Mike appearing in the Davy Crockett miniseries by Disney, which is how I was first introduced to the character. Here’s a link for those of you who want to know more about the character’s history. Mike is the King of the River, a man who outfought, outworked, and pretty much outdid every man he came into contact with. Here’s one of Mike’s brags, which gives you lot of insight into the character (quote courtesy of Walter Blair and Franklin J. Meine, “Mike Fink, King of the Mississippi Keelboatmen” New York 1933).

The redoubtable but semi-mythical Mike Fink, joker, fighter, and king of the boatmen, voiced the sentiments of his class when he bellowed his boast:

“Im a Salt River Roarer! Im a ring-tailed squealer! I’m a reg’lar screamer from the ol’ Massassip’! WHOOP! I’m the very infant that refused his milk before its eyes were open, and called out for a bottle of old Rye! I love the women an’ I’m chockful o’ fight! I’m half wild horse and half cockeyed-alligator and the rest o’ me is crooked snags an’ red hot snappin’ turtle. I can hit like fourth-proof lightnin’ an’ every lick I make in the woods lets in an acre o’ sunshine. I can out-run, out-jump, out-shoot, out-brag, out-drink, an’ out fight, rough-an’-tumble, no holts barred, ary man on both sides the river from Pittsburg to New Orleans an’ back again to St. Louiee. Come on, you flatters, you bargers, you milk-white mechanics, an’ see how tough I am to chaw! I ain’t had a fight for two days an’ I’m spilein’ for exercise. Cock-a-doodle-doo!

He has sometimes been portrayed as a bully and a blowhard, but my favorite stories show him as a good-hearted man, highly loyal, a friend to the end. His rough and tumble nature, and competitive streak lead him astray, now and then. But if you need a friend who will never forget you, Mike’s your man. Greg Daniel begins the story in the 1960’s in a small riverside town in Kentucky, with a bunch of locals sitting down to their usual poker game. One of the men’s recent encounter with a local semi-legendary character (a man called Uncle Danny, remember the name) prompts them to start telling a number of their favorite tall tales. There’s a stranger sitting in at the poker game (a man that is eerily familiar to some of the old-timers) and when the talk turns to the likes of Davy Crockett and Mike Fink, and Mike’s apparent death, the man quietly objects. “That ain’t the way it happened,” he says. Not wanting to provoke the rather wild looking stranger, the men start talking about a more recent tale, one set at the beginning of WWII, in Memphis, where Mike apparently lives on…

When we first lay eyes upon Mike Fink, he’s a shell of his former self. Drunk, bedraggled, and homeless, the man is staggering down the streets of Memphis, apparently not knowing his own name. Until he accosted by four thugs, that is. After they try to teach the old bum a lesson, and knock Mike to the ground, the Salt River Roarer snaps back to his true self! Mike makes rather short work of the idiots, although with a great amount of style. After coming to his senses, and remembering that he is MIKE FINK, his first thought is to find his legendary keelboat, the Gullywhumper. The problem is, after spending a hundred years or so not being himself (and that’s an entirely different story, to be told at another time), Mike initially can’t remember where he has left his beauty. After a bit of a hard think, he hits on it… Cave-in-Rock, the hideout favored by river pirates since America was young. Mike takes to the trail, and after many long days in the wilderness, stops at a tavern in Cairo, Illinois. Looking forward to a something hard to cut the trail dust, Mike stumbles upon a major meeting of the German American Bund (yes, we get to see Mike whip some Nazi butts). After being insulted by one of the Bund members, Mike, true to self, wipes the floor with the entire room full. After the brawl, he makes a couple of new friends that seem to be cut from the same cloth. They both deal themselves in, and the trio sets out on the trail once more. Finding the Gullywhumper is one of their goals, but they also must stop the Bund’s sinister plot…

I want to say that I blazed through Tall Pulp; it was a release that I didn’t want to end, but yearned to find out what came next. I really needed to find out what happened to the characters, and as a result, I finished it in record time. The only drawback is that I’m left wanting more. I’ve told you a bit about my favorites above, but the other stories contained within this collection are top notch. This is my first experience with all the authors involved, and they really impressed me with the quality of their stories, and their readily apparent love for the characters. Some of these characters I was already familiar with, others are brand new experiences for me.

Kudos to all involved! D. Alan Lewis (Anne Bonny’s Revenge) gives us a rousing tale of blood and fire, romance and ultimately, second chances. Skillfully weaving in Anne Bonny’s history, while not letting off the throttle, what we are left with is an entirely satisfying adventure, on all levels.

Nancy Hansen (Freedom’s Road) gives us a story which speaks of inequality on many levels, and the lengths which racists and bigots of all stripes will go to both carry out, and justify their actions. The story both engaged me, and had me seething mad at many points, because of disgusting treatment of the two main characters by the general populace. There were good people in the story, but as in the real world, not enough of them. An excellent, thought provoking story and I truly appreciated the end, and laughed long and hard at the plight of the main antagonist.

Phillip Drayer Duncan (The Untold Legacy of the Bowie Knife) gives us an action packed tale chronicling the secret history of Jim Bowie, and the true reasons behind the legendary Sandbar Fight. A world that I would happily re-immerse myself in, if the author chose to revisit it.

Paul Bunyan in the 23rd Century by David White is a love note to old science fiction epics, such as Buck Rogers and the Lensman series. Paul and his blue ox, Babe, are not actually in the story. Except they are, and on that highly contradictory note, all I have to say is read the story. You’ll understand what I’m talking about after reading it. Salutations to David for coming up with such an outside the box re-imagining of Paul Bunyan!

Gordon Dymowski definitely delivers with Crossing McCausland, and his story is a mix of heroics, old style crime buster stories, and the more poignant examination of a man who is truly different, an outsider by his very nature, who still uses his powers for good. A man who wants to have a life, a real home, but is drawn to where he is truly needed, and consequently, never attains the ideal kept deep within… to be normal, and have a family. Concurrently, it examines the type of people that can have just that, but worry more about gaining wealth, power, and control. A VERY interesting story.

Finally, Greg Daniel‘s Mike Fink and the River Boat Round-Up was just pure, unadulterated FUN! I hung on every word, thrilled to every new adventure Mike and his friends stumbled into, and had a giant smile on my face throughout the story. Plus, Greg knows how to tell a story in style! The overall feel of the story is perfect. Highly recommended, and I absolutely love how he portrayed Mike, along with his two friends. The end of the story brought a tear to my eye, and also brought out a large burst of laughter. Friends to the end…

To sum up, these are some great tales. Regardless of your tastes, this collection contains any number of well written, engaging, and action packed stories. Plus, they’re FUN! Don’t be surprised if you come away from them with a big goofy grin on your face. I know I did! Take a look, you won’t regret it!

Here’s a link to the publisher’s site. Here’s the Amazon page for Tall Pulp. Head on over, take a look around. I’m sure you’ll find many great adventures to lose yourself in. With that, I’ll sign off. Happy reading, all!

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