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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

week

Badge of Lies by Jason Kahn

badge

Ravencroft Springs by Logan L. Masterson

rcr

Vionna and the Vampires by Chuck Miller

vionna

The Bone Queen by Andrea Judy

bone

City of Smoke and Mirrors by Nick Piers

city

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

familiar

Dramatis Personae: Public Domain by Joseph Lamere

dramax

Fortune’s Pawn by Nancy A. Hansen

fortune

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

facts

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

monster

Project Alpha by Lee Houston, Jr.

project

Rabbit Heart by Barry Reese

rabbit

Savage Noir by Greg Norgaard

savage

Sensible Redhorn by Tim Holter Bruckner

sensible

Snatched! A Kate and Craig Suspense Story by Charles Boeckman

snatched

The Adventures of Peabody Rich by Donna Smith

peabody

The Bishop of Port Victoria by D. Alan Lewis

bishop

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

jim

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!

 

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

strange wine

  • Watership Down by Richard Adams

watership down

  • The Ghost Light by Fritz Leiber

ghost light

  • The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

huckleberry finn

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

The_Compleat_Enchanter

  • On Stranger Tides by Tim Powers

stranger tides

  • Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny

amber

  • Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury

dandelion

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?

books

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 ….

 

 

Back on Track with a TALL PULP Roll Call

train tracks

MEANWHILE … the train has jumped the tracks. I have not only been too busy to write what I am supposed to, I have been too busy to write the stuff that I write instead of the stuff I am supposed to. Hopefully that is changing as of now.

My goal is to post here at least three times per week: Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Some may be short and sweet and others may be long and convoluted. Look for the things I hinted at back in my first blog. It may take a few more weeks to get up to speed, but this train is pointed in the right direction.

The relaunch begins with an introduction to the many people involved in making TALL PULP happen.

An anthology is a team effort. There are editors, artists, and, oh yeah, writers involved.

If you have been reading this blog – and you have been reading this blog, haven’t you? – then you have already seen most of the names involved in TALL PULP. I have the pleasure of sharing the Table of Contents with some very talented people and I would like for you to get to know them all a little better. Click on the various and sundry links for bios, blogs, and books.

TALL PULP is published by Pro Se Productions. You can learn more about them here.

Tall Pulp logo typeset cover

It features a fantastic cover by Jeffrey Hayes. Examples of his great artwork can be found on his website at www.plasmafiregraphics.com

Percival Constantine, a New Pulp author and podcaster, handled the formatting and cover design. His website is PercivalConstantine.com.

It takes a village to edit a TALL PULP anthology. In this case it was Brad Mengel, Nikki Nelson-Hicks, and Frank Byrns.

The anthology kicks off with a pirate tale featuring Anne Bonny by D. Allen Lewis. Allen is the author of The Bishop of Port Victoria and other great stories and novels. He blogs at Tales of the Writing Werewolf.

Next up is a story of the Leatherman by Nancy A. Hansen. Nancy is best known for her New Pulp fantasy tales published under her own imprint, Hansen’s Way.

Phillip Drayer Duncan shares how Jim Bowie acquired his famous knife. He is the author of A Fist of Thorns: The First Chronicle of the Moonshine Wizard. Visit his website: http://phillipdrayerduncan.com.

David White contributes a very unique take on Paul Bunyan. David’s latest releases are Magee and Bridgeport Brawler.

Gordon Dymowski (re)introduces us to the Man of Steel — no, not that one — Joe Magarac. Gordon blogs, podcasts, and even writes a web-comic.

That brings us to me. Looks like you have already found my blog. Allow me to encourage you to:

Follow me on twitter: @GregDanielWrite

Like my Amazon author’s page: Greg Daniel Author’s Page

Friend me on Facebook: Greg Daniel

 

See you back here on Wednesday!

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