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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 ….

 

 

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!

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!

See You on the Radio

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Radio

MEANWHILE … in a time and place where I manually cued up records, played commercials via cart machines, and pulled the latest news off the teletype, I seriously considered a career on the air. But I hung up those headphones long ago.

During the halcyon days of the comic book boom back in the late 80s/early 90s, I occasionally found myself back on the airwaves serving as a pseudo-expert on this or that once-in-a-lifetime event.  It was easy and comfortable and a lot of fun.

Then one day I found myself living a different life in a different world and I was now RADIO SILENT.

But silence is meant to be broken. After more years ago than I care to recall or admit, I stepped up to the microphone once more and let my voice be heard.

I had the pleasure of joining Tommy Hancock (Publisher, Writer, and Pulp Provocateur) on Pro Se Presents: The Podcast at its new home on Jackalope Radio, the internet radio network that brings you Pulped!, Nightwatch and so many other great shows. So spin your interwebs radio dial to Jackalope on Wednesday, July 30, at 7PM Eastern/6PM Central/5PM Mountain/4PM Pacific to hear us talk about TALL PULP and “Mike Fink and the River Round-Up.”

Admittedly, the once mellifluous voice was probably a little scratchy. I am sure that I talked too fast. To paraphrase Gordon Sumner, too often my eloquence escaped me. There are few things more disconcerting than hearing your voice proclaim something to a mass audience that does not correspond to the words your brain intended.

But it was fun and I hope to do more of this in the future.

See you on the radio.

jack-main-top

Quoth the Raven … TALL PULP is 5-Star Pure Pulp

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Raven

MEANWHILE … The Raven, perched upon a bust of Pallas, casts a wise and watchful eye over the words that flow from quill and keyboard.

If you are a fan of New Pulp and Genre Fiction you have probably come across Raven’s reviews on Amazon.com or on his own blog, aptly titled, Raven’s Reviews. If you have not though, I encourage you to seek him out. He is a voracious reader and reviewer and is always happy to discuss books.

Raven was kind enough to publish a glowing review of TALL PULP, the most recent anthology from Pro Se Productions. TALL PULP features Tall Tale characters in Pulp-style adventures by authors D. Alan Lewis, Gordon Dymowski, Nancy A. Hansen, Phillip Drayer Duncan, David White, and, yours truly, Greg Daniel.

But enough preamble, let me turn things over to Raven ….

Tall Pulp logo typeset cover

Tall Pulp edited by Brad Mengel, Nikki Nelson-Hicks, and Frank Byrns

 

Take the Tall Tales stories of America, about such characters as Paul Bunyan, Mike Fink, Joe Magarac, and real people like the female pirate Anne Bonny, the legendary Leatherman, and Jim Bowie; add three fingers of pure Pulp—shaken, not stirred—and you have this excellent book!

 

“Anne Bonny’s Revenge” by D. Alan Lewis

Historically Anne Bonny was one of two female pirates who sailed with Captain Calico Jack Rackham. The other was Mary Read. When the Captain was caught and hanged, the two women plead their bellies, i.e., they were pregnant and went to prison.

This story opens with Anne Bonny attempting escape from the prison where Mary Read has, unfortunately died. Although she wasn’t pregnant when she entered prison, Anne is now by her lover, Lieutenant Joseph Harland who runs the prison.

The two are called before Jamaican Governor Nicholas Lawes. In short order he tells them that he knows their secrets and sends them on a nigh impossible mission: destroy the ships of Captain Vargas Santiago, a Spanish Pirate who was directly responsible for the downfall of Calico Jack…

Mr. Lewis welds blocks of historical semi-fiction together with the arc-welder of pure pulp. The result is a five star story that keeps the attention of the reader to perfection.

 

Freedom’s Road by Nancy A Hansen

Historically the Leatherman was a vagrant who regularly walked a 365 mile route through Westchester and Connecticut. He was named for his unusual leather clothing which he made and repaired himself. He spoke French and had very broken English. He lived in caves and campsites, and walked this route from 1858 until his death in 1889.

Benjamin Bartlett, an emancipated black man lives and works in the area of southern New England. One day he takes up for the Leatherman who is being tormented by a group of local delinquents. The scruffy rabble back off, but their red haired leader promises revenge. And as all the boys are white, Bartlett decides to leave in the company of the Leatherman. Time and again the Leatherman aides this man who helped him; by collecting food for the two of them, and deciding on the best routes to take.

Yet the boys have not been idle, and a professional hunter, a man named Able Kendricks, well known for his outstanding success in tracking wanted men. The tale of two very different men being tracked by this professional and the lengths they go to protect each other makes a great story!

Ms Hansen takes a famous but obscure historical beggar and then layers in the flavor of the plight of black people—even freed they were in danger of being sold back into slavery—to form a cohesive entrée of pure five star Pulp!

 

“The Untold Legacy of the Bowie Knife” by Phillip Drayer Duncan

Historically, Jim Bowie, inventor of the famous Bowie knife was an Indian fighter and soldier of fortune who died at the Alamo, fighting the army of General Santa Anta.

Jim Bowie and his friend Anthony have been hunting when Anthony is attacked by a group of men lead by one Major Norris Wright, a local banker. When Anthony is killed and Bowie assumed dead, Wright leads his men away.

But Anthony isn’t dead just yet, and the story he whispers to Bowie is right out of science fiction. His name is not Anthony but Antonius, he is from Ancient Rome, and Wright is a demon with supernatural powers than only the shard of metal carried by Antonius carries can kill.

Now Bowie takes up the mantle of his fallen friend and vows to complete his quest. And to make the shard easier to use, Bowie has a blacksmith forge it in a large knife blade—the original Bowie Knife, the Arkansas Toothpick!

Mr. Duncan uses the historical to mix with the Pulp to form new shades of color with which to paint a five star masterpiece!

 

“Paul Bunyan in the 23rd Century” by David White

In tall tale lore Paul Bunyan was a giant lumberjack whose logging escapades took him from Maine to California. Babe the Blue Ox was his gigantic friend. Along the way he was responsible for clearing land, The Thousand Islands, and digging The Grand Canyon by dragging his axe through the heat of the desert.

2248 A.D. Man has reached the stars. Man has also along the way nearly destroyed the Earth. The Rain forests are all gone. The United Federation of Earth comes up with a plan to reseed the Amazon Rainforest. One councilman disagrees—Othello Ferax,  Governor of the African Territories. From a long line of Druids, he wants Earth to be abandoned until the planet recovers.

2252 AD. Paul Bunyan, a genetically enhanced beaver—who appears to be an animalistic cross between Captain American and Wolverine—patrols in his ship, Babe.

Othello Ferax and his men are committing sabotage using the stolen super seeds in an effort to discredit the science that has re-grown the rainforest. They have also slain geneticist Karen White, whose formulas produced Paul Bunyan, leaving Paul the only one of his kind. Now Ferax must be stopped. Paul and Babe will have a major role to play before the battle ends.

Mr. White has chosen to build this five star story by blending folklore with science fiction in a brew to sate the thirst of any Pulp reader! A special nod goes out to the author for the subtle references to a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

 

“Crossing McCausland”by Gordon Dymowski

In the world of American Folklore, Joe Magarac is a steel man who walked fully formed from an iron mine. He was a hero to the Steel Industry of the United States.

Joe Magarac is in Appleton, Missouri, an unincorporated town on the outskirts of Saint Louis. He has arrived just in time to rescue a child from certain death in the sewer Oddly he s not well received. While the town manager calls Joe a hero, Don and Seamus MacKelly endeavor to raise the town against our man of steel.

We discover that a man named Robert McCausland, mayor of Pitchford, has great plans for the Appleton area. He wishes to be elected Governor of the area and set up a kingdom where crime will rule. He ruthless kills all in his way, especially those who have gone beyond his orders—or worse, failed him.

Mr. Dymowski combines folklore with crime fiction and a touch of a dystopian future into a five star blockbuster! Great job!

 

“Mike Fink and the River Roundup” by Greg Daniel

Mike Fink, the semi-fictional “King of the keelboaters” has a folklore rich in mighty deeds and shooting contests with Davy Crockett, whose own adventures are semi-fictional. He was the epitome of the river boatmen of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers.

One hundred years have passed from the heyday of Mike Fink, but the riverboater is far from dead. His appearance at a poker game in 1961 send the reader off on the road to adventure.

Fink recalls running into two colorful characters—Monocle Dan MacAuley and Bowleg Bill—about twenty years before in Memphis. Monocle Dan has the best sight of any man and the ability to shoot accurately at things other people can’t even see. Bowleg Bill is sort of like Pecos Bill, able to rope anything he wants.

The two join Fink in recovering his boat, the Gullywhumper. They then begin a campaign against German Bund members who are operating a U-boat in the Mississippi river. The three men have two rather unusual helpers when they seize the u-boat and its crew.

Greg Daniel’s mixture of pseudo-history and folklore comes together in the blender to make five star pure pulp!

Great book!

Now, a question. If I didn’t know the history of all of these fictional and real life characters from the time I was in grade school would I have still loved the book? In other words, will people encountering these characters for the first time have the same wild ride? I say they will. Most will probably spend time researching these characters. And that is what five star pulp is all about, solid entertainment that leaves a taste for more!

Quoth the Raven…

 

Harnessing Heroes and Hyperbole

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Tall Pulp logo

 

When I think of Tall Tales, two things leap to mind: larger than life characters and over-the-top storytelling.  Heroes and hyperbole, if you will.  The heroes and hyperbole formula works pretty well for Pulp too.   In both, the improbable is commonplace and the impossible is just another challenge for the hero to overcome.  The hero is not the simple protagonist from literature class though, he is a HERO.  He runs faster, jumps higher, hits harder, and if he is not the smartest guy in the room, then his horse is.

The primary difference, and therefore the challenge in harnessing both to the same rig, is that Pulp tends to play it straight where Tall Tales relish, more often than not, outlandish humor.

Mike Fink struck me as a character that could effortlessly bridge both worlds.  His adventures were not as outrageous as some of his peers and focused on fighting and shooting, activities common in Pulp.  He would allow for a chase scene on the river as opposed to horseback or the rain slicked streets of New York.  The humor in his tales arises primarily from his braggadocio.  My lead was cast.

Tall Tales do not require a villain per se, but Pulp demands one.  So that was next on the list.

Why does it always have to be Nazis? Simple.   Nazis are always good Pulp villains.   They are also overused enough that there is some built-in self-parody value.  Some research for an unrelated story found me reading about U-boat activity in US waters.  Stick a U-boat in the Mississippi River and I had my villains.

With the easy part out of the way, all that was left was to find some way to twist Mike Fink and a Nazi U-boat into a story.  In the writing world, I tend to fall between pantser and plotter on the scale, but definitely closer to pantser.  I call myself a ponderer.

Things start by pondering the main character and seeking a scene that establishes who he is.  Drinking whiskey had played a big role in the tales of Mike Fink, but rarely was he drunk.  However, that was Mike Fink on the top of his game, the Mike Fink who was King of the River.  Take an older Mike Fink whose best friend is dead and he is accused of being the killer.  Another friend tries to take revenge for the first.  He is alone out west, far from the rivers and woods that are his life.  He learns his only true peer, Davy Crockett, fell at the Alamo.  His fellow river men are pitted one against the other in the Civil War.  If a man was prone to drink, those are excuses aplenty to crawl inside a bottle and stay there.

In the establishing scene, Mike Fink is a disheveled drunk on a one hundred year bender beset by a group of thugs who reckoned he was easy pickings and reckoned wrong.  He avoided confrontation for years as a harmless old sot, but when push comes to shove, he is still Mike Fink.  He just needed to be reminded.

At that point, I planned to grab ahold of Fink’s coattails and go where he dragged me.  What would motivate Fink to action?  Two things:  the river and friendship.   The river part was easy, but friendship would require more pondering.

I briefly considered pairing Fink with a classic Pulp character, but none really seemed to fit well with him.  Also Fink’s character is best displayed in his boastful taunts and I did not want to go tripping over the standard team-up trope from comic books, where the heroes have to fight each other upon first meeting.  It had to be someone who would be willing to play second fiddle, but could still hold their own beside such a colorful character.

I vaguely recalled a second tier Tall Tale character by the name of Bowleg Bill who was a cowboy who longed for the sea.  I envisioned him with a lasso around the U-boat and was sure that he could work in the story.  But there was still something missing; something to both tie everything together and drive the story forward.  I found it, more accurately him, quite by accident.

From the moment I decided to write a story for TALL PULP, I had the opening line in my head.  Back in sweeter times, back between the wars, travelling men would often stop at this little river town in Kentucky.  Problem was Mike Fink could not start there in the shape I needed him.  So what was there to launch the tale and why?

Whatever it was had to hold the reins of Tall Tales and Pulp in both hands.  It was actually already in the opening sentence.  Travelling men.  The larger than life confidence men and gamblers.  Men like Titanic Thompson or his fictional equivalents that populated the writings of Damon Runyon.

Except not them, but the men who, in their youth, had rubbed shoulders, pitched pennies, and played cards with them and, for a lingering moment, fancied themselves good enough to take them — to be them.  But, in the end, lacked the skill or the instinct or the fortitude necessary but would instead blame family or obligations or commitments for not being able to take to the road.  They stayed home, made good, led happy lives, but when they get together they spin yarns, tell lies, remember, and wonder.

Still the one thing to tie it altogether was missing.  My perspective character, Coot Dillingham, was originally going to tell a whopper about how he got out of a speeding ticket.  That did not seem to work.  Then he was going to recount winning a bet about how far it was to town from a guy who had lived there all of his life.  That did not seem to work either.  So I pondered some more.

The little Kentucky town is based on the town where my grandparents lived.  I originally heard the story about the town character blowing on a frozen lock from either my grandfather or uncle when I was very young.  Once Coot told that story and introduced Uncle Danny, everything clicked into place and the wheels turned smoothly.

I needed to harness heroes and hyperbole to have a TALL PULP story.  To make it work, I needed to find its humanity.

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