Visit Homepage
Skip to content

HollowLands Posts

Setting up for an author event

Posted in Artwork, Book Signings, and Events

banner-1_7x3-foot-rgbOn October 9, I’ll be one of several authors at the Foxburg Free Library in western PA, with a table for presenting my books.

For the first time, I’ve had to make the effort to get the full panoply of gear necessary for such a thing. This includes, but is not limited to: display stands for books, tablecloth, business cards, bookmarks, newsletter signup sheets, promo pens, a cash box, receipt books, and (of course) books to sell. Not to mention a gear bag to carry things in. Tape, clamps,… you name it. Everything except lamps, table, chairs, and tent.

Naturally I had some of this already, but now I’m treating it seriously.

Here’s the banner. Click on it for the full effect (it’s 3 feet long).

Drop by the Indie Author Day in Foxburg, PA

Posted in Book Signings, and Events

foxburgfallfestivalSELF-e, which works to distribute independently published work to libraries in the US, has declared October 8 to be Indie Author Day around the country. You can watch a live webcast on Saturday, October 8, at 2:00 EST.

Coincidentally, the Foxburg Free Library, not far from Pittsburgh, is participating in the 13th Annual Fall Festival on Sunday, the 9th, and will be hosting several authors on the premises as part of the festivities.

If you happen to be in western Pennsylvania and fancy spending some time in a lovely autumnal river town, maybe I’ll see you there! I’ll be giving a talk at 11:00 on “Adventures in writing fantasy.” Come by, pick up a few books, and get any books you already have signed.

A defense of popular fiction

Posted in Genre, and Plot

I was reminded today of an excellent essay by G K Chesterton (1901), thoughtfully preserved for us by Martin Ward. Like all such things, the specific references are not necessarily still recognizable, but the core of the essay is both persuasive and witty. Some background on penny dreadfuls here and here.

UPDATE: On the Frank Reade dime novels — some of the earliest Science Fiction.


A Defense of Penny Dreadfuls

G K Chesterton

SpringHeeled JackOne of the strangest examples of the degree to which ordinary life is undervalued is the example of popular literature, the vast mass of which we contentedly describe as vulgar. The boy’s novelette may be ignorant in a literary sense, which is only like saying that modern novel is ignorant in the chemical sense, or the economic sense, or the astronomical sense; but it is not vulgar intrinsically–it is the actual centre of a million flaming imaginations.

In former centuries the educated class ignored the ruck of vulgar literature. They ignored, and therefore did not, properly speaking, despise it. Simple ignorance and indifference does not inflate the character with pride. A man does not walk down the street giving a haughty twirl to his moustaches at the thought of his superiority to some variety of deep-sea fishes. The old scholars left the whole under-world of popular compositions in a similar darkness.

RobinHoodTo-day, however, we have reversed this principle. We do despise vulgar compositions, and we do not ignore them. We are in some danger of becoming petty in our study of pettiness; there is a terrible Circean law in the background that if the soul stoops too ostentatiously to examine anything it never gets up again. There is no class of vulgar publications about which there is, to my mind, more utterly ridiculous exaggeration and misconception than the current boys’ literature of the lowest stratum. This class of composition has presumably always existed, and must exist. It has no more claim to be good literature than the daily conversation of its readers to be fine oratory, or the lodging-houses and tenements they inhabit to be sublime architecture. But people must have conversation, they must have houses, and they must have stories. The simple need for some kind of ideal world in which fictitious persons play an unhampered part is infinitely deeper and older than the rules of good art, and much more important. Every one of us in childhood has constructed such an invisible dramatis personae, but it never occurred to our nurses to correct the composition by careful comparison with Balzac. In the East the professional story-teller goes from village to village with a small carpet; and I wish sincerely that any one had the moral courage to spread that carpet and sit on it in Ludgate Circus. But it is not probable that all the tales of the carpet-bearer are little gems of original artistic workmanship. Literature and fiction are two entirely different things. Literature is a luxury; fiction is a necessity. A work of art can hardly be too short, for its climax is its merit. A story can never be too long, for its conclusion is merely to be deplored, like the last halfpenny or the last pipelight. And so, while the increase of the artistic conscience tends in more ambitious works to brevity and impressionism, voluminous industry still marks the producer of the true romantic trash. There was no end to the ballads of Robin Hood; there is no end to the volumes about Dick Deadshot and the Avenging Nine. These two heroes are deliberately conceived as immortal.

Read More A defense of popular fiction

A rollicking tragic tale

Posted in Other Voices

The Shooting of Dan McGrew herbert blache 11

The Shooting of Dan McGrew: Robert W. Service

A bunch of the boys were whooping it up in the Malamute saloon;
The kid that handles the music-box was hitting a jag-time tune;
Back of the bar, in a solo game, sat Dangerous Dan McGrew,
And watching his luck was his light-o’-love, the lady that’s known as Lou.

When out of the night, which was fifty below, and into the din and the glare,
There stumbled a miner fresh from the creeks, dog-dirty, and loaded for bear.
He looked like a man with a foot in the grave and scarcely the strength of a louse,
Yet he tilted a poke of dust on the bar, and he called for drinks for the house.
There was none could place the stranger’s face, though we searched ourselves for a clue;
But we drank his health, and the last to drink was Dangerous Dan McGrew.

There’s men that somehow just grip your eyes, and hold them hard like a spell;
And such was he, and he looked to me like a man who had lived in hell;
With a face most hair, and the dreary stare of a dog whose day is done,
As he watered the green stuff in his glass, and the drops fell one by one.
Then I got to figgering who he was, and wondering what he’d do,
And I turned my head — and there watching him was the lady that’s known as Lou.
 
His eyes went rubbering round the room, and he seemed in a kind of daze,
Till at last that old piano fell in the way of his wandering gaze.
The rag-time kid was having a drink; there was no one else on the stool,
So the stranger stumbles across the room, and flops down there like a fool.
In a buckskin shirt that was glazed with dirt he sat, and I saw him sway;
Then he clutched the keys with his talon hands — my God! but that man could play.

Read More A rollicking tragic tale

Book Bundles

Posted in Formatting, Publishing, and The Hounds of Annwn

Hounds of Annwn Bundle - 1-5 - Full Front Cover - WidgetBook bundles are one of the great features of the ebook format. It’s technically quite easy to bundle several standalone ebooks together into a single ebook file, whether it’s a collected teaser of your own works, all the books in a series, or samplers from a group of contributors. Some bundles are constructed for a limited time super-sale, and others remain permanently available at discounted but not giveaway prices.

Over the next month or two, I’ll be releasing some permanent bundles for the series books in The Hounds of Annwn. The problem is pricing.

If someone buys all four novels and the short story collection at full price, it costs them $31.95. I’d be happy to sell that as a bundle for 50% off, or $15.99. It’s a nice compromise between the number of people who buy all the series books, and those that don’t.

The problem is, I can’t do that on Amazon, since I’m severely penalized for prices over $9.99, even though it’s to the reader’s benefit. The best I can do is to offer the five-book bundle on other retailers and directly from my own website, and the two volumes of mini-bundles on Amazon, at $9.99. That’s only a third off the full price instead of half off, but what else can I do?

Stay tuned for announcements. The two mini-bundles will be released in August, and the all-books bundle a month or two afterward.
 
Hounds of Annwn Bundle - 1-2 - Full Front Cover - WidgetHounds of Annwn Bundle - 3-5 - Full Front Cover - Widget

Broken Devices has been released

Posted in Broken Devices, Release, and The Chained Adept

Broken Devices - Full Front Cover - 297x459Book 3 of The Chained Adept

CHAINS WITHOUT WIZARDS AND A RISING COUNT OF THE DEAD.

The largest city in the world has just discovered its missing wizards. It seems the Kigali empire has ignited a panic that threatens internal ruin and the only chained wizard it knows that’s still alive is Penrys.

The living wizards and the dead are not her people, not unless she makes them so. All they have in common is a heavy chain and a dead past — the lives that were stolen from them are beyond recall.

What remains are unanswered questions about who made them this way. And why. And what Penrys plans to do to find out.

Order direct from the author, or see the publisher for retail sites.

Broken Devices (excerpt) – Chapter 1

Posted in Broken Devices, and The Chained Adept

Broken Devices - Full Front Cover - WidgetCHAPTER 1

The Grand Caravan arrived that afternoon in sunlight fresh enough with the spring season to ignore the dust of the travelers and settle on the bright colors of their exotic robes and turbans instead.

Outriders had preceded them into Tengwa Tep, and the merchants and citizens of that entrepôt that could spare the time gathered on the southwest outskirts of the city as soon as the news had spread that the Grand Caravan had come, as scheduled, and that the trading season with sarq-Zannib and upstream Kigali had begun for the year.

Penrys rode well back in the caravan, dressed in the riding-length robes that all the dark Zannib wore, men and women, on horseback. Najud, her husband, was near the front, but the rest of her companions, as new to the caravan as she was, chattered excitedly about their first look at a Kigali city, its yellow brick golden in the light from the west, varied by the colorful stucco of its many residential and manufacturing compounds. By comparison, the caravan’s first stop, a few days ago, had just been a large market town.

She’d seen cities before, in Ellech, across the northern seas. Here it was the children that caught her eye—dozens and dozens of them, screaming with excitement. Some were with a parent, but mostly they ran free, the littlest ones trailed by irritated older sisters or brothers. Unlike their elders, with the long single braid that almost all Kigali not in the military used, the children wore their hair loose or, at the most, gathered into a tail.
Read More Broken Devices (excerpt) – Chapter 1

Broken Devices ready for edit

Posted in Broken Devices

Finishing a book “The end” are the finest words in the English language to type on one’s keyboard.

Now I’ve finally got a good answer for the domestic situation portrayed to the left.
 

 

I wrote the last sentence for Broken Devices yesterday. Now its just (!) a matter of editing, mostly copyedit (i.e., proofreading.)  I also have to double-check all the “foreign” words and update the index to match, which takes a little while.

Proofreading

While that’s going on, I need to start book 4 of The Chained Adept, which will conclude the series. There’s no break from daily writing if I want to keep my word count up — all the edit and formatting work for the just completed book becomes work on the side while I make progress on book 4. And in any case, chapter 1 of the next book has to be finished in order to be included at the back of Broken Devices.

Broken Devices is planned for release soon after the 4th of July holiday — the book page here will be updated shortly with all the details.

WritingSolitaireThe final book in the series will be released circa October 1, sooner if possible. That’s a four-book series, in eight months (book 1 was released February, 2016).

I like this new speed!

Meanwhile, procrastination remains the evil enemy…