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On this Independence Day, could anything be more patriotic than buying a fantasy novel by an American writer published by an American publisher?

Okay, sure, but will those things score you a sword-and-sorcery yarn to read? I think not.


Just one caveat: An earlier version of this novel was published as THE GHOST IN THE STONE. If you allready bought GHOST, I wouldn't want you to buy this one thinking you were getting something 100% new.

Although if you want to see the series continue relatively quickly, you could buy a copy for a friend or post a review. Just a thought.

Anyway, see what the critics are saying.

"Loved the scenes where creatures ripped people apart! My editor always cut that stuff out." -- A. A. Milne

"The hero is a fisherman's son. There should be more fishing!" -- Slade Gorton

"The depiction of the specter character is problematic. #NotAllGhosts" -- Jacob Marley

A new approach to sword and sorcery

It's not easy to come up with a fresh approach to sword and sorcery fiction, but thanks to my chance discovery of the book cover image below, I'm ready to offer something innovative. Enjoy this taste of my forthcoming trilogy starring Borgar the Boppin' Barbarian:

Borgar glared across the smoky coffeehouse at the cloaked and hooded form of the sorcerer known as Zarzanides the Hellborn. Setting down his bongos and drawing his broadsword, the mighty-thawed barbarian growled, "Focus your audio, Daddy-O, 'cause I'm only going to warn you once. No hoodoo cat sacrifices a chick to the Demon Lords of Outer Dullsville while I'm around, you dig?"

That deeply personal and tragic connection

For me, in modern adventure/thriller storytelling, no trope feels trite, predictable, and frequently downright silly more often than the revelation that the protagonist has a deeply personal and preferably tragic connection to the story problem.

In the remake of THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN (which I watched last night and that got me thinking about this), it turns out that Sam Chisholm is helping the beleaguered townspeople because Bartholomew Bogue's men previously raped his mom and killed his sisters.

In SPECTRE, it turns out that Ernst Stavro Blofeld has engineered all the world-shaking threats James Bond has faced through four movies because he's really Bond's resentful foster brother.

Do these revelations really strengthen the stories, or do they just seem contrived? I think the latter. I also think you can have a satisfying story where the protagonist does what he does simply because his sympathies have been engaged, he wants to get paid, or it's his job. Take, for example, the original MAGNIFICENT SEVEN or a whole lot of other 007 stories.

Now, with all that said, aspiring writers, there are clearly many agents, editors, and producers who believe the protagonist's deeply personal connection is exactly what a story needs to sing, so, hey, apply what I've said here with extreme caution. But, readers, I pledge to you that if I ever write a serious story about an Allied soldier fighting in World War II, he won't be on the battlefield because Hitler stole his bicycle when he was a kid.
The complete 2019 Gen Con Writer's Symposium schedule is now available. Just in case there's someone who wants to make sure of seeing me in particular (in the words of Judy Tenuta, "It could happen!"), here my personal WS schedule:

Thursday 1 PM = Writing Convincing Aliens

Friday 3 PM - Light Troops, the Small War, the War of the Outposts

Saturday 11 AM - Be Different, But Not Too Different

Saturday 1 PM - Stories Without A Villain

Gen Con event tickets become available at noon on Sunday. You have to be a badge holder to "buy" them. WS seminars are typically free, but it's still a good idea to get a ticket in advance just to make sure you'll get in.
Some people have asked when a print edition of THE HEP CATS OF ULTHAR AND OTHER LOVECRAFTIAN TALES would be available. The answer is, as of today!

This book from Macabre Ink (an imprint of Crossroad Press) collects many of my best Cthulhu Mythos and cosmic horror stories including three never before published. The tales range through the Middle Ages to the future and from Lovecraft's New England to the stars, and while the predominant vibe is of course horror, there's also some humor as well as some swordplay for heroic fantasy readers.

Bottom line, this is a book I'm quite proud of, and if you haven't already, I hope you'll check it out.
I'm proud to announce the publication of THE HEP CATS OF ULTHAR AND OTHER LOVECRAFTIAN TALES. The book collects thirteen of my best stories of cosmic horror and Cthulhu Mythos shenanigans.

The title novelette and two of the short stories have never been published before.

As you probably guessed, the predominant vibe is horror, but there's also some swordplay and action for those who enjoy my heroic fantasy and even a funny story.

The eBook is available now. The paperback edition will follow shortly.

Please check it out:

2018 Gen Con Writer's Symposium line-up

As you can see, the 2018 Gen Con Writer's Symposium will once again feature a bunch of fine writers and also me.

THE HAND OF RASPUTIN is now available

I'm proud to announce the publication of the first full-length Basil and Moebius novel by series creator Ryan Schifrin and me.

For those tuning in late, Basil and Moebius are master thieves who rather consistently run afoul of the weird. The stories read a bit like the adventures of the Gray Mouser and Fafhrd if those were set in our modern world as seen through the lens of fringe science, urban legend, and the occult.

And if you are turning in late, don't sweat it. The book is written to stand on its own. It was also a ton of fun to do, and I think you'll have a lot of fun reading it. So I hope you'll check it out.

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