The Paperback is live, the Kindle edition is coming soon

3d render book on transparentAt long last Bad Dreams & Broken Hearts is out in paperback.

The Kindle edition has been uploaded and should be available in a few days.

It’s been an interesting process.

Generally when I write the pieces all either come together and jell right away, or they never do.

I first invented the city of Dracoheim and the Settled Lands and the Realms of Nightmare for another project altogether.

The first project that I called Bad Dreams & Broken Hearts was a novel, and it was a deliberate attempt to write a Rodger Zelazny-style mythic adventure, with an immortal character who interacted with Gods and Monsters. I had a main character who I named Sam, after the protagonist of Lord Of Light. He was the son of a Lord of Nightmare, and I was trying for a Noir/Fantasy spin on Little Nemo In Slumberland.

Well, I finished that novel, but I didn’t like it. There was too much that almost worked, and not enough that worked well.

But I found myself falling in love with the setting. Not the Realms of Nightmare, but the City–Dracoheim. It’s not like like anywhere else that I’ve run across–the closest is China Mieville’s New Crobuzon. But Dracoheim isn’t Steampunk, it’s based on the Los Angeles of the crime fiction I grew up reading–somewhere in time between Raymond Chandler and Joseph Wambaugh.

Culturally, it’s the Swinging 60’s–not the mythologized nostalgia version of Peace, Love, and Flower Power that is passed off as the 1960s today, but the working man’s view of it that you read in novels actually written during that decade, not just about it.

Dracoheim isn’t a modern decade with magic added, though. It’s world that grew up with magic. Imagine Lankhmar or the World of Greyhawk after an industrial revolution.

So I had a world I loved and a main character who I didn’t. So obviously the next thing to do was to put someone else there and see if I could do better.

Well, I tried. And I won’t say that I entirely failed, you can read the story, “An Interrupted Scandal” in Cirsova #10. I like the protagonist, Dr. Linus Fell, and his solid sidekick, Inspector Vetch. I like the concept of a detective who uses an experimental drug to become super intelligent for short periods. But… there’s something just too Victorian about the locked room mystery and the civilized calling out of the suspects. Too much Chesterton, not enough Chandler. Reviews of that issue said that “An Interrupted Scandal” was the weakest story in it, and I can’t really argue with that.

Then Lagrange Books put a call for Fantasy stories about magic shops, and Erik Rugar walked into my office and introduced himself.

I wanted to write a story in which the owner of the magic shop was the victim of a crime, and Dracoheim seemed perfect for that, and I wanted a protagonist who investigated crimes involving magic, but was not himself a magician or any kind of supernatural creature, just an ordinary cop.

And as soon as Erik pulled up in front of the burglarized magic shop in “Grand Theft Nightmare” I knew I had found my tour guide for the mean streets of Dracoheim. Working class, street smart, a career cop married to his job, struggling to hold on to his sense of right and wrong in a morally gray world where the difference between good guys and bad guys was the price of their lawyers.

So I wrote more Erik Rugar stories. And I knew I wanted to collect them into a book, not just sell them separately. Not a novel, exactly, all of the stories stand alone. But a series of snapshots taken from a career, individual cases fitting together to make a portrait of a good man who makes his living facing bad situations.

I think it works. I think it works really well, and might just be the best thing I’ve written to date. I want it do well, both for my own career and for Lagrange Books. I’ve enjoyed working with Oren Litwin, the publisher, and plan on writing more for him.

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Cirsova Magazine is Open for Submissions! Oct 14th-28th

I sent mine in this morning!

Cirsova

Cirsova Publishing is now accepting submissions for our flagship magazine, Cirsova Magazine of Thrilling Adventure and Daring Suspense!

We’ll be looking to acquire roughly 150k words of fiction to publish in 2020.

Our submission guidelines can be found here; please be sure to read them carefully before submitting.

Some additional suggestions for the kinds of fiction we’re looking for are included in this post.

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Requiem for an Assassin

Farewell, Niblog. We totally stole all his gear and cash–it’s what he would have wanted.

The Mixed GM

There hasn’t been an update from the Sunday night ACKS game in a while. We’re still playing Expedition to the Barrier Peaks (and spots are open!). This past Sunday had not 1, but 2 character deaths!

Meet Niblog the Untrustworthy.

Niblog the Untrustworthy Handsome fellow, ain’t he?

Niblog has been with the party a looooooooooong time. Even was turned to stone for a while.

He got better.

But unfortunately, after tangling with some large spiders…he succumbed to poison. Save or die is a hard way to game, but my players are made of the sternest stuff imaginable.

F.png All my electronic gamer bros… you know what to do!

The player rolled up a new character…with 4 Strength and 6 Intelligence. Sometimes 3d6 in a row can screw you over. But, he went with the punches and we now have a Mothperson Light-Taker with us!

Our second death requires a bit more set-up. Back in

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Switchblade #11

Well, it’s finally here–Switchblade Magazine, Issue 11


I’ve got a story in this one that is kind of a departure from my usual style–by which I mean it’s not SF/F/Horror but Crime Fiction–a new genre for me. “Whatever Lola Wants” is the title and it’s the story of a man backed into a corner who sees only one way out. I tried to capture the feel of Pulp Crime, with an unnamed first person narrator, a mysterious figure from his past, and a desperate crime of cold passion.

It must have worked well enough for Switchblade to buy it. I really want to find out how the crime fiction market takes to it, that’s going to be the real test.

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Hard Weird

I think I’ve come up with a new way to describe what genre it is that I work in.

Hard Weird. 

I think that’s an evocative phrase, and I hope it’s fairly self-explanatory. SF/F fans are familiar with the phrase “Hard SF” and even “Hard Fantasy”, and they should have at least a passing acquaintance with the concept of “Weird Fiction”.

Put them together and you get “Hard Weird”. I have expressed before my admiration for the photorealistic surrealism of Rene Magritte and M C Escher. They did Hard Weird in graphic art, I try to do it in fiction.

To define the genre in more specific terms, I’m going to say the Hard Weird is fiction in which the Fantastic elements are not explained or apologized for, but simply *are*. The stories are told in a prosaic, down to Earth style, without hysteria or hyperbole.

Ordinary people, living ordinary lives, just happen to take an odd turning and are suddenly face to face with a dragon.

These things happen.

Hard Weird should be very solidly grounded in reality in the sense that the Surreal is beyond reality, not in contradiction of it. If Mr. Jones meets a dragon in an alley, it should be a very realistic alley, and Mr. Jones should have a perfectly ordinary reason for being there.

And the Fantastic should not be unrealistic–the dragon should be a perfectly ordinary dragon, as dragons go. By which I mean that one should finish a Hard Weird tale not with the feeling that the story was Fantastic for featuring a dragon, but that reality is somehow amiss for its lack of them.

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Fears of a Clown Anthologies Released

Two interesting collections, one of which I have a story in.

Davetopia

Happy Friday the 13th.

Both volumes of my Fears of a Clown anthology project are now available from major retailers in paperback and eBook.

While actual coulrophobia is rare, many people find clowns scary rather than amusing; and modern media fans that fear. But, what if—instead of being serial killers and Scooby-Doo villains—they were victims and heroes, facing the darkness that lurks both at the edges of reality and in the heart of normal life. What might scare clowns and how might they react?

In these two anthologies, a total of twenty-eight new and established authors give their answer to the question. None of my stories appear, but I picked each of the ones that do.

Front cover art for 'Deadman Humour: Thirteen Fears of a Clown'Deadman Humour

Thirteen Fears of a Clown

In a world of shadows, joyful colours are an act of heroism.
Modern tales are filled with clowns who invoke fear not laughter: painted grins covering fanged…

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Welcome to Dracoheim. Please drive carefully.

The spectacularly talented ArtAnon Studios has produced a map of the Dracoheim Metropolitan Area that will be included in my upcoming Bad Dreams & Broken Hearts.

I’d love to be able to link to ArtAnon Studios webpage, but I don’t have such a link right now. They are, well, anonymous. Very mysterious, in fact. I can’t confirm that they are the secret force behind a shadowy conspiracy to overcome the art world, but I can’t deny it either.

In any event, I am very happy with this map because I think it captures the feel of the stories in the book–LA Confidential with dragons, as it were.

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