Thursday, May 30, 2013

Article: 9 Common Character Types at Brian W. Foster's Blog

If you have a moment, click on over and check out my article posted on Brian Foster's blog:

Link: Nine Common Character Types

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Old West Shootouts

Granted, I've never been in an Old West Shootout, but I've always imagined them to be full of noise and smoke and chaos, resulting in some bullet-ridden bodies. And from what I've read, shotguns were of grave concern to the person facing the wrong end.

The best, or what might be the most accurate, I've come across on the screen has been the final gunfight in Open Range.

Below are video clips. What do you think?

Why have I been thinking about this? Well, one author friend wrote what I'd term a modern western with a bit of romance (Outlaws). Another author friend is soon to release his first western romance--with a touch of paranormal, set in the Old West titled Ghost of Lost Eagle.

The first is a really good read, and I anticipate the second will be as well.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Don't Ever Say a Fantasy Series Can't Make a Long-Lasting Impact

Let's start off with this quote:

“...And he who wields white, wild magic gold is a paradox
For he is everything and nothing
Hero and fool
Potent, helpless
And with one word of truth or treachery
He will save or damn the earth
Because he is mad and sane
Cold and passionate
Lost and found.

It's a song from Stephen R. Donaldson's The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever.

I first read this series back in the early 1980s while in college. I've read it several times since, and occasionally glance back over certain chapters and pivotal events within the series. This is one of the series of books I studied while teaching myself to be a novelist.

If you ask me, it rivals the Lord of the Rings Trilogy by JRR Tolkien in epic scope, storytelling and creating a unique world, characters and cultures. Donaldson didn't create derivative works that included languages of the races and peoples, but as I read the Thomas Covenant Series, I felt the depth and complexity nevertheless.

I enjoyed the series so much that my wedding band is made of white gold. My wife has a white gold ring too. Well, because you never know ;)

I thought it'd look neat to show our rings
in conjunction with my
hardcover edition of Donaldson's book

You might, therefore, guess, I strongly recommend them. Lord Foul's Bane, I will admit, I started once, put it down as it was taking me a while to get through (and I had chemistry and calculus to study) but I came back to it and was and still am glad I did.

I'll close with one of my favorite quotes, which comes from The White Gold Wielder, spoken by Vain, Demondim-Spawn of the Ur-Viles, created for a secret purpose revealed at the end of the series--maybe it sort of gives a little bit away, but not much...

 "It is not death. It is purpose. We will redeem the Earth from corruption."

Who can argue with that objective?

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Interview with Dark Speculative Fiction Author Alan Baxter

Welcome to Up Around the Corner, Alan. Please, take a moment to tell readers here a little about yourself.

I’m a British-born, now Australian author. I write mostly dark fantasy and horror, though I venture into science fiction, crime and other stuff from time to time. I wrote the dark fantasy thriller duology, RealmShift and MageSign, and co-authored the short horror novel, Dark Rite, with David Wood. I’m currently working on book three of a dark urban fantasy trilogy. I’ve also had a very Australian horror/noir novella published, called The Darkest Shade of Grey, and I’ve self-published a noir/sci-fi novella called Ghost of the Black. I’m a big fan of short fiction and have around 50 published short stories in a variety of magazines and anthologies. Other than writing, I’m a personal trainer and martial arts instructor – I run the Illawarra Kung Fu Academy here in my home town on the south coast of New South Wales.

That’s a wide variety of genres and lengths of works, Alan. Very cool.

You’re a martial arts instructor. Double cool. Could you tell us about how you became involved in martial arts and if your martial arts study and instruction has influenced your writing?

I can’t really remember a time when I wasn’t a martial artist. I started in Judo when I was a kid, studied some karate and other things, then discovered kung fu and never looked back. I think it was a combination of being bullied at school and being totally addicted to the Monkey TV show that really did it. That, and I wanted to be a Jedi. When you put all that stuff together, you can’t not find your way to the martial arts, especially the traditional Chinese arts.

It’s definitely influenced my writing. In fact, the trilogy I mentioned above has a career underground martial arts fighter as the protagonist. I’ve always included that kind of influence in my books and stories and I got a bit of a reputation for writing great fight scenes. So much so that I started running workshops on the subject for writers and that led me to write and publish a short ebook called Write The Fight Right.

I’m actually flying down to Adelaide tomorrow to run that workshop for the South Australian Writers’ Centre.

I see many parallels in the arts of fighting and writing and one day I plan to write a book on that very subject. Both martial arts and writing take focus, dedication, a constant struggle to improve and so on.

Up until you mentioned it, Alan, I’d never heard of the Monkey TV show. I initially thought of the Monkees from the 1970s. But I looked it up and makes perfect sense in the context of your answer.

Thinking back, what was your first attempt at writing? What was your first publishing success, and where would you hope to see your writing career a decade from now?

If you haven’t watched Monkey you must rectify that forthwith! It’s a fantastic show, really funny 70s kung fu treatment of the classic Chinese epic, Journey to the West. It’s truly brilliant.

The first attempt at writing I remember is being about 7 years old in middle school. We were told to write a story over the term break. Most kids came back with a few paragraphs about something or other – I came back with about eight pages of story about a dude who goes back in time to the prehistoric era and gets chased everywhere by dinosaurs. Thrilling stuff. My teacher rang my parents, asking why they’d helped so much, and was assured they knew nothing about it. So the teacher apologized to me and them and asked me to read the story to the class. I remember nervously reading it, but then noticing all the rapt faces and I’d discovered the power of storytelling. I always loved reading since I could open my eyes, but now I’d learned what it was to be a storyteller too. Never looked back!

I have no idea what my first publishing success was, to be honest. I remember getting paid $5 for a short horror story – I think that might have been the first time I was ever paid for writing fiction. It’s all so long ago!

Ten years from now? I’d like to see a bunch more novels published. I’d love to get a bigger deal that sees my books in every bookstore and airport. I’d like to have acclaim and awards, loads of short stories published in the best magazines and anthologies, reprints in all the Year’s Best collections. I’d like a few movie deals, a TV series or two, and world tours. I’d like to be Guest of Honour at a Worldcon. Honestly, aim high, right? I would really love to see any markers of success like that, but I’ll be happy if I keep managing to sell fiction and readers keep enjoying it. The more comfortable a living I can make from doing it, the better!

Nothing wrong at all for aiming high.

What has drawn you to writing dark fiction? Also, can you tell us a little about Dark Rite, and how you and author David Wood collaborated on the project?

I never really set out to write dark fiction, it just seems to be what came naturally to me. I’m always drawn to the darker stuff in my reading and in the films and games and so on that I enjoy. I think dark fiction allows us to delve deeper into the truths of human existence and that’s where I like to go. If I’m going to dive into a rabbit hole, I want to follow it all the way down.

Dark Rite came about because David Wood and I had been talking about collaborating for a while. We both write thrillers, but his are more action/adventure and mine are more dark fantasy/horror. We thought trying to combine our styles might be interesting. We talked a lot about the initial ideas and setting and then just went to work. We’d take turns writing a section, send it to the other who would then read over and edit that part, write the next part and send it back. Occasionally we’d have to stop and have a Skype session to figure out problems or discuss ideas. Then we eventually had a whole book and we polished it and tidied it up from there. It was a fun experience and I think we’ve ended up with a great short pulp horror novel. I’m very proud of it.

I’ve read and really enjoyed Dark Rite. Creating a successful collaborative effort isn’t as easy as one might think. With that in mind, what is one thing that you’ve struggled with as a writer?

Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it. So far we’ve had pretty positive feedback across the board, which is always great.

It’s hard to pin down one thing I’ve struggled with. I constantly struggle, as I think most writers do, with the imposter syndrome. The feeling that I’m not good enough to get the publications I’ve had, that people will suddenly realize I’m a hack. I constantly struggle to improve and try to make the next thing better than the last.

Otherwise, the thing that consistently gives me grief is the middle of books. I love starting a new book and barreling into a story. I love approaching the end, tying everything together and heading into the big climax. But the middle, keeping all the threads alive and interesting, keeping the whole plot moving along… I always struggle with that. But I plough on, knowing I can do it if I work hard, and it’s always satisfying to get through it.

You’re far from the only writer that struggles through the middle third of their novels.

Other than writing and martial arts, what’s another thing that you find interesting or really enjoy doing?

To be honest, those things fulfill me most of the time! But other things that are always part of my life are reading, music, travelling, walking my dog, riding my motorcycle. I love gaming and movies, as they have some of the best stories outside of books. I find all those things invigorating and essential to my happiness. Especially when I do most of them with my wife. And now we have a kid on the way, so that’ll change things, I’m sure. That’s the next big adventure heading my way!

Yes, a child is a big adventure—and that’s an understatement for sure!

Before we wrap up this interview, I was hoping you could tell us a little about your novels RealmShift and MageSign, and what you’re working on now.

RealmShift and MageSign are a duology featuring the immortal, Isiah. They are dark urban fantasystories, following Isiah’s difficult task of trying to keep some order among all the gods in the world. They’re essentially magic-fuelled thrillers, full of demons and monsters and fights and gods. I play a lot with various religious mythologies and the powerful underworld that most people have no idea exists. In RealmShift, Isiah has to protect a murdering scumbag, Samuel Harrigan, and get him to the right place at the right time to fulfill a necessary task. Except the Devil is after the same guy, so Isiah has a difficult time of protecting Harrigan while keeping Satan off their tail.

In MageSign, Isiah decides to go after the Sorcerer, the man who made Samuel Harrigan into the deadly blood mage he became. Isiah doesn’t want the Sorcerer creating any more dangerous killers like Harrigan. Except he discovers that the Sorcerer is in charge of a cult of blood that is far bigger and far more dangerous than he ever imagined and they have audacious plans for world domination that Isiah has to try to stop.

I’m currently working on the third book of a new trilogy. They’re dark urban fantasy thrillers again, but with all new characters and story. There is a brief cameo in the first book of characters from the previous duology, so there is a small crossover in worlds, but the new book are otherwise completely unrelated to the Isiah books. The trilogy follows the trials of Alex Caine, a champion underground MMA fighter who has a mild magical talent which greatly enhances his fighting skills. He learns that his arcane ability is far bigger than he realized and from that point on his world turns upside down. Books 1 and 2 of the trilogy are with my agent now and I’m working on book 3 with a view to having a first draft done before the baby is born.

They sound like good reads, Alan! Your description reminds me of The Iron Druid Chronicles, but leaning more on the dark side.

Is there anything else you’d like to add or mention to the readers?

I haven’t read the Iron Druid Chronicles – I’ll have to check them out!

Nothing more to add really, other than please check out my work if it sounds interesting to you – you can learn all you need to know at And please hit me up on Twitter and Facebook any time you like. Thanks for the opportunity to have a chat with you, Terry.

You’re welcome, Alan.

Below you can find Alan Baxter’s brief bio, incuding some links:

Alan Baxter is a Ditmar Award-nominated British-Australian author. He writes dark fantasy, sci-fi and horror, rides a motorcycle and loves his dog. He also teaches Kung Fu.

He is the author of the dark fantasy thriller novels, RealmShift and MageSign, co-authored the short horror novel, Dark Rite, with David Wood, and has around 50 short stories published in a variety of journals and anthologies in Australia, the US, the UK and France, including the Year’s Best Australian Fantasy & Horror (twice – 2010 & 2012).

As well as fiction, Alan is a freelance writer, penning reviews, feature articles and opinion. He’s a contributing editor and co-founder at Thirteen O’Clock, Australian Dark Fiction News & Reviews, and co-hosts Thrillercast, a thriller and genre fiction podcast. He is director and Chief Instructor of the Illawarra Kung Fu Academy. Read extracts from his novels, a novella and short stories at his website – – or find him on Twitter @AlanBaxter, and feel free to tell him what you think. About anything.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

A Few Photos from the Ohioana Book Festival and Reception


At Table with Books on Display

I had a wonderful time meeting readers and a few new authors at the 2013 Ohioana Book Festival. It was my third event with the Ohioana Library and I would love to be invited back again.

The only drawback, and it was a minor one, was the small amount of table space (each author got half of a six foot by 18 inch table). But I've worked with that many times before and considering the number of authors invited, well, I'd rather have less table space and 80+ authors.

Kathy & Me at the at the Reception

The reception was again held at the Governor's Mansion, which is a really neat place to tour. My wife, Kathy, was again able to accompany me. Every time it has been an enjoyable event, with a little food and the chance to meet and talk to fellow authors and the staff at the Ohioana Library.

While touring on our own we found the stone paver for the county where we live (Champaign) along one of the garden walkways.

The Den in the (Ohio) Governor's Mansion

Friday, May 17, 2013

2nd Interview with Author William O. Weldy


For regular visitors of Up Around the Corner, you might recall our first interview with William Weldy back in June of 2012. He has a new release out, The Onion Caper, a novel I thoroughly enjoyed and decided to invite him back to talk about his new novel and whatever else comes up.

Welcome, William. Please, take a moment to tell, or remind, us a little about yourself.

Well… I’m old. As you know, in another life I was a cop. I retired after 33 years and then taught a high school Criminal Justice program for another ten years. Now I have the time to write full time.

I actually started submitting manuscripts to publishers in the early 70’s and have hundreds of rejections letters to prove it. It seems I have finally learned to write more effectively since The Onion Caper is my second book to be published in the past two years. I am particularly pleased that both novels were accepted by the first publisher to whom they were submitted.

Success first time at bat with each novel. That’s great!

What influenced your decision to submit your novels to the publishers you did, and why did you submit your second novel (The Onion Caper) to a different publisher from the first novel (Outlaws)?

The Onion Caper is a Young Adult/Coming of Age novel. I submitted it as such but Musa Publishing didn’t think it fit in that genre so I subbed it to Wings ePress and they accepted it as a YA novel. My next one is a sequel to Outlaws and Musa will have first option on that one.

From your novels, it’s apparent that your experience working in law enforcement has provided background for your novels. What other knowledge and life experiences have found their way into your writing?

I was raised on a small farm as a young lad. That helped with setting for my first novel, Outlaws, and the new sequel to it I’m currently working on. Later I lived in a low rent housing project, and that was the early setting for The Onion Caper, where Cole gets tied in with the Shaw brothers. I think my professional interaction with a wide variety of people gave me a good ear for dialogue. That always helps writers.

As a kid, what novel or series do you fondly remember reading and as an adult, what is a novel or series you’re glad you read?

Actually, as a kid I didn’t read much. Mostly comic books and car magazines. I did read some of the Hardy Brothers series but not all of them, and of course Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn. As a young adult, I went through a stage of reading many of the classic that I missed in my youth. Loved Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck, and even Fitzgerald. Then I evolved into the action/adventure and detective novels. I started with Mickey Spillane and Richard Prather. I read all of theirs, and now, many of today’s top sellers. I guess the series I’ve loved the best are by Terry Pratchett, the Disc World series.

Quite a spread and variety of reading. Here’s a bit of an off the wall question: If you were asked to put one item and one written piece of advice into a time capsule, to be opened almost one thousand years from now, say 3000 AD, what would you place in the capsule?

Boy, that is a tough one because so many answers come to mind. I thought of a fishing pole with lures and instructions on how to use, a 45 RPM record of Elvis, a Swiss army knife, my guitar, etc. But in the end, I think I’d put in a study bible with the words: PAY ATTENTION.

Good answer, William. In your most recent release, The Onion Caper, can you tell us a little bit about it, and maybe one lesson the main character learned?

It’s about a young shy boy, Cole McKenna, embarrassed by his living in the low rent projects in a small town. He gets in with a bad group and they get arrested for stealing onions. Later, when the store where Cole works part-time gets burglarized and he is a suspect, Cole is driven to help Officer Bradley find the real thieves.

Then in high school, Officer Bradley once again calls upon Cole to help him investigate drug sales in the school. Impetuously Cole and his sidekick, Dave, get in over their heads when they follow the suspected dealers and nearly get themselves killed when a fight breaks out. Along the way Cole learns that action without thought can lead to danger. He also comes to understand that living conditions do not define the person – actions and character do.

Having had two novels published, what is something you’ve learned that you’d like to share with writers working to get their first novel published?

Most people who write novel length stories do so simply because they love to write. Sure, I think we all cherish the accolades from our friends and loved ones and the satisfaction of having finished a book. For me that was enough for a lot of years. Even with all the praise, I knew none of my manuscripts were publishable. A serious writer who wants to be published must seek unbiased, intelligent criticism and develop a thick skin. The best of this comes from other writers. So I would recommend joining a writers group where chapters are critiqued by each member of the group. Each member of the group will offer a different perspective of the work. Providing the story is at least interesting and has a bit of tension with characters the reader wants to care about, the combination of all suggestions will make it much better. Along the way we learn as much from critiquing others work as we do from accepting the criticisms they offer.

What are you working on now—what can readers expect from you in the next year or so?

Glad you asked. I was working on the sequel to The Onion Caper and got about halfway through when so many people started asking me when the sequel to Outlaws (which I hadn’t planned on doing), would be out. So I shifted gears and started working on that. I think I’m about half way through now and it’s getting tougher and tougher. It’s the first thing I’ve ever written on demand. By that I mean without any story inspiration. I just took the characters from Outlaws and thrust them into a story. It’s working out though. So far I’m pleased with it.

I strongly suspect your readers will be pleased with Outlaw’s sequel as well.

As we’re getting to the end of the interview, is there anything you’d like to add?

Well first and foremost, thank you for having me. And of course thank you for being one of my critters.

Like most writers, I’m an avid reader, and now that I have a Kindle, most of what I read are eBooks. I try to leave a review of the books I read from Amazon, and I always read the reviews of books I’m thinking of reading. I find that many readers neglect this, and I think it’s a disservice to the author, and more importantly, to future readers. I would encourage readers to leave a review of the books they read –good or bad.

You’re welcome, William, and I very much appreciate the time you set aside for this interview. In addition, I enjoy being one of your crit partners. Finally, I fully agree about posting reviews, especially of books read and enjoyed.

For those interested, here’s where you can find William O. Weldy’s books:

The Onion Caper
Kindle USA
Kindle (UK)
Publisher (Wings ePress)

OutlawsKindle USA
Kindle UK
Publisher (Musa)

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ready for the Ohioana Book Festival on May 11th

Brought up my cart and plastic tubs filled with 'book signing gear' in preparation for the Ohioana Book Festival this Saturday. I will have to leave very early Saturday morning and, as we're going to visit my mother-in-law in Terre Haute on Sunday, leaving right after church and, thus, am taking my wife out for dinner Friday after work for Mother's Day, I figured getting ready tonight would be wise.

Sometime I'll have to do a blog post with all that I store/keep ready for signings. Having it all prepacked makes it easy. I just pull out what I don't need to take to a particular signing...anyway, for another post.

Back to the topic: The Ohioana Book Festival is scheduled for Saturday, May 11th from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm. I'll be at table 11 (out of 57), and the Fiction: Horror & Fantasy panel I will be participating on will run from 12:45 pm until 1:30 pm.

Once again this year the Ohioana Book Festival will be held at the:
Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center
546 Jack Gibbs Blvd.
Columbus, OH 43215

There will be over 80 Ohio authors attending the festival. And, in addition to talking to readers, I'll be signing copies of Flank Hawk, Blood Sword and Genre Shotgun (of course).

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Traditional vs. Self-Published via Voices of Fiction at Footsteps of a Writer

Kind of a long title, but click on over and see what I had to say, along with several other writers, about Traditional vs. Self-Publishing.

Link: Footsteps of a Writer 's Voices of Fiction - Traditional or Self-Publication

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

One Word Interview over at Notes from the Writing Chair

If you've got a moment, click on over to author Angie Lofthouse's blog, Notes from the Writing Chair, and check out my One Word Interview!

Where else would these two gentlemen appear simultaneously?

How would would your answers have differed? Leave a comment there and let me and Angie know.

Link: Terry's One Word Interview