Book Review: Tales of the Crimson Keep by Crazy 8 Press

The Crimson Keep…an ensorcelled castle, ever-expanding and growing as a result of an ancient spell. Within its walls lives a sagacious and puissant old wizard known only as the Master who alone bestows his knowledge onto a gifted coterie of pupils.

In each story of this enchanting anthology, you can’t help but fall into step with these intrepid wizards-to-be as they attempt to steal forbidden spells, outwit bloodthirsty demons, suffer the consequences of cutting class, find dangers lurking in the eternally shifting halls of the Keep, and even travel through time!

Crazy 8 Press is comprised of an august body of veteran storytellers, including Russ Colchamiro, Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger, Glenn Hauman, Paul Kupperberg, and Aaron Rosenberg. Each  of them contributed a smart and delightful tale to this collection  introduced by SF writer, Kevin Dilmore.

Even the book itself boasts a fascinating genesis. It was at the 33rd annual Shore Leave science fiction convention in Maryland where–prompted by an opening line provided by Dilmore–Peter, Michael, Bob, Glenn, Aaron, and Howard Weinstein took turns writing a story all the while tucked in a small alcove in the lower hallway of the hotel. In full view of the public, these talented craftsmen created the engaging novella Demon Circle as a fundraiser for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. That story is also included in Tales of the Crimson Keep.

Crimson Keep

About This Writing Stuff…

In addition to posting current events in the writing and publishing community, I’m still catching up with highlights from last year, during this feature’s hiatus.

One item in particular caught my attention: the decision of the World Fantasy committee to discontinue using the bust of HP Lovecraft as their award statue.  This was reported in November 2015, but I had not heard about it until this week and decided to share it here, objectively. I have no opinion on this matter one way or another.

From the Kill Zone, P.J. Parrish advises us to write every day while Joe Moore offers editing tips for independent writers. Think your characters are clever? Oren Ashkenazi has some questions for them. From Writer Unboxed, Kim Bullock provides a handy checklist on how to kill your darlings, and Dan Blank discusses distractions. Miranda Beverly-Whittemore reveals a bit of hindsight from her arduous journey to success.  All that, and a little more. Enjoy!

World Fantasy Award Drops HP Lovecraft as Prize Image and HP Lovecraft Biographer Rages Against Ditching of Author as Fantasy Prize Emblem by Alison Flood

Freedom of Expression? by Barry Eisler via Joe Konrath

I Was Wrong…You DO Need to Write Every Day by P.J. Parrish

Editing Tips for the Indie Author by Joe Moore

Desperately Seeking Darlings by Kim Bullock

Four Questions to Ask when a Character is Clever by Oren Ashkenazi

Don’t Worry, It Only Gets Harder by Dan Blank

Five Things I Wish I’d Known Five Months Before I Published My First Novel by Miranda Beverly-Whittemore

10 Women Who Changed Sci-Fi by BBC America


I’d also like to shout out to writer pal, Steven H. Wilson, who just released his SF/F novel, Peace Lord of the Red Planet, on Audible, and to Crazy 8 Press as they launch their Kickstarter to fund the publication of the second volume of their SF anthology series, Pangaea. Check them out and thank you for supporting small press writers!


Pangaea II Book Cover Peace Lord of the Red Planet book cover


Here Blizzard, Blizzard, Blizzard!

Once the holidays are over, I have no more use for winter. Honestly, January is a pain in the ass. It’s the Monday of the year. Before today, I had hoped that we would escape this month without incurring the wrath of that vindictive prick, Old Man Winter.

After today, I’d like to kick him right in the snowballs.

In the past 24 hours, nearly a meter of this white crap has accumulated along many areas of the northeastern United States.  Below are some pics I took from inside and later, during my second round of snow removal.

The storm should move out of the area overnight. Although from the state of things, it’s a foregone conclusion that I ain’t leaving the house until Tuesday at the earliest, folks.

2016 Blizzard1

2016 Blizzard2

2016 Blizzard3     2016 Blizzard4

2016 Blizzard5

And now, I am inside, working on the outline to my next novel in front of a blazing hearth.

Pellet Stove


About This Writing Stuff…

This week, Steven H. Wilson and David Gaughran discuss copyright and potential violations of such. At Writer Unboxed, David King warns against the pitfalls of self-publishing while Sophie Masson dishes on author interviews, and Susan Spann reviews rights reversions (say that 5 times fast!).

Delilah S. Dawson sees no value in self-promotion…or does she? Meanwhile, the mayor of Baltimore declares January 19 “Edgar Allan Poe Appreciation Day.”

All that and a little more. Enjoy!

Do Star Trek Fans Just Not Understand Copyright? by Steven H. Wilson

The One Where an Author Steals Text from My Book to Sell Pirated Software by David Gaughran

Obtaining Reversions of Publishing Rights: the Good, the Bad, & the Ugly by Susan Spann

The Art and Craft of Author Interviews by Sophie Masson

Please Shut Up: Why Self-Promotion as an Author Doesn’t Work and Wait, Keep Talking: Author Self-Promo that Actually Works by Delilah S. Dawson

The Perils of Self-Publishing by Dave King

Defying the Odds, Local Bookstore Reaches First Birthday by Pete Mazzaccaro

Revising Your Novel: Playground, Not Torture Chamber by Grant Faulkner

Baltimore Mayor Declares City-Wide Edgar Allan Poe Appreciation Day via The Baltimore Sun

Book Review: The First Men in the Moon by H.G. Wells

Finding himself nearly bankrupt after a failed business venture, Mr. Bedford retreats to a cottage in the English coastal town of Lympne. There, he intends to write a play that he hopes to sell and thus, restore his financial position.

However, Bedford’s writing sessions are frequently interrupted by a peculiar and apparently self-absorbed little man whose daily perambulations bring him past Bedford’s window. This would not be a problem except that he utters a loud and vexing buzzing sound as he passes.

After a few incidents of this, Bedford decides to confront the man, who introduces himself as a scientist named Cavor. He is surprised to hear that he actually makes this bizarre buzzing noise as he walks and apologizes to Bedford. During their conversation, Cavor reveals that he is working on an experiment to create a gravity-defying material.

A few days later, during one of Cavor’s daily excursions, his home laboratory explodes, nearly leveling his house and damaging neighboring properties. Yet, rather than lamenting it as a disaster, Cavor realizes that he has found accidental success in the creation of Cavorite.

The two men then construct a massive glass sphere lined with Cavorite—leaving several openings for windows—and decide to literally float from the Earth’s surface to the moon. An airtight manhole cover becomes their airlock. Maneuvering is handled by the use of blinds covering the windows. Once in space, opening the blinds over a window facing Earth or the moon causes the sphere to succumb to the gravitational pull of one or the other body.

Their journey to Earth’s satellite proceeds without incident and eventually, Cavor and Bedford venture out onto the moon’s surface to find that while thin, the air is breathable. They encounter snow and a stunning variety of flora, some of which is edible, but with amusing side effects. During the day, the sun’s heat is nearly unbearable; even worse is the night’s insufferable cold.

Eventually, the two men encounter enormous animals they decide to call mooncalves, which are tended to by herdsmen that resemble bipedal insects with massive craniums. Cavor and Bedford refer to them as Selenites. Eventually, the two men from Earth reveal themselves to the Selenites. As a result, they are introduced to a diverse society thriving beneath the moon’s surface…

…but will the first contact between humans and Selenites end in amity or utter disaster?

The First Men in the Moon (notice it’s “in” not “on” the moon) was published in 1901. By then, scientific knowledge about space and the moon was fairly advanced—the fact that space is a vacuum, the fact that the moon and the Earth are comprised of the same elements, and the fact that the moon’s gravity is a fraction of Earth’s—but obviously there were many unknowns.

Thus, if you can ignore the fact that two chaps are bounding across the lunar surface clad only in tweed jackets and golf knickers, then you’ll probably enjoy this preposterous but fantastic adventure by the legendary H.G. Wells.

The First Men on the Moon