Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Firearms in Fiction

Firearms in Fiction

by Terry W. Ervin II

All too often I’ve come across writers working on a short story or first novel involving a character carrying and using a firearm, and they (both the writer and the character) simply refer to it as "a gun" and "my gun."

Sure, it depends on the context. A steamy romance where the main character comments that she keeps a gun in her vanity’s drawer just in case is different than a hard-boiled mystery where a detective ventures daily into inner city neighborhoods packing heat or a heroine armed with silver bullets ready to fend off werewolves. The latter two would certainly be more intimate with the trusted firearm than would be the steamy romance character.

In the context of some stories, writers don’t even narrow the ‘gun’ used to a revolver, hunting rifle or shotgun, but they write as if the individual is competent, if not an expert with the firearm they’re carrying and using.

Quite often, upon asking a writer whose manuscript I am reviewing what type of firearm the character used in a particular scene, the response often is, “I don’t know.” That is usually followed up by, “I don’t really like guns” or “I don’t know the first thing about guns.” Then they ask, “Does it really matter?”

I think it matters. The limitations of a firearm based on the caliber or the effective range makes a difference. Can it be carried concealed and if so, where and how will that affect the character’s wardrobe? Failure to incorporate such basic knowledge could annoy, if not turn off, an entire segment of an author's the potential reading audience.

Does the writer have to own or be an expert in firearms to include them in his or her fiction? Absolutely not. But a writer, for example, who researches in great detail the layout of a city where the short story or novel’s action takes place, shouldn’t brush aside proper research on the firearms intimately involved in the action.

Online research is a good place to get the basics. Visiting a local gun store with questions will often net in-depth answers. An uncle that’s hunted whitetail deer every fall since he was thirteen could provide enough details about how a shotgun works, its recoil, types of shells, strengths and limitations to enable the prose to be both authentic and accurate. In my experience it’s a rare instance where someone balks at helping a writer with content in an area where he or she is experienced and knowledgeable. The individuals may even offer to take the author shooting, if desired, so that the author can get hands-on experience and understanding.

A little time and research effort can pay great dividends in the depth, quality, and authenticity of a writer's manuscript, the result being a more believable and enjoyable reader experience.

Did you enjoy this article? Learn more about Terry Ervin and his works at his website and blog:

And be sure to check out Terry's outstanding fantasy novels:

Pick up Flank Hawk today! Direct Softcover and Kindle Links Below:


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Wednesday, January 18, 2012



by Ren Garcia

It’s all about marketing, people. I always try to stay keen on what’s attracting people at the various shows; on what pulls folks in, what causes them to stop and foster up a conversation.

I often go to shows with my friend, fellow author Denise Verrico (Cara Mia). It’s better to go in pairs, as you’ve got a wingman to watch your back and keep your chin up. Denise writes urban horror/ vampire books. She has a furry little pillow that she brings with her that says “I Love Vampires.” I noticed that her little pillow was reasonably successful in making people stop and talk. “Oh, I just love vampires,” folks often said, bouncing up and down.

I just loooooove vampires …

And the wheels in my fiendish little Chipotle-soaked brain began to turn.

I do not write about vampires. I write about loose sci-fi fantasy and romance, lots of people fighting and wearing odd clothes in space, or wearing nothing at all as the case may be. It occurred to me that I needed to capitalize on the popularity of vampires to help attract attention–not on vampires themselves, but the word: Vampire. If I could tack up some big, proud marketing with the word VAMPIRE blasted out in lurid print, then maybe, just maybe, I could snag some of those Vampire-lovers to my table. And, then, using all the charm at my disposal, I could seduce the buggers and send them away with a League of Elder book tucked under their arm before they knew what the heck was going on. It just had to work. I just needed to figure out how to do it without libeling myself in the process.

My favorite heroine of the Temple of the Exploding Head trilogy, Lady Sammidoran of Monama, came to my rescue. Sam, all chalk white and matte black, has a rather Night-Stalking look to her. Sure, she looks an awful lot like a vampire. Of course, Sam isn’t a vampire, she’s an alien and ….

Ah … mindwave.

I had this painting done up for me by Eve Ventrue, that Teutonic Titan from Germany, of Sam and her man, Lord Kabyl. It was perfect. All I needed was a slogan. So, Sam looks lie a vampire, but she’s not. She’s an alien. So, how about using a play on words: not vampire, alien. Yes, I liked that, and, I’d strumpet it out there in gigantic, all caps text: not VAMPIRE: no, no: ALIEN.

I had Eve paint me up a second Sam/Kay pic, this time donning Sam in a pair of steampunk goggles. And, it works. People stop all the time and look at it. Getting people to stop and talk is the key to success. I had shirts made of it as well, and I sold out of them at a recent show.

So, when in doubt and you need a marketing angle, use pop culture and twist its ear a little to suit your needs. Works every time.

Bowl Naked


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Visit Ren's blog and website:


Would you like to be introduced into Ren's literary world? Here's a couple of titles that will get you underway!:

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

New Cover Arts Revealed and Special Print-eBook Bundle Announced for Brotherhood of Dwarves Series

Read the press release below the images!

For Immediate Release
January 17, 2012
Cover Art Revealed and Special Print-eBook Bundle Announced for Reissue of First Two Titles in The Brotherhood of Dwarves Series

Seventh Star Press proudly announces the reissues of the first two books in The Brotherhood of Dwarves series, The Brotherhood of Dwarves, and Red Sky at Dawn.

To commemmorate the Seventh Star Press editions of these two titles, the publisher is offering special bundles that combine both the print and eBook versions of the books. Readers can get the first two books in this fashion, or a bundle of all three books in the series including the recently-released third title, The Fall of Dorkhun.

The Brotherhood of Dwarves and Red Sky at Dawn feature covers and illustrations from fantasy artist Bonnie Wasson. The latest artist to work with Seventh Star Press, Bonnie created and designed a new look for the first two titles that is consistent with the brand new third release.

The first two books were originally self-published by D.A. Adams and edited by Sherrie Shuler. They became strong sellers on the convention circuit and received a wave of positive reviews. The reissues were planned when D.A. came aboard Seventh Star Press for the release of his latest installment, The Fall of Dorkhun.

( interior illustrations by Bonnie Wasson for The Brotherhood of Dwarves and Red Sky at Dawn)

Living and working in East Tennessee, D. A. Adams is an established novelist, a farmer, and professor of English. He has contributed writing to literary and fine art publications, and maintains an active blog, entitled "The Ramblings of D. A. Adams".

Softcover and eBook formats will be available by mid-February, with a collectors' hardcover limited editions planned for mid-summer of 2012.

(all three covers side by side)

Those wanting to pre-order one of the special softcover-eBook bundles should visit: http://www.seventhstarpress.com/documents/books.html

Updates and additional information can be obtained at the official site for Seventh Star Press, at www.seventhstarpress.com , or at the author's site at www.brotherhoodofdwarves.com

Contact: C.C. James
Public Relations, Seventh Star Press
email: ccjames at seventhstarpress.com

Seventh Star Press is a small press publisher of speculative fiction located in Lexington Kentucky.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Rodney's New Year's Resolutions...Two Weeks In!

My New Year's Resolutions

I am a reviewer.

But, first and foremost, I'm a reader. As the second week of 2012 comes to a close, I sit here thinking about the choices I've made in these past two weeks, and how sometimes I don't know when to slow the hell down.

You see, I'm one of those that makes New Year's resolutions. I never used to be like that, but soon after I started writing reviews for the world to read, I realized that in order to make a name for myself and the site, I'd have to come up with a plan to optimize my time. By doing that, I would have more time to use towards reading, writing and maintaining the site. That was August of 2009.

Now, I sit here reflecting on these new resolutions for 2012, and just how far I've come since New Years Day of 2010. You see, it was then that I came up with the crazy idea to read 100 (one hundred) novels in a year. Whether I reviewed them all was a different matter. At the time I was so ambitious and ready to take on the world, that I told myself that that was exactly what I would do: I'd read 100 books and write a review for every last damn one of them, even if it killed me. Even if it meant I had no social life in 2010. I also set a goal of finding a way to optimize my time, that way I could reach my goal.

The idea came to me, after having visited horror author Brian Keene's year-end Top 10 Books of *insert year here*. In that post he mentioned that on average he managed to read 100 books or more in a year. Sometimes he fell short, but more often than not, he managed to click over, or far surpass his goal. That struck me hard. As a 19 year old who wanted nothing more than to write for a living (a dream and goal that is still with me to this day, more than ever I might add), I took those words too heart. Probably too far, if you ask me. So, I made it my New Year's resolution.

Like most people with the ambition and the drive to accomplish their New Year's resolutions, I didn't exactly make it to the end of my goal. I'd like to say that I blew it out of the freakin' water, but that would be lying, and as my momma always says: “liars go to Hell.” And seeing as I'm not very fond of Hell, I'll try not to stray too far from the truth. That year, I read 67 titles in the span of 365 days. I was working part-time, and going to school the other half of the time. Not too shabby, but it wasn't close enough.

As 2010 bled into 2011, I aimed for the same goal: read 100 novels in a year. I told myself that even if I didn't hit 100, as long as I clicked over 68 titles, I'd be happy with myself. I did better than 68, but not by much. Last year, I only managed to read a meager six titles more than the previous year. I had been working up until August, and finished school for the Spring semester before taking the Summer and Fall semesters off. I took on a new position with a company, but I still had plenty of time on my hands.

So now, with 2011 finally under wraps, I can officially say that it was another year I failed my goal. Another year where I didn't review everything that I could. The last few months of 2011, I found myself speeding through book after book, but never managed to find time to write reviews for them. I can sit here and say that I did my best, but who am I kidding? I had time. And plenty of it. I wasn't happy with myself, and I'm still not. But such is life.

It was several weeks before the end of '11, and I knew that I had blown my goal. So, I sat down and started work on a strategy for the new year. I swore to myself up and down that this year would be different that the past two. They say that the third time's the charm, and even though my OCD would argue with that, I decided to take that adage to heart. This year would be the year that I didn't do just a little better than last, no. 2012 would be the year that I would blow the past two years out of the water.

At the very least, I'd hit 100 titles read in 2012. My strategy to do this was simple: I would read a short story a day, for a year. As much as I'd like to credit this idea to myself, I can't. One evening, a little before I sat down to come up with a strategy for the new year, I had an interesting conversation with fellow writer Nicole Cushing. Throughout the evening she talked about reading a short story a day. I didn't think much of it at first, but several days later, after recounting that evening to my girlfriend over the phone, something about the concept struck my fancy. So I stored it for later analysis.

A short story a day. Five to forty-five minutes of my day where I did nothing but devote my attention to a couple of thousand words. And when they ended, I would reach my daily goal. It was genius. Not only would reading a short story a day for an entire year help me with understanding the structure and concept of writing a short story, but if done right, could very well be the catalyst I needed for surpassing my yearly New Year's resolution of reading a 100 books in a year.

“Well a short story collection/anthology isn't a novel,” you might say. Yes, you're right, but most of the anthologies and collections that litter the shelves of brick and mortar bookstores these days are as long, if not longer than your traditional 80,000 word novel. So technically they could count. And if you still want to argue about it, tough. It's my New Year's resolution, and not yours. I make the rules, thank you very much.

I told all of that to tell you this: As of the close of the second week of the year, I'll have managed to have read 14 titles, -- seven to eight of which I plan on reviewing on Sci-Fi Guys -- before the end of January. (And yes I was smiling smugly as I typed that. Hell, I'm still smiling.) Three of those titles will be short story anthologies/collections. The other eleven will be a combination of novels, novellas, trade paperback comics, and non-fiction selections.

I recently managed to recount this to a dear out of town friend of mine, who after listening tentatively replied: “Sounds like you finally managed to beat your system/goals.”

I laughed, clapped him on the shoulder, and said: “No, I finally figured out how to manage my time.”

“Well, I guess we'll see if you reach your goals or not.” He said.

I smiled, and explained to him that I'd be keeping track of everything that I read in 2012, including individual short stories, not just personally, but publicly as well, on my personal blog The Bloody Pen (insert shameless plug here: www.thebloodypen.blogspot.com/).

“So, if I fall off the wagon, or get lazy you'll now. Just think, it'll give you more reason to call me!”


Be sure to visit The SciFi Guys Book Review blog or add them on Twitter at the following links:
Twitter: twitter.com/scifiguysbkrev

Rodney's personal blog and Twitter page can be found at:
The Bloody Pen
Twitter: http://twitter.com/#!/kidstaple

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Pick of the Week: Muscle Memory, by Steve Lowe

Pick of the Week (#13): Muscle Memory, by Steve Lowe
(Eraserhead Press)
- Selection made by Rodney Carlstrom

The Book: Billy Gillespie wakes up one morning to discover that his junk is gone. In its place is his wife's junk. Billy is now Tina, and Tina is dead. That's because Billy's dead. His lifeless body is still in bed and empty beer bottles and a container of antifreeze litter the kitchen counter. Over the next 24 hours, Billy and an odd assortment of neighbors, all experiencing their own bouts of body switcheroo, try to figure out what happened and why. Can they do it before the Feds find Billy's body? Was it aliens that caused this, or God, or the government? And did Edgar Winter really sleep with his sheep? Pro football Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw has those answers in a story that asks, What Would Kirk Cameron Do?

The Author: Steve Lowe is a former writer with the South Bend Tribune, and occasional stringer for the Associated Press. He also writes weird, dark, humorous fiction which contains just slightly more made-up content than his short stories. His first book, MUSCLE MEMORY, was published in 2010 by Eraserhead Press. His short fiction has appeared in the print anthologies AMAZING STORIES OF THE FLYING SPAGHETTI MONSTER, A HACKED-UP HOLIDAY MASSACRE, and DEAD BAIT, and several online venues including Three Crow Press and Unicorn Knife Fight.

The Publisher: Founded in 1999, Eraserhead Press is an independent publishing company with a focus on Bizarro Fiction, with an aim to bring you the weirdest most fun to read books you'll ever find. For more information about Bizarro Fiction visit: www.bizarrocentral.com

My Comments: In short fiction, it takes a lot to find the right words, or for that matter the proper way to convey a story. Limitations help to prove the authors abilities, and quite honestly, short fiction is the determining factor for me when it comes to a new author. If they can successfully pull of a short story, novella, or novelette and leave me wandering, or thinking hard after finishing it, then they get my stamp of approval. And more times than not, I end up going back that authors stuff, in every capacity available.

Steve Lowe is now one of those authors. From the get-go, reading the synopsis for the novella, it just sounded awesome. In a world where it seems tropes are the common thing; overdone and horribly at that, it's nice to see an author able to take an old favorite and breath new life into it. Steve does this brilliantly in Muscle Memory, with the Ol' Switcheroo. Think Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Freaky Friday; Like Father, Like Son, and Vice-Versa, and then take those and flip 'em on their heads. Throw in a dash of government conspiracy, aliens, male breast feeding,and a talking sheep, and you've got Muscle Memory.

When he's not pulling on your heartstrings, he's making you laugh your ass off. And he does a remarkable job of both with believable characters, and a populated town that took me back in time to my hometown; very recognizable people that just added a whole other layer of down-right hilarity to the mix.


So make Muscle Memory, by Steve Lowe(Eraserhead Press) the SSP Blog Pick of the Week!

Pick up Muscle Memory today! Direct softcover and Kindle links below:


Kindle Edition

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy New Year! Call For Submissions for SSP's First Anthology!

Happy New Year! We're hitting the ground running in 2012 without delay! We are proud to announce our first anthology project, to be edited by Joshua Leet! The window is now open for submissions. Please read the information below for further details.

For Immediate Release
January 1, 2012

Seventh Star Press Announces Call For Submissions For New Fantasy Anthology

Seventh Star Press is proud to announce a call for submissions for an exciting new anthology to be edited by Joshua Leet, entitled The End Was Not the End: Post-Apocalyptic Fantasy Tales.

The stories can be up to 10,000 words in length, and must be set within a setting ranging between ancient worlds, like the Sword and Sorcery Hyborean Age of Robert E. Howard, to medieval settings like those found in many epic fantasy series. Timed appropriately for 2012, the anthology will focus on the aftermath of an apocalypse.

The stories can have any style or feature any Earth culture-inspired background, such as the more commonly encountered european-based knights and wizards, to Viking sagas, Russian folklore, Chinese wuxia, Japanese samurai, and Native American environments, just to name a few. The apocalypse itself can be whatever suits the writer, be it magical catastrophe, plague, monster horde, the death of gods, etc. It can include modern catastrophes that precipitated regression in technological level to a medieval or ancient world type level. The stories should have a serious overall tone, and can range from action-driven to tales with a darker edge.

The concept for the anthology was first pitched by Seventh Star Press author Stephen Zimmer, who writes the Fires in Eden series (epic fantasy) and the Rising Dawn Saga (epic-scale urban fantasy). Joshua Leet expressed a desire to serve as the editor of Seventh Star Press' first anthology project, and worked with Stephen to solidfy the project concept. The project represents Stephen's first as a commissioning editor.

Joshua is currently serving as the editor for Sela, the forthcoming second book in the Leland Dragon Series by Jackie Gamber, as well as the newest Gorias La Gaul adventure from Steven Shrewsbury, titled Overkill. Joshua is not only an editor, but is also an author, whose credits include the recently released historical work Civil War Lexington, Kentucky: Bluegrass Breeding Ground of Power, co-authored with Karen Leet, as well as business projects such as two volumes he co-authored in the Compliance and Ethics field. Joshua's love for the fantasy genre and range of technical literary expertise promises to bring forth a debut anthology of outstanding quality for Seventh Star Press.

Submissions must be in by midnight on July 1, 2012. Provide a cover letter, and use standard manuscript format. RTF or Word Documents preferred for the file format. Communications and submissions should be directed to Joshua by email, using the address Joshua (at) seventhstarpress.com

The agreement on accepted stories will be for first print and digital rights, with exclusivity for one year from date of publication. After this time, authors are free to re-sell their stories in other markets. The stories need to be original works, and no previously published characters or properties will be accepted.

The anthology is planned for release in eBook, limited hardcover, and softcover formats in the 4th quarter of 2012. A royalty pool will be generated on print and eBook sales, at a rate of 10% royalties for print, and a rate of 50% royalties for eBooks, with each included story having an equal share of the royalty pool. Royalty statements and payments will be made biannually. All included authors will receive a complimentary trade paperback copy of the anthology.

Updates and additional information can be obtained at the official site for Seventh Star Press, at www.seventhstarpress.com,

Contact: C.C. James
Public Relations, Seventh Star Press

Seventh Star Press is a small press publisher of speculative fiction located in Lexington Kentucky.