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April 29, 2017: Website updated and revised.
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Bad News: “The Track” Withdrawn From Dark Passages Publishing

It turns out that the guy at the end of the tunnel has been giving me the finger the whole time.

It turns out that the guy at the end of the tunnel was giving me the finger the whole time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Longtime readers of the blog may recall way back when (specifically July 24, 2016), I announced my neo-noir novella, The Track, had been accepted by Dark Passages Publishing:

http://mellonwritesagain.com/?p=769

And, if you go to the Dark Passages website, lo and behold, you’ll still find a listing for The Track:

https://darkpassagespublishing.com/catalogue/

Only the release date given is October 2017, over four months ago. That’s the third release date the website has listed. The Track was originally supposed to come out in spring of 2017 then summer. Finally October was announced with no further action after that. Three novellas on the website by other writers appear to be in the same situation with listings, but no actual releases and no active links to allow people to purchase the stories either virtually or in hard copy.

The Dark Passages website appears to  be moribund with nothing new having been added or done to it in months. The Track is the last work in the catalog. The same holds true for the publisher’s magazine, The J. J. Outre Review. I know small press ventures have tiny staffs, but Dark Passages appears to have been a one man show, run by P. A. M. Jensen:

https://darkpassagespublishing.com/masthead/

On January 17, 2018, I sent an e-mail to Mr. Jensen that discussed The Track‘s history, asked whether he had any intention of publishing the story in the near future, and gave him one month from that date to respond with the stipulation that if he failed to answer within that time frame, I would consider any agreement between us to publish The Track to be null and void. That deadline has expired with the result that the agreement between myself and Dark Passages to publish The Track no longer exists. I’ve sent word to that effect to Mr. Jensen in a follow up e-mail.

The purpose of this blog post is to make the fact public that neither Dark Passages Publishing nor Mr. Jensen have any legal interest in or right to publish The Track, despite anything stated by Dark Passages on its website or any other medium. The Track is an unpublished, original work and I’m the sole proprietor. No other entity or person has any interest in it. It is available for publication. Any representation otherwise by anyone else is a false statement.

I’m sorry to go on like this, making a noise like an attorney (my least favorite thing to do), but I’m afraid circumstances leave me no choice.  I’m dead serious about everything written above and have every confidence the law backs me entirely on this matter.

Just Another Dull Day In Downtown Ancient Sparta

The big hair indicates how old he is and keeps his massive brain warm. Ditto the spiked beard.

The big hair indicates how ancient he is and keeps his massive brain warm. Ditto the spiny beard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lycurgus is the (probably mythical) founder of the ancient Spartan ways from a dual monarchy governed in turn by a board of ephors to a male populace entirely devoted to war supported by a slave empire, and, oddly enough, the most emancipated women in ancient Greece. One indication of his fictitious nature is his name, which means “Wolf Charmer” in Greek and was one of the god Apollo’s titles, thus implicitly giving him a supernatural origin like so many Greek heroes. Like I said, he probably didn’t exist so I can basically draw anything I like. The Spock ear has been pointed out to me along with the big ski slope schnoz (I think it looks patrician and dignified). Note that the capital turned out fairly pretty, if I do say so myself. To sum up, I doubt the Spartan agora was this fancy on its best day, which is completely in keeping with the fantasy of Lycurgus as a bush headed spike beard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Melkart The Herdsman” Now Out In Mythaxis No. 21!

This isn't the magazine illustration, but I think it also captures the story's atmosphere.

This isn’t the magazine illustration, but I think it also captures the story’s atmosphere.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Issue No. 21 of Mythaxis is now out, officially dated February 18, 2018. To quote Editor Gil Williamson, this is the longest issue of Mythaxis ever with my novelette at the end, Melkart The Herdsman. I’m delighted Gil saw the possibilities in Melkart. Longer stories are always a harder sell since they of course take up  space that several stories could fill instead. Curious readers aren’t to be daunted by length, however. Melkart is a quick, fun read, the written equivalent of the sword and sandal flicks I loved when I was a boy with a healthy dash of giallo creepiness for savor. Folks who often note that I tend to have unsympathetic, sometimes downright horrible protagonists can’t find anything to complain about here. Melkart is just another (Phoenician) name for Hercules and who could be more upstanding than that?  The ancient wanderer, the righter of wrongs wherever they may be found. Learn what happens, peregrini, when Melkart and his herd of giant, savage cattle trespass into the realm of Eryx the Rex.

http://www.mythaxis.co.uk/

Doug Allen “Steven” Tribute

I think this captures the spirit, but that's about it. I still can't draw.

I think this captures the spirit, but that’s about it. I still can’t draw.                                                                               

Doug Allen is a cartoonist who did the Steven comics from the late ’70’s well into the ’90’s for various alternative newspapers (pre-Internet when they still a thing). They were collected and put out as comic books by Kitchen Sink Press in eight volumes. I’ve been rereading a bunch of them lately, laughing myself sick like a little kid in the process.  Steven is the ultimate in antisocial humor. Allen has apparently quit doing Steven as far as I can tell, which is a darn shame. Since I can’t get any more from him, I made my own drawing of Steven as a poor substitute.

If anybody thinks this is crude and childish, I agree, but also think you should eat some paste.

http://www.dougallencomics.com/

https://web.archive.org/web/20100328080834/http://www.comicartcollective.com/dougallen/

 

 

“A Gallant Southern Cavalier” Published By Historical Feathers

Gallant Cavalier, All-Round Horn Dog

                      “Stop dragging my good name through the mud, you damn Yankee trash!” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My fictitious account of the decidedly ignominious death of Earl Van Dorn can now be found in Issue No. 3 of Historical Feathers, a British journal of historical fiction. It is, in fact, the lead story. I must say that I was very impressed by the general high caliber of the writing in this issue, my own work being set aside from consideration. Even the poetry struck me as good, which is something I rarely say.

Lamentably, however, this is the last issue of Historical Feathers for the foreseeable future, a brief life often being a sad feature of small press ventures. The journal’s staff plan to restart the magazine again in the near future and I can only hope they do since there are vanishingly few outlets for short historical fiction nowadays. The very best of all wishes and sincere thanks to Executive Editor Amy Ford, Editorial Assistant Peter Turner, and Steampunk Specialist Sarah Oakley.

Cavalier is an excerpt from my Civil War novel, The Confessions Of Septimus P. Nasby. (Apologies to all of you who’ve been through this before.) Another excerpt, The Badger Game, has already been published in a crime anthology, Hardboiled: Crime Scene. Who knows, I may never get the whole novel accepted by a publisher, but instead publish it piecemeal.

Cavalier and the other stories in Issue No. 3 are available to read for free on issuu.com (link provided below).  If you want a print copy to keep or if  you’d like to read it on Kindle, that’s also available (links to those provided as well). If you find the prospect of a pompous, vainglorious Confederate general being literally caught with his pants down to be intriguing, then the story should amuse you.

https://issuu.com/historicalfeathers/docs/hf_-_jan_18

Hard copy:

https://www.bookfeathers.co.uk/product-page/historical-feathers-issue-three-print

Kindle:

https://www.bookfeathers.co.uk/product-page/historical-feathers-issue-three

Hardboiled:  Crime Scene:

https://www.amazon.com/Hardboiled-Crime-John-L-Thompson/dp/1499157886/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1518054411&sr=8-6&keywords=crime+scene+hard+boiled

 

 

 

 

“Woe, Babylon Besieged” Published By Extreme Horror Mag Trigger Warnings

Artist:  John Martin

Artist: John Martin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My H. P. Lovecraft pastiche, Woe, Babylon Besieged, is now online at Trigger Warnings, an extreme horror magazine published in Denmark that bills itself as “the lit mag that doesn’t give a shit about your sensibilities.” A big thanks to Executive Editor Raven Black for accepting the story.

This story was inspired by two sources:  a history of Mesopotamia entitled Babylon, written in the ’70’s by a British author named James Wellard (now completely forgotten), and a one off graphic magazine about the work of H. P. Lovecraft, recluse, racist, financial failure, and one of the greats in horror and fantasy fiction. Woe tries to recreate Lovecraft’s claustrophobic atmosphere of unimaginable threats beyond human comprehension combined with the horrid, gory, real details of ancient siege warfare. Like I said,Trigger Warnings is an extreme horror magazine and therefore this yarn is not for the squeamish. To those of you with sufficient intestinal fortitude (also known as “Camp Guts”) whose curiosity I might have piqued, please click on the link below.

https://triggermag.org/2018/01/31/woe-babylon-besieged/

Mother’s Revenge Anthology Makes Bram Stoker Awards Preliminary Ballot

This comes under the heading of climate fiction.

This comes under the heading of climate fiction.

I previously mentioned the publication by Scary Dairy Press of Mother’s Revenge, an anthology of post-apocalyptic fiction that featured my story, Annals Of The Allred Clan, among others.  Scary Dairy’s publisher, Cin Ferguson, has just informed me that Mother’s Revenge is on the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Awards.  The BSAs are presented annually by the Horror Writers Association for superior achievement in dark fantasy and horror writing. This is, of course, only a preliminary ballot with the final roster of nominees to be determined soon by the HWA. Nonetheless, even making the preliminary ballot represents a significant achievement, especially for an anthology, which frankly tends to sink like a stone. Mother’s Revenge stood out enough to be noticed among numerous other anthologies. That takes some doing, so let me dislocate my shoulder patting myself on the back and big kudos to Cin and all the other writers who contributed to the anthology. Wish us luck!

 

http://stokercon2018.org/2018/01/the-2017-bram-stoker-awards-preliminary-ballot-announced/

https://www.amazon.com/Mothers-Revenge-Bizarre-Anthology-Proportions/dp/0996052739/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1516841445&sr=8-2&keywords=mother%27s+revenge

http://scarydairypress.com/

This last link is the freakiest of the bunch:

Tons of New Releases! Mud Season! Tenderbear Goes Apeshit! Mother’s Revenge!

GOING, GOING, GONE, DADDY-O!

Alternative Title:  "Column Envy"

Alternative Title: “Column Envy”

“A Gallant Southern Cavalier” Appears 25 JAN in Historical Feathers

Gallant Cavalier, All-Round Horn Dog

The old horny jackass rides again.

Followers of the blog may recall that I wrote a still unpublished novel, The Confessions Of Septimus P. Nasby, about the Civil War experiences of a sociopath career criminal. An excerpt from that novel, A Gallant Southern Cavalier, will appear as a short story in the January 2018 issue of Historical Feathers, a UK historical fiction magazine.

HF describe themselves thusly:

“Historical Feathers, as an imprint of the publishing company Book Feathers Ltd, is a publisher of historical fiction novels, novellas, short story and poetry collections as well as a bi-annual anthology for charity. We are a small team, local to the Cotswolds, who are passionate about fiction and all things history and, as writers and readers ourselves, we understand the devotion it takes to see a manuscript to completion. Therefore, we strive to help other writers of the historical fiction genres become published with a professional and heartfelt service.”

Readers with a taste for irony may find humor in this fictional recounting of the decidedly ignominious end of Earl Van Dorn, the only Civil War general on either side to die violently during the war, not in the heat of battle, but shot in the back of the head while sitting in his office by a jealous husband. I tried to write this book in a Twainian vein and hopefully that acidic, rueful tone comes through. My thanks to the staff of Historical Feathers for accepting the story. The issue will be out on January 25. Click the link below to learn more:

 

Confederate style cavalry percussion shotgun on confederate flag. Confederate guerrilla using this weapon during the American Civil War.

 

 

 

https://www.historicalfeathers.co.uk/single-post/2018/01/16/Coming-Soon

“The Mustanger” To Be Read at February ASU Elmer Kelton Conference

I had the pleasure of personally meeting Elmer Kelton at the '08 WWA Conference.

I had the pleasure of personally meeting Elmer Kelton at the ’08 WWA Conference.

 

After a long absence from this blog due to technical difficulties, I’m up and posting again with some very good news to announce. I’ve been invited to read my short story, The Mustanger,  at the 22nd Annual Angelo State University Writers Conference in Honor of Elmer Kelton, to be held in San Angelo, TX, on February 22-23, 2018.

For those unfamiliar with Kelton, he was a Golden Age Western writer whose work evolved over time to focus more on the actual, grim details of life in the old Southwest, with a particular emphasis on West Texas, his native land. He was unafraid to face the prejudice and ugliness that motivated many in the raw, bad old frontier days while never losing his affection and regard for the men and women of that period or his strong, very Texan sense of humor. Another admirable trait was Kelton’s interest in the Southwest in all phases of its history, from the frontier days to modern times. One of the finest examples of this latter tendency is his novel, The Time It Never Rained, about a crippling drought Texas underwent in the ’50’s and one tough old rancher’s battle to endure it.

Hopefully I wrote The Mustanger in the same spirit. I was inspired by a very interesting, non-fiction book, Black Cowboys Of Texas, edited by Sara R. Massey. Many of the men profiled in the book led extremely interesting lives. One of the most fascinating was Robert Lemmons, the Mustanger:

 

The MustangerHe did what no other man could, alone, virtually without help. Rather than try to take wild mustangs by lariat or rifle shot, Lemmons rode with a herd, watered and slept with them, until the horses regarded him as one of the herd, then led them peaceably into a corral. He rode the trackless wilderness of the South Texas chaparral, alive with threats and predators, yet still easy and without fear.

It was a pleasure and a challenge to write this story, a pleasure since I like the main (indeed pretty much the sole) character so much, and a challenge since basically nothing violent happens, which is usually what mainly drives my fiction.

I’ve had some nice things happen to me in the past, including winning an Independent Publisher award and being published in some prestigious magazines, but this is the first time I was ever invited to participate in a literary conference. It’s a great honor to be invited to the ASU Conference. My thanks to Chris Ellery for the invitation. I’ll be sure to keep readers posted about further developments:

 

http://www.angelo.edu/dept/english_modern_languages/writers_conference.php