Dug up the 2017 Mid-South Con Masquerade Skit

This is actually the entire masquerade. So if you’re interested in seeing what costumes people DID have (it makes sense after seeing the skit before the show), just let it keep rolling. That’s Marcus Green, head of the MSC masquerade, in the role of the shopkeeper.

And yes, we blatantly ripped off “The Cheese Shop.” Not the first or last time we pulled from the best.

Panels · Videos

World Building Panel at Germantown Library

Last month, fellow Dark Oak Press writer, Pat Sawtelle and I did a world building panel at the Germantown Library (I’m sure this is a big surprise, given the title of this post).

Here’s the video, with captions. And remember, this is part of a series of panels Dark Oak Press writers and editors deliver regularly. What’s more, after the camera’s turned off, we keep going. So the best way to get the most out of these panels, is to actually be there in person.

Appearances · Interviews · Videos

Interview with Mystery Crime Thriller Writer Reed Farrel Coleman

For those who don’t know, Reed Farrel Coleman has written more than twenty-eight novels and a large number of essays, short fiction, and poetry. He’s also won more than a dozen awards for his writing, including the Anthony, Gumshoe, Macavity, Shamus, and the Edgar. So he knows what he’s doing when it comes to writing.

Since 2014 he’s been the author of the Jessie Stone books, the second writer to pick up Robert B Parker’s character. In the four books leading up to Colorblind, Reed has put the character, and the town of Paradise, Massachusetts, through a number of changes and challenges. He keeps that up in this one.

I had the good fortune to be in a position to interview Reed at his appearance at the Novel bookstore in Memphis, and managed to have the good sense to record it. I apologize for the camera stopping twice, and then altogether toward the end (hence the sudden change in perspective), but I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did conducting it. I promise I wasn’t so startled as I seem to look on the link below.


The Tough Guide to Fantasyland – a review

The Tough Guide to Fantasyland

by Diana Wynne Jones

This is a wonderful book for anyone interested in writing fantasy, or for fans of the genre looking for a grin!

Be warned straight off: this is not a story! The book is presented as a travel guide for you, the reader, or “Tourist” as this book refers to you, of any fantasy novel or series (“Tour”). Organized alphabetically, the guide presents all the various tropes and cliches of the fantasy genre with humorous and crossed referenced entries. It’s all done with great love for everything fantasy, and with equally great understanding.

Here’s a few snippets of samples to give you a taste for this book’s style (all of these entries are longer in the book itself):

BACKPACKS are fairly unobtainable, since they do not form part of the regulation equipment for Tourists. The Rule is that the correct form of luggage is a Saddle Roll or Saddlebag.

CASTLES occasionally adorn the heights for pictorial effect, but the Management usually only arranges for you to see round only the obligatory Castle at the centre of a Town or City.

CHICKENS are seen only after they have been cooked and then only in Palaces, where the Rule is that you eat chicken drumsticks with your fingers and then throw the bones to the dogs. Eggs are very rare.

CHILDREN are not commonly found on a Tour. If a Child appears and seems to wish to take part, be very wary. She/he is likely to be either a God or the Missing Heir to a Kingdom… See Thieves Guilds for the only exception to this rule.

DARK LORD There is always one of these in the background of every Tour, attempting to ruin everything and take over the world.

GAMES are few, usually only dice, cards, and chess. Guards, Soldiers, and Thieves are all addicted to ice, which the normally play only when drinking. This is a convenient habit, since it will often enable you to slip past them…

INSECTS are almost nonexistent…almost the only recorded insects are the mosquitoes all Tourists complain of in the Marshes (in stinging clouds).

MENTOR. A Tour official who will be at your service until halfway though the Tour, when you will unaccountably lose him.

PROPHECY is used by Management to make sure that no Tourist is unduly surprised by events… All Prophecies come true. This is a Rule.

SHOPS have not been invented yet, even in the Vestigial Empire. Visit the Market instead.

As a lover a fantasy I enjoyed thumbing through it a few minutes at a time over the course of a day or so. As a writer I devoted an afternoon to reading it with a drink and a notepad, appreciating the basic theme of the book (beware cliché) while jotting down the ideas it gave me on how to turn the clichés around and make them interesting.

The Artifice Conspiracy makes use of insects to increase the tension of a scene, and I can trace the inspiration for that right to this book.

Incidentally, the author, the award winning Diana Wynne Jones, has written more than forty books of fantasy for young readers, including Howl’s Moving Castle, The Chronicles of Chrestomanci series, Dogsbody, and the Dark Lord of Derkholm.


World Building Panel at Germantown Library August 16th

Every story happens someplace and on the evening of August 16th I will be with fellow Dark Oak Press writer Pat Sawtelle at the Germantown Library to discuss tips on how to make those someplaces.

We’ll be covering how to make your world believable, how to work in the details, how to prioritize what you share about the world to best serve your story, what kind of things to avoid, and how to get started (hint – there’s more than one way).

Whether you’re writing a fantasy, a science fiction story, a modern thriller, or bizarre horror story,  you’ve got a world to build. We hope to help you do that.

It all begins at 7 pm on the 16th at the Germantown Community Library: 1925 Exeter Road. Sign up thru the Germantown Community Library website. Show up. Have fun!!!