The Great Rock and Roll Secret

Suppose the great rock single had flickered over the airways just once, on the night you had passed out in the back seat?  Probably not, but still...rock and roll has always had this sense of possibility.  --Dave Marsh, Born to Run: The Bruce Springsteen Story, page 93 I originally read the above quote in the 1980s, when the first edition of Read more

Review: The Making of Day of the Dead

When I heard there would be a book entirely about the making of George A. Romero's third zombie movie, Day of the Dead, I was surprised. The movie had not been a financial or critical success at the time, and while its reputation has risen since its 1985 release, it's still nowhere near as well-known as its predecessors, Night Read more

The Manic Pixie Pout-Pout

Since I now have another two-year-old, I'm back to reading the simplest books to her at bedtime. Most of these books are innocuous, if occasionally incompetent (i.e., Big Snowman, Little Snowman, a Frozen tie-in book that probably takes longer to read than it did to write). A few are brilliant, such as Room on the Broom. But I'm here to talk Read more

The Omai Gods: the story behind the story

One of my favorite and oft-quoted bits of writerly advice comes from novelist/filmmaker Nicholas Meyer: "Art thrives on restriction." Meaning that if you don't have enough of something--usually money and/or time--you're forced to compensate by being creative. Here's a story that shows how that works, at least for me. I've never written steampunk. I honestly don't even know if it's a Read more

Guest post: Charlie Holmberg on Aqua Notes

Homegrown in Salt Lake City, Charlie Holmberg was raised a Trekkie with three sisters who also have boy names. She writes fantasy novels and does freelance editing on the side. She's a proud BYU alumna, plays the ukelele, and owns too many pairs of glasses. Her first novel, The Paper Magician, is now available. Follow her on Twitter for Read more

High Hopes: is talent finite?

Posted on by Alex in Bruce Springsteen, creativity, fans, Horror Films, John Carpenter, music, old people, pop culture, release date, tennessee | 11 Comments

high-hopes-album-bruce-springsteen-1389043820

This weekend, I finally listened to High Hopes, the most recent Bruce Springsteen album. Yes, it came out on January 14, and I bought it then, but I hadn’t listened to it. There  were many times when I listened to a new Springsteen album multiple times on its release day, and almost exclusively for days after that.

But something’s happened to Bruce. Or to me.

I should say that I’ve been a Springsteen fan since I first heard “Rosalita” as a twelve-year-old back in Tennessee. I was in college when Born in the USA made him a superstar, and I’ve seen him in concert multiple times, with the E Street Band, the ’92 “alternate” band, the Sessions Band, and as a solo performer. I own all his legitimate releases, and a fair stack of bootlegs.

And yet…

His last album, 2012′s Wrecking Ball, was the first time I felt like he was singing at me instead of to me, or for me. The new Celtic and overt gospel influences couldn’t disguise that these songs just lacked…something. And the re-recording of “Land of Hopes and Dreams,” released in a definitive version on the Live in New York City album in 2000, was simply unnecessary, as if he needed something to fill out the album (I’m not saying this was the case, just that, to me as a listener, it felt that way).

And now we get High Hopes.

Even the title track has been released before, back in 1995 as part of the Blood Brothers documentary package. “American Skin (41 Shots)” was part of the same Live in New York City album mentioned above, and “The Ghost of Tom Joad” was the title track of his Grammy-winning 1995 album. So right off the bat, there are three songs that we’ve heard before in landmark original versions. Yes, these are new versions, livened up by Tom (Rage in the Machine) Morello’s guitar solos, and certainly there’s no lack of commitment to the performances. But it’s also the equivalent of hearing stories we already know instead of new ones.

Which leads to the question: what’s the point of the album?

My friend Melissa Olson, author of Dead Spots and Trail of Dead, once said that she thought some artists might just have a finite amount of art in them. This was apropos of director John Carpenter, whose work has certainly showed a decline, although I remain a fan (yes, even of his most recent film The Ward). I would never have thought this of Bruce, but perhaps it’s the case. Maybe the Boss has reached artistic retirement age. Certainly his last couple of concert tours have been more about preaching to the choir than converting new followers, a celebration of past glory days (heh) more than a forging of new ones. And maybe, at 64, that’s to be expected. But I’d hoped to follow him into the twilight with the same fervor I felt when he led me into adulthood.

JohnCarpenter2010

Filmmaker John Carpenter. Does he have any mojo left?

And, since I’m not exactly young myself (nor old, I should add), I wonder with each new book if the same thing might happen to me. I don’t want to keep going past my sell-by date, artistically speaking. But will I know when I reach it?

So what do you think? Is there a finite amount of creativity and art in every artist?

The Next Big Thing blog tour

Posted on by Alex in authors, Burn Me Deadly, Dark Jenny, dragon, Eddie LaCrosse, fantasy literature, fiction, film noir, King Arthur, movies, novel, release date, Robert B. Parker, Shakespeare, Tor Books, Wake of the Bloody Angel, writers, writing | 3 Comments

My friend from the Heroic Fiction League on Facebook, Violette Malan, graciously invited me to participate in The Next Big Thing blog series. Each author answers the same set of questions, and passes them on to five more authors, who post their answers the following week and pass them on to five more authors, and so forth.

You’ll find Violette’s answers here, and my list of invited contributors at the bottom of this post. My answers begin right here.

What is your working title of your book?

It’s currently called He Drank, and Saw the Spider. I’m batting .500 in my initial titles making it to print (for example, Wake of the Bloody Angel was originally called The Two Eddies), so we’ll see how this one does. This time, my title is both a line from the book, and also a shout-out to the source material.

Where did the idea come from for the book?

It was inspired by The Winter’s Tale, one of Shakespeare’s last and most complex plays. It’s a genre-bending story of betrayal and reconciliation, and a real head-scratcher the first time you read or watch it. It’s best known for one of its stage directions: “Exit, pursued by a bear.”

My initial idea was, “What if Eddie was dropped into the Autolycus role in the plot?” The final book is considerably different, but that was the inspiration.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s sword-and-sorcery, but crossed with a healthy dollop of pulp detective fiction; “sword noir,” I guess. One reviewer called it, “Sam Spade with a sword.”

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I’ve said elsewhere on this blog that the ideal casting for Eddie LaCrosse is Alien-era Tom Skerritt.

But otherwise, I prefer not to lock down the images of the characters. Each reader will have his or her own ideas, and I don’t want to get in the way of that. I’ll worry about it when an actual movie deal happens.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

As a young mercenary, Eddie LaCrosse saves an abandoned baby from a bear; sixteen years later, now a private sword jockey, he has to save her again, this time from a complex plot involving magic, murder and an insane king.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It will be published by Tor in 2014.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

About eight months. A lot of that was research, reading up on Shakespeare, rereading his plays and internalizing a lot of Shakespearean scholarship. It may seem simple to take a plot or character from Shakespeare, but to do it justice you also have to understand what that character means, and how he or she functions in the play. For example, there’s a character loosely based on Caliban from The Tempest; Caliban has been used to represent everything from Irish bog people to a half-human fish monster to the plight of third-world citizens under Western occupation. If you’re going to put someone like him in your book, you have to decide what he represents for you, and how that affects the story and the other characters.

This is the same approach I’ve used for my other Eddie LaCrosse novels. Burn Me Deadly, for example, is about dragons, so I researched what people thought of them back when it was believed they really existed. Dragons were never simply animals, they were embodiments of beliefs and supernatural powers. If I wanted my dragons to carry that same weight of “believability,” I had to decide what they embodied in the world of my characters.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

My Eddie LaCrosse novels are always compared to Glenn Cook’s “Garrett, P.I.” novels and Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files. The influences I’m most conscious of are two Bobs: Robert E. Howard and Robert B. Parker.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

One of the consistencies of my Eddie LaCrosse series is that each book embraces a set of existing tropes; Dark Jenny, for example, is Arthurian at heart. In this one, I wanted to put Eddie into a Shakespearean story, so I looked for the best one to drop him into. I chose The Winter’s Tale because there’s a mystery at its heart.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It’s a fun and funny story. Eddie’s girlfriend Liz once again plays a major role, the first time since Burn Me Deadly. There’s action, suspense, magic and romance. There’s a mad king, a sorceress, and sheep. Lots of sheep.

Thanks to Violette for including me in this blog trail.  Now, here are my five awesome and talented writer friends who will be posting their answers next week.

Teresa Frohock, author of Miserere.

Kelly Barnhill, author of Iron Hearted Violet

Jen K. Blom, author of Possum Summer

Matt Forbeck, author of Amortals and Carpathia

Kelly McCullough (pending), author of Bared Blade and WebMage

Firefly Witch news (includes a freebie!)

Posted on by Alex in eBook sale, Firefly Witch, Free Download, giveaway, Pagan, release date, short stories, west Tennessee | Leave a comment

The new Firefly Witch e-book chapbook collection, Croaked: More Tales of the Firefly Witch, is now available for only $2.99.

 

Also, from now through Monday, July 2, 2012, the first Firefly Witch collection is available for FREE on Amazon.  So if you’re curious about this new character and her world, there’s no better way or time to check it out.

 

Release day for DARK JENNY

Posted on by Alex in Dark Jenny, Eddie LaCrosse, release date | 5 Comments

Today is the official release day for the third Eddie LaCrosse novel, DARK JENNY. It drops as a trade paperback, e-book for all the usual platforms, and audiobook, read once again by Stefan Rudnicki.

And how, you ask, does this novel stack up to the previous ones?

“Bledsoe skillfully combines humor, action, deduction, and emotion to make the material fresh and engaging for fans of both fantasy and noir.” –Publishers Weekly starred review

“Bledsoe’s clever combination of noir and myth makes for an engaging story, and placing investigator Eddie at the center offers a fresh twist.”–Booklist starred review

“The third Eddie LaCrosse adventure delivers a skewed version of the King Arthur legend that is at once both tongue-in-cheek and strangely powerful.”–Library Journal

“Dark Jenny is unlike any fantasy novel I have ever read before.”–Bookworm Blues

“Bledsoe’s latest is a superb work of fantasy; he treats the Arthurian Legend template with respect, and does some great imaginative updates.”–The Agony Column

“Dark Jenny is a lot like the movie Clue on a twisted date with The Princess Bride.”The World in the Satin Bag

“(It can) heal the sick, raise the dead, make the little girls talk outta their heads.”–Jerry Lee Lewis (okay, he was talking about himself, but I like to quote the Killer whenever possible)

DARK JENNY is available at all major online and brick-and-mortar outlets.

Release day for THE GIRLS WITH GAMES OF BLOOD!

Posted on by Alex in Girls with Games of Blood, release date, vampires | 1 Comment

It’s release day for The Girls with Games of Blood, the follow-up to my first Memphis vampire book, Blood Groove.

When Blood Groove came out last year, I of course checked at my local Barnes and Noble to see if they carried it. I was disappointed at first not to see it among the other vampire novels in the Sci Fi/Horror section, so I asked if they planned to stock it. The clerk said it was in stock, shelved in the Literature Section.

Literature?

Okay, first let me say, that’s flattering. Certainly I’d like to think I write literature. Still, Blood Groove is about vampires: hard core, drink-your-blood-and-toss-your-wasted-carcass-aside undead. It’s not romance, it’s not light, and it’s certainly not heartwarming. The audience for the average literary novel would be blindsided, I fear, by its contents (see this recent review).

I asked how this classification was determined, and was told it was done at the corporate level. So apparently someone at Barnes and Noble HQ thinks I belong just before Lucy Jane Bledsoe (The Big Bang Symphony: a novel of Antarctica). Which, again, is flattering. Publisher’s Weekly says about her book, “Bledsoe finds the spark of life amid the ice and desolation.” Heck, that could almost work for mine as well.

The point to this little post is, if you go to Barnes and Noble to find The Girls with Games of Blood (and you should; you know you want to), don’t look with the other vampire books. Check in literature, under “B,” next to Lucy Jane.

RELEASE DAY! (whew…)

Posted on by Alex in Burn Me Deadly, Eddie LaCrosse, release date | 4 Comments

Today is the official release day for BURN ME DEADLY.

If you’ve pre-ordered it, you’re awesome. If you buy it today, you’re only slightly less awesome. If you buy it eventually, you’re still on the awesome scale.

And the winner of the “Name a drink at Angelina’s Tavern” contest is…PARANOYD, for suggesting The Rogue’s Stiletto, also known as the Back-Stabber (your profile doesn’t have an e-mail address, so contact me with your mailing address).

And now, back to work on Dark Jenny. See you soon!

Now in paperback: The Sword-Edged Blonde

Posted on by Alex in paperback, release date, Sword-Edged Blonde | 8 Comments


The mass-market paperback of the first Eddie LaCrosse novel, The Sword-Edged Blonde, hits shelves tomorrow, June 30. Included is a preview of the next adventure, Burn Me Deadly, due out this fall from Tor.

Watch for giveaways of signed copies soon!

Blood Groove Release Day!

Posted on by Alex in Blood Groove, release date, Seventies, vampires | 18 Comments

Today the “suave, creepy” (Publishers Weekly) vampires of my “edgy, enthralling, entertaining” (Library Journal) novel Blood Groove are released on an unsuspecting public. Pick up a copy and journey back to 1975 Memphis when the King still lived, Parliament was in session and the undead wore stacks, bell-bottoms and polyester.

Get a sneak peek of Chapter 1 over at Flames Rising.

Anyone who comments on this post between now and Friday will be entered in a drawing for a signed copy of Blood Groove.