Saturday, October 8, 2011

Enter at Your Own Risk, an anthology of Dark Fiction, now available (Bayou Life)

My short story, Bayou Life, is part of Dr. Alex Scully's anthology of Gothic Fiction called Enter at Your Own Risk.

Dr. Alex Scully has pulled together
Old Masters, New Voices: Looking into the dark past, Enter At Your Own Risk resurrects the Gothic masters and for the first time, they meet their modern counterparts. Poe, de Maupassant, Bierce, Lovecraft, Yeats, Stoker and more walk the haunted literary halls with B.E. Scully, Carole Gill, Joshua Skye, Mari Adkins, Edward Medina, John A. Karr, E.P. Berglund, A.A. Garrison, Robbie Anderson, David Thomas, Alex McDermott, Nicky Peacock, Drew Keaton, and Benjamin Sperduto. Enter... at your own risk...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Irving Stone's 'Lust for Life' a Vincent van Gogh story, chronicled by Giridhar Khasnis

I have yet to see anyone play Vincent on screen better than Kirk Douglas in the 1950's adaptation of Irving Stone's biographical novel, Lust for Life. Douglas embraced the feverish and chaotic aspects of Vincent to the nth degree, to the point where the actor's wife at the time got a bit spooked. That he was passed up for the Oscar while Anthony Quinn was awarded Best Supporting for his eight minute role as Gauguin is criminal. Such is life.

Giridhar Khasnis has an excellent write-up at the Deccan Herald of Stone's labors, including the rejections of the book by major publishers and it's eventual wild success in print and film adaptation.

Writes Khasnis:

It was quite by chance that Irwing Stone (1903 - 89) — then a young, prolific, but struggling playwright — visited the Rosenberg Galleries in Paris and ‘discovered’ the blazing canvases of Vincent van Gogh (1853 - 1890).

The visit, he confessed, turned out to be ‘the single most compelling emotional experience’ of his life. He also at once felt compelled to find out more about the Dutch impressionist. “Even though I was far too young and felt I did not have sufficient technique to write a book about Vincent van Gogh, I knew I had to try. If I didn’t, I would never write anything else.”

His elaborate and intense research — based primarily on van Gogh’s prolific and eloquent letters to his brother Theo — spanned six long months, followed by another six months of writing. By early 1931, the manuscript of Lust for Life was ready. Then began the frustrating ordeal of finding a publisher. Over the next three years — one after another — more than 15 publishers rejected Stone’s manuscript.

When he took it to Alfred Knopf, ‘they never opened it — the package with the manuscript got home before I did.’ When he approached Doubleday, they seemed impressed, but the sales department put its foot down and said there was ‘no way to sell a book about an unknown Dutch painter.’

Finally, in 1934, the manuscript was accepted and published by Longmans, Green & Company. Stone received a $250 advance which, according to the author, was “a tremendous amount of money”, especially during the Depression.

Lust for Life became an immediate bestseller. The book (which was dedicated to the author’s mother) sold in millions of copies. It also set in motion Stone’s brilliant writing career. He was hailed as a pioneer of biographical novel in its contemporary form and indisputably the most successful master of the genre.

Stone described the biographical novel as “a true and documented story of one human being’s journey across the face of the years, transmuted from the raw material of life into the delight and purity of an authentic art form.”

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Van Gogh's Sunflowers browning from chemical assimilation

Unfortunately, Vincent's use of white mixed with chromium yellow, a technique that made his Sunflower paintings so brilliant, is now causing them to brown in sunlight.

Sad on many levels. The yellows were so strong and achieved Vincent's brightness goal ... to have them fade now robs of us his intent and result. Nothing lasts forever, it's true, but with the professional care of the Van Gogh Museum in the Netherlands, one would have hoped they'd last a lot longer. Not to fault them, however. I'm sure the finding by the chemists was not welcome news. Now the museum must display Sunflowers in darker settings, or commission someone to figure out an antidote.

To see Sunflowers anywhere but in a bright setting robs them of their power.

The Boston Globe is one of many news outlets to carry the story, but I do not agree that the browning of Vincent's most powerful works is "weirdly appropriate" as Josh Rothman states:
It's definitely sad that the paintings are fading, but you can't deny that it's weirdly appropriate, too: The sun is fading the painted sunflowers, just as it faded the real ones.

It is another tragic event in a life already fraught with tragedy.

Vincent had his brown period of painting while in the North. When he came to France, his works exploded with color. Such were his techniques and manner until his final days, if he'd wanted to return to brown, he'd have done so.

I'll also add this, it is Vincent's powerful manipulation of color that made him, posthumously though it was. If he'd stayed with browns and greys, he would not have gained global status as an artist.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Review, Emerald by M.L. Hamilton

Review, Emerald by M.L. Hamilton

The premise:

In one terrible instant, Kai is thrown from his privileged life and plunged into a conflict that began before he was born. Worse yet, he learns that the one man who can help him is his enemy.
Kiameron is the crown prince of DiNolfol. He is torn between two destinies - assuming the crown upon his father's death or answering the call of his non-Human traits, abilities associated with the mysterious Stravad.

The decision is made for him with the destruction of everything he holds dear. Armed with his burgeoning powers and a mysterious talisman that he does not know how to use, Kai strikes back at Gava, the despot who destroyed his life.

Crippled by self-doubt and fear, he falters in his quest, until he meets a man who forces him to take action. However, his new ally is hiding secrets, secrets that will rob Kai of everything he holds sacred.


Prince Kai has inexplicable dreams that disturb and compel him to seek answers. He’s at odds with his father, the King, on how the kingdom of DiNolfol should best handle the encroaching threat of a powerful enemy. Kai has powers that set him apart from other humans ...

And that’s only the start of the conflicts that set in motion this well-crafted and detailed epic fantasy. The settings and world building are fashioned with great attention, counter-balanced by the all-important interplay between characters. To prevent these characters from appearing one-dimensional, the reader is provided insights to their emotions. We experience Kai’s desires and limitations and his quest for vengeance ... always a compelling motive in the fantasy genre. Also, Kai’s princess sister provides another vantage in which to experience Hamilton’s world, as do the villains.

Hamilton then takes more steps to add complexity and intrigue to this saga. Characters that seem one way reveal other facets, and some are not altogether expected by Kai or the reader. There’s plenty of tragedy and devastation to go around, entertaining action sequences, and automatons that seem all but insurmountable. In the end, Emerald proves itself an engrossing fantasy saga.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Zombie tale, Death Clause, available at Amazon Kindle

Now available on Amazon Kindle: Death Clause is the 2011 resurrection of Dark Resurrection.

Surgeon Victor Galloway kept death at bay in the operating room. Now death has claimed him. Resurrected against his will, forced to sign a Death Clause, he must fight for his family and his soul.

Victor Galloway is a prominent surgeon and family man. When he suffers a heart attack, he claws his way to the phone and dials 911. The paramedics arrive, smile down at him and quickly administer a lethal injection. Victors life is ending, but his nightmare has just begun.Close to death and strapped to a gurney, hes offered an unholy deal by Tobias, H.E.L.L.s CEO: Use his surgical skills to harvest the living to feed the undead in exchange for immortality. Refused but not to be denied, Tobias presses his unwilling recruit into the ranks of the undead.

Whether by chance or divine intervention, Victor is different from the others.He is a monster with a conscience, a force for good ensnared by evil, and the only one willing to stand against Tobias and his burgeoning nest of zombies.He must destroy them, but doing so risks the lives of his family and the last hospital employee with a pulse.

New cover art below.

Friday, January 28, 2011

WSJ video on Kepler Project: Another Earth in Outer Space?

WSJ video on Kepler Project: Another Earth in Space?

Very cool, both the Video and the Keplar Project for continuing to explore the galaxy, and by extension, the universe, for Earth-like planets. Just ten years ago other astronomers scoffed at the idea. Now Kepler, led by Dr. Geoff Marcy, is trailblazing through Space and pushing back the naysayers.

The Wall Street Journal's Michael Kofsky and his team have done an outstanding job with the video. Informative and entertaining.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Robert E. Howard, the fantasy world marked his 105th Birthday

Happy birthday, REH. And while some may deem it strange to wish birthday tidings to a man long dead, his works live on and, as he wrote in a Conan story, we "drink to his shade."

Having read no one's works who could surpass the action writing of Robert E. Howard, to me he is the best sword and sorcery writer to ever live. Karl Edward Wagner runs at second place, and Edgar Rice Burroughs at third, but no one takes Howard for clean, bold imagery and action in the span of a short story, a novella or two, and one novel.

Hardcore REH fans often point to his boxing or western stories as the best of the best, forgoing the more popular stories of the king of all barbarians, Conan. Not for me. Kull and Solomon Kane and his horror stories are very cool, but don't rise to the level of his Conan stories. I wish he'd typed up more novels, but that's a long medium and back in the day he was shooting stories to more than just Weird Tales for his living. If I recall my readings correctly, Weird Tales didn't pay REH his due for a Conan story, so he abandoned the character. Not cool, Weird Tales. You essentially killed Conan.

"Hither came Conan, the Cimmerian, black-haired, sullen-eyed, sword in hand, a thief, a reaver, a slayer, with gigantic melancholies and gigantic mirth, to tread the jeweled thrones of the Earth under his sandalled feet."
— Robert E. Howard, The Phoenix on the Sword, 1932.

As I commented there, all the while I read REH in my younger days, I always pictured him a wizened old timer, perhaps an ex-soldier or historian, and here he only made it to 30 years old.

Genius writing. The power …!


Below is Howard's photo. It's probably his most popular picture, but he rarely dressed that way out in West Texas. Also below, a favorite clip from the movie, Whole Wide World, about Howard and his love interest, Novalyne Price.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Gauguin's tribute to Van Gogh auctioning big

Eleven years after Vincent van Gogh's death, the fellow artist who basically drove Vincent over the edge painted sunflowers on Vincent's behalf, supposedly. Maybe he honestly missed him, more likely he wanted to capture some of Vincent's intensity and drive, at least that's my admittedly limited impression of the man.

I don't care much for Gauguin, and even less of his art. To me he was a villain who took advantage of Theo's money and Vincent's naivete and desire for artistic fellowship. And no good man does that.

Anita Singh has an article in The Telegraph on Gauguin's Sunflowers, and the pretty penny they'll be fetching at auction.

Singh states that Vincent's drinking and instability led to the end of their friendship. Surely they were factors ... ones that Gauguin took advantage of. To boot, Gauguin had sizeable mental issues of his own after he left for the tropics. Difficult to believe they hadn't manifested earlier.

Below is Gauguin's painting, which is flat and lifeless compared to Vincent's, imo. See link and example below.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Van Gogh masterpieces in chocolate, or, The Edible Van Gogh

The UK Daily Mail UK has a story about a confectioner, Jean Zaun, who creates chocolate versions of masterpieces, including Vincent Van Gogh's portrait and sunflowers.

The edible Van Gogh.

But her larger reproductions are more for display, as it turns out.

According to Mrs Zaun, each picture can last for up to nine years if properly stored at a temperature of 68 degrees or less.

She added: 'They must also not be exposed to sunlight, heat, hungry dogs or humans.

Read more: