Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Review - Living Stone

Living Stone
by Edward Cox

Available at The Genre Mall

Ed's Website

Interview with Ed Cox on this blog

When stones fall from the sky . . .

Old Herne is terrorising Forest Gate, and the London police are stumped. For three months his victims have been found dead at the church down Cernunnos Lane, their bodies brutalised beyond recognition. Leading the investigation is Oscar. He is yet to uncover one single clue that reveals the killer’s identity or his motives. He does, however, have the prestigious honour of being the only person to have seen Old Herne and lived . . . trouble is, Oscar can’t remember what he saw, and now he has been kicked off the case.

However, Oscar isn’t deterred. Dogged by nightmares and visions of shadowy monsters, he becomes obsessed in his pursuit of the killer and the truth behind his lost memories. But even he couldn’t guess that Old Herne’s origins hark back to the turn of the first millennium, and a legacy left by the man who dared to meddle with stones from the sky.


"Living Stone" opens with Detective Oscar in a back alley pursuing a serial killer, the press has dubbed Old Herne. Oscar has been on the case for some time, and he’s definitely troubled by the brutal killings. He’s surprised when he sees the supposed next victim of the killer performing the killing herself. He come on the scene when the woman victim is in the act of tearing out a man’s throat with her teeth. Pretty gruesome stuff. He follows the woman to an old stone church, no longer (or never) used as a place of worship.

There are huge questions right from the start of the fast-paced novelette. Why is this stone church sitting unused through the centuries? Why is the supposed victim apparently now the killer? Is Old Herne the forest god of ancient British mythology?

We find out the history of the stone church by stepping back in time hundreds of years. We discover that a stone mason named Morgan has found a meteor and opens it up only to release an evil which we can surmise might be an alien being. The alien has no form itself, but inhabits Morgan, driving the man insane. Morgan relies on a creature living in the church to help him gather sacrifices for the stone. My immediate thought was Herne is something like Quasimodo. The man-beast is subservient to Morgan, although it does understand his master is insane and hates Morgan being taken over by the stone.

Alternating between some time in the far distant past and today, "Living Stone" describes an old evil still lurking and taking victims. Mr. Cox handles the time skipping deftly. The reader is never left scratching her head trying to figure out which era the story conveys. The main characters are all well drawn. Morgan, the victim of the stone’s evil, has no will of his own. Oscar is being sucked into the evil, but resists. Herne, once Morgan dies, becomes the servant of the stone’s alien presence despite his knowledge that the stone is evil.

The setting in London’s Forest Gate area is suitably creepy. Cox’s creation of the Old Church is particularly interesting, making it seem quite real. Having visited London, I can easily imagine that the Old Church exists.

Living Stone is a novelette length, so a very quick read. Now, that’s my one and only complaint about it: Cox didn’t make it nearly long enough. I think the concept could easily be expanded into a novel and I hope Cox considers this for the future. It might also be fun to have a series of stories on Detective Oscar pursuing creepy monsters through the back streets of London.

My verdict: Well worth buying.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Buy This Book

UPDATE: Weirdly is now out in a print edition. I know you can pick it up at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Amazon for $11.42 and Super Saver applies.

Barnes & Noble for $11.65 or $10.48 Membership Price.

The ebook version is always available at Wild Child Publishing.

The Weirdly anthology (in which I have four stories) is so close to going to print, the authors can smell it. Don't be a piker. Help get this book over the top so I'll have something to sit on my real bookshelp instead of my virtual bookshelf.

Now available at Wild Child Publishing for a paltry $5.95.

Weirdly: From sci-fi to paranormal to weird, from chilling to odd to scary, Weirdly will sate your lust for strangeness in bite-sized pieces. Each tale weaves its own spell. Vampires, beasts, ghosts, evil creatures and, of course, every day people inhabit Weirdly’s pages.

Harland’s wife makes her presence known from the other side…. The Beekeeper must come to terms with passing over... Heather and her mother join forces to disguise a murder… Lillie searches for missing children… Samantha finds out a school semester can be more than just schoolwork… All these tales and more. Dare you read them?

See my name on the bottom of the cover?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

There's A Dragon in My Soup - Part 2

Marge Simon and Mary Turzilla have a cool book coming out in January from vanZeno Press.

Mary Turzillo's Website
Marge Simon's Website
vanZeno Press - Purchase link coming soon.

Also see Part 1 of the Interview here.

Q: What’s the deal with dragons and virgins? Why don’t dragons stick to their own species?

Mary: That's the heart of the book! Marge and I kept asking ourselves and each other this question. We came up with several answers, and decided to present them all.

For example, maybe the dragon needs a partner who is not fertile by virtue of being of a different species, to spend all that lust. Or maybe since dragons are supernatural creatures, they need a natural creature to mate with.

Or maybe they find humans sexy. We find dragons sexy. Why not vice-versa?

Or maybe it has nothing to do with sex. In traditional lore, virgins possess magic that they lose when they have sex. So maybe the dragon needs a virgin to work the magic to protect his hoard.

Or maybe they're just playing with us. Like cats and mice.

Marge: Mary is quite right. We came up with so many theories about this, that we showcased a number of them. Virgins are desirable to some dragon breeds, but not all. For example, the snake in the Garden of Eden was originally a dragon before it tempted virgin Eve to sample the forbidden fruit and was punished by losing its appendages. To its descendants, a virgin represented Eve. The Lambdon Wyrm mentioned in my story was one such.. Though I didn’t mention this, the Wyrm was keen on tempting fair virgins with its charms. His harem was impressive. As long as a maiden didn’t have sex with a human, the Wyrm considered her virginal. Of course, once she lost her looks, she was booted out.

Q: You're calling this Dragon Soup, like those Chicken Soup books. Do you think dragons have something to say to uplift the human soul?

Mary: Do I? I think that varies from dragon to dragon. Certainly the dragon in "Your Dragon Bride" is not trying to uplift her husband's soul. He'll be lucky to be alive in a few years. But Marge's "The Walnut Tree" (which takes my breath away every time I read it) is about a dragon who protects an abused wife.

Marge: Do dragons have something to say about anything? I believe they do, but they’re not particularly interested in humans’ souls. What are they supposed to say? "Have a nice day"? "That’s a pretty blouse." "You’ve lost weight, haven’t you?" No way. But dragons are uplifting creatures by nature of being dragons: mysterious, powerful, magical, even whimsical. Who wouldn’t welcome a dragon living in their back yard? Your neighbors would be jealous, and that uplifts the human soul no end.

Q: Despite the popular concept that dragons will roast you with fire then eat you for dinner, kids love them. What is it about dragons that attracts children?

Mary: I've often wondered. My son was born in the year of the dragon, and he and I think the attributes ascribed to dragons in the Chinese zodiac are, if not actually his from birth, at least worth aspiring to. He had dozens of plush toy dragons, but only one plush unicorn (which incidentally my kitten Sam decided to eviscerate).

I played around with Google and discovered that for such pairs as "dragon friend" and "unicorn friend," there are about nine times as many references to dragons as to unicorns. I sought Google hits of such animal friends as bears, ducks, and tigers, and discovered, interestingly, that the bigger and more predatory the animal is, the more hits for toys and plush animals there seem to be.

Maybe children see the dragon as a big, friendly protector. If I were small and helpless, I'd certainly want the dragon on my side. Come to think of it, I am small and helpless. Maybe that's why I like dragons.

Marge: Dragons are awesome. Case in point: it is uncool to have a puppy tattoo. It is way cool to have a dragon tattoo.

Q: How did you decide to collaborate on this book? Which one of you woke up one morning and said "Hey, dragons! Poetry! Short stories! Illustrations! M__ and I are the perfect team for this!"

Mary: Well, first I have to say I'm a longtime admirer of Marge's flash fiction, poetry, and art. She's a multitalented genius, and I always love her work and am so flattered she agreed to collaborate with me.

This whole Dragon Soup idea started when I admired a poem of Marge's, "Dragon Lust." It's about a maiden who falls for a dragon who doesn't quite fancy her, because -- well, read the poem. I know a lot of people who love dragons, and Marge's take on dragons, as sexual, unpredictable, and uncontrollable, struck a chord for me. We started talking about a collaboration and I dragged her into this. And I'm not apologizing, Marge!

One thing that I found especially exciting was that one of us would write a poem, for example about a half-dragon, half-human child, and if it was funny, the other would write a serious poem about the same subject. And vice versa. This happened several times, sort of like a dialog, and it produced some startling pieces, and startling synergy.

Writing the book for me was just immense fun.

Marge: I thought it was my husband, Bruce Boston’s, fault. When I laughingly told him that I’d just sold my second dragon poem, he said, "Good. If you can write 28 more, you’ll have enough for a chapbook." I believe he was being sarcastic, as he doesn’t find dragons a topic of interest. So when Mary complimented me on my poem in Goblin Fruit, ( –well, we got to chatting and one thing let to another. I’d just finished a collaborative collection on a very serious topic with Charlee Jacob (VECTORS: A Week in the Death of a Planet) and falling into the joys of writing poetry and doing illustrations of dragons was such a pleasant respite. Mary and I are so similar in our perceptions and raunchy sense of humor, it’s uncanny.

Q: Could both of you give a brief rundown on the some of your favorites in the book? Take all the space you want and use examples as needed. You have one hour. Begin now.

Mary: Oh wow. I think my favorite thing in the whole book is Marge's illustration for my "Your Dragon Bride." The dragon bride herself is serving cocktails and is quite the dish, if you happen to fancy fire-breathing scaly monsters. And the expression of befuddlement on the groom's face is just to die for. I crack up every time I think of it.

I also love her "The Walnut Tree," which I mentioned above. "To Dream of Dragons" is also a gem. And if you want a belly laugh, try Marge's "The Lady Dragon's Son," both the poem and the image that goes with it.

Of my own stuff, I think I'm proudest of "Daddy Says It's not a Dragon," which won a first in the "Small Stuff" Ohio Poetry Contest. I also have a story called "Chrysoberyl," which will eventually be the first chapter of a novel. And the way Marge draws my characters is perfect. The love interest is really a hunk.

Marge has a special genius for facial expressions, in case you didn't notice.

Marge: Of Mary’s poems, I loved "What Do Women Want" and "Chatroom Immortals". The former, because it addresses an age old question about male-female relationships. "Worldly goods can’t buy you love." Be you man or dragon, you ain’t going nowhere with that notion. The latter poem was plain fun to read and research for getting those two unlikely lovers together in an image. I agree with Mary about Chrysoberyl being my favorite of her stories (and we both thought the guy in my illustration is a doll–don’t know where he came from, either.)

My daughter loved the art I did for "A Gathering of Dragons" so much, she started thinking about using it for a dragon tattoo. Then she changed her mind and described what later became the illustration and inspiration for "Rumple Stilt’s Kin". I call it "Melle’s Dragon".

Of all the poems that I’ve written for this, "The Dragon and the Troll" remains my favorite. It speaks to the joy of love and the tragedy of loss. I’ve still not been able to place it, though I have sold several others pretty quickly.

Q: Pencils down, class. Thanks to Marge and Mary for taking up the gauntlet, but not smacking the dragons with a sword. Hey, dragons have rights, too!Final question. What's your recipe for dragon soup?

Mary: Dragon Soup
1 fresh maiden (check for virginity)
1 tranquilizer, maiden's choice
1 shark cage
1 crane with a long arm
1 billion liters of beef broth
47 truckloads of mixed vegetables
salt, pepper, and herbs to taste (mandrake and mustard are recommended)
1 seductive trumpet
1 very loud cherry bomb
1 large volcanic caldera

Pour beef broth into caldera. Allow to come to a slow simmer.
Add mixed vegetables, salt, pepper, and herbs. Cook for several hours until vegetables are soft.
Give maiden tranquilizer. (This step may be omitted if maiden is very very brave.) Insert maiden into shark cage. Wait until maiden is calm.

Suspend maiden in shark cage over caldera on arm of crane.

Play trumpet seductively. If dragon does not appear at once, have maiden croon sweetly about golden rings, gemstones, etc.

As dragon comes galumphing over the horizon, prepare cherry bomb. As he gets to the edge of the caldera, detonate it. (Note, be sure that the cherry bomb goes off behind the dragon, so as to guide him into the volcano. You don't want him coming toward you.)
Swing crane out and release maiden from shark cage.


Marge: Try Mary’s recipe. If you don’t like loud noises, just put a dish of buttered gorps on your doorstep at 11:30 p.m EST. And heat up the largest kettle you can find.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Part 1 Interview - Waiter, There’s a Dragon in My Soup

Marge Simon and Mary Turzilla have a cool book coming out in January from vanZeno Press. I'll be posting a rather lengthy interview with the two of them over two or three posts.

Mary Turzillo's Website

Marge Simon's Website

vanZeno Press - Purchase link coming soon.

What more can be said about dragons? Somehow or other, Marge Simon and Mary Turzillo have quite a few things to say, ranging from soup to nuts. Oh, there’s that soup again! "Dragon Soup" is a book of poetry, essays, and short stories, combined with illustrations all about dragons. Marge Simon is an award-winning poet and illustrator and Mary Turzillo has picked up a Nebula (1999, Novelette, "Mars is No Place for Children").

These gals are heavyweights, but only in the publishing sense. Hey, don’t smack me! That’s a compliment.As you can see by the cover, "Dragon Soup" has a whimsical twist to it. I thought I’d ask the ladies a few questions about dragons, poetry, illustration, and if they do, indeed, have a good recipe for dragon soup.I’ll toss the questions and you can decide who will answer what or if you both would like to field one.

Q: What are you bringing new to the field of dragonology? (By the way, is that the right term for the study of dragons?) How is your vision different from what people might find in traditional books or on the internet?

Mary: As for me, my dragons are sensual, sexual, and powerful, with the emphasis on the word sensual. They are emblems of the untamed powers of the universe and of human nature.

They also like to play. If the plaything is a human, it may come out slightly dented.

I know others have portrayed dragons as untamed, powerful, emblematic of human dominance, but Marge and I are both intrigued by the sensuality aspect, and I believe our take is a little different. And new.

Marge: Dragonology is fine, but Wyrmology is accepted as well. I say put aside what you think you know about dragons from myths and legends. For example, I have two pieces where the dragon lays but one egg. Several distinguished dragon "reference books" state that dragons lay a clutch of six to eight eggs. And there’s also the rule that dragons can’t interbreed with other dragon species. That’s silly, of course they can. And that idea that all trolls are ugly and that no dragon would have any interest in one –absurd!

What about Puff, the magic dragon? Did he deal dope, or was he really innocent. Puff knows, and he ain’t telling.

Q: Did you research dragons in literature for the book, or are either of you a Professor of Dragonology?

Mary: I wish my university had offered such a degree.

Seriously, I do have one claim to expertise. Under a different name, Mary T. Brizzi, I wrote a book about Anne McCaffrey (The Starmont Guide to Anne McCaffrey). There's more to McCaffrey's genius than Pern, of course, but I did quite a bit of research on dragons and how McCaffrey crafted the world of Pern and dragon physiognomy. Behind her alluring portrayal of the beasts, their riders, and their bond, quite a bit of careful science lurks.

Incidentally, I regard McCaffrey as one of the great creative imaginations of our time. But, that said, our dragons are not McCaffrey dragons. They aren't as noble. I know Pern dragons are sexual, but their emotions are more lofty and humane than Dragon Soup dragons. And if our dragons bond, don't trust that bond.

Marge: Mary comes with a Ph.D and I only have an M.A. But she agreed to let me be part of the project anyway, since we both have 1/32 dragon blood. DB positive. But seriously, dragons are often part of children’s dreams, though most of the time, we can’t remember that part. Obviously, I had a friendly one in my childhood. Otherwise, why would I be such a fantastic person? Synergenic by nature, bursting with creative ideas? If you have a soul that is unclaimed as yet by the Demons of Mass Destruction, then you know all about dragons. You just don’t remember the truth, which is not to be confused with facts.

To be continued (and we'll learn the truth about dragons and virgins)....

Friday, November 09, 2007

Independent Authors Guild

This group is really putting a lot of effort into organizing writers using small presses and the independent publishing paradigm.

I'd recommend all writers taking a look at the group as it builds itself.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Independent Author

I'd like to direct your attention to a great post by Nan Hawthorne on her Yesterday Revisited blog.

Nan writes:

Independent Authors GuildOnce upon a time there were two kinds of publishing… real and vanity. Either you were a good enough author to get published on the basis of your fine prose and skillful plotting and characterization.. or you were willing to pay someone to make it look like you had a Real Book. The world of electronic publishing has blown those times right out of the proverbial water. When someone asked me recently what a blog is, I replied, “It’s a way for anyone at all to publish an editorial.” That is the beauty of the web.. its populist opportunities. Anyone can publish. Anyone can be read.

Please read the rest at Nan's blog post "Sticking it to the (Publishing) Man" on Yesterday Revisited.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Cornie passed away peacefully in the vet's office at 9:00am, November 5th. Cancer robbed us of the most wonderful cat in the world. He kept us for ten years. We'll miss him.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Doin' the NaNo Shuffle

Okay, okay. I couldn't resist at least giving it another shot this year. Day 2 and I've got 4700 words, which is decent although not heating up the computer capacity.

As long as I continue in Nano, posts will be infrequent and possibly show a picture of me hanging myself.

I have one thing that may do me in. My beloved cat, Cornelius, is dying. He's got a huge tumor in his belly, which cannot be removed. Since he was hacked open only to discover there was nothing the vet can do, he's been in pretty good shape. He lost a ton of weight (for a little cat) and has been eating constantly. Of course, we've catered to him. Today, he decided food wasn't too appetizing. When he moves, he wobbles a bit and is breathing hard. He likes to sit on my lap when I'm at the computer--his way of getting maximum attention--and his purr was raspy and harsh. I've been periodically crying today. I know he may die as early as tonight. He's that bad off. Not in pain, but clearly he's not well. Here's a picture of him in a typical Cornie pose.