Sunday, May 29, 2016

PROGRESS REPORT: WEEK ENDING MAY 28, 2016

Well, once more life had other ideas while I wanted to write.
This time, it was more along the line of the usual appointments and commitments one faces to exist; but overall I'm as healthy as can be post congestive heart failure/aortic aneurysm.
I've actually LOST weight!
If found, please DON'T return!

Meanwhile, have managed to break 9000+ words on my Sherlock Holmes story for Airship 27, so life's good.

HAPPY MEMORIAL DAY
and I'll see you around the Internet.
Lee Houston, Junior
29 May, 2016

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

BACK STORY: SUPER SWINGIN' HERO 1968 SPECIAL

For me, a lot of 2015 was spent in 1968 helping Jim Beard make his dream project a reality.
So I thought it was about time (no pun intended) to get feedback from the other contributors on the Super Swingin' Hero 1968 Special from Mechanoid Press, a homage to that way out publishing period in the late 1960s where companies were trying anything and everything to attract readers.

Everyone was asked the same three questions.
01. If you ever read or still do read comic books, what was your very first one?
02. What are your thoughts on the late Silver Age of comics?
03. How did you become involved with the anthology and come up with the story for your specific feature?

DAVID MICHELINIE
Author of so many great comics of the past.

My very first comic was probably around 1956, either one of DC's second tier heroes (Green Lantern, Hawkman, The Flash, etc) a Disney duck book, or Classics Illustrated.
I became hooked on comics in the latter part of the 1950s and they informed my character development very strongly. It was an era when heroes were good and villains were bad, which was not exactly a true representation of the real world. But it showed the world as it could be, as it should be, and that was enough to light a spark of hope in my malleable and somewhat naive little kid mind. It's probably why I seem to add at least some sort of positive element in even the darkest stories I write.
Lee contacted me through Facebook and asked if I'd be interested in participating. I said, "Sure". As for the story, there were only two slots left when I joined: Ghostman (homage to Deadman) and The Crawler (homage to The Creeper). To be honest, I'd never read either of those characters when they were published, so I went through a few back issues and decided that Deadman would be the easiest--er, I mean, most interesting to use as a template. I took key elements from the original and came up with a storyline that would fit and pitched it. Unfortunately, I was told that I'd stuck too close to the copyrighted material and the editors would prefer, quite reasonably, to avoid a massive lawsuit. So I sat back and re-thought things, coming up with alternatives that, I have to admit, actually made the story better. I re-pitched, got approval, and wrote what I hope became an entertaining story with a bit of heart, a couple of laughs, and a recognizable background of the 1960s.

LISA M. COLLINS
Author of things both fiction and culinary.

My dad introduced me to comic books when I was around six, with my first being an Archie.
I think I fell right into one of the new demographics comic publishers were trying to break into. I was young and female. I was also deeply interested in science and the Silver Age comics was loaded with it, and whet my appetite for more.
As a member of the Pulp Factory yahoo group, I saw a post by Jim calling for proposals about the project. I batted some ideas his way about adapting a story loosely based off of Dial H for HERO, a DC Comics about a mysterious dial that turns a kid into a superhero by selecting the letters H-E-R-O in order. I personally have an affinity for all things Egyptian, and reworked the idea by selecting a pantheon of ancient Egyptian gods who would imbue my character, Jane Roberts, with mystical powers by wearing a necklace of rotating beads spelling out god's name.

ERWIN K. ROBERTS
Creator of The Voice, and other exciting adventures.

At age three or four I started trying to figure out the newspaper Sunday comics. The key word being tried. The first comic book I remember is when my grandmother read to me “Only a Poor Old Man” from my sister’s copy of Uncle Scrooge #1. I collected U.S. comics from the mid-1950’s thru the early 1990’s. I still buy an occasional independent comic.
The late 1960’s were my college years. Just remember that no comics shops existed then. Things went crazy on the newsstands. TH.U.N.D.E.R. Agents and Tower Comics came and went. So did Gil Kane’s graphic (in more ways than one) novel His Name is -Savage! Anybody remember Fatman - the Human Flying Saucer? Marvel had an explosion. Meanwhile DC just went nuts. And I loved most of it. For me the Silver Age of comics began when I bought The (Barry Allen) Flash #105. It began to end in 1985 with Crisis on Infinite Earths and DC releasing Frank Miller’s Legends of the Dark Knight. Since that time all the contrived EVENTS and the steady stream of creators and editors aping Miller with ever darker characters took all the fun out of comics for me. I see DC and Marvel comics these days and cringe. The art and the blurbs just scream, "You don’t want to read this."
I saw Jim Beard’s call on the Pulp Factory mailing list, but hesitated a bit before replying. The list of characters was a bit picked over by then. I tend to write lone wolf heroes, in preference to groups. Only one solo character remained: Changeor - the Mutable Man. In 1968 able bodied Americans males, eighteen and older, had to be seriously concerned with getting Drafted. Changeor took his Draft physical almost exactly one year before I did. We both had the same sort of high-handed Draft Board. There is more than a little of my own experiences in this story. It is just that I can’t change my shape and composition like he can.

Okay folks, considering that there was 10 fantastic features within the Super Swingin' Hero 1968 Special and we've only heard from 3 authors in this post, obviously this article is TO BE CONTINUED, but the anthology can be found at Amazon.com!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

PROGRESS REPORT: WEEK ENDING MAY 21, 2016

They say life is what happens while you're busy making other plans.

I kept plugging away at my writing this past week while the world decided I should be doing other things.

Nothing major. Just the usual stuff.
Laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning house, doing the dishes, and other things; but despite some of the fantastic adventures I create for others, I have yet to master being in two places at once myself, let alone have discovered any way of getting the housework to do itself.

But my Sherlock Holmes story for Airship 27 is at least now over the 8,200 word mark.

Wanted to do more, but ♫Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da, Life Goes On.

Hopefully I'll get more done this coming week.
Take care, and I'll see you around the Internet.
Lee Houston, Junior
22 May, 2016

Sunday, May 15, 2016

PROGRESS REPORT: WEEK ENDING MAY 14, 2016

OF SHERLOCKS: PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE

Okay, no computer problems since last time, so I'm well back into my regular routine.

Cover by Terry Pavlet
Let's start with a quick reminder that my latest release can be found within Airship 27's fifth volume of SINBAD: THE NEW VOYAGES
I will be eventually writing a Back Story post in regards to the creation of "Sinbad and the Sinister Statue", but the anthology can be found on Amazon.com in both print and e-formats.





Things are going great on my Sherlock Holmes story for Airship 27 as well, as I finished last week with 7,800+ words on the tale.
Now, considering my last Progress Report only had me slightly above 5,000 words in a target 15,000 word short story, roughly over 2,800 words in a week's time may not seem like a lot to some people; but considering all the research and care one must put into a mystery worthy of the legendary Victorian Era Consulting Detective, regardless of the story's length...
I have "The Adventure of..." (sorry, not revealing the full title at this time) all plotted out in my head and will even be throwing in a red herring or two concerning who is behind everything.
But, regardless of the enigma and who eventually solves it, mysteries do take longer to write than straight action/adventure stories in my humble opinion.
After all, you have to work out the details of not only what the conundrum is, but where all your suspects are at any given moment, along with who the guilty party is and why they committed the crime long before you put anything down on record, whether it's via your computer or the more traditional pen and paper method.

But since I've been promising to discuss this for a couple of weeks now, in my personal opinion, who do I think portrayed Sherlock Holmes the best?

Let me start by stating the obvious.
There are too many actors who have played Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's legendary detective to have seen them all.
There have been classic Holmes (set in the Victorian Era), modern Sherlocks (set in today's world), and even one animated series that revived in him the 22nd century with a robotic Watson !
Holmes is a popular AUDIO character too between the heyday of Old Time Radio and more recent audio book adaptations, so I certainly haven't heard them all either.
For more information on the above, please refer to the "Adaptations in Other Media" listing in Wikipedia's Sherlock Holmes entry.

Now for me, it all comes down to three men.
Modern Sherlock is easily Benedict Cumberbatch from the BBC/PBS Masterpiece Mystery productions. I'm sure there are plenty of people wondering about Jonny Lee Miller on Elementary but let's be honest with each other. While I am a fan of the show, this series could just as easily have been about another detective and his partner, since CBS only started it because they couldn't get the American TV rights to Sherlock.
I will give an honorable mention to Michael Pennington from the 1987 TV movie: The Return of Sherlock Holmes. While not the first attempt to put the consulting detective in the present, it was the first (as far as I know) to partner him with a female Watson.

In regards to classic/Victorian Era Holmes, I am torn between the two most obvious choices: Basil Rathbone (who, by the end of his cinematic tenure as Holmes, was fighting Nazis, thus also making him the first Sherlock of modern times) and Jeremy Brett, who was in the midst of a wonderful series of adaptations of the official Doyle/Holmes canon when he passed away.

By the same token, there are just way too many Watsons to consider singling it out to just one, but that is a discussion for another time.

My opinions may differ with yours but like I said, I can't think of anyone who has actually seen/heard them all.
I better get back to writing now.
See you around the Internet.
Lee Houston, Junior
15 May, 2016

Sunday, May 8, 2016

PROGRESS REPORT: WEEK ENDING MAY 7, 2016

"IT WAS THE BEST OF TIMES. IT WAS THE WORST OF TIMES."
Opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens.

Not THIS bad, but it felt like it!
WHERE DO I START?
Last Sunday morning after breakfast, I returned to my computer to attempt getting some writing done for the day, including posting on this blog; and found that my computer had crashed!
Not the most auspicious start to the day, let alone the week.

After some scrambling, replacement parts, serious system updates, and a few well chosen curse words along the way that will NOT be repeated in a public forum, I was finally up and running again, only to discover that I was now seriously behind.
Why?

During my unplanned down time, I was sent TWO different PDFs, with each publisher wanting me to review my short story for errors and send the search results to them PDQ!

The first is out now, as Airship 27 has released the fifth volume in their ongoing Sinbad anthology series.
Under a beautiful cover by Terry Pavlet with interior illustrations by M. D. Jackson, you will find stories by Barbara Doran, Ron Fortier, and Percival Constanstine accompanied by my own contribution: "Sinbad and the Sinister Statue".
It's available from Amazon.com in both print and e-book formats.

It was great fun working in the creative realm sailed by the legendary Ray Harryhausen, the master of special effects long before the advent of computer generated images, and I hope to make another voyage in the future.


The other PDF happened to be in regards to my story for the upcoming Singularity: Rise of the Post Humans anthology spearheaded by series creator Jaime Ramos, to be released by Pro Se Press.
My humble contribution, "The Rebel", is joined by a lot of talented folks, including David Michelinie (yes, HIM!), Jennie Wood, Nancy A. Hansen, Brant Fowler, and Chris Magee, with Jaime contributing the finale that will set the world of New Southhampton on its ear and make folks wonder how long they can wait for Book 2 to discover what happens next.

And of course, once I took care of reviewing the PDFs, I did manage to get some more work done on my Sherlock Holmes short story for Airship 27, but with everything else I had to report this week, discussing my thoughts on who (if anyone) was the best portrayer of the Victorian Era's original consulting detective will have to wait another week until the next progress report.

So with that in mind, have a great week everybody. I'll see you around the Internet and HAPPY MOTHERS' DAY!
Lee Houston, Junior
8 May, 2016

Sunday, April 24, 2016

PROGRESS REPORT: WEEK ENDING APRIL 23, 2016


THE GAME'S AFOOT!


Holmes statue in Edinburgh
Given the basic 15,000 word minimum for a short story at Airship 27, I am roughly a third of the way through my Sherlock Holmes tale for Ron Fortier and Rob Davis. Still don't have a title for my work yet, but it will more than likely be "The Adventure of..." something.

I know not how long it took Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to craft a Holmes tale, let alone the length of time writers of more recent adventures featuring the Victorian Era's famous consulting detective required, but I can tell you that I am proceeding apace while being careful to craft a tale worthy of Sherlock Holmes.

It's not just a question of research, although I can assure you there is a lot of that involved along the way. But there is a perception concerning Holmes that any conundrum he faces must be a(n eventually solvable) challenge that both entertains and baffles everyone except Sherlock.

In all the Holmes mysteries I have read, never once did I solve the case before Sherlock. My "batting average" against him is ZERO, as good as it is against another famous detective I love: Ellery Queen. I get bits and pieces along the way, but never the entire solution.

Which is why it's more fun to be in the "driver's seat" so to speak, guiding Holmes and Watson through the mystery since I already know the answers.


In any event, since I'll probably still be working on "The Adventure of...???" by the time I post my next Progress Report, I'll discuss my feelings concerning some of the more famous portrayals of Sherlock Holmes then.

See you around the Internet.
Lee Houston, Junior
24 April, 2016

Sunday, April 17, 2016

PROGRESS REPORT: WEEK ENDING APRIL 16, 2016


All right. It's been an interesting writing week. So let's recap everything I've done up to this point.

*First, a friendly reminder that I've turned in the manuscript for PROJECT ALPHA 2, although the subtitle is now PROVING GROUND, not Wayward Son. Now it's just a question of when it gets through production for Pro Se Press to release it.

*I've also turned in a 2200+ word essay about writing for an upcoming benefit anthology for Logan Masterson that Pro Se is planning to publish.
I never really met or corresponded with the man, but Logan recently lost a personal battle and is no longer with us. When this anthology will be published remains to be seen.

*The work of myself ("It All Started Innocently Enough") and fellow scribe R. P. Steeves ("The Backward Pawn") is now available on audio through Amazon.com with the Radio Archives' release of CHARLES BOECKMAN PRESENTS JUDSON AND GARDNER.

*I've signed the contract so Airship 27 can publish my short story "Sinbad and the Sinister Statue" in their next SINBAD: THE NEW VOYAGES anthology.

*Currently, I am now 4000+ words into the Sherlock Holmes story I promised Airship 27. I still have several pages of handwritten notes to transcribe, for one must craft the best Victorian era mystery they can to satisfy Holmes enthusiasts, but I humbly think my tale will please them when finished.

*THEN I will begin work on whatever will become HUGH MONN, PRIVATE DETECTIVE BOOK 3 as I consider some other irons in the fire beyond that.

So it's turning out to be a good Spring so far. Just wish the weather in my neck of the woods was as warm as it should be this time of year but alas, you can't have everything.
Better get back to work now.
See you around the Internet.
Lee Houston, Junior
17 April, 2016