NaNoWriMo is UPON US!

Holy banter, Batman!
The most wonderful time of the year is finally upon us!
No, not Christmas. I’m talking about NaNoWriMo!
Any followers or potential fans of mine will know that I tendto use my blog to apologize for falling behind in my writing and then give updates for lunges in plot that I finally manage to type out. Not this time.
Today I’m writing to tell you about my intense schedule for NaNoWriMo.
I’ll be working on four different stories during the month of November. I don’t plan on getting the required 50,000 words done all four, but instead to get 50,000 (and hopefully more) done in the combined works. Each work is well advanced to the point where even a quarter of the total 50,000 will bring me close to finishing at least a few of them. So hopefully this will be another month of lunging forward with with my plots and hopefully I’ll have something to send to the publishers by December.
Fingers crossed, anyway.
Anyone else jumping onto the NaNoWriMo bandwagon?

If you are, than good luck and keep me posted on your progress!

–MD-

Progress Report

Normally, I make posts like the previous one (the declaration of writing again, not the review) and then get swept up in a new life thingy that makes me out to be a liar.
That is not the case this time. I have yet to nail down a solid writing schedule, but am happy to say that I’m at least writing again and using my beautiful writing corner in our new house!
My wife even said the words “I like hearing you typing again!”
My project list hasn’t changed, only my urgency.
Even though I have a total of 5 Andrew Doran stories (The Early Adventures of Andrew Doran, The Statement of Andrew Doran, Andrew Doran at the Mountains of Madness, Andrew Doran and the Crawling Chaos, and Andrew Doran and the Obsidian Key), there are only two complete novels. I think that finishing the Andrew Doran trilogy with my current Work-in-Progress will push me in a lot of ways. In the first, I think it’ll help bring more visibility to the Andrew Doran series. In another way, it’ll free me up to start on finishing another trilogy I need to get done. Once the big trilogies are out of the way, I feel like my mind will be a little more freer to play in other yards.
That’s not my way of saying that Andrew Doran is or the other series (Broken Nights) will be done after the trilogies are completed, that’s just me saying that once a completed trilogy is done, I won’t feel like those stories are obligations so much as they are fun universes that I can play in whenever I want to again. As I’ve explained to several fans in the past, Andrew Doran is my enjoyment writing. I don’t know that he’ll ever be done. As long as he can continue to take the punishment that is being doled out, I will continue to dole it.
This new Andrew Doran story takes place almost directly after Andrew Doran at the Mountains of Madness, only leaving enough time for the novella (Crawling Chaos) and the short story (Obsidian Key) to take place before diving directly into the adventure. Whereas previous titles have explored the Cthulhu Mythos lore provided mostly by Lovecraft himself, this novel touches on some aspects introduced by some of his inheritors. We’re seeing the mention Hyperborea and we’re exploring the backstory of Carol, Andrew’s administrative assistant.
Additionally, we’re exploring Andrew’s dynamic with his newest “Watson” and introducing more elements from the mythos that are going to change the way Andrew approaches the world entirely.
In the last year I’ve had a lot things to distract me from the progress on this book, but no more. They’ve all been excuses and now I’m pressing forward to complete this book and have another horrifying adventure under Andrew’s belt.
After that, I intend to tackle where we left off with the Broken Nights stories. Originally the title for that sequel was “Broken Nights: Endgame” and then Marvel overheard me and stole the title, so we’re still working on that. The story is more than started and we know where we want to take it (femme-fatale, prison fights, government conspiracies, and how a heart-broken AI can cope in a world where she’s the only one like herself out there.
Anyway, that’s my updates for now. If you’re not caught up on any of these stories, then get there, I’m on a roll and not slowing down for anyone.
–MD–

Review: The Future of Supervillainy by C.T. Phipps

516tdgmchdl._sy346_I’ve been remiss as of late, and have fallen behind on my book reviews. In an effort to correct that, here is the long anticipated review of The Future of Supervillainy by C.T. Phipps.
The previous book, The Tournament of Supervillainy, ended with some interesting future stuff, some rules having been changed in the universe, and me lightheaded with excitement after reading all of the cameos that made it into that story. Normally, the next Supervillainy book tends to jump right into dealing with whatever mess was left behind by the last one but that wasn’t so much the case with The Future of Supervillainy (henceforth to be referred to as TFoS).
The Future of Supervillainy starts with the very specific premise that Gary is retired and doesn’t know what that actually means for someone with his reputation, his children, and his kind of associates. He doesn’t have a quest in front of him and it leaves him kind of aimless, but he still feels responsible for providing a certain way of life for so many different people that have come to depend on him, including a few from other Universes. It’s almost a Supervillain Mid-Life Crisis and Gary doesn’t know how to deal with it.
Until we get another Universe to add a few more characters to the mix. John Henry Booth and Mercury Halsey, from the Cthulhu Armageddon series of books, arrive with a problem going on in the center of the Earth. Suddenly, we’re examining not only classic comic book tropes, but also classic pulp tropes as we JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH.
We get a lot of great homages to classic battles and of course a lot of punching Nazis. Some of my favorite things were the references and parodies of comic book characters and events (Superboy-Prime, anyone?).
The book is great, and filled with the usual mix of snark and pop-culture references as well as giving us some answers to some big questions that the series had put together.
A great 5 out of 5. Keep them coming Charles!

Giddyup!

Life has a way of knocking you out of your patterns, derailing you from your well-structured writing habits and laying waste to “writing time.”
I’ve recently had a huge life event that did just that, planting a nuke right in the center of my writing efforts and knocking my novels a little off course. On the bright side, it was a great life event with the potential of only getting better (I moved into a newer and bigger place across town). I’m incredibly happy with the changes that have happened. Unfortunately, the destruction of those writing habits was a side effect, and I’ve only recently managed to begin picking up the pieces.
I’ve got a new writing desk in a private writing corner of the house. The saddle is dusted off, the reins are new, and I’m ready to get back on the horse.
Here goes.
Andrew Doran and the Scroll of Nightmares (book 3 in the series, not counting all of the short stories) is just under half done. I’ll be putting all of my efforts into that for the immediate future. I want that trilogy completed. Don’t worry, though, it’s only the first trilogy of Andrew’s life. I’m planning on returning to the good doctor on many occasions.
My next project is a quiet one with a September deadline, which kind of gives you my schedule for Andrew Doran as well.
If I can keep to those plans and get a great groove going, this will set me up to have Broken Nights 3 done by the end of November.
That’s ambitious, but not impossible.
Fingers crossed.
Let’s get back on this horse and ride it hard.
–Matt
PS: I’ve been watching The Sinking City “Let’s Plays” on YouTube, and can I just say that if they wanted to rename it “Andrew Doran and the Sinking City,” I’d be alright with sharing marketing efforts with them. The game is one snarky Frenchman away from being my books. I love it.

Review: 100 Miles and Vampin’ by C.T. Phipps

With the newest addition in Phipps’ United States of Monsters series, 100 Miles and Vampin’ picking up where the first book in the collection left off, I had to read it as soon as it was available. With only subtle references to the Weredeer saga, this story returns to down and out vampire, Peter Stone, as he’s still trying to earn a dollar and not ruin the fragile relationship between Vampires and the rest of the world. At the end of the last book, Stone had become the Belladix (read that as Sheriff) for the vampire nation residing in New Detroit. His job is to police the vampires who break the laws. Unfortunately, he doesn’t get paid for it and has to keep his job at the gas station. When his financial woes are bringing him to peak distress, he’s assigned to protect Stephanie Meyer….err I mean Rebecca Plum. A romance/vampire novelist who’s also a vampire that’s a little too into the killing aspect of her species. Vampires hate her for being a psycho murderer, but humanity loves her simply because they love her books and know nothing of her murderous tendencies. In pure Phipps Fashion, everything goes horribly wrong, leading to a chain of events that results in a lot of fun for the reader and a lot of distress for Peter Stone and his friends. Normally, Phipps’ books tend to be about character reflection and this one definitely had a lot in it, but not nearly as much as is usual. That’s not a negative comment, just something that I observed. When we’re not stuck in the moral feedback loops of the character, there’s room for more action and adventure. In the first book (Straight out of Fangton), Peter Stone was able to self-analyze plenty and that left room in this book for a lot more action while still giving us the necessary character development (his relationship with his brother and brother’s killer) just in a much smaller dose. Upon my own reflection, I might be wrong and this book just had the self-analysis interwoven in the character discussions and events. Either way, this book benefits from however it was done. The only thing that seemed to keep haunting me throughout this book was the technically second murder (The big one, not the guy in the bathroom). I kept on wondering what the motive was until it was finally answered, but the answer was so fast and shadowed by the bigger events that had happened since that I had to go back and double check. I’d been waiting so long for the answer that I was left a little uncomfortable with what a minor moment it was. That didn’t detract from the story at all, but played more like a magician’s slight of hand. I don’t mind being frustrated with how simple the answer was when other authors might have left it unanswered and would have left me frustrated to no end. My favorite parts of this book were the powers that Stone showed in manipulating time as well as the action scenes. Every fight played out like a movie, making this book feel more like a proper Blade sequel and that much more enjoyable. Of course, I loved this story, and can’t wait to read the next one. 5 out of 5 stars.

Review: Cthulhu’s Minions & The Innsmouth Look

Cthulhu's Minions (The Arkham Detective Book 1) by [Craft, Byron]

Cthulhu’s Minions, by Byron Craft

The Innsmouth Look (The Arkham Detective Book 2) by [Craft, Byron]

The Innsmouth Look, by Byron Craft

This review is for two books, as I read them back to back, got swamped with packing up a house, and have finally found time to put together a proper review.
The Arkham Detective series follows a no-name pulp detective in the city of Arkham, Massachusetts. While most of the residents have heard rumors and stories regarding all of Lovecraft’s beasties doing their dirty work in the town, most of them don’t believe them, and neither does our protagonist until a gory encounter and a witness who claims some rather horrendous things.
Cthulhu’s Minions is a great primer to the world of the Arkham Detective in that it’s a great origin story for the guy who makes it his job to hunt down the weird stuff while also being a short read to get you psyched about the bigger stories in the series.
The action doesn’t stop with Minions, though, and my intrigue kept me going straight from the last page of Cthulhu’s Minions and directly into the sequel, The Innsmouth Look.
Depending on the day, my favorite story from the Lovecraft Mythos is Shadow Over Innsmouth. The dark tale of a city cursed by it’s fortune in more ways than one makes for a great setting for some pulpy adventure (as myself and other authors have noted). Unlike those other authors, and even myself, the adventure here is nonstop pulpy goodness that only Byron Craft could have put together. On the trail of a murderer and kidnapper from that doomed city, the Arkham Detective takes grit to a new level as he interrogates the town and puts his best detective shoe forward, stumbling upon Government spies, trapped locals, and, of course, a dark ritual that the town wants to happen while the rest of the world obviously doesn’t.
Craft knows his Mythos and weaves that into a series of books that reads like a great Lovecraftian story, but with more adventure and less fainting. I give both of these books 5 out of 5 stars for just being great and fun reads.

Review: Master of Chaos by David Hambling

Masters of Chaos by David Hambling is the fourth book in the Harry Stubbs series and it goes without saying that I am a huge fan of the series.

David’s Mr. Stubbs is a man of simple means, striving to better understand the world. This is more than the world as normal men and women know it, although he is constantly reading and taking correspondence courses to increase that knowledge, but also the darker and more sinister works first described by H. P. Lovecraft. To that point, Harry had found himself in the “employ” of an American named Ms. DeVere. She had recruited Harry to investigate the of happenings of Norwood. Harry is only barely qualified for this role through his past run-ins with Lovecraft’s mythos and his history as a former successful boxer.

Master of Chaos did something I didn’t expect a Stubbs novel to do, although I should have, and thrust our hero into an undercover role as an orderly at an asylum. While I hadn’t expected it, it fit well with the evolution of Harry’s investigations and made for some amazing scenes and great literary art as the reader who, four books in and well versed in Stubbs’ adventures, questions along with our hero whether or not he’s lost his mind.

My favorite thing about this novel and each of the Stubbs’ adventures, is how Hambling introduces entirely new elements of the mythos into Harry’s life and makes it seem like part of the everyday world we live in. It makes me wonder if some day Harry will lose all sense of reason as anything can be explained away by the police or the doctors…

My favorite part of this delightful tale was easily the part regarding the time Harry received in the first book. When you read it, you will know what I’m referencing. It’s difficult to say this was my favorite part, because I had so many and always enjoy a good yarn of my favorite boxer, but I’m a simple man.

5/5 stars for the Norwood Titan!

A Great Andrew Doran Review!

Special thanks to Adam for this great review!

The Statement of Andrew Doran

Matthew Davenport

Macabre Ink/Crossroad Press

In the vast majority of stories set in the Cthulhu Mythos, or within the broader genre of Lovecraftian or Cosmic Horror, it is a trope that if any character – whether protagonist, antagonist or some part of the supporting cast – comes into contact with a being from the Mythos, or any of the magic that comes from the void between dimensions that said beings inhabit, then there will be an incredibly high price to pay. That price is usually something to do with one’s sanity being slowly (or rapidly) peeled away as the true face of the uncaring cosmos is revealed; a soul being corrupted or completely destroyed; or, at best, some combination of the two that doesn’t happen immediately but is cursed to haunt the character until their shortened and untimely death in the near future. That’s all well and proper, and such an intrinsic part of Lovecraft’s writing, and the genre that has expanded upon his writings, that I would be concerned to see a story in the genre that didn’t include it; it wouldn’t be a Cosmic Horror story, or something inspired by Lovecraft.

However, I must admit that it is nice to see a piece of Mythos fiction that features a protagonist who is fully aware of the myriad dangers of the void, but who is still skilful and disciplined enough to be able to effectively wield those powers without immediately turning insane or being mutated into a fleshy blob that can only scream telepathically. Sometimes it’s a good thing to buck the general trend of a genre, as long as it’s actually done properly – an excellent example is the Midnight Eye series of novels by my favourite author, William Meikle, which features a Glaswegian private detective who becomes embroiled in Lovecraftian shenanigans and can occasionally pull off a success without his mind being irreparably shattered. Another great example is the book that I’ve just finished reading, and is therefore the subject of this review – The Statement of Andrew Doran by Matthew Davenport. The titular Doran is a professor, mythologist and occultist who divides his time between studying various elements of the Lovecraftian deities and the cults who worship them, studying forbidden texts to understand the basis of the evils done by the deities, and fighting anyone foolish enough to try and use them for evil. He’s a fantastic creation, unashamedly in the style of iconic and archetypical adventurers such as Indiana Jones – someone not afraid to use guns, swords and his bare fists at times to fight foes trying to end the world through Lovecraftian means – not to mention a hefty dose of void magic when appropriate.

Set in the early 1940s during the Second World War, with the United States on the brink of joining the war against Germany and Japan, The Statement of Andrew Doran sees the professor pursue the Necronomicon when it is stolen from Miskatonic University by agents of the Nazi regime, fighting his way across Spain, France, Switzerland and Germany in an attempt to stop the nefarious Traum Kult from unleashing the apocalypse on Earth. Fast-paced, action-packed and extremely well-written, by the time I was half-way through the novel I was enjoying myself more than I have in quite some time. Because while we get fantastical, almost cinematic action sequences (a fight against undead Nazi soldiers while fighting through a heavily-armed convoy is a particular favourite of mine), and some of the genre’s obligatory dream-like sequences where entities such as Cthulhu are witnessed, there are also some intriguing ideas ventured by the author.

For example, the Necronomicon is stolen by the Nazis from Mistaktonic University at the beginning of the novel, and there’s an interesting relationship between Doran and the university administration that’s really only hinted at by Davenport. I rather enjoyed the idea that the senior faculty left the dreaded, forbidden tome on open display for students to read, in order to see what they would conjure from the book and they could take advantage of once the unfortunate student was driven insane or killed. Davenport also weaves together a number of genre archetypes, such as creatures, cults and deities, to evoke a world in which the theft of the Necronomicon, and the desperate efforts to get it back, are merely on plot amongst many being undertaken by cultists and other groups and individuals. This is brilliantly illustrated by an early section set onboard a trawler heading from the United States to neutral Spain, with Doran encountering some oddly fish-like men who are guarding a mysterious set of packages heading for the Spanish coastline, and having to disrupt their plot in order to proceed with his journey.

Doran himself is also an interesting and well fleshed-out character. Although he starts off as an obvious homage to Indiana Jones, with a desire to keep forbidden tomes in museums (or preferably all to himself) and an eager readiness to punch foes in the face, the author slowly but surely gives him more depth as the novel moves forward. We get to see how his efforts to get the Necronomicon back affect him, both physically and mentally; and his relationship with a supporting character that appears about a third of the way through the book is incredibly well done, doing an excellent job of subverting the often stale genre trope of ‘suspicious companion who doesn’t seem quite human.’

Cheerfully pilfering the best and most exciting elements of the genre – the Necronomicon, Cthulhu, Herbert West – and deftly bringing them together, Mr Davenport has written a fantastically pulpy, fists-swinging, guns-blazing, magical lightning-hurling action-adventure that readily proves that not all Mythos tales need to be grim, foreboding and often achingly depressing in order to be successful or authentic; Davenport shows that it is possible to use all of the tropes of the genre, and be faithful to them, while still producing an incredibly enjoyable adventure. The Statement of Andrew Doran is a credit to both the author and the publisher – once again the fantastic Crossroad Press – and I cannot recommend this heartily enough; I greatly look forward to reading the sequel and any other books that come in the series.

via The Statement of Andrew Doran – Matthew Davenport – Review

A Great Broken Nights: Strange Worlds Review!

Charles over at Booknest.eu had some really awesome things to say about the newest installment of Broken Nights, Broken Nights: Strange Worlds!

 

4/5

Superhero fiction is a niche genre in a niche genre. Superheroes thrive in comic books, video games, and movies but aren’t so very popular in prose fiction. Perhaps because it’s such a visual medium but I think it’s more there’s just never been an iconic example of the genre. Despite this, there’s some truly great examples of superhero fiction which I’ve been proud to review. Things like Wearing the CapeOrigins of a D-List SupervillainSoon I Will Be Invincible, and Villains Rule.

Broken Nights is one of those series. Is it Citizen Kane? No, but it’s a great book which has created its own superhero universe and is slowly building it up to be something huge. In the previous book, we had Jason Night try to become Darden Valley’s answer to Batman only to accidentally stumble onto a plan to take over the world. Succeeding at extreme cost, he’s only now just recovered six months later–only to find out he’s unwittingly inspired an endless stream of superpowered copycats.

 

 

You can read the rest of his review over at Booknest by going here: http://booknest.eu/reviews/charles/1112-brokennightsstrangeworlds 

Thanks for the Great Review, Charles!