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Jan. 18th, 2009

Black Gate 4

Black Gate 13

Black Gate 13 is going to press. It's a fine, fine issue. There are a few familiar names, but many new ones. Those who were disappointed by the emergence of a regular crowd of writers might be elated, unless they're not fans of sword-and-sorcery, in which case they'll be just as sad, because heroic fiction is once more in the forefront. No apologies will be coming from me on that score.

John will be posting a sneak peek of the issue soon.

In the mean time, I hope everyone's been visiting the Black Gate web site regularly, because new posts are going up almost every day.

And here's a news flash -- I just heard from Charles Saunders, creator of Imaro, that Imaro 3 is now available at Lulu, and the unreleased Imaro books should be appearing later this year.



Nov. 10th, 2008

Black Gate 4

Black Gate's New Look


For a while now I've mentioned the new look for the Black Gate web site. Neither 300 Spartans nor 10,000 maniacs could shout loudly enough to proclaim my pleasure with the finished product. Black Gate's former web master, Leo Grin (always I describe him as talented, and now you can witness direct evidence -- one more example -- as to exactly HOW talented) spent months upon months designing and coding and re-coding to put this into play, and our industrious new web master, David Munger, finished up a few pieces of code and took the thing live. Visit Blackgate.com and feast your eyes upon it. Smote your breastplate once for David and thrice for Leo; it's a marvelous look and was a mountain of work. I am grateful to them both.

Black Gate 13 is shortly going to press. I am turning over the last of my reviews this week.

Howard Andrew Jones

Oct. 20th, 2008

Black Gate 4

Procrastination


There isn't a great deal to report today. I've been so busy the last weeks, even weekends, that I sometimes find that I waste my Mondays between classes doing pretty much nothing. Of course, most of the time I'm grading papers, but in those rare instances when I have a solid chunk of time I sometimes end up wasting it. I guess I need the down-time, because I certainly don't need any more political information, for which I've been searching for almost two hours. I mean, really, I made up my mind long ago, so what am I researching for, affirmation?

(If you're not interested in hearing me blather on about my own writing -- I'm not sure I am myself -- you can probably skip the rest.)

I've made steady progress on my Dabir and Asim novel. No, I didn't finish it over the summer, as I'd hoped, but it's also grown to its apparent intended size with no padding from me, so I cut myself some slack there. It just reached 80k, and should wrap up right aroung 90k, which is a much better size than the originally planned (and mystery genre appropriate) 68k. Turns out it's an adventure with mystery elements, like most Dabir and Asim stories, so 90k is better. I usually finish the final chapters of a book in a white-hot flash because I love being close to the finish line and am excited by the final scenes. In this case, I'm especially pleased with what I have planned. So I feel like a goofball for letting this time slip by me so easily. I'm usually more disciplined.

In other writing news, I figured out what to do with another novel I have out circulating right now. I want to change an entire story arc in the thing --- I figured out something that will make the central character far more proactive. If the text's rejected  I will ascribe part of that failure to this very arc, and should it gets accepted I'll advocate for the change. First, though, I'll finish the current book. I just need some better rest and a week with more time open...

I hope to be able to reveal some interesting Black Gate news soon...

Howard

Oct. 9th, 2008

Black Gate 4

The Gauntlet


My friend Steve Tompkins threw down a gauntlet the other day, and I'm going to have to pick it up. He's written so glowingly of Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself over at The Cimmerian that I'm going to steal the time to read the book, even if Steve does anticipate that it's too long for my taste. I'm not sure if my preference for shorter works is more related to having children under foot (which means it's easier to finish a short story collection than to remember the plot twist that I read last month in a loooong book) or to being too frequently (repeatedly) disappointed by longer fantasy, but it's a real one, and Steve has called me on it. I will accept his challenge.

I don't always agree with Steve -- I have yet to grow as devoted to the fantasy work of Gemmell or Wagner as he is -- but there are few sword-and-sorcery afficianados who are as well read as he, and even fewer who come close to writing so well on the subject. So when he sings praise so loudly, I listen.

If any of you want to sound out on the book, I'm definitely interested in your thoughts here, so long as you don't drop any plot spoilers. And if you want to read it, we can compare notes -- although I'm going to be busy with Black Gate layout and Harold Lamb editing for the next few weeks, so can't realistically start until the end of November.

As long as we're discussing The Cimmerian I should mention the astonishing work of the site's creator, editor, and publisher, the talented Leo Grin. Leo finished a glorious new web design for the Black Gate web site, and our new web manager, David Munger, will be unveiling it in the next few weeks. I can hardly wait for you to see it.

Howard

Oct. 1st, 2008

Black Gate 4

Back to the Gate


Year's Best

While I haven't had easy Internet access for the last little while, I have still been busy working away in the inner sanctum of Black Gate's rooftop headquarters.  My favorite chair in the whole of the sanctum is an old cloth affair with wings that are just the right height for balancing my elbows while I'm reading or working on a laptop. It sits in a corner. It is easy to relax there in front of the dark oak bookcases, with rare pulps to the left of me and a complete run of Del Rey/Lin Carter Ballantines to my right. Yesterday I was sitting there, working with Quark Express in preparation for laying out Black Gate 14, when I heard the distinctive buzz of the Black Gate priority line. I glanced up to see that yes, the eyes in the bust of Solomon Kane glowed crimson, which signals an emergency.

This time, though, the call proved to be nothing dire. I had neither to assemble the zombie minions nor fire up the Black Gate supersonic Zeppelin. One of our agents was merely phoning in to let me know that three Black Gate authors had received honorable mentions -- or at least were mentioned favorably -- in this year's "Year's Best Fantasy and Horror" edited by Kelly Link, Gavin J. Grant, and Ellen Datlow. Those authors are: Judith Berman, James Enge, and Martha Wells. I see also that one of my writer friends, Steve Goble, made it in. Likely some of my other friends are there as well, but I haven't had a chance to hold the volume in my hands and check for more names. My congratulations to you four, and to any others I know, and, heck, to all of those I don't.

Allow me also to point out that there's two or more newish entries on the blog of sword-and-sorcery writer Charles Saunders that would likely be of interest to sword-and-sorcery and heroic fiction fans. You can find it here.

Archon

I'll launch the Black Gate hydrofoil in just a few days and catch up to John O'Neill, who will be arriving in St. Louis very soon. Some family matters keep me from attending Archon for the duration of the convention, but I'll be putting in an appearance Saturday. If you're attending Archon, I hope you'll drop by the Black Gate table in the dealer's room and meet one or both of us. Click back THERE for a link to all that's happening at the convention.

Howard




Sep. 25th, 2008

Black Gate 4

Access Issues

After the storm last week, a completely unrelated computer problem took place -- my computer suddenly lost all access to data. Fortunately, a friend was able to find all the data and point the computer back to it, but I still have no internet access unless I'm working on a borrowed computer, like this one. Consequently, I'm behind on posting, e-mailing, and various Black Gate matters. I have fingers crossed that it will all be cleared up soon, but for the time being, the silence here has to do with the fact it's a bit of a trial to post.

I hope to be able to report on more interesting Black Gate matters soon.

Best,

Howard

Sep. 18th, 2008

Black Gate 4

Back Online

Just a quick shout-out. I was without power from Sunday morning until late Tuesday afternoon, so I'm behind on a number of things, including picking up the tree limbs that are scattered all over my yard. It's liable to be until next week before I have time for a more lengthy entry.

All is well here, though. Just a few hundred dollars of roof damage and a little food loss. Nothing like what thousands of people have suffered in other parts of the country.

Howard

Sep. 12th, 2008

Black Gate 4

Sword-and-Sorcery Roundtable


Swords of the Round Table

I'm overdue posting a link that should be of interest to sword-and-sorcery fans. Below is a passport to a lengthy discussion of sword-and-sorcery, its weaknesses and strengths, and its possible future, a roundtable helmed by David C. Smith. It resides on YouTube in six installments, starting here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WX1iiISUkY&feature=related

If sword-and-sorcery's your thang, I hope you'll watch and then post here with your thoughts!

Writing Descriptively

Early in the semester teaching writing at the university, I strive to get the students to write in specifics rather than with broad generalities. One of the ways I do that is by having them read the essays in the book and consider and discuss the techniques that work or fail to work. During the second week I bring in some of my favorite examples of descriptive writing and read portions out loud. Me being who I am, that means I quote from Robert Howard and Leigh Brackett and Lord Dunsany, and a few others. A passage that always seems to work for them is from The Fellowship of the Ring, when Gandalf holds the bridge against the balrog. During my night class last night the Dunsany story seemed to have the largest impact, and two of the students asked me to write down both the author's name and the title of the book I'd read from. I'd read them "Charon," which in this instance was stuffed into the slim collection The Hashish Man.

Black Gate

John's working on issue 13. I'm working on issue 14. More details soon.

Archon

John and I will be manning a booth at Archon -- we hope to see some of you there! For those of you uninterested in clicking on the link, Archon is a nifty convention in St. Louis during the first of October. This will be my third year attending, and I'm looking forward to it.

Writing

My Dabir and Asim novel goes well. I've reached 63 k. Not bad for four months. I continue to have momentum, so I'm going to keep pushing toward the finish line, which I hope will be somewhere around 85 k.

Sooner or later I hope to report on my summer reading.

Aug. 27th, 2008

Black Gate 4

General Updates

A little onyx bird nudged me yesterday about posting, so I've finally dragged myself back. I've got a lot of things I've been meaning to blog about, but I'll keep this fairly short for today.

This last month web hits on the Black Gate site have been way up, and subscriptions have been climbing, probably due to the free PDF available of Black Gate 12 over at the web site. It's only going to be available for a limited time, so if you haven't grabbed a copy and remain interested, you'd better get over there. Meanwhile John's working on issue 13 and I'm trying to learn Quark so that I can lay out issue 14. The plan's pretty simple: if two of us can lay out the mag, once we open for subs we won't be completely snowed under. At least we hope not. 

Speaking of opening for submissions, John and I have been discussing the length of reading periods. I have been advocating two reading periods, one in spring and one in fall, each about 2-3 months long. Anyone out there have a strong opinion on the subject?

I'll catch you up on my summer reading in a later post. This week I'm nose down over academic books as I review the text, study guide, and other idea generators for the composition courses I'll be teaching at the local university this fall. At this time last year I had just gotten official word that my master's degree had been approved, and had approximately three days to throw a syllabus together and get familiar with the text book. It was a trial by fire, and I wasn't sure I would like teaching or if I could even teach. I should've realized someone who likes talking about writing as much as I do would enjoy teaching it, and after the initial shock, I did. I feel like I was able to connect with the students and really help them. I wish I'd gone back to school for this years earlier, although all the years editing technical books really helped me as both teacher and writer. Anyway, I have much more time to prepare for this semester than I did last fall, and a much better idea of what to do.

I'd announced early this summer that by the end of August I'd hoped to have a finished novel of about 68 k. I haven't hit it, but I'm still pleased with progress. I'm closing on 60 thousand words and it remains the best rough draft I've ever written. I've lengthened the initial "outline" and expect it to come in closer to 90 k, which is a better length for fantasy novels. I hope to be done in the next couple of months. Last year's fantasy novel is under consideration with a publisher and an agent. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

That's all I have time for right now -- more soon, I promise.

Howard

Aug. 1st, 2008

Black Gate 4

Black Gate 12 -- Free

Black Gate 12 -- Free!

Curious about Black Gate but haven't had time to try out a subscription? Perhaps you live overseas and shipping is costly. Well, times are a-changing. In addition to our regular print edition, Black Gate is now available for download as a high-resolution PDF. 

To help promote our new format, we're making the complete contents - all 224 pages - of Black Gate 12 available for download for a limited time - for free!

Black Gate 12 is available as a single download, or in two smaller sections. Both versions are suitable for printing, and require a PDF reader (such as Adobe Acrobat).

What awaits you in Black Gate 12? An intrepid thief discovers far more than he bargained for in an ancient, spider-haunted city... Giliead and Ilias probe the disappearance of mining town in a godless canyon, in one of their earliest adventures together... Morlock the Maker returns to the corrupt city of Sarkunden to confront an old nemesis - and a puzzle with no possible solution... Dabir and Asim join forces for the first time, as they encounter dark sorceries in an long-sealed tomb... and Tumithak meets his greatest challenge as he pits his wits against a Shelk scheme to drive humanity back under the earth!

All this plus a free solitaire RPG game from Dark City Games, an editorial, letters, reviews, art - and a complete Knights of the Dinner Table strip! What are you waiting for? Try the free download today!

Howard

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